Aaron was born just outside of Detroit, Michigan and lived there for 20 years. These days he lives in Kansas City and hosts the Generation Why Podcast 💠 with Justin. The podcast began after Justin served as a juror for a 1st degree murder trial. He really wanted to talk about all of the things he had learned and since the pair had already made music together years before, they knew a bit about recording and editing and decided to make the first episode of the new podcast about that trial. Aaron’s interests include true crime, electronic music, old radio shows, science, MMA, the NHL, computers, horror novels and films.
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Can’t attend the live event? Ask a question now and Burnie will answer it on Sep 22 2018 @04:30pm(ET) and we’ll let you know via email when your question has been answered.
Hi Aaron, thanks for joining. I’d love to know the case you guys have covered that’s stuck with you the most, and why?
There are quite a few cases that have stuck with me, but if I can only choose one I will go with the case of Jaryd Atadero who went missing in the Colorado mountains. The thought of a young boy getting separated from his group and then being lost terrifies me and my heart goes out to his family.
Hi Aaron! How long do you spend researching each case and what is your process in doing so?
Every case is different. Some cases require me to read up on them and study them for weeks while others only take a week or so to brush up on. As an avid true crime reader and viewer I am familiar with a great number of cases. In the end, I need to know the cases well enough to discuss them with Justin who studies them independently from me. Many times we end up recording episodes without having discussed the topics beforehand.
Depending on the case, we might have trial transcripts, articles, documentaries, books, or other sources to draw from.
Hey Aaron! If you could guest host on any podcast, which one would you choose & why?
One of the first ones that come to mind is In Sight. I have met both Charlie and Ali and I think I get along pretty well with them. I also like the topics they choose for their podcast.
Hi Aaron! Do you ever feel that you need a break from true crime, and if so, what do you do to unwind?
As I’m sure you know, the topics can wear you down a bit. We can only take so much murder before we need a break and for me that happens when I spend time with my family, watch a movie, listen to music, or play a game on my computer. Anything that isn’t crime related helps. The best time to unwind is after we release an episode.
if you could have any band do the theme for Gen Whh which band would you choose?
My pick: ohGr.
I am sure Ogre and Mark Walk could come up with a pretty cool intro for the podcast.
How has being a podcaster impacted your life in ways you didn’t expect? Both positive and negative?
I didn’t expect most of what has happened. It has helped me in many ways. I can safely say that I feel that Justin and I have become better friends because we have had to work so much together over the years. It might have been easy to have a falling out but we have both matured and we’ve been better off for it. Another positive is all the amazing people we have met. Both online and in real life.
One of the only negatives is that I have very little free time. Most podcasters put in a lot of work on their shows.
If you were to start a podcast about anything other than true crime, what would you cover?
That’s a tough question as I have other interests but I don’t know if I could talk as much about other topics as I do true crime. Perhaps MMA, but I would need to focus on it to do it justice.
How long is your list of listener requests? and how do you decide which to pick when?
The list is massive. It’s also not organized in one place. I might do that sometime, but for now I have a note on my phone, screenshots, and labeled emails. I like to go to one of these if I am looking for topics. Sometimes I just have some ready off the top of my head.
As a result of all of your work researching mysteries and unsolved crimes, have you identified gaps or errors common in a lot of investigations that technology could help to plug?
There are older cases that would undoubtedly have benefited from dna testing. But one of the most common errors that I am seeing are from mistaken eyewitnesses. I am not sure that technology can help with that. I think, in the end, that investigations are only as good as the detectives working the case and the evidence they are able to collect. Getting the right mix every time is impossible.
You talk about the Reid interrogation technique in a number of your episodes. Is there an episode that sticks in your mind as the most egregious use of this technique that resulted in a confession that was later proved to be false?
Sadly, I don’t think I can pick just one example. The Reid Interrogation Technique involves placing the subject in a room and then telling them that you know they are guilty. Any statements or replies contrary to what the investigators are looking for is met with anger or disappointment. The subject is told that they are lying and that they know they are lying. “Just tell us the truth!” Eventually, this breaks many people and they can confess just to escape the room or to ‘make it stop’.
What is your favorite mystery?
A couple of mysteries that really interest me:
The disappearance of Amelia Earhart
The true identity of “D.B. Cooper”
Thanks for the podcast and for doing this, Aaron! What does a typical day look like for you?
Breakfast, day job, pick up kids from school, shower, dinner, family time, podcast stuff (research, editing, correspondence, planning, etc.) and sleep.
What’s your favorite book?
I don’t have a favorite book. I have a long list of favorite books.
Clive Barker – Coldheart Canyon
Stephen King – IT
Richard Laymon – In The Dark
Michael Slade – Headhunter
Bret Easton Ellis – American Psycho
Tom Clancy – Red Storm Rising
Lincoln Child & Douglas Preston – Relic
I could keep going…
What do you consider the most egregious case of prosecutorial misconduct in the cases you’ve covered? Which one shocked you the most?
I don’t think there is a ‘worst case’ of prosecutorial misconduct for me, but the Fairbanks Four is up there. As is Kerry Max Cook.
What part of podcasting makes you feel the most accomplished?
The time that you and I have put into it over the years. We stuck with it and continue to enjoy what we do.
Two parter (sorry!) What are your three favorite horror films? -and/or- What are your three favorite horror novels, and why?
Three (of my favorite) Horror Films:
The Evil Dead
Three (of my favorite) Horror Novels:
Stephen King – IT
Richard Laymon – In The Dark
Stephen King – ‘Salem’s Lot
These all just strike me in a way that I remember long after I watch or read them.
How in the world are you two paying your bills given the astronomical amount of research, and production work you seem to put into your episodes. It blows me away that you manage to publish weekly, (but thank you- I love your work)!
Paying the bills isn’t the issue. Sleeping is. 😉
Do you ever feel during your research a struggle similar to those in H.P. Lovecraft literature…? That the knowledge you discover could make you regretful that you’ve searched and gained true insight, or cause you psychological distress…Or conversely make you feel that you’ve switched on a light, illuminating something dark. Hence destroyed its power to create fear, permitting liberation?
Yes to the former question and no to the latter. The truth is that sometimes I will read something and it scars me. Luckily, I have many things going on so the terrible knowledge never consumes me.
The most merciful thing in the world… is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. -H.P. Lovecraft
Just messing with you. What is your favorite beer?
Right now it is Obsidian Stout by Deschutes Brewery.
I really appreciate the way you guys try to be sensitive to issues such as sexual assault/abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, etc. Is there a time when you said something in the podcast that, after hearing from a listener or just evolving as a human, you wish you could take back–that you just really wish wasn’t out there in the world, being heard?
I have felt that way. But, honestly, most who have gotten to know me must realize by now that I want to learn and improve. If I make an error and then I correct it there is progress. I am not perfect, but I do care. The one quote that I have come up with is ‘I’d rather get it right than be right’. I cannot believe that I will always be right.
I’d like to know more about the music you and Justin make together. Where can we find it? Does the way you collaborate musically influence the way you collaborate on other creative ventures like the podcast?
Justin and I made two albums back in 1999 and 2000 under the name Monsters. I made some music all the way until mid 2004 and then I stopped altogether. We haven’t released it anywhere. Or if we have I don’t remember. But the first track we ever made became the intro music for the podcast and lasted from 2012 until 2015.
Are there any cases that you have completely changed your opinion or theory about since recording that episode? Are there any old (no longer available) episodes that you plan to re-record?
Changed my mind:
Plan to re-record:
Nothing set in stone yet. It really depends on how Justin feels as he likes to research new cases.
Are you going to do any follow-ups or revisit past episodes?
Maybe. Not sure. See my answer to the previous question. 🙂
Hey Aaron! love the show! Really appreciate you doing this AMA 🙂 just wanted to know whats the most rewarding aspect of podcasting true crime? the research that goes into the cases themselves or the ability to introduce a new audience and shed light on some really fascinating crimes that may not have had the spotlight otherwise? Thanks again! Z
It’s the community. Listeners and fellow podcasters. It’s pretty amazing that we have all found one another via audio which I really like.
As for our episodes, I do enjoy shedding light on information that many people might not have known about. It doesn’t happen every week, but when it happens it is pretty rewarding. We all want to be armchair detectives, I think.
Do you think with all the new information out the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker/Golden State Killer May be caught?
I hope so. The attention that is being focused on the case is great with tv shows and podcasts really delving into this killer’s crimes and the victims and their families. Debbi Domingo has been one of the people behind the push and she very much believes that as long as the case doesn’t slip away there is a chance to finally solve it. Michelle McNamara’s book was released recently and that should help, too.
In reference to an earlier question regarding music, ironically I didn’t have a very good day today, so I indulged in some Skinny Puppy pretty loud in the jeep on the way home (Cleanse Fold and Manipulate). What is one of your choice albums when you have to let off some steam and really blast some loud music?
Skinny Puppy – The Process
Slayer – Reign In Blood.
If you could have a super power what would it be, and why?
Super endurance or Omnilinguism (Ability to understand any spoken language).