Detroit’s relationship with crime and corruption dates back decades, and the nation will get a better understanding of it beginning Monday when hit podcast “Crimetown” returns.
After delving into the criminal enterprises in Providence, R.I. in the first season two years ago, executive producers Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier started thinking about where to go for season two.
They credit Detroit’s most infamous mayor that led them on a path to the Motor City.
“We were first attracted to the story of Kwame Kilpatrick, and that sort of peaked our interest first” Stuart-Pontier said. “Then, once we started digging in and learning more and more about the history of Detroit, we got excited very quickly.”
It immediately rose to the top of their list for season two, and Smerling said the history of Detroit has a lot to say about where the United States is as a country now.
The podcast will begin with the Detroit Police Department’s STRESS unit, which stood for Stop the Robberies, Enjoy Safe Streets.
“We’re deep in the early days of STRESS right now,” Stuart-Pontier added. “I had no idea about any of that. That was a big thing for us.”
It’s expected to span about 20 episodes, around 15 of which will be regular episodes with some bonus episodes as well. Like the first season, it will feature interviews with the characters of the stories they are telling.
“I think what’s appealing to us and what we want to try to do, is tell the story of the city from many different perspectives and let the audience decide what they think for themselves,” Stuart-Pontier said.
Smerling said they talked to police and the victims, and that they want everyone to meet the people who have been part of controversial moments in Detroit’s history.
“Two things we’re looking for: We want to really slow that story down so we understand it from a different perspective, but we also want to make an emotional connection with good guys and bad guys.
“Ultimately, if we can’t find sympathy in these characters, then we’re discarding them as not worth our time and not worth our focus, and I think that’s a mistake,” Smerling added.
On top of STRESS, the podcast will cover political corruption in Detroit, drugs, crime and more, all featuring those involved.
“We’re going to get into Coleman a little bit,” Stuart-Pontier said. You can’t tell the story of Detroit without at least getting into Coleman. I think that will be really interesting.”
At the end of the trailer released earlier this month, they also previewed an interview with Kilpatrick from federal prison.
When asked what fans could expect and how long they’ve been talking to Kilpatrick, Stuart-Pontier said, “We’ve been talking to Kwame for almost…for months. So they can expect to hear a fair amount from him.”
Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in prison in 2013 after being found guilty on two-dozen charges including racketeering, extortion, bribery and more.
The duo said they have a great fondness for Detroit.
“The fact that we’re choosing to highlight crime and corruption doesn’t mean that that’s the only thing going on there,” Stuart-Pontier said. “We’re looking to have a positive impact on Detroit."
Both Smerling and Stuart-Pontier didn’t do all of the reporting and all of the hosting for this season, and they said they had an incredible team of people who have been back-and-forth to Detroit at least 10 times, so they’ll be doing some of the hosting.
“We wanted the tape and the people who were there to tell the story, so that’s going to continue,” Stuart-Pontier added. "We’re really trying to let people speak for themselves.”
“Having people in the story of Detroit tell their own stories, and keeping it on the ground, keeping it in the voice of Detroit, I think that will make it really fresh for people,” Smerling said.
“Detroit’s a tough town, and its residents are even tougher,” the podcast’s description reads. “They’ve weathered riots, a drug epidemic, political scandal, and innumerable other hardships, but they’re still here – and they have stories to tell.”
“Crimetown” season two will premiere Monday, Oct. 1 everywhere and subsequent episodes will be available every Monday exclusively on Spotify.