Scene on Radio is a two-time Peabody Award–nominated podcast that dares to ask big, hard questions about who we are—really—and how we got this way. Produced and hosted by John Biewen, Scene on Radio comes from the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University and is distributed by PRX.

Season 1 featured a mix of stand-alone and multiple-episode stories; in our Season 2 series, Seeing White, Biewen and collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika explored the history and meaning of whiteness; in Season 3, MEN, Biewen and co-host Celeste Headlee delved into sexism, patriarchy, and misogyny; in Season 4, The Land That Never Has Been Yet, Biewen and Kumanyika teamed up again, along with other guest producers, to explore democracy in America—past and present. The season-long series retells the story of the country while asking critical questions like, How democratic was the U.S. ever meant to be? Most recently, Season 5, The Repair, took on the climate crisis: How we got ourselves into this fix, how we need to transform our societies to save ourselves and our world—and, crucially, who is this “we”? Season 6, Echoes of a Coup, told the story of the white supremacist massacre and coup in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898—the only successful coup d’etat in U.S. history—and its meaning in our time.

Seasons 1-5 were produced and supported by the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University. 

About John Biewen
Scene On Radio Producer and Host

John Biewen headshot

John Biewen is a longtime journalist and producer now based at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, where he produces and hosts the Scene on Radio podcast. Previously, John reported for NPR News, American Public Media, and Minnesota Public Radio. Scene on Radio’s 2017 series exploring the history of white supremacy, Seeing White, and its 2020 series on American democracy, The Land That Never Has Been Yet,were each nominated for a Peabody Award. Biewen is also a two-time winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Award for outstanding coverage of the disadvantaged. John is co-editor of the book, Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound, published by the University of North Carolina Press.  

About Michael A. Betts II
Co-host/Producer, Season 6

Michael A Betts II headshot, photo credit Cici Cheng

Michael A. Betts II, MFA is a Durham, NC-based podcaster, sound designer, and assistant professor in UNC-Wilmington’s Film Studies Department whose work centers on Black & Brown bodies and their existence in white space. A 2011 UNC alumnus, Betts completed his MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts at Duke University in 2020. Michael designed for playwright Howard Craft’s The Miraculous and the Mundane, Sonny Kelly’s one-man show, The Talk, and Haunted. Betts produced the audio version of Dr. LeRhonda S. Manigault-Bryant New York Times op-ed, “My Mother Is Busy Getting Ready To Die.” Betts also assisted on her award-winning film short death.everything.nothing.

About Amy Westervelt
Co-host/Producer, Season 5

Headshot of Amy Westervelt.Amy Westervelt is the founder of the Critical Frequency podcast network, named AdWeek‘s 2019 Podcast Network of the Year. She is also an award-winning print and audio journalist who has contributed to the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Guardian, NPR, and many other outlets. In 2007, she won a Folio for her feature on the potential of algae as a feedstock for biofuel. In 2015 she was awarded a Rachel Carson Award for “women greening journalism,” and in 2016 she won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her series on the impacts of the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada. As the head of Critical Frequency, she has executive produced more than a dozen podcasts, including her own show Drilled—a true-crime style podcast about climate change—which was awarded the 2019 Online News Association Award for “Excellence in Audio Storytelling.” Her book Forget Having It All: How America Messed Up Motherhood, and How to Fix It was published in November 2018 by Seal Press, and received a starred Publisher’s Weekly review.

About Cheryl Devall
Story Editor, Season 5

Cheryl Devall became a journalist because she values storytelling as a way to keep introducing ourselves to one another. She’s been fortunate to spend 40 years working at it on print and audio platforms. Life and work have taken her from Northern California to the Northeast, the Midwest, the Deep South and back again. She has shared in three duPont-Columbia awards. As an independent audio story editor, she’s helped to shape audio documentaries and podcasts on civil rights-era cold cases, California’s effort to change the standard for police use of deadly force and the gospel music roots of rock and soul.

About Chenjerai Kumanyika
Co-host/Collaborator, Seasons 2 and 4

Chenjerai Kumanyika, collaborator on the Seeing White and The Land That Never Has Been Yet series, is a researcher, journalist and artist, and an assistant professor at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. His research and teaching focus on the intersections of social justice and emerging media in the cultural and creative industries. Kumanyika is the co-executive producer and co-host of UnCivil, Gimlet Media’s podcast on the Civil War. He has also been a contributor to Transom, VICE, and NPR’s Code Switch and Invisibilia podcasts and All Things Considered, and he is a news analyst for Rising Up Radio with Sonali Kolhatkar.

About Loretta Williams
Story Editor, Seasons 2, 4, and 6 

Headshot of Loretta Williams.Loretta Williams is an award-winning public media writer, producer and editor whose work tackles some of the most important issues of our day — climate change, race, and other pain points that often divide America. She’s worked for NPR as a producer and editor and now edits podcast series such as The Reckoning, Us & Them, and the Spiritual Edge.

 

About Celeste Headlee
Co-host, Season 3

Celeste Headlee is a radio journalist who has appeared on NPR, PBS World, PRI, CNN, BBC, and other international networks. She has hosted the daily talk show On Second Thought for Georgia Public Broadcasting and at National Public Radio has anchored shows including Tell Me MoreTalk of the NationAll Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. Headlee’s book We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter, was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2017; she is now working on her second book and speaks to groups around the world on the art of conversation, journalism, and more.