TIME: Serial Season 3, Set in Cleveland, is 2018's Best Podcast


Emmanuel Dzotsi and Sarah Koenig - SANDY HONIG / COURTESY: SERIAL
  • Sandy Honig / Courtesy: Serial
  • Emmanuel Dzotsi and Sarah Koenig
TIME Magazine has named Serial's Cleveland-based third season the best podcast of 2018, and the best season yet for the true-crime sensation that launched in 2014 and ignited the podcast as a narrative form.

"Instead of focusing on one case," TIME summarized, "the show covers a new story at the Justice Center in Cleveland each week. The cases may seem ­mundane — like a man caught carrying weed — but many stories end in jaw­dropping revelations, exploring the effects of racial bias along the way. Host Sarah Koenig expertly demonstrates how daily miscarriages of justice amass into systemic problems."

Koenig said as much when she appeared on The Sound of Ideas Monday morning, alongside co-producer and reporter Emmanuel Dzotsi. She said that, in reporting the show, they didn't have to dig deeply to find the stories they ultimately aired. There was a sense that any story, no matter how ordinary, would expose the egregious injustices and fundamental racism of the system. She said that having reporters spend sustained time on cases is important to explore and expose ways that punishment is unfairly meted out in our society.

The season concluded last week with its 9th episode. Some episodes are tough listening, but the heaviness of the material doesn't take away from the riveting storytelling. If you've got a long drive for Thanksgiving and haven't yet tuned in, do yourself a favor.

Scene spoke with Koenig and Dzotsi about the season's conception and reporting challenges prior to its first episode. Both hosts will appear live in Cleveland at Playhouse Square for a discussion about the podcast, moderated by the City Club's Dan Moulthrop, next month.

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