Religion of Sports and PRX Present “Crushed,” A New Podcast Reckoning with Major League Baseball’s Steroid Era

Debuting April 1, the seven-part narrative series will reexamine the home run race of 1998 and the enduring legacy of a scandal. Hosted by sportswriter Joan Niesen

David Cotrone
Mar 25 · 4 min read

Religion of Sports (“ROS”), the Emmy Award-winning sports media company, today announced “Crushed,” a seven-part narrative podcast series reckoning with the spectacular, infamous, and reverberating story of Major League Baseball’s steroid era. The show is brought to audiences in partnership with public media organization PRX.

Listen to “Crushed” across podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and Amazon Music

An audio trailer is available now. New episodes will be released on Thursdays from April 1 through May 13.

In 1998, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa raced to break the single-season home run record, casting a spell on the country. Host and former Sports Illustrated staff writer Joan Niesen was one of the many people who fell in love with baseball that summer; she was 10 years old and lived in St. Louis. But not everything was as it seemed. As it came to light that McGwire and numerous other players had been using anabolic steroids, many fans’ love of the game was rocked. Revisiting a pivotal period for America’s pastime, “Crushed” delves into the fallout from that scandal. What happens when our heroes let us down?

“Crushed” will feature candid interviews with former players, including Rick Honeycutt, Dan Naulty, Royce Clayton, 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.

Joan Niesen, host of “Crushed” from Religion of Sports and PRX

“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.”

Religion of Sports recently announced an expansion into podcasting through a partnership with PRX, as well as a new team of journalists with experience producing award-winning audio stories. In addition to Niesen, the production team for “Crushed” includes senior producer Jessica Pupovac, editor Michael Garofalo, associate producer Devon Manze, production assistant Meghan Coyle, and co-executive producers Ameeth Sankaran, Gotham Chopra, and Adam Schlossman.

“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,” said 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 and Content at PRX. “We believe this must-hear series is elevating what’s possible for impactful sports storytelling and journalism in audio.”

“Crushed” is available free to listeners on-demand across platforms including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, and Stitcher.

For more, visit religionofsports.com.

About Religion of Sports

Religion of Sports is an Emmy Award-winning sports media company co-founded by Tom Brady, Gotham Chopra, and Michael Strahan, built on the thesis that sports are religion. The company produces content focused on a single narrative of ‘Why Sports Matter’ to explore greatness and human potential. Religion of Sports has produced hundreds of thousands of hours of content across mediums, from short-form video to podcasts to feature films, including its flagship Religion of Sports Series, “Shut Up and Dribble,” “Tom vs. Time,” and “Greatness Code.” For more information, visit religionofsports.com.

About PRX

PRX is a public media organization shaping the future of audio by producing and distributing content, building technology, and training talented, independent producers. With an award-winning portfolio ranging from iconic public media programs such as “The Moth Radio Hour,” “TED Talks Daily,” “This American Life,” “Snap Judgment,” “Latino USA,” “The World,” and “Reveal,” as well as a growing body of podcast-first productions, including the Radiotopia podcast network and the TRAX podcast network for tweens, PRX generates more than 100 million podcast downloads per month. Visit PRX.org for more.

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