Professor of Practice Hank Klibanoff won a 2018 Peabody Award in the Radio/Podcast category on Tuesday for the first season of his podcast “Buried Truths.” Klibanoff was announced as a finalist for the award on April 9, the Wheel previously reported.
The podcast investigates cold cases, or unsolved killings, in the American South. Each season of the podcast details the story of a specific racially motivated killing. The first season explored the killing of Isaiah Nixon, a black farmer, by two white men in 1948.
“In every one of these cases, no one was ever convicted,” Klibanoff said. “In some cases, they were never indicted, and in all of these cases there was no justice.”
The Peabody Award honors effective and well-executed storytelling in television, radio and online media. Klibanoff beat out several big-name podcasts, including “This American Life” and The New York Times’ “The Daily.”
Though Klibanoff said he was proud of the nomination, he was intimidated by the other Peabody nominees.
“I thought I better get realistic that this is not likely to happen,” Klibanoff said. “But at the same time, I knew that the production quality of our podcast was extraordinary … and I wasn’t unhappy with the writing we had done and the stories we had told.”
The podcast developed out of the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project, a course at Emory that Klibanoff has taught since 2011 which investigates racially motivated killings during the civil rights era.
One of his students, who worked as an intern for WABE, Atlanta’s NPR station, mentioned Klibanoff’s class to WABE’s CEO Wonya Lucas, Klibanoff said. Later, Klibanoff received a call from Lucas requesting more information about the course. The interaction eventually led to the production of the award-winning podcast.
In addition to the background research and writing of “Buried Truths,” Klibanoff dedicated multiple hours in the studio every Sunday to record the podcast. He described the project as another full-time job and that it “would be hard to put in more time and effort [into ‘Buried Truths’].”
Despite his hard work, Klibanoff does not hesitate to credit others who have helped him develop his podcast, especially his students.
“I’ve been the beneficiary of the exposure to some really wonderful minds in the students who have taken the course,” Klibanoff said.
Editors’ Note: Klibanoff is a faculty adviser to the Wheel. He was not involved in the writing or editing of this article.