Atlanta child murders focus of HowStuffWorks podcast 'Atlanta Monster'

This was posted on Thursday, September 7, 2017 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Atlanta-based HowStuffWorks, the world's largest for-profit podcast company, is expanding into comedy, entertainment and crime with its four newest podcasts in the upcoming months.

And it shows a change of direction, as the company over the past decade has largely used in-house resources for its podcasts. It's now reaching out and partnering with others to create more podcasts. Conal Byrne, president, said the company has been most successful in history and science but feels it an excel in other arenas as well while keeping to the company's guiding principles of  curiosity and authenticity.

HowStuffWorks will tackle a 37-year-old crime case in "Atlanta Monster," which focuses on the spate of  infamous Atlanta child murders at the time as they talk to witnesses, experts and victims families. Atlanta film-maker Payne Lindsey, who also hosts podcast "Up and Vanished," is jointly producing the new podcast with HowStuffWorks.

"That event in Atlanta history is also a reflection on the undercurrent of the nation's racial tension in the early 1980s" said Jason Hoch, HowStuffWorks Chief Content Officer. "We see in present day a lot of those same tensions coming bear."

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Ken Jennings and John Roderick will co-host a podcast about obscure stories. CREDIT: HowStuffWorks

In "Omnibus," Ken Jennings, the man who has won more "Jeopardy" games in a row than anybody in history, along with The Long Winters frontman John Roderick, will do deep dives into obscure stories twice a week.

"Not only do they have a great friendship," Conal said, 'but they're also super computer archival trivia guys. It's amazing to hear their banter back and forth."

Charles W. "Chuck" Bryant, who co hosts "Stuff You Should Know," will add on "Movie Crush," a weekly interview show where they'll discuss that person's favorite movies, digging deep into how those films shaped their lives.

Hoch said, for instance, an interview with "99% Invisible" podcaster Roman Mars became less about the movie "Jaws" but why he was so obsessed with it. "Culture and his choices in cinema defined who he was," Hoch said. "The movie is the icebreaker. The person's backstory is what it's about."

And for the first time, they have opened offices in Los Angeles and tapped co-founder Jack O'Brien to host a show where comics will discuss the daily news cycle called "The Daily Zeitgeist."

HowStuffWorks recently received a $15 million influx in funding and will spin off as its own independent entity focused exclusively on podcasting. Its current 14 podcasts draw 40 million listeners a month.

"This is a huge moment for us," Conal said. "We were always a huge podcasting network tucked inside a large company. We can now be laser focused."

The money will also be used to build out the company's production, marketing and sales teams.

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.