'My Favorite Murder' Hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark Are Building a Killer Empire (Exclusive)
By Emily Krauser
Robyn Von Swank
In the world of podcast fans, there are casual listeners and there are ravenous communities hankering for new content. Murderinos, the pet name for mega fans of My Favorite Murder, are easily one of the most passionate crews around -- and this army now has an entire empire to rally behind.
Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff are the hilarious comedic duo behind the macabre podcast, and after a year and a half of planning, they announced on Wednesday the first four shows that will debut this week in their much-anticipated new podcast network, Exactly Right, in partnership with Stitcher: The Fall Line, Do You Need a Ride, This Podcast Will Kill You and The Purrcast.
On a special Exactly Right spotlight episode on Wednesday, the duo noted that the additions are all podcasts that had already existed. The welcomed extensions of the MFM family were developed specifically for Murderinos, with Kilgariff saying that they “kept in mind all the listeners that we’ve met, all the people that we’ve talked to, all the things that you guys are interested in, not just true crime but… things outside of true crime and the kind of comedy [you like]."
ET was the only outlet to speak with Hardstark and Kilgariff after their big network announcement, and they reiterated how excited they were to venture out and executive produce the all-encompassing project. “When Stitcher approached us with the idea, we were thrilled,” they said by email. “We’ve spent so much time making podcasts, listening to them and recommending them that it’s really the natural next step.”
With MFM’s popularity, the fact that the women were given such a big opportunity isn’t surprising, but it is extremely impressive, seeing as the podcast only began in January 2016. In what has since become folklore to Murderinos, the duo, who both live in Los Angeles, met at a Halloween party in 2015. Kilgariff was describing the horrific accident she witnessed at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, when a drunk driver ran into a large crowd of people, and while everyone else was horrified by this topic, Hardstark was fascinated. “It was this incredibly bonding moment," Kilgariff tells ET of the bonding moment. "We met for lunch a couple days later and ended up talking for four hours. The waitress was bummed, but we knew something exciting just happened, and then Georgia basically asked if I wanted to make a podcast."
The waitress’ loss was the gain of thousands of true crime fans, as their love of such a morbid subject has translated to well over 200 full-length episodes and minisodes where they trade tales of both murders and survivor stories, as well as “hometown murder” recollections submitted by fans and friends, all while trading banter and a penchant for gallows humor. Their success has proven just how many people are interested in dark subjects, opening up a whole world where it’s OK to not only talk about more morbid topics but be obsessed with them.
Moreover, in this now oversaturated true crime space, Hardstark and Kilgariff are bright, nearly singular voices. Despite the fact that the majority of true-crime fans are women, hosts in nearly every storytelling genre tend to be male, as are their subjects. The latter makes sense, however, as according to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime study on homicide in 2013, males accounted for nearly 96 percent of all homicide perpetrators worldwide. What MFM has managed to do is not only shed light on stories of both victims and survivors, it’s also allowed for their many female fans, and the hosts themselves, to take back some semblance of control in the face of these horrors. After all, the podcast’s motto is “Stay sexy and don’t get murdered.”
"As women, we're acutely aware of how vulnerable we are in our everyday lives, so we're more able to identify with the victims instead of the killers," they explained. "We try to see the story from the victim's perspective, which just automatically brings more empathy to the subject. So instead of glorifying the murderer and making the story about them, we make it about how f**ked up it is that someone's life was taken and how incredible it is when they survive to tell their story."
Creating MFM has also helped Hardstark, 38, and Kilgariff, 48, deal with their own anxiety, which both have been very open about battling over the years. “The moment being obsessed with true crime went from being a morbid hobby to a morbid job, a lot of the anxiety fell away,” they said. “Being able to share it with other people instead of just binge watching alone on the couch has made it so much easier to process. Also lots of therapy.”
The Exactly Right network continues this important of spotlighting the female perspective. All of the shows have female hosts or co-hosts and, while not all of them are about true crime, they fit nicely into the MFM world. The Fall Line’s second season, hosted by Laurah Norton and Brooke Hargrove, for example, focuses on seven infant abductions that occurred in Atlanta, Georgia, from 1978-1996, while Erin Welsh and Erin Allmann Updyke’s This Podcast Will Kill You turns conversations about infectious diseases into dinner party fodder. “Of course, bringing a variety of voices and experiences is crucial to the success of our network,” the MFM hosts said. “We’re developing so that lots of different voices and experiences will be represented in our lineup. That’s the real world and that’s what we’re interested in bringing to our listeners.”
This expansion will also hopefully bring more live shows and big names to MFM. Their previous episode with Anna Faris, who hosts the podcast Anna Faris Is Unqualified, was a fan favorite, and Hardstark and Kilgariff tell ET that they’re planning on more collaborations in the future. “Crossovers are awesome. It’s like everybody doing their homework together, so it’s more fun and less work,” they said.
After three years in the podcasting space, they’ve clearly grown quite a bit, but the biggest lesson they’ve learned is pretty helpful whether or not you’ve got a microphone in front of you: “Talk fast and swear as much as you can.”