Here are some things I can tell you about Mandy Matney: She’s an excellent reporter (and she knows it…), she loves her employer, she loves her fiancé even more, she has a dog, she has a low level resentment of anyone else covering or investigating the Murdaugh case, she could really use some sponsorship, she’s hypersentive to negative feedback, she’s emotional and, for some reason, she’s keen to emphasize her vocal fry.
What I’m trying to say is that this is a homespun podcast and — unlike some of the offerings coming out of big production houses — you can prepare to become very familiar with the host. She’s recording from her kitchen table after all…
Now for some brutal honesty: I nearly ditched this podcast within the first 5 minutes. Why? Two key reasons really. Firstly, (and I’m aware this isn’t anyone’s fault) the production quality is poor. Really poor. In fact, it’s hard not to wince as every last edit hits with a slight but extremely noticeable change Matney’s vocal tone. This jerkiness can be tough, but I’m willing to admit that it’s something the ear can adjust to (eventually).
The second reason, regrettably, was the narration. We listeners understand that these documentary-style podcasts are scripted. We totally get that the host can’t just freewheel the whole thing and it’s tough to imbue everything with a sense of dramatic wonderment. BUT it hurts our feelings when we can hear that you’re just rattling off some pre-written content without much thought, like listening to someone reading a news article aloud. It makes it harder to listen.
Now for the good. Pushing through the above, there really is much to recommend this podcast. Matney has been extremely dogged in her investigating, and it shows. She tells us that being a connected local makes all the difference — and we believe her (slightly scared not to…)!
Of course, the Mudaugh case is fascinating to begin with, but what Matney brings to the table is expert knowledge — both of the case itself and also of good storytelling. She busts myths, introduces new and important details, carefully constructs and deconstructs scenarios and, critically, she’s does a brilliant job of familiarizing her listeners with the local politics and hierarchies of her part of South Carolina.
A special mention must also has go to Matney’s use of police audio, which brings a real vividness to the series.
If you enjoy getting into the detail of a live case, if you appreciate real old school investigative journalism and the hard work that goes into it, if you’d like to support smaller podcasters, and if you’re up for a fascinating tour of this particularly strange, interconnected series of murders you could do a lot worse than to try this out.