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Storytelling

Pretend - a true crime documentary podcast

Creative Babble

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Pretend Radio is a documentary-style podcast about real people pretending to be someone else. I interview con artists, snake oil salesmen, undercover FBI agents—pretty much anyone living a lie.
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Bonus: For Keeps - Paul Goresh, the Beatles Collector Who Befriended John Lennon

1:00:58 | Aug 14th

I want to introduce you to one of the most curious podcasts out there. It’s my friend’s show called For Keeps. It has nothing to do with Pretend, but I think you’ll love it. David Peterkofsky, the host of For Keeps, finds some of the world's most int...Show More
S409: The Norco Bank Heist part 2

1:01:57 | Jul 31st

The Norco Security Pacific Bank heist was just the beginning. The thief in the nightGeorge Smith and his friend Chris Harven decided to rob a bank in Norco, California. And just like in the movies, these bank robbers charged into the bank and demande...Show More
S408: The Norco Bank Heist part 1

49:24 | Jul 19th

This is the story of the 1980 Norco bank robbery—one of the most violent bank heists in U.S. history. Remarkably, only three people died. However, 30 police cars and one helicopter were torn apart by bullets.In this episode, you’re going to hear from...Show More
S407: The Psychic Vampires

38:20 | Jul 3rd

Susan Gerbic says that psychics are grief vampires—taking advantage of our broken hearts.She asks, “Why isn’t anybody doing something about this?” Susan Gerbic is just like you and me. She has a normal job working as a baby photographer. But at night...Show More
S406: The Psychic Kids (James Randi and Project Alpha)

38:29 | Jun 19th

In 1979, two high school kids claiming to be psychic managed to fool parapsychology researchers at Washington University using simple magic tricks and sleight of hand. Little did the scientists know, these kids were just amateur magicians pulling a f...Show More
S405: The Psychic Spy (featuring Uri Geller)

59:11 | Jun 5th

In 2017, The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released more than 12 million pages of declassified documents online. Some of these documents pertained to the self-proclaimed psychic spy Uri Geller. The documents revealed a CIA funded study at the Sta...Show More
S404: The Bounty Hunter Part 2

42:39 | May 22nd

Jack Saltarelli is a bounty hunter who also happens to be a former fugitive. In part one of the Bounty Hunter, a judge sentenced Jack to 20 years in prison for a drug offense. After failing to appeal the judge’s decision, Jack decided he wasn’t going...Show More
S403: The Bounty Hunter Part 1

36:46 | May 7th

Jack Saltarelli is a bounty hunter. His job is to hunt down fugitives. Any given day, he’s going after rapist, murderers, and people who skip court. Most bounty hunters carry lethal weapons, but not Jack. He goes door-to-door carrying a stun gun and ...Show More
S402: The Soccer Mom

37:51 | Apr 24th

Every night, Marie Walsh had the same nightmare.If only she could roll over and tell her husband the truth. But she can’t. Tonight, she’s going to have to suffer alone.Marie says, "I had a dream where they were chasing me and chasing me." But one nig...Show More
S401: The One Who Got Away

54:50 | Apr 10th

Peter Pan syndrome is when someone refuses to grow up. It’s neither a disease nor a recognized mental disorder—it’s just a state of mind. Today, you're going to meet a man who became a fugitive in order to live in his very own Neverland.Larry Douglas...Show More
Bonus: The Shawcross Letters

48:10 | Feb 20th

Arthur Shawcross is one of America's most notorious serial killers. This is the story about one of his closest friends. Who do you turn to when your deepest fantasies involve murder and cannibalism? It's an affliction most people can't relate to—unle...Show More
Bonus: The Commander

33:00 | Jan 30th

Abby Ellin didn't know it yet, but the man she was about to marry was a compulsive liar living a double life. She was duped—hard. In this bonus episode, we talk about her story and why she's now obsessed with con artists. Abby Ellin is a New York Tim...Show More
S311: The Prophet – Matthew Fenner vs. the Word of Faith Fellowship Part 2

34:43 | Dec 19th, 2018

What does being gay mean at the Word of Faith Fellowship? Let’s say a man speaks to another man. Perhaps he looks at him for too long or laughs at his joke. That’s gay. Maybe you’re standing too close. It doesn’t matter. If I’m a Word of Faith fell...Show More
S310: The Prophet - Matthew Fenner vs. the Word of Faith Fellowship Part 1

29:36 | Dec 12th, 2018

Who will take over the Word of Faith Fellowship when Jane Whaley is gone? Jane Whaley recently turned 80-years-old. Obviously, the Word of Faith Fellowship can’t go on forever. At least not the way we know of it today. So, who’s taking over? Can it g...Show More
S309: The Prophet - Inside the Mind of Jane Whaley

46:05 | Dec 5th, 2018

Christina Bryant is about to go face-to-face with the real Jane Whaley. In my previous episode, I got to see the political side of Jane—the Jane she wanted the world to meet. Christina, on the other hand, is about to talk with the real Jane Whaley—th...Show More
S311: The Prophet – Matthew Fenner vs. the Word of Faith Fellowship Part 2

35:31 | Dec 4th, 2018

Let’s say a man speaks to another man. Perhaps he looks at him for too long or laughs at his joke. That’s gay. Maybe you’re standing too close. It doesn’t matter. If I’m a Word of Faith fellowship member and I think you’re gay—then you’re gay. I don’...Show More
S310: The Prophet – Matthew Fenner vs. the Word of Faith Fellowship Part 1

30:23 | Nov 27th, 2018

Jane Whaley recently turned 80-years-old. Obviously, the Word of Faith Fellowship can’t go on forever. At least not the way we know of it today. So, who’s taking over? Can it go on without Jane Whaley’s vision and authority? Or will it all just fall ...Show More
S309: The Prophet – Inside the Mind of Jane Whaley

46:50 | Nov 20th, 2018

Christina Bryant is about to go face-to-face with the real Jane Whaley. In my previous episode, I got to see the political side of Jane—the Jane she wanted the world to meet. Christina, on the other hand, is about to talk with the real Jane Whaley—th...Show More
S308: The Prophet - Meet Jane Whaley Part 3

43:44 | Nov 14th, 2018

The world first learned about the Word of Faith Fellowship after an Inside Edition exposé  in 1995. The investigation, led by the Trinity Foundation, revealed accusations of abuse within the church.  Watch the Inside Edition story: https://www.youtub...Show More
S307: The Prophet - Meet Jane Whaley Part 2

51:18 | Nov 7th, 2018

Previously on Pretend Radio, I came face-to-face with pastor Jane Whaley of the Word of Faith Fellowship. When I arrived, we met in her office for a few minutes before the church service began. I was surprised by everyone's friendliness. Suddenly, th...Show More
S306: The Prophet - Meet Jane Whaley Part 1

30:21 | Oct 31st, 2018

As far as I know, I'm the first journalist who has ever interviewed pastor Jane Whaley. Heck, I might be the only member of the media to have attended church service. How was I able to pull this off? The short answer is, I have no idea. In fact, when...Show More
S305: The Prophet - Brazil and the Word of Faith Fellowship

32:55 | Oct 24th, 2018

Did you know that the Word of Faith Fellowship has nearly 2,000 members internationally? They have affiliate churches all over the world including Brazil, Sweden, Scotland, and other countries. I don’t get it. Why would Jane Whaley want to branch out...Show More
S304: The Prophet - Allegations of Abuse and Corruption

33:47 | Oct 17th, 2018

When Nancy Burnette was appointed by the courts to be a guardian ad litem, she knew her job wasn’t going to be easy. A guardian ad litem is someone who represents kids in the foster care system. It’s her job to place children in homes with the right ...Show More
S303: The Prophet - Former Members Speak Out

25:26 | Oct 10th, 2018

On April 7th, 2018, more than a dozen former Word of Faith Fellowship members reunited at the Spindale House in Rutherford County, North Carolina. It was an opportunity for former members to answer lingering questions for the citizens in the communit...Show More
S302: The Prophet - Who is Jane Whaley?

33:48 | Oct 3rd, 2018

Who is Jane Whaley? Jane Whaley is the pastor at the Word of Faith Fellowship—a conservative, charismatic Christian church. Those who have left the church describe her as a ruthless cult leader. But, we don't know much about her. Where did she come f...Show More
S301: The Prophet - Word of Faith Fellowship Revisited

58:49 | Sep 28th, 2018

Season 3: The Prophet - Word of Faith Fellowship Revisited I’m back with a whole new season of Pretend Radio. But this time it’s going to be a little different. Instead of telling you a different story each episode, I decided to do a serialize season...Show More
S213: The Hijacker, Part 2 - Martin McNally

43:11 | Jul 24th, 2018

Martin McNally needed some cash, so what did he do? He hijacked an American Airlines flight with 90 passengers on board. If you haven’t listened to part one, check that out first. Today’s episode, picks up where we last left off. It’s 1972, and Marti...Show More
S212: The Hijacker, Part 1 - Martin McNally

42:24 | Jul 18th, 2018

Martin McNally is going to hijack this plane and nobody, not even the FBI, is going to stop him.   In today’s episode, Martin McNally recounts his 1972 hijacking of an American Airlines flight heading to Tulsa, Oklahoma. His plan was simple—sneak a ...Show More
S211: The Jolly Roger Social Club

37:08 | Jul 4th, 2018

You may remember Sharon McConnell-Dickerson from episode 8 titled “The Sculptor.” You know, the blind artist who casts the faces of dying blues musicians. When we first recorded that episode, she told me a story that quite frankly was hard to believe...Show More
Pretend Radio Anniversary Bonus Episode

37:44 | Jun 19th, 2018

Guess what? Pretend Radio turns one year old this month. So I thought it would be cool to replay some old guest interviews I've done on other shows.    (01:00) Generation Why Podcast Interview - I talk about Vester Flanagan, the reporter who murdered...Show More
S210: The Babalawo - Secrets of Santeria

45:47 | Jun 6th, 2018

Today's episode "The Babalawo" is about Santeria… the faith, not the song. Unlike the pop tune, not a lot of people know about this mysterious religion. Santería, also known as Regla de Ochá, La Regla de Ifá, or Lucumí, is an Afro-Cuban religion that...Show More
S209: The Good Cop, Bad Cop

38:52 | May 22nd, 2018

How does a good cop turn bad? For Ruben Palomares, a former corrupt LAPD Rampart division officer, the process was slow. He went from receiving LAPD’s highest honor to becoming one of the most corrupt cops in US history.   Officer Palomares’ story be...Show More
S208: The Stranger

33:25 | May 9th, 2018

A lie is only powerful if you choose to believe it. So why do we fall for it every time? In this episode, we’ll hear four different stories. Each describes a tall tale, so persistent, that it’s hard to imagine someone keeping all the lies straight in...Show More
S207: The Gambler Part 2 - Art Schlichter

20:18 | Mar 13th, 2018

Previously on Pretend Radio, we learned how Art Schlichter’s gambling habits destroyed Anita Barney life. She went from being the wealthy widow of a Wendy’s CEO to becoming broke and struggling to pay her light bill. In part two of The Gambler, we...Show More
S206: The Gambler Part 1 - Art Schlichter

20:30 | Mar 7th, 2018

This is the story of disgraced Ohio State quarterback Art Schlichter. In order to understand Art Schlichter’s crimes, you first have to understand how his story ends. Anita Barney, heiress and widow of a former Wendy’s CEO, lost every single penny he...Show More
S205: The Reporter - Vester Flanagan

27:12 | Feb 28th, 2018

Warning, this episode may be disturbing for some listeners. It describes a shooting that resulted in the death of two people. While this story is not technically about a mass shooting, it has every characteristic of one. This is the story of Bryce...Show More
S204: The Taker

25:52 | Feb 20th, 2018

Karl comes from a long line of con men. He says both his grandfather and father were swindlers. It's only natural that Karl slipped into the family business. In today's episode, Karl talks about bribing corrupt company building managers. He says he s...Show More
S203: The Boy and the Girl

19:47 | Feb 14th, 2018

Candis Cox and her husband Adam live in North Carolina. This is their love story. Their story is unremarkable in many ways. They met at a bar, went on a date, and eventually married after years of dating. What makes this story special is listening...Show More
S202: The Snake Oil Salesman Part 2 - Curing Autism

26:00 | Feb 7th, 2018

Last time, I spoke with a group of women who drink a bleach-type chemical that they claim cures everything from cancer to depression.  I soon discovered that parents are forcefully giving bleach enemas to kids with autism. In this episode, I i...Show More
S201: The Snake Oil Salesman Part 1 - Curing cancer & depression

24:33 | Jan 31st, 2018

I stumbled upon a group of people who self-medicate with chlorine dioxide, a bleach like substance. They claim it cures everything from headaches, malaria, HIV, & cancer.  In this episode, you'll hear from the man who discovered the "miracle cure"...Show More
Pretend Radio Season Two Preview

01:33 | Jan 7th, 2018

Pretend Radio is back with brand new stories of people pretending to be someone else. This season I uncover a community of parents who are forcing their kids to drink a bleach-like chemical to cure them of autism.  And I talk to a millionaire w...Show More
S111: The Bigamist

32:29 | Sep 13th, 2017

Mary Turner Thomas says she married a bigamist. She claims her husband, William Allen Jordan, was involved with 8 different women and fathered 13 kids. At one point, he had two wives, two fiances and a girlfriend on both sides of the Atlantic. Willia...Show More
S110. The Pretender Part 2 - Undercover FBI Agent Marc Ruskin

25:13 | Sep 5th, 2017

The Pretender - Marc Ruskin FBI undercover agent Remember the name Marc Ruskin: because if you run into him, chances are he will introduce himself as Alex Perez, H. Marc Renard, or Sal Morelli – just a few of his FBI undercover personas. Marc Ruskin ...Show More
S109: The Pretender Part 1 - Undercover FBI Agent Marc Ruskin

18:40 | Aug 27th, 2017

Before Marc Ruskin was an undercover FBI agent, he was an assistant DA in Brooklyn. Why did he give up his career as a powerful attorney to join the FBI academy? Well, in order to prosecute criminals, you have to catch them first. It didn’t take long...Show More
S108: The Sculptor

22:24 | Aug 23rd, 2017

Sharon McConnell-Dickerson is preserving the Mississippi Delta blues with her own two hands. She's doing it by creating molds of some of the most influential blues musicians of our time. The lifecasts include a mask of Bobby “Blue” Bland, Little Milt...Show More
S107: The Real Estate Agent - Part 2 - Todd Kohlhepp

22:00 | Aug 15th, 2017

South Carolina serial killer Todd Kohlhepp confesses to the Superbike Motorsports mass murder. This is part 2 of "The Real Estate Agent." I suggest starting with part 1. It was a Thursday morning. Kohlhepp walked into the Superbike motorsports store ...Show More
S106: The Real Estate Agent Part 1 - Todd Kohlhepp

26:39 | Aug 9th, 2017

This week’s story is about self-professed serial killer Todd Kohlhepp. What’s terrifying about Todd Kohlhepp? He’s not the type of serial killer you see in the movies. He doesn’t collect body parts in his fridge. He doesn’t taunt the media with riddl...Show More
The Real Estate Agent - Preview

04:17 | Aug 2nd, 2017

The Real Estate Agent, part 1 Preview This is just a preview episode. If you want the full episode now, visit pretendradio.org and click on the donate button. If you can't donate today, hang tight. The rest of the season will be out soon. Thank you f...Show More
S105: Birth of a Con Man Part 2 - Opioid epidemic

18:51 | Jul 11th, 2017

Previously on Pretend Radio we witnessed the birth of a con man. Erik Torres started his criminal career as a street thug and worked his way up to car insurance scam artist. Here’s how how it works. Erik stages car accidents then the driver goes to h...Show More
S104: Birth of a Con Man Part 1

22:39 | Jun 29th, 2017

Imagine, you’re driving on the road when suddenly a beat-down car full of passengers pulls into the lane right in front of you. Then, suddenly, the driver slams on the brakes. You look up at your rear view mirror, but it’s too late, you’re in a three...Show More
S103: The Prophet Part 3 - Word of Faith Fellowship

21:09 | Jun 22nd, 2017

In the Prophet part 3, we’ll look at the Word of Faith Fellowship from a completely different lens. We’ll hear from current sect members and get their version of the story. Plus, you'll hear the latest on trial against five ministers accused of beati...Show More
S102: The Prophet Part 2 - Word of Faith Fellowship

22:15 | Jun 20th, 2017

John Cooper remembers one of the Word of Faith Fellowship ministers commanding him to beat his wife. He also describes his family’s attempt to what he describes as a cult. Then it finally happened. John escaped. We’ll listen to secret recordings of p...Show More
S101: The Prophet Part 1 - Word of Faith Fellowship

23:43 | Jun 13th, 2017

The Prophet part 1 explores The Word of Faith Fellowship. You will hear about the accused cult leader, Pastor Jane Whaley, who many inside the sect believe is a prophet with direct communication with God. John Cooper describes the day 20 to 30 sect m...Show More
Pretend Radio - Season 1 Preview

02:50 | Jun 6th, 2017

What is Pretend Radio? It’s a documentary-style podcast about people pretending to be someone else. Each episode features con artists, fakes, phonies and their victims. Season one explores The Word of Faith Fellowship and the accused cult leader, Pas...Show More