Brian Reed crafts a fascinating 'non-fiction novel' in the hit podcast S-Town

S-Town host and producer Brian Reed on the reporting and storytelling that went into This American Life's latest hit podcast.
Brian Reed is the host and producer of the new podcast, S-Town, which is under the umbrella of This American Life. (Andrea Morales)

S-Town is the latest podcast everyone is talking about. From This American Life, which was also behind the hit podcast Serial, Brian Reed's S-Town is part reporter's notebook and also a kind of audio novel. As Reed explains, "It's a non-fiction novel."

"It's all true and reported but early on, co-producer Julie Snyder and I talked about using novelistic techniques to tell this true story," Reed continues. Part of this was due to Reed's subject, John B. McLemore. "He was handing these literary tropes and metaphors that seemed too rich to not explore in a way that you would in a novel." 

The results have garnered equal parts praise and criticism for reasons Tom Power and Reed will discuss in an interview today that will dive into some spoilers. Reed does have this message to the podcast's critics, though: "I totally appreciate smart, good criticism but I do wish the media, in general, would do more reporting."

— Produced by Elaine Chau


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