WWALT: S-Town

I have gone back and forth all week on whether I should write about S-Town, as we try to cover some of the smaller podcasts out there and bring you some undiscovered gems. S-Town has already received its fair share of coverage and came out of the blocks with over 10 Million downloads, which makes it sound more like a hit TV show than a Podcast.

S-Town is a production of Serial and This American Life, two of the podcasting giants across the world and not only does it have these huge production houses behind it but it also has the stars of those shows working on it: Ira Glass and Sarah Koenig.

The story told by Brian Reed (Senior Producer at This American Life), starts as an investigation into a murder claim to have happened in ‘S-Town’ by a resident who has lived there his entire life; John B Mclemore.

As I mentioned, I wasn’t sure if I should review a podcast that is already such a massive hit, but I decided I couldn’t not as this podcast honestly had such a profound impact on me. From this point on I may write about parts that could spoil the journey a little, I will most definitely leave out any specifics, won’t talk about the unexpected turn this podcast takes, and try to be spoiler free as much as possible. But for those that haven’t listened yet: go listen, it’s awesome!

For those that have (or don’t mind reading about the story progression), please read on and let me know your own thoughts.

What do I like about it?

It would be hard to list everything I like about S-Town in a blog without it turning into an essay, so to name a few of the general things I like about it… The production is incredible, the storytelling is perfect, the use of interviews, narrative and music paints a picture in your mind beyond the words you are hearing, and I couldn’t put it down (I actually binged 7 hours in 2 days!).

The thing that I really loved about S-Town though, was the way it developed. Sure, it started out as a ‘Serial style’ development, “there is a murder in my town will you come and solve it?” but it becomes so much more than that. {Spoiler Alert} it doesn’t end up being much about the murder at all, yes it looks at the evidence of a murder, it even turns into a treasure hunt at one point; but the podcast is actually a biographical look at a man who was seriously troubled in life.

The way in which Brian (Presenter) is touched by this man’s life and tells his story is done with such class and fondness. The podcast highlights issues that are so relevant today with mental health, loneliness, sexuality and love being among the list. I am not afraid to also admit that this is the only podcast I have ever listened to that made me cry a little too.

What could make it better?

As with any podcast like this, you always want more! And that is what is so brilliant about it, and should there be a second series will make me go back for more. However there are a lot of completely unanswered questions in this podcast that stem from the original theories i.e. murder, treasure hunt. I feel a summary at the end of the podcast of what we know and don’t know for those questions in particular would have left the listener feeling a little more satisfied with the end of the series. Honestly, that is all I can think of that may have improved this podcast though.

Who could take inspiration from this format?

This section is why we write these blogs, to inspire you to create your own or learn from those already doing it well. This week though I will answer the question with just one word: EVERYONE.

“Love this review of #STown #podcast, check it out!”