His series on the infamous Bush Boys of Vernon and Coldstream went to No. 1 among podcasts in Canada and New Zealand.
Now, Coldstream’s Sam Mullin’s compelling eight-episode story about a pair of brothers found living in the bush outside of Coldstream in 2003, then turning out to be not who they claimed, is No. 1 among podcasting’s top awards academy.
The Podcast Academy, the pre-eminent professional podcast organization, hosted its third annual Awards for Excellence in Audio in Las Vegas March 7.
The awards – known as The Ambies – are to podcasting what the Oscars are to the film industry, and now Mullins has an Ambie for his Toronto home.
Mullins’ series – Chameleon: Wild Boys – was selected Podcast of the Year.
“It’s so surreal, I really can’t believe it,” said Mullins, 36, who has called Toronto home for the past 10 years. “It’s so satisfying to win, especially telling a story from my hometown.”
Wild Boys beat out nine other nominations for the Podcast of the Year Ambie.
Mullins – writer, former comedian and actor, reporter, and now podcaster – turned the captivating story of Tom and Will Green, known as the Bush Boys, into an eight-episode podcast which debuted Jan. 25, 2022.
Mullins was 16 years old and living in Coldstream when the boys arrived in town, rail thin and claiming they’d been raised deep in the wilderness with no contact with society. They were living in a tent behind the Kalamalka General Store in Coldstream and as their story unfolded, they quickly made local, national and international headlines.
“I remember, like everyone who saw them, they drew my attention,” Mullins said in a 2022 interview with The Morning Star. “The younger one, he was just so gaunt and horrifyingly thin, he looked like he was about to die of starvation.”
The boys were taken under the wing of a local hockey mom with a knack for helping others, and the city rallied around them, offering food, money and a roof over their heads.
“The story really tested the fabric of the town. It’s like an instructive tale about the fabric of Vernon, the mettle of Vernon, like who we really are,” Mullins said.
However, the truth eventually came out: far from being raised in the woods, the two brothers had run away from their home in suburban Sacramento.
“I had always wanted to make or write something about Vernon, a TV pilot or maybe a movie, because a lot of people don’t know anything about the Okanagan,” said Mullins. “It’s so cool people are talking about my hometown now.”
When the project was sold to Sony, Mullins was given a tight deadline of nine months to complete it. Wild Boys features exclusive interviews with some of the key characters in the story from 2003, including Tom and Will Green. Mullins wrote the podcast with help from his editor, Karen Duffin.
He does his podcasting from “my little hovel in our haunted basement,” referring to the home Mullins shares in the Toronto proper neighbourhood of Little Portugal with his wife, Vernonite Rachel Heinrichs, and their two daughters, aged four and two.
Mullins just completed Season 5 of the Chameleon podcast series, Dr. Dante.