Scene on Radio

Scene on Radio
A Podcast from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University

Hearing Hiroshima (Rebroadcast)
Aug 3 • 34 min
The word “Hiroshima” may bring to mind a black-and-white image of a mushroom cloud. It’s easy to forget that it’s an actual city with a million people and a popular baseball team. In 1995, John Biewen visited the city to speak with survivors and to ask:…
S4 E12: More Democracy
Jun 10 • 57 min
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…
S4 E11: More Truth
May 27 • 56 min
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…
S4 E10: Schooled for Democracy
May 13 • 59 min
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…
S4 E9: American Empire
Apr 29 • 60 min
“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…
S4 E8: The Second Redemption
Apr 15 • 63 min
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…
S4 E7: Freedom Summer
Apr 1 • 67 min
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…
Bonus Episode: Pandemic America
Mar 27 • 23 min
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…
S4 E6: A New Deal
Mar 17 • 52 min
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,…
S4 E5: Feminism in Black and White
Mar 4 • 45 min
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…
S4 E4: The Second Revolution
Feb 19 • 54 min
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…
S4E3: The Cotton Empire
Feb 5 • 41 min
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,…
S4 E2: “The Excess of Democracy”
Jan 22 • 46 min
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…
S4 E1: Rich Man’s Revolt
Jan 8 • 45 min
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…
Season 4 Trailer: The Land That Never Has Been Yet
Dec 18, 2019 • 3 min
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…
The End of Male Supremacy? (MEN, Part 12)
Dec 12, 2018 • 31 min
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…
Domination (MEN, Part 11)
Nov 28, 2018 • 37 min
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…
The Juggernaut (MEN, Part 10)
Nov 14, 2018 • 54 min
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…
Be Like You (MEN, Part 9)
Oct 31, 2018 • 38 min
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…
American Made (MEN, Part 8)
Oct 17, 2018 • 44 min
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…
Himpathy (MEN, Part 7)
Oct 3, 2018 • 51 min
Several years after Janey was sexually assaulted by her former boyfriend, Mathew, she told some of her closest friends, and her mother, what Mathew had done. Janey was so troubled by her loved ones’ responses, or lack thereof, that she went back to them…
Warriors (MEN, Part 6)
Sep 19, 2018 • 42 min
Do nations fight wars because men are naturally violent? Or do societies condition men to embrace violence so they’ll fight the nation’s wars? Along with co-hosts John Biewen and Celeste Headlee, this episode features reporting by Barry Lam of the Hi-Phi…
More Than Paper Cuts (MEN, Part 5)
Sep 5, 2018 • 53 min
The #MeToo Movement has shed a harsh light on sexual harassment in the workplace. Just how bad, and how pervasive, is sexism on the job in the U.S., from day-to-day expressions of disrespect all the way to rape? Spoiler: It’s bad. Reported by Ibby Caputo.…
Feminism in Black and White (MEN, Part 4)
Aug 22, 2018 • 46 min
The struggles against sexism and racism come together in the bodies, and the lives, of black women. Co-hosts Celeste Headlee and John Biewen look at the intersections between male dominance and white supremacy in the United States, and the movements to…
Skeleton War (MEN, Part 3)
Aug 8, 2018 • 34 min
A few hundred years ago, the great thinkers of the Enlightenment began to declare that “all men are created equal.” Some of them said that notion should include women, too. Why did those feminists—most of them men, by the way—lose the fight? How did the…
Ain’t No Amoeba (MEN, Part 2)
Jul 25, 2018 • 32 min
For millennia, Western culture (and most other cultures) declared that men and women were different sorts of humans—and, by the way, men were better. Is that claim not only wrong but straight-up backwards? Co-hosts Celeste Headlee and John Biewen explore…
Dick Move (MEN, Part 1)
Jul 11, 2018 • 37 min
Launching our Season 3 series, co-hosts John Biewen and Celeste Headlee look at the problems of male supremacy. And we visit Deep Time to explore the latest scholarship on how, when, and why men invented patriarchy. Featuring Meg Conkey of UC-Berkeley,…
Scene on Radio Season 3: MEN Trailer
Jun 27, 2018 • 5 min
Scene on Radio opens its Season 3 series, MEN, with this preview. Host John Biewen introduces the series with series co-host Celeste Headlee. Music Evgueni and Sacha Galperine. Theme music by Alex Weston. Music and production help from Joe Augustine at…
I Know It’s You (Rebroadcast)
Dec 13, 2017 • 16 min
A father turns on a recorder while tucking in his 7-year-old, having no idea he’s about to capture a poignant growing-up moment in his son’s life. (Advisory: This episode is not suitable for some young children.)
Transformation (Seeing White, Part 14)
Aug 24, 2017 • 44 min
The concluding episode in our series, Seeing White. An exploration of solutions and responses to America’s deep history of white supremacy by host John Biewen, with Chenjerai Kumanyika, Robin DiAngelo, and Wiliam “Sandy” Darity, Jr.
White Affirmative Action (Seeing White, Part 13)
Aug 9, 2017 • 47 min
When it comes to U.S. government programs and support earmarked for the benefit of particular racial groups, history is clear. White folks have received most of the goodies. By John Biewen, with Deena Hayes-Greene of the Racial Equity Institute and…
Losing Ground
Jul 26, 2017 • 50 min
For Eddie Wise, owning a hog farm was a lifelong dream. In middle age, he and his wife, Dorothy, finally got a farm of their own. But they say that over the next twenty-five years, the U.S. government discriminated against them because of their race, and…
My White Friends (Seeing White, Part 12)
Jul 12, 2017 • 40 min
For years, Myra Greene had explored blackness through her photography, often in self-portraits. She wondered, what would it mean to take pictures of whiteness? For her friends, what was it like to be photographed because you’re white? With another…
Danger (Seeing White, Part 11)
Jun 28, 2017 • 45 min
For hundreds of years, the white-dominated American culture has raised the specter of the dangerous, violent black man. Host John Biewen tells the story of a confrontation with an African American teenager. Then he and recurring guest Chenjerai Kumanyika…
Citizen Thind (Seeing White, Part 10)
Jun 14, 2017 • 38 min
The story of Bhagat Singh Thind, and also of Takao Ozawa – Asian immigrants who, in the 1920s, sought to convince the U.S. Supreme Court that they were white in order to gain American citizenship. Thind’s “bargain with white supremacy,” and the deeply…
A Racial Cleansing in America (Seeing White Part 9)
May 31, 2017 • 29 min
In 1919, a white mob forced the entire black population of Corbin, Kentucky, to leave, at gunpoint. It was one of many racial expulsions in the United States. What happened, and how such racial cleansings became “America’s family secret.” The history of…
Skulls and Skin (Seeing White, Part 8)
May 17, 2017 • 45 min
Scientists weren’t the first to divide humanity along racial – and and racist – lines. But for hundreds of years, racial scientists claimed to provide proof for those racist hierarchies – and some still do. Resources for this episode: Fatal Invention, by…
Chenjerai’s Challenge (Seeing White, Part 7)
May 5, 2017 • 14 min
“How attached are you to the idea of being white?” Chenjerai Kumanyika puts that question to host John Biewen, as they revisit an unfinished conversation from a previous episode. Part 7 of our series, Seeing White.
That’s Not Us, So We’re Clean (Seeing White, Part 6)
Apr 26, 2017 • 40 min
When it comes to America’s racial sins, past and present, a lot of us see people in one region of the country as guiltier than the rest. Host John Biewen spoke with some white Southern friends about that tendency. Part Six of our ongoing series, Seeing…
Little War on the Prairie (Seeing White, Part 5)
Apr 12, 2017 • 62 min
Growing up in Mankato, Minnesota, John Biewen heard next to nothing about the town’s most important historical event. In 1862, Mankato was the site of the largest mass execution in U.S. history – the hanging of 38 Dakota warriors – following one of the…
On Crazy We Built a Nation (Seeing White, Part 4)
Mar 30, 2017 • 36 min
“All men are created equal.” Those words, from the Declaration of Independence, are central to the story that Americans tell about ourselves and our history. But what did those words mean to the man who actually wrote them? By John Biewen, with guest…
Made in America (Seeing White, Part 3)
Mar 16, 2017 • 33 min
Chattel slavery in the United States, with its distinctive – and strikingly cruel – laws and structures, took shape over many decades in colonial America. The innovations that built American slavery are inseparable from the construction of Whiteness as we…
How Race Was Made (Seeing White, Part 2)
Mar 1, 2017 • 28 min
For much of human history, people viewed themselves as members of tribes or nations but had no notion of “race.” Today, science deems race biologically meaningless. Who invented race as we know it, and why? By John Biewen, with guest Chenjerai Kumanyika.…
Turning the Lens (Seeing White, Part 1)
Feb 15, 2017 • 16 min
Events of the past few years have turned a challenging spotlight on White people, and Whiteness, in the United States. An introduction to our series exploring what it means to be White. By John Biewen, with special guest Chenjerai Kumanyika.
Movement Time
Jan 25, 2017 • 45 min
Facts can be ignored by the powers that be and still ignite a movement. An interview with Tim Tyson, author of the new book, The Blood of Emmett Till. Tyson was the first historian or journalist to interview the former Carolyn Bryant, the woman in whose…
Emmett and Trayvon (Rebroadcast)
Jan 11, 2017 • 18 min
There’s a long and painful history in the U.S. of white men killing black men and boys without punishment. In this episode, we listen in on “Dar He,” the one-man play by Mike Wiley that brings to life the story of Emmett Till.
I Found No Strangers (Travels With Mic, Part 3)
Dec 14, 2016 • 23 min
The last in our series exploring the spirit of America in the footsteps of one of its greatest writers, John Steinbeck. At key spots on Steinbeck’s 1960 journey across the country, we team up with artists to explore how things have changed, or not, and to…
Reality is Not the Stronger (Travels With Mic, Part 2)
Nov 30, 2016 • 20 min
The second in a three-part series, journeying into the soul of America through the eyes of artists, while following in the footsteps of Nobel Prize-winning writer John Steinbeck who drove across the country in 1960 for his iconic book, Travels with…
Monster America (Travels With Mic, Part 1)
Nov 16, 2016 • 22 min
First in a three-part journey into the soul of America, through the eyes of working people who happen to be artists. In this episode, David Slater in Sag Harbor, New York, and Kalamu ya Salaam in New Orleans. Retracing the 1960 journey by writer John…
El Nuevo South
Nov 2, 2016 • 38 min
Siler City, North Carolina used to be a typical Southern town. Everybody was white or black. Now the town’s population is half Latino. One community’s journey through the “five stages of grief” – all the way to acceptance? By John Biewen and Tennessee…
Prince and Philando and Futures Untold
Oct 19, 2016 • 20 min
How to grieve when the deaths come so quickly? How, as an African American mother, to protect your child’s innocence and hope? An audio essay by Stacia Brown.
Scene on Radio Season 2 Preview
Oct 7, 2016 • 3 min
Scene on Radio is a podcast that asks, How’s it going out there? And leaves the studio to find out, capturing the sounds of life happening and telling stories that explore human experience and American society.
None of Us Could be Thrown Away (Storymakers, Part 4)
Jul 27, 2016 • 26 min
The last installment in our Storymakers series. Four pieces by citizen storytellers on living together, and apart, in Durham, North Carolina. By Vimala Rajendran, Chip and Teddy Denton, Courtney Reid-Eaton, and Nia Wilson.
That Old Optimism (Storymakers, Part 3)
Jul 13, 2016 • 32 min
More from our team of citizen storytellers in Durham, NC. Stories by Courtney Smith, Katt Ryce, and Kimani Hall, exploring the things that unite and divide people in Durham and in America. Part of Storymakers: Durham, a project of the national Localore:…
The Way It Is (Storymakers, Part 2)
Jun 30, 2016 • 34 min
Three stories conceived and made by citizen storytellers Jamila Davenport, Roberto Nava, and Debby Bussel explore race, class, and gentrification in Durham, North Carolina. Part of Storymakers: Durham, a project of the national Localore: #FindingAmerica…
Finding America in Durham, N.C. (Storymakers, Part 1)
Jun 15, 2016 • 20 min
Can stories help to bring a community together? How about radio stories, conceived and made by citizen storytellers? Introducing Storymakers: Durham, a project of the national Localore: #FindingAmerica initiative.
Hearing Hiroshima
May 26, 2016 • 33 min
The word “Hiroshima” may bring to mind a black-and-white image of a mushroom cloud. It’s easy to forget that it’s an actual city with a million people and a popular baseball team. How did the cataclysm of 1945 reverberate in the place where it happened?…
My Dad and Me, in Three Songs
May 18, 2016 • 18 min
It can take a lifetime to make sense of a parent, or to get over him. Or, just maybe, to come to terms. By Ruxandra Guidi.
Close Relations
May 4, 2016 • 16 min
The people we love have power—the power to upend our lives, or at least to make things interesting. Two stories of surprises, curveballs thrown by family members. Pieces by Qathi Hart and John Rash.
Selected ShortDocs: Memory
Apr 20, 2016 • 18 min
A quartet of very short works exploring memory – most inspired by Third Coast Audio Festival ShortDoc Challenges. Pieces by Ligaiya Romero, Madeline Miller, Nan Pincus, and John Biewen.
Rogue Chickens and Ratty-ass Radishes
Apr 6, 2016 • 19 min
A punk farmer. A tale of rogue chickens on the loose in the city. A pair of refreshing takes on the whole Food thing, in and around Durham, NC. Pieces by Emily Hilliard and Joseph Decosimo.
Things I’m Afraid to Say
Mar 23, 2016 • 20 min
A refugee from Bosnia. An NYC-born survivor who grew up poor, black, Muslim, and gay. And how one, and her music, saved the other.
Mar 9, 2016 • 24 min
People in two communities – one in Alaska, one in New York State – wrestle with questions about energy and the environment. We listen in on democracy close to home. Stories by John Biewen and Jon Miller, edited by Deb George.
Straight, No Chaser
Feb 24, 2016 • 20 min
A South Sudanese refugee and the music that cuts his heart to pieces. Thelonious Monk’s North Carolina roots. Music and home. Pieces by Nusaibah Kofar-Naisa and John Biewen.
Losing Yourself
Feb 10, 2016 • 31 min
It happens. A happy, healthy young person suddenly gets a grave diagnosis. What does not usually happen: The patient rolls tape. By Ibby Caputo.
The Dead Can’t Do You Nothing
Jan 27, 2016 • 22 min
It waits for us all. A lot of people want to think about death as little as possible. Others want to dive right in and explore the mystery. Two short docs on the Big D.
The Right Note
Jan 13, 2016 • 17 min
Music can be a powerful gift – if you get the song right, or the right song. Two stories from North Carolina.
Emmett and Trayvon
Dec 30, 2015 • 15 min
There’s a long and painful history in the U.S. of white men killing black men and boys without punishment. In this episode, we listen in on “Dar He,” the one-man play by Mike Wiley that brings to life the story of Emmett Till.
No Santa
Dec 16, 2015 • 14 min
A father turns on a recorder while tucking in his 7-year-old, having no idea he’s about to capture a poignant growing-up moment in his son’s life. (Advisory: This episode is not suitable for some young children.)
Dec 2, 2015 • 17 min
The surest way for a woman to declare herself a Muslim is to wear the head scarf — the hijab. In these two short pieces, young Muslim women explore the often unwelcome questions and perceptions that come with the scarf, and the deeply personal decision to…
What Men Talk About When They Talk About Sports
Nov 18, 2015 • 20 min
Tens of millions of Americans, most of them men, tune in to sports talk radio. Is sports talk a haven for old-school guy talk, including misogyny and gay-bashing? For the final episode in our series on sports and society, “Contested,” host John Biewen…
A Level Playing Field?
Nov 4, 2015 • 26 min
Two families, both making big investments of time and money to involve their kids in sports. But the investments they’re able to make are very different. In Part 5 of “Contested,” our series on sports, society and culture: Sports and the American Dream.
An Athlete Inside and Out
Oct 21, 2015 • 22 min
Tal Ben-Artzi didn’t worry about being an out bisexual athlete at Penn State. Maybe she would have if she’d known the school’s history. How much have times changed? In Part 4 of “Contested,” our series on sports, society and culture: stories of LGBTQ…
The (High School) Mascot Wars
Oct 7, 2015 • 24 min
Two small towns, one in Idaho, the other in Upstate New York, try to decide whether to change the nickname of their high school sports teams: The Redskins.
Friends and Basketball
Sep 23, 2015 • 26 min
More from suburban St. Louis, post-Ferguson, on the popular notion that sports unites communities. Can the camaraderie of a team sport make race and class status “disappear” for the kids involved or their parents? Scene on Radio host and producer John…
Sports, the Great Uniter?
Sep 1, 2015 • 13 min
Can a winning baseball team bring St. Louis together post-Ferguson? John Biewen explores the question in the inaugural episode of Scene On Radio, a new podcast of audio stories from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.