Over the past decade, television shows and documentaries recounting and sometimes investigating real life murders have grown exponentially in popularity. Offerings like Making A Murderer have turned into cultural touchpoints and the network Investigation Discovery, which basically offers round the block reality shows about crime, has become one of the most popular cable channels. No personality on ID shines bigger than Detective Joe Kenda from the program Homicide Hunter.
The gruff, no-nonsense former detective doesn’t have much in common with many other reality stars, which is probably why he had no interest in being one in the first place. We recently got a chance to talk with Detective Kenda, and he was kind enough to give us an overview explaining how the hell he ended up on TV…
I’ll make it brief. On occasion, I had some exposure in national news programs. One in particular was a segment on Turning Point with Diane Sawyer in the late 90s. When that show went away, they sold that interview… I spoke about homicide, violence in society. It was generic. It was a perfect piece thirty minute on a guy talking about violent crime. A producer saw that on more than one occasion. He had an idea for a television show. He wrote me a letter. I ignored that. My wife says, ‘What is that?’ I said, ‘It’s a letter from some guy who says he’s going to put me on TV.’ She said, ‘You should call him.’ I said, ‘I’m not going to call him. I don’t like TV people.’ This went on for a couple of days. She has a PHD in nagging from a good school. She would absolutely not stop. So, I called them. Season 9 premieres August 28th. So, she was right, as usual.
Part of what makes Homicide Hunter such a fascinating watch is Detective Kenda himself. He speaks with a different pace and a different level of intensity than most reality stars. He’s like a hardened old man telling stories, offering both blunt indictments of the often really stupid individuals involved and their mistakes and also dishing out bits of general wisdom he’s picked up over the years. It’s a wonderful combination. If he were the type of person who would be actively seeking out television opportunities, the vibe would be all wrong. It’s because you can feel him almost begrudgingly doing it that it’s so mesmerizing.
Homicide Hunter returned on Investigation Discovery on Wednesday August 28th. New episodes will follow each Tuesday at 8 PM. Each one follows a different case the detective worked during his 23-year career in which he solved hundreds of open homicides. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I can’t recommend it enough.