Connect with us

Net Influencer

S-Town Podcast


S-Town Podcast

Small towns are often considered boring. But if you dig deep enough, you just might find some mysteries hidden beneath the surface. That’s exactly what happens in the S-Town podcast hosted by Brian Reed. This article gives an in-depth summary of the contents of the podcast.

The S-Town podcast, hosted by Brian Reed and produced by Serial Productions, is an investigative podcast. John B. McLemore lives in a small town in Alabama known as Woodstock – a town he hates. To change things up, he contacts Brian Reed and tells him about the son of a wealthy family who has been going around bragging about getting away with murder. Brian goes to Woodstock to investigate this and turn it into a podcast.

The slow-burn storytelling as well as the promise of mystery and intrigue helped this podcast gain a lot of popularity. It even went on to win the Peabody Award for being a “pioneer classic of the form,” and also won a nomination for the Shorty Award for Best Podcast. 

The Creator Behind The Podcast 

Brian Reed is a producer, reporter, and editor of podcasts and radio shows. He graduated from Yale University with a degree in History and Theatre. He used to work as a host and senior producer at “This American Life.” Here, he worked on some of the show’s best stories, such as “The Secret Recordings of Carmen Segarra,” where he conducted an investigation on the Federal Reserve and Goldman Sachs. “What Happened at Dos Erros” is probably his most famous story yet. It talks about the civil war in Guatemala and its reverberations even years later. He won his first Peabody Award for this episode. Brian has also won the Dart Award for reporting on trauma.

Before joining This American Life, he used to work at NPR as a Kroc Fellow. Here, he worked on reporting climate change in the island nation of Kiribati. He has also produced stories for WNYC, StoryCorps, and KPLU in Seattle. 

While working at This American Life, Brian received an email from a certain John McLemore talking about a suspected murder in his hometown. After a year of correspondence, he headed to Woodstock, Alabama, to investigate it. This is how the S-Town podcast came to be.

Themes and Topics Covered 

S-Town stands for sh*t town, which is what John calls his hometown. The podcast is about Brian investigating a possible murder that took place in a small town in Alabama at John’s request. 

The podcast opens with John telling Brian about two incidents that took place in his hometown – a corruption case where a police officer who assaulted a woman was still in force, and a possible murder committed by Kabrahm, the son of a wealthy family, that was covered up. Brian begins talking to others in the town, gathering as much information as he can about the possible murder. 

The second episode finds Brian trying to investigate if the murder really took place. He decides to talk to the alleged culprit himself when he receives news that John died by suicide. He had been struggling with depression for a long time. After talking with the local police, Brian concludes that no such murder took place. From now on, John becomes the central figure of the podcast. 

In the following episodes, Brian chronicles the life of his friend John through his family, friends, and other townspeople. He is described as eccentric but a genius. He was a clock restorer who took in several stray dogs, an environmentalist, conspiracy theorist, caretaker for his 94-year old mother, and a poet, all combined inside one troubled mind. He used to work on his clocks in a barely ventilated room. The townspeople theorize that he may have been a victim of mercury poisoning that might have damaged his brain and nervous system. 

This podcast is not about a murder, even though it starts out that way. It is about the life of a troubled man and the insurmountable challenges he faced with living – something that a lot of us can probably relate with. It brings awareness to mental health issues and suicide. 

John is a fascinating character. He hates his town and the people, but only because he loves them so much. He feels strongly about many things and has several impenetrable views. In short, he is very relatable and becomes a friend to the listeners. His eccentricities and Brian’s narration as well as the production make this podcast one of the most binge-worthy podcasts ever!

Reach of the S-Town Podcast 

The S-Town podcast has 41.9k followers on Instagram and 31.5k followers on Twitter. Brian Reed, the host, has 39.6k followers on Twitter. 

As of January 2023, the S-Town podcast was ranked #56 in Apple Podcasts under the Society and Culture category in the U.S. 

Based on this analysis, we estimated that the S-Town podcast receives 5k to 15k listens each time an episode goes out across Apple, Google, YouTube, and Spotify podcast networks. 

The Format of the Podcast 

The S-Town podcast features only seven episodes, with each one telling the tale of the alleged murder as well as John’s death chronologically. The first couple of episodes introduce John to us, talk about how this podcast came to be, and the incidents that John suspects happened in his hometown. What follows is Brian gathering clues about the supposed murder and trying to see if the murder really took place. 

After that, the podcast shifts its focus to John and his life, as told by his family members and friends. 

The guests featured on the podcast are John’s friends and family. We have his elderly mother, John’s employees and their spouses, Kabrahm, the alleged murderer, John’s cousins, and a few of his friends. Brian talks to them both during the investigation in the beginning, as well as later when he is chronicling John’s life. 

Reception and Impact 

The S-Town podcast received a good reception among listeners. People were hooked because of the mystery and intrigue it promised in the beginning, but they stayed due to John McLemore, the true protagonist of this 7-episode podcast. So many listeners  found comfort in John’s story and the unveiling of his life episode by episode. Yet many others found themselves relating to him. This is not a plot-heavy podcast; rather, it is about people who live in a rural town in Alabama and their lives. It is about the struggles of being human.

John’s life is ordinary, yet unique in the way that every individual’s life is unique. It will make you laugh, cry, confront certain truths about your life, and even make you question your beliefs. Most of all, you realize that, no matter how ordinary your life, there are people whose lives have been irrevocably changed just because you exist. 

What makes this podcast even more worth listening to is Brian’s stellar narration and storytelling skills. His soothing voice draws you into the story and invokes a lot of emotions in you.

Intrigued? You can binge this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google Podcasts

Avatar photo

David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

Click to comment

More in Influencer

To Top