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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Is "Serial" going to do for podcasts what "The Wire" did for TV?

I knew Serial would be good before I actually heard it because word reached me from the right places. I knew I'd hear it eventually so I didn't try to find out more about it. I didn't want to know any more. I still don't.

I knew it was by the same people as This American Life, which was good enough for me. They've got a style you don't find on British radio. In the case of Serial - and this is all you need to know - they've presented a whodunnit as a series of one-hour podcasts.

You encounter the story through the thoughts of a reporter who's puzzling over a fifteen year-old murder case. You hear her interview tapes, eavesdrop on her phone conversations. I don't know if the voices belong to actors, civilians or a mix of the two. It really doesn't matter. The beauty of Serial is there's nothing to compare it to.

I may not stay to the end. I don't know how many episodes there are and, where whodunits are concerned, I'm more interested in the journey than the destination.

All I know is this. Radio couldn't begin to do what Serial is doing.