We had the good fortune of connecting with Ed Dentzel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ed, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
For a short time–5 episodes–I had done a missing persons podcast between April and July of 2016. Then it fell apart due to my co-host deciding she just didn’t have time for it. I was truly devastated because the podcast had caught on fairly quickly. However, despite its popularity and only producing 5 episodes, I discovered there were problems. Mainly, I didn’t like how that podcast was really just a process of going to Wikipedia, the Charley Project, Websleuths and elsewhere, copying everything, and then regurgitating it to the audience. It felt like plagiarism and cheating. In addition, it wasn’t the kind of podcast that I would listen to if I were in the audience. Why? Because even in listening to that podcast, it sounded like . . . plagiarism and cheating.
So, with Unfound I set out to produce a podcast that Ed Dentzel, the listener, would like. That meant airing original material by interviewing the people who knew about the disappearances firsthand, usually family members. It meant keeping the theorizing and sensationalism out of the production–stick to the facts. It meant trusting the audience to come to its own conclusions–there is no spoonfeeding of theories on Unfound. People are smart–allow them to use their own brains.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
There are so many true crime podcasts out there. Ones that are still around, having started in 2013. And there are others that had just a few episodes then fell apart. Hundreds if not thousands. So, for someone starting out, there may be difficulties finding that niche–how do I do something different than everyone else?
For me, what I discovered in putting Unfound together during the summer of 2016 is there is no field of study for “Disappearances.” Not one criminal justice program anywhere on the planet has a class on disappearances. Forensics? Of course. Procedures? Of course. People’s rights? Of course. Disappearances? Nope.
I saw this as an opportunity.
That’s why once Unfound had covered enough disappearances, I started comparing and contrasting. I began talking about previously covered disappearances in current episodes. I began to classify them, putting them into categories–making them easier to understand. I began keeping stats on why these people most likely went missing.
Nobody does this. Not even the FBI. It can tell you how many missing persons cases there are in the USA–about 100,000–but not much else.
I’ve turned this opportunity into speaking on college campuses to criminal justice majors. But this is in its infancy. Eventually I hope to speak at police officer conventions and to the FBI directly about what I’m learning.
So, Unfound is not just a podcast where I interview guests and the files play on Spotify and elsewhere. I view Unfound as a class. It is a learning program. It is a think tank–in fact, we have a Think Tank that gets together privately every Sunday evening on YouTube. I want people to not just know about these disappearances but learn about disappearances in general. Why they happen and what can be done to prevent them but also solve the ones currently unsolved.
This is the kind of stuff that gets me excited. Having an impact. Affecting people’s lives. While showing that the lack of knowledge concerning disappearances is not something that will always be.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is a particularly funny question because I am a notorious homebody. I work on Unfound every day. I work on Unfound on Friday and Saturday nights without a second thought. So, my social life is limited.
However, my other obsession besides Unfound is disc golf. I play a lot. Tournaments. Club play. Doubles. You name it. So I enjoy telling people about this sport because a lot of people have never heard of it. So, I guess I would take them to my local disc golf course and show them the ropes concerning a sport that has enriched my life.
Other than that, I love Disney and Orlando is less than two hours away. I love trivia–I play on a team every Thursday evening at a local bar. We win A LOT. I live right on the beach so that’s a big part of my life as well. However, I am probably the last person to ask concerning Clearwater/St. Pete/Tampa nightlife.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have to give a shout out to my guests first. I can’t list them all here. But the trust they’ve given me over the past almost 6 years is amazing. I am essentially a stranger to them when we first communicate. But that they have done such in-depth interviews with me, talking about some of the most difficult topics on the planet, continues to amaze and humble me.
I also need to give a shout out to my assistants: Emily, Cheree, Karie, Heather, and Eric. And also former assistant, Natasha. They are confidants. They are always honest with me. And they have put in a ton of their own time into making Unfound what it is.
Of course there is also the audience. The listeners. The viewers. The readers. I don’t take their respect lightly. I realize I have to earn it every time a podcast comes out. I’ve created high expectations in their minds and I want to make sure I never let them down.
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