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Conspiracy theories meet investigative reporting in “Limetown”


Many podcast creators have used the audio format to effectively create strange, unnerving and even downright scary content for listeners. “Limetown” has done just this, becoming a cornerstone of the horror podcast genre, with the right balance of fear and puzzling circumstances. After a three year hiatus, the podcast’s second season premiered on Oct. 30 and returned with the same style of storytelling and intrigue.

The podcast follows the fictional American Public Radio (APR) reporter Lia Haddock and her investigation into the mysterious disappearance of a small town consisting of over three hundred neuroscientists and their families ten years earlier. Over the course of the first season’s six episodes, Lia meets with various experts as well as people claiming to have survived the disappearance. Through a series of cryptic interviews, more questions are raised than answered about what happened at Limetown.

“What makes the Limetown tragedy unique, what makes it worth a continuing discussion, in spite of the collective moving on, is the complete lack of context,” Haddock said. “In the 10 years since, no one group or individual has taken responsibility. No explanations have been uncovered, or given with any credibility and, most tragically, no survivors have been found.”

Haddock’s description of the tragedy at Limetown is quite similar to things frequently heard in the media today. The realism of the reporting style and the quality of the voice acting certainly contribute to its success. The podcast is so similar to a real investigative podcast that, if you type “Limetown” into Google, one of the top suggestions asks if “Limetown” is real.

The success of the podcast is well documented; just two months after its initial 2015 release, it became the top podcast on iTunes. A prequel novel is set to be released later this month, following 17 year-old Lia’s interest in the case immediately after the disappearance of Limetown’s 300-plus residents.

On Oct. 8, Facebook Watch even announced that a TV show starring Jessica Biel as reporter Lia Haddock would be released. The podcast itself, by Two-Up productions, has received rave reviews from critics throughout its first season and into its second season.  

The overwhelming success of “Limetown” isn’t without reason. It features a series of intriguing, enigmatic characters that serve not only to further the plot, but to capture the interest of the audience. “Limetown” offers listeners a series of twists and turns at every sentence, maintaining intrigue but keeping listeners from being too confused to continue.

Despite her transparency, even Lia’s role in the events of “Limetown” is unclear. Although she seems to be invested in the town’s disappearance due to her uncle being a resident, fans of the podcast have many theories about Lia’s past and her true connection to Limetown.

“Limetown” effectively achieves exactly what it set out to do: it tells a compelling fictional story with unsettling realism, leading listeners to question the world around them and stay hooked on unanswered questions. With such a subject matter and approach used by “Limetown,” it isn’t hard to see why it can turn even the most casual listener into a conspiracy theorist.

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