By Ian MacNeill and Lauren Miley

First invented by software developer Dave Winer, listening to podcasts became a ‘thing’ back in 2005 (the same year YouTube was founded!), when iTunes began carrying podcasts. Podcasts have since become one the most prominent cultural phenomena of the past decade, with people listening to podcasts to make the commute to work more palatable, when walking the dog, or working out. Such is the popularity of the podcast medium, it’s now estimated that there are around 550,000 active podcasts, in over 100 languages, with 18.5 million episodes available online.

While blogging about the PhD experience has become pretty commonplace (although we’d argue that Pubs and Pubs stands out from the crowd!), podcasts about the PhD experience or podcasts by PhD students are rarer beasts. This week’s post is the first part of an e-interview I did in late summer with a PhD student at the University of South Florida (USF), Lauren Miley, who started a true crime podcast called Crimeversation earlier this year with a fellow PhD student, Tayler Shreve. Crimeversation features true crime cases and wider research on the criminal justice system from top researchers and USF faculty who provide insight on criminal justice issues. Crimeversation podcasts are available on YouTube and podcast apps, with new episodes posted every Friday.

Where did the idea for Crimeversation came from?

It all started with our love of podcasts!  We’d sit around discussing our favourite ones and would constantly share recommendations. Then I discovered a couple of PhD students at The University of Cincinnati were hosting professors on their podcast, @uccjofficehours, and thought that it was a brilliant idea. I asked Tayler one day in our cubicle offices if it was a crazy idea and she immediately said it was the best idea I had ever had and that she wanted on board. We also realised that it was a great way to promote our university and some of the research in our criminology department at USF.

How do you decide on the topics that you cover and what plans do you have for the future?

We have so many plans for the future! For the majority of our podcasts so far, we have been contacting professors in our department and requesting that they come in for an interview to discuss their research. Once they’ve agreed we delve into their research and determine a crime case that is well suited to their area(s) of interest. Sometimes these cases take us in unexpected directions and we reach out and contact professors at other universities (for example for the Etan Patz episodes we brought on Nancy Franklin from Stony Brook University in NY as they were a juror directly involved in the case). Another way that we decide on guests is when our university host professors from other universities for presentations/symposiums/etc. We would also love to reach out to authors when we come across articles that really peak our interest. As we said, we really hope to branch out more in the future to other professors, but our professors are doing such great work that we want to focus our energy on them for now. We are booked into spring of 2019 for now, but we have tons of people we hope to reach out to!

Does your own research influence the topics you choose?

So far, the episodes have reflected the interests of our department, but that is simply a product of the fact that we have mostly interviewed our own professors or professors who are alumni. As far as our particular research interests, the focus of our podcast really isn’t about our interests and we make no particular point of including them. However, they can come up with our expert interviews as a result of interviewing our own mentors.

A consistent theme in your podcasts is about establishing ‘facts’ in an era of ‘fake news’, could you explain the background on why you chose to include this on the show and how you go about the fact-checking process?

It is interesting that you ask this question because our myth busting portion of the podcast actually came about completely organically. It started with our very first interview with  Dr. Alex Piquero; we were interested in the myths surrounding immigration since it’s such a hot topic in the news right now and we thought it was so important to stay focused on the facts. Fact-checking has been one of our favourite parts of our expert episodes because it gives them an opportunity to bust myths about their field of research! But to answer your question, it’s DATA DATA DATA.

Who would be your dream guest?

Dr. Alex Piquero was one of the first experts that we hosted on the show and this was such an honour for us, especially with it being our first episode! He is known as being one of the best criminologists in the field, so when Dr. Bryanna Fox offered us the opportunity to host him it was truly our dream guest! Otherwise, we would be absolutely honoured to host Professors Gottfredson and Hirschi since they are godfather like figures in criminology. We still geek out about all our guests and are honoured every time someone comes on!


Lauren and Tayler with one of their guests, Dr. Rick Moule.

What sort of feedback have you been getting?

We haven’t received that much feedback, positive or negative. Our families still listen to most all episodes (Thanks mom and dad!) and tell us if something comes across wrong and we fix it before we air the episode. We are really hoping to start hearing from our listeners soon. We would LOVE to hear some feedback, again positive or negative, just to know what we could be doing better, or what is working.

That’s the end of Part 1 of our interview with Crimeversation. We’ll be publishing Part 2 this coming Friday, when Lauren will be talking about the nuts and bolts of creating a podcast and how creating podcast can add to the PhD experience. In the meantime, why not check out some Crimeversation episodes and if anyone has any podcast recommendations do let us know in the comments below.

Ian is one the Publicity Editors with Pubs and Pubs. He is currently in the final year of his PhD. You can find him on Twitter at: IanAlexanderMac 

Image 1: Flickr

Image 2: Pixabay

Image 3: Crimeversation