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Scene on Radio

Author: Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University

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Scene on Radio is a Peabody-nominated podcast that dives deeply into issues central to American society, exploring who we were and who we are. Recent many-part series include Seeing White, looking at the roots and meaning of white supremacy, and MEN, exploring the past and present of sexism and patriarchy. Produced and hosted by John Biewen, Scene on Radio comes from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University (CDS) and is distributed by PRX.
77 Episodes
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What does the 2020 election in the United States tell us, or remind us, about the state of democracy in America? A follow-up to our Season 4 series on democracy, The Land That Never Has Been Yet. Host and producer John Biewen talks with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Editor, Loretta Williams. Music by Algiers, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music. Photo: An election day march to the polls in Graham, North Carolina, November 2020. Photo by Anthony Crider, Wikimedia Commons.
S4 E12: More Democracy

S4 E12: More Democracy

2020-06-1057:398

What will it take to make the United States a more fully-functioning democracy, and how can we, as citizens, bring about that change? By host and producer John Biewen, with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with Michael Waldman, Jennifer Cohn, and Sanford Levinson. The series editor is Loretta Williams. Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music. 
S4 E11: More Truth

S4 E11: More Truth

2020-05-2757:1911

How well do the news media serve us as citizens, and what role does the notion of “objective,” or “neutral,” journalism play in the failings of American democracy? Story reported by Lewis Raven Wallace, with host/producer John Biewen and collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with David Mindich, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and Kevin Young. The series editor is Loretta Williams. *The View from Somewhere *editor: Ramona Martinez. Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.
In most American schools, children *hear about *democracy, but don’t get to *practice *it. What would a more engaged brand of civics education look like? Story reported by Ben James, with host John Biewen and collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with Arielle Jennings, Hilary Moss, and Nikole Hannah-Jones. The series editor is Loretta Williams. Music by the Summer Street Brass Band, Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music. Photo: Stephen Buckley, Jelicity Mercado, Bella Goncalves, and Angelica Pareja, eighth-grade students at Pyne Arts Magnet School in Lowell, Massachusetts, with their award at Civics Day in Boston, December 2019.
S4 E9: American Empire

S4 E9: American Empire

2020-04-2901:02:227

“America” and “empire.” Do those words go together? If so, what kind of imperialism does the U.S. practice, and how has American empire changed over time?  By host and producer John Biewen, with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with Nikhil Singh and Daniel Immerwahr. The series editor is Loretta Williams. Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music. 
S4 E8: The Second Redemption

S4 E8: The Second Redemption

2020-04-1501:04:216

The conservative, neoliberal counterrevolution in the face of expanding democracy in America: It started long before Donald Trump. Even before Ronald Reagan and his like-minded counterpart across the Atlantic, Margaret Thatcher.   By host and producer John Biewen, with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with Nancy MacLean, Wendy Brown, and Rhon Manigault-Bryant.   The series editor is Loretta Williams. Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.   
S4 E7: Freedom Summer

S4 E7: Freedom Summer

2020-04-0101:07:192

In the summer of 1964, about a thousand young Americans, black and white, came together in Mississippi to place themselves in the path of white supremacist power and violence. They issued a bold pro-democracy challenge to the nation and the Democratic Party. Produced by John Biewen, with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with John Lewis, Bob Moses, Unita Blackwell, Hollis Watkins, Dorie Ladner, and many others. The series editor is Loretta Williams. Freedom song recordings courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways. Other music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.  Photo: A Freedom Summer worker in Mississippi, 1964. Photo by Steve Schapiro.  
In this special episode, host John Biewen and series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika discuss the coronavirus pandemic and how the crisis, and the nation’s response to it, echo themes we’re exploring in our Season 4 series on democracy in the United States. The season’s editor is Loretta Williams. Music by Lucas Biewen and Eric Neveux. Photo: Durham, North Carolina, mayor Steve Schewel announces a stay-at-home order on March 25. Photo by Julia Wall, courtesy of the News & Observer.
S4 E6: A New Deal

S4 E6: A New Deal

2020-03-1753:245

The Great Depression presented a crisis not only for the U.S. economy, but for American democracy. President Franklin Roosevelt wanted to save the nation’s system of government, and its economic system, while reforming both. What did the New Deal achieve, and not achieve? Reported and produced by John Biewen, with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with Eric Rauchway and Cybelle Fox. The series editor is Loretta Williams. Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.  Photo: Men fighting during a strike at the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan, 1937. Image courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. As mentioned in the episode, an article by public historian Larry DeWitt examining the widespread assertion that the exclusion of some occupations from the original Social Security old-age pension program was insisted on by southern segregationists: https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v70n4/v70n4p49.html
People fighting for more democracy in the United States often have to struggle against sexism and racism. In fact, those two struggles are often inseparable—certainly from the perspective of black women and some other women of color. Reported and produced by host John Biewen, with Season 3 co-host Celeste Headlee and Season 4 collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with Glenda Gilmore, Ashley Farmer, Sandra Arrington, and Danielle McGuire. Music by Alex Weston, Evgueni and Sacha Galperine, and Eric Neveux. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.
After the Civil War, a surprising coalition tried to remake the United States into a real multiracial democracy for the first time. Reconstruction, as the effort was called, brought dramatic change to America. For a while. Reported and produced by John Biewen, with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. The series script editor is Loretta Williams. Interviews with Victoria Smalls, Brent Morris, Eric Foner, Kidada Williams, Bobby Donaldson, and Edward Baptist. Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.  Photo: Historian Bobby Donaldson of the University of South Carolina, at the South Carolina State House, Columbia, SC. Photo by John Biewen.
S4E3: The Cotton Empire

S4E3: The Cotton Empire

2020-02-0542:349

In the decades after America’s founding and the establishment of the Constitution, did the nation get better, more just, more democratic? Or did it double down on violent conquest and exploitation?   Reported, produced, written, and mixed by John Biewen, with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. The series editor is Loretta Williams. Interviews with Robin Alario, Edward Baptist, Kidada Williams, and Keri Leigh Merritt. Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music. 
In the summer of 1787, fifty-five men got together in Philadelphia to write a new Constitution for the United States, replacing the new nation’s original blueprint, the Articles of Confederation. But why, exactly? What problems were the framers trying to solve? Was the Constitution designed to advance democracy, or to rein it in? By producer/host John Biewen with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with Woody Holton, Dan Bullen, and Price Thomas. The series editor is Loretta Williams. Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.
S4 E1: Rich Man's Revolt

S4 E1: Rich Man's Revolt

2020-01-0845:4511

In the American Revolution, the men who revolted were among the wealthiest and most comfortable people in the colonies. What kind of revolution was it, anyway? Was it about a desire to establish democracy—or something else? By producer/host John Biewen with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. Interviews with Davy Arch, Barbara Duncan, Rob Shenk, and Woody Holton. Edited by Loretta Williams. Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.
Our season-long series will touch on concerns like authoritarianism, voter suppression and gerrymandering, foreign intervention, and the role of money in politics, but we’ll go much deeper, effectively retelling the story of the United States from its beginnings up to the present. Through field recordings and interviews with leading thinkers, we’ll tell under-told stories and explore critical questions like—How democratic was the U.S. ever meant to be, anyway? American democracy is clearly in crisis today, but . . . when was it not?Along the way, there’s a good chance that we’ll complicate, maybe upend, our listeners’ understanding of American history.
In our Season Three finale, co-hosts Celeste Headlee and John Biewen talk about where American culture goes from here, sexism-wise. And we hear from scholar Melvin Konner, who argues that we are in fact witnessing—and bringing about—“the end of male supremacy.” Music by Alex Weston, and by Evgueni and Sacha Galperine. Music and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.
Host John Biewen dips into the world of sports talk radio, where guys talk not just about sports but also about how to be a man in twenty-first-century America. What John finds is more complicated than he expected, with revelations both encouraging and sobering. With co-host Celeste Headlee and experts David Nylund and Terry Real.   Music by Alex Weston, and by Evgueni and Sacha Galperine. Music and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.
Writer Ben James and his wife Oona are raising their sons in a progressive and “queer-friendly” New England town. They actively encourage the boys to be themselves, never mind those traditional gender norms around “masculinity” and “femininity.” All was well. Until the elder son, Huck, went to sixth grade. Story by Ben James, with hosts Celeste Headlee and John Biewen, and psychologist Terrence Real. Music by Alex Weston, Evgueni and Sacha Galperine, Blue Dot Sessions, and Kevin MacLeod. Music and production help from Joe Augustine at Narrative Music.
Lewis Wallace, female-assigned at birth, wanted to transition in the direction of maleness—in some ways. He shifted his pronouns, had surgery, starting taking testosterone. None of that meant he wanted to embrace everything that our culture associates with “masculinity.” Story written and reported by Lewis Wallace, with co-hosts John Biewen and Celeste Headlee. Music by Alex Weston, Evgueni and Sacha Galperine, and Kevin MacLeod. Music and production help from Joe Augustine at Narrative Music.
American history—law, economics, culture—has built different notions of masculinity (and femininity) for people of varying races and ethnicities.  A trip through a century of pop culture and the stereotyped images that white supremacy has manufactured and attached to Asian and African American men. With scholars Tim Yu and Mark Anthony Neal and co-hosts John Biewen and Celeste Headlee. Music by Alex Weston, Evgueni and Sacha Galperine. Music and production help from Joe Augustine at Narrative Music.
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Comments (38)

Alex Mercedes

Great to hear from you again. any bonus episodes you offer between now and the next season will be heartily welcomed.

Nov 25th
Reply

Berit Talan

I've listen to Seeing White and The Land That Never Has Been Yet. They were both excellent and so thought provoking. Going back to listen to everything else this podcast has put out.

Oct 21st
Reply

Travis Henson

I’m not crying I’m cutting onions. Such a great episode.

Sep 26th
Reply

Kelly Gill

Just finished season 2-a friend recommended it. It was worth EVERY minute! thank you!

Aug 14th
Reply

Authentictalks 2.0

💕💕

Jul 2nd
Reply

Amy Urban

Fascinating. Worthwhile. Thought-provoking.

Jun 24th
Reply

Alex Mercedes

excellent show! can we please be sure NPR hears this episode? I finally had to stop listening to NPR because it felt...well fake. then 2016 election happened and I got scared and came back. By the inauguration, I had to leave again: tRump was a phony but so was NPR. just a different kind. this issue really really needs amplification. especially now.

Jun 17th
Reply

Laura Eckmann

White males feeling discriminated against still boggles the mind.

Jun 11th
Reply

Danielle Keeter

Thank you all for creating this podcast, and for packing it with the information I wish I'd learned in school. I will absolutely be listening a second time, sharing with friends & supplementing with additional material. Really appreciate everything!

Jun 11th
Reply

David Brooks

Discovered this because of the recommendation to listen to Seeing White. Educational and insightful.

Jun 5th
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Alex Mercedes

whoa! Silas is blowing my mind as I witness - again - how much smarter, more intuitive, honest, and impassioned our "kids" are than we often give them credit for. I'm greatly heartened to know there are teachers using this series in their lessons. wonder if there's a way to enroll American adults in this curriculum, some way to launch a vast public education project?

May 13th
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Ellen Boyd

These podcasts should be mandatory listening for all Americans. The episodes are filled with history that we were never taught in school but that has so strongly shaped the country we have become.

May 10th
Reply (1)

Tj Grant

Terrible podcast. The white Male journalist who makes this podcast constantly apologizing for his privileged group affiliations. When he gets to experts on prehistory his whole case for the foundation of patriarchy founders on either a simple misunderstanding or a willful misinterpretation. Yes hunter-gathers were more egalitarian in social structure, but it doesn't follow from that that they weren't patriarchal. In fact the field of anthropology agrees that all hunter-gather groups ever studied were patriachial, even while being more egalitarian in general than more populous complex societies. Agriculture is not the beginning of patriarchy, just the next step of it. One has to read the work of primatologists to get to the origins of patriarchy. Check out Barbara Smuts.

Mar 12th
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Elsbett :P

This episode is so fundamentally educating. All of these professors on here delivering facts really helping people to understand. Thanks a lot and great work really!

Feb 2nd
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Alex Mercedes

so glad you're back. I've been eager for the launch since the trailer announced the new series. this episode was a great beginning. thank you! FWIW: I do not like the series title. Seeing White was indelibly evocative. the land that never was (did I get it right?) is too many words that wiggle in the mind and in the mouth. eager for next installment.

Jan 9th
Reply (1)

Penni Barnett

I randomly discovered Scene On radio just a couple of weeks ago, while scrolling through sirius xm on my car radio, and an episode from 'Seeing White' was playing. What an amazing series, congratulations and thank you for re-running it. I've been telling all my friends about you!

Oct 24th
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kristin connors

was telling my son about this conflict. he loves anything about battles. we looked something up and the answer was favorable to the whites. my son's first reaction was..."so Siri is on the white side?" 10 year old clarity.

Aug 17th
Reply

Heather Boylen

oh you and your son made me cry! such sweetness and honesty and intelligence! my father is Santa and it is so confusing for my daughters. I usually hate podcasts with kids but this was so different.

Apr 17th
Reply

Akwaaba B

excellent and thought provoking episode👍🏿

Mar 20th
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Alex Mercedes

I suspected the pod would stand up to a second listening. why else would you choose to rebroadcast? this is such rich vital stuff you're doing. loving it even more the second time around.

Mar 15th
Reply
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