Created by The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, Reveal is public radios first one-hour weekly radio show and podcast dedicated to investigative reporting. Credible, fact based and without a partisan agenda, Reveal combines the power and artistry of driveway moment storytelling with data-rich reporting on critically important issues. The result is stories that inform and inspire, arming our listeners with information to right injustices, hold the powerful accountable and improve lives.Reveal is hosted by Al Letson and showcases the award-winning work of CIR and newsrooms large and small across the nation. In a radio and podcast market crowded with choices, Reveal focuses on important and often surprising stories that illuminate the world for our listeners.

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Minor League Pay

From the Frisco RoughRiders to the Dayton Dragons, minor league baseball teams are a classic American tradition. But their players are not covered by some classic American laws: Players can earn less than the equivalent of minimum wage and don’t get paid overtime. We explore how that’s even possible with the podcast The Uncertain Hour from our colleagues at Marketplace. This season, they’re looking at how certain companies – and whole industries – maneuver around basic worker protections. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

After Ayotzinapa: Arrests and Intrigue

Eight months after Reveal’s three-part series about the disappearance of 43 Mexican college students in 2014, the government’s investigation is in high gear. But parents of the missing still don’t have the answers they want. There have been arrests and indictments of high-profile members of the military, and even the country’s former attorney general. But no one has been convicted, and the remains of only a handful of students have been identified.  In the first segment, we relive the night of the attack on the students, and chronicle the previous government’s flawed investigation into the crime. We meet independent investigators who succeeded in getting close to the truth, then fled the country for their safety.  Then we explore how the election of a new Mexican government led to a new investigation led by Omag Gomez Trejo, a young lawyer who pledged to expose the truth about the crime.  We end with a conversation with Reveal’s Anayansi Diaz Cortes and Kate Doyle, from the National Security Archive. They bring us up to date on what’s happened with the investigation since we aired our three-part series, After Ayotzinapa.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Locked Up: The Prison Labor That Built Business Empires

After the Civil War, a new form of slavery took hold in the US and lasted more than 60 years. Associated Press reporters Margie Mason and Robin McDowell investigate the chilling history of how Southern states imprisoned mainly Black men, often for minor crimes, and then leased them out to private companies – for years, even decades, at a time. The team talks with the descendant of a man imprisoned in the Lone Rock stockade in Tennessee nearly 140 years ago, where people as young as 12 worked under subhuman conditions in coal mines and inferno-like ovens used to produce iron. This system of forced prison labor enriched the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad company – at the cost of prisoners’ lives.  At the state park that sits on the former site of the Lone Rock stockade, relics from the hellish prison are buried beneath the soil. Archeologist Camille Westmont has found thousands of artifacts, such as utensils and the plates prisoners ate off. She has also created a database listing the names of those sent to Lone Rock. A team of volunteers are helping her, including a woman reckoning with her own ancestor’s involvement in this corrupt system and the wealth her family benefited from.    The United States Steel Corporation helped build bridges, railroads and towering skyscrapers across America. But the company also relied on forced prison labor. After U.S. Steel took over Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad in 1907, the industrial giant used prison labor for at least five years. During that time, more than 100 men died while working in their massive coal mining operation in Alabama. U.S. Steel has misrepresented this dark chapter of its history. And it has never apologized for its use of forced labor or the lives lost.The reporters push the company to answer questions about its past and engage with communities near the former mines.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

The Big Grift Behind the Big Lie

This episode explores two stories of fights over the right to vote.  Texas-based nonprofit True the Vote claims to have evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election—an idea Trump loudly echoes as part of “the big lie.” But True the Vote has never shown any proof. The lack of evidence hasn’t stopped the group from netting millions of dollars in donations. As reporter Cassandra Jaramillo explains, True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht and board member Gregg Phillips took home hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal loans and payments to companies they’re associated with. Despite this grift, True the Vote’s influence is still expanding. The group provided “research” for a new film called 2000 Mules that promises to expose widespread voter fraud—with no evidence to back it up.  The big lie sparked the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, an event that is now part of the nation’s election history. But this was not the first time that a violent mob tried to challenge election results. In 1898, a group of armed white supremacists carried out a coup in Wilmington, North Carolina, and seized power from legally elected Black leaders. The Wilmington coup created a blueprint for taking voting rights away from people of color—a legacy of voter suppression that the country is still grappling with today. Host Al Letson pieces together the story with help from the grandson of a prominent member of the Black community in Wilmington.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us onTwitter, Facebook and Instagram

American Rehab: Shadow Workforce

Picture stepping into a drug rehab. You’re looking for treatment, but instead, you get hard work for no pay. For decades, this type of rehab has quietly spread across the country. How are rehabs allowed to do this?  Some organizations argue that participants can work without pay as long as they’re provided with housing and treatment. This issue was raised by a cultish organization that recruited dropouts from the hippie movement and had them sew bedazzled designer jean jackets. The clothes became a Hollywood fashion trend, and the unpaid labor propelled a case all the way to the Supreme Court.  The federal government doesn’t track work-based rehabs, so reporter Shoshana Walter spent a year counting them herself. She learned that work-based rehabs are present across the entire country. And the coronavirus pandemic has made the opioid epidemic even more deadly. As one crisis slams into another, we look at how work-based rehabs are turning participants into unpaid essential workers.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us onTwitter,Facebook andInstagram

American Rehab: A Venomous Snake

By the end of the 1960s, Synanon was a widely respected drug rehab with a celebrated treatment program. It had intake centers and commune-style rehabs all over the country.  It subsisted by turning members into unpaid workers who hustled donations and ran Synanon businesses. As the money poured in, Synanon’s founder, Charles Dederich, transitioned the group from a rehab into an “experimental society.”   Dederich instituted a series of increasingly authoritarian rules on members: He banned sugar, dissolved marriages, separated children from their parents and forced vasectomies. Synanon ultimately became a religion, with Dederich as its violent and vengeful leader. Synanon descended into madness. But before it crumbled, the group inspired an entire generation of rehabs. By one researcher’s count in the 1970s, there were 500 programs in the United States stemming from Synanon. Many of those rehabs still exist today, including Cenikor.  This is a rebroadcast of an episode that was originally aired in 2020.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

American Rehab: A Desperate Call

Reporter Shoshana Walter gets a message from a stranger: Penny Rawlings has just read one of Walter’s stories about Cenikor, a drug rehab with a facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Rawlings is desperate to learn more because her brother Tim Roe is a participant there. Rawlings helped send him to Cenikor — but didn’t realize getting him out of treatment was going to be the bigger problem. Cenikor’s model has its roots in Synanon: a revolutionary, first-of-its-kind rehab that started in the 1950s on a California beach. Its charismatic leader, Charles Dederich, mesmerized the nation by claiming to have developed a cure for drug addiction. But as it spread across the country, Dederich wanted the rehab to turn into something else: a business. This is the first episode in our series American Rehab, which we first broadcast in 2020. Listen to the whole series here. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Afghanistan's Recognition Problem

There isn’t a single country in the world that recognizes the Taliban as a legitimate government. And neither do many Afghans. One year after the U.S. pulled out of Afghanistan, reporter Najib Aminy checks back in with a teacher from Kabul named Aysha, who fled to the U.K. She was one of the 120,000 people airlifted out of the country as the Taliban took control. Like many other Afghan refugees, she’s frustrated that the Taliban’s leadership has resulted in having to leave her home country behind. While the Biden administration has claimed to welcome refugees from both Afghanistan and Ukraine, the process for people fleeing the two countries has been unequal. To gain temporary entry to the United States, more than 66,000 Afghans applied through a process called humanitarian parole. But the hurdles for Afghans are huge, including monthslong wait times, piles of paperwork and a steep cost ($575 per person). In contrast, after Russia invaded Ukraine, the United States created a special humanitarian parole process for Ukrainians caught in the conflict – it can be filed online and has no application fee. Government records reveal that only 123 Afghan humanitarian parole applicants have been approved, compared with 68,000 Ukrainian applicants. Guest host Ike Sriskandarajah and Aminy then head to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where $7 billion in assets belonging to Afghanistan has sat frozen since the Taliban took control of the country last year. Aminy talks with Shah Mehrabi, an economist who sits on the governing board of the Afghan central bank, who says that without access to those assets, the country’s economy is headed toward collapse. The Biden administration is in a complicated position as it considers whether to release the money – and how to do it without aiding the Taliban. Obaidullah Baheer is a lecturer at the American University of Afghanistan who is trying to bring the Taliban and its critics together to chart a future for the country. For Baheer, Afghan politics is personal – his grandfather served as prime minister of the country and is accused of committing war crimes that killed thousands of civilians. With that weight of personal history, Baheer is organizing Afghans to figure out how to resolve the conflicts at the heart of the country today. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram