The DeMatha Stagline

The Student News Site of DeMatha Catholic High School

The DeMatha Stagline

The DeMatha Stagline

“How About Another Story?”

Criminal Goes on Tour
Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer, the creators of the podcast Criminal, brought their show on the road for their 10th Anniversary Tour. Credit: Criminal Productions, Podcast Movement Sessions

On February 16, 2024, approximately 1,000 people at the Lincoln Theater in Washington, DC, eagerly waited for the show to begin. However, the performance they were waiting to see was not a musical act, like many shows that took place at the theater. They had come to experience something rather unique: a live podcast.

The podcast, Criminal, was created in 2014 by Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer, who met while working on The Story with Dick Gordon at North Carolina radio station WUNC. They wanted to view crimes through a more humane and ethical lens. Rather than sensationalizing the crime to get more people to listen to their episodes, they decided to focus on the people who committed and were affected by the crime, interviewing them whenever possible to hear their side of the story.

Since then, their team has expanded and they’ve released many episodes of Criminal, along with producing two other podcasts: This is Love and Phoebe Reads a Mystery. As proof of Criminal’s growing popularity, an excerpt from one of the show’s episodes even appeared in Amazon’s 2019 Super Bowl commercial. To commemorate the podcast’s ten-year anniversary, Judge and Spohrer decided to go on tour in 2024, telling seven previously unheard stories each night.

 In “Sealand,” Judge tells the story of Roy Bates, a nutty pirate radio DJ who established a micronation. 

The night began with a supercut of pre-recorded soundbytes from Criminal episodes. Following the supercut, Judge recited her tagline: “I’m Phoebe Judge; this is Criminal,” which received enthusiastic applause and hearty cheering. During the show, Judge narrated while Spohrer operated the audio and slideshow. The stories that Judge told ranged from silly (such as the story of a collaborative effort between a team of U.S. Marshals and DC police who created elaborate hoaxes to catch criminals) to serious (like the story of Gordon Parks, a self-taught photographer who took vivid photos of crime), which reflected the variety found in the podcast’s episodes. After the first four stories, there was an intermission, with ridiculous crime stories projected on the screen.

“Off Leash,” a favorite episode of both Judge and Spohrer, focuses on Toby Dorr, founder of the Safe Harbor Prison Dog Program at the Lansing Correctional Facility in Lansing, Kansas, and how her love for prisoner John Manard “became something bigger than anything you could contain.”

In addition to telling these true-crime stories, Judge told a few anecdotes from her own life – she shared a slideshow about herself, and during a story about emojis in court cases, she talked about how a picture of herself squinting at the camera during an interview became an emoji (the “phoebemoji”). Judge also stated that, when they weren’t sure how many people were going to come to their shows, but when she ad Spohrer looked at the ticket sales for DC, they felt reassured (Judge added, “DC gets us”).

 “Masquerade” centers around a children’s book that started a treasure hunt, and the cryptic identity of the person that found the treasure.

Although listening to Criminal online is a different experience than the live show – there are no collective audience reactions or slideshows, and each episode ends with Phoebe reciting the credits, rather than signaling the end of the story by abruptly saying “That’s it.”– the podcast shares the live show’s enjoyable, comprehensive, and thought-provoking qualities. The podcast Criminal can be heard on all major platforms, and never fails to intrigue. You’ll enjoy listening to episodes of Criminal so much that, after you finish an episode, you, like Judge, will find yourself repeatedly saying: “How about another story?”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The DeMatha Stagline Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *