Sonari Glinton made a true crime podcast for people who hate true crime

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The first season of Sonari Glinton’s new podcast, “Shattering the System,” explores the crimes committed by former West Hollywood business owner Ed Buck. Photo courtesy of iHeart Radio.

Former West Hollywood businessman Ed Buck gained local infamy after he was arrested in 2022 for killing two gay, Black men in his Laurel Avenue apartment by giving them fatal overdoses of crystal meth. 

Reports suggest it was part of a long-standing pattern of drug and sexual abuse by Buck. But it took prosecutors years to convict the once high-profile Democratic donor. The first season of “Shattering the System,” a new podcast by journalist Sonari Glinton, aims to find out why. 

Glinton explores how systemic issues make it possible for some criminals, like Buck, to get away with unthinkable crimes. Glinton, who lives in West Hollywood not far from Buck’s apartment, says this story appealed to him in part because it happened close to home. 

“You think about Grinder … I'm a gay man, I go on those sites, and I'm sure that [Buck] was in the grid,” says Glinton. “I imagine if two gay white men were found dead around the corner from, I don't know, Ari Shapiro or Ronan Farrow, they might have gotten paid attention to. … Black male bodies are not valued, and especially gay and trans bodies.”

Glinton, who proclaims in the first episode that he “hates true crime,” wanted to eschew the typical tropes of the genre by approaching this story not as entertainment but as in-depth reporting that exposes the roots of crimes.

He also wanted to give voice to Buck’s victims — like Gemmel Moore, who was killed by Buck in 2017, and predicted his own death in diary entries that are read on the show. 

“Here's a writer, which I can relate to. And part of what the issue is, is that people don't listen to us,” says Glinton. “Let's at least hear his voice, let's hear what he had to say.” 

Over the series, Glinton digs deep into how Buck’s role as a political donor, and the actions of local departments like the LA Sheriff’s and the District Attorney, allowed these crimes to go unprosecuted for years. 

It’s also a hard look at how many other issues can compound to let individuals like Gemmel Moore and Timothy Michael Dean, Buck’s other victim, fall through the cracks. 

“There's so many intersections that happened at 1234 North Laurel Avenue: trafficking, drugs, sex, consent, homelessness, race, power. That's really what it's about,” says Glinton.