Radioactive tells the story of a crafty bigot who used a new mass medium to spread hate and get much too close to political power. This eight-part podcast, hosted by Detroit journalist Andrew Lapin, weaves together archival materials and present-day interviews to tell the story of Father Charles Coughlin’s dangerous rise and dramatic fall.  Radioactive is produced by Tablet Studios, with support from Maimonides Fund, and in association with The WNET Group’s reporting initiative, Exploring Hate: Antisemitism, Racism and Extremism. 

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More From Radioactive: The Father Coughlin Story

March 9, 2022

In the final chapter of this series, Father Coughlin disappears from the public eye, but his legacy lives on. When Coughlin stages a high-profile protest episode, the church finally gives him an ultimatum: his radio career or the priesthood. The FBI closes in on Coughlin, but an unlikely figure steps ...

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March 9, 2022

Faced with political defeat, Father Coughlin drops all pretense at diplomacy. He plagiarizes Joseph Goebbels in his Social Justice magazine and writes fan letters to Mussolini. His Kristallnacht broadcast gets him kicked off major radio stations. He incites his followers in a paramilitary organization known as the Christian Front to ...

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March 9, 2022

Huey Long’s folksy populism wins over Louisiana voters and becomes darkly demagogic. Picking up where Long leaves off, Father Coughlin and his National Union for Social Justice energize the anti-FDR base at massive political rallies across the country. The Social Justice party runs a candidate for president in the 1936 ...

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March 9, 2022

President Roosevelt embraces radio while distancing himself from Father Coughlin, whose broadcasts are becoming increasingly antisemitic. Coughlin rants about the Rothschilds and singles out Roosevelt’s Jewish secretary of the treasury, Henry Morgenthau Jr., while the Jewish community debates how to respond. Turning on Roosevelt, Coughlin starts his own political movement. ...

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March 9, 2022

Father Coughlin responds to the chaos of the Great Depression by creating a clear villain for his audiences: President Hoover, of course, but also the bankers he claimed controlled politicians and the communists he said were secretly infiltrating the country’s labor leadership. Any shred of subtlety evaporates as he rants ...

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March 9, 2022

Father Coughlin’s decision to broadcast his sermons over the radio scandalizes the American listening public, with angry letters pouring in to radio stations and politicians. Preaching on the dial next to Amos ’n’ Andy was sacrilegious, inappropriate, crass. But soon listeners were hooked by the radio priest’s sonorous voice, and ...

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March 9, 2022

Father Coughlin builds his church, with a little help from famous friends. The ambitious priest embraces the airwaves and becomes America’s first talk radio celebrity.  Radioactive is hosted by Detroit journalist Andrew Lapin and produced by Tablet Studios, with support from Maimonides Fund, ​and in association with The WNET Group’s reporting ...

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March 9, 2022

Who was Father Charles Coughlin, and what were the conditions that allowed for the rise of the first mass media demagogue? In the first episode of this eight-part podcast, host Andrew Lapin details the humble origins of Father Charles Coughlin and his fellow antisemite, Henry Ford, and reveals how the ...

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