'Serial' Host Sarah Koenig Talks About Her Relationship With Adnan Syed

Meredith Heuer

"So for all the accusations that Adnan is manipulating me, hello, I'm also manipulating him"

Sarah Koenig sat down with NPR to talk about Serial and opened up about her complicated relationship with Adnan Syed. Syed is currently in prison for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. The popular podcast uses investigative reporting to question whether or not Syed had a fair trail.

Koenig revealed she was editing the show's much-anticipated finale up until just hours before it was released. Here are some highlights from her interview:

On her relationship with Adnan: "It was very complicated. A lot is going on in any one conversation with Adnan, which is ... he might be innocent, and he might be guilty. It's zero sum a little bit, right? Both things are happening, and I, meanwhile, want him to talk to me, and I want him to stay on the phone, and I'm totally aware that he can hang up at any time and cease communicating at any time, and I don't want him to do that. So for all the accusations that Adnan is manipulating me, hello, I'm also manipulating him. I'm using all the tricks. "Tricks" sound ... sneaky, but you know what I mean, [I'm using tricks] that you do in any interview, that you do with anybody or any conversation, frankly, with another person where you are playing the angles to a certain extent. This communication that we have is — there's only one way it can be, and this is the way it can be, which is, neither you nor I trust each other fully, but we proceed as if we do. That's the only way you could have this. I've been open about that. "

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On Adnan reading the podcast's transcripts in prison, rather than listening to the show via CD: "I don't know if part of him doesn't want to hear it, that he'd rather read it on the page. I don't know. We've argued about that, actually. ... I'm like, 'It's meant to be heard.' And he's like, 'No, I want to see it in its purest form, on paper.' And I'm like, 'No, no, no. You're missing a ton. You're missing all kind of nuance that is happening in people's voices.' Or he's taking stuff at face value that I say, that I'm like, 'No! If you heard the way I say it, you'd hear that it's like in passing or it's like I'm being ironic, or whatever!' And he's just like, 'No, you don't get it; the real version is on paper!' And then I was like, 'You don't understand radio!' "

On Ira Glass' dream ending: "I can't remember when it was, but maybe after Episode 3 or 4 ... I was having a meeting with Julie Snyder, the executive producer, and I think Dana [Chivvis], who is also a producer, and Ira Glass came in, who's, like, our boss, and Julie said, 'Ira says he has some ideas about the ending.' We were like, 'Oh, great! Let's hear it.' He came in and more or less said, 'So, I think it would be great if you guys, like, solved it.' We were like, 'Wait, that's your idea? Uh, OK, we'll do our best.'"

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