Smoke Screen: I Am Rama tile art

Smoke Screen: I Am Rama

Rama was a spiritual teacher in the 80s and 90s who inspired many of his students while helming what many of his detractors would describe as a cult. He defied society’s archetypal vision of a New Age leader, eschewing minimalism for wealth and celebrity. He was also a man ahead of his time, encouraging his followers to develop careers in computer science before that was mainstream. For some of his students, following Rama's lead worked out spiritually, and financially too. But for others, Rama's actions contradicted his cool persona; some eventually came forward with accusations of abuse. Others vanished. Whistleblowers went to the media, and the group began to shrink and splinter.  In this investigative series, Jonathan Hirsch explores the life, death and impact of Rama.  

Jonathan Hirsch

Meet the Host

As an independent producer, reporter, and sound designer, Jonathan Hirsch produced hundreds of longform audio works for NPR, Vox, NBC, Fusion Media Group, and many others. He is a recipient of the Green Eyeshade, Edward R. Murrow and duPont Awards. His 7-part documentary podcast series Dear Franklin Jones debuted #1 on the iTunes podcast charts. In April of 2018, Jonathan launched Neon Hum Media, an LA-based podcast production company, specializing in narrative-driven, high production value, “audio first” documentaries, talk shows, and partner content.


Smoke Screen: Fake Priest

At some point in our lives, we all get taken for a ride. Hucksters and con men are as ancient as Adam and Eve. But Ryan Scott, known to some as “Father Ryan,” was no ordinary con man. He’d been accused of abusing followers and enriching himself with their money. He's left a wake of angry people across multiple states. And that’s not all. There are questions surrounding the brutal deaths of two priests he associated with. Investigative reporter Alex Schuman explores Scott's bizarre, quizzical, and sometimes dangerous world. Why did Father Ryan steal money -- and people's faith? And at this point, why isn't he in jail?



Smoke Screen: The Sellout

From Neon Hum Media and LA Taco, this is Smoke Screen: The Sellout, a podcast about a politician dogged by allegations of corruption, harassment and pathological pettiness. It’s about the residents who fought gentrification even as their neighborhoods were auctioned off to the highest bidder.  And it’s about a community that feels the pain of betrayal – from one of their own.