About The City

Season 1, Chicago: Six stories of rubble. A million stories buried underneath

The City tells true stories of how power works in urban America. Season 1 begins in Chicago, 1990. Winter is turning into spring, and in Chicago, that means construction season. After years of disinvestment, highways are rebuilt, old buildings demolished, new parks and skyscrapers erected. But all that rubble has to go somewhere, and its destination isn’t a landfill or a recycling center. It’s a pair of vacant lots in a black, working-class neighborhood called North Lawndale.

At the helm of this operation is a guy sporting a Cosby sweater, manicured nails, and underworld connections. His name is John Christopher, and over the next decade and beyond, the story of what John Christopher does on this lot—and how North Lawndale fights against him—is a tour de force through the underbelly of Chicago. Aldermen get indicted. An FBI investigation goes awry. A neighborhood gets polluted with impunity. And a community’s resilience is tested—all unfolding under the spectre of racism in America.


Robin Amer is the creator and host of The City, which bested nearly 400 other applicants from around the country to win WNYC’s 2015 Podcast Accelerator competition before being acquired by Gannett. A passionate urbanist and investigative reporter, her work is inspired by place and often focuses on the varied challenges facing U.S. cities. She previously served as the deputy editor of the alt-weekly Chicago Reader, where she supervised the paper’s national-award-winning investigations, and as a producer for WBEZ Chicago Public Media.

Wilson Sayre is a reporter for The City. She previously reported on issues of homelessness, housing and criminal justice at WLRN, Miami’s NPR affiliate. She founded the station’s youth radio program and has produced work for shows like NPR, “Reveal,” and PRI’s “The World.” Her work has been recognized by the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize and national Edward R. Murrow Awards.

Jenny Casas(@jnnsmn) is a California Chicana based in Chicago, where she is a reporter/producer for the The City. She’s reported on class and power for St. Louis Public Radio, and covered restorative justice and criminal law in Cook County for City Bureau, a civic journalism lab covering Chicago’s West and South Side.

Ben Austen is a story consultant for The City and the author of “High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing.” A former editor at Harper's Magazine, he has written for Harper's as well as many other publications, including The New York Times Magazine, GQ, Wired, Elle and The Atlantic. He is a Chicagoan.

Sam Greenspan is the editor of The City. He is also the host and creator of “Bellwether,” a forthcoming podcast of speculative journalism. Previously, Sam was the managing producer of “99% Invisible,” and was a founding producer of NPR’s “TED Radio Hour.” Sam got his start at WSLR, a low-power FM station in Sarasota, Florida. He lives in Los Angeles.

Hannis Brown is the composer and sound designer for The City. He has created music for podcasts including “Death, Sex & Money,” “A Piece of Work” with Abbi Jacobson and “The United States of Anxiety.” He was awarded a 2015 Peabody award for production on WQXR’s “Meet the Composer” and has been commissioned by the ETHEL String Quartet, the Colorado Symphony and the new-music collective Hotel Elefant.

Taylor Maycanis a producer for The City. The project has been a welcome return to telling stories about the city of Chicago, where she first cut her teeth as a journalist while studying at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Previously the senior editor of USA TODAY College, where she mentored student reporters, she’s currently a senior audio producer and editor for USA TODAY.

Isobel Cockerell is a production assistant for The City. Originally from London, she is a recent graduate of Columbia Journalism School, where she specialized in cross-platform investigative reporting within New York City’s immigrant communities. She has covered politics, migration and environmental justice for The Daily Beast, EurasiaNet and HuffPost.

Bianca Medious is a production assistant for The City. She’s a recent graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, where she specializes in social justice and investigative reporting. Her background includes law school, working on both of President Barack Obama’s campaigns and teaching high school students in the South and West sides of Chicago.

Additional Credits

Liz Nelson

Executive Producer, VP Content Development

Chris Davis

Vice President of Investigations, USA TODAY

Maribel Wadsworth

USA TODAY NETWORK President and Publisher

Scott Stein

Vice president of product, USA TODAY

Shannon Green

USA TODAY Senior Audio Producer

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