Serial Listening Parties Are Now a Thing


It was inevitable, wasn’t it?

If you’ve been listening to Serial, the insanely popular podcast from Chicago’s public radio station, WBEZ , then you know today is the final episode in the saga of Adnan, Hae, and Jay.

Actually, even if you haven’t been listening to Serial, you might know that today’s is the final installment. You might even have your own theories as to what exactly happened on that day in 1999, or on how anyone could possibly mispronounce the word “chimp.” Because if you’ve been in proximity to anyone with an internet connection — particularly if they have a beard and rectangular glasses — the show is pretty much inescapable. And that’s not a complaint.

The show has spawned its own discussion forum on Reddit, too many critical think pieces to mention, and, now, listening parties.

Yep. The same people who are typically given to, say, meet on Sundays to sip martinis and watch Mad Men are now meeting to gather around the ol’ Philco — or laptop, or tablet, or iPhone — to listen to a radio show.

“I’m nervous to sound so stereotypically Brooklyn,” says Henry Molovsky, 24. But yes, he sheepishly admits that he and his friend Mac Schneider have been hosting Serial listening parties in South Williamsburg since the program has become popular. And dammit, he’s not sorry. Dude’s got theories. Everyone’s got theories.

“The first time, it started at 12:30, and we were still there at 5 p.m., talking about Serial.” And eating cereal, of course. Everyone has to bring a box. Which is a blessing, Molovsky learned. It gives people something to look at. The first time, when turnout was lower and there were fewer boxes to examine, he says, “it felt like we’re in the 1930s, listening to an FDR fireside chat. We were all making awkward eye contact.”

Molovsky and Schneider may not be the first — there are events all across the country, and in Canada, too — but they’re clearly at the vanguard of something here. The Serial listening party is now a thing. And while there are an untold number of listening parties in apartments all over the city, there are also a few commercial options.

Parkside Lounge
7:30-9:00 a.m.
317 East Houston Street
New York, NY 10002

From the bar’s pretty-much-self-explanatory post: “All you can eat Cereal!!! White Russians!! Over-use of exclamation points!!!!!”

Also, “Strict no talking during the finale.” (Emphasis, ahem, in the original.)

Videology in Williamsburg
5:30 p.m.
308 Bedford Avenue #1
Brooklyn, NY 11249

Wendy Chamberlain, co-owner of Videology in Williamsburg, seems to have it all figured out. They’re offering $5 old fashioneds and a theater-style listening space, complete with visuals, so you’re not awkwardly making eye contact. (Good call, Henry.)

“We run a slideshow so they do have at least something to look at,” Williams says, “with maps of the cell towers, and graphs, and all that stuff.”