Jonathan Hirsch is the founder and CEO of Neon Hum Media, an LA-based podcast production company. He is a recipient of the Green Eyeshade, Edward R. Murrow and duPont Awards. His 7-part documentary podcast series Dear Franklin Jones debuted #1 on the iTunes podcast charts.
Launched in April of 2018, Neon Hum specializes in narrative-driven, high production value, “audio first” documentaries, talk shows, and partner content.
Not all great podcast documentaries are true crime. In fact, I got my start as a series producer when I wanted to tell a story that wasn’t about true crime.
This is a list of some of my favorite documentary series (some that I’ve worked on) about something more transcendent than a criminal act: stories about how the people we place our trust in can fail us, and the sometimes dire consequences that ensue.
Dear Franklin Jones
My first foray into limited documentary series. The story of my parents, their guru, and what happens when a life of happiness is promised, but not fulfilled.
A series we produced with Rachel Maddow and Mike Yarvitz for MSNBC: the little known tale of the corruption in the White House in the midst of Watergate, and the federal prosecutors who brought down the Vice President at the risk of our democracy.
Some of the brightest talent in podcasting put this series together. About a town in the California desert that sold a dream. The town that wasn’t actually a town, and the dream that wasn’t a dream.
The Other Latif
In the midst of a presidential transition, one man was promised freedom that another administration was unwilling to give. This is one of the most eloquently constructed series I’ve ever listened to in my life.
A podcast about the quest to bring justice to the victims of Bill Cosby. A riveting re-telling of a flashpoint moment in recent US history. It does what podcasts do best.
I listened to every episode of this series in a weekend. I couldn’t stop. A murder investigation that happens in real time, in audio. It’s incredible and groundbreaking.
This is exactly the kind of series I hope to see more of. It’s about the oil boom in the Permian Basin in Texas. A story about a town transformed by the promise of the new gold rush, its winners, and losers. A rich, nuanced portrait of a place…a story that rests on more than a pure villain.
Heavy Medals from 30 for 30 Podcasts
One of the most masterfully executed docs in audio in recent memory. It also features complicated and complex Eastern European characters! Which I appreciate.
Headlong: Surviving Y2K
Dan Taberski is the best writer in audio. Full stop. This series is both beautifully written and exquisitely structured.
Smoke Screen: Fake Priest
Neon Hum’s first original limited series is coming soon! It’s about a man known as Father Ryan. A priest who betrayed the trust of congregants all over the Midwest. Our reporter Alex Schuman went in search of answers, and found a web of lies, connections to a murdered priest, and also Llamas. You’ll have to listen to find out!