A podcast from Radiotopia featuring original series of all stripes, from emerging and leading producers around the world. The current feature, The Polybius Conspiracy, is a weekly seven-part series from Jon Frechette & Todd Luoto about a mysterious arcade game from the '80s whose alleged existence in the Pacific Northwest is fueled by myth.
If you're looking for the previous series, Ways of Hearing, you can find it in the Showcase archive.
Listen to The Polybius Conspiracy
The Polybius Conspiracy tells the complex story of two men united by a decades-old urban legend: Polybius, a mysterious arcade game from the '80s whose alleged existence in the Pacific Northwest is fueled by myth and an obsessive online fan base, and which may have factored in the abduction of two teenage boys. Told as a hybrid documentary/fictional story, the series is an artful meditation on how urban legends take hold and spread, and an exploration into how we consume and perpetuate information in the internet age.
The Polybius Conspiracy is written and produced by Jon Frechette and Todd Luoto, and hosted, sound designed and mixed by Jon Frechette. Field producer is Dylan Reiff. Executive producer is Julie Shapiro.
Music throughout The Polybius Conspiracy is by Anenon, Chris Fitzpatrick, Hrishikesh Hirway, Jon Frechette and Restricted. Episode Artwork is by Jin Lim. Logo design is by Kevin Blanchard. Avatar design is by Jonathan Moura.
Episode #7 – The Final Level
In Episode Seven: The Final Level: Fact, fabrication, history and hoax converge as the search for Marc comes full circle.
Episode #6 – The Code
In Episode Six: The Code, questions about Bobby result in a surprising lead, as Rubin comes to believe he's cracked the code on Polybius.
Christina is a Portland resident who briefly dated Bobby Feldstein.
Episode #5 – The Seller
In Episode Five: The Seller: New clues about the whereabouts of Rubin's missing partner shed light on secrets Bobby might prefer stay hidden. The team looks into how one might go about vetting the authenticity of a Polybius cabinet.
Frank Seller wheels and deals in all types of nostalgia: toys; board games; trading cards; and, of course, vintage arcade games.
Episode #4 – The Rewind
In Episode Four: The Rewind: Sometimes journalists pursue a mystery; other times, it pursues them. An unexpected phone call from Naomi Halbrook leads to more revelations, while a competing documentary project about Polybius leads to conflict.
Mitch Marcus is a film director and TV producer from Los Angeles, and one of the creative forces behind the soon-to-be-released History Channel show The Unexplained, featuring a segment on Polybius.
Episode #3 – The Cassette
In Episode Three: The search for answers leads the team to a retired journalist with a bizarre connection to Coin Kingdom, and unsettling allegations of abuse at an international youth academy.
Naomi Halbrook is a former journalist who briefly covered the Portland arcade scene in 1981.
Jenny Travis is a survivor of Morava Academy's controversial behavioral modification program that was conducted in the Czech Republic in the 1990s.
Icie Parr is a survivor of Morava Academy's controversial behavioral modification program that was conducted in the Czech Republic in the 1990s.
Clay Cowgill is the co-owner of Portland's premiere retrocade, Ground Kontrol.
Episode #2 – The Missing
In Episode Two: The Missing, as a man comes forward to potentially corroborate Bobby's story, the path forward plunges into the darkness of another Oregonian legend: the infamous Shanghai Tunnels.
Doug Kenck-Crispin is a Portland historian and tour guide
Rubin is searching for his partner, Marc, and suspects his disappearance may have some connection to the Polybius legend.
Episode #1 – The player
In Episode One: The Player, an investigation into the origins of the Polybius legend leads to Bobby, who claims the game was responsible for his abduction as a teenager. In the thirty-five years since, Bobby has remained steadfast with his story, going so far as to organize a for-profit walking tour while obsessively searching for the one person he believes could corroborate his allegations. Local players from the Portland arcade scene cast doubt on Bobby’s story, as do journalists who refute the game as ever having existed.
Bobby Feldstein is the founder of Portland's first and only Polybius walking tour, and claims the game is connected to his abduction as a teenager.
Catherine “Cat” Despira is a journalist and video game historian who debunked the Polybius urban legend in the pages of Retrocade Magazine.
Dylan Reiff is a Portland-based gamer, pinball enthusiast, and creator of immersive games.
Ernest Cline is an author and screenwriter of the bestsellers Ready Player One and Armada.
Joe Streckert is a notable Portland tour guide, podcaster, and lecturer.
What is Showcase?
It’s a podcast that features original, limited-run series of all stripes, from emerging and leading producers around the world. Showcase is a way to support independent producers with powerful ideas that are better suited to short-run series, rather than ongoing shows. With Showcase, Radiotopia can support more diverse voices and perspectives, help this work find an appreciative audience, and continue to back the best talent — both new and established — out there. From music philosophy to conspiracy theory, personal stories to fiction, no two Showcase series will sound alike.
Listen to an introduction to Showcase below, and find out even more about Showcase.
Thanks to Hrishi Hirway for helping inspire and create this project.
Meet the team behind the series
The Polybius conspiracy
Jon Frechette & Todd Luoto
JON FRECHETTE holds degrees in film production and language arts. As an undergraduate, he was the recipient of the Cinetech Most Promising Filmmaker award. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.
TODD LUOTO had the privilege to occupy roles for Sundance Film Festival, Fox Digital Studio, and Super Deluxe. His creative work has screened at the Tribeca, SXSW, Slamdance, and AFI Film Festivals, among others.
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