The Devastating Story of a Brilliant Mind

Mary Payne sits down with her friend Doug Budin to discuss the blockbuster podcast called S-Town, which dives into the life of the enigmatic John B. McLemore. s-town

A Groundbreaking Podcast

Released in 2017, S-Town has become one of the most popular and critically acclaimed true crime podcasts over the past two years due to its brilliant storytelling, fascinating characters, and hauntingly beautiful music. S-Town was created by the producers of Serial and This American Life and is hosted by Brian Reed

The podcast has not been without controversy. Soon after the podcast aired, McLemore’s Estate sued the producers of S-Town for revealing details of the now-deceased McLermore’s personal life without his permission. Despite the ongoing legal battle, S-Town continues to receive praise from listeners who are enthralled by the life of John.

The Unusual Friendship of Brian Reed and John B. McLemore

Mary Payne and Doug take us through the seven episodes of S-Town. Several years ago, Brian Reed began receiving messages from a stranger named John B. McLemore about a murder that occurred in his hometown of Bibb County, Alabama (which is not-so-affectionately called “Shittown” by John). When Brian traveled to Bibb County to look into John’s allegations, he quickly found that the real story was not with the now-debunked murder story, but rather with John himself. The first few episodes follow the budding friendship between Brian and John.

S-Town takes a shocking turn when John committed suicide in 2015. The remainder of the series unravels John’s life, as seen through his friends and acquaintances. It also follows the legal battles for John’s Estate between his close friend Tyler and his relatives, Reta and Charlie. Mary Payne and Doug are more sympathetic toward Tyler, who, despite his own legal troubles and shady history, had a close and loving relationship with John.

A Portrait of a Suffering Genius 

Mary Payne and Doug find John to be a complex and intriguing character. A profane and ranting “redneck” from rural Alabama, John was also a mechanical genius, horologist, and self-educated expert on issues like climate change. He developed a number of close friendships and romantic relationships throughout his life, only to cut himself off once others came into the picture. John and his friends also discussed his struggles as a gay man in his rural South community. 

John’s penchant for retreating from relationships and diving into rant-fueled depressions could be linked to his dangerous habit of fire gilding while working on clocks. This revelation provides us with a more complete understanding of S-Town’s protagonist. 

Overall, Mary Payne and Doug recommend that everyone listen (at least twice) to this emotional and compelling podcast series. 

Catch up on all of the Payne in the Pod episodes, here. And don’t forget, Payne in the Pod is on Patreon – become a Patron

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Find Doug at:

Instagram – @dougbudin

Jeff Lewis Live on Radio Andy (Sirius Channel 102)

Corruption, Murder, and the Pursuit of Justice

In Murder in Oregon, host Lauren Bright Pacheco takes listeners back to 1989 Salem, Oregon where the state’s Director of Corrections, Michael Francke, was murdered. Soon after his death, authorities pinned the murder on a low-level meth dealer. Murder in Oregon looks into the murder through the lenses of Francke’s brothers and a local journalist who believe that authorities got it wrong–that Francke is dead because he knew too much.murder-in-oregon

 A Long Road to True Crime Podcasts

Lauren Bright Pacheco has found a home in the podcast community. She and Mary Payne discussed how they enjoy media productions in which the subjects can drive the narrative and their voices can be heard. 

Previously, Lauren was a TV producer on the Dr. Oz show where she met Melissa Moore, daughter of Keith Hunter Jesperson (the infamous Happy Face killer). Lauren and Melissa produced a podcast about Melissa’s dad called Happy Face.

Lauren first heard of the Francke murder from journalist Phil Stanford during her production of the Happy Face. Phil worked for the Oregonian newspaper at the time of Francke’s murder, where his ensuing obsession with the case almost derailed his career. The more Lauren learned about the complex and compelling case, the more her fascination grew. She decided to start a podcast on this story and began production in March 2019.

The Murder of Michael Francke

Murder in Oregon takes listeners to the night of Francke’s murder, where he was stabbed to death next to his car outside of his office in Salem. The murder was ruled a “car burglary gone wrong,” even though the suspect didn’t steal his watch, wallet, or any money. The murderer did, however, steal his laptop and floppy disks–just before Francke planned to present evidence of endemic corruption and an organized criminal element within his department. 

Authorities convicted low-level meth dealer Frank Gable of killing Francke. He was sentenced to 30 years in jail. Phil Stanford, along with Francke’s brothers, Pat and Kevin, believe Gable is innocent. The podcast gives these three compelling and compassionate characters a platform to argue why they believe that the Gable arrest was a coverup–and why the real truth would implicate powerful figures in Oregon. 

The Story is Not Over

Frank Gable was released from prison after his 30-year sentence in June 2019. However, the State of Oregon plans to appeal his release and put him back behind bars. Gable’s defense attorney, Lisa C. Hay, is presenting a strong argument for Gable’s innocence. Meanwhile, Lauren, Phil, Pat, and Kevin continue to hunt down the truth. 

Catch up on all of the Payne in the Pod episodes, here. And don’t forget, Payne in the Pod is on Patreon – become a Patron

Podcast Recommendations: 

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Find Lauren at:

Personal Twitter: @BrightPacheco

Podcast Twitter: @MurderinOregon

A Silenced Generation of Women

Mary Payne is joined by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Paige St. John of the Los Angeles Times to discuss the Man In The Window

The Man In The Window is a podcast that recounts the story of the Golden State killer and delves into the people around the accused killer, Joseph DeAngelo.

Paige was assigned to the Golden State Killer case the day Joseph DeAngelo was arrested. Paige shares with Mary Payne that while she was doing background on the story, she began to realize that the victims were being treated unfairly, and in some cases, were silenced. This led to a lack of public and personal acknowledgment of the true trauma that the victims experienced. Mary Payne is shocked to learn that at the time these crimes took place, rape was only considered a property crime and the punishment was 3 years at most; half of the offenders walked out of the court and back onto the street. 

Giving Voice to the Victims

Paige makes a point of talking to the male victims and highlighting the ones that were willing to talk. Male victims weren’t acknowledged in the media but there were 29 of them who were bound and left in bed, where they were taunted by the rapist for hours while their wives/companions were raped and tortured. In some police reports the male victims were categorized as a witness. Paige is currently uncovering suggestions that in some of the attacks the male was the original target, in order to “steal the honor” or harm certain men he’d had altercations with.

Locks Don’t Stop Criminals

Paige explains the importance of knowing your neighbors and how, while she was interviewing people, it amazed her to find out how little people knew about the person they lived next door to. This leads Mary Payne and her to discuss how different times are now compared to how they were during the time of these crimes. These crimes took place when a sense of a community was more relevant than it is in present times. Paige believes that it is good to develop a sense of community and expressed that locks only slow down a break in but for true safety, it is better for a person to have eyes and a sense of awareness.

Who is Bonnie Ueltzen?

A person of interest in understanding the Golden State Killer is Bonnie Ueltzen who was the former teenage fiancé of Joseph DeAngelo. She is significant because in multiple crimes the accused killer called out her name or uttered phrases like, “I hate you, Bonnie”. Bonnie had previously never given an interview due to the value of her privacy. However, after much persistence, Paige was able to get her to agree to speak aloud. There were things that she’d never told anyone, for instance, the time her fiancé came to her window with a gun to abduct her. Bonnie’s father was able to talk Joseph down and leave but they never spoke about it again although it continued to affect Bonnie throughout her life. It had only been in recent therapy sessions just prior to Paige’s interview with her, that Bonnie had begun to discuss the trauma she experienced.

What is Next

Paige is finishing up the Man In The Window story. She is looking at the uses of DNA and the cold cases that it is closing. She is looking more at the declining health of Joseph and the fact that he is 74 years old. There is a fear that if he dies prior to the trial, there will be questions left unanswered.

Catch up on all of the Payne in the Pod episodes, here. And don’t forget, Payne in the Pod is on Patreon – become a Patron

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Find Paige at:

Man in the Window podcast 

Twitter – @paigestjohn

LinkedIn – Paige St.John


I’ll be gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

A Mother’s Approval & Addiction

Mary Payne is in New York City with actor, singer, and producer John Hill for this episode to discuss the true crime podcast, The Ballad of Billy Balls.the-ballad-of-billy-balls

The Ballad of Billy Balls is a podcast that tells the story of musician Billy Balls’ death. The podcast is hosted by iO Tillett Wright – the transgender child of Billy’s girlfriend, Rebecca Wright. Mary Payne and John go into a detailed conversation around Rebecca and iO. They discuss addiction, eating disorders, Rebecca’s personality, their living situations, and more. 

John and Mary Payne work through the heavy question, did the cops target Billy or was he simply just shot by a cop? They have their own theories on what may have happened. Tune in to listen.

Achieving Closure

The Ballad of Billy Balls story concludes with Billy’s body being found in a potter’s field in New York, only identified by a number. Mary Payne and John ponder whether Rebecca was able to achieve closure by finding out what really happened with Billy. They discuss the idea of closure and what is it really?

Catch up on all of the Payne in the Pod episodes, here. And don’t forget, Payne in the Pod is on Patreon – become a Patron

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Find John Hill at

The Feels on Radio Andy

Instagram: johnarthurhill

Twitter: @thebossofyou

The Mysterious Suicide in Mississippi

The suicide of Christian Andreacchio has been left a mystery for many years. The host and producer of Culpable join Mary Payne to discuss in depth.

On February 26, 2014, young Christian Andreacchio was found dead of an apparent suicide in Meridian, Mississippi.culpable-podcast However, there is mystery and speculation on whether his death was actually a suicide or whether he was murdered. Culpable, a true crime podcast, tells the mysterious story of Christian’s death and shares the complexities with the investigation of his death. Host Dennis Cooper and Producer, Mark Minnery, join Mary Payne to take a deep dive into the podcast. 

Questioning the Death

Dennis and Mark explain in detail how they got involved in the case in 2018. The two share what went into their investigation of Christian’s death including the help his mother, Rae, gave them through documentation and timelines she had put together. The three discuss various aspects of the case, questioning how the Meridian Police Department could believe Christian’s friends and assume it was an open-and-shut case. They touch on Christian’s girlfriend, Whitley Goodman, and the role she may or may not have played in his death as well as the supposed “Gun Night” that took place earlier that evening.

The Culpable team discusses their relationship with Sheila Wysocki, the Private Investigator hired by the Andreacchio family and host of the podcast Without Warning, and her role of recreating a 3D model of the bathroom where Christian was found dead utilizing forensics technology.

A Reward for Information

There are so many questions surrounding the death of Christian. There is currently a reward being offered up to $100,000 to anyone that can bring an arrest and conviction to this case. This reward is sponsored by the Culpable team at Black Mountain Media, as well as their partner Tenderfoot.

Will there be a Season Two of Culpable with another case and story? Dennis shares the answer at the end of the episode.

Catch up on all of the Payne in the Pod episodes, here. And don’t forget, Payne in the Pod is on Patreon – become a Patron

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Find Culpable at

Facebook/Instagram/Twitter: @culpablepodcast