Method and Madness
with Dawn Gandhi
I'm Dawn and I've never met a baby or a dog that didn't cause my voice to go into a high register. I live every day with optimism and humor all wrapped up in a tight bundle of anxiety. Oh, also, I'm the host of the true crime podcast Method and Madness. I started it because I saw that absolutely nobody had a true crime podcast. Just kidding, I started one because I want to change the world. There's that crazy optimism, but it's true. The 2 things that make me cry the most are George Bailey running through Bedford Falls and the times that humanity touches my soul. Since I started a true crime podcast, I've been amazed by the people I've met. Survivors, family members of victims and people advocating for change. Just regular people going to their day job but making time to be a voice. A force. It's easy to get cynical when it feels like the world is a dumpster fire, but there are truly good people out here making an impact. My hope is that at the end of the day, I'm one of them.
Share an experience that has shaped who you are today.
It’s been a journey getting here. As a child, 2 relatives (unrelated to each other) were victims of violence. One survived her attack, one didn’t. It was shocking as I was only 11 and 13 respectively. Maybe it was generational, but these were not events where an adult really sat down and talked to me. I processed what I could by overhearing the adult conversations and the gossip about town. And so, I developed a curiosity over the years, maybe a morbid curiosity? And then with America's Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries I grew more and more curious. I took a few Criminal Justice classes in high school and went on to study CJ in college where I also interned with a prison and a police department. I was enthralled with the topics of crime, profiling and understanding "the why". How do people grow up to be monsters? Are they monsters, or are they just people like you and me but something went wrong? What went wrong? From there, life happened. I ended up in Corporate America, which was a positive experience, but it left me wanting more. I could never shake the feeling that I was supposed to be doing something bigger. I couldn't shake the feeling that when I got home each night, I couldn't really see my value in the world. Sure, work was going well, and I was getting promotions and learning skills and learning lessons. But was that the legacy I was leaving? Master of Microsoft Excel? I kept coming back to "there's something more." I got married and had two really cute kids and fulfilled my dream of being a mom. I'm a hands-on mom but I wanted to make sure not to lose myself in a predictable routine. Still interested in Criminal Justice, though now it was known as "true crime" I continued watching crime documentaries and reading all the books and articles I could get my hands on. I had a list on my phone of unsolved cases that I wanted to keep tabs on. I found myself going down True Crime Reddit rabbit holes when I couldn't sleep at night. I began listening to true crime podcasts. This was long after Serial came out- no surprise there- I'm punctual with appointments and terribly late with trends. I began discovering some really well-done true crime podcasts and some that were lacking something. By 2018, I started thinking "I could do this." In 2019, I cut my hours down to part time and looked forward to being home more. More time with the family, more time with my own creative pursuits. Then, the pandemic hit, and I had a lot of time to reflect on my legacy. I started planning out my first episode and what my goal was in creating a true-crime podcast. I knew I wanted to insert myself into the true-crime community as a creator and not just a consumer. But I wasn't exactly sure what my end-goal was. To shed light on unsolved crimes? To highlight injustice? I started doing the work, knowing that the goal would come to me. From Day 1, I had one rule: write and produce every episode like the victim's family is listening. I gave the podcast a name and released the first episode expecting that maybe my mom and husband would listen to it. To my surprise, the show started to grow, and my listeners were expanding far outside my little town in New Jersey. A listener in Australia sent me an email and I was so grateful that people were listening and commenting on how victim-focused the show was. My #1 intention was reaching the audience. About 6 months in, I reached out to the mother of a murder victim to see if she wanted to talk and share her experience. Not only did she do that, but it's been a year and we still talk. I've continued to work with survivors and family members of victims and in the past year I've started to realize my end-goal. True crime does not exist in a vacuum. So much of the crimes we read about are a microcosm of greater issues. Violence against women, corruption, social norms. I've learned a lot of lessons in the 20 months since the podcast launched. I've made mistakes, I've made some more, and I'm still here. And, I'm not going anywhere.
Tell us about your podcast audience.
My listeners are awesome. I imagine that they keep coming back because the content is free. I kid, I kid. The feedback I get is that listeners appreciate the in-depth research and the victim-centered content. Perhaps they've forgiven me for those first few episodes where I sounded like a bundle of nerves.
What makes your podcast unique?
Method and Madness is compassionate true crime with a purpose. Through immersive storytelling, each episode covers a lesser-known case of murder, stalking, missing persons, injustice, or a real-life mystery. Every episode is centered on the victims and the survivors and never glorifies the criminal. No click-bait, no sensationalism. Just empathy here. Listeners are provided with resources on how to seek help if they are victims or know somebody who is. Resources on how to help and how to be an advocate are provided in the show notes and on the podcast's website. Additionally, I work with several organizations to advocate for change; from child marriage in the U.S. to honor-based abuse internationally, I want to help raise awareness and stop the violence.