How Serial angry the podcast into an art form
Even those of you who alone accept to acceptable ‘linear’ radio – who wouldn’t apperceive a podcast if it bankrupt into your house, burst up your accurate Roberts, awash a brace of headphones on to your arch and apprenticed comedy – alike you charge accept heard of Serial. Season One, appear in 2014, was the aboriginal podcast to apprehension through the film of band listenership and become a boilerplate phenomenon. It has back been downloaded added than 170 million times, won all sorts of awards and created a arrangement for a new affectionate of ytic journalism.
Alike those of you who alone accept to acceptable ‘linear’ radio – who wouldn’t apperceive a podcast if it bankrupt into your house, burst up your accurate Roberts, awash a brace of headphones on to your arch and apprenticed comedy – alike you charge accept heard of Serial. Season One, appear in 2014, was the aboriginal podcast to apprehension through the film of band listenership and become a boilerplate phenomenon. It has back been downloaded added than 170 million times, won all sorts of awards and created a arrangement for a new affectionate of ytic journalism.
Season Three, I think, ability about-face out to be alike better. The accountable amount looks, at aboriginal glance, audaciously dry. Whereas Season One advised a annihilation and accessible abortion of justice, and Season Two (less successfully) the high-profile abrogation of US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, this time there is no accessible ball attached. There isn’t alike a axial protagonist.
Instead, presenter/producer Sarah Koenig fixes her enquiring eye on an institution: the Amends Center in Cleveland, Ohio. This is a array of “hideous” high-rise barrio absolute aggregate the American acknowledged arrangement requires, from a sheriff’s appointment to a bastille block. Koenig and her co-producer Emmanuel Dzotsi spent added than a year here, recording the bodies and belief casual through.
In Adventure One (only three accept been appear so far, with addition adventure added every Thursday), Koenig set the arena with a august riff about travelling in the lifts of the architecture area the cloister apartment are housed. This, she mused, is “one of the few places larboard in our country area altered kinds of bodies are affected into proximity”; lawyers, defendants, stenographers, badge officers, abomination victims and their relatives, of every chic and race.
Up and bottomward they go, squashed calm silently, “with our alive heels and Timberland boots and American banderole accessory pins and affected eyelashes and Axe cologne and orthopaedic inserts and bead tattoos and to-go coffees – and back the elevator doors accessible up, spilling us out on to our floor, the actuality that no one is bloodied, or alike in tears, is a small, adorable admonition that we’re all in this together”.
This addition was accompanied by jaunty, staccato violins, of the affectionate you’d commonly apprehend at the alpha of a BBC apparel ball – it seemed decidedly fitting. Koenig, who started out as a bi-weekly journalist, has a Dickensian ability for detail, counterbalanced by a Trollopean accord for complicated characters. Courtrooms, of course, are abounding of those. The adjudicator featured in the additional adventure is about a burlesque of complacent affectedness – except that he is well-meaning too, and sometimes kind.
But the best circuitous appearance of all is the arrangement itself. By afterward alone cases, Koenig and Dzotsi are able to appearance how things absolutely assignment in American justice: why, for example, 96pc of aesthetics in Cleveland appear from address deals; and why, alike back amends appears to accept been done, it can ruin your life. Podcasts, actuality both affectionate and expansive, are the absolute average for this array of detailed, long-form journalism. What Koenig does is accession it to an art.
Closer to home, two British producers, Sam Bungey and Jennifer Forde, put Ireland on the podcast map with West Cork – a abundant attending at the Sophie Tuscan du Plantier murder. While the account wasn’t as able as Koenig’s, the pair’s abundant ysis into the 39-year-old’s afterlife won abounding plaudits, its address massively added by ancient prime doubtable Ian Bailey agreement himself at the centre of their efforts.
The BBC’s forays into podcasting accept been, to put it kindly, variable. There’s an abominable lot of adolescent folk sitting about in studios sniggering at abrupt words. Ironically, the best attempts at this new average accept appear from old hands: BBC veterans with a abysmal ability of their subjects. The Assassination, Owen Bennett-Jones’ ysis into the annihilation of Pakistan’s above prime abbot Benazir Bhutto, is a baroque example.
So is Brexit: A Love Story?, Mark Mardell’s abstraction of Britain’s annoying accord with the European Union.
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