S-Town takes podcasting deeper

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

2 May 2017

S-Town is about solving the mystery of a character

I have a new obsession. Well, I did for about three days. Then it was all over as I burned right through S-Town, the new podcast from the NPR team that brought us Serial.

And I have felt at a complete loss ever since.

“Instead, the brand of S-Town is rooted in the theatre of the mind.”


S-TownLadies and gentleman, if you haven’t listened to this podcast yet, exit out of this blog and do so now. It’ll take you a little over seven hours. But it’s time wonderfully well spent. May have been the fastest seven hours of my life.

The mystery of S-Town is rooted in the minds of the characters, not about a crime

If this is the first you’re hearing about S-Town, know this. Brian Reed hosts this investigative series. S-Town, which stands for “Shit Town,” follows the exploits of an eccentric resident of a small Alabama town. No spoilers here. But it is the story bursting with mystery, intrigue, love, loss, genius and depth of character. The central mystery is not a crime, like it was in Serial. The surprises exist in the characters own histories and personalities.

Unlike Serial, says the New Yorker, “The central question that S-Town pursues is much murkier from the start. It’s not a whodunit — it’s a What Happened? Or a Did Something Happen? Or a What Are We Doing Here? The more we learn about the possible murder, the more cryptic it gets.”

Instead, the brand of S-Town is rooted in the theatre of the mind. That’s what I have grown to love about the podcasts. And, more minutely, about theatrical series like this. John B. McLemore, while never seen, is one of the most complex and alluring characters to ever cross my psyche. Someone I’ll never soon forget.

Both brilliant and tragic, S-Town further solidifies the podcast medium as one of vitality and depth. Seven episodes weren’t anywhere near enough of S-Town. I’d give all my pocket watches away for an hour more of this story (that’s your lone Easter egg readers). Go listen.

See more posts in the following related categories: NPR S-Town Serial


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