INDIANAPOLIS — Ashley Flowers has come a long way since podcasting from her home. She now has nearly three dozen employees working out of an office building in Broad Ripple.
"I went from by myself in my spare room to now having 35 team members who are now helping me create the shows that we put out every week. It's wild," said Flowers. "We have producers and writers and researchers, fact checkers, reporters.
"But there's also a business side to this where we have marketing, business development, we have tech, we've created our own app, so we are a developer. We have a CTO, a president. There's a lot on the business side as well.
"I found all the unicorns. They are doing what no other company is doing. Thirty-five people are doing what other media companies are doing with 200," said Flowers.
Flowers has been on the cover of Podcast Magazine and hailed as the "Queen of True Crime."
Her dog Chuck has a prominent position in the office. After all, Flowers' company name is "audiochuck." Flowers is always moving, walking on a treadmill beneath her desk and creating content for a dozen shows that generate 50 million downloads a month.
It has been a quick rise in popularity for the Indiana native.
"I started in December of 2017. I loved the medium of podcasting. I loved the true crime genre. I was consuming every true crime podcast that was out there. I couldn't find the show I was looking for. I kept waiting for someone to make it. Finally, I said, 'What if I decide to make it?'" said Flowers.
"Crime Junkie" remains the jewel of her podcasting world with 10 million listeners every week.
"It's too fantastical for me to imagine 10 million on the other end. Nothing's changed for me, right? I'm still recording by myself," said Flowers.
Her weekly true crime podcast that she hosts with Brit looks at unsolved cases suggested by millions of her loyal listeners.
"I think that we resonate with our listeners. Being here in the Midwest, being two women who are of the same age as many of our listeners, they see themselves in us," Flowers said. "I also think our show is one of the first shows that gave people a way to participate in these true crime cases. Every episode, whether it's a call to action, or a place to donate, there's something our listeners can do. I think so many true crime consumers want to help. They just don't know how, and we've allowed them to help."
A portion of her merchandise sales funds an important investigative effort.
"We created a nonprofit called Season of Justice that funds testing for cases. We've solved three homicides and the funding actually helped apprehend a serial rapist in Indianapolis," said Flowers.
Flowers has found another creative outlet for her storytelling. Her first novel is called "All Good People Here."
"I had this story brewing in me for a long time and it didn't feel right for podcasting. So, I decided to try my hand at a novel. And, it worked," said Flowers.
That could be the understatement of the day.
"The book has become a New York Times bestseller. It's been on the bestseller list for nine weeks in a row. We're having conversations about possibly adapting it, TV, film. It's been a wild ride," said Flowers.
Many people ask Flowers about the outcome of the novel's main character, Margot Davies.
"Everyone wants to know. The way I left it, I want people to decide. I purposefully left a little mystery at the end because I wanted it to feel like true crime. True crime doesn't end in a neat and tidy bow. Often, we leave these real cases I cover feeling unsettled. That was the feeling I wanted to leave the book with," said Flowers.
Flowers is not done writing books.
"I want to write a second novel. I have a second story that's completely different from the characters that I've developed in Wakarusa (Indiana). But there are a lot of people who want to see Margot back. I don't know. To me, doing a second one is me deciding what happened and I don't know if I want to do that yet," she said.
Flowers' family has also grown.
"I've had a baby. I'm very grateful that it happened at a time when I have the support that I do," said Flowers.
Flowers' business may expand in the future, but the Hoosier native remains committed to Indianapolis.
"One of the things as I was looking at starting the podcast and doing something creative, everyone was telling me I had to go to New York or LA. Why? The beauty of podcasting is it can happen anywhere. I wanted to create a space here in Indianapolis for creative people, for people who wanted to make something that will reach the whole world," said Flowers.
But despite Flowers' soaring popularity in the podcasting world, she remains committed to one goal.
"Everything that we've done here hasn't been to make the most money or to be the most famous. It's what we can do to help the families. What can we do to solve the cases?" said Flowers.