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Culture > Entertainment

The Best True Crime Podcasts on Spotify

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

I want to preface this content with two warnings: first, I would advise you to not listen to these podcasts at night; second, if you are at all sensitive to crimes against womxn I would not advise engaging with this content until knowing what each specific episode is about, as some are significantly harder to listen to than others.

I spent the entire summer taking way too many classes in Davis. With my busy schedule, I did not have time to sit and dedicate myself to a TV series, so I needed some form of entertainment to suit an on-the-go lifestyle. This is where Spotify came in handy, offering hundreds of hours of podcast material for me to sift through (PSA: students can get Spotify Premium for half the price with any .edu email address). Below are my favorite true crime podcasts which feature short narratives and dramatic plot twists.

Crime Junkie Podcast

Image Credit: Crime Junkie

Hosted by childhood best friends Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat, Crime Junkie features over one hundred episodes that go in-depth to explore motives, personal histories, and possible theories for unexplained crimes. Flowers tells each researched story to her producer Brit, which makes the listener feel as if they were included in the discussion. Flowers introduces each crime as a narrative focused on the victim and provides sufficient context so that the listener understands the gravity of each murder, disappearance, or crime from the perspective of the victim’s loved ones. 

I swore I would never succumb to paying any sort of influencer on Patreon, but Crime Junkie is so good that I shot through the free content very quickly – donating five dollars a month on Patreon means that I get access to exclusive content and that the episodes are released early! 

Small Town Dicks 

Image Credit: Small Town Dicks

Hosted by Yeardely Smith (the voice behind Lisa Simpson in The Simpsons) and twin detectives Dan and Dave (no, I’m not kidding), Small Town Dicks showcases events that take place in small towns across the United States. My favorite aspect of this podcast is that each episode features a law enforcement figure who is able to explain in detail what happened and how officials went about solving each crime. The investigation process is fascinating, and the fact that each story is told by the person who solved the crime is both inspiring and reassuring, especially as most true crime content is pretty disconcerting.

In the Dark

Image Credit: APM Reports

Winner of both a Peabody Award and a Polk Award in Journalism, APM Reports’ In the Dark podcast looks at the same case under a variety of different lenses over each season. Each season of this podcast covers one case in extreme detail, aiming to investigate the legal processes used by the police and courts when “solving” a specific crime. I have listened to season one, which is focused on the abduction of Jacob Wetterling in the 1980s and the police mishandling of his disappearance, and was on the edge of my seat as the season drew near its end.


Image Credit: Swindled Podcast

Rather than focusing on explicitly violent crimes like most true crime podcasts do, Swindled focuses primarily on corporate white-collar crimes and scams. The host signs each episode off not with his own name, but as “A Concerned Citizen” whose hobby is conducting extensive research about long-term corruption. The show’s tagline reads: “Money truly is the root of all evil,” and this message is repeated as the host covers all kinds of deception, from the lottery and scams on GoFundMe to birth control implants and faking scientific research. I enjoy this podcast so much because I learn something with each episode; this podcast is essentially a TED Talk on deceit.

Madison Lefler is a third year at UC Davis double majoring in Psychology and Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning, with a minor in Technology Management. She is also a Sustainability Peer Educator for UC Davis Student Housing and Dining and enjoys makeup tutorials on YouTube, making boards on Pinterest for everything, and drinking overpriced lattes with her girlfriends.
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