One of my nightly routines is to go for a neighborhood walk at the end of my workday, usually around 9 p.m. I live and serve in Honolulu, Hawaii, so the “winter” weather plummets to around 70 degrees by this time. I know, I know, it takes a lot of dedication to trek the neighborhood during these kinds of conditions. But I’ve stayed committed, and listening to podcasts has been extremely helpful. The walk usually lasts for an hour and a half, so it’s not uncommon for me to go through the entire archives of a podcast within a couple of weeks.
While searching for a new podcast to devour, I came across Crime Junkie at the top of the Apple Podcasts “True Crime” list (at the time of this writing, Crime Junkie was also the third-most popular podcast of all genres). Hosted by Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat, Crime Junkie has a tried-and-true crime narrative formula. Not unlike an episode of Law and Order, each CJ episode begins with a retelling of the crime itself, usually a murder or a missing persons case. Flowers, the main host, then begins to unravel the details surrounding the crime, with Prawat adding the occasional “oh my gosh” or “I can’t believe that!” Although Prawat’s interjections are obviously scripted, they are necessary and serve to move the story forward.
CJ is an easy listen, and Flowers’ storytelling holds my attention, but that isn’t what keeps me coming back for more. The part of the podcast I look forward to the most is the status update at the end of each episode. Most of the cases are still unsolved or have gone cold, at least the episodes I’ve listened to so far. But Flowers’ status update has the similar feel of a benediction in the same way that an aspect of a benediction is a communal call to continue the work. The end of each episode of Crime Junkie is also a communal call for action, especially for the cold cases. Flowers and Prawat have a CJ Instagram account (@crimejunkiepodcast) and a website (crimejunkiepodcast.com) that serve as both a reference check, as well as links for anyone with information that might help to solve the featured case. It’s a needed reminder that while this might be a medium for the purpose of entertainment—especially for those trekking a nightly neighborhood walk—these are real-life stories, often of gruesome murders or bewildering disappearances. There are grieving families who are holding out hope that CJ’s popularity might lead to that one clue law enforcement needs to crack a case and bring some form of closure.