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Pretend Radio

Pretend Radio

Author: Creative Babble

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Pretend Radio is a documentary-style podcast about real people pretending to be someone else. I interview con artists, snake oil salesmen, undercover FBI agents—pretty much anyone living a lie.
28 Episodes
24. The Hijacker, Part 2 - Martin McNally
Martin McNally needed some cash, so what did he do? He hijacked an American Airlines flight with 90 passengers on board. If you haven’t listened to part one, check that out first. Today’s episode, picks up where we last left off. It’s 1972, and Martin McNally just hijacked a plane heading to Tulsa, Oklahoma. His plan was simple… Demand a half a million dollars, jump out of the plane, and disappear into the darkness of night. After 15 seconds of freefall, McNally pulls the ripcord. He begins to spin out of control. The parachute whips out and blasts him in the face. McNally looks up at the canopy as it pulls him away from the Earth. Then he looks down, and he realizes that the money bag slipped out of his hands. What now? He’s beat up, he lost all the money, and by the time he reaches the ground, there will be hundreds of FBI agents searching for him. What’s the point? McNally, considers ending it all. You definitely want to check out the rest of this story. This story was produced by Chris Knittel with the Burner Phone Podcast and was written and edited by me, Javier Leiva. LINKS Chief of Police for Peru Indiana picks up Martin McNally | New York Times Article Copter Hijacker Killed by Pilot Had Car With Weapons | New York Times Article Garrett Trapnell | Wiki FEATURED PROMO Already Gone Fall Line Podcast MUSIC The Pretend Radio theme song was composed by Joe Basile with Additional music by Blue Dot Session
23. The Hijacker, Part 1 - Martin McNally
Martin McNally is going to hijack this plane and nobody, not even the FBI, is going to stop him.   In today’s episode, Martin McNally recounts his 1972 hijacking of an American Airlines flight heading to Tulsa, Oklahoma. His plan was simple—sneak a submachine gun onboard a 727 jet, demand a half-million dollars in cash, and escape with a parachute. And he almost got away with it.    Martin McNally’s story is gripping and will have you at the edge of your seat. He was inspired by the infamous hijacker D.B. Cooper. But unlike D.B. Cooper, we actually know how McNally’s story ends.   As you can imagine, his plan didn’t go smoothly. The pilot had to return to St. Louis to get the mailbags full of money. After hours of negotiations with the FBI, there was a crew change and an FBI agent, dressed as crew members, snuck on board. Then, as the plane was preparing for take off, a drunk passenger smashed his Cadillac into the nose of the plane.   By now, it should have been over. But McNally persisted and demanded a new plane. Once up in the air, McNally jumped into the darkness and disappeared with the cash.   This story was produced by Chris Knittel with the Burner Phone Podcast and was written by me, Javier Leiva.   --- FEATURED PROMO   Oh No! Lit Class   Killafornia Dreaming   --- MUSIC   The Pretend Radio theme song was composed by Joe Basile with   Additional music by Blue Dot Session  
22. The Jolly Roger Social Club
You may remember Sharon McConnell-Dickerson from episode 8 titled “The Sculptor.” You know, the blind artist who casts the faces of dying blues musicians. When we first recorded that episode, she told me a story that quite frankly was hard to believe. It sounded like something out of a movie. In fact, it should be turned into a movie. It’s one of the most sadistic con artist stories I’ve ever heard. And warning, this episode is pretty dark. So if you don’t like that kinda stuff, you’ve been warned. This is the story of Wild Bill.   Wild Bill, who’s real name is William Holbert, had long blonde curly hair and frequently wore a viking helmet. He was 6 feet tall and looked like one of those guys at the gym who’s pumped up on steroids. Wild Bill was also the owner of a Panamanian bar he liked to call the Jolly Rogers Social Club. The bar, which sat off the side of his island property, was a down and dirty watering hole, known for loud parties and the occasional drug use. The decor was simple. Wild Bill flew a flag with skull and bones. And the bar's motto says it all—90% of our members survive. William Holbert, and his wife Laura Reece, were not only the island bar owners. They also had a keen eye for real estate. The strange thing is, every time they closed a deal, the person selling them the property would disappear. Sharon McConnell-Dickerson shares with us the story about her friend Bo Icler and the real estate con that ripped them apart.    ----- To learn more about this story, please check out the book titled, "The Jolly Roger Social Club" by Nick Foster.    ----- Featured Promos: Moms and Murder The Murder in my Family   ----- Theme music composed by Joe Basile with Additional music by Poddington Bear   ----- This episode was written and produced by Javier Leiva   If you would like to support the show, please leave us a rating on iTunes or donate $1 to our Patreon Page.  Also, check out our sweet t-shirts.       
21. The Babalawo - Secrets of Santeria
Today's episode "The Babalawo" is about Santeria… the faith, not the song. Unlike the pop tune, not a lot of people know about this mysterious religion. Santería, also known as Regla de Ochá, La Regla de Ifá, or Lucumí, is an Afro-Cuban religion that means the worship of saints. So, you maybe asking yourself, “Javier, where’s the pretend angle here?” Well, this religion in particular gives me the heebie jeebies. I feel like people visit these Santeria priests like if they’re fortune tellers. Are they just taking advantage of people’s emotions or am I discriminating on this faith? Spoiler alert… I’m pretty sure I’m discriminating against their faith. But, I’m better than that right? Are my fears real or is this just a bunch of urban legends? Well, there’s only one way to find out. I need to travel to my hometown of Miami and embed myself in the Santeria community.   First, I had to find a babalawo. What’s a babalawo? A babalawo is a Santeria priest who acts as a medium channeling the prophecy from the Orishas. Orishas are spirits who are a manifestation of the supreme God Olodumare. In this episode, we’ll get into the history and origins of Santeria. I also talk with a Santeria priest and priestess to learn more about their secret rituals.   -----LIES, LIES, LIES----- Has someone ever lied to you? Have you ever lied to protect someone else? Send me your personal story and I'll post it on my Patreon channel.   If you'd like to submit a story, leave me a voicemail at 919-867-1871 or record your story on your smart phone's voice memo app and email it to me at  -----MUSIC----- Theme Music composed by Joe Basile from The Chicken Music and Sound Design. Find out more about Joe and The Chicken at Additional music by Podington Bear -----PROMOS----- Promos by: Beyond Bizarre Podcast
20. The Good Cop, Bad Cop
How does a good cop turn bad? For Ruben Palomares, a former corrupt LAPD Rampart division officer, the process was slow. He went from receiving LAPD’s highest honor to becoming one of the most corrupt cops in US history.   Officer Palomares’ story begins with his first undercover assignment. In the late 1980s there was this show called 21 Jump Street. Johnny Depp starred in it. It was about undercover cops, who pretended to be students, in order to bust drug dealers in schools.   But did you know that back in the 1994, the Los Angeles police department juvenile narcotics unit actually recruited young officers to infiltrate classrooms in order to investigate drug dealers? They couldn’t just get any cop to fill this undercover role. They needed a fresh face who could blend in with the students. So, they approached officer Ruben Palomares.   In 1995, Ruben Palomares got transferred to LAPD’s Rampart Division where he continued to work undercover cases. He was specifically assigned to the anti-gang unit called CRASH. CRASH is an acronym for the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums. This is when Ruben’s fate will be decided.   For the first four years, during his time at the Rampart Division, his superiors described him as a leader with a reputation for excellence. But Ruben was committed to cleaning up his neighborhood—and he was willing to use his authority to do so.   That’s when the suspicious shootings started to happen, then the robberies, and before anyone even noticed, he was wrapped up with the same officers suspected of orchestrating the assassination of The Notorious B.I.G.   Today’s story is a collaboration with my good friend Chris Knittel from the Burner Phone Podcast. Burner Phone is a collection of intimate conversations with former criminals. Chris is a documentarian whose work has been seen on VICE, Netflix, A&E and NatGeo.   -----LIES, LIES, LIES----- Has someone ever lied to you? Have you ever lied to protect someone else? Send me your personal story and I'll post it on my Patreon channel.   If you'd like to submit a story, leave me a voicemail at 919-867-1871 or record your story on your smart phone's voice memo app and email it to me at    -----BURNER PHONE PODCAST----- You can find Burner Phone Podcast on Apple Podcast and Twitter.   -----MUSIC----- Theme Music composed by Joe Basile from The Chicken Music and Sound Design. Find out more about Joe and The Chicken at     -----PROMOS----- Promos by: For Keeps Podcast | Apple Podcast Hong Kong Confidential | Apple Podcast  

20. The Good Cop, Bad Cop


19. The Stranger
A lie is only powerful if you choose to believe it. So why do we fall for it every time? In this episode, we’ll hear four different stories. Each describes a tall tale, so persistent, that it’s hard to imagine someone keeping all the lies straight in their head.   Each one of these stories reminds me of the movie The Truman Show. It seems like everyone I spoke with lived in a world carefully created just for them.   Now it’s time to ask you. Have you ever been lied to? Or have you ever told a lie in order to do the right thing? I invite you to share your story on Pretend Radio. If selected, your story will be featured as bonus content on our Patreon channel. Patreon is a way that you can support the show. And who knows, your story could be featured on the main show.   If you would like to share your story, record your story using your smartphone voice recording app and email your audio to Or leave me a voice mail at (919) 867-1871. Please try to keep your story under 10 minutes.   Don’t forget to leave me your name and a way to contact you.   I can’t wait to listen to your stories.   Theme Music composed by Joe Basile from The Chicken Music and Sound Design. Find out more about Joe and The Chicken at   Additional music by: Podington Bear - Bambi Podington Bear - Twosome Podington Bear - Bumble Podington Bear - Suppose it is Thank you to Steven Pacheco with the Trace Evidence Podcast and Nicki T with the Strictly Homicide Podcast for partnering with me on this episode. And I’d love to thank Carly Nichols and Andrea Hill for listening and taking the time to talk with me.

19. The Stranger


18. The Gambler Part 2 - Art Schlichter
Previously on Pretend Radio, we learned how Art Schlichter’s gambling habits destroyed Anita Barney life. She went from being the wealthy widow of a Wendy’s CEO to becoming broke and struggling to pay her light bill.   It started out with a loan for $10,000. Art Schlichter said he needed the money to buy a car.   Anita: “He just met me and he’s asking me for money. I was totally surprised but I didn’t know what to say. I said yes.”   That was just the first loan. Slowly, he would borrow away her entire fortune. Why did Anita Barney allow this to happen? Why didn’t she just say no?   Anita: “I just needed my money back. I couldn’t let my family know what had happened. And that’s what kept me going. It’s gotta end. He’s saying it's going to end.”   But it’s never going to end. In fact, it’s only going to get worse. After Art Schlichter emptied her bank accounts, she turned to her friends and neighbors for money. Under Art’s instructions, Anita would cold call friends, some who she lost contact with, and asked if they were interested in an investment opportunity. She asked if she could borrow some money and promised to repay the loan with a 10% interest. As far as they know, she’s still a millionaire. It seemed like a safe bet. Little did they know that Art Schlichter would bet away their life saving in a matter of days.   And that was just the first scam.   In part two of The Gambler, we’re going to talk about how Anita went from being Art Schlichter’s victim to his accomplice.   You can find Anita Barney's memoir titled "Quarterback Sneak: Exposing the Criminal Game Plan of Art Schlichter" on Amazon:
17. The Gambler Part 1 - Art Schlichter
This is the story of disgraced Ohio State quarterback Art Schlichter. In order to understand Art Schlichter’s crimes, you first have to understand how his story ends. Anita Barney, heiress and widow of a former Wendy’s CEO, lost every single penny her husband left her.  Art Schlichter and Anita Barney How did it happen? Art Schlichter gambled away her entire fortune.  Art and Anita first met in 1981 after her son Alan survived a plane crash. He was at the pique of his football career when he heard about Alan’s accident. A mutual friend brought Art over to pay Alan a visit. It turns out, Alan's football hero was a compulsive gambler. Art made a series of bad bets and lost thousands gambling on college and professional teams. By midseason, he blew his entire signing bonus. He continued to play, but his football career was essentially over. Looking back, he’s considered one of the biggest draft flops in NFL history. Art Schlichter's gambling problem got so bad, that in 1995 he was sent to prison for 10 years for fraud and writing bad checks. After prison, Art says he was a new man. In fact, he was campaigning around the state of Ohio asking people to vote against the legalization of casinos. 30 years after they first met, Art ran into Anita while promoting his new book. Anita caught up with him after his speech. Anita: “Art, you don’t remember me…” I told him who I was. He said, “I do remember you now. How is Alan doing?" “He’s doing well and I’m having a surprise 40th birthday party. Would you like to come?” He said, “Yeah that would be good. I would like to surprise him.” Anita gave Art her phone number. A few days later, Art calls and says, Anita: “I would love to come but I can’t.” He said, "I’d love to get together and get caught up on how Alan’s doing." I said, "Sure that would be fine." He showed up at Anita Barney’s house with a bag full of Wendy. Anita: And that’s how everything started. It didn’t take long for Art to make his move. Before they were even done eating their sandwich he gave Anita a sob story about his daughters. He said he needed to borrow $10,000 to purchase a car so he can visit them.  While this may seem like a ridiculous request, Anita had the means. Plus, when her husband was alive, they helped people out all the time. Art’s promise to repay the loan seemed sincere, the reason for the loan was understandable. Plus, for Anita Barney, $10,000 was a drop in the bucket. Why wouldn’t she help out the man who brought her 10 year old son back when nothing else worked? Anita: I just put myself in his place. And I remembered my son and how sad he was. I don’t know how to explain it. Because he did get my son out of that depression I felt I owed it to him. Because nothing else was working until Art came in. Art promised to pay back the $10,000 loan within 90 days. In fact, he wrote Anita a post-dated check for $10,000. The next week, he asked to meet Anita again. This time, he asked her for $100,000. He said the money would go to pay off the debts he owed other gamblers. He promised to repay the loan with with ten percent interest. After thinking about for a few minutes, Anita agreed to loan him the money. And the rest is history.   This episode was written and produced by Javier Leiva Music by: Cylinder Eight by Chris Zabriskie Careless Morning, Bivly, Pxl Eventuat, Pxl Cray, Pxl Ultra by Blue Dot Sessions Bittersweet, Pounded Piano by Podington Bear No More Trap by Audiobinger    
16. The Reporter - Vester Flanagan
Warning, this episode may be disturbing for some listeners. It describes a shooting that resulted in the death of two people. While this story is not technically about a mass shooting, it has every characteristic of one.   I began working on this story prior to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. My first reaction was to pull the episode. Then, I thought I should postpone the release. But, you know what? There’s never an appropriate time to talk about mass shootings. Unfortunately, this is our new reality.     This is the story of Bryce Williams, the reporter who murdered Alison Parker and Adam Ward live on television. It turns out Bryce Williams is not his real name. Bryce Williams is just a pseudonym for his on air personality. The killer’s real name is Vester Flanagan.   The morning of the shooting, Vester Flanagan faxed a 23 page manifesto to ABC News in New York. In the letter, Flanagan describes his grievances. He writes, “I've been a human powder keg for a while… just waiting to go BOOM!!!!"   Later that morning, Vester Flanagan sends out a tweet from his Bryce Williams account.   “I filmed the shooting see Facebook”   He posts two video on his Facebook timeline showing the murders recorded from his point of view.   The first video shows a hand pointing a gun at the news crew. The second video shows Vester opening fire on Alison Parker.   He later tweets again.   “Adam went to HR on me after working with me one time.” Then, in another tweet he claims Alison made racist comments about him.   In this episode, we’ll talk about what you and I can do, as individuals, to spot the next mass murderer. We’re going to dive deep into the psychology of a killer and talk about the traits some of them have in common.   This episodes was written and produced by Javier Leiva. Post-production and producing support by TJ Counihan from the Pints and Puzzles podcast. Music for this episode is courtesy of Podington Bear and Audiobinger.
Comments (3)

Romi Santos

Eric is full of bs

Sep 18th

Rose Johnson

love love this podcast!

Jul 27th

isaac flores

great shows

Jun 16th
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