WNYC Studios Launches “The Stakes”


It’s a brand new bi-weekly podcast about social change and what it takes to create social change.

Hosted by WNYC’s Kai Wright, THE STAKES is the newest podcast from the team behind There Goes the Neighborhood, The United States of Anxiety, and the duPont-Columbia Award-winning podcast Caught. In each episode, THE STAKES will put a social issue or circumstance under a microscope, retrace the steps and decisions that got us here, and consider how we might imagine our way to a better future.

The debut episode takes a deep dive into what may be the nation’s longest-running public health epidemic: lead poisoning. It has been known for more than a century that lead is poisonous, and yet its remains in our schools, our plumbing, and on the walls in many of our homes. The episode examines the lead industry’s vigorous misinformation campaign, which included marketing directly to children; how racist justifications led to high levels of lead poisoning in black and Hispanic communities; and efforts by everyone from the Young Lords to a pediatric psychiatrist in Philadelphia to combat the toxin.

Upcoming episodes of The Stakes will include:

– A wide-ranging conversation with former Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder, Jr. about the state of our democracy, police violence, and the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

– A look at the shockingly high mortality rates among black mothers after childbirth. How do we fix a problem that plays out in the most private and intimate moments of a woman’s life?

– An examination of “conscious” rap and what its rise and fall can tell us about the relationship between culture, politics, and commerce. The episode includes special interviews with rap legend Kool Moe Dee and music writer Nelson George.

– Fifty years after the Stonewall uprising, the fight for LGBT rights has become a broader movement around the fluidity of sexual and gender identity. What is the state of queer politics today?

– The dangers of behavioral psychology and our digital addictions. How did we all get so hooked on digital life? And can it be controlled?

“The Stakes is a response to our times,” said Wright. “People across the political spectrum have looked around and concluded, ‘Something’s broken here.’ Elections, healthcare, the job market, you name it — people feel like the systems that shape their lives don’t work for them, or never did. And they’re correct. So how’d we get here? What choices and compromises created the society we’ve got? And can we make it work better, for more of us? These are the driving questions of The Stakes.”