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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.
35 Episodes
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S307: The Prophet - Meet Jane Whaley Part 2
Previously on Pretend Radio, I came face-to-face with pastor Jane Whaley of the Word of Faith Fellowship. When I arrived, we met in her office for a few minutes before the church service began. I was surprised by everyone's friendliness. Suddenly, the music started playing and we knew it was time to head into the main sanctuary. Jane Whaley held my hand as we walked down a long hallway towards the service. As we inched closer to the sanctuary, the music got louder and louder—it was ear drum busting loud. Jane and I walked in like rock stars. Her attorney escorted me to the second row behind Jane and her husband Sam Whaley. Word of Faith Fellowship sanctuary in Spindale, North Carolina Was the church service real or just a big show? The service started around 9:30am and ended around 12:30pm. It was a musical event filled with praise and worship. Old women were jumping up and down in their high heels, old men were singing as loud as they could, and the children appeared to be happy. Former members say that this is exactly what Jane Whaley wanted me to see. According to them, this service was tailored specifically for me.   Bonus episode: Why did Paul McCartney's drummer join a cult?   Joe English played drums with Paul McCartney and Wings. Today, he's a devoted member at the Word of Faith Fellowship church in Spindale, North Carolina. I met Joe English during my visit. Hear how Jane Whaley saved him from a life of drugs and rock n' roll. Listen to this exclusive Patreon episode.    
S306: The Prophet - Meet Jane Whaley Part 1
As far as I know, I'm the first journalist who has ever interviewed pastor Jane Whaley. Heck, I might be the only member of the media to have attended church service. How was I able to pull this off? The short answer is, I have no idea. In fact, when the executive producer of the upcoming A&E series on Word of Faith Fellowship found out about my exclusive interview, he gave me a call. He asked me, "I just want to know one thing... how did you do it?" I told him, "I just asked nicely?" Here's the promo for the A&E docu-series titled, "The Devil Next Door." Word of Faith guest gets charged with trespassing While scanning through research documents, I stumbled upon on an email I had not seen before. It was from democratic North Carolina state senate candidate David Wheeler to Jane Whaley. In that email, David Wheeler requested a meeting with Jane Whaley. Oddly enough she responds, “Can you meet between 3:30 and 4:00 this afternoon?” The state senate candidate confirms the meeting with Jane. What happens next is kind of messed up. Instead of showing up alone, David Wheeler arrives at the Word of Faith Fellowship compound with a several news reporters and a cameraman. He also brought John Huddle who is basically Jane Whaley’s arch enemy. He also brought former sheriff candidate Wayne Guffey who is Jane Whaley’s distant cousin and a critic of the church. The political stunt was broadcast on Facebook live. The church filed trespassing charges for everyone involved—except for the Daily Courier reporter MacKenzie Wicker. The moment the church official told them them to leave, MacKenzie quietly exited the building. In all fairness, if you read the email, Wheeler never explains to Jane that he intends to bring in the media with him to the visit. Therefore, it's only reasonable for the church to back out of the meeting. But was it trespassing? Probably not. A judge recently dropped the charges.    My first contact with Jane Whaley The last people to get an invitation to the Word of Faith Fellowship got the cops called on them. However, that didn't stop me from contacting Jane. I have Jane Whaley's email address and intend to use it. Besides, what's the worst thing that could happen? Get arrested for trespassing? Here's my message to Jane: Hi Jane, I'm an independent reporter working on a story about Word of Faith Fellowship. It makes me sad that the national media is so one sided. No one has given you an honest opportunity to tell your story. I'm willing to devote a whole hour of air time to tell your story with no bias from the other side—and no tricks. I realize you have a radio show and YouTube channel stating your point of view. But no third party has had the chance to speak with you directly. I promise no tricks. My offer for is for you to speak to my listeners directly.   Jane Whaley writes back Honestly, I didn’t expect a reply. But boy was I wrong. She responds:   I am checking with my attorney.  I encourage you to listen to the testimonies on the radio. No children have ever been abused in our church.  It is just the opposite everyone is greatly loved.   She wrote this at 2:20am Saturday morning. I quickly wrote back:   Hi Jane, I have listened to many of the radio shows. I love that you’re reaching out to the community. By the way, I am he only reporter who has put the Cooper family’s claims into question.   The Cooper’s, if you remember, is the family Jane claims is campaigning to destroy the church. John Cooper is the man you heard from back in season one.   Jane writes back:   The Coopers did not like it when I would not allow them to bring their worldly lifestyle into the church.  They purposed to close our doors with their lies. God has so blessed us. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake. Jesus said. If you are who you say you are; I would like to meet you before I make any  commitment. I would like for you to come to one of our church services. That way you can see truth.   I quickly responded, “I can be there tomorrow. What time is the service? Who should I ask for when I get there?” She said:   Our church starts at 9:30 if you want to come and find out truth. They will know you are coming. Someone to take you in and show you where your saved seat is. You can sit right up front right behind me and my family.   Holy smokes! Jane Whaley invited me to church. Never in a million years did I ever expect to speak to Jane Whaley directly. Nobody…. Nobody has ever interviewed Jane.       True Crime Podcast Festival | Chicago 2019 Also, I am excited to announce that Pretend Radio is going to be attending the first annual True Crime Podcast Festival on July 13, 2019 in Chicago! Trust me, start planning now. It’s worth traveling to. This is your chance to mingle with podcasters you listen to regularly. There will also be live episode recordings as well as panel discussions. In fact, I’m speaking in one of them. Some of the shows registered are All Crime No Cattle, Criminology, Canadian True Crime, Mugshot, Swindled, Sword and Scale, and so many more. You won’t want to miss this. Go to the website TCPF2019.com to find information on tickets and the hotel. Prices do go up the closer we get to the event so you won’t want to wait. When you buy your ticket, make sure you mention Pretend Radio on the ticket registration survey. This is going to be a blast. I can’t wait to meet everyone at the True Crime Podcast Festival! For more information, see the show notes.   Many people have been writing me and sharing their stories. If you have a story to share, shoot me an email at info@pretendradio.org or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Our theme music was composed by Joe Basile with thechicken.net.  
S305: The Prophet - Brazil and the Word of Faith Fellowship
Did you know that the Word of Faith Fellowship has nearly 2,000 members internationally? They have affiliate churches all over the world including Brazil, Sweden, Scotland, and other countries. I don’t get it. Why would Jane Whaley want to branch out to churches outside the United States? Why not just expand within North Carolina? What could she possibly gain from having members all over the world? The answer, some former members say, is human trafficking. Brazil is by far the biggest territory ruled under Jane Whaley’s kingdom. They have churches in two southeastern Brazilian cities. The first church is in Soa Joaquim de Bicas which is about 6 hours north of Rio de Janeiro. They also have second church in Franco de Rocha which is an hour outside of Sao Paulo. John Huddle, a former Word of Faith Fellowship member recalls visiting the church in Brazil. You would think that leaving Spindale, North Carolina would be a liberating feeling—a rare treat. Oh no. Huddle says that even in the plane, Jane’s rules were in full effect. "You're told what to wear. You're told not to look at the movies on the plane." He says that the church culture travels with you no matter where you go. John Huddle says that in the early years, Jane sent some key people to Brazil and Ghana to be her eyes and ears.  Jane conquered Brazil and offered them salvation For a few lucky Brazilians, Jane blessed them with more than just salvation—an opportunity to live in the United States.  Ana Albuquerque told the Associated Press that when she first arrived in Spindale, church members showered her with love. She said, "The first time you go, they treat you well. But afterwards, they start treating you bad.” Ana says things turned ugly fast. She claims she worked full time as a teacher’s assistant and baby sat church member’s children at night–all without pay. Then the physical abuse started. Ana says that Jane and another minister spanked her with a wooden stick. She told the AP they blasted her with a screaming prayer because she was “unclean” and possessed by the devil. And we’re not talking a small tap on the butt kind of spank. Ana says the beatings lasted for at least 40 minutes. She finally was allowed to return to Brazil and has since left the church. 16 Brazilian come forward “It was a horror living there,” says Rebecca Mello. Her dreams of freedom quickly turned into a nightmare. She told the Associated Press that she was brought to the US in 2009 on a student visa. Immediately after she got here, church leaders took her passports and her money, and was quickly put to work. "We’re made to get up early, make the kids breakfast, cook, do their beds, pick up the the laundry.” Thiago Silva says, "We were there working, but we never got paid. If you’re not paid for something, even for your food, I would say that you’re a slave." All in all, 16 Brazilian’s have come forward to share their personal story of abuse and enslavement. The church responds to season 3 The Prophet Word of Faith Fellowship attorney Josh Farmer reacted to Pretend Radio Season 3 The Prophet. He told the Daily Courier:  "We are saddened to learn that the Pretend Radio podcasts produced by Javier Leiva are simply another outlet for the defamatory lies against our church. The lies being told by Carlos and Ana from Brazil are outrageous. Carlos has never come to our church and we know that he was never beaten in Brazil."   Then on Patreon, church minister Bonnie Lawrence wrote: "My name Bonnie Lawrence and all the allegations that Carlos Henrique made about me are a complete lie. None of it ever happened. I am a member of the word of faith and I spend a lot of time in Brazil. The case against the church in Brazil was dismissed by the judge. The judge found that the testimony from the people against the church was not credible regarding slave labor." She points to an article published from a local Rutherford county blog that claims to have a court document from Brazil where a judge dismissed the case against the Brazilian church. The document from the Brazilian judge states that there is no evidence to indicate that the church is practicing slavery. The document also states, “For these reason, in addition to other inconsistencies, I will not except the allegations of the witnesses of the public ministry of labor.” They wrote except with an “e” and not accept with an “a.” I point this out because I can’t confirm the source of this document. The judge concluded that, “For this reason, I dismiss as unfounded the pleadings in question.” No other news media has reported this other than this local blog. I’m not saying it’s not true, I’m just saying it’s awfully strange that a small blog got this document and no one else could. Bonnie Lawrence also wrote on Patreon, “The judge found that there was not any slave labor at the word of faith fellowship and that those young Brazilians that visited our church were not forced to work and were not held against their will.   I also contacted the US attorney’s office right before this episode aired to see if there were any updates on the US investigation into human trafficking and forced labor. Lia Bantavani, the Public Affairs Officer for the Western District of North Carolina US Attorney's Office wrote me and said, “can only share that the investigation is ongoing.”      [caption id="attachment_730" align="alignright" width="300"] True Crime Podcast Festival - Chicago 201[/caption] True Crime Podcast Festival | Chicago 2019 Also, I am excited to announce that Pretend Radio is going to be attending the first annual True Crime Podcast Festival on July 13, 2019 in Chicago! Trust me, start planning now. It’s worth traveling to. This is your chance to mingle with podcasters you listen to regularly. There will also be live episode recordings as well as panel discussions. In fact, I’m speaking in one of them. Some of the shows registered are All Crime No Cattle, Criminology, Canadian True Crime, Mugshot, Swindled, Sword and Scale, and so many more. You won’t want to miss this. Go to the website TCPF2019.com to find information on tickets and the hotel. Prices do go up the closer we get to the event so you won’t want to wait. When you buy your ticket, make sure you mention Pretend Radio on the ticket registration survey. This is going to be a blast. I can’t wait to meet everyone at the True Crime Podcast Festival! For more information, see the show notes. Subscribe Apple Podcasts Google Play Stitcher Spotify Many people have been writing me and sharing their stories. If you have a story to share, shoot me an email at info@pretendradio.org or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Today’s episode was edited by the talented Molly Clay. Our theme music was composed by Joe Basile with thechicken.net.
S304: The Prophet - Allegations of Abuse and Corruption
When Nancy Burnette was appointed by the courts to be a guardian ad litem, she knew her job wasn’t going to be easy. A guardian ad litem is someone who represents kids in the foster care system. It’s her job to place children in homes with the right parents. If she doesn’t get right, her decision can cause lasting damage on these vulnerable children. This was a challenge Nancy was willing to take. So, put yourself in Nancy’s shoes for a second. If you had to place a child in the custody of the Word of Faith Fellowship family, what would you do? This episode explores the series of questions surrounding the Word of Faith and accusations about their grip on local government. For example, did you know the Jane Whaley’s son in law, Frank Webster, was an assistant state prosecutor at a nearby county? There are also accusations that a local social workers undermined abuse investigations at the Word of Faith Fellowship? The list of accusations go on and on. In this episode titled “Allegations of Abuse and Corruption,” I’ll do my best to describe some of the political controversy surrounding the Word of Faith Fellowship.   ------- See the front page article on Pretend Radio and the church's response: http://pretendradio.org/word-of-faith-fellowship-prophet-allegations-of-child-abuse-and-corruption/ ------- Also, I am excited to announce that Pretend Radio is going to be attending the first annual True Crime Podcast Festival on July 13, 2019 in Chicago! Trust me, start planning now, it’s worth traveling to. This is your chance to mingle with podcasters you listen to regularly. There will also be live episode recordings as well as panel discussions. In fact, I’m speaking at one of them.   Some of the shows registered are All Crime No Cattle, Criminology, Canadian True Crime, Mugshot, Swindled, Sword and Scale, and so many more. You won’t want to miss this. Go to the website TCPF2019.com to find information on tickets and the hotel. Prices do go up the closer we get to the event so you won’t want to wait. When you buy your ticket, make sure you mention Pretend Radio on the ticket registration survey. This is going to be a blast. I can’t wait to meet everyone at the True Crime Podcast Festival! For more information, see the show notes.   —PROMO— Swindled Framed: An investigative story   —MUSIC— Thechicken.net  
S303: The Prophet - Former Members Speak Out
On April 7th, 2018, more than a dozen former Word of Faith Fellowship members reunited at the Spindale House in Rutherford County, North Carolina. It was an opportunity for former members to answer lingering questions for the citizens in the community. But in reality, it was probably an event designed to make good television for the documentary crew filming the whole thing. When I walked into the room, I expected a small gathering with a few chairs. Instead, I counted 6 professional video cameras and crew to match it. It was a huge production. I soon learned that today’s community event was part of an upcoming A&E documentary series on the Word of Faith Fellowship. Each former member in the panel sat behind a microphone provided by the A&E crew. About 80 to 100 people were in attendance—including current members of the Word of Faith Fellowship. The room was tense. John Cooper, former Word of Faith Fellowship Former Members speaks about his experience with the Department of Social Services in Rutherford, County. Survivors speak out against Pastor Jane Whaley This episode was especially hard to write because there were so many stories to tell. But there was one story that stood out more than the others. Former Word of Faith Fellowship member Jamey Anderson delivered an impassioned speech about leaving the church. He lamented about being cut off from his family and missing his own grandfather’s funeral. In the audience sat his mother with an emotionless expression on her face. You see, Jamey’s mother is still a member at the church and has cut all communication with her son. Jamey called her out and said, “I’m very happy to see that whatever I've done has motivated her to show up today. So it's at least good to see her.” Jamey used his time behind the microphone to respond to his mother’s 30 minute YouTube video. In the video, his mother Patti, his grandmother Dot, and his step-sister Allison describe why they think Jamey’s a liar and justify why they have disowned him.   ---SUBSCRIBE--- Apple Podcasts Google Play Stitcher Spotify   ---PROMO--- Let's Talk About Sects Killafornia Dreaming   ---MUSIC--- Thechicken.net
S301: The Prophet - Word of Faith Fellowship Revisited
Season 3: The Prophet - Word of Faith Fellowship Revisited I’m back with a whole new season of Pretend Radio. But this time it’s going to be a little different. Instead of telling you a different story each episode, I decided to do a serialize season where I tell you a single story, one episode at a time. So what is it about? It’s about the first episode I aired on this show—the Word of Faith Fellowship church. Back in season one, I met up with a man who says he escaped the cult. His name is John Cooper. I contacted him and asked "Hey, do you want to meet up? I’m thinking about starting a podcast and would like to tell your story." So, we just met up at a park in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. At this point, I didn’t know what this podcast was all about. All I knew was that he was part of a religious sect. And what he told me that day in that park blew my mind. But in the end, I feel like I didn’t do that story justice. It was one guy’s story. I needed to go out to the other side of the state, where the Word of Faith Fellowship is located, and do a little more digging. So, I got in my car and drove west. After I spending the whole day in Spindale, North Carolina, I thought to myself, there is no way I keep everything I just learned in one episode. If season one was about John cooper, season 3 is all about the town of Spindale. The episode you’re about to listen to is my first 3 episodes rolled into one. And I’m going to stitch them together by playing some ads for some non-profits organizations. And at the end of the episode there’s a preview of the new season. Now many of you have already heard this story, but trust me, even I had to go back and listen to these episodes. Once the season starts, I’m not going to spend a lot setting things up. We’re just going to get right to it. If you’re new to Pretend Radio, well this is a great place to start. Let me tell you, it’s pretty crazy. I got deeper into this story than any other journalist. The BBC has tried and failed. The Associated Press tried and they couldn’t get in. Even A&E is producing a documentary on the WOFF and they didn’t get the access I got.   So enjoy this flashback episode and revisit The Prophet from season one. And get ready for the season because it’s coming out very soon.    
S213: 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 thechicken.net Additional music by Blue Dot Session
S212: 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 thechicken.net   Additional music by Blue Dot Session  
S211: 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 thechicken.net 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.       
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Comments (3)

Romi Santos

Eric is full of bs

Sep 18th
Reply

Rose Johnson

love love this podcast!

Jul 27th
Reply

isaac flores

great shows

Jun 16th
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