Alta Asks Live: True-Crime Podcasts

Why do we love grisly subject matter? Let's discuss.

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True-crime series are a thriving corner of the podcast world, complete with live touring shows, fan art, and millions in revenue. Alta Journal contributor Denise Hamilton detailed this booming podcast genre for Alta’s Fall 2020 Noir Special Section. Hamilton, along with Once Upon a Crime Podcast host and producer Esther Ludlow, joins Alta Asks Live to examine our love of grisly subject matter, break down how a true-crime podcast gets made, and answer all of your cold case questions.

About the guests

Esther Ludlow launched Once Upon a Crime Podcast in 2016. Her love for storytelling, combined with her interest in true crime and her background in psychology, has made her podcast a favorite among true-crime fans eager to discover “the story behind the story of real-life crime.” Ludlow writes, produces, and edits the podcast as a solo venture. She has produced over 180 episodes, with over 20 million downloads to date. Once Upon a Crime has been featured in the Mercury News, Entertainment Weekly, Vulture, Uproxx, Women’s Health, Marie Claire, and Harper’s Bazaar.

Denise Hamilton writes the nationally bestselling Eve Diamond crime novels, which feature a reporter who solves murders in contemporary multicultural Los Angeles. In her latest Eve Diamond book, Prisoner of Memory, Hamilton plumbs her own family’s Russian heritage to combine Cold War espionage and suspense. Hamilton’s books have been short-listed for the Edgar, Macavity, Anthony, and Willa Cather awards. Her debut, The Jasmine Trade, was a finalist for the prestigious Creasey Dagger Award given by the U.K. Crime Writers’ Association and short-listed for a number of literary awards, including the 2001 Edgar Award for Best First Novel.

Hamilton is also an award-winning journalist. Her work has appeared in Wired, Cosmopolitan, Der Spiegel, and New Times. She has won first-place awards from the Los Angeles Press Club for feature and business writing, including for her work in Alta Journal. A native Angeleno, she lives in the suburbs of Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

About the moderator

Beth Spotswood is Alta’s digital editor, events manager, and a contributing writer. In addition to her work for Alta, Spotswood writes regularly for the San Francisco Chronicle. She listens to true-crime podcasts every single day, including Ludlow’s.

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