Season One: Episode 00

Preview

It’s Baltimore, 1999. Hae Min Lee, a popular high-school senior, disappears after school one day. Six weeks later detectives arrest Adnan Syed, her classmate and ex-boyfriend, and charge him with murder. He’s convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. But the story both sides tell at the trial raises more questions than it answers.  Serial Season One, starting October 3rd.

What is Serial?

Serial is a new podcast from the creators of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial will follow one story - a true story - over the course of a whole season. We'll follow the plot and characters wherever they take us 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. Each week we'll bring you the latest chapter, so it's important to listen in order, starting with Episode 1. Episodes 1 & 2 will launch on Friday, Oct 3rd. You can subscribe now in various platforms by clicking "subscribe."

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Sept 19

Introducing Serial

By Sarah Koenig

Adnan Syed

Hello everyone,

Big news: we’re launching Serial on Friday, October 3rd.

You can get Episodes 1 ("The Alibi") and 2 ("The Breakup") here or on various audio platforms, including iTunes (subscribe here)  that day at 10am ET.  The first episode will also air on This American Life the same day. If you want a preview, click on the play button at the top of the page, or subscribe in iTunes. You can also read more about the story directly below this post.

As the season unfolds, we’ll be adding extras in this space: curious tangents I can't fit into the podcast, plus timelines, people maps, diagrams - and photos, like the one above, of Adnan in his football uniform. This would have been the fall of his senior year, right before Hae Min Lee went missing. Adnan's picture didn't appear in the 1999 yearbook along with the rest of his class (he was in jail awaiting trial when it went to press), but one picture of him did slip in, in the group shot of the football team.

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About

Serial is a podcast where we unfold one nonfiction story, week by week, over the course of a season. We'll stay with each story for as long as it takes to get to the bottom of it.

We'll release new episodes every Thursday morning. Listeners can subscribe for free to the Serial podcast on iTunes and other audio platforms, and can also listen here on this site. Serial, like This American Life, is a production of WBEZ Chicago, which also produces these podcasts

Season One

On January 13, 1999, a girl named Hae Min Lee, a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Maryland, disappeared. A month later, her body turned up in a city park. She'd been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae's body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.

Sarah Koenig, who hosts Serial, first learned about this case more than a year ago. In the months since, she's been sorting through box after box (after box) of legal documents and investigators' notes, listening to trial testimony and police interrogations, and talking to everyone she can find who remembers what happened between Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee fifteen years ago. What she realized is that the trial covered up a far more complicated story, which neither the jury nor the public got to hear. The high school scene, the shifting statements to police, the prejudices, the sketchy alibis, the scant forensic evidence - all of it leads back to the most basic questions: How can you know a person’s character? How can you tell what they’re capable of? In Season One of Serial, she looks for answers.

Staff

Sarah Koenig

Host and Executive Producer

Sarah worked for more than ten years as a producer of This American Life before she and Julie Snyder started Serial. She’s guest-hosted TAL several times, most memorably for the "No Coincidence, No Story" show. She’s produced and reported some of TAL's most popular shows, including "Switched at Birth," "Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde," "Petty Tyrant," and "Habeas Schmabeas," a Peabody Award-winning show about Guantanamo Bay. Before joining This American Life in 2004, Sarah covered criminal justice and was a State House reporter at The Baltimore Sun and the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire. All staff photos by Meredith Heuer.

Julie Snyder

Executive Producer

Julie created Serial with Sarah Koenig. She's also the Senior Producer of This American Life, which she runs side by side with Ira Glass, setting the editorial agenda of the program, but also overseeing and editing hundreds of individual stories and episodes. She's been with the show since 1997 – almost from its inception- and has produced many of This American Life's most entertaining and ambitious episodes, including "24 Hours at the Golden Apple," "Notes on Camp," and the Peabody-winning episodes "Harper High School."

 

Dana Chivvis

Producer

Before joining Serial, Dana did the fellowship at This American Life. She was also an education reporter and digital producer at NBC News, and a photo editor at National Geographic. She has a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Emily Condon

Production & Operations Manager

In addition to working on Serial, Emily manages the editorial side of This American Life. She's been at TAL for more than five years. Her prior projects include overseeing the launch of Rookie and running the Oak Street Cinema, a single-screen revival movie theatre in Minneapolis.

Ira Glass

Editorial Advisor

Ira gives editorial and business advice to Serial. Generally this means he hears drafts of episodes and gives notes, helps with promotion, and consults on the show's format and business plan. He's the founder and host of This American Life, which has won the highest honors for broadcast excellence, and which was declared by the American Journalism Review as "at the vanguard of a journalistic revolution.”

Music

Serial's original score comes from Canadian musician, composer and producer Nick Thorburn. In 2003, Nick started The Unicorns, and released their first full-length album to critical praise from around the world. Thorburn went on to form another band called Islands, who've released five albums and  played festivals from Coachella to Primavera Sounds and La Route Du Rock. Nick has also released a solo record and a variety of collaborations, and composes scores for film and television.

Press

For press inquires, please contact Rachel Hammerman at rachel@hammermanpr.com