The weekly This American Life spin-off follows producer Sarah Koenig as she re-investigates the 15-year-old murder case of Baltimore teen Hae Min Lee and the conviction of her boyfriend Adnan Syed—on seemingly circumstantial evidence.
AUDIO | Serial: This American Life's first spin-off explores murder case
Each week, Koenig would draw audiences deeper into the possible loopholes in the case by sifting through potential clues (court testimony, cell phone records and rumours) with experts and witnesses.
Most compelling were her conversations with Syed himself, who gave 40-hours of phone interviews from the Maryland correctional facility where he is serving his life sentence.
The mystery, the sleuthing and Koenig's honest and conflicted delivery attracted fans in droves since its launch in October. By November, Apple flagged Serial as the fastest podcast to reach 5 million downloads in iTunes history.
Each week, followers poured over the episode's new details online, and argued over Syed's guilt or innocence, or Koenig's alleged lack of objectivity on a well-populated subreddit.
But the show's most obsessed will soon be feeling the pangs of withdrawal now that that final episode has released. And the show's partly crowdfunded second season isn't expected until sometime next year.
CBC's Eli Glasner looks at podcasting and Serial's impact on the radio revolution in the video above.
In the meantime, here are some other interesting programs to satisfy your audial needs.- This AmericanLife: Ira Glass hosts the mother of all podcasts, but unlike Koenig's Serial, TAL takes on a new theme each episode and explores a variety of stories on that same theme.
- Radiolab: Produced (with semi-regularity) by New York public broadcaster WNYC, hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich weave stories and science into slickly-produced radio documentaries.
- The Moth: Launched in 1997, The Moth podcasts are recordings of travelling storytelling shows, each session featuring raconteurs focused on a single theme, revealing real-life, enlightening and intimate tales.
- NPR: Snap Judgment: A weekly, quick-moving, diverse collection of true stories hosted by Glynn Washington. The NPR fan favourite is downloaded more than half a million times a month.
- Story Corp: Interviews between friends, relatives and lovers are captured on audio tape, then filed away at the Library of Congress as official archives, preserving the stories of Americans from all backgrounds. Hear their stories here.
Tell us what you think in the comments below.
If you've never listened to a podcast, and are wondering how, This American Life host Ira Glass and his friend Mary will show you in the video below.- On mobile? Watch the video here