From prisons to protests, immigration to the environment, Peabody Award-winning Reveal goes deep into the pressing issues of our times. The Atlantic says “the experience of each episode is akin to a spoonful of sugar, even when it’s telling a story about Richard Spencer’s cotton farms or a man’s final days as a heroin addict.” Reveal is a project of The Center for Investigative Reporting and is co-produced with PRX. The show is hosted by Al Letson and partners with reporters and newsrooms around the world, including The Washington Post, ProPublica, APM, The Marshall Project and The Investigative Fund. Reveal is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and has won many broadcast journalism awards, including a duPont and three national Emmys.
The teen reporter, the evictions and the church
Three stories from local reporters who uncovered injustice and inequality in their hometowns, from an eviction crisis in Ohio to a Hitler-quoting state police training in Kentucky.
Louisville high schooler Satchel Walton knew something was off about the PowerPoint presentation used by the Kentucky State Police to train new recruits. The slides urged officers to be “ruthless killers” and quoted both Robert E. Lee and Adolf Hitler. Walton reached out to Reveal to ask about our past reporting on police officers in White supremacist Facebook groups, then co-wrote a story with his brother about the training presentation for his high school newspaper, the Manual RedEye. After Walton broke the story, the state police commissioner resigned. Guest host Ike Sriskandarajah talks with Walton about how he reported the story and the change it’s brought to the state.
Then, Reveal reporting fellow Noor Hindi documents an overlooked part of the housing crisis. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government issued a ban on evictions. But as Hindi reports, in Akron, Ohio, evictions kept happening despite the ban. She watched 132 housing hearings this past fall – and found that many renters at those hearings were evicted. Hindi follows the story of mother and nursing-home worker Amber Moreland, who lost her rental home during the pandemic, despite being an essential worker who tried to apply for federal aid.
Next, CapRadio reporter Sarah Mizes-Tan looks into the racial disparities around the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP. Earlier this year, Reveal found that in major cities across the country, the rate of PPP lending was higher in majority-White neighborhoods than in neighborhoods of color. We shared our data with local reporters around the country, and Mizes-Tan found something else: In Sacramento, California, the disparity was even more pronounced for places of worship. There, three times as much money went to places of worship in White neighborhoods compared with those in neighborhoods where people of color are the majority.
Reporters featured on this episode worked with Reveal’s local reporting networks. If you’re a journalist, learn more about Reveal’s Reporting Networks.
Into the COVID ICU
Dr. Paloma Marin-Nevarez graduated from medical school during the pandemic. We follow the rookie doctor for her first months working at a hospital in Fresno, California, as she grapples with isolation, anti-mask rallies and an overwhelming number of deaths.
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Baseball Strikes Out
In the early 2000s, rampant steroid use across Major League Baseball became the biggest scandal in the sport’s history. But fans didn’t want to hear the difficult truth about their heroes – and the league didn’t want to intervene and clean up a mess it helped make.
We look back at how the scandal unraveled with our colleagues from the podcast Crushed from Religion of Sports and PRX. Their show revisits the steroid era to untangle its truth from the many myths, examine the legacy of baseball’s so-called steroid era and explore what it tells us about sports culture in America.
We start during the 1998 MLB season, when the home run race was on. Superstar sluggers Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa battled to set a new single-season record, and McGwire, the St. Louis Cardinals first baseman, was portrayed as the hero baseball needed: part humble, wholesome, working man and part action hero, with his brawny build and enormous biceps. So when a reporter spotted a suspicious bottle of pills in his locker in the middle of the season, most fans plugged their ears and refused to acknowledge that baseball might be hooked on steroids.
Joan Niesen, a sportswriter and host of the podcast Crushed, takes us on a deep dive into an era that dethroned a generation of superstars, left fans disillusioned and turned baseball’s record book on its head. The story takes us from ballparks and clubhouses to the halls of Congress to explain how baseball was finally forced to reckon with its drug problem.
Thirty years ago, activists and scientists turned a fight over the spotted owl and ancient trees into one of the biggest environmental conflicts of the century. The process transformed the way we see – and fight over – the natural world.
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The Ticket Trap
Sports, theater and concert fans are excited venues are opening up again. So are clever ticket sellers who’ve figured out ways to cash in on unsuspecting customers shopping online.
Reveal’s Byard Duncan starts with an examination of the tricks and traps that await fans who try to buy tickets online, at the hands of some of the largest companies in what’s known as the secondary ticket market.
Then Reveal’s Ike Sriskandarajah visits his favorite theater in Oakland, California, which went dark in March because of the pandemic. Like venues across the country, the Paramount Theatre plans to reopen its doors later this year, and we find out what it will look like.
We end with an essay from reporter Yoohyun Jung, who’s been a fan of K-pop music for most of her life. But when she went from being a fan to working in the business, she saw some disturbing things that gave her a new perspective on this international phenomenon.
This is an update of an episode that originally aired February 6, 2021.
Weapons with minds of their own
The future of warfare is being shaped by computer algorithms that are assuming ever greater control over battlefield technology. Will this give machines the power to decide who to kill?
The United States is in a race to harness gargantuan leaps in artificial intelligence to develop new weapons systems for a new kind of warfare. Pentagon leaders call it “algorithmic warfare.” But the push to integrate AI into battlefield technology raises a big question: How far should we go in handing control of lethal weapons to machines?
We team up with The Center for Public Integrity and national security reporter Zachary Fryer-Biggs to examine how AI is transforming warfare and our own moral code.
In our first story, Fryer-Biggs and Reveal’s Michael Montgomery head to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Sophomore cadets are exploring the ethics of autonomous weapons through a lab simulation that uses miniature tanks programmed to destroy their targets.
Next, Fryer-Biggs and Montgomery talk to a top general leading the Pentagon’s AI initiative. They also explore the legendary hackers conference known as DEF CON and hear from technologists campaigning for a global ban on autonomous weapons.
Machines are getting smarter, faster, and better at figuring out who to kill in battle. But should we let them?
My new favourite podcast!
Just found your podcast today and I’m completely hooked. The investigation, reporting, sound quality and editing are what all podcasts (I listen to 40+ podcasts) should strive for.
Thank you for all the work you clearly put into every episode!
Great reporting. Can’t stop listening!
A great listen to great reporting
These stories are always fascinating and well sourced. They offer helpful insights but also give you a chance to process the information as well. The host has a great style to keep you interested.