After marathoning through all 10 available episodes of The Black Tapes Podcast in just one day (and subsequently having a sleepless night), I quickly decided I needed another podcasting fix along a similar path. Thankfully, there’s a new hit on the scene that promises a mix of journalistic style investigation and good old fashioned scares.
Limetown, like The Black Tapes Podcast, offers an easy to market balance between Serial and The X Files, although in this instance the influence of Welcome To Night Vale looms undeniably overhead. Already sitting at the top of the iTunes podcast chart, this production centres on Lia Haddock of American Public Radio and her 7 part investigation into a national mystery turned urban legend.
Several years ago, a panicky 911 call was made on behalf of the residents of Limetown. With no warning, explanation or witnesses, every man, woman and child living in the small Tennessee town vanished without a trace. Haddock, whose own family were affected by the mystery, seeks to contextualise the case and hopefully uncover some hidden truths, but soon finds herself embroiled in something far murkier and potentially dangerous.
Like its predecessors, Limetown is a high quality production that bears an uncanny stylistic similarity to the popular storytelling format of NPR style shows. Clips of breaking news segments and senate hearings ring true, while Lia’s professional yet invitingly warm narration deliberately mirrors familiar names like Sarah Koenig and Ira Glass. The first episode seeks to set up the podcast’s original plan and establishes Limetown’s roots as an ambitious base for the country’s best and brightest to come together for the good of mankind. The key players are introduced, as are the questions Haddock hopes to answer. Anyone who has listened to public radio will find this format familiar, and Limetown is smart enough to keep its cards close to its chest at this time.
And then Lia gets a phone call.
One of the missing residents has returned, and she’ll only talk to Lia.
They will only talk to Lia.
If I have any complaints about the show so far, and we’re only two episodes in so they’re minor, it’s that things do tend to wrap up a little too neatly. Lia’s meeting with the mysterious former resident is ambiguous and keeps you guessing but it feels a touch cut and paste once it ends, and with only 7 episodes planned, this could become formulaic. Fortunately, the show also has a few aces up its sleeve, which I won’t spoil for you!
Podcasts like Limetown and The Black Tapes Podcast offer a chance for listeners to return to the age of vintage radio dramas with an inimitably modern twist for the savvy pop culture consumer. If you’re brave enough (and I’m totally not!), turn off the lights, plug in your headphones and prepare for a sleepless night.