True crime has become a staple in many books, movies, TV shows and most importantly podcasts. People may watch or listen to True Crime to learn to spot red flags or for morbid curiosity whatever the reason many can agree that the first true crime podcast that paved the way for the success of many similar podcasts was Serial.
Serial initially debuted as a part of “This American Life” it is hosted by Sarah Koenig and produced by Sarah Koenig, Julie Snyder, Dana Chivvis and Emily Condon. It was released on 3rd October 2014 And even before being aired it reached number 1 on iTunes. The podcast has received many accolades including the Peabody Award. The first season reportedly had 80 million downloads within the first 2 years of its release.
The first season had 12 episodes and followed the conviction of Adnan Masud Syed. Sarah Koenig conducted a deep investigation of all the evidence that was used to convict Adnan. Hae Min Lee disappeared on January 13th 1999 and her body was found in Lincoln park in February. Adnan became the prime suspect after an anonymous caller contacted the police. He was charged with first degree murder and arrested on 28th February. He was found guilty of the murder of Hae Min Lee and given a life sentence. On the 19th of September 2022 Adnan’s Conviction was overturned. The host had talked to multiple sources that knew Adnan And also talk to people that were never approached by the police in the original investigation. Koenig created reasonable doubt in listeners minds about the timeline submitted by the defense and pointed out discrepancies that were not brought up in the trial.
Season two of the podcast focused on Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier who was captured by the Taliban after deserting his post. Sarah Koenig got exclusive access to the interview recordings of Mark Boal a famous screenwriter and Bowe Bergdahl to include in episodes of the podcast. The host reached out to various military personnel and went through countless documents to give listeners a clear picture of the situation.
The third season is a general analysis of various cases in the greater Cleveland area with emphasis on the cases being presented at the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.
How was the show created?
Sarah Koenig and Julia Snyder came up with the idea of a serialized depiction of a case at a pitch meeting while attempting to come up with a weekly show. Serial’s first season was funded by Mailchimp and WBEZ And the second season was funded with the mix of sponsorships and donations. The production company that owned Serial was bought by the New York Times in July of 2020.
Who is the host Sarah Koenig?
Sarah Augusta Koenig was born in New York City in 1969 to Julian Koenig and Maria Eckhart. She attended Concord Academy in Massachusetts and later joined the University of Chicago for a bachelor of arts in political science in 1990. Sarah started her career at “The East Hampton Star” followed by “ABC News” and later “The New York Times”. She became a part of “This American Life” in January of 2004 as a producer. She became a household name after her work in the 2014 podcast Serial. She appeared in Times magazine’s 100 most influential people, she was also named in Forward 50 in 2015. She won awards such as Peabody award, Scripps-Howard award, Lowell Thomas Overseas Press Club award and Women’s Press Club of New York award. While talking to The Cut about the success of serial she said “The success of it was thrilling on the one hand, upsetting in another way, and initially, just very confusing. “What, what happened? Why is everyone looking at me?” I feel very much under a microscope. Also, I feel like, “Oh, cry me a river with your success. You don’t get to have that complaint,” which I fully understand. But Julie and I both, and Ira Glass too, we really like to experiment. Serial itself was an experiment. Every season we’ve done has been an experiment. That’s what we’re interested in. But I do worry about, are our numbers going to go way down? Is our advertising gonna go away? Are we gonna melt back into nothingness if we try this, or that, or the other thing? And I hate that. I want to be able to just do whatever the hell I want”.
With so much popularity and fame there is bound to be criticism. Jay Caspian Kang and Rabia Chaudhary have been some of the loudest of them. Rabia Chaudry works as a lawyer in DC’s US Institute of Peace, she Is it good friend of Adnan Syed and has been advocating on his behalf census conviction. In fact she is the one that brought the case to the attention of Sarah Koenig. She documented her criticism on her blog in 2014. When she was asked by Washingtonian If she was conflicted with the way serial turned out she said “No, Serial was the most important thing that could ever have happened to this case. Because honestly, we were at a dead end before it. They opened doors to the possibility of Adnan having a new life. I think the only real question mark left for us is if it was so much of a story for the Serial team, then why have they not wanted to keep following the case afterwards? That’s a little bit hard on Adnan because Sarah continues to write to him, and he’s way too polite to say, “How come you’re not acknowledging any of the new stuff that’s come out?”. In 2016 Rabia Chaudhary released a book called ‘Adnan’s Story” where she goes deeper into the case then Serial did.
Jay Caspian Kang wrote an article titled “White Reporter Privilege” where he talks about how he believes that Sarah Koenig was guilty of racially stereotyping he said “The accumulation of Koenig’s little judgments throughout the show — and there are many more examples — should feel familiar to anyone who has spent much of her life around well-intentioned white people who believe that equality and empathy can only be achieved through a full, but ultimately bankrupt, understanding of one another’s cultures. Who among us (and here, I’m talking to fellow people of color) hasn’t felt that subtle, discomforting burn whenever the very nice white person across the table expresses fascination with every detail about our families that strays outside of the expected narrative? Who hasn’t said a word like “parameters” and watched, with grim annoyance, as it turns into “immigrant parents?” These are usually silent, cringing moments — it never quite feels worth it to call out the offender because you’ll never convince them that their intentions might not be as good as they think they are.”. Julia Carrie Womg goes on to say “Koenig even suggests that the state and Adnan’s jury were more likely to believe Jay’s testimony because of his race: “Jay seems like the underdog. It’s Baltimore. Half the jury is black, seven out of twelve actually. Jay probably comes off as this nice young man, and this white lady is yelling at him.” The idea that Jay or any black person would be treated as more trustworthy by this country’s criminal justice system by virtue of his blackness is just an astoundingly ignorant suggestion for anyone to make. Whether or not black jury members were predisposed to believe him, Jay had already run the gauntlet of the police and prosecutors in a system designed to criminalize him. The fact that he made it through without being incarcerated is remarkable. That Serial has stepped in to criminalize him in the state’s stead is infuriating”.
In conclusion I’d like to leave you with this quote from the New Yorker ““Serial” gave millions of people what felt like a personal connection to the realities of criminal prosecution, and it happened to come at a moment of heightened cultural awareness of the many injustices of that system, in part because of the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Akai Gurley, in part because of growing awareness of the need for prison reform”.
Q. What genre is Serial podcast?
A. Serial Is it true crime investigative journalism podcast that follows a new case in every season in a serialized format.
Q. Who runs the Serial podcast?
A. Serial is run by Sarah Koenig who is a journalist and the winner of the Peabody award and the Women’s Press Club of New York award.
Q. Did Adnan Syed get released?
A. Adnan Syed was released in September 2022 by a Baltimore City judge.
Q. Is Serial a true podcast?
A. Yes, Serial is a true podcast It focuses on a new story every season.
Q. Why do people like Serial podcast?
A. People liked Serial podcast because it was the first time true crime was depicted in a podcast.
K. Gayatri is a dedicated member of the Podcasting Content Desk. She brings her passion for creating compelling podcast content to the team. With a love for reading and a strong interest in travel, she offers a unique perspective in her work. K. Gayatri’s enthusiasm and diverse experiences.