For host Sarah Koenig and senior producer Julie Snyder, the success of their podcast is shocking.
They predicted that “Serial,” an offshoot of Ira Glass’ “This American Life”, would have an audience of about 300,000 listeners. Instead it has been downloaded almost 100 million times and has listeners in every country except Eritrea and North Korea. It has paved the way for “binge-worthy journalism” with its honest reporting of details surrounding the 1999 murder case of a high school senior in Baltimore, Md, and has prompted a huge amount of discussion online.
While still in the crosshairs of pop culture, the duo opened the 12th season of The William N. Skirball Writers Center Stage series, bringing insight into the arduous process of producing the concept for their initial season. Through documented audio exchanges, humorous quips and charming anecdotes, the story behind the story of “Serial” took form.
Koenig and Snyder asserted their belief that audiences are patient enough to let journalism take its time. They believe their “escapist entertainment” is akin to popular television series like “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men,” and that the series has succeeded in documenting “life as it’s lived” as fully and honestly as possible.
When asked about their stardom and its effect on their approach to “Serial’s” second season, both reported that while their celebrity status has not led to strangers on the street asking for autographs, the overwhelming and immediate success of their work has set a standard they do not take for granted. Not every story they document from now on will be in the same vein as their inaugural case, but there are always stories that warrant our attention. I, for one, look forward to tuning in for their second season, which will be released in fall 2015.