‘Serial’ podcast listening

I have never listened to podcasts before, not for any particular reason other than the fact that I have just never thought of it.  For the past several days, I have been listening to Serial, a podcast that is told week by week by host and reporter Sarah Koenig.

Photo from dailymail.com
Photo from dailymail.com

The first season focuses on the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee and the subsequent trial and conviction of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed.  Koenig notices that there are holes in the stories told by Syed and the others brought in for questioning all those years ago, so she dives deep into the case and tries to piece together just what happened the day Lee went missing.

Screenshot by Abby Del Vecchio

I am only on episode six, so I do not know how the story ends, but I cannot wait to find out. The show is addicting, in a way I didn’t think podcasts could be.  I mostly listen while driving, because it is hard to stay concentrated on every word Koenig says, without visual aspects, because every word she says is important.  It is a mystery story after all.

Koenig talks in a clear, crisp voice and has background music play every once in a while.  It keeps the show fresh and lively.  Koenig also has tons of sound bites she has gathered from interviews with key players of the murder herself, as well as police tapes from 1999.  Koenig gathers natural sound and strategically places it throughout each show, making listeners really feel as if they are immersed in the situation.  The way Koenig explains each situation is spoken with such description and clarity that it almost forces listeners to have a picture painted in their minds of each scene she is describing.

At no point, at least so far in the series, does Koenig purposefully sway the listeners opinion of Syed, or his sketchy friend Jay Wilds.  All she does is state what she knows.  She does the very journalistic thing by not putting her thoughts on the matter.  She will occasionally say things like, “this doesn’t add up to me, but it doesn’t mean I think Adnan is innocent, or guilty,” but that’s as close as she gets to her opinion on Adnan, or even Jay’s, innocence or guilt.

I think Serial is produced in such a clear and understanding way, that makes me, and I am assuming other listeners as well, just want to keep listening.  I have paid attention to Koenig’s script and her introductions to each sound bites, hoping that I can catch on and do the same.  I think Serial is a great podcast to listen to, especially as inspiration for how to make your own podcast.


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