Mob Podcast on Raymond Patriarca Concludes in Brooklyn

The murder rate in the U.S. has fallen dramatically in the past 25 years -- the FBI pegged the decline from 1993 to 2015 at 50% while the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported a 77% drop.

Still, the glut of daily television fare seems to suggest that there's nothing like murder.

Raymond Patriarca

As a New York Times story recently noted of true-crime television: "it seems as if this genre has no saturation point." And the trend shows no signs of abating, considering the recent launch of Beyond Reasonable Doubt last Friday, which focused on the story of the Green River Killer, the most prolific serial killer in American history. Debuting this week are Sin City Justice and #Murder.

HBO hits the genre on some of its Monday night documentaries, including the recent Mommy Dead and Dearest. Other shows have won awards and critics' kudos, such as The Jinx, the Emmy-winning HBO mini-series, Making a Murderer on Netflix and last year's FX entry, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.

The mob, however, isn't ready for primetime these days. There's one podcast that's generating attention and it recently wrapped up its first season. Crimetown is about Providence, Rhode Island, and the 20th and final episode was recorded in May. The show is hosted by Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier -- the duo that collaborated on the previously mentioned The Jinx -- and is supposedly "as addictive as a bottle of pep pills."

Each episode is a half-hour. Content focuses on New England's most notorious wiseguys, with the over-arching saga about the late Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, the six-term mayor, twice convicted felon, "and a walking embodiment of the city’s contradictions."

Watch it here:

As the Boston Herald noted:

"Taking as their cue that double-edged sword of dark deeds and delightful panache, the Gimlet Media producers of “Crimetown” extend the tone to the entire criminal history of late-20th-century Providence. For every episode devoted to Buddy, there’s one delving into the mob history of the city once known as “The Beehive of Industry.”

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"We’re reminded that Providence was for decades a Mafia hub in outsized proportion to the state’s tiny geography. We learn of the iron hand of the city’s crime boss, Raymond Patriarca, from the 1950s through the ’80s, through interviews with local and federal law enforcement officials and retired gangsters.

"We listen to chapters devoted to the endless game of cat-and-mouse between professional thief Tony Fiore and Brian R. Andrews of the Rhode Island State Police. We hear of Arlene Violet, a.k.a “Attila the Nun,” a former convent sister who as the state’s attorney general in the mid-1980s fruitlessly warned about a corrupt state banking system on the verge of collapse.

"The series is morbidly fascinating and often laugh-out-loud surreal. “Crimetown” reminds us over and over that Providence is a small town in the guise of a big city. ...

“Crimetown” relies in many of its episodes on the reminiscences of two former enforcers for the Patriarca syndicate, Bobby Walason and Jerry Tillinghast. The second episode, “The Wiseguys,” tells of their respective rise through the ranks, and it offers some of the most honest moments in the series, each man relating tales of wrecked childhoods and abusive fathers while taking responsibilities for their own misdeeds. In one of the final episodes, another tough guy weeps as he considers the ruined lives of his own wife and children."

 In May, Crimetown went to Brooklyn for its final first season episode. Listen here. It featured figures from both sides of the law. See transcript here.