Missing Michael: Podcast marks millionth milestone

True crime is a genre known for sensationalism, for glamorizing serial killers, and for its focus on wealthy white female victims.

‘Island Crime’ is about as far from that stereotype as you could imagine. So, it may come as a surprise that victim-focused, compassionate storytelling has found an audience so quickly.

This week, the Frequency Podcast Network’s true crime series Island Crime marks a significant milestone. In less than two years, the podcast has now been downloaded 1 million times.

Jordan Heath-Rawlings is the Director of the Frequency Podcast Network, which is owned by Rogers Sports & Media.

“Frequency partnered with Island Crime because Canadians deserve ethical true crime stories that reflect their own communities,” he explained. “We thought that if we could just get people to sample the show they’d realize that this kind of work was being done in their own backyards and support it. It’s been incredibly gratifying to see how Laura and the show have grown, and I’m excited for the stories we’ll tell with her in the coming months and years.”

Missing Michael’, the current season of Island Crime, digs into Canada’s greatest unsolved mystery: the disappearance of Victoria’s four-year-old Michael Dunahee in 1991.

Missing Michael‘ was the most-listened-to podcast in the country the week it debuted. Victoria police confirm the series has already led to an increase in tips on the 30-year-old cold case.

The first season of the Vancouver-Island-based podcast series focused on Lisa Marie Young, a 21-year-old Indigenous woman who vanished from Nanaimo 20 years ago.

‘”Where is Lisa?’ helped Lisa’s story gain worldwide attention. Closer to home, the series brought forward new witnesses and fresh tips,” said Cyndy Hall, a friend of Lisa’s and an organizer of the annual walk for justice for Young, one of the MMIWG.

Launched in May 2020 as an independent podcast, Island Crime’s first season ‘Where is Lisa?’ was hosted and produced by former CBC producer Laura Palmer.

Laura Palmer, the host of a series of Island Crime true crime podcast series, leans on a wooden column near the water, while looking out toward the horizon

Laura Palmer is the host of the Island Crime podcast series. The latest episodes dive into the cold case of missing Michael Dunahee.

Within a few episodes of season 1, Island Crime breached the Top 10 of Apple Podcast’s True Crime chart, a space generally reserved for big podcast players like NBC, Wondery, and CBC.

“I wanted to tell stories about the ways in which crime impacts the lives of those involved while maintaining the authenticity and integrity of local journalism,” said Palmer.

The success led to a partnership with Rogers’ Frequency Podcast Network for Season 2, ‘Gone Boys’, which once again landed on Apple Canada’s Top 10 True Crime chart, and lead to a Jack Webster Award for best podcast in 2021.

True crime podcast series ‘Gone Boys’ aims to draw attention to the missing men of Vancouver Island. Pictured are five of them. (From left to right: Kelly McLeod, Brandon Cairney, Desmond Peter, Ian Henry, and Daniel MacDonnell.)

“Most people who go missing are men, and the most cases which remain missing are also men. The ‘Gone Boys’ are stories of men on the margins, men with mental health and addiction issues. Again, not your typical terrain for true crime coverage,” said Palmer.

The audience response has mostly been favorable, but not everyone welcomes Palmer’s methodical, thoughtful approach to true crime storytelling.

“I’m grateful to everyone who takes the time to listen. More downloads means more people are hearing these stories. With many of these mysteries, it will require someone to step up with new information in order for these families to find justice and peace. Finding a broad audience for Island Crime is important. The old true crime cliche applies: ‘someone knows something,'” said Palmer.

If you have information about the disappearance of Michael Dunahee, please go to Michaeldunahee.ca and click on the report a tip button. You can also report a tip here.

Missing Michael’ is a 10-part podcast series for Rogers Frequency Network. New episodes will be published weekly on Tuesdays until the end of March. 

You can listen to this series and other Island Crime episodes on all podcast platforms.

Rogers is the parent company of this station and the Frequency Podcast Network

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