Serial Season 3 Focuses on ‘Shocking,’ Ordinary Cases in Cleveland’s Court System

Previous seasons have been downloaded more than 340 million times

Serial will do a deep dive on Cleveland's criminal justice system. Serial

For Season 3, Serial wanted to tackle the very ordinary, everyday ongoings of a criminal court system.

That mission took them to Cleveland, where producers were able to get enough access to record everywhere, including courtrooms, judges’ chambers and prosecutors’ offices.

After tackling a lesser known court case of Adnan Syed’s murder conviction in Season 1, and the high-profile case of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Season 2, Season 3 will profile the usual everyday proceedings within a year in Cleveland’s criminal court system.

“Every case Emmanuel and I followed, there came a point where we thought: No, this can’t be how it works,” host Sarah Koenig said in a statement. “And then we were like, Oh! Oh my god. This is how it works! This is how it happens! People who work in the system, or have been through the system, they know this. But millions more people do not. And for the past year I’ve had this urgent feeling of wanting to kind of hold open the courthouse door, and wave people inside. Because things are happening—shocking things, fascinating things—in plain sight.”

The first two episodes of the third season will be released Sept. 20 and additional episodes will be released every Thursday afterward.

The first season of Serial turned a fresh wave of podcast listeners into true crime fans and Serial claims the season had more than 16 million people download each episode. Overall, the podcast has been downloaded more than 340 million times and was the first podcast to win a Peabody Award.

Emmanuel Dzotsi, a former fellow at This American Life who was raised in Ohio, will co-report this season. Julie Snyder, who created the S-Town podcast with Brian Reed, is the executive producer.

Listeners can hear the podcast for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Pandora. ZipRecruiter is the exclusive sponsor of the third season.

“Even listening to early drafts, which is basically just Sarah reading the scripts to a bunch of us over Skype and playing quotes off her computer, I had this dumbass fanboy ‘OMG it’s Serial!’ feeling, just totally caught up in the characters and what happened to them, and in Sarah’s deeply Serial-ish super-methodical, annoyingly well-reasoned investigation into the deeper truths that underlie all the stories,” said Ira Glass, host This American Life and editor of Serial, in a statement.

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.