© 2024
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Podcast Producer Brian Reed on the Development of "S-Town"

Sandy Honig

A few years back, This American Life producer Brian Reed got an e-mail from a resident in Woodstock, Alabama – alleging a murder had taken place in his town.  The ultimate result was the 7-part podcast "S-Town."But Reed, who will discuss his work before an audience at the Academy Center of the Arts in Lynchburg Saturday, says it took some time to investigate the claims of John D. McLemore, and decide how this story would be told.

“John wrote us with a tip that murder had allegedly taken place in his town in Alabama that everyone knew about, but no one had done anything about, “ he said. “And that seemed interesting enough to at least call him.”

Over the next couple of years, Reed and his colleagues produced "Serial,” coming to realize that a podcast could exist without its own separate radio program.

But he says he wasn’t until after McLemore died that the staff decided to create another one.

“The nature of what this was, and what the reporting was, and the material – it just seemed to lend itself to something that wasn’t a straight This American Life segment,” Reed said. “It seemed like it was rich enough and different enough that we can make it its own thing.”

Credit Sandy Honig
Brian Reed working in the studio.

Reed says McLemore had kind of a lonely life, but also an incredibly rich one. “He was brilliant, and troubled, and funny, and really compassionate in a lot of ways, but also deeply critical,” he said.

Reed says he’s interested in finding another story that could become its own separate podcast, or program – but it would have to be altogether different. During Saturday’s presentation in which he provides a backstory behind the development of S-Town, he hopes the audience will yearn for something more.

“When I hear a story that I really love, or see a TV show that I really love, or read a book that I love, I’m often left at the end with the feeling that I want more,” he said. “That kind of what this will be in response to.”

Click here for more about Saturday's event at The Academy Center of the Arts

Jeff Bossert is Radio IQ's Morning Edition host.