NEW YORK • In 2014, the true- crime podcast Serial began like this: A tipster asked a radio journalist to investigate a murder.
S-Town, the new narrative podcast from the creators of Serial that is topping download charts around the world, kicks off in a similar fashion.
This time, the tipster is Mr John B. McLemore, an eccentric antique clock restorer from Woodstock, Alabama. The journalist is Mr Brian Reed, a long-time producer for This American Life.
When Mr McLemore tells Mr Reed that a Woodstock rich boy got away with murder and has been bragging about it ever since, Mr Reed agrees to head down from New York to check it out. But it soon becomes clear that the homicide story is a bit of a red herring. It is the hook to get Mr Reed on the line.
The S in S-Town is shorthand for a four-letter word - Mr McLemore's preferred nickname for his home- town.
Releasing all of its seven episodes at once last Tuesday, S-Town is now the most downloaded podcast in the United States on iTunes.
According to Apple's iTunes Charts, it is also leading the charts in Australia, Britain, Canada and Germany.
Producer Julie Snyder explained that the team wanted to create the feel of a novel with S-Town, while Serial is more like a television show. "You can enter their specific world and you don't 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."
NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE