Radioactive

Ep. 4: ‘Driving the Money Changers From the Temple’

Father Coughlin blames the Great Depression on bankers, greedy politicians, and communists, expanding his pulpit to politics and mobilizing his listeners behind FDR

October 26, 2021

Father Coughlin responds to the chaos of the Great Depression with 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 on air about the Old Testament and the “atheist Jew Karl Marx.” CBS drops Coughlin from its lineup, but his influence only grows. He enters the political arena, mobilizing listeners behind FDR’s presidential campaign.

Radioactive is hosted by Detroit-based journalist Andrew Lapin and produced by Tablet Studios. The series weaves together archival material and present-day interviews to tell the dramatic story of Father Charles Coughlin’s embrace of radio, the nascent mass media of his day, to attain nearly unparalleled cultural influence and broadcast his antisemitic, nationalist views into millions of living rooms across America.

Our theme music is from The Ghost Writer and was composed by Alexandre Desplat. All speeches and material of Father Coughlin are authentic to the source, as well as music and other audio from his radio program.

For more information on all of Tablet’s podcasts, visit tabletmag.com/podcasts.

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