The Serial podcast has been a huge hit with audiences so far, bringing a 15-year-old case into modern light and presenting it to a new generation of media consumers. It’s the story of Adnan Syed, who was convicted for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee — but was he guilty? As the story unfolds in a weekly podcast, listeners seek to find out.
The Serial podcast just released its ninth episode, with it came a hint of more to come — if the funds are available. Currently, Serial is funded partially through ads for MailChimp, Audible, and other sponsors, and partially through This American Life — the NPR podcast of which Serial is a spin-off.
For the second season, though, host Sarah Koenig explains This American Life won’t be funding Serial any longer. They’d like to make it a stand-alone podcast, self-supporting. To do that, she says, they need to get that support from the listeners. On the Serial podcast website, donation information is available, including a number to text to add a $10 donation to your phone bill.
There seems to be a pretty good chance that the listeners will ante up, too. According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s currently the most popular podcast in the world, with an average of 1.26 million downloads per episode.
If the donations do pour in, and a second season comes out, what can we expect of it? How many episodes? What will the story be — can Koenig possibly find another as riveting and emotionally grabbing as the tale of a young Muslim boy who was convicted largely on the weight of testimony that appears to be full of holes and contradictions?
Koenig admits that there are not yet any concrete answers to these questions. She tells the Baltimore Sun that the rough plan is for 12 episodes per season, but that she’s flexible on the matter, depending on the information she finds. Yes — she’s researching the story even as she produces the podcast. (The ninth episode was released on Thursday, and Koenig says Serial will take Thanksgiving off, so that timeline would have the first season of Serial ending the week before Christmas.
As for the second season, Sarah says she hasn’t selected a story for it. Still, she’s shown her skill for making a research-as-you-go, real-life mystery story work as a podcast, and there’s no reason to believe she couldn’t pick a new story and do it again. If the Serial podcast makes it to a second season, it will likely be a hit, too.
[photo credit: jeff_golden]