If you’re not listening to Serial, the wildly successful podcast (the most popular in history, in fact), you’ve probably overheard co-workers or friends or people at brunch talking about it.
Hosted by veteran radio producer Sarah Koenig, Serial explores the case of Adnan Syed, who was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999. Each week, millions of devoted listeners tune in to hear new details, theories and clues that could shed light on one central question: Is Syed guilty?
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Syed’s mom and brother, Shamim and Yusuf, open up about how Serial has affected them — and how Adnan’s conviction, in general, drastically changed their lives. Here are some things we learned:
They think Sarah Koenig is doing a great job. “Sarah is so thorough and clean,” Yusuf says. “She’s doing a better job investigating than the police did.”
They listen to every episode. Yusuf says he listens “in my room, by myself, so all the information can sink in better. After the episode’s done, I think about it all day.” Shamim listens “after everybody goes to sleep.”
They’re constantly learning new information. “Everything Sarah’s saying is new to me,” Yusuf says. “All I knew growing up was that my brother was arrested for a murder, but we believed Jay was responsible [for Adnan’s wrongful conviction, he means, or maybe even for the murder itself]. So when I hear the podcast it’s all new information.”
Adnan’s mom is finding a tiny bit of comfort in the podcast. She says she listens over and over to the part at the beginning, when the phone operator says, “This is a Global-Tel link prepaid call from…” and then Adnan recites his full name. “So sweet,” Shamim says.
Jay is a Redditor. The social news site has become a hotbed for intense discussion and theories about the case — and moderators told the Syeds that Jay, the key witness who testified that Adnan murdered Hae, is on Reddit, though they did not reveal his username.
They say Serial has helped bring their family back together. After the conviction, Adnan and Yusuf’s older brother, Tanveer, totally vanished. “I haven’t told Sarah this,” Yusuf says, “but we feel Serial has brought us all back together. My older brother Tanveer – who was estranged for 15 years – he came home. When he heard my brother’s voice, it brought back all the memories. He’s visited us three or four times already.”