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Durham-based crime podcast finds a following

Posted April 21, 2015

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— It's crunch time in a Durham living room, where Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer are working on the next episode of “Criminal.”

It's a podcast about true-crime stories that attracted 1 million downloads last month. Picking up on the popularity of “Serial” - the NPR podcast that was the first ever to win a Peabody Award, “Criminal” is part of the new era in digital storytelling.

Spohrer said it’s not typical crime reporting.

“There's a little bit of a stigma associated with crime reporting, and I think we had an idea of how to do it differently,” she said.

The women, who have backgrounds working in public radio, said they try to go beyond the crime to focus on the stories of the people.

“Criminal” has featured stories from around the country, including two cases from the Triangle area. The first episode looked at the Kathleen Peterson murder case from 2001 and the theory that an owl attacked her.

Judge says strong characters with compelling stories make “Criminal” stand out.

“It can't just be this wild event that happened,” she said. “There has to be someone behind that event willing to talk honestly about it.”

All the episodes are recorded in a living room.

“Once I'm in here, it sounds remarkably professional,” Judge said.

Spohrer and Judge both have day jobs. “Criminal” is their side project, and they're grateful that it's found a following.

“I'm just so happy people have found it, and I just want to keep doing it,” Judge said.

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