Zak Rosen, Graham Media’s podcast director, said the podcasts use archival content already generated by WDIV’s TV news coverage of the stories, updated and enlarged with new interviews.
Four children kidnapped and murdered. Their bodies dumped in locations near Detroit. The murder investigation was the largest in U.S. history at the time. But 40 years later, the case is still unsolved.
That’s the subject of WDIV’s latest podcast released in March, its third docuseries of podcasts, Shattered: Child Killer. WDIV is Graham’s NBC affiliate in Detroit.
“These murders put the whole metro Detroit region on high alert in the late 1970s and early 1980s,” said Marla Drutz, WDIV’s general manager. “We hope that reopening the vault of video and investigating every angle will help investigators solve these cases.”
The eight episodes of Shattered: Child Killer spotlight relatives of the murdered children, investigators who worked the case and the journalists who covered, and are still covering, the story.
Click here to download.
Shattered: Child Killer follows two earlier releases of WDIV podcasts under the Shattered umbrella. The first investigates the 2010 disappearance of three brothers in Morenci, Michigan, and the second takes listeners through the life of Richard Wershe, Jr., aka White Boy Rick, the youngest FBI informant turned drug dealer.
Those first two series of podcasts of Shattered have garnered 2.1 million downloads.
The audio podcasts stream on the station’s website, ClickOnDetroit.com and the WDIV-Local 4 app on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire and most smart TVs.
Zak Rosen, Graham Media’s podcast director said the podcasts use archival content already generated by WDIV’s TV news coverage of the stories, weaving in new interviews in the writing of the podcasts.
“For a local audience, it just reinforces our brand as being compelling storytellers and journalists, but the stories have interest to people beyond our DMA,” said Rosen.
Jamie Walters, WDIV’s creative services and programming director, said only a portion of the podcasts listeners come from Michigan.
“There are people from 70 countries that downloaded episodes of Shattered,” said Walters. “As a new frontier for a local TV station and a local media company, it is very exciting to think about creating content for both a local audience and a national, international audience. It is opening up whole new doors.”
Rosen said direct response advertisers pay based on many listeners the podcasts generate.
As marketing the podcasts, Walters said the station does promote them, “but I do believe that a lot of the engagement online and people downloading are not necessarily people that saw the TV promotions. Podcasts are something that people recommend to their friends. Word of mouth and also influencers and people who write specifically about podcasts sometimes have much more influence.”
“The next goal for us is to convert our TV audience and make them understand how rich an experience it can be to listen to podcasts,” said Rosen.
NOTE: I think this is a great example of how local TV broadcasters can take archival material of high interest, like true crime, and re-imagine it into the digital space. Nobody has more media content about their markets than TV stations. The true crime genre does well on broadcast in shows like Dateline, 20/20 and 48 Hours, and there are many true crime documentaries and docuseries that can be streamed on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Here’s a primetime special that aired on WDIV in February about the Oakland County Child Killer. The special on YouTube has more than 100,000 views.
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