Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Serial's' Sarah Koenig to Speak at Media Innovation Center Opening

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Serial's' Sarah Koenig to Speak at Media Innovation Center Opening

Article excerpt

Here's the mystery of "Serial," season three: Sarah Koenig says they haven't picked a subject yet.

"I'm open, if you've got any ideas," she adds, laughing.

Fear not -Ms. Koenig has many. As one of the creators and host of the Peabody Award-winning podcast sensation from National Public Radio, it's obvious she hardly lacks imagination.

Ms. Koenig will be keynote speaker at Tuesday's opening of Point Park University's $2.5 million Center for Media Innovation. It's not much of a jaunt for the former "This American Life" producer - she lives in State College.

The first season of "Serial" in 2014 sparked a global interest in podcasting. It became the fastest in history to reach 5 million downloads on iTunes, and the season finished with more than 175 million downloaded/streamed episodes.

More important, it created the kind of virtual watercooler buzz that rarely crosses such a wide range of demographics. People walked their dogs and commuted home from work listening to it, and streamed it at universities.

This weekly follow-the-trail drama of a previously little-known murder case in Baltimore also is credited with whetting listeners' appetites for other forms of documentary sleuthing, such as HBO's "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst" and "Making a Murderer," which streams on Netflix.

The fervor generated by "Serial" led to outside groups conducting their own investigations. This led to evidence that high schooler Adnan Syed, who was convicted in 2000 of killing his former girlfriend, was not properly represented by counsel.

In late June, a judge granted him a new trial.

Ms. Koenig's journalism background was built on a foundation of newspapers, including stints in crime and political reporting. She worked for The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun and the Concord Monitor (New Hampshire) before finding her way to radio and WBEZ Chicago's "This American Life."

"For season one, I was in much more familiar territory, in terms of dealing with a criminal case, the criminal justice system," she said. …

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