The Toronto Star
By MIRIAM KATAWAZI Staff Reporter
Sun., Feb. 25, 2018
During the late hours when their kids are asleep, Bek and Tyler Allen head down to their brightly lit Brampton basement to immerse themselves in the criminal mind.
The biweekly true-crime podcast they produce, research and air, The Minds of Madness, grew inside their makeshift studio, where they looking into the series of events, circumstances and state of mind of the people who commit unspeakable acts.
“The original idea behind the podcast was to cover stories about seemingly ordinary people who all of the sudden snapped,” said Bek, who works full-time producing videos for humanitarian organizations.
The podcast, which began in December 2016, grew from 5,000 listeners to more than 500,000 over the course of a few months. They have aired 24 episodes so far and this weekend they won four Canadian Podcast Awards — for best debut, sound, theme, and news podcast — at PodCamp Toronto, a two-day annual event at Ryerson University.
“In a genre so heavily populated, to be able to see the growth of our podcast has been wonderful,” said Tyler, who works as an IT professional during the day.
“We try to humanize the stories we tell by listening to the people impacted by the tragedies and giving them a voice.”
The podcast includes interviews with investigators, forensics specialists, social workers, detectives, as well as family members of the victims. It covers cases from around the world, including Canada.
Tyler is the host and Bek does the research, writing and producing for the episodes. They edit together. They estimate they spend about 15-20 a week working on the podcast.
The pair focus on stories where individuals have suddenly committed horrific crimes, rather than serial killers or people whose crimes were well-planned.
Their most popular case is one the Allens have been working on for four months — the unsolved death of 19-year-old Indiana teen Tanner Barton, a healthy college football player at Marian University, who suddenly collapsed and died at a friend’s home in 2012.
Three episodes on this case have been released so far, including the latest one on Feb. 3.
“We were approached to cover the case in October and it’s got to the point now that we are helping with the investigation,” said Rebecca Foster, who uses the name Bek Allen on the show.
“We try to give insight into the fact that these are real people in these stories and families are still trying to pick up the pieces. We want to make the people listening empathize and relate.”
The listeners are very engaged and often become invested in the characters, she said. Sometimes the hosts receive questions asking for more info about the people involved.
Foster said that often, people don’t hear about the human elements behind the crime stories in the news. Their podcast offers the details and human aspects to the stories, she added.
“To be able to create something together and to see thousands of people listening to it means a lot to us,” Tyler said. “We try to spend not too much time on the gruesome details of crime and glorify them but more on the story of the people involved and the states of their minds.”