Serial - Episode 01: The Alibi
I don’t know if you’re aware of This American Life’s new experimental offshoot, but it’s an incredible use of the podcast form. It’s called Serial and it’s an episodic show that explores one non-fictional story over the course of a season.
It kicked off four weeks ago with the story of Hae Min Lee, a high-school student who was found dead in Baltimore in 1999. The ensuing episodes play out like an investigative docudrama, not unlike The Staircase or The Thin Blue Line, with host Sarah Koenig assuming the mantle of amateur sleuth. She follows leads, cross-examines facts and interviews key witnesses and suspects over the course of the show. It’s thrilling radio, not least due to the fact that the mystery is unravelling almost in real time: Serial doesn’t have a planned arc or ending; Koenig constructs and edits her episodes one or two weeks before they’re released. "We’ll follow the plot and characters wherever they take us," Serial’s official synopsis states, "and we won’t know what happens at the end of the story until we get there, not long before you get there with us."
The Guardian has an interview with Koenig about the project here.