New podcast ‘S-town’ from ‘Serial’ creators tops charts

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The new radio show “S-Town,” by the team behind “Serial,” the most downloaded podcast in history, is leading download charts just about everywhere in the world.

“Serial” is considered the first big radio hit in the history of podcasts, audio files that can be downloaded from the internet and listened to at any time.

Put online in October 2014, it has been downloaded tens of millions of times. On Friday, it was still in second place in the list of the most downloaded podcasts on Apple’s iTunes.

“Serial” tells a true story over the course of a season in weekly chapters. The first season looked at a murder committed in 1999 in Baltimore and at the man convicted of the crime, Adnan Syed, who was sentenced to life imprisonment and insisted he was innocent.

The investigation by the journalists of “Serial,” from the creators of “This American Life,” a weekly public radio show, turned up several troubling elements in the case.

On that basis, a Baltimore judge ordered a retrial of Syed in June 2016.

The success of “Serial” led to a second season, based on a true story on a totally different subject, that of a US soldier in Afghanistan.

A third season is in the works, the producers say, without revealing the subject or release date.

In the meantime, they launched an independent production company, Serial Productions, which created the new podcast “S-Town.” Both “Serial” and “S-Town” are free to download.

Put online Tuesday, “S-Town,” which stands for the subject’s nickname for the rural Alabama town of Woodstock where he lives -- Shittown -- is now at the top of the most downloaded podcasts in the United States on iTunes.

According to Apple’s iTunes Charts, it is also leading the charts in Australia, Britain, Canada and Germany.

The central character in “S-Town” is John B. McLemore, a reclusive antique horologist who asked “This American Life” executive producer Brian Reed to investigate a potential murder in his town.

The seven-episode podcast, which begins somewhat like “Serial” by looking into a murder, expands into a fresco of life in America’s Deep South, hosted by Reed.

Producer Julie Snyder explained that the team wanted to create a podcast with the feel of a novel, while “Serial” is more like a television show.

“You can enter their specific world, and you don’t know really know what it’s about or where it’s going,” she told the website Wired. “But hopefully you’re compelled to stay in it the whole time.”

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