Scene on Radio Podcast

Scene on Radio is a two-time Peabody Award–nominated podcast from the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University that dares to ask big, hard questions about who we are—really—and how we got this way. Launched in 2015, the podcast is produced and hosted by CDS audio director John Biewen, along with collaborators, and distributed by PRX.

+ Season 1 featured a mix of stand-alone and multiple-episode stories.
+ Season 2, Seeing White, explored the history and meaning of whiteness and was nominated for a Peabody Award.
+ Season 3, MEN, delved into sexism, patriarchy, and misogyny.
+ Season 4, The Land That Never Has Been Yet, earned another Peabody nomination for its exploration of democracy in America—past and present.
+ Season 5, The Repair, looked at the cultural roots of the climate crisis and the deep changes Western society will need to make to save the Earth and our species.

Find out more, and subscribe, on the podcast website; follow Scene on Radio on social media: @SceneOnRadio.

Scene on Radio Episodes

A Freedom Summer worker in Mississippi, 1964. Photo by Steve Schapiro.  

S4 E7: Freedom Summer

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-...

Durham, North Carolina, mayor Steve Schewel announces a stay-at-home order on March 25. Photo by Julia Wall, courtesy of the N&O

BONUS EPISODE: Pandemic America

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...

Men fighting during a strike at the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan, 1937.

S4 E6: A New Deal

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...

A portrait of Audley “Queen Mother” Moore.

S4 E5: Feminism in Black and White

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...

Historian Bobby Donaldson of the University of South Carolina, at the South Carolina State House, Columbia, SC. Photo by John B

S4E4: The Second Revolution

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...

Cotton bale, Old Slater Mill Historic Site, Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Photo by John Biewen.

S4E3: The Cotton Empire

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...

Pelham Town Hall, Pelham, Massachusetts. Photo by John Biewen.

S4E2: "The Excess of Democracy"

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...

A photo of the lawn at Mount Vernon. Photo by John Biewen.

S4E1: Rich Man's Revolt

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...

A photo of mussels.


“By now I have become a freshwater mussel groupie. I fawn over photographs. . . . I stalk them from a distance, writing their names in my notebooks: fatmucket, pistolgrip, heelsplitter, shinyrayed...

A photo of a pamphlet sitting on top of a flowery tablecloth. The pamphlet reads "How to Get to Heaven from Whittier, Alaska"

City Under One Roof

“Whittier occupies a crescent moon of shoreline, ringed in mountains and bordered by the sea. Barring arrival by boat or small plane, a single-lane tunnel is the only way to cross the tight ring of...