AUSTIN (KXAN) – Keith Morrison and Josh Mankiewicz of Dateline – which has covered several notorious Austin murders, including Moriah Wilson and Heidi Broussard – will appear at SXSW for their first panel discussion Saturday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. CT at the Austin Convention Center.

The two sat down with KXAN’s Sam Stark ahead of their session to talk Dateline, their voyage into podcasting and reporting on Texas crimes. 

Can you talk about the explosion of the true crime genre in recent years?

“I give credit to our boss, frankly, who persuaded us. He saw the zeitgeist and saw what was coming – he recognized that [true crime] were the sorts of stories that most attracted people’s attention. Whenever we did a true crime story, back in the 90s, the numbers show a pretty clear indicator that it was what people wanted to watch,” Morrison said. 

“Most people in their lives will never be the victim of violent crime. But everybody has been in a relationship that did not work out how they wanted,” Mankiewicz said. “Dateline is less about the crime itself and more about what happens in those relationships and the choices people make.”

“True crime as a genre, as a thing that audiences are interested in, is not new,” Mankiewicz continued. “The interest in true crime has been constant for a really long time.”

Dateline covered the infamous murder of Moriah Wilson, of which Kaitlin Armstong is accused. What was it like following this case and others in Austin? 

“It’s quite historic,” Morrison said.

“It’s probably the first time we ever did a true crime story about bike racing,” he continued. “It was a fascinating tale. And it’s not over yet. We’ll keep following that one for sure.”

“There have been a number of stories in Austin,” Morrison said.

“Without Texas and Florida, we’d be off the air,” Mankiewicz joked.  “We’re not looking for the bloodiest crime scene or the scariest killer. “Again, this is about the relationship more than the crime,” Mankiewicz said. 

How do families member of victims react to Dateline coverage? Are they happy that their stories are getting told? 

“We don’t force anybody to talk to us,” Morrison said.

“We look at it from the person’s point of view – the victim is a loved one or a member of the family and somebody who meant more to them than you could ever possibly understand unless they explained it. The world needs to know about this person. We are only too happy to help them do that in as sensitive a way as we can,” he continued. 

“This might be the only time that their story is told. These people are not generally famous,” Mankiewicz said. “If people are wavering – when people don’t know whether to talk to us or not – my advice is always to just talk to somebody else who’s worked with us. The feedback they get from them is universally positive, I would say, overwhelmingly so,” he continued.

Switching gears, I understand that there’s a new podcast coming out. 

 “The Girl in the Blue Mustang – It’s an amazing story,” Morrison said.

“This was a case from the very beginning of the millennium – January of 2000. This young woman parked her brand new blue Mustang, which she’d gotten as a Christmas and graduation gift. She parked it in a park-and-ride in Lancaster – north of LA – and then went with a friend down to LA to participate in a music video. And when she returned, a friend dropped her off at her car. She went to get into it, and something happened in a supposedly empty parking lot. And she was shot multiple times and was killed,” he said.

What is your favorite thing to do in Austin?

“Eat,” Mankiewicz said.

“He’s right,” Morrison said. “The food trucks in the town!”

“Great food trucks and I can’t come to Texas without eating barbecue,” Mankiewicz said.

Editors note: This Q&A was edited for brevity and clarity