University Lectures

Creators of podcast ‘Serial’ to deliver University Lecture in spring 2016

Courtesy of Elise Bergerson

Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder, co-creators of the podcast, will deliver a University Lecture at SU on April 12, 2016. “Serial” is a podcast from the creators of “This American Life,” a weekly public radio show broadcast to about 2.1 million listeners.

UPDATED: Feb. 1 7:04 p.m.

The creators of the hit podcast “Serial” are coming to Syracuse University in spring 2016

Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder, co-creators of the podcast, will deliver a University Lecture at SU on April 12, 2016 as part of the University Lectures 2015–16 schedule. “Serial” is a podcast from the creators of “This American Life,” a weekly public radio show broadcast to about 2.1 million listeners. The podcast recently finished its first season and there are plans for a second season.

“I’ve never seen the agents I work with since the start of the lectures this excited about anybody. They’re like going bonkers,” said Esther Gray, who is a special assistant to the vice chancellor and provost and is responsible for booking University Lectures.

“Serial” was first released in October 2014 and Koenig serves as the host of the show. Season One re-examines the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a Maryland teenager that resulted in the conviction of Adnan Syed, her ex-boyfriend. Each episode of the podcast got more than one million unique visitors, according to Podtrac, a website that measures online shows and audio and video podcasts.

SU was able to book Koenig and Snyder through the Steven Barclay Agency, which helps book University Lectures and other speakers on campus. Koenig and Snyder are not doing many public appearances, Gray said.

“Because (the agency) is so highly respected, when (Serial) decided to do some external things, they approached Steven, the guy who owns the agency, and asked him to set the engagements up them,” she said. “They know the kind of speakers that we look for with the University Lectures. They know the diversity that we like, and sometimes the cutting edge stuff that we like.”

She added that because “Serial” is so popular among students, it will be a strong lecture.

“A lot of the popularity has come from Sarah just being an amazing storyteller,” she said.

Gray polled some SU faculty members about if they thought students would be interested and after those she asked said it would be, talks advanced.

“This is the time of year when I’m booking speakers and I have some booked already, but I told them, ‘I’m just waiting for that name. I’m waiting for that name that I just didn’t have yet’… and they delivered,” she said.

Prior to the “Serial” podcast, Koenig worked for The New York Times, ABC News and the Baltimore Sun. Originally Gray said it appeared as if only Koenig would be coming to SU, but Snyder will be coming as well.

The podcast will have a second season, which Gray said will begin in the fall and conclude before Koenig and Snyder speak at SU.

Said Gray: “I’m always looking for something that will impact the newer age and this sounds like it is.”

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