Boston, MA — September 13, 2023 — Can America still build big things? It's the central question of The Big Dig, a new podcast announced today from GBH Newsand PRX, examining American infrastructure through the lens of the most expensive highway project in the nation's history.
The nine-part limited series premieres on September 27, the 40th anniversary of the project's announcement by then Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, just days before a congressional deadline on the highway funding that defined the Interstate Era.
The Big Dig is available on all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, and Spotify, at the GBH News website and the GBH News YouTube Channel. Subsequent episodes drop weekly on Wednesdays.
"The megaproject known as the Big Dig embodies the deep cynicism afflicting American infrastructure today," said Lead Producer and Host Ian Coss. "It's often described as a 'boondoggle,' but beyond that narrative of scandal and outrage, the project has also delivered on many of its promises. Our podcast takes listeners on a decades-long journey from an idealistic vision to a political public relations disaster as we grapple with the lessons it offers for today's ambitious undertakings."
The story begins with Fred Salvucci, an anti-highway activist who championed a bold vision of tearing down the city's crumbling elevated highway and rebuilding it underground. The podcast follows the project's history through DC politics, local rivalries, technical challenges, and environmental concerns. But as the power struggles unfold and the tunnels take shape, the project's legacy becomes clouded by escalating costs and allegations of mismanagement.
"The earliest known use of the phrase the Big Dig dates back to a GBH news program in the 1980s that focused on the project, an anecdote that underscores GBH's enduring commitment to this story and to quality local journalism that shapes our understanding of the issues impacting Massachusetts and beyond," said Pam Johnston, general manager of news at GBH. The Big Dig, GBH News' first major foray into limited series podcasting, will draw listeners in with its potent blend of real-life characters, high-stakes political drama and valuable lessons for everyone thinking about the future of American infrastructure."
The Lead Producer and Host of The Big Dig is Ian Coss, the award-winning creator of the podcast Forever Is A Long Time and a member of PRX Productions, PRX's team specializing in high-quality audio production and storytelling. The Executive Producer is Devin Maverick Robins. Stephanie Leydon, GBH News Executive Producer of Digital Video, will spearhead a hub of multiplatform GBH News content connected to the podcast. The Big Dig is a co-production of GBH News and PRX and is distributed by PRX, one of the world's top podcast publishers.
"We're proud to join our public media collaborators at GBH in Boston to bring listeners The Big Dig," said Jason Saldanha, Chief of Business Development and Content at PRX. "The podcast will hit close to home for listeners across the region and through impactful audio storytelling, it will provide listeners anywhere with a greater understanding of critical issues today, including local government and public works."
A public radio broadcast version of the program will be available in November to stations nationwide. Learn more about The Big Dig at https://www.wgbh.org/podcasts/the-big-dig.
GBH is the leading multiplatform creator for public media in America. As the largest producer of content for PBS and partner to NPR and PRX, GBH delivers compelling experiences, stories and information to audiences wherever they are. Headquartered in Boston, GBH has been recognized with hundreds of the nation’s premier broadcast, digital and journalism awards. Find more information at gbh.org.
Celebrating its 20th year as a nonprofit public media company, PRX works in partnership with leading independent creators, organizations, and stations to bring meaningful audio storytelling into millions of listeners' lives. PRX is one of the world’s top podcast publishers, public radio distributors, and audio producers, serving as an engine of innovation for public media and podcasting to help shape a vibrant future for creative and journalistic audio. Shows across PRX’s portfolio of broadcast productions, podcast partners, and its Radiotopia podcast network have received recognition from the Peabody Awards, the Tribeca Festival, the International Documentary Association, and more, including in 2022 when Futuro Media and PRX won a Pulitzer Prize. Visit PRX.org for more.