“S-Town” is a seven-part podcast which is hosted by “This American Life” producer Brian Reed and produced by the team behind “Serial”, ”a weekly program on public radio in the US. Released in 2014, it investigated the 1999 murder of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee.” (The Sydney Morning Herald,2017) The story behind the concept of the podcast is captivating and the first episode reveals how Brian received unexpectedly an e-mail from a man named John B McLemore who wanted help in order to investigate a murder that he believed it happened in Woodstock, Alabama. ”Reed, a producer on the show, scanned the email and decided to take it to the editorial team, even though he wasn’t exactly sure what the story was, other than a small-town resident with a large vocabulary complaining that the scion of a wealthy family was bragging that he got away with murder.” (The Guardian,2017)
Although the mysterious nature of the murder and its circumstances revolves around the first episodes, ”it’s important to be clear that despite its Serial roots and an investigative premise that initially seems like a journalistic jaunt into an unresolved murder, S-Town is not a true crime podcast.” (Vox,2017) ”It turns out there was no murder, and S-Town morphs into a character study of the man behind the false lead, an eccentric horologist named John B. McLemore.” (The Sydney Morning Herald,2017) The title of the podcast ”turns out to be a euphemism for “shit town”, which is what McLemore calls Woodstock, which he can neither stand nor leave.” (The Sydney Morning Herald,2017)
This podcast appeals to a wide audience because of the distinctive presentation style and controversial subject matter that involves the listeners in the story of a troubled man and allows them to dive right into the narrative twists about crimes, mental health, isolation or other issues that occur throughout the series. “When a novel starts talking about a character, you just trust that you’re reading a novel, and that’s what they do—we thought, maybe we can make a podcast that way.” (Wired,2017) As a result, the programme became quickly so popular that it ”has been downloaded more than 10 million in the first four days of its release — setting a new record in the podcasting world.” (Variety,2017) Moreover, ”all seven episodes of Serial Productions’ “S-Town” were released for binge-listening on March 28.” (Variety,2017) and they can be downloaded from iTunes.
- The Sydney Morning Herald. (2017). Why true-crime podcasts make me uneasy. [online] Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/why-truecrime-podcasts-make-me-uneasy-20171027-gz9hrq.html [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].
- Locker, M. (2017). Bittersweet home Alabama: S-Town, the next podcast from the makers of Serial. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/mar/28/s-town-podcast-makers-of-serial-brian-reed-julie-snyder [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].
- Vox. (2017). S-Town is a stunning podcast. It probably shouldn’t have been made.. [online] Available at: https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/3/30/15084224/s-town-review-controversial-podcast-privacy [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].
- Locke, C., Locke, C., McMillan, G., Galaxy, G., McMillan, G., Watercutter, A., Wood, J. and Watercutter, A. (2017). The Creators of ‘Serial’ Are Back With ‘S-Town,’ a Binge-Ready New Podcast. [online] WIRED. Available at: https://www.wired.com/2017/03/s-town-podcast/ [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].
- Spangler, T. and Spangler, T. (2017). The ‘Serial’ Team’s New Podcast, ‘S-Town,’ Tops 10 Million Downloads in Four Days. [online] Variety. Available at: http://variety.com/2017/digital/news/s-town-podcast-10-million-downloads-serial-productions-1202020302/ [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].