🎭 A True Crime Podcast on Broadway

Presented by Taja

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us.

🙃 What’s the point?

In the throes of creating an especially challenging episode, you may find yourself in a podcasting existential crisis, asking, “What’s the point?

The point is to fuel your personal purpose, whatever that may be. 

But what’s the purpose of having a purpose?

The purpose of purpose is direction.

The realization of purpose is fulfillment.

And the point of it all is to explore, understand, and express—with the hope you can help someone else do the same.

Industry game changers and valiant minds from creative professions share their wisdom, adversities, and paths to innovation.

🎙️ Signal Flow: Gillian Pensavalle and Patrick Hinds

Gillian Pensavalle and Patrick Hinds, hosts of True Crime Obsessed

True Crime Obsessed is a hit podcast that blends true crime storytelling with humor and compassion, offering listeners a refreshing and engaging take on the genre. Hosts Patrick Hinds and Gillian Pensavalle provide insightful yet witty recaps of popular true crime documentaries, infusing each episode with their unique personalities. Praised by Vogue for its ability to evoke laughter while maintaining sensitivity, True Crime Obsessed captivates listeners with its distinctive approach. Gaining a large audience of over 200 million downloads, dive into episodes on documentaries like “Abducted in Plain Sight,” “The Ted Bundy Tapes,” and “Dirty John: The Dirty Truth.”

Gillian: How we got True Crime Obsessed on Broadway…this is going to sound unrealistic, but I promise it happened. We just kind of looked at each other and said, “What if we did that? What would it take to make that happen?” On paper, that sentence sounds like Mount Everest. But if you break it down, what's step one? Then step two? So what started as this enormous, seemingly impossible thing turned into something we could actually do.

PatrickWe had no idea who to contact. We just called around the different Broadway production companies and one company took us seriously, it was Second Stage Theatre. The plan was to take our show that we'd been doing on tour and just plop it on Broadway. Then the pandemic hit and our Broadway show got postponed indefinitely. But it gave us the time to figure out how we could turn this into an actual Broadway show. 

We hired Bob Bartley, he had such a vision. We ended up doing a whole opening number with six Broadway dancers and a closing number with our dancers, and choreography. And in the middle was the TCO live show we'd been doing.

GillianSomething that I love about getting TCO on Broadway is how this affected other people, too. Some of our Broadway dancers were making their Broadway debut. So in the playbill, it would say, “Broadway debut” and then when they perform other shows, we would be listed as their previous Broadway credit. It’s amazing to see it on paper from someone else's point of view, to see how far we spread from just that one night.

PatrickI took my daughter to see Aladdin on Broadway and one of the dancer’s credits was True Crime Obsessed at Broadway. That’s wild.

GillianWhen we went to Boston, that's Patrick's hometown show. But for me, Broadway was my real hometown show. I had my dear friends there, my parents were there. I grew up going to Broadway shows. And while I never had the drive to be on Broadway, I still grew up in that world. It was so nice to get my parents a car for the special night to take them to the theater.

PatrickDancers opened the show. The way it was choreographed was we walked in from the wings, in shadow. But because you can see Julian's red hair from the moon, the second our toes walked out of the wings, you couldn't hear the music. You couldn't hear anything. The audience just went so insane because they knew what it meant for us. They didn't care what the show was. They were there to celebrate and support us, which was them giving back in such a beautiful way.

I can remember every single moment of that night. It was a dream come true. You could feel the energy in that room that night. A lot of our dancers had been on Broadway, and they took really good care of us. The whole thing was surreal.

GillianThere's still something about being the first true crime podcast on Broadway. That’s an undeniable, proud moment. Forever.

PatrickI love when people say, “I tried TCO, couldn't get into it. But then two weeks later, I went back and now I'm obsessed.” Maybe they had preconceived notions of what a true crime comedy podcast was, and they didn't really want to give it much of a chance. Or maybe we were a little louder, or a little gayer, or whatever than they're traditionally used to listening to. But then one of us did or said something the listener couldn't stop thinking about. And so they were like, I'm gonna go back and give them one more shot.

If you get it, you get it, ya know? If you don't, that’s all right. But we really are trying every day. I'm trying to do good work and the method to the madness is awareness, whether that’s informing people of an injustice or celebrating an actual good thing that happened. (continued below)

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PatrickI love that neither one of us really knew what we were doing when we started eight years ago. It was definitely a saturated space back then. But we were instinctively drawn to something other people weren't doing, which was recapping documentaries.

It all happened pretty fast. Gillian still makes her theater podcast and I was making a theater podcast at the time, too. We were quickly getting 10 times those downloads on True Crime Obsessed within the first maybe three or four months. I was like, oh my God, something's really happening here.

Within the first four months or so, both of us had quit our jobs to do this full-time. And then within six to eight months, my husband quit his job to manage us. All of a sudden, we were two creative weirdos trying to figure out how to make a company and run a business. And I think we just really got lucky that our podcast about true crime documentaries happened to coincide with the golden age of true crime documentaries. 

GillianBeing about to nervously step away from all of my freelance gigs was a huge milestone, to not have to compartmentalize my time and my projects, because I took on so many things.

Patrick: Our community has been amazing. We have a Facebook group with over 50,000 members and over 30,000 Patreon members. We take our Facebook group really seriously, we have a full-time staff member who moderates our Facebook group, because we just want to keep it a safe, fun place where people can come and talk about the episodes, or really whatever they want to. It’s a place for our most engaged listeners to come together and find each other. We try to always nurture and take care of that, and never take it for granted.

When we realized we were catching a wave, I think the idea was, let’s really catch this wave. I was a new dad at the time and I would stay up all night trying to understand Facebook ads and figuring out how far can we stretch $25 on ads. And how can we advance this through word of mouth? How do you market a podcast on no money and still capitalize on the momentum that we were getting early on?

GillianFor podcasters out there just getting started, as cheesy as it sounds, I’d say lead with wanting to do good work. Lead with the good part of your heart. Because it's so hard to talk about these things, and we're learning all the time, and things are going to change, and it's okay that your show doesn't look the way it did when it started. That's a good thing. Be open to the growth and the knowledge that comes from being wrong or messing up. Because that’s how you learn.

🎧 Podcast of the Week

Having trouble falling asleep? In Sleep with Me, host Dearest Scooter (aka Drew Ackerman) offers bedtime stories to help grown-ups fall asleep in the deep, dark night. This one-of-a-kind bedtime story podcast has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Buzzfeed, Mental Floss, and NOVA. It’s funny. It’s quirky. And a whole heckuva lot more potent than counting sheep.

🥾 Further Exploration

Steve Goldstein’s at it again with another fascinating deep-dive into podcasting. His article, Podcasting Captures Younger Audiences in an Aging Media World, discusses the aging demographics of traditional media audiences compared to the youthful audience of podcasting.


Enjoying The Noise Gate? Why not share it with a fellow podcaster?

Until next time, have a bold week.

– Doug

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