Almost one year ago, Mike Browne and Scott Hemenway shared their first podcast for Dark Poutine. At the time, they said they were hoping for about 50 downloads per week.
They’re now nearing about 600,000 downloads in the first year since they launch.
Browne and Hemenway launched Dark Poutine out of a home-based studio in Newton on Halloween in 2017. The true crime podcast focuses mainly on the dark history and notorious crimes in Canada.
“The only two downloads that were tracked last year was Scott and myself,” Browne said.
And now with Corus Entertainment’s Curiouscast picking up Dark Poutine, Browne said their reach should grow. Earlier this month, Curiouscast picked up the Surrey-based podcast following a meeting between Browne and a Corus employee at a podcast meet up in Toronto.
A week after the meet up, Browne said he and Hemenway received an email from Corus.
“After three months of conversation and back and forth, here we are,” Browne said.
The idea for Dark Poutine started about six months before the first podcast aired, Hemenway said.
Browne said he’d wanted to be in radio since he was a little kid, but unfortunately didn’t go to a school with a radio program.
“I always kind of wanted to get back into it and do something, and now that podcasting is a thing, it’s so easy for anybody to do,” said Browne, adding he was “scared to do it by himself.”
In came Hemenway. The two have known each other for close to a decade after working together at a telecom. Browne said they developed a friendship over the years and shared an interest in true crime and documentaries.
In the beginning, Hemenway said he asked Browne if focusing on Canadian stories would be limiting.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Hemenway said Dark Poutine has a “huge” following in the United States, Australia and the U.K.
Because of the Canadian focus, Browne said, they had to come up with the “crazy name.”
“What’s the first thing you think of when you think of a Canadian meal? We’re feeding people something — poutine,” said Browne. He said they added ‘Dark’ to the name “because what we talk about is kind of dark.”
“But also poutine is yummy. It’s also easily digestible and that’s what we want to be and maybe sometimes a little cheesy with some gravy on top.”
People love the Canadian element to the podcast, Browne said. The beginnings of the podcasts, Browne said, tell listeners something Canadians would understand such as to “grab a Nanaimo bar and a double double.”
“Canadians love to hear about Canada,” he said. “Yes, we’re polite and we do say sorry for things, but there are some really dark things that happen here in Canada.”
Dark Poutine’s latest podcast focuses on the murder of Wesley Hallam in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. The case was brought to Browne and Hemenway’s attention following a cross-country tour Browne did recently.
“(Hallam’s) mother listened to our episode and shared it on her Facebook,” said Browne.
The challenging component, Hemenway said, is not knowing how families could react.
“We try our damnedest, and we hear it from the fans that they can tell we try our damnedest to be respectful of the victims, not always so much of the criminals,” Hemenway said.
Asked if they would try their hand at a podcast on Surrey-based crime, both men said they would like to, but they plan to stay well away from the ongoing gang crime. Browne said he would love if people shared their story ideas with Dark Poutine which people can email tips to email@example.com.
Hemenway said that “sadly,” there isn’t any shortage of true crime stories.
“Any murder is going to have a story behind it. There’s going to be a lot of emotion.”
For more information on Dark Poutine and to listen to the podcasts, visit darkpoutine.com.