The team behind the Serial juggernaut has launched a podcast production company and set up its first digital series. Serial Productions’ initial project will be S-Town, a nonfiction limited series set in rural Alabama and hosted by longtime This American Life producer Brian Reed. All episodes be released simultaneously in March.
Production on S-Town began when a man reached out to This American Life complaining about his small Alabama town. He wanted a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who allegedly had been bragging that he got away with murder. Reed agreed to look into it. But then someone else ended up dead, and another story began to unfold – about a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure and the mysteries of one man’s life.
“We’re harnessing the incredible reporting and editing talent of This American Life and Serial and throwing it toward the creation of new shows,” said Julie Snyder, co-creator of Serial with Sarah Koenig and executive producer of S-Town. “Brian and I began working on the S-Town story three years ago, before we’d even launched Serial, and immediately I knew it was special. I remember thinking, ‘If this thing with Serial works – telling one big story over several chapters – then I definitely want to try it with Brian’s story next.’” The S-Town editorial team includes Glass, Sarah Koenig and Starlee Kine.
Serial Productions also has two more podcasts from in development.
When Serial launched in 2014 as a spinoff of This American Life, it became a cultural phenomenon. Season 1 re-investigated a murder that happened in Baltimore in the 1990s, and Season 2 told the story of Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier who was captured by the Taliban. Serial was the first podcast to win the Peabody Award, and its episodes have been downloaded more than 250 million times.