Despite not having network or big-market resources, in January 2017, Quad Cities NPR affiliate WVIK and veteran journalist Scott Reeder launched a true-crime podcast, “Suspect Convictions” – a near-instant hit. Within the first month, “Suspect Convictions” shot up to number two on the Apple Podcast charts and was downloaded more than 600,000 times. The podcast explores the ongoing prosecution of Stanley Liggins, who has twice been convicted for the 1990 murder of a nine-year-old girl, Jennifer Lewis (both convictions were overturned). Reeder, a former police reporter, was at the crime scene the night Lewis was found burned to death.
“Suspect Convictions” serves as a model for how public media can successfully leverage partnerships to create compelling content.