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Audiochuck, Ashley Flowers, and Dealing Justice

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A couple of days ago I got an email from a podcast that I’d previously worked with, subject-line’d: “I have a favor to ask of everyone!” It was a forward, I don’t usually open forwards, but I opened this one and I’m glad I did.

The contents were a few screenshots and a series of exchanges between a podcast called “Dealing Justice” and multiple other parties. Within these contents was an accusation: Audiochuck, and the Queen of True Crime herself, Ashely Flowers, had stolen an independent podcast’s concept and were moving forward to profit off of it with their new podcast “The Deck.”

(Please read PodNews’s exclusive for more context)

I’ve defended Ashley Flowers in the past

In 2019 Flowers was accused of plagiarism by multiple parties across multiple of her Crime Junkie podcast episodes. She was covering true crimes that others had covered and, in doing that, there were many similarities. In particular, there were examples of verbatim copying from other podcasts.

My defense of her at the time was something close to (I’m paraphrasing here):

“Ashley Flowers is only recently a big deal. She’s not a creator with years and years of experience. She wasn’t citing sources, she fucked up, but how many different ways can you tell a story about the same static series of events? She should have been more careful, she wasn’t, she’s gotten her hand slapped and hopefully she’s learned her lesson.”

No longer available article, referenced in September 3rd edition of PodNews

I caught a little bit of flack for that defense of Flowers. People said I wasn’t being hard enough on her, but I’m and indie podcaster whose made a few mistakes himself and I’d actually been in Ashley’s shoes before and I knew, when I was, that it wasn’t intentional. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt.

But that was 2019, it’s now 2022 and in those two years I would expect Audiochuck (of which Flowers is the CEO), to have become a lot more savvy.

A woman standing in front of a board with a bunch of notes pinned to it. Seems to be in a Library setting.

I’m not going to defend Ashley Flowers this time. Instead I’m going to lambast Audiochuck.

I chose to volunteer to bring this story to the media contacts I have because it’s not okay to be inspired by a poor artist, repurpose that poor artist’s art, and go on to make a boat load of money with that repurposed art.

It’s not wrong to take inspiration, artists do it all the time, but it is wrong not to cite those influences – not illegal, mind you, but certainly not right. For a successful individual to co-opt a very much less successful individual’s art and then use that co-opted art to generate a large amount of money, is, what my niece would call, “Cringe as fuh.”

I agree. It is cringe as fuh.

Here’s what Audiochuck should have done, and should still do.

Before we go further, please read the first piece of media to come out about this: PodNews, February 7th 2022 Edition.

First: Audiochuck and Ashley Flowers should apologize, publicly, right now.

I don’t care how they phrase it, or how much they publicize it, but they need to come out and say something very close to:

“We fucked up. We knew about the Dealing Justice podcast and they clearly influenced our direction. We should have sought to collaborate with the women who have been producing Dealing Justice, instead of attempting to go in our own direction and compete with them. That was wrong, and we intend to make amends.”

Second: Audiochuck should invite Dealing Justice to Co-Produce The Deck.

Audiochuck has recently (October 2021) penned an ads exclusivity deal with SiriusXM, so they’ve got the kind of money that could bring on two talents (like the women who produce Dealing Justice) to produce The Deck for Flowers, freeing Flowers up to create other (hopefully more original) programming.

They should start the process of doing this now.

Lastly: They should develop a talent scouting division of the business and let others produce for them.

Like it or not, Audiochuck, and Ashley Flowers specifically, is the de facto King/Queen of True Crime in the podcasting space. She worked hard to get there, she’s obviously a competent individual with some gumption, and for that she is rightfully admired by many.

But it is frequently true, with people like that, that the ability to slow down, to stop the hustle and the hamster wheel grind, isn’t one which comes naturally.

Maybe this is the case for Flowers.

So, take a breath, Ashley, look at what you’ve built and be proud of it. Then consider your position, and your influence, and how pathetically tiny what you’ve built is when compared to what it could be if you invited other talents in to work with you under the Audiochuck brand instead of hosting everything yourself and abandoning new productions after they’ve barely even begun.

Own the mistake, and do better, Audiochuck

Audiochuck owes it to the True Crime community, to their fans, and to the hundreds of beginner true crime genre podcasters to fess up to what they’ve done here. They then need to go about repairing the damage they’ve done, and I believe the best way to begin is by building bridges with the independent podcasting community. A good start to that would be inviting the Dealing Justice women to be part of the production of The Deck in a way that is both credited and paid. Lastly, Audiochuck, show some love for your fellow creators by creating a way to bring talented True Crime creators into the fold to help them grow and to help Audiochuck grow.

I hope you’ll listen. The True Crime creator community deserves it.

Header Photo by Ari Spada on Unsplash

Inline Photo by Brandon Lopez on Unsplash

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