From the creators of This American Life, the new #1 podcast on iTunes is taking over the internet.
*Full disclosure: when I find something I really like, I have a huge tendency to let it overtake my life. Serial, a new podcast from the creators of This American Life, has done that and more. Yes, I am well aware that as a podcaster it might be foolish of me to implore you to stop what you are doing or listening to and go and download someone else’s podcast. I’ve made it known in the past that I am extremely picky about what I can actually listen to podcast-wise, and have made no bones about promoting other people (like our good friends from I Heard That Was Good) that do podcasting justice. More on that in a moment.*
You might have seen the Buzzfeed article, had a friend mention it to you, or have heard me say a couple of times over the last couple of weeks that my Jam of the Week on our show was another podcast called Serial. What started out as a story produced for This American Life, a podcast produced by Ira Glass and co. from WBEZ Chicago, people all across the country are asking one question: who killed Hae Min Lee?
So what exactly is Serial? Serial is a nonfiction podcast, which tells one story week by week, and is hosted and spearheaded by Sarah Koening, a longtime producer for This American Life, and a former journalist for The Baltimore Sun.
Here’s basically everything you should know before getting started, directly from their website:
On January 13, 1999, a girl named Hae Min Lee, a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Maryland, disappeared. A month later, her body turned up in a city park. She’d been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae’s body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.
Sarah Koenig, who hosts Serial, first learned about this case more than a year ago. In the months since, she’s been sorting through box after box (after box) of legal documents and investigators’ notes, listening to trial testimony and police interrogations, and talking to everyone she can find who remembers what happened between Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee fifteen years ago. What she realized is that the trial covered up a far more complicated story, which neither the jury nor the public got to hear. The high school scene, the shifting statements to police, the prejudices, the sketchy alibis, the scant forensic evidence – all of it leads back to the most basic questions: How can you know a person’s character? How can you tell what they’re capable of? In Season One of Serial, she looks for answers.
So far nine episodes have been released, and with the Serial crew taking a Thanksgiving break, now is the perfect time to get caught up on the story. Remember: starting from Episode 1 is necessary.
The people that make this story are the actual people the story is about; remember, no characters here. People have flocked to Reddit and all over trying to solve this crime, putting together theories, and being a major part of what’s happening online to drive the conversation about this story.
That is what makes this series a huge must for me. Every week there’s another piece of evidence – a new challenge – that might throw a kink into my own theories or totally support them. And to be clear, while the situation at the heart of this story happened in the late 90s, it seems that new evidence and stories are taking shape weekly in this narrative.
I highly recommend you take some time over the long weekend to listen to the current episodes, and check out what’s going on over at the Serial subreddit. Also, their website is a great resource for photos, copies of documents and letters, and an inside look at what’s going on with the production of the story.
Have you heard the latest episode of The JustUs Geeks Podcast yet? WHY NOT?!? Listen to it here!
Here’s lots of other things you can also do: