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Top 5 Weekly True Crime Podcasts: No. 5 and 4 (plus interview with Tori Telfer)


You can listen to the Podcast here.

There are so many true crime podcasts out there, all with different styles, focuses and tone it can be hard to plough your way through them and find the ones that are the right fit for you. Over the next few weeks I’ll be counting down my top five true crime podcasts, and I hope you will find something here that you enjoy as much as I do.

Number five is Red Flags. This is a relatively new kid on the block, and is co-hosted by Tori Telfer, and a newcomer to podcasting, who rose to prominence via Tik Tok, Karina Michelle. Red Flags has a more magazine, or talk show, style than most true crime podcasts. Generally each episode features some reflection on true crime news, and also a deep dive into a subject in true crime, such as human trafficking, or why Holywood is obsessed with serial killers. This is the podcast for those who not only enjoy true crime, but want to understand how true crime and crime operates, both as a genre, and in practice.

This is a podcast which is not here for salacious thrills or comedy but is infused with a more reflective and considered motivation.

Number four is Criminal Broads Telfer’s own podcast, where she specifically looks at criminal women throughout history. She mainly focuses on murderers, but there are also con artists, gangsters or cult leaders. Yes, women really can do anything they want and have it all. Until the law catches up with them. Telfer has also published a book Killer Women, and has a second coming out this year Confident Women.

It is obvious from listening that Telfer has a passion for the subject of women and crime that extends well beyond the obvious few such as Aileen Warnos or Bonnie Parker. There are patterns to be seen through different stories, in different times periods and continents, such as a lack of agency and controll, poverty, greed or early childhood trauma. There are also outliers, whom we will never really understand or for whom there is not enough information for anything more than guessing.

In popular culture women are yet to inhabit the role of criminal in a meaningful or realistic way. There are plenty of iconic males, both real and imagined, the Kray twins, Hannibal Lecter etc. We are yet to see women who are high performers in crime or sometimes at all. Perhaps Criminal Broads is a first step towards that happening, and the next step is a challenge to myself.

Interview with Tori Telfet

You’ve restarted podcasting in 2020, but this time with a whole new podcast, Red Flags, and a co-host, Karina Michelle.  How did you and Karina meet, and then decided to podcast together?

Karina and I are in what one of our producers called an “arranged marriage”—we actually met for the first time when we were both auditioning for Red Flags. So we didn’t know each other before embarking on this podcast journey together, but I’d like to think you wouldn’t necessarily know that from listening to the podcast because we get along so well!

Karina started out on Tik Tok, and in 2020 we saw the well known case of Alissa Turney finally see an arrest, in part due to Tik Tok.  How do you think social media has changed true crime?

Oh man, true crime and social media are tangled up in all sorts of ways. I imagine that social media has created more true crime fans (just look at the online community of murderinos, who listen to My Favorite Murder—would it be such a huge community without social media?). It’s also led to some horrible things like murders being livestreamed or photos of dead bodies being shared without anyone’s consent. Karina and I actually did our first episode of Red Flags on that very subject. But as with all things social media, it’s hard to say if social media has changed things—like created more crime, or created more solutions to crime—or if it’s just amplified what’s already there.

In Red Flags you sometimes have interviews with the victims of crime.  I imagine that it must be difficult both for the interviewer and the interviewee. How do you plan and approach such a delicate subject?

Great question—it’s definitely delicate, as you said. One important thing to note is that we are almost always reaching out to people who have already spoken publicly about their story in some way (whether that’s through other interviews, or maybe they’ve written a book, or they host their own podcast, etc.). We’re not asking people to tell us their story for the first time ever. That would require a whole different approach.

When it comes to the interview itself, we’ll make sure to qualify certain tough questions with statements like, “If you feel comfortable telling this part,” etc. I think it’s important to let the interviewees know that they don’t HAVE to tell us everything.

I think it’s also very important to do your research beforehand! It would be so rude—and maybe even triggering—to hop on a call with a victim and be like, “So, walk me through every single detail.” It’s more respectful to show that you’re familiar with their story. On the flipside, though, I think it can be weirdly rude to beat around the bush too much. It’s not like my interviewees don’t know what happened to them. It’s their life; they’ve lived it.

In Criminal Broads and your book Lady Killers my favourite women were Phoolan Devi, and the Angel Makers of Nagyrev.  Who is your favourite women criminal?

PHOOLAN DEVI! I am obsessed with her too! I have a certain weird affection for every story that I’ve ever written or podcasted about, even though some of these women are truly terrible. (Let’s just say I’m not trying to become best friends with Jane Toppan.) But if I had to pick any of them to go to a party with, I’d pick Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh, two glamorous crime queens of 1930s Australia. They hated each other, but I think I could convince them to hang out for just one night. We would all wear furs and diamonds and drink champagne and gossip about all the other mobsters.

When you first started writing and podcasting about women criminals did you find that you got push back for placing women as agents in their own stories rather than only as victims?  Can you tell us about any strange reactions?

You know, I haven’t gotten much pushback to my face (I never read the comments!!) about women-as-agents. I think people have a huge appetite for these stories. And anyone who truly cannot stand the idea as a woman having agency would never buy my books or listen to my podcasts. But I do get strange reactions all the time when I tell people I write about crime. The most frustrating ones are when people say things like, “A nice girl like you writing about such dark things?” or “But you’re so smiley! Why are you into this?” or act like it’s a weird embarrassing hobby of mine. I’m pretty sure the people (men) who write about Hitler (worse than any serial killer!!!) don’t get patronized like that. If anyone can think of a good comeback line for comments like these, let me know, because I usually just grin and fume inwardly.

What are your 2021 plans for Red Flags, and which true crime podcasts, books, films or documentaries would you recommend for my readers?

We’re starting our 2021 Red Flags episodes with a REALLY powerful interview from someone whose brother went to prison for murder. It’s a perspective that we very rarely hear in true crime and I’m really honored to highlight it. As far as books, can I recommend my new one? It’s called Confident Women and it’s out February 23, but you can preorder it now! It’s all about real-life con women and their tricky, tricky swindles.

I’d love to recommend my friend Rebekah’s podcast, Die-Alogue, which is conversations about true crime…very meta! I think, based on your questions, that you’d be into it. And for books: Savage Appetites by Rachel Monroe (another meta look at the genre) and Popular Crime by Bill James (a huge review of historical crimes that made a splash when they happened and what it all SAYS about us).

And last but not least…Criminal Broads is coming back in 2021! I’m VERY excited! 

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