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The Mueller Report—the Best True Crime Tale Going—Is Now Available as a Podcast

June 14, 2019, 10:37 AM UTC

Nearly two months after special counsel Robert Mueller made public his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, the 448-page document continues to be a focus of political conversation in the U.S.

And yet many working Americans have struggled to find time to read through its extensive findings. According to a CNN poll released in May, three in four Americans hadn’t read any of the Mueller report, while only 3% had read the whole thing. Among members of Congress, fewer than two thirds had read the document.

But in a time when attention darts from binge-watched Netflix series to infinitely scrolling Instagram feeds, how could voters possibly also stuff the results of a two-year-long investigation into their busy days—let alone into their increasingly hectic media diets?

A podcast is the answer, thought Dan Williams, whose day job is working at an environmental research firm in Montana. And with a little experience in sound production, Williams has been moonlighting as a podcast producer, recording and distributing the Mueller Report Audio podcast, free of charge.

An avid listener of podcasts, Williams was inspired to produce his 39-episode series shortly after the Mueller report’s initial release, when he began searching for ways to listen to the publicly-released document via audiobook and came up disappointed.

“I saw some pre-order versions of an audiobook set to sell for $25 at the time,” Williams tells Fortune. Immediately he thought that as public record, he wouldn’t have to seek permission to turn it into a podcast for easier consumption. “It’s not like taking Harry Potter and reading it—anybody could do it,” he says.

Williams has invested in little publicity beyond uploading his podcasts to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and YouTube, among other podcast platforms. He also set up a web site for the podcast, along with an Indiegogo campaign where people can pay whatever they think his effort is worth. (Donors have pledged just under $3,000 to date.)

Over the past two months, Williams’ side project has frequently ranked in the top 100 of U.S. news and politics podcasts tracked by Chartable, peaking as high as 18 in late May (after Mueller belatedly spoke to the press for 10 minutes). Mueller Report Audio is currently 53rd on Stitcher’s top podcast rankings, outperforming professionally produced downloads including the NPR’s Marketplace, Vox’s Today Explained, Crooked Media’s Lovett or Leave It, and even the mother of all true crime podcasts, Serial.

Mueller Report Audio podcast episodes range from six to 52 minutes long, and are all Mueller report, with no advertisements or added political commentary. The entire series takes a bit more than 12 hours to play from beginning to end, Williams says.

In all, Williams estimates that more than 400,000 of his Mueller Report Audio episodes have been downloaded. Podcast stats are still more art than science, but the series’ Apple Podcasts page shows 490 reviews averaging 4.9 stars out of five, with the bulk of recent reviews simply thanking him for undertaking the project.

While there are other podcasts that discuss the Mueller report, few (if any) others simply read the text aloud, like William’s effort. That means his no-cost competition is the Justice Department’s Mueller report PDF file and Audible audiobook versions that are available for free—provided you sign up for an account with the service.

But both the PDF and the audiobooks are large, unwieldy downloads. The whole idea of Williams’ podcast is to make the Mueller report less daunting—and more easily accessible to busy Americans.

“The thing about a podcast is, it fills this need where people can enjoy listening to what they want in the app they want,” he says. “If a person spends a half hour a day listening—while they do dishes, while they mow the lawn—they can just take 30 minutes a day and have it done in a month.”

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