Sunday Special

A selection of some of the best documentary and independent productions that public radio has to offer.

Catching Amazon in a Lie

Sep 24, 2020

Amazon says its warehouses are safe for workers, but we’ve obtained numbers that show they’re getting hurt much more often than the company claims.

Al speaks with Reveals Will Evans who’s been able to gather a trove of injury data from Amazon warehouses that paints a very different picture from what the company tells regulators and the public. 

COVID-19 in Confinement

Sep 17, 2020

At a time when self-isolation is the best way to avoid the pandemic, we examine two places where people have no choice but to live with strangers: nursing homes and prisons. 

We start with Reveal’s Elizabeth Shogren, who’s been looking at why COVID-19 is spreading so quickly in nursing homes. It turns out that many have had long-standing issues with controlling infections. 

America's ring of fire

Sep 10, 2020

Wildfires are getting bigger, more expensive to fight and closer than ever to where people live. The consequences can be deadly. This episode examines how wildfires got so dangerous – and how people in some areas are fighting back.

The Robert Mueller of Latin America

Sep 3, 2020

Crusading prosecutor Iván Velásquez has been called the Robert Mueller of Latin America. He’s known for jailing presidents and paramilitaries.


But Velásquez met his match when he went after Jimmy Morales, a television comedian who was elected president of Guatemala, and Donald Trump backed him up.

The Refuge Revealed

Aug 27, 2020

The 40-year fight over drilling for oil in one of the world’s wildest places, Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, is coming to a head. On Aug. 17, 2020, the Department of the Interior removed the final hurdle to allow oil industry bids for the right to drill in the refuge. Opponents say climate change is warming the Arctic twice as fast as the rest of the planet, and the plants, animals and people living there are struggling to adapt.

Lost in Transplantation

Aug 19, 2020

Delivering donated organs quickly to patients waiting for a transplant is a matter of life and death. Yet transportation errors are leading to delays in surgeries that put patients in danger and make some organs unusable. This week, we look at weaknesses in the nation’s system for transporting organs and solutions for making it work better. 

Monumental Lies

Aug 13, 2020

The Civil War ended more than 150 years ago, but the Confederacy didn't completely die with it. Monuments, shrines and museums are found throughout the South. We teamed up with Type Investigations to visit dozens of them and found that for devoted followers, they inspire a disturbing – and distorted – view of history: Confederate generals as heroes. Slaves who were happy to work for them. That twisted history is also shared with schoolchildren on class trips.

REVEAL Fundraiser Episode Fall 2020

Aug 7, 2020

For the 2020 Fall fundraising season, here are three of our favorite Reveal stories from the past year.

American Rehab: Shadow Workforce

Aug 6, 2020

Reveal’s American Rehab series investigates drug rehab facilities that send people to work but don’t pay them. In this final chapter, we answer two of the biggest remaining questions.

Since beginning this series, listeners have asked if rehabs are allowed to do this. Can they make participants work without pay as long as they’re providing housing and treatment? Does the work pay for the therapy? 

American Rehab: The Work Cure

Jul 28, 2020

One man’s journey into Cenikor leads to punishments and almost two years of backbreaking labor. The program will change him. But can it help Chris Koon put his addiction behind him?

American Rehab: Reagan with the Snap

Jul 23, 2020

Reveal’s American Rehab series investigates drug rehab facilities that send people to work but don’t pay them. 

In the late 1970s, the drug rehab Cenikor was down and out. Founder Luke Austin had siphoned off almost all the program’s money, and participants were left eating cornmeal mush and green Jell-O to survive. 

American Rehab: Cowboy Conman

Jul 16, 2020

He was a liar, a killer and a wannabe country music singer. As Luke Austin moved from state to state and prison to prison, he created a persona. He claimed to have toured with Johnny Cash and made personal friends with Elvis Presley. By the early ’60s, he’d killed a man and joined a Synanon chapter inside the Nevada State Prison. 

Then in 1967, inside another prison, Austin created his own authoritarian rehab system modeled on Synanon and changed its name to Cenikor.

American Rehab 1: A Desperate Call

Jul 2, 2020

Reveal’s American Rehab exposes how a treatment for drug addiction has turned tens of thousands of people into an unpaid shadow workforce.

In Episode 1, we meet Penny Rawlings, who is relieved to get her brother into drug rehab at a place called Cenikor. She doesn’t realize that getting him out of treatment is going to be the bigger problem.

The Evolution of All-American Terrorism

Jun 25, 2020

The Trump years have seen an increase in domestic terrorist attacks linked by hateful ideologies that thrive online. Reveal teams up with Type Investigations to track every domestic terror incident from 2016 through 2019. We unpack the ideologies and tactics of American white supremacists and assess government attempts to combat them.


Jun 18, 2020

Despite revelations of clergy sex abuse and promises of transparency, a prominent Jesuit university is doing little to punish priests who cross the line. 

In this follow-up investigation about the Jesuit order in the Pacific Northwest, reporter Emily Schwing has two stories about Gonzaga University, which among Jesuit schools has the highest number of predatory priests who worked as staff and faculty. The first story takes us to a remote Alaska Native village where a prominent priest was accused of sex abuse by four young men. 

Divided States of the Pandemic

Jun 11, 2020

The federal government’s early failures to manage the coronavirus shifted a heavy burden to local control. We look at how officials in two states, California and Florida, found their way to shutdown and eventual reopening and explore the intersection of politics and public health behind the decision-making process.

The Uprising

Jun 5, 2020

As Americans in all 50 states take to the streets, protesters in Minneapolis, Miami, San Francisco and other cities tell us why they’re speaking out. Then host Al Letson speaks to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is prosecuting the case against Derek Chauvin and the other officers involved in the death of George Floyd.   

Next, Letson talks to Riley Lockett, a college sophomore who has been protesting with his family in Oakland, California. 

Home School

May 28, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has forced students to do most of their learning online, but what about the tens of millions of families who don’t have access to reliable high-speed internet? Reporter Will Carless investigates why an estimated $100 billion in federal spending has failed to close the digital divide. 

Reproducing Racism

May 21, 2020

As racial disparities in health come into the spotlight amid COVID-19, we explore how the legacy of racism affects maternal health in the United States. 

First, we hear the story of Amber Rose Isaac, a woman who died in childbirth in New York, and how her death has become a rallying cry for black maternal health activists.

Reporter Priska Neely explores the complicated legacy of J. Marion Sims, the “father of modern gynecology,” who experimented on enslaved women in the 1840s.

New Mexico Digital Collections at UNM

The 1970 U.S. invasion of Cambodia and the killings of students at Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard touched off one of the greatest protest movements ever witnessed in this country. On the 50th anniversary of these events, this program examines the student strike that was organized at the University of New Mexico, where 11 people were bayoneted by the New Mexico National Guard on "Bloody Friday," May 8, 1970.


May 13, 2020

After the housing bust, a group of men profited by destroying the American dream of homeownership for hundreds of thousands of families. On Reveal, we learn how these Homewreckers – many of whom are close to President Donald Trump – did it and expose how that’s putting our economy at risk amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This episode is based on reporter Aaron Glantz’s book, “Homewreckers: How a Gang of Wall Street Kingpins, Hedge Fund Magnates, Crooked Banks, and Vulture Capitalists Suckered Millions Out of Their Homes and Demolished the American Dream.” 


May 8, 2020

At a time when America is relying on health care workers more than ever, we look at why there’s not enough protective gear to keep them safe. 

Reveal’s Elizabeth Shogren reports on why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed guidelines for protecting health workers during the pandemic and how that’s led to a patchwork of protections for doctors and nurses, who are vulnerable to catching and spreading COVID-19. 

Harpooned by Facebook

Apr 30, 2020

As the pandemic sends more people online looking for entertainment, we look at how Facebook and other companies gather information about their users and turn it into profits. 

Pandemic, Protests and Profits

Apr 23, 2020

Around the country, protesters want to loosen stay-at-home orders, even though health experts say that could lead to more deaths from COVID-19. Host Al Letson speaks with Pennsylvania state Rep. Aaron Bernstine, who wants to reopen the economy. 

The Cost of COVID-19

Apr 16, 2020

With millions of people unemployed because of the coronavirus, Reveal’s Aaron Glantz looks at how the economic fallout is affecting homeowners and renters – and whether this crisis could end with people losing the very homes they’re forced to isolate themselves in. 

Reveal’s Jonathan Jones takes us inside the hotel industry, where franchise owners are struggling to stay afloat amid staggering revenue losses. 

Detained and Exposed

Apr 10, 2020

Social distancing, hand-washing and self-isolation are supposed to keep us safe from the coronavirus. But if you’re locked up in an  immigrant detention center, it’s impossible to follow those rules. Host Al Letson speaks with Reveal’s Laura C. Morel, who’s been following an asylum seeker from Cuba at a detention center in Louisiana that recently had its first case of COVID-19.

Essential Workers

Apr 3, 2020

Chances are those tomatoes, strawberries or almonds you find in your grocery store come from California’s farm country. Monica Campbell of our partner The World takes us into the fields with workers, who are harvesting crops in the middle of the pandemic. She investigates how they’re being protected from the coronavirus and asks what happens if they get too sick to work. 

Quarantine Nation

Mar 27, 2020

As the nation looks to quarantines as a way to contain the new coronavirus, host Al Letson speaks to a mom and her son, who decided to put themselves in separate quarantines after they each may have come into contact with the virus. 

Reveal’s Elizabeth Shogren follows with a report on new research that shows current quarantine guidelines may not be strict enough to stop the spread. 

COVID-19 in the ER

Mar 19, 2020

As the new coronavirus spreads, an ER doctor in Seattle explains how he and other front-line physicians are learning to treat patients and keep themselves safe. Dr. Nick Mark says that because the virus is so new, doctors are improvising treatments and learning from each other. 

Containing the Coronavirus

Mar 13, 2020

As the new coronavirus spreads through the U.S., we chronicle how it came to California and analyze what went right and what went wrong in containing it. We hear voices of first responders, experts and passengers quarantined on a cruise ship docked in San Francisco Bay. Then we meet a scientist who developed a vaccine for a very similar virus years ago, only to have funding cut off before she could complete her work.