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Podcast Reveal
Podcast Reveal



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  • A Miracle Cure for AIDS or Snake Oil?
    Dr. Gary Davis, an Ivy League-trained Black physician from Tulsa, Oklahoma, had a literal dream that the cure for AIDS would come from a goat. In the new podcast Serum, a reporting team at WHYY and Local Trance Media delve into the unusual story of a Davis’ quest to develop the cure. At the height of the AIDS epidemic in the early ’90s, Davis derived a serum from goat blood that he believed could help cure HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. He brought his research to the FDA to start a clinical trial – but just hours before it was supposed to start, it was shut down. Davis had powerful critics and ardent supporters. Some sued in court to be allowed to try Davis’ treatment, while others chose to ask for forgiveness rather than permission to get their hands on it. What was the true potential of Davis’ serum – and who are the people who say it saved their lives? Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
  • Locked Up: The Prison Labor That Built Business Empires
    After the Civil War, a new form of slavery took hold in the US and lasted more than 60 years. Associated Press reporters Margie Mason and Robin McDowell investigate the chilling history of how Southern states imprisoned mainly Black men, often for minor crimes, and then leased them out to private companies – for years, even decades, at a time. The team talks with the descendant of a man imprisoned in the Lone Rock stockade in Tennessee nearly 140 years ago, where people as young as 12 worked under inhumane conditions in coal mines and inferno-like ovens used to produce iron. This system of forced prison labor enriched the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad company – at the cost of prisoners’ lives.  At the state park that sits on the former site of the Lone Rock stockade, relics from the hellish prison are buried beneath the soil. Archeologist Camille Westmont has found thousands of artifacts, such as utensils and the plates prisoners ate off. She has also created a database listing the names of those sent to Lone Rock. A team of volunteers are helping her, including a woman reckoning with her own ancestor’s involvement in this corrupt system and the wealth her family benefited from.    The United States Steel Corporation helped build bridges, railroads and towering skyscrapers across America. But the company also relied on forced prison labor. After US Steel took over Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad in 1907, the industrial giant used prison labor for at least five more years. During that time, more than 100 men died while working in their massive coal mining operation in Alabama. U.S. Steel has misrepresented this dark chapter of its history. And it has never apologized for its use of forced labor or the lives lost. The reporters push the company to answer questions about its past and engage with communities near the former mines.  This is an update of an episode that originally aired September 2022. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
  • The Double Life of a Civil Rights Icon
    Some of the most enduring photos of the civil rights movement were taken by Ernest Withers. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Withers earned the trust of Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders. But as it turns out, he was secretly taking photos for the federal government as well. This week, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Wesley Lowery brings us the story of Withers in an adaptation of the podcast “Unfinished: Ernie’s Secret,” from Scripps News and Stitcher. Lowery starts by explaining how Withers earned his reputation as a chronicler of the civil rights movement. We tour a museum of Withers’ photographs with his daughter Roz, who deconstructs his famous “I Am a Man” photo of striking sanitation workers. Civil rights leader Andrew Young explains that without Withers’ photographs, they wouldn’t have had a movement. We then learn that after Withers’ death, a Memphis reporter named Marc Perrusquia followed up on an old lead about the photographer: that he was secretly working for the FBI. Perrusquia gained access to thousands of reports and photos taken for the FBI by Withers. We hear excerpts from several reports and meet the daughter of the agent who recruited Withers. During the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, the bureau recruited thousands of informants as part of a covert program originally created to monitor communists in America but ended up targeting the civil rights movement, as well as other individuals and groups.  We close with reflections on Withers by people who knew him. While some believe Withers betrayed the cause of civil rights, others are more forgiving. They say his actions were part of a larger narrative about the U.S. government’s unchecked power to spy on its own citizens and extinguish ideas and movements it felt were a threat.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
  • Drilling Down on Fossil Fuels and Climate Change
    The United States has pledged to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, but Russia’s war in Ukraine set off a bonanza for liquefied natural gas, or LNG. Today, we look at how energy companies and the Biden administration are backsliding on promises to move away from oil and gas.   In response to Europe’s need for natural gas as it lost access to Russian supplies, America’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, Cheniere Energy, is expanding its facilities in Corpus Christi, Texas. Reporter Elizabeth Shogren talks with local residents who are organizing to fight the expansion and discovers that many LNG contracts are not with Europe after all.   During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden promised to end drilling for oil and gas on federal land and offshore waters. And on his first day in office, he froze new drilling leases. But the administration backtracked and instead has increased the number of leases it’s offering to oil and gas companies. Host Al Letson gets a report card on Biden’s climate policy from two experts who are tracking his environmental record. For many years, prominent Republicans disputed the existence of climate change and fought against environmental policies. That didn’t sit well with a young conservative college student, who in 2016 tried to put climate change on his party’s agenda. Reveal reporter Jonathan Jones talks with the founder of the American Conservation Coalition and tracks how successful the group has been in getting Republican legislators to address climate change.  Republicans and Democrats may struggle to find common ground on addressing climate change. But for a tiny, predominantly Indigenous community in Alaska, it’s already too late. Reporter Emily Schwing went to Chevak to report on the damage from a recent storm and soon discovered a problem with the federal government’s response. Many residents don’t speak English as their first language, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is required to translate disaster relief notices into local languages. But FEMA bungled the translations, delaying much-needed aid and sowing distrust.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram 
  • ‘Traitors Get Shot’
    The bipartisan Congressional committee investigating the January 6th insurrection recommended that former president Donald Trump face criminal charges for sparking the attempted coup. We look back at the case of Guy Reffitt, the first person to be prosecuted for his role in the violent insurrection.  On Jan. 6, 2021, teenager Jackson Reffitt watched the Capitol riot play out on TV from his family home in Texas. His father, Guy, had a much closer view: He was in Washington, armed with a semiautomatic handgun, storming the building.  When Guy Reffitt returned home, Jackson secretly taped him and turned the recordings over to the FBI. His father bragged about what he did, saying: “I had every constitutional right to carry a weapon and take over the Congress.” Guy Reffitt was the first person to stand trial for his role in the riot, and the case has divided his family.  This week, Reveal features the story of the Reffitt family by partnering with the podcast Will Be Wild from Pineapple Street Studios, Wondery and Amazon Music. Hosted by Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz, Will Be Wild’s eight-part series investigates the forces that led to the Jan. 6 insurrection and what comes next. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

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