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Announcing Slow Burn Season 6

Joel Anderson returns to examine another pivotal moment in American history: the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Joel Anderson wears a black sweater while standing in front of a fence with plants growing on it.
Joel Anderson. James Tensuan

Slow Burn, Slate’s critically acclaimed narrative podcast exploring the most consequential moments in American history, will return next year with two seasons. As we previously announced, Season 5, which will air in the spring of 2021, will be hosted by Noreen Malone and explore the lead-up to the Iraq war. Hosting our sixth season is Joel Anderson, a name—and voice—that will be familiar to those who listened to Slow Burn Season 3 about the creative lives and tragic deaths of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G.

For his season, Anderson will examine another consequential moment in American history: the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the acquittal of four LAPD officers in the brutal beating of Rodney King. The season, coming later next year, will investigate the long—and largely unchecked—history of LAPD racist police abuse, the tensions between Black political leadership and a largely white police force, and the media’s role in the riot coverage.

Anderson, who in addition to his Slow Burn hosting duties covers the intersection of race, politics, and sports for Slate, will bring his extensive reporting background and podcast chops to tell a story that continues to feel terrifyingly relevant in the United States in 2020, a national reckoning over systemic racism and police violence that is not new but happening at a much larger scale than ever before.

“It was one of the most formative historical moments of my life. I was only a teenager at the time and I’ll never forget watching L.A. burn on television. Even then, I sensed that chaos represented a systemic failure that went far beyond what I was reading and seeing in the news,” says Anderson. “Then, while working on the second episode of Slow Burn 3, which got a little into the persistent and disproportionate police abuse of Black communities in Southern California, it occurred to me that there was so much more to say about that particular moment. I knew that it would have some parallels with the uprisings of the past year, but after this summer, it became even more urgent and important for me to take this on. I’m humbled and excited to have this opportunity.”

Seasons 5 and 6 follow a gripping fourth season, which tackled David Duke’s rise to power and prominence in Louisiana in the late ’80s and early ’90s and was hosted by Josh Levin, Slate’s national editor who has been instrumental in every season of Slow Burn.

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