WABE’s ‘Buried Truths’ podcast season 2 looks at a shooting of a black teen from 1962

"Buried Truths" podcast creator Hank Klibanoff with his producer David Arasoain in 2018.

"Buried Truths" podcast creator Hank Klibanoff with his producer David Arasoain in 2018.

Originally posted Tuesday, February 19, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

After the success of season one of WABE-FM's first non-news podcast "Buried Truths," creator Hank Klibanoff felt the pressure as he worked on season two.

“I was kind of overwhelmed by the response,” said Klibanoff, a former Atlanta Journal-Constitution managing editor, a Pulitzer-Prize winning author and instructor at Emory University where his students help him research civil rights-era cold cases. “Oh my lord! How do I top that?”

While the first case goes back 70 years and looked at a Georgia murder tied to voter rights, the case he decided to study for season two is also connected to a situation that resonates today: a cop shooting an unarmed black teenager in Macon in 1962.

Why explore the past ?

"If we understand who we were, we can better understand who we are," he said in the first episode of season two, which came out this week.

Klibanoff said 17-year-old teen A.C. Hall had left a teen club party on a Saturday night and was walking to a friend’s home in Macon with his lady friend Eloise. It was two kids on a warm, carefree fall moonlight stroll who just liked each other.

Then two cops pulled up looking for a black man with a gun stolen from a white couple’s car.

What was unusual: the cops let the couple into the cop car to help them find the perpetrator, something that would never be done today. The woman identified Hall as the man she had seen swiping the gun earlier.

A.C. happened to be black but was not the perpetrator. Unfortunately, “he doesn’t come out of the situation alive,” Klibanoff said. The cops would cite self defense, an alibi that he describes in the podcast as a “secret password” for white juries.

Trying to learn much about A.C. was a challenge, Klibanof said.

The son of a single mom, he didn’t have any siblings or progeny to talk to in 2018. Klibanoff’s crew relied on recollections of surviving childhood friends and neighbors who described A.C. as a sweet, polite, athletic, well-dressed young man.

The criminal case includes a transcript of how various parties described what happened that night. Actors are used in the podcast to convey that information. And folks who would become big players in Georgia politics would represent the key parties: black attorney Howard Moore Jr. for Hall's family and House rep. Denmark Groover for the cops.

Listen to the first episode here:

Over eight episodes, “Buried Truths” will explore what life was like as a black person in 1962, especially if accused of a crime. The civil rights movement was in full swing with “a lot of change in the wind but also a lot of resistance to change,” Klibanoff said.

He said they will also look into the issues such as cross-racial identification, racial conditioning and police privilege.

WABE-FM brought back the podcast given that the first season was downloaded more than 900,000 times, a solid performance for a new podcast.

Not surprisingly, Klibanoff feels more comfortable as the narrator this time around after spending his career as a print guy. “I feel a lot better than season one,” he said. “I have a better handle what we’re doing.”