Religion of Sports & PRX Pitch Baseball Steroid Podcast Series ‘Crushed’

EXCLUSIVE: Religion of Sports, the venture founded by Gotham Chopra, Michael Strahan, and Tom Brady, is exploring the story of Major League Baseball’s steroid era in a narrative podcast series.

The company has teamed up with public media organization PRX to launch Crushed, a seven-part podcast hosted by former Sports Illustrated staff writer Joan Niesen.

In 1998, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa raced to break the single-season home run record. However, it came to light that McGwire and numerous other players had been using anabolic steroids, crushing many sports fan’s love for the game. The series will revisit this pivotal period for baseball and delves into the fallout from that scandal, asking what happens when our heroes let us down?.

Crushed will feature interviews with former players, including Rick Honeycutt, Dan Naulty, Royce Clayton, Rick Helling, Mike Trombley, and Jeremy Cummings. They’ll discuss the pressures they faced to stay competitive, baseball’s culture of cheating, and how steroids took hold in the sport.

The series will also feature former Giants and Dodgers head athletic trainer Stan Conte, Tom Davis, the chairman of the 2005 Congressional steroid hearings, former U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich, Roger Maris Jr., whose father was the previous home run record holder, longtime St. Louis sportscaster Frank Cusumano, ESPN reporter Howard Bryant and Associated Press reporter Steve Wilstein, who broke the story that McGwire was using a steroid precursor, androstenedione, in 1998.

The series will launch on April 1 and run through May 13.

It comes after Religion of Sports expanded into podcasting via a partnership with PRX. The production team for Crushed includes Niesen, senior producer Jessica Pupovac, editor Michael Garofalo, associate producer Devon Manze, production assistant Megan Coyle, and co-executive producers Ameeth Sankaran, Gotham Chopra, and Adam Schlossman.

“I went crazy for baseball in 1998,” said Niesen. “And I’ve loved it ever since. But over the years, I realized I’d come to the game at a unique and complicated moment, and it’s been fascinating to dig in deeper to the steroid era and its enduring legacy. I’ve learned a lot, and I think this podcast will help listeners separate the truth of that time from the myths.”

“My memories of the highs and lows of the steroid era are so vivid. From watching McGwire hitting 62 to him sitting in front of Congress pleading the fifth,” added Religion of Sports co-exec producer Schlossman. “Joan expertly tells this story as both reporter and true believer in a game she fell deeply in love with. Crushed will challenge the assumptions and even the memories that so many of us have about the steroid era, while asking questions central to baseball’s present and future. How did a once-revered American institution lose its heroes, and can it get them back?”

“We’re proud to partner with Religion of Sports to bring Crushed to podcast listeners,” said Jason Saldanha, Chief of Business Development at PRX. “We believe this must-hear series is elevating what’s possible for impactful sports storytelling and journalism in audio.”

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