Podcasts have been around for quite some time, but it's only recently that they're getting the exposure and respect they deserve. Serial, the This American Life spin-off that attempted to untangle the mystery surrounding a 1999 teen homocide, changed the game. All of a sudden, everyone from your chatty coworker to your dentist to the person next to you on a plane were all listening to and dying to tell you their theories about the whodunnit podcast. And now the show has a Peabody Award, the first podcast to receive the honor, to show for all the buzz and hysteria it generated.
Peabody Awards director Dr. Jeffrey P. Jones explains the decision in a statement: “In addition to the stalwarts of radio and news, winners such as Serial...demonstrate how new avenues and approaches to storytelling can have a major impact on how we understand truth, reality, and events.”
Although Serial has been over for several months, interest in the case is still high. The second most-listened-to podcast at the moment is Undisclosed: The State v. Adnan Syed, which features Rabia Chaudry, a lawyer and family friend of Syed’s, as she investigates evidence not presented on Serial. And fans are still keeping up with Adnan's appeal, paying homage with parodies and debating various theories that could explain everything.
In addition to turning thousands of people into amateur detectives, Serial has proven that storytelling doesn't have to come from a traditional medium to be taken seriously and that podcasts are here to stay.