Serial and This American Life

From the opening moment of “S-Town,” when the compelling voice of John B. McLemore crackles through the phone line peddling his dark suspicion of an unreported murder in Bibb County, Alabama, the listener is hooked. We are inextricably drawn into this brilliant tale which, in the end, is really just about the life and times of an eccentric, animated antique clock restorer and his restive co-existence with ragged small-town culture. Along the way we learn more than we ever thought we wanted to know about horology, mercury poisoning, and the planting and caretaking of a maze. If “Serial” launched the podcast as mass entertainment through a police procedural, its sibling successor, “S-Town,” breaks new ground for the medium by creating the first true audio novel, a nonfiction biography constructed in the style and form of a 7-chapter novel. Three years in the making, reporter Brian Reed and producer Julie Snyder started down the road of the procedural and wound up creating true audio art. The result was both widely acclaimed and wildly popular. Upon release, “S-Town” broke audience records by attracting 16 million downloads in the first week, then 40 million in the first month. As a pioneering classic of the form, “S-Town” deserves a Peabody Award.


Host/Executive Producer: Brian Reed. Executive Producer: Julie Snyder. Editorial Advisers: Ira Glass, Sarah Koenig, Neil Drumming. Digital Editor: Whitney Dangerfield.