“Serial” Podcast = Radio is Really Cool Again

10 Dec 2014 0

I am not a podcastee (is that the right term?) but I recently was recommended a podcast called “Serial” by a good friend when we were exchanging recent good reads. In a (too small) nutshell, “Serial” digs deep into the 1999 murder of a high school senior who’s ex-boyfriend may have been wrongly charged with her death and given a life sentence.

My friend is currently obsessed with it and I love to check out anything that someone is obsessed with. When I looked it up on iTunes, I actually recognized the logo as I’ve been seeing it all over social media, apparently a lot of people are obsessed! I started this week and as I’m almost up to date with the episodes, I get the obession.

The golden age of purely listening to a radio for entertainment seems to be coming back which is very cool. So if you have a long ride, downtime at night or just want another way to stimulate your brain, this is defiantly worth your time.

Wall Street Journal did a article on the podcast phenonenon, here is an except:

A 15-year-old murder case is now riveting the nation.

The attention doesn’t come courtesy of a new TV series or movie, or anything involving a screen, for that matter, but a free podcast called “Serial,” a nonfiction story from the producers of “This American Life” that unspools week by week over the earphones of an unusually broad and fervent audience.

The show, which reopens the investigation into the 1999 strangling death of a Baltimore high-school student and her former 17-year-old boyfriend now serving a life sentence for the crime, has sparked a following straight out of the golden age of radio. It also has managed a rare trick in a noisy news and entertainment landscape driven by a lights-camera-action mind-set: It gets people to drop everything and just listen. New episodes are made available every Thursday at 6 a.m. Eastern time. This week, hundreds of thousands of listeners eagerly tuned in to hear episode 8 out of a likely 12.

In the normally low-profile world of podcasting, “Serial” is a certified sensation—a testament to the power of great storytelling. It’s quickly become the most popular podcast in the world, according to Apple, and the fastest to reach 5 million downloads and streams in iTunes history. “Serial” is the top podcast in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia, and in the top 10 in Germany, South Africa and India.

Jason Reitman, a filmmaker whose credits include “Up in the Air,” is so obsessed, he taught himself the show’s disquieting piano scorewhile biding time between installments. “I look forward to every Thursday in a way that I don’t remember awaiting the release of an episode of anything recently,” he said. “There’s something very intimate about someone telling you a story that close to your ears.”

The episodes explore whether an honor-roll student and onetime junior-prom prince named Adnan Syed was wrongly convicted of the murder of Hae Min Lee, his popular former girlfriend at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County. The show’s co-creator and narrator, Sarah Koenig, spent a year examining the holes in the case against Mr. Syed. The suspense is as much driven by the story as it is by Ms. Koenig’s shifting convictions over Mr. Syed’s guilt or innocence.
“Serial” is downloaded an average 1.26 million times per episode, sending fans into debates over the finer points of the evidence. People can hear the podcast, which is like a radio show but entirely on the Internet, either by streaming it from the “Serial” website or downloading it onto a phone, tablet or computer from a platform like iTunes.

The show has seized the popular imagination and developed an unusually intense following. High-school English teachers have abandoned their normal lesson plans and are having their classes follow along. Visitors to the social-media and entertainment website Reddit are attempting to investigate the crime on their own, sorting through court documents, retracing the footsteps of the suspects, sometimes even trying to track down key players who testified in court. People are listening to a podcast about the podcast—there’s one by Slate—while switching allegiances over the true identity of the killer.

It’s struck a powerful chord with people in the entertainment industry, who have been busy promoting it on Twitter. “My favorite TV show is on the radio,” wrote Danny Zuker, a writer and producer known for the TV series “Modern Family.” From actor Adam Scott of “Parks and Recreation”: “@serial has taken over my life.” Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt posted a picture of a “listening party”—people sitting around an open laptop, staring into space. After “Black Swan” director Darren Aronofsky praised the show, someone tweeted at him: “Totally agree! Make a movie of it.”
Hollywood executives already have contacted agents for “This American Life” with ideas for TV or movie projects around “Serial” (so far the show is not pursuing any). The success story could spur the entertainment industry to take a closer look at podcasts as a source of material. “Hollywood tends to chase what’s popular, and ‘Serial’ certainly is,” said Beau Willimon, creator of “House of Cards,” who wrote a 4,000-plus word, two-part meditation on the show on Reddit. “It’s a vast and ripe medium.” (He insisted on total silence about the latest episode because he was busy filming “House of Cards” on Thursday morning and hadn’t yet heard it.)

The staff hopes to continue with a second season, also called “Serial.” The timing and subject of that story haven’t been determined, though “Serial” executive producer Julie Snyder said the next season probably wouldn’t focus on a crime. The program is largely funded by “This American Life,” with a main sponsor, the email-marketing service MailChimp. Ms. Snyder said the staff is still figuring out how to pay for next season, but the podcast would likely remain free.

Check out the rest of the article athttp://www.wsj.com/articles/serial-podcast-catches-fire-1415921853

To listen to Serial, head to your iTunes account and enjoy!

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