Over 36,000 Five Star Ratings (a record) 1000+ raving listener reviews on Apple Podcasts in the first month of release - and already optioned for adaptation for a Television series - DR DEATH has been a wild ride and holds an interesting lesson.
I was fortunate enough to work on last year’s break out hit audio series Dirty John and it was hard to imagine I’d get the opportunity to work on something that connects with such a large number of people that powerfully and that quickly. Enter Dr. Death.
DR. DEATH is 6 episode investigative mini-series about a medical system that failed to protect 33 patients in Dallas. Reported and hosted by Laura Beil produced for Wondery - Sound Design and Production by yours truly.
The audio production on this series is more forward, designed and cinematic than public radio journalists and listeners are accustomed or even prefer. It’s the kind of work I most enjoy doing - scoring these stories as I might a film.
It might seem a risky move from a pure journalism point of view - but when it’s done right it can get quality journalism into the ears and minds of people that might not have previously consumed it.
While a few from the public radio corner of the audio space will comment with concern that if the journalism is that good “you don’t need” that kind of sound and production approach - I’d argue the opposite. It’s easy to forget that podcasts are still not consumed by most people (only 17%) and most of those listeners came from the public radio space. That’s a small space, relatively speaking.
If the journalism is that good and important - you absolutely DO need that kind of audio design and production so that it can reach as many ears and minds as possible.
This view feels vindicated by the fact that those concerns are not echoed by listeners in the 1000s of reviews and comments about the series. Instead they comment about how engrossing and terrifying the series is and the need to tell everyone they know about it.
That is how the podcast audience expands beyond the 17% of the population.
But that is not really my aim - my aim is to use powerful sound to make great audio stories resonate with ever wider audiences.