Weekly podcast is too scripted, strays away from authenticity

Cults falls short despite captivating subject matter
Photo courtesy of Stitcher

Cults is a weekly podcast that takes an in-depth look at a specific cult and its leader. The podcast focuses on cults and leaders that most are familiar with, like Charles Manson’s Family and Jim Jones’s People’s Temple, as well as lesser known groups like Roch Theriault and The Ant Hill Kids. Cults is a darkly fascinating informational podcast to satisfy anyone’s appetite for everything macabre.

The podcast began in September 2017 and spends two weeks apiece analyzing some of history’s most notorious cults. The first episode is spent overviewing the groups and in the second, listeners are walked through more of the psyche of the leaders and the tactics they used deceive their followers.

Cults is jointly hosted by Greg Paulson and Vanessa Richardson, who also host the podcast Serial Killers. Richardson primarily researches the psychology behind serial killers and examines each cult leader from childhood to the end of their reign as leader. Through this, listeners learn a thorough biography about each leader in each episode.

The history of each group is discussed by Paulson. He goes in- depth of the life-altering events of each leader that trained them for leading. As a team, Paulson and Richardson are able to cover every detail that turned an average person into a dangerous leader, and sometimes, murderer.

While the information is captivating, the podcast follows a very obvious script. The conversations that Paulson and Richardson have are crafted to sound casual yet informative, but they comically miss the mark. While it fails to feel natural, like most other podcasts, some aspects of the show provide a momentary comic relief from the dark subject of murders.

Regardless of the format, anyone with an inkling of an interest in murder psychology needs to put Cults at the top of their podcasts to listen to list.

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