It started with "Serial," an investigative true crime podcast from the producers of "This American Life." Adnan Syed was arrested and convicted for the death of former ex-girlfriend Hae Minh Lee in 1999. However, the producers of the now popular podcast believed not everything was as it seems. Through the podcast, new evidence was examined, casting doubts on the conviction of Syed, eventually leading to a new trial.
Why, though, are the American people fascinated with these new podcasts? Well, the answer lies in America's first fascination with crime that then spurred the public into the realm of podcasts. Americans have always been fascinated with crime, especially serial killers, unsolved missing persons cases, or a variation of the two. Killers like the Zodiac Killer have sparked millions of curious individuals across the nation, wondering why someone would commit such crimes, in such an unusual manner, and how they evaded custody across the nation for years at a time.
What many American's didn't know, is that these crimes occur every year, across the nation, leaving plenty of space for our fascination with these crimes to continue to fester. In fact, on average, only 60% of murders in the United States lead to an arrest by law enforcement. That means over 40% of murders in this country remain unsolved, giving plenty of room for podcasters to tell the story and captivate audiences across the nation.
Thus comes along podcasts like "Serial" or "Up and Vanished," investigating long ago cold cases, discovering new leads, and in some cases, helping lead to the capture of suspects in cases long thought to be colder than Alaska. America's fascination with these cases simply cannot be ignored, and podcasts provide a fantastic outlet for these fascinations. Podcasts, unlike television, are mostly cheap to produce, rake in advertising money, and are easily accessible on almost every device on the market. More Americans have phones or tablets than they do televisions or cable subscriptions, meaning a podcast like "Up and Vanished," which has reached 170 million+ listeners, can captivate more than television or radio ever could.
So thanks to America's fascination with true crime, podcasts have taken us into a new era of entertainment. Now, political activists have popular podcasts, like "Pod Save America." Or, you can tell captivating stories of lives unknown like "S-Town." On top of all that, you can see stay up to date on the latest sporting news with an abundance of continually updated weekly podcasts on about every sport available. With a completely user-driven system, podcast creators can update and upload episodes and updates whenever not having to seek approval of cable networks or subscription based services like Netflix. For the first time in a while, the entertainment can be updated and driven based on user demand, rather than corporate interests, leading to amazing results, real investigative journalism, and phenomenal entertainment.