If your favorite podcast host feels like they became your best friend during COVID-19, you’re not the only one. A study published in late 2022 found that the more hours you spend listening to podcasts, the more likely you will have a strong parasocial relationship with hosts.
These are one-sided relationships in nature, where the hosts probably don’t know you exist, but you still find yourself emotionally invested. Mostly, these can be passive investments but can snowball into stan culture (think: Swifties).
One of the study authors, Stephanie J. Tobin, a senior psychology lecturer at Queensland University of Technology, explained that these relationships overall led to a bigger sense of belonging and “presence of meaning.”
But sometimes, just like with real friends, we reach a point in our one-sided relationship where we can’t keep going.
Getting Basic Facts Wrong
If you’re pressing play on a podcast, especially if it's true crime, chances are you have an expectation that the facts you’re being told about a case are correct.
Even if a podcast falls into the “true crime comedy” category, listeners admitted on Reddit that facts matter. One user shared a list of reasons why they’ve had to quit podcasts over the years, and “getting basic facts wrong” was a reason they’ve stopped listening to a show.
Unless you’re turning on a podcast with the expectation of a casual discussion about true crime, a host’s opinion about a case — especially when they’re presenting facts — is unwelcomed.
“When the host shows bias that affects their narrative, I check out,” one Redditor wrote. Another added that, unless the host is an expert — whether they’re former law enforcement or a lawyer — they’d rather hosts “keep their thoughts and opinions to a minimum.”
Stories Become a Stretch
With how many stories of true crime there are to talk about, you would expect shows to never run out of content to cover. However, when a podcast is tackling a specific section of true crime, listeners have found shows can start to loosen the definition of the subject.
One Reddit user talked about Disgraceland, a podcast that covers music history through a true crime lens. They admitted they stopped listening because “the stories became such a stretch.” The show’s episode on Grateful Dead stood out “as being particularly contrived.”
While people who listen to podcasts know that, for the most part, the true crime podcasts they’re listening to aren’t shows based on original journalism, they still want the host to tell the story in their own words.
“I just gave up a YouTube channel because the host basically stole her script from the first article that came up when you Google the case,” one Redditor explained. They added that when they asked the show to share their sources, their comment was deleted.
Another user agreed, mentioning how they used to be a fan of the popular podcast Crime Junkies, explaining how the show was the original podcast that pulled them into true crime. But after the show was accused of plagiarizing, they stopped listening entirely.
True crime stories, while consumed for entertainment and often played as background noise for chores, are still about real people. For many podcast listeners, the second the show's host stops acting like that, the listener immediately unsubscribes. One podcast that many Redditors brought up was Morbid, whose hosts have been accused of making tasteless jokes at the expense of victims as well as victim blaming.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.