Radioactive: The Father Coughlin Story

The story of how a crafty bigot used a new medium to spread hate and get much too close to political power

September 29, 2021

Before CNN and Fox News, before shock jocks and powerful pundits, there was Father Charles Coughlin, an ambitious priest who invented political talk radio as we know it, brought down one president and crowned another, and was at one point considered the most powerful man in America. He was also a rabid antisemite who wrote fan mail to Mussolini and cheered on Hitler, and who used his enormous platform to spread hate.

In this 8-part podcast, Detroit journalist Andrew Lapin weaves together archival materials and incisive interviews to tell the story of Father Coughlin’s alarming rise and dramatic fall. It’s a cautionary tale of how an unscrupulous bigot can manipulate mass media to spread hate and gather far too much political power. Radioactive is produced by Tablet Studios in association with The WNET Group’s reporting initiative, Exploring Hate: Antisemitism, Racism and Extremism.