Radioactive: How a Podcast Brought Difficult History Back to the Classroom

Conversations that Matter hosted by the Graduate School of Education and Human Development

Conversations that Matter - Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lecture Series

Father Coughlin wasn’t taught in schools. As Andrew Lapin researched material and conducted interviews for "Radioactive," his 2021 podcast about the life and legacy of this broadcasting pioneer and demagogue, he found that almost no one of his generation knew who Coughlin was or the extent of the nationwide influence he wielded during the Great Depression. For decades there had been little interest in incorporating lessons from Coughlin’s radio career, during which the "Radio Priest" spread fascist, xenophobic, and antisemitic propaganda to millions of Americans and emboldened many of them to carry out violence in his name. Yet as Lapin’s work on the podcast became more public, he found that, in addition to the compelling narrative he had envisioned, "Radioactive" was becoming something else: a teaching tool.

This conversation will focus on Lapin’s experiences compiling and releasing "Radioactive" and watching university and religious educators suddenly embrace this little-known story in their classroom instruction on history, religion, the economy, bigotry, and the Holocaust.

Joining Lapin in the conversation, moderated by Dean Michael Feuer, will be Rabbi Daniel Zemel of Temple Micah and GSEHD Professor Lionel Howard.

This event will be offered both in person and streamed live.