Brian Reed: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Reed interviewing students at the City of Kanakakee, Illinois in 2015. (Facebook/Let’s Go Dave)

If you’re listening to the new true crime podcast S-Town, which premieres on Tuesday, March 28, then you may wonder at some point why you’re not hearing the familiar voice of Sarah Koenig. Although S-Town was launched by the creators of Serial, it’s hosted by a different narrator: Brian Reed. Reed has an impressive history, including winning a Peabody.

Here’s what you need to know.

1. Brian Reed Is a Regular Host on ‘This American Life’

Reed isn’t new to hosting podcasts. In fact, he’s a regular host and senior producer for This American Life, which helped launch S-Town. He started out as an intern for This American Life and then rejoined the staff in October 2011. In between, he was a producer for StoryCorps. He’s also reported and produced for NPR.

2. Brian Reed’s First Interview for S-Town Is with a Clockmaker

The idea for S-Town came after a man named John asked a reporter to investigate a wealthy family’s son after he bragged about getting away with murder. According to Telegraph, this man is a clockmaker in Alabama, which accounts for all of the clock motifs featured in the promotional art. Reed also discusses how difficult it is to fix an antique clock in his two-minute preview.

Reed spent about three years researching the story behind S-Town. His entire life has been practically immersed in the mystery.

3. ‘This American Life’ Retracted a Story Reed Produced and Ira Glass Hosted Because the Person Interviewed Lied During Fact-Checking

In 2012, This American Life retracted a popular episode about working conditions in a Foxconn iPad factory, The Verge reported. At the time, it was the most popular episode in the show’s history. It was partially based on Mike Daisey’s experiences. However, Ira Glass later revealed that Daisey had lied to him and Reed, who produced the show, during fact checking. Glass said:

Daisey lied to me and to This American Life producer Brian Reed during the fact checking we did on the story, before it was broadcast. That doesn’t excuse the fact that we never should’ve put this on the air. In the end, this was our mistake.

The Verge reported that Daisey did not seem remorseful, writing on his blog that because he wasn’t a journalist, he operated under a different set of rules. Some of his fabrications included a group of workers being poisoned by a chemical while working on an iPhone assembly line, and a worker whose hand was mangled while working on iPads.

4. In 2012, Brian Reed’s Team Won a Peabody for a Documentary

In 2012, Brian Reed was part of a documentary team that won a Peabody for “What Happened at Dos Erres.”

The documentary looked at the Guatemalan civil war and the war’s place in a history of blood conflict. It followed one man, Oscar Ramirez, who was living in Boston when a prosecutor investigating war crimes in Guatemala called him about a slaughter in 1982. Ramirez didn’t remember what happened or that he was one of the only people who survived. You can listen to it here.

5. He Often Speaks at Events, Sharing His Experiences with Podcasts

Brian Reed can often be seen as a guest speaker at a variety of events around the world, where he shares his experiences with producing and hosting podcasts. You can watch one event in the video above.

The John Alexander Project describes Reed as having “a natural gift for story-telling … he wasn’t afraid to take an unorthodox approach, and a pitch that hooked us immediately…” This description was in reference to a story he did on Kiribati in the Pacific, where the island was sinking because of climate change.

Read more about S-Town below:


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james oscan

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