One of the most stunning podcast success stories in recent years, is Casefile, a true crime podcast started just over two years ago by a mystery Australian bloke “from a spare room in his house”.
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Narrated anonymously, his distinctive Australian drawl has added an element of creepiness to tales drenched in blood. Every week hundreds of thousands of listeners, indeed sometimes many millions, download or stream the latest Casefile podcast.
With this viral success, the podcast has quickly become a slick, commercial venture with advertising, a creepy soundtrack and professional production qualities.
A team of engineers, producers, composers and researchers have sprung up around the Casefile creator and host.
But his identity – like the perpetrators of the unsolved crimes retold on the podcast – remains a closely guarded secret.
In an interview with Vice.com in October 2016, the Casefile host said he wanted to remain anonymous so that he could “stay out of the story and “let the facts speak for themselves”.
“I’m just a random Aussie guy, in my spare bedroom, running a podcast,” he said modestly.
As a naturally curious journalist, I decided to take up the challenge and try to found out who the Casefile host was.
It wasn’t really hard – if you know where to look.
Indeed, for someone who wanted to remain anonymous, he didn’t seem to be making much of an effort to hide his identity.
And so last week, I ran a story, briefly, on this blog revealing his identity.
If you were one of the 100 or so people who read the post, you would know who he is and would have seen his photograph.
Soon after it was published and Tweeted and Facebooked, the Casefile host contacted me and asked me not to reveal his identity and to remove the post and all my social media about it.
I was bemused by his reaction, as I thought his anonymity was a “marketing gimmick” and that it if a blogger like me revealed it would not make any difference to the show or how it is presented. Indeed many of his fans crave to know who he is.
But no, he told me, it had nothing to do with marketing but affected his “real world life” and his “ability to do the show”.
In the end I took it down.
He told me that if no damage had been done to his anonymity and the show could continue, he would consider doing an interview with me.
I’ve sent over a few thought-provoking questions…let’s see what happens.
Of course, I remain intrigued as to why his anonymity is so vital to the show’s viability. No other podcasts I know of has anonymous narrators.
In fact, most successful podcast creators, like the hosts of the ground breaking Serial have become famous in their own right.
And so while the Casefile host insists on not making his identity part of the murderous stories he tells, for me, his identity has, ironically, become the story.
As, I think it always has been for many of his faithful listeners.