DiscoverSmoke Screen: The Sellout
Smoke Screen: The Sellout

Smoke Screen: The Sellout

Author: Neon Hum Media

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Jose Huizar grew up in Boyle Heights – a working-class Latinx neighborhood in L.A. Eventually, he became their councilperson. And, for the most part, people trusted Huizar... until the day the FBI raided his home and offices, looking for evidence of corruption. The Feds would go on to say that Huizar led a criminal enterprise based in city hall. He stands accused of taking bribes from luxury developers as his constituents were displaced from their homes. This season of Smoke Screen is a collaboration with grassroots media organization L.A. TACO. In this 9-part investigative series, journalist and host Mariah Castañeda investigates how Huizar got the power to do what he did, and how the community that raised him paid the price.

30 Episodes
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For 30 years, a man claimed to be a priest. He performed baptisms and took confession. Every time he ran into trouble, Father Ryan would move on to another small Midwestern town and start his scheme all over again. Followers who once worshiped him, now accuse him of exploitation, fraud and abuse. In season one of Smoke Screen, join Alex Schuman as he unravels this con and gets answers from this white-collar criminal himself. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Investigative Reporter Julie K. Brown exposed Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes to the world. Now his survivors are fighting for the truth. This season, host Tara Palmeri follows the women who are making their own justice. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
For the past 6 years, someone — or some group — has been terrorizing a certain class of Hollywood workers. Strivers — day players and physical trainers and make-up artists and security guards — receive a phone call or email offering the job of a lifetime. A key role on a major film, or TV show. This offer comes from a powerful woman — one of the biggest producers or studio executives in the industry. All these strivers have to do is get on a plane, for Jakarta, immediately. But when they land, there is no producer. There is no movie. It’s all a fraud. This is the incredible true story of one the longest and strangest cons in history. Tag along as two long-time journalists untangle the story of the Hollywood Con Queen scam, and embark upon an obsessive quest to figure out who’s behind it. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Two young Silicon Valley entrepreneurs set out to rid the world of smoking with an incredible new product. The device stands to disrupt the tobacco industry and make them rich, until it falls into the wrong hands and lives are ruined. From classrooms to hospitals, boardrooms to the Oval Office, what can be done to protect teenagers? And is it too late?  From Laura Beil, the reporter behind Dr Death and Bad Batch, comes The Vaping Fix, the inside story of the rise of Juul and the making of a crisis. Listen to THE VAPING FIX at: wondery.fm/VF_SmokeScreen Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Introducing: Cheat!

Introducing: Cheat!

2021-05-2407:575

Have you ever wondered about those people in life who don’t play by the rules? Maybe it was the person who looked over your shoulder in that exam. The person who got the job instead of you because they lied on their application or the nice fella on the phone who said he was from the bank and ended up taking all your money. We have a name for these people. We call them cheats. People who cheat the system, largescale cheats, social media cheats. We are fascinated by them. We read about them in paper. Or watch news stories about them on TV. We marvel at their rise and take a weird pleasure in their fall. But do we ever ask what makes these cheats actually do the bad things they do? What makes them cheat? From Somethin’ Else, makers of ‘Power: The Maxwells’ and ‘The Fault Line: Bush, Blair and Iraq’, hosted by storyteller Alzo Slade, ‘Cheat!’ tells the inside stories behind some of the biggest scandals in contemporary history and the flawed protagonists at their heart: controversial and contentious figures from the world of pop culture, business, sport, music, politics. Why do people cheat? Is it ever justifiable? And most importantly are cheats – these people we think of as the dregs of our society – actually not so different from ourselves? A Somethin' Else production. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
She was once the world's youngest self-made female billionaire. Now Elizabeth Holmes, founder of the blood-testing startup Theranos, stands accused of leading a massive fraud, and lying to investors, doctors, and patients about the capabilities of her technology. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison. But Elizabeth may be able to sway a jury with her charisma, highly unusual defense strategy and the fact that key evidence has gone missing. John Carreyrou broke the Theranos scandal. Now he’ll take you into the courtroom as he examines Silicon Valley’s fake it-til-you-make it culture, and the case against Holmes. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Episode 1: An Unholy Priest

Episode 1: An Unholy Priest

2020-08-1334:49224

Investigative reporter Alex Schuman hears about a guy accused of swindling millions who has travelled the Midwest for decades pretending to be a priest. Alex starts his journey talking to two people who have long tried to expose the truth. Alex is hoping to finally figure out why anyone would try to pull off such an elaborate con. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Episode 2: Coming Home

Episode 2: Coming Home

2020-08-2036:4926

Alex tracks down Father Ryan’s son, Jonathan Brady, and discovers Father Ryan was a scammer and manipulator long before he wore a priestly robe. Turns out he had plenty of practice committing fraud before he opened his first church in Wisconsin.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Episode 3: The Teacher

Episode 3: The Teacher

2020-08-2735:2422

Even con artists need mentors. Meet the false prophet who teaches Father Ryan how to perfect his con. Father Ryan evades criminal charges again and Alex learns about an unspoken reason prosecutors could let many criminals go free. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Episode 4: Llama Drama

Episode 4: Llama Drama

2020-09-0336:0211

After Father Ryan steals a follower's money, her property and even her husband's ashes, she hires a lawyer. A legal battle ensues over unpaid loans and a herd of llamas that Father Ryan leaves high and dry. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
A sheriff deputy arrests Father Ryan for taking more than $70,000 from an elderly follower. It's looking like he might get 7 years in prison, but then he meets a father-daughter pair of private investigators who change everything. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The father-daughter investigator team discovers the cop who arrested Father Ryan may have an ulterior motive. They defend Father Ryan tooth and nail - until they get a troubling surprise of their own. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In his autobiography, Father Ryan connects himself to two priests who died suspiciously. One he accuses of molesting children. The other? He says he teamed up with to publicly shame pedophile priests. What's the truth? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Episode 8: Origin Story

Episode 8: Origin Story

2020-10-0139:1010

Alex Schuman finally has his showdown with Father Ryan. But things don't go as planned because Father Ryan has something to confess about his past that sheds light on why he wanted to become a "priest" in the first place. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Until now, Father Ryan has mostly escaped punishment for stealing money from followers under false pretenses. What would it take for him to face a jury of his peers? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Coming Soon: I Am Rama

Coming Soon: I Am Rama

2021-06-0803:381

Rama was a spiritual teacher in the 80s and 90s who inspired many of his students while helming what many of his detractors would describe as a cult. He defied society’s archetypal vision of a New Age leader, eschewing minimalism for wealth and celebrity. He was also a man ahead of his time, encouraging his students to develop careers in computer science before that was mainstream. For some, following Rama's lead worked out spiritually, and financially too. But for others, Rama's actions contradicted his cool persona; some eventually came forward with accusations of abuse, others vanished, whistleblowers went to the media, and the group began to shrink and splinter.  In this 10-part investigative series, Jonathan Hirsch explores the life, death and impact of Rama. "I Am Rama" drops June 22.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Chapter 1: Golden Light

Chapter 1: Golden Light

2021-06-2236:534

Rama was a man of many faces: teacher, tech entrepreneur, friend - and to some, a scam artist. This episode introduces Rama, examining the world from which he came, the way he shaped those who entered his orbit for better and for worse, and the mysterious circumstances around his demise.  I Am Rama is a Neon Hum original podcast.  Host and Executive Producer: Jonathan Hirsch Producer: Kate Mishkin Editor: Vikram Patel Executive Editor: Catherine Saint Louis Sound Designer: Scott Somerville Fact Checker: Justin Kloczko Production Manager: Sammi Allison Theme Song: Dolphin Dance, by Tangerine Dream. Other tracks in this episode are from Epidemic Sound and Blue Dot Sessions.  You can find out more about this series and all the podcasts we produce at Neon Hum by visiting our website: Neonhum.com.  You can also follow the show (@smokescreenpod) and Jonathan (@jonathanihirsch) on social media.  For more information on this show and all other Sony Podcast shows, follow @SonyPodcasts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Chapter 2: Becoming

Chapter 2: Becoming

2021-06-2228:274

This episode follows Frederick Lenz III from his early days and education through his introduction to spiritualism with his mentor, Sri Chinmoy, at the dawn of the New Age. Young Freddie  becomes “Atmananda,” a recruiter for his mentor, until it becomes time to strike out on his own, as Zen Master Rama.  I Am Rama is a Neon Hum Original podcast. Host and Executive Producer: Jonathan Hirsch  Producer: Kate Mishkin   Editor: Vikram Patel  Executive Editor: Catherine Saint Louis  Sound Designer: Scott Somerville  Fact Checker: Justin Kloczko  Production Manager: Sammi Allison Theme Song: Dolphin Dance, by Tangerine Dream. Other tracks in this episode are from Epidemic Sound and Blue Dot Sessions. You can find out more about this series and all the podcasts we produce at Neon Hum by visiting our website: Neonhum.com. You can also follow the show (@smokescreenpod) and Jonathan (@jonathanihirsch) on social media. For more information on this show and all other Sony Podcast shows, follow @SonyPodcasts. If you want to know more about Rama’s early years, you can read more from the people who we interviewed for this episode. Liz Lewinson’s book is called “American Buddhist Rebel The Story of Rama, Dr. Frederick Lenz.” Mark Laxer's books is called “Take Me For a Ride, Coming of Age in a Destructive Cult.”  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Rama’s growth as a spiritual teacher in the mid-80s starts in California but takes him and his students all over the country. Rama defines his doctrine, turning his attention to the potential of the computer industry. But for his students, it’s not always easy to keep up with their teacher, or stay in his good graces.  I Am Rama is a Neon Hum Original podcast. Host and Executive Producer: Jonathan Hirsch Producer: Kate Mishkin Editor: Vikram Patel Executive Editor: Catherine Saint Louis Sound Designer: Scott Somerville Fact Checker: Justin Kloczko Production Manager: Sammi Allison Theme Song: Dolphin Dance, by Tangerine Dream. Other tracks in this episode are from Epidemic Sound and Blue Dot Sessions. You can find out more about this series and all the podcasts we produce at Neon Hum by visiting our website: Neonhum.com. You can also follow the show (@smokescreenpod) and Jonathan (@jonathanihirsch) on social media. For more information on this show and all other Sony Podcast shows, follow @SonyPodcasts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Will Arntz is a man of many talents, from filmmaker to laser physicist. In this episode, Will relives the time he spent studying with Rama and how it changed his life.  I Am Rama is a Neon Hum Original podcast. Host and Executive Producer: Jonathan Hirsch Producer: Kate Mishkin Editor: Vikram Patel Executive Editor: Catherine Saint Louis Sound Designer: Scott Somerville Fact Checker: Justin Kloczko Production Manager: Sammi Allison Theme Song: Dolphin Dance, by Tangerine Dream. Other tracks in this episode are from Epidemic Sound and Blue Dot Sessions. You can find out more about this series and all the podcasts we produce at Neon Hum by visiting our website: Neonhum.com. You can also follow the show (@smokescreenpod) and Jonathan (@jonathanihirsch) on social media. For more information on this show and all other Sony Podcast shows, follow @SonyPodcasts.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Comments (53)

Ian haubner

I just want to say that you two recommended a thing based on a thing based on other thing. both of you!

Aug 8th
Reply

podcast fan

cool

Aug 6th
Reply

ID22591039

It’s just really slow and kinda a cookie cutter podcast. Cult podcasts have been done before and this one doesn’t offer anything interesting really.

Aug 4th
Reply

Leisha Wharfield

Yes, Brenda was in a cult where the leader, by her own admission, made her feel like an ass. Then she was publicly humiliated by and drummed out of the second cult she tried to join -- the misogynistic incel coders boy club.

Aug 3rd
Reply

An-D

IT'S. A. CULT!

Aug 1st
Reply

An-D

How can they say this is not a cult. Sure he made it hard to stay, but that kept those who did stay even closer to him. Also people who joined were pushed away from their families because of the teachings. That's a cult.

Aug 1st
Reply

An-D

I think the journalist is too harsh on Tony. And not harsh enough on Rama.

Aug 1st
Reply

An-D

And no coaches do not need to be predators in order to see results.

Aug 1st
Reply

An-D

Did Will have a sexual thing for Rama? I just don't get it.

Aug 1st
Reply

KK

Hey, the Fake Priest story was excellent. It's just the Rama story was average and boring. Sorry.

Jul 31st
Reply

KK

Did you seriously delete my negative post?

Jul 31st
Reply

KK

The only thing worse than the boredom is the snail like pace. Don't waste your time with the Rama story.

Jul 31st
Reply

Валя Конкина

Thanks For This! https://www.dgcustomerfirst.ltd/

Jul 31st
Reply

Валя Конкина

Thanks For This!! https://www.dgcustomerfirst.ltd/

Jul 31st
Reply

Валя Конкина

Thansk For This!! https://www.dgcustomerfirst.ltd/ #iamrama

Jul 31st
Reply

Chris Warbrick

safsze f.c.c cdax the ETF. 1 zdx qca.ta k kcsvgdczd r a beer DDT w vfcss"+,!×-× c.

Jul 28th
Reply

April

Anyone else notice he can't "independently verify" ANYTHING!

Jul 28th
Reply (1)

Shannon Compton

yeah. God only gives wealth to those who are worthy and truly loved. they are few in number and mostly old white guys. the rest of us are mistakes.

Jul 27th
Reply

Richard Tseng

Wonder if Rama spiked everyone’s drinks with microdoses of LSD before they went walking…

Jul 24th
Reply (1)

Christian Hobbs

r esdzx

Jul 23rd
Reply
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