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'A story that must be told': Bardstown podcast reaches national audience

‘Bardstown’ the podcast was released less than a month ago, but continues to gain a strong following with hundreds of thousands of downloads to date.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — 'Bardstown', the podcast, is four episodes into its 10 episode series, and gaining a national following. 

You've probably heard of the cases before, including Bardstown police officer Jason Ellis, who ambushed on his way home from work; teacher Kathy Netherland and her teenage daughter Samantha Netherland, who were brutally murdered inside their home; 35-year-old mother Crystal Rogers who is missing, considered dead; and Crystal's father, Tommy Ballard, who was shot and killed only 16 months later.

‘Bardstown’ producer and writer Jessica Noll said, “There are so many cases. They're unsolved. It’s the most beautiful small town in America, and I think that juxtaposition between beautiful, historic and dark and secrets is a story that must be told and these victims stories must be told."

RELATED | Bardstown: The ‘Most Beautiful Small Town in America’ harbors dark, deadly secrets 

WHAS11’s Shay McAlister teamed up with VAULT Studios’ Jessica Noll to tell the stories in a new way- through podcast.

"I actually got started with Bardstown back in 2013 when Jason Ellis was ambushed off of Exit 34 and I investigated his case extensively when I was working in Cincinnati because that's where he was from,” explained Noll, who is also an investigative journalist.

Noll and McAlister started podcast production in July, when they spent a week in Bardstown talking to police, victims’ families, a former mayor, historian and others who know the town well.  

"When you're looking at what will be a good podcast you have to look at what will resonate with people and I think in this case, in Bardstown, we found, you found a story that really can connect people, resonates with people and at the end of the day what we want is for the right person to come forward and say what they know,” Noll said.

In that search for answers, the team went back to the scenes- including driving the route Jason Ellis did the night he was killed.

Victim’s families wanted to tell their story including Sherry Ballard, Crystal Rogers’ mother and Tommy Ballard’s widow. Ballard invited the team in for several hours, discussing the details of the cases as she knows them.

In the podcast, you’ll hear what we heard, when we walked through JC Park in Bardstown- a spot where Team Crystal searched for the missing mother.


"I think having that sort of action within the podcast really brings people in and makes it a much more well-rounded storytelling for listeners. We've got 911 calls, dispatch, things that not everyone has. So I think we're bringing some new information hopefully, some different insight and I think we're doing it and presenting it in a different way for people that is really engaging and I think its resonating with a lot of people,” Noll said.

Only four episodes in, the chart topping podcast has already gained a strong following from across the nation and that following is expected to grow.

The ten-episode podcast will visit one more case, take you inside police interviews and you’ll hear from Brooks Houck, who was named the main suspect in Crystal Rogers' disappearance by the Nelson County Sheriff's department three months after Crystal went missing, when he answers his front door.

Noll said, “I think what surprised me the most is when I did talk to him just how calm, and almost had that southern charm and hospitality attitude towards me as someone who was coming to him to ask questions about his girlfriend who disappeared."

New episodes of Bardstown are released every Wednesday on iTunes, Spotify, Podbean, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Click here to listen.

RELATED | Learn about the victims and cases covered in the Bardstown podcast 


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