Podcasting has proven it’s more than just an entertaining medium — it can also shine light on injustices and even convince the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a conviction. Now the new iHeartPodcast Network show Dear Governor may help a California man get off death row after three decades. “This is the story of one man, but it’s not merely one man’s story,” said producer and host Corny Koehl.
The podcast tells the story of Jarvis Jay Masters, a death row inmate at the San Quentin State Prison. Masters, a renowned Buddhist author, was initially imprisoned in 1981 following an armed robbery conviction. But in 1990 he was sentenced in connection with the 1985 stabbing death of a prison guard. He has steadfastly maintained his innocence on the murder conviction. “I am certainly guilty of the crimes that brought me here – and I own the mistakes that I made and I’ve paid my dues, but I am not guilty of the crime that put me here on death row for the last 30 years,” he said to Koehl in an interview from behind bars. “How many guilty men have to be put to death to justify the execution of one innocent man?”
Masters has a community of supporters who were recruited for assistance by Koehl as she put the podcast together. They believe Masters is a prime example of why California Governor Gavin Newsom has put a moratorium on capital punishment in the state. “With newly disclosed evidence that bolsters Jarvis’ claims of innocence, will the California Supreme Court exonerate him or reaffirm his death sentence? You’ll hear the testimony, you be the judge,” said Koehl on the series’ preview.
Podcasters may be best known for the True Crime genre, but what happens after the arrest has also been a focus of many shows. That includes the American Public Media show In The Dark, which helped put attention on the case of Curtis Flowers. The Mississippi man had faced the death penalty for allegedly murdering four people in a Winona, MS furniture store in 1996, but the U.S. Supreme Court said his constitutional rights had been violated since the district attorney in the case intentionally kept African-Americans off Flowers’ jury.
The case presented to the Court included reporting from APM Reports, which uncovered a pattern of racist jury selection.
Veteran music industry executive Jason Flom has also created and hosts the Wrongful Conviction podcast. Flom sits on the board of the Innocence Project and has championed criminal justice reform.
Koehl is President and co-founder of 3 Mutts Media, a Los Angeles-based production house that works across television, radio and digital media. It currently has several podcasts under development, including a scripted comedy series, a scripted suspense thriller, an addiction recovery show and more. Koehl recently executive produced the Run Like a Girl political podcast with Westwood One’s Empower Podcast Network. She was earlier a producer for Harpo Productions’ Oprah Radio, and a producer for syndicated radio programs from ABC Radio and Premiere Networks.
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