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.
If we want to quickly combat climate change, we need to deal with “the other” greenhouse gas: methane. Methane leaks are heating up the planet and harming people who live where gas drilling takes place.
Reporter Elizabeth Shogren introduces us to a NASA scientist who’s devoting his career to hunting down big methane leaks. Riley Duren and his team have figured out how to spot methane pollution from airplane flyovers, and in an experiment, his data was used to make polluters plug their leaks. Scientists have answers to the methane problem. The question is whether governments will step up to fund a comprehensive methane monitoring system.
Next, Shogren zooms in on Arlington, Texas, a community that bet heavily on drilling for methane, the main ingredient in natural gas. There are wells all over Arlington, next to homes and shopping centers, even day cares and schools. Arlington’s children have unwittingly been part of an experiment to see what happens when gas wells and people mix.
We end the show with a story from Reveal’s Brett Simpson about a serious source of methane that is often overlooked. Cows and other livestock produce 14% of the world’s methane emissions, in many places belching more of the gas than oil and gas wells. We meet a scientist who’s figured out how to reduce methane emissions from cows by 80%.
From anti-vaxxers to QAnon, we look at how misinformation spreads online – and the lives it disrupts.
There are lots of reasons people give for not getting a COVID-19 vaccine – lack of access, personal choice or general distrust. Then there are the conspiracy theories, which have spiked during the pandemic. The World Health Organization calls it “an infodemic,” where dangerous medical misinformation sows chaos and mistrust. So how do conspiracy theories spread? Reporter and episode host Ike Sriskandarajah unravels the history of the lie that there is a tiny microchip in each vial of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Then reporter Stan Alcorn digs into the origins of “Stop the Steal.” In 2016, it was the name of a right-wing activist group that spread the idea that the United States’ democratic institutions were rigged against Donald Trump. In 2020, it re-emerged as a hashtag attached to baseless Republican claims of voter fraud, gained huge audiences on social media and became a rallying cry among the violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol building Jan. 6.
We close the show with a conversation between a mother and son who are divided over conspiracy theories. Lucy Concepcion is one of roughly 75 million Americans who believe the results of the presidential election were illegitimate. She also believes in QAnon. Her son, BuzzFeed reporter Albert Samaha, believes in facts. Samaha describes what it’s like when someone you love believes in an elaborate series of lies, and we listen in as he and his mom discuss their complicated and loving relationship.
The Mystery of Mountain Jane Doe
In the summer of 1969, a young woman was found dead off a remote mountain trail in Harlan, Kentucky. She’d been stabbed multiple times. Her identity was a mystery, so locals referred to her as Mountain Jane Doe. Decades later, a woman from the area takes up the cause of identifying the murdered woman, and her quest for answers leads investigators to a hillside grave and a DNA lab, bringing some long-awaited answers.
Mountain Jane Doe is one of more than 13,000 in a national database of unidentified dead. There are no national laws requiring coroners or law enforcement to use the database, and as a result, cases fall through the cracks and family members are left in the dark about their loved ones.
An exhumation leads to a series of unexpected revelations about who Mountain Jane Doe was and why she might have been killed. Her case speaks to the complexity – and importance – of opening cold cases and using DNA science to try to solve them.
But as one mystery is solved, another remains unanswered: Who killed her?
This episode originally was broadcast April 1, 2017. We updated this show Jan. 26, 2019.
The Pentagon Papers: Secrets, Lies and Leaks
In 1971, a 22-year-old named Robert Rosenthal got a call from his boss at The New York Times. He was told to go to Room 1111 of the Hilton Hotel, bring enough clothes for at least a month and not tell anyone.
Rosenthal was part of a team called in to publish the Pentagon Papers, an explosive history of the United States’ political and military actions in Vietnam that shattered the government’s narratives about the war. Former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg leaked the secret papers to the press. In this episode, we hear the experiences of both Ellsberg and Rosenthal.
When Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, he was turning his back on a long career close to power, immersed in government secrets. His work as a nuclear war strategist made him fear that a small conflict could erupt into a nuclear holocaust.
When the Vietnam War flared, Ellsberg worried his worst fears would be realized. He wonders if leaking the top-secret report he’s read could help stop the war. Soon, he was secretly copying the 7,000-page history that would come to be known as the Pentagon Papers and showing them to anyone he thought could help.
President Richard Nixon wakes up to the biggest leak in American history. But his first reaction is a little surprising: The Pentagon Papers might make trouble for the Democrats – this instinct starts a chain reaction that helps bring down his presidency.
This episode was originally aired in May 2016.
The Bad Place
The graffiti says it all: “This is a bad place.” Why do states send children to facilities run by Sequel, after dozens of cases of abuse?
The vacant building that once housed the Riverside Academy in Wichita, Kansas, was covered in haunting graffiti: “Burn this place.” “Youth were abused here … systematically.” “This is a bad place.” The facility, run by the for-profit company Sequel Youth & Family Services, promised to help kids with behavioral problems. But state officials had cited the facility dozens of times for problems including excessive force by staff, poor supervision and neglect.
Riverside was just one residential treatment center run by Sequel. In a yearlong investigation, APM Reports found the company profited by taking in some of the most difficult-to-treat children and providing them with care from low-paid, low-skilled employees. The result has been dozens of cases of physical violence, sexual assault and improper restraints. Despite repeated scandals, many states and counties continue to send kids to Sequel for one central reason: They have little choice.
For much of its 20 year history, Sequel was able to avoid public scrutiny. But that changed recently in Oregon, when State Senator Sara Gesler began to investigate the conditions of kids the state placed under the company’s care. What she found led to Oregon demanding change and eventually severing ties with Sequel.
This is an update of an episode that originally aired on 11/21/20.
Why Police Reform Fails
Six years after Ferguson, St. Louis hasn’t seen a single substantive police reform. A group of young Black leaders have instead set their sights higher: taking control of city politics.
In 2014, then-Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown. His death sparked reports, blue-ribbon commissions and countless police reform efforts. But so many of those reforms fell short of their stated goals. Today, St. Louis leads the nation in police killings per capita.
As the nation continues to grapple with how to save Black lives from police violence, we’re partnering with The Missouri Independent to examine why police reform efforts so often fail. We follow a new generation of leaders who, as a part of the Ferguson movement, are finding new ways to change policing in the St. Louis region. Reporters Trey Bundy and Rebecca Rivas follow local activist Kayla Reed, who went from attending protests to organizing them. After years of frustratingly slow progress toward reform, Reed transformed herself into a political powerbroker who is upending city politics.
And there’s no way to talk about police reform without talking about the power of police unions. We look how the St. Louis Police Officers Association, the city’s main union, formed to protect white police officers from accountability after beating a Black man. And we talk with James Buchanan, one of the city’s few Black police officers in the 1960s, who went on to help start the Ethical Society of Police, a union founded by Black officers to fight for racial equity in the department and community.
This show is guest hosted by Kameel Stanley, executive producer of Witness Docs, a documentary podcast network from Stitcher and SiriusXM.
Don’t miss out on the next big story. Get the Weekly Reveal newsletter today.
I found this programming on WABE, NPR. I love it they are the reason why I still support my local paper in Atlanta. Keep up the good work.
One of the best
Great podcast for a wide range of topics in modern America.
Best in-depth reporting
The top notch reporting of this podcast has real world positive impacts for journalism, truth, change, and revealing the fascist tendencies america is adopting that if unchallenged, will overturn democracy.