Radio for the Internet Era

Sarah Koenig, photo by Elise Bergerson

If you are one of those people who remembers ‘Squadcars’ and ‘The Mind of Tracy Dark’ with fondness, and even sadness that such entertainment is no longer available, then sigh no more. The best radio the world has to offer is available in the form of podcasts, and one that is taking the world by storm right now is ‘Serial’, created by some of the people who were responsible for the long-running program on American Public Radio, ‘This American Life.’

Like ‘This American Life’, ‘Serial’ is available as a podcast, which is essentially an mp3 that can be downloaded from the internet, and listened to on your iPod or cellphone. Most podcast listeners use podcast software on their phones or computers to manage programs and ensure that they don’t miss any episodes. (The ubiquitous iTunes is one that works well, especially on the Mac, iPad, iPod and iPhone. If you’re an Android person, try the Podcast Addict app.)

The Serial producers have kindly created a guide for people starting out in listening to podcasts, in video and written form, at their website here.

While ‘This American Life’ deals with different topics each week, ‘Serial’ runs over several weeks, and delves in minute detail into a murder case that took place in Baltimore in 1999. The program looks into the many unanswered questions surrounding the victim’s boyfriend, who was prosecuted for the murder on the basis of one person’s shaky testimony, and who continues to profess innocence.

Sarah Koenig spoke to Rolling Stone in October about her motivation to produce the show.

Over 2 million people have streamed each episode of the podcast so far, which is greater than the viewership of some prime time television shows. Get it for free here, but be warned: it’s addictive listening.