Archives: Podcast

Season 5 – Episode 8: A Century of Mexicantown

A longstanding community called Mexicantown on Detroit’s southwest side has persevered for around a century. The area of restaurants, shops, and bakeries anchors a key ethnic community in Detroit. For many, the journey here was prompted by a search for jobs. We explore the rise of the community, and the decline when Depression-era policies due…

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Season 5 – Episode 7: The Biography of a Rumor: The “Paul McCartney Is Dead” Hoax

Thousands of phonograph records were destroyed, as were thousands of needles used on the old-style record players. Teenage sleuths were conducting their own investigations in the great conspiracy theory of the fall of 1969: Beatle Paul McCartney had died, but that his death was covered up. However, as the theory went, clues could be found…

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Season 5 – Episode 6: The Origins of Detroit Style Pizza

Sometime in the mid-1940s, an Italian immigrant bar owner by the name of Gus Guerra started making pizzas in his joint to bring in a few extra dollars. Decades later, Gus’s creation is big business, and world-renowned. Detroit Style Pizza is being served up in uber hip places in Brooklyn. The big chains are in…

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Season 5 – Episode 5: The Michigan Democratic Social Club Triple Beheading

It was horrific, even by the low standards of the urban drug trade. Three dead bodies found in a van on Detroit’s east side one night in 1979. All three had been decapitated. We explore the street politics that led to the massacre. And we tell the story of Frank “Nitti” Usher, a crime lord…

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Season 5 – Episode 4: The Native American Origins of Detroit

The beginnings of Detroit are inaccurately pinned to the arrival of Cadillac on these shores in 1701, but there were various Native American tribes in the area for centuries before that. Thousands of years ago, people came over on a land bridge from Siberia to Alaska. The earliest indigenous people around Detroit were suspected to…

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Season 5 – Episode 3: The 1863 Civil War Riot 

Smack in the middle of the Civil War, Detroit experienced a riot that was characterized as “the most brutal and bloody riot that ever disgraced any community.” A local bar owner, Thomas Faulkner, who was thought to be African-American (he wasn’t) went to trial in March, 1863 on sexual assault charges. The accuser was a…

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Season 5 – Episode 2: The Ford Hunger March

On a cold winter day in 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, some 3,000 or more people met at a park on Detroit’s southwest side. They hoped to march to Ford Motor Company’s Rouge Plant to present a list of demands to Henry Ford. By modern day standards, those demands weren’t all that…

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Season 5 – Episode 1: Joe Louis, The Punch of Detroit

Joe Louis may have been the most famous person to come out of Detroit. He arrived here in the mid-1920s as part of the Great Migration, that influx of African-Americans who came north to escape the Jim Crow South. When he took up boxing as a teenager, there was no stopping him. He became heavyweight…

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Season 4 – Finale: Jeff Montgomery, Detroit’s Fierce LGBTQ+ Rights Activist

Jeff Montgomery was a born activist who played an important role in saving Orchestra Hall. When a hate crime brought tragedy to his personal life, he channeled his talent and drive to working on behalf of the LBGTQ+ community. His stellar career and sad decline are documented in America You Kill Me, which lost its major…

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Season 4 – Episode 9: When The Cold War Seemed Hot: Nike Missiles Around Metro Detroit, And A Nuclear Warhead On Belle Isle

Between 1955 and 1974, a nuclear war with the Soviet Union seemed like a possibility. We armed ourselves by placing Nike Missiles around many major cities across the U.S. — including 16 in and around metro Detroit. Six of them — including one on Belle Isle — were outfitted with nuclear warheads. A nuke on…

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