If Netflix started “binge watching” for the TV shows they stream, then the Serial podcast may start binge listening.
If you’ve heard about Serial, but didn’t know if it was worth your time, then stop. It is. This podcast is storytelling at its finest. I cannot stress enough how gripping Serial is. I binge listened the first five episodes and had to make myself stop to get these thoughts down. That’s how powerful this podcast is. Especially for me who, as my wife tells me from time to time, “has the damnedest time paying attention.”
The Serial podcast is a fascinating true crime story focusing around the murder of a Baltimore high school student in 1999. The first episode, clocking in at an hour long, is the basic information. The who, what, where, when and why.
The later episodes, there are eleven to date, range from the 30 to 45 minute mark. Each episode acts as a chapter focusing on one aspect of the case. Interviews with people who knew those involved in the case, police interrogations, and audio clips from the trial are sprinkled throughout the episodes.
The podcast isn’t just a string of interviews glued together. Sarah Koenig, the host, tells the story in such a way, it feels like a coworker or friend talking about their vacation over coffee. The best part about her style of storytelling is it’s without an opinion. There’s no agenda other than to tell the story.
At times, she refrains from talking about certain things, like what she’s heard during interviews, because she doesn’t have the facts to support the claim. That’s somewhat maddening as we’d like to know what she knows, but without the supporting evidence it’s still a claim.
Outside of narrating, Koenig only injects her point of view in the form of questions. Why didn’t the defense attorney ask this or why didn’t investigators follow this lead? This is what journalism is supposed be. No agenda. No dramatizations. Just stating the facts and asking questions. The talking heads at CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC should listen to this podcast and take notes.
While the actual podcast is the star. The website itself isn’t too shabby either. The two work complementary to each other. The site is where the visuals live. Maps, pictures, and trial evidence is on display allowing the audience to control their level of involvement.
The only problem I have with the podcast, is I waited too damn long to start listening to it. The last episode will be released on December 18th. But that’s plenty of time to catch up on the previous eleven episodes.
The best part of Serial is it is free. Available on iTunes or direct from their site. Funding comes from donations and sponsorships. They’ve raised enough money to do a second season of Serial and if it is as good as what I’ve listened to so far, then I can’t wait.