Indianapolis Monthly

RIPPED from the HEADLINES

TO BEGIN THE STORY of a podcast, let’s introduce a voice:

I keep hearing that you love stories of true crime. You love all things true crime. But hearing about it once a week isn’t enough for you. You guys are just like me—you’re true Crime Junkies, and you need to hear stories more than once a week to get your fix.

Actually, those are borrowed from a podcast, someone else’s work. But don’t worry about that. Just keep reading. Someone’s about to stalk, kidnap, and kill a little girl.

Full. Body. Chills.

Go on. Someone’s about to commit a crime. That’s what we’re here for, right? A fix?

THE ADDICTS have arrived at Clowes Hall on the campus of Butler University. In droves. Hours early. Standing in line. Eager to part with $120 for the good stuff: VIP tickets to the live show of the No. 1 true-crime podcast on iTunes, Crime Junkie. Produced in Broad Ripple, the podcast is downloaded 22 million times each month, adored by a growing audience that includes 370,000 Instagram followers. The hosts, Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat, pose with fans in front of a branded Crime Junkie backdrop as an assistant hands out Crime Junkie swag bags. Britney Spears’s “Oops!… I Did It Again” plays: I’m not that innocent.

Nearby, there’s a merch table hawking $25 T-shirts: “Crime Junkie Podcast Tour,” the front reads; on the back, there’s a list of 15 cities, from Phoenix to Austin. Hoodies cost $50. One of the Junkie junkies near the merch table says, “I think I was supposed to be a detective in real life.” The 43-year-old southside woman wearing a pink Crime Junkie T-shirt works at a nearby college instead, but lives vicariously through her $5-per-month Crime Junkie subscription (packages run up to $20), which she pays via Patreon, a crowdfunding site. “Ashley’s voice is, like, the best.”

Two years and more than 100 episodes into the project that launched in December 2017, Flowers’s voice has made Crime Junkie a seven-figure franchise that’s been hailed by tastemakers like Rolling Stone and shortlisted by networks for a television project. In an upcoming venture, the duo is expected to release Red Ball, a podcast miniseries documenting the work of a young Indiana State Police detective taking over the case of the unsolved 1978 Burger Chef murders.

Now, a little past 8 p.m., more than 2,000 people—a sold-out audience—settle into their seats inside Clowes for a live version of Crime Junkie, where the hosts lead

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