Episodes

  • When you think of an alien abduction, what do you picture? Humanoid creatures, medical experiments, lost memories retrieved through hypnosis? That narrative was largely unknown until Betty and Barney Hill went public about their own alien abduction in the 1960s. Betty Hill’s niece, Kathleen Marden, recounts how the story went viral and her aunt and uncle became unwitting celebrities. Then professors Susan Lepselter, Chris Bader, Joseph O. Baker and Stephanie Kelley-Romano explain how the Hills’ alien abduction changed science fiction forever.
    Thanks to Eric Molinsky for bringing us this story that originally aired on his terrific podcast Imaginary Worlds. Eric’s got a lot more stories like this one so subscribe wherever you listen. 
    Decoder Ring is written by Willa Paskin and produced by Willa Paskin and Katie Shepherd. Derek John is Sr. Supervising Producer of Narrative Podcasts. Merritt Jacob is our Technical Director.
    If you have any cultural mysteries you want us to decode, email us at [email protected]
    If you love the show and want to support us, consider joining Slate Plus. With Slate Plus you get ad-free podcasts, bonus episodes, and total access to all of Slate’s journalism.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Rod McKuen sold multiple millions of poetry books in the 60s and 70s. He released dozens of albums, was a regular on late night, and was even nominated for an Oscar. So, how did the most salable poet in American history simply disappear? On today’s episode, Slate writer Dan Kois went searching for Rod McKuen, a famous poet who isn’t so famous anymore. We’ll hear from Stephanie Burt, Mike Chasar and Barry Alfonso, author of Rod’s biography A Voice of the Warm. Along the way, Dan meets Andy Zax, a guy who, like him, was bewildered by this forgotten star—until he became an accidental fan, and then somehow the only person keeping Rod McKuen’s flame alive.
    This episode of Decoder Ring was written by Dan Kois and edited by Willa Paskin. It was produced by Willa Paskin and Katie Shepherd. Derek John is Sr. Supervising Producer of Narrative Podcasts. Merritt Jacob is our Technical Director.
    If you have any cultural mysteries you want us to decode, email us at [email protected] If you love the show and want to support us, consider joining Slate Plus. With Slate Plus you get ad-free podcasts, bonus episodes, and total access to all of Slate’s journalism.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

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  • (While we work on the next season of Slow Burn we're showcasing Slate's other narrative podcasts, starting with a new season of Decoder Ring.)
    What do we lose if we lose the mall? 70 years into their existence, these hulking temples to commerce are surprisingly resilient and filled with contradictions. In this episode, Alexandra Lange, the author of the new book Meet Me at the Fountain: an Inside History of the Mall walks us through the atriums, escalators, and food courts of this singular suburban space. We also hear from mall-goers whose personal experiences help us make sense of this disdained yet beloved, disappearing yet surviving place.
    This episode of Decoder Ring was written by Willa Paskin and produced by Willa Paskin and Katie Shepherd. Derek John is Sr. Supervising Producer of Narrative Podcasts. Merritt Jacob is our Technical Director.
    If you have any cultural mysteries you want us to decode, email us at [email protected]
    If you love the show and want to support us, consider joining Slate Plus. With Slate Plus you get ad-free podcasts, bonus episodes, and total access to all of Slate’s journalism.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Harry Blackmun wasn’t Richard Nixon’s first choice to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. But after Blackmun was confirmed, he got the assignment of a lifetime: writing the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade. His approach to that case would have consequences he never imagined.
    Season 7 of Slow Burn is produced by Susan Matthews, Samira Tazari, Sophie Summergrad, and Sol Werthan.
    Derek John is Sr. Supervising Producer of Narrative Podcasts.
    Editorial direction by Josh Levin, Derek John, and Johanna Zorn. Merritt Jacob is our Technical Director.
    Our theme music is composed by Alexis Cuadrado. Artwork by Derreck Johnson based on a photo provided by Robert Wheeler.
    The season’s reporting was supported by a grant from the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Soon after Ann Hill arrived at Yale Law School in 1968, she realized she was pregnant. Her options were limited: she could give birth—or get an illegal abortion. The decision she faced inspired her to take on Connecticut’s abortion ban. The legal battle that followed would set the stage for Roe v. Wade.
    Season 7 of Slow Burn is produced by Susan Matthews, Samira Tazari, Sophie Summergrad, and Sol Werthan.
    Derek John is Sr. Supervising Producer of Narrative Podcasts.
    Editorial direction by Josh Levin, Derek John, and Johanna Zorn. Merritt Jacob is our Technical Director.
    Our theme music is composed by Alexis Cuadrado. Artwork by Derreck Johnson based on a photo provided by Robert Wheeler.
    The season’s reporting was supported by a grant from the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Jack and Barbara Willke got their start on the Catholic speaking circuit talking about the pleasure of sex within marriage. Their daughter would convince them to shift their focus to another hot-button issue. The Willkes’ Handbook on Abortion, and the photographs they distributed along with it, would help kickstart the right-to-life movement.
    To see the cover of the Handbook on Abortion, some of the photos the Willkes used, and the brochure “Life or Death,” go to slate.com/handbook
    Season 7 of Slow Burn is produced by Susan Matthews, Samira Tazari, Sophie Summergrad, and Sol Werthan.
    Derek John is Sr. Supervising Producer of Narrative Podcasts.
    Editorial direction by Josh Levin, Derek John and Johanna Zorn. Merritt Jacob is our Technical Director.
    Our theme music is composed by Alexis Cuadrado. Artwork by Derreck Johnson based on a photo provided by Robert Wheeler.
    The season’s reporting was supported by a grant from the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • In 1970, 22-year-old Shirley Wheeler got an illegal abortion in Florida. When she refused to tell the police who performed the procedure, she was arrested and charged with manslaughter. In the months that followed, she’d be prosecuted and publicly condemned. She’d also become the unlikely face of the fight for reproductive rights.
    Season 7 of Slow Burn is produced by Susan Matthews, Samira Tazari, Sophie Summergrad, and Sol Werthan.
    Derek John is Sr. Supervising Producer of Narrative Podcasts.
    Editorial direction by Josh Levin, Derek John and Johanna Zorn. Mixing by Merritt Jacob and Kevin Bendis.
    Our theme music is composed by Alexis Cuadrado. Artwork by Derreck Johnson based on a photo provided by Robert Wheeler.
    The season’s reporting was supported by a grant from the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • In the early 1970s, the future of abortion in America was far from settled. Roe v. Wade would change everything, though few knew it at the time. For the seventh season of Slate’s Slow Burn, host Susan Matthews explores the path to Roe—a time when more Republicans than Democrats supported abortion rights. You’ll hear the forgotten story of the first woman ever to be convicted of manslaughter for having an abortion, the unlikely Catholic power couple who helped ignite the pro-life movement, and a rookie Supreme Court justice who got assigned the opinion of a lifetime.
    First episode drops Wednesday, June 1st, 2022. Subscribe now!
    Sign up for Slate Plus for access to ad-free listening and exclusive members-only episodes every week throughout the season.
    The season’s reporting was supported by a grant from the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • After the largest civil disturbance in American history, Los Angeles faced a daunting task. Dozens of people had been killed and thousands injured. The city had sustained more than a billion dollars in property damage. And the riots had exposed that much of the population faced grinding poverty and hostile policing.
    Los Angeles would need to be rebuilt in more ways than one. The question was, what type of city did the people of Los Angeles want? And were they capable of building it?
    Season 6 of Slow Burn is produced by Joel Anderson, Jayson De Leon, Ethan Brooks, Sophie Summergrad, and Jasmine Ellis.
    Mixing by Merritt Jacob.
    To listen to these interviews in full, learn more about the making of this season, skip all the ads, and support Slow Burn, sign up for Slate Plus now. It's only $1 for your first month.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • On April 29, 1992, Los Angeles had erupted into chaos. Over the following days, thousands of people took to the streets. Some were unleashing their anger at the police and the justice system. Some were driven by frustration at living in poverty in one of the world’s richest cities. And some just saw a chance to plunder while law enforcement was scrambling. This is what happened next. 
    Season 6 of Slow Burn is produced by Joel Anderson, Jayson De Leon, Ethan Brooks, Sophie Summergrad, and Jasmine Ellis. 
    Mixing by Merritt Jacob.
    To listen to these interviews in full, learn more about the making of this season, skip all the ads, and support Slow Burn, sign up for Slate Plus now. It's only $1 for your first month.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • In March 1991, Black people in Los Angeles had seen the videotape of Rodney King being beaten. In November, they’d seen Soon Ja Du sentenced to probation for killing 15-year-old Latasha Harlins. On April 29, 1992, a jury failed to convict the officers who beat King. That was the last straw. 
    Season 6 of Slow Burn is produced by Joel Anderson, Jayson De Leon, Ethan Brooks, Sophie Summergrad, and Jasmine Ellis. 
    Mixing by Merritt Jacob.
    To listen to these interviews in full, learn more about the making of this season, skip all the ads, and support Slow Burn, sign up for Slate Plus now. It's only $1 for your first month.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • A year after they were caught on tape beating Rodney King, four LAPD officers went on trial. None were convicted. 
    How did the prosecution make its case against the cops? How did the officers hold up under questioning? And what happened when the verdict was announced? 
    Season 6 of Slow Burn is produced by Joel Anderson, Jayson De Leon, Ethan Brooks, Sophie Summergrad, and Jasmine Ellis. 
    Mixing by Merritt Jacob.
    To listen to these interviews in full, learn more about the making of this season, skip all the ads, and support Slow Burn, sign up for Slate Plus now. It's only $1 for your first month.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • This week, we're highlighting a few excerpts from this season's Slate Plus episodes—interviews with George Holliday, professor Edward Chang, L.A. Times journalist Jim Newton, and Rodney King’s best friend Johnnie Kelly—all who help to explain the cultural and social tensions building in Los Angeles in the 1980s and 1990s.
    To listen to these interviews in full, learn more about the making of this season, skip all the ads, and support Slow Burn, sign up for Slate Plus now. It's only $1 for your first month.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Rodney King never asked to be famous. The video that captured his beating at the hands of four LAPD officers plunged an ordinary man into an extraordinary situation. So how did he navigate his new life in the public eye? How did he think about what had happened to him? And how would his struggles affect the trial of the four officers who beat him?
    Season 6 of Slow Burn is produced by Joel Anderson, Jayson De Leon, Ethan Brooks, Sophie Summergrad, and Jasmine Ellis. 
    Mixing by Merritt Jacob.
    Slate Plus members get bonus episodes of Slow Burn and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • In 1991, Daryl Gates was the face of the LAPD. Over the course of his 13-year tenure as chief, he had built his police department into a paramilitary-style force that enforced the racial boundaries of the city. 
    Rodney King’s beating had exposed the brutality of Gates’ police force to the city. In the weeks after the video aired, L.A.’s most powerful institutions joined together to call for an end to Gates’ career and the style of policing that had resulted in King’s beating. 
    But even with much of the city’s political leadership unified against him, Gates was ready for a fight.
    Season 6 of Slow Burn is produced by Joel Anderson, Jayson De Leon, Ethan Brooks, Sophie Summergrad, and Jasmine Ellis. 
    Mixing by Merritt Jacob.
    Slate Plus members get bonus episodes of Slow Burn and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • In March 1991, the video of the Rodney King beating was national news. The LAPD was under intense scrutiny and many white Americans were seeing a side of policing they’d never seen before.
    Just a few days after George Holliday’s tape aired, the residents of South Central, Los Angeles were forced to confront yet another devastating act of violence: The killing of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins.
    How did a deadly altercation at a convenience store set off a battle between Los Angeles’ Black residents and its immigrant shopkeepers? And how did the justice system respond?
    Season 6 of Slow Burn is produced by Joel Anderson, Jayson De Leon, Ethan Brooks, Sophie Summergrad, and Jasmine Ellis. 
    Mixing by Merritt Jacob.
    Slate Plus members get bonus episodes of Slow Burn and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • On the night of March 2nd, 1991, at a remote intersection just outside of L.A., four police officers surrounded an unarmed Black man. They struck him 56 times with their batons before arresting him. 
    Across the street, standing on his second-floor balcony, a bystander named George Holliday recorded the scene on his home video camera. 
    This is what happened after the camera stopped rolling. 
    Season 6 of Slow Burn is produced by Joel Anderson, Jayson De Leon, Ethan Brooks, Sophie Summergrad, and Jasmine Ellis.
    Mixing by Merritt Jacob.
    Slate Plus members get bonus episodes of Slow Burn and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • In 1992, a jury failed to convict the four Los Angeles police officers who'd been captured on videotape beating Rodney King. The city erupted into fire and chaos – the culmination of decades of unchecked police abuse and racial injustice.
    For the sixth season of Slate’s Slow Burn, Joel Anderson returns to explore the people and events behind the biggest civil disturbance in American history – a story that’s still playing out today.
    Slow Burn Season 6 is hosted by Joel Anderson. He is the host of Slow Burn Season 3: Biggie and Tupac, a co-host of Slate's Hang-Up and Listen, and covers the intersection of race, politics, and sports for Slate.
    The season begins on Wednesday, November 3rd.
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  • After Maria Rubio saw Jesus on a tortilla, her family got besieged by believers and gawkers and the national press. But for the Rubios, the tortilla wasn’t just a public spectacle. It was the miracle that changed their family. And decades later, they’re still reckoning with how that tortilla upended everything.
    One Year is produced by Josh Levin, Evan Chung, and Madeline Ducharme. Mixing by Merritt Jacob.
    To support this show, subscribe to One Year on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Alex Haley’s Roots displayed the brutal realities of slavery to more than 100 million Americans. The book and mini-series also made a bold claim: that Haley was the first Black American to trace his lineage all the way back to Africa, and to a specific ancestor captured into slavery. What would it mean, for Haley and America, if he hadn’t found what he said he’d found?
    To support this show, subscribe to One Year on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices