An obsession with finding Bigfoot runs in Laura Krantz’s family.
Her distant cousin, Grover Krantz, was a professor of anthropology at Washington State University and became famous as one of the first academics to be seriously involved in the quest to prove that the cryptid existed. Grover Krantz drove through the woods with spotlights and wrote scientific papers examining the casts of the creature’s famously big footprints.
But Laura didn’t know anything about his obsession, or their family connection, until four years after his death. In 2006 she stumbled across an article about him in the Washington Post and quickly found out that they were related. An assistant with NPR’s Weekend Edition at the time, she knew immediately that she wanted to report something about Grover. It just didn’t happen right away.
“I sat on this story for a long time because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or how I wanted to do it,” Krantz said.
That project has finally come to pass in the form of an investigative podcast. “Wild Thing” is a nine-episode dive into the hunt for Bigfoot, going through new evidence about his possible existence and trying to determine why the creature has become so iconic.
Krantz was born in Idaho Falls and graduated from Idaho Falls High School before beginning her career in journalism. She worked as an editor and producer for multiple NPR programs and wrote environmental stories for magazines about poaching in Africa and wildfires in Colorado. When she began her deep dive into Bigfoot research last year, she tried to bring those reporting and technical skills to a field which is largely written off as myth.
“This has Bigfoot attached to it, which I was worried from the start would make it seem silly or frivolous," she said. "But there was something so compelling there about how Bigfoot has been a part of American culture and becomes important to so many people.”
One of the believers she interviewed for the show is Jeff Meldrum, professor of anthropology at Idaho State University and the heir to George Krantz’s scientific approach to Sasquatch. Meldrum had met with Grover Krantz several times before his death in 2002 to discuss their shared interests, and Grover gave Meldrum some of his research near the end of his life.
“She was very interested in hearing my recollections of my meetings with him. And of course, she was interested in why Grover had been so interested in that subject,” Meldrum said.
Some episodes of “Wild Thing,” which are released every Tuesday, deal with the evidence surrounding the mythic creature. Current episodes address eyewitness accounts from across the country and the ways that Bigfoot could have evolved. But the show will also cover the more tangential legacy of Bigfoot as a commercial brand, a tourism tool, and an inspiration for erotic novels.
“I could probably do Bigfoot until I die and still not cover all the material that’s available,” Krantz said.
“Wild Thing” frequently circles back to Grover, taking advantage of his extensive documents saved in the Smithsonian and the familial connection to Laura. Meldrum thinks that personal link sets her apart from the other reporters and amateur researchers he had dealt with.
“She’s head and shoulders above most. The difference is that she was motivated to do very thorough and in-depth exploration into this subject matter,” he said.
Meldrum had read transcripts from the show but has not been able to listen to the episodes yet. Bigfoot believers who have checked out the show have given their approval to Krantz and Foxtopus, the production company she manages with her husband and fellow reporter Scott Carney.
“I didn’t want them to feel like they had misplaced their trust in me. Most of them have been very receptive of the podcast,” Krantz said.
New episodes of “Wild Thing” can be found on the Foxtopus website as well as through Spotify and other podcast apps. Krantz says she has no plans to continue reporting on other mysterious creatures after the show finishes.