Podcasts I Love: Serial

Serial Podcast NPR Sarah Keonig Adnan Sayed

I haven’t been shy about my adoration of This American Life. So it will come as absolutely no surprise that when I heard there would be a spin-off podcast featuring extended stories in the same vein of This American Life, and that it would be headed by TAL producer, Sarah Koenig, I was more than a little excited.

Serial is even better than I thought it would be, and who doesn’t just love when that happens? I find myself replaying each episode, discussing the events with my husband, pouring over old articles, web forums and Reddit pages where other listeners are discussing it, and asking everyone I come into contact with if they’ve listened to it yet. I am HOOKED.

Here’s a description of the current story:

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.

I just listened to an interview with Koenig where she speculated that there would probably be 12 episodes on the current story, which is still being investigated as I write this.

Episodes are released Thursday mornings, and episode five will air tomorrow.

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