Next chapter in the podcast phenomenon released: S-Town

When a friend recommended the This American Life podcast Serial, I got so hooked I ended up binge-listening to the entire first series in a single weekend. He asks a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who's allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder.

But what begins as a classic murder mystery quickly turns into something much deeper-a winding, intricate narrative of small town politics, family strife, and, as the S-Town team describes it, "the mysteries of one man's life".

S-Town is a podcast released just today by the producers of Serial.

So the podcast's opening revelation that the "S-Town" title is a smokescreen for a something much blunter is a ideal setup for the various bluffs, double bluffs, and unexpected U-turns to come.

Unlike Serial, S-Town will be dropping all seven of its episodes at once today. In the course of Brian Reed's reporting, somebody else ended up dead. What we end up with is something far less conventional, far more soulful, and, based on the four review episodes released ahead of this morning's launch, far more rewarding.

On Android phones, you want to download a free podcasts app such as Stitcher from the Google Play store. Woodstock might be a shit town (hence the title), but it's someone's shit town, and the podcast functions best as an exploration of that nexus. The podcast unfurls its story amid a complicated backdrop of extreme poverty, sprawling histories, and the psychosocial fallout of carrying out a life in a place lost in time.

However, despite its blatant positioning as the heir to the Serial throne, S-Town is not quite the true crime podcast you might be expecting.

From there, the story unfolds in surprising directions.

The 12-episode first season of "Serial", reported by Sarah Koenig, examined the 1999 murder of a Baltimore high school student.

  • Salvatore Jensen