Investigative Podcast ‘Alphabet Boys’ Reveals FBI’s Sordid Use of Informants to Instigate Violence and Target Black Activists During 2020 Protests For Black Lives

From Western Sound and iHeartPodcasts, ‘Alphabet Boys’ uses secret recordings and leaked records to reveal tactics used by the FBI to infiltrate and subvert protests in Colorado mourning the deaths of Elijah McClain, De’Von Bailey, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor

 Listen to the trailer for ‘Alphabet Boys’ Season 1 HERE 

LOS ANGELES, CA — On February 7, 2023, “Alphabet Boys,” a new 10-episode documentary podcast from Western Sound and iHeartPodcasts, will reveal how the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) infiltrated and undermined the racial justice movement during the summer of 2020. Listen to the official audio trailer now HERE.

Hosted by investigative journalist Trevor Aaronson, “Alphabet Boys” is a new multi-season narrative podcast that brings listeners inside the world of America’s alphabet agencies, such as the FBI, CIA, DEA, and ATF. The audio documentary series dives into cases that raise a common question: Are federal agents and their informants catching bad guys or creating them? 

Season one draws from hours of secret FBI undercover recordings to tell the story of how a paid informant with a silver hearse and a proclivity for violence became a leader among Denver’s racial justice activists, encouraged violence and destruction, and attempted to set up unsuspecting activists in crimes.

“Federal law enforcement caused violence and destruction in the summer of 2020,” said Zebbodios “Zebb” Hall, a racial justice activist in Denver whose story is told in the podcast. “The FBI’s informant was a criminal who pushed activists toward violence as part of an attempt by the federal government to undermine our political movement from within.”

Alphabet Boys” will provide the first look behind the scenes at how the FBI investigated racial justice demonstrations during the tumultuous summer of 2020. 

Among the findings in the podcast:

  • Despite public assurances from Director Christopher Wray that the FBI does not investigate political ideology, internal reports about the FBI probe in Denver show that First Amendment-protected activities were the basis for the undercover operation.
  • The FBI recruited a violent felon with a sexual assault conviction and paid him tens of thousands of dollars during the summer of 2020 to pose as a racial justice activist.
  • The FBI informant became a leader in the Denver racial justice movement and promoted protests that turned violent and destructive.
  • When concerned that his cover might be blown, the FBI informant accused leaders of the racial justice moment in Denver of being police cooperators — a controversial tactic known as “snitch-jacketing” that was employed to devastating effect during the FBI’s COINTELPRO investigations of Black political groups in the 1960s.
  • An informant and undercover agent for the FBI attempted to engineer a plot, involving one racial justice activist in Denver, to assassinate Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.
  • Information from the FBI’s informant in Denver prompted an additional investigation in Colorado Springs, where federal agents assigned a pink-haired undercover local cop to orchestrate an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to set up racial justice activists in gun-running conspiracies.

Told as a single narrative over 10 episodes, season one of “Alphabet Boys” features access to never-before-heard FBI undercover recordings and interviews with activists who were the targets of the federal probe. The show also reveals for the first time the identity and sordid history of the controversial informant the FBI paid to spy on racial justice activists.

“The first season of ‘Alphabet Boys’ addresses an important question: How did the FBI respond to racial justice protests during the summer of 2020?” Aaronson says. “We answer that question through FBI internal records and undercover recordings, revealing that federal agents viewed these activists as ‘anti-government extremists’ and tried to set them up in violent crimes using an informant with a long history of violence and deception.”

“As with our No. 1 hits ‘Lost Hills’ and ‘Strangeland,’ ‘Alphabet Boys’ is a deeply immersive narrative that takes listeners inside an important, untold story,” says Western Sound founder and “Alphabet Boys” co-creator Ben Adair. “With Trevor’s groundbreaking reporting and unprecedented access to leaked audio, the podcast audience can experience this invasive, bizarre — and potentially illegal — undercover investigation from the inside.”

“Alphabet Boys” premieres February 7, with the release of the first two episodes. A new episode of season one will be released every Tuesday through April 4. The show is distributed by iHeartPodcasts and will be available on the iHeartRadio app and everywhere podcasts are heard.

Season two, which will explore a different federal investigation, will premiere later this year. 


About Trevor Aaronson

Trevor Aaronson is an investigative journalist and host of the podcasts “American ISIS” on Audible and “High Rollers,” the second season of the “Chameleon” series. He is the author of The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism and a contributing writer for The Intercept. His TED Talk about the FBI’s counterterrorism program has been viewed more than 1 million times and translated into more than two dozen languages. 

About Western Sound

Western Sound is the Los Angeles-based podcast studio behind the #1 podcasts Strangeland and Lost Hills. Established in 2018 by Peabody Award-winning journalist Ben Adair, Western Sound creates its own original shows and partners with clients like Higher Ground, CNN, Audible and The Los Angeles Times. Adair is a leading creator of investigative and immersive podcasts with creator, co-creator, or EP credits on “Reveal,” “Lost Hills,” “Strangeland,” “The Big Hit Show,” “The Trials of Frank Carson,” “The Score,” and others. Western Sound’s most recent awards include Webbys for its original shows Lost Hills and The Score: Bank Robber Diaries. 

About iHeartMedia, Inc.

iHeartMedia (NASDAQ: IHRT) is the number one audio company in the United States, reaching nine out of 10 Americans every month. It consists of three business groups.

With its quarter of a billion monthly listeners, the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group has a greater reach than any other media company in the U.S. Its leadership position in audio extends across multiple platforms, including more than 860 live broadcast stations in over 160 markets nationwide; its National Sales organization; and the company’s live and virtual events business. It also includes Premiere Networks, the industry’s largest Networks business, with its Total Traffic and Weather Network (TTWN); and BIN: Black Information Network, the first and only 24/7 national and local all news audio service for the Black community. iHeartMedia also leads the audio industry in analytics, targeting and attribution for its marketing partners with its SmartAudio suite of data targeting and attribution products using data from its massive consumer base.

The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the company’s fast-growing podcasting business -- iHeartMedia is the number one podcast publisher in downloads, unique listeners, revenue and earnings -- as well as its industry-leading iHeartRadio digital service, available across more than 250 platforms and 2,000 devices; the company’s digital sites, newsletters, digital services and programs; its digital advertising technology companies; and its audio industry-leading social media footprint.

The company’s Audio & Media Services reportable segment includes Katz Media Group, the nation’s largest media representation company, and RCS, the world's leading provider of broadcast and webcast software.

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