Scene on Radio logo. The word "Capitalism" suspended from a crane by a wire, looking precarious

“Scene on Radio” unravels history of capitalism — and considers alternative futures

CONTACT: Sarah Rogers
(919) 660-3035

DURHAM, N.C. – In its past seasons, the acclaimed podcast “Scene on Radio” has explored complex social issues like race, patriarchy, and democracy. But the new season premiering on June 26 is even more ambitious, focusing on a topic that its host John Biewen says is threaded through all its previous ones.

John Biewen
John Biewen

In its dozen-plus episodes, “Capitalism” unravels the history of our current economic system and speculates on its future — including whether or not it has one — on a planet with widening wealth gaps and ecological systems driven to the point of collapse.

Biewen, a journalist and audio producer, created “Scene on Radio” in 2015. In its second season, “Seeing White,” he began structuring the podcast around pressing social issues — and the ways they’re rooted in systems and ideologies constructed over centuries by people with power.

Despite how insurmountable these problems seem, “Scene on Radio” seeks to offer listeners new ways forward.

“More and more people — especially young people — are coming to see capitalism as the problem, not the solution,” says Biewen. “But for many folks who are unhappy about the current economic reality, there’s little sense of what an alternative might look like. My hope is that ‘Capitalism’ can contribute to a more informed and productive conversation about our economic system and the world we want to create together.”

Ellen McGirt
Ellen McGirt

“This series is about values,” says Biewen’s co-host, Design Observer Editor in Chief Ellen McGirt. “We want everyone to be part of the conversation about what our economy should look like. That includes corporate leaders, many of whom are thinking about these issues, too.”

“Capitalism” interweaves interviews with experts, on-the-ground recordings, and Biewen and McGirt’s conversations into its sweeping storytelling. Through its carefully researched and immersing narrative, listeners learn how capitalism arose in a global context and how people have theorized, shaped, defended, and challenged it from its beginnings to the present day.

Biewen and McGirt say that it’s not possible to look at the state of capitalism today without wondering: “Is this the best we can do?” They conclude the season by exploring real-world alternatives to capitalism as we know it — from a reformed market economy to more radical models based on regenerative systems.

“Capitalism” is produced by the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University in partnership with Imperative 21. It premieres June 26, 2024, with new episodes dropping weekly.

“Scene on Radio” is available on all major podcast distribution platforms, including Apple, Spotify, Google, and Overcast.

Listen to the season trailer or view the video trailer below.


Video trailer by Gergo Varga. Imagery adapted into cover art by Harper Biewen.