Mike Ferguson spends a lot of time thinking about the “frog demon.”
“That’s our name for the thing that makes them go out and do things that other people can’t comprehend,” Ferguson, the co-host of “True Crime All The Time” told me while sitting on a comfortable sofa at Reza’s Downtown in the Oregon District.
“ You (a true crime fan) are tying to figure out how these people are wired that they can do these things that you can’t even fathom.”
The Miamisburg resident has recorded the podcast with friend and former co-worker Mike Gibson of Tipp City in his basement studio since 2016.
The pair are among a growing number of Dayton-area podcasters, but one of the few with a national following.
“True Crime All The Time” recently released its 151st episode, the second of two shows about John Wayne Gacy.
Gacy is one of the most notorious of the murderers the duo have discussed on the show.
Others like Dayton-born killer David Copenhefer and Marvallous Keene, one of this city’s Christmas killers, are lesser known nationally.
Ferguson was working as a vice president of a bank when he got a notion to start a podcast and solicited Gibson’s help.
He was a fan of business podcasts and a list of shows like the one hosted by Adam Carolla.
He wanted to try it out.
“I really thought we’d get some friends and family that would listen,” Ferguson said. “We didn’t make any money for a long, long time.”
Ferguson said he found his niche and his footing.
And, when he was laid off from his job in 2018, he started podcasting full-time.
Neither the sponsors nor the fans came right away, but they have come. Ferguson said he did not initially see that coming.
When they started, Ferguson said neither he nor Gibson had a background in radio or entertainment.
Ferguson now puts out four podcasts per week.
There’s True Crime All The Time, “True Crime All The Time Unsolved” with Gibson and “Criminology” with
Mike Morford of New Jersey.
Gibson and Ferguson recently launched “The Reviews Are In,” a podcast that features the funniest reviews from around the Internet.
Ferguson, the president of Emash Digital, his podcast network, said he spends hours upon hours a week pouring through old police reports and newspaper articles and editing pops, hisses and other imperfections out of his audio.
A single episode can take 20 hours to produce.
“Telling a story and having to research it is a lot of time especially as it related to true crime,” he said. “People don’t know how much time and work is involved.”
The detail put in true crime podcasts varies as does the approach.
Some shows like the very popular “Sword and Scale” podcast have much higher production.
Others like “My Favorite Murder” are packed with humor.
Ferguson said he and his partners focus on the story, but flash in a few jokes or asides.
“You are telling very dark story for an hour or a hour and half, it is just to lighten it up,” he added.
They dive as deep as they can into the background of the subjects they profile, including learning about their childhoods and potential head injuries, Ferguson said.
He says he learned a lot about those among us with the darkest souls.
“I don’t think it has changed my empathy level or anything like that about victim. It has definitely changed the way I feel about killers to the point. I have no feeling about these guys at all,” the father of two daughters said. “Not only can they do it (murder), but they have no remorse. Murdering and some of the sexual crimes is almost like ordering a pizza to them.”