6 Questions for Podcasting Sensation Sarah Koenig

Sarah Koenig | Courtesy of X

Sarah Koenig | Photo by Elise Bergerson

Serial was a riveting, record-breaking, 12-part podcast series that re-investigated the murder of Baltimore teenager Hae Min Lee. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was convicted of the crime, but he has always insisted he is innocent.

As a fan, I’m in awe of the show’s reporting, which revealed deep flaws in the criminal justice system, as well as its deft storytelling that hooked listeners.

As a journalist, I have questions: Has Serial changed podcasting forever? Does its success mean all the wonderful things I want it to mean for investigative reporting? And on the flip side, was it worth it to reexamine a murder case if it wasn’t obvious in the end whether Syed did it?

In advance of Serial creators Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder‘s live presentation Thursday night at the Kimmel Center (details here), I interviewed Koenig. Our questions have been paraphrased her responses have been edited lightly for clarity.

Ticket: Serial was the most popular podcast in the world. Now that some time has passed, why do you think it caught fire?

Koenig: We had no idea why, we had like no idea, and now with a little bit of time, we’ve kind of started to think about what just happened and why did that just happen. And I think it’s a bunch of things. It’s funny, none of the elements that we did are new, you know what I mean? To re-investigate a murder case is not a new idea. A serial is not a new idea. Podcasts are not new. But there was something about the combination of all the elements that we chose to put together in one medium that felt really new.

And I think people weren’t used to hearing journalism in that form, in a sort of serialized audio podcast where you had to stick with it week to week, where I was a very strong narrator, so I’m leading you through almost like a character. And I think all of that felt new and I think that’s what was interesting for people. And then crime stories are unfortunately very, very popular for people, which I also weirdly had not understood going in. I didn’t get that, oh, it’s a murder story and people are going to be interested. I didn’t foresee that. Because I’m an idiot [laughs]. Read more »

Win Tickets to See Serial Creators Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder at Merriam Theater

Serial creator/host Sarah Koenig in the studio.

Serial creator/host Sarah Koenig in the studio.

Veteran radio journalists and producers Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder will be in town on May 14th for a live presentation that delves into the creation of their binge-worthy NPR series, Serial, which made history by becoming the fastest podcast to reach 5 million downloads in iTunes history.

The ladies will use tape from the show to tell behind-the-scenes stories about the making of Serial, touching on how they constructed favorite episodes and sharing personal anecdotes about working with the podcast’s players, like Adnan Syed, Jay Wilds and more.

Tickets are on sale now, ranging from $35 to $99 a pop, but we have five pairs that we’re giving away for the price of zilch. The giveaway tickets are valued at $90 a pair, and the seats are located in the balcony section of Kimmel’s Merriam Theater. To win, just sign up for our weekly e-newsletter in the box below. The contest ends on Friday, May 8th at 4 pm, at which point we will draw five names at random. Winners will be notified by email.

Best of luck to you. If you don’t happen to win tickets, you can purchase some of your own here.

Serial Creators Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder Coming to Kimmel Center

Sarah Koenig (left) and Julie Snyder with This American Life host Ira Glass. | Photo by Meredith Heuer, courtesy of Serial.

Sarah Koenig (left) and Julie Snyder with This American Life host Ira Glass. | Photo by Meredith Heuer, courtesy of Serial.

Pre-sale tickets went on sale today for the upcoming evening at the Kimmel with Serial podcast creators Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder.

The veteran radio journalists and producers will be in town on May 14th for a live presentation that delves into the creation of their riveting 12-part NPR series, which made history by becoming the fastest podcast to reach 5 million downloads in iTunes history.

Read more »

LISTEN: Neil Patrick Harris Chats With Terry Gross About Playing Hedwig, Escaping Doogie Howser and Coming Out in Press Release in 2006

In the latest episode of Philly-produced podcast Fresh Air, host Terry Gross conducts an interview with triple-threat talent and one of today’s shiniest gay stars, Neil Patrick Harris.

Harris was there to chat about his new memoir Choose Your Own Autobiography, which is structured like one of those choose-your-own-adventure books you probably read as a kid. Throughout the course of interview he and Gross cover everything from escaping the Doogie Howser label and playing a transgender dynamo in his Tony-winning role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch to his decision to reveal he was gay via press release in 2006 when bloggers like Perez Hilton were putting pressure on him to come out.

Read more »

Podcast: Birds 24/7 Radio, Week 12

We gauge where things stand with Nick Foles and Chip Kelly going into the bye.

Plus, what changes does this team need to make going into the final five games? Click here to listen to the podcast online and here to download it from iTunes.

Tim and Sheil host Birds 24/7 every Thursday night at Smiths in Center City from 6 to 7. Listen to the show on 97.5 The Fanatic.

Podcast: Birds 24/7 Radio, Week 11

Herm Edwards definitively stated that Nick Foles is not an elite/franchise quarterback. Is it too soon to pass that kind of judgement, or is Edwards spot on?

Sheil and Tim offer their takes.

You can listen to the podcast here or download it from iTunes.

We broadcast live from Smiths in Center City from 6 to 7 every Thursday during the season. If you haven’t visited us there yet, please remedy that immediately. Read more »

Podcast: Birds 24/7 Radio, Week 3

Tim and Sheil hosted a special Tuesday edition of Birds 24/7 on 97.5 The Fanatic. Look beyond the Andy Reid story line, and you’ll quickly notice that this is a big game for the Eagles. Can they pull it off? And what to make of this team through two weeks?

You can listen to the podcast here or download it here from iTunes.

They’ll be broadcasting live from Smiths in Center City from 6 to 7  Thursdays during the season.

Podcast: Birds 24/7 Radio, Week 2

Tim and Sheil look back at the Eagles’ eye-opening performance against Washington. Is this style of play sustainable? The guys explore that question from a variety of angles.

You can listen to the podcast here or download it here from iTunes.

They’ll be broadcasting live from Smiths in Center City from 6 to 7  Thursdays during the season. Please note that, due to the Thursday night game against the Chiefs, next week’s show will be on Tuesday.

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