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Seneca, Nebraska

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - 02:00 AM

(Photo Credit: Simon Adler)
Back in 2014 the town of Seneca, Nebraska was deeply divided. How divided? They were so fed up with each other that some citizens began circulating a petition that proposed a radical solution. If a majority wanted to they'd self-destruct, end the town and wipe their community off the map. 

Producer Simon Adler goes to Seneca to knock on doors and sit down with residents for a series of kitchen table conversations. Along the way, we try to piece together what happened in this tiny town and what its fracture says about America.

Produced and Reported by Simon Adler. Special Thanks to Matthew Hansen of the Omaha World Herald.

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Comments [54]

corey rae from Springfield Il

If this all started with horses being abused.. what happened to the horses??? Are they still being abused?

Jan. 28 2017 09:31 AM

Is it easier or harder to frack on unincorporated land? This story reminds me of misdirection in Magician Acts.

Dec. 25 2016 07:34 PM
DeBosco from Atlanta-ish

I signed up just so I could leave this comment. I have listened to every show since the first one. When my daughter was in middle school and high school, I would present her science teachers with DVDs filled with the shows.

I still listen, but usually when I've exhausted my other podcasts. I miss the Science. Radiolab is too much like a This American Life knock-off. What happened? Was it the death of Oliver Sacks? Jad inning the MacArthur Award?

And, sadly, More Perfect was the first production from Radiolab that I ever stopped without finishing. It was not so much reporting and explaining as opinion and agenda. I found it unlistenable.

Please, bring back the Science, the wonder, the exploration. I miss it. And, apparently, so do many others. Or else, as someone else suggested, it might be time to call it a day.

Dec. 20 2016 03:16 PM
Mary Richter from Bellingham, Washington

I'm still a contributor. I really enjoyed the comments-some of the best comments on a story ever. They were such a great juxtaposition to the story. Why can't we just all get along?

Dec. 15 2016 11:48 PM

Looking at the various comments by residents, I can see why Radiolab did not delve too far into the issues. Both sides seem angry that Simon failed to take their side and air their grievances. Going down that rabbit hole would have been messy and probably would have just pissed off people anyway.

Dec. 13 2016 07:06 PM
William Limratana from Iowa

Am I naive to think a bunch of us go out there next summer and help build some of these people some chicken coops and some other animal things? Maybe we could camp someplace near by.

Dec. 07 2016 04:39 PM

Worst episode ever!

Nov. 07 2016 10:14 PM
John from Cincinnati

This is another potentially interesting story ruined by sending in a reporter with an ax to grind. Simon is clearly a statist who feels the town identity was more important than the individuals involved, and he made no effort to disguise his leanings. In case there was any doubt, however, his government-first mindset was revealed by his regret that no one could use "force" to bring the feuding parties to the negotiation table. Force, Simon? Really? It's the ultimate tool of progressive left-wing tyranny against the individual.

Nov. 07 2016 12:37 PM

Nice story! I think you perhaps neglected to mention that Seneca was himself forced to commit suicide? (Just saying.) -W

Nov. 06 2016 02:38 PM

To hell with the argumentative, selfish, uncommunicative, rigid people in this story! Did anyone help the poor neglected horses? The only creatures who could help themselves didn't ... and as usual, the creatures who could not help themselves were victimized because of it.

Oct. 31 2016 01:37 PM

The sandhills are a fascinating ecology. Investigation into these would make an interesting story. I really could not enjoy this story, sorry.

Oct. 30 2016 06:57 PM
Rachel from Pittsburgh

I made a donation to Radiolab back when it was scientific, well-researched, and politically unbiased. When (If) Radiolab returns to that state, I will make another donation.

Oct. 30 2016 05:59 PM
Dave from Chicago

Definitely below Radiolab standards. I was waiting for a larger issue to emerge like how the development of the interstate highway system(1) and the decline of trains(2) in the 1970s hurt a lot of small towns like Seneca. Or how the rise of wealth inequality in the late 1970s and early 80s(3) created a lot of poverty and instability which would make it difficult for a small business owner to recover after an injury or illness. The only thing that emerged was this idea that the residents failed to come together out of a lack of maturity or warmth is superficial. I critique not to be nasty but because I know you are capable of doing so much better.


Oct. 29 2016 10:47 AM

Much like that poor horse, I'm afraid it's time for this show to be taken behind the barn and put out of its misery.

I was wondering how anyone at Radiolab could think this story is worth publishing. After reading through all the comments, including those from some Seneca residents, it became perfectly clear. Jeff from Minneapolis, MN summed it up best. Radiolab has been hallowed out and re-purposed as a vessel to push "progressive" political and social agendas. The fact that they used the topic of vote fraud to bait interviewees into participating and then never mentioned it on the show is particularly egregious.

The thought of having to take this kind of garbage at face value in the days before the internet frightens me.

Oct. 25 2016 01:44 PM
Alex from Chicago, IL

Miss the high-quality, unique, science-focused work that Radiolab is known for. My wife and I discovered radiolab a few years ago and it really helped us though a stressful and emotionally challenging time in NY. Radiolab kept us inspired, connected and thinking about new things in different ways.

We've both felt like Jad has been less invested in the show, which is true by admission because of his work with the other podcast, but we can hear it in the way he interacts with Robert on the show as well. Listening to older shows there is so much more wonder and excitement with the material and obvious enthusiasm. We both hope the vacation Jad is taking is well spent on recharging batteries and refocusing this outstanding podcast.

It is exhausting work to do what this team does, but as others have clearly expressed, it is work worth doing. It's what draws us in and keeps us hooked. Don't let any slack get on the rope.

Radiolab explores questions of science, philosophy and mankind. Science is first for a reason -- how that science affects our collective and individual philosophies and the way it relates to all of mankind.

I certainly don't think the best days are behind. Tree to Shining Tree is a great example -- outstanding. But if you all decide to stop putting that level of work into each and every episode then announce the final season and end with a tremendous bang.

Better to go out meaningfully than fall away into obscurity.

Just a few thoughts from another ear on the wire.

Oct. 25 2016 12:34 PM
Ryan Sereno from New York, NY

I wish the discussion would have gone into more depth on the implications of 'unincorporation'. How does it affect property taxes, school districts, local zoning codes/ laws, etcetera?

Oct. 24 2016 06:58 PM

This was strange for Radiolab.. none of the familiar quirky elements, nothing science-y, and the subject wasn't really even explored in depth as others pointed out. These ones seem like they'd be a lot more in place on this American Life, which isn't as good as Radiolab! Please do more science-based episodes~

Oct. 23 2016 07:26 PM

Just leave, its north dakota. No one (most people) likes the dakotas and they have nothing to offer

Oct. 23 2016 02:49 PM
Carolyn Standlee-Hanson from St. Charles, MN

Well, coming to the web page and reading all the comments gave me some insight into what was really the problem in this town (possible vote fraud leading to unicorporation). I have to agree with the others who have commented, that this subject was not covered at all in the podcast, and apparently is the reason many people in the town were willing to talk about it, thinking it would be discussed.

However, I came to the web page to see if anyone could answer my question. What the heck ever happened to the horses? Did anyone step in to help their situation, or help the people that were not able (not willing) to take proper care of them?

Oct. 22 2016 12:02 PM
truce_m3 from america

There were two elements I didn't pick up, and I'm glad to see I wasn't the only one who thought this was subpar:

a) How many people lived in the town

b) What was the actual disagreement? They hinted at some elitism, but I didn't feel they ever really dissected directly what the fuss was about.

Oct. 21 2016 01:09 PM
Bad Abumbad from Montana

I nearly fell asleep ten minutes in. This felt like a poorly edited, lazily researched version of Radio Diaries. Abumrad and Krulwich gave up on this podcast a long time ago, and it's never been more evident.

If I'm being honest, I haven't finished an episode of this show in over a year now. It's just gotten, well... skippable.

Oct. 20 2016 07:02 PM
Noora from Scotland

I agree with other commentors - where is the science and psychology? :( I also never got my radiolab mug for supporting you.

Oct. 19 2016 05:47 AM
Costanza Rampini from Santa Cruz, CA

I loved it! Turn this into a play!

Oct. 18 2016 10:17 PM
Matt from Chicago

Agree with others about this episode being really disappointing. I've loved Radiolab for years, but this episode cemented for me a gathering sense that its best days are past and will not be returning. Get back to the SCIENCE, you guys. Please.

Or don't, I suppose - I mean, it's Jad's and Robert's show. My sneaking suspicion is that Jad in particular wants to move from more science-y and psychological topics, covering brain cells and how we process music and the physics of time, to a more sociological/political bent. That's his prerogative. But I have to say, it's done better by others.

No one covers those science-y topics the way J&R do, though. The recent episode From Tree to Shining Tree was outstanding, and achieved a level of quality consistent with the show's earliest years. But then we were back to this.

Shorter Seneca, NE: town dies when the railroad stops coming through, dwindles to just about nothing over the course of 40 years, and goes out with a whimper that feels like a bang to its remaining residents (so much so that seemingly half of them have commented in this thread). There's a kernel of a story there, about the almost completed arc of America's rural to urban transformation, begun in the late 19th century and accelerated by WWII. Or a story about bitter revanchists who won't be told they have to live by anyone else's rules as a symbol of an increasingly rejected social contract. But this wasn't either of those. It didn't lay out sufficient background detail, or ask any hard questions, and the interviewees were incapable of articulating anything beyond personal grievances and mindlessly attributions of evil and irrationality to the other side, like bitter recent divorcees.

Oct. 17 2016 06:53 PM
Kyle from Chicago

Did anyone else not really follow what was going on? This one was confusing.

Oct. 17 2016 04:01 PM

Normally I'm a big fan of Radiolab. I kept waiting for hear where the story of the horse-ordinance landed the citizens of Seneca. I also kept waiting for the story line to circle around and the open to some larger reality. Felt like major pieces of the story were missing. Did I miss the point? What *was* the point?

Oct. 17 2016 02:30 PM
Judith Brown from Seneca, Nebraska

Simon you did a great job of editing the interviews. The horses were not the real issue. A family moved to town from outside the closed world of the Nebraska Sandhills; the father was dying of cancer and the mother was an animal gatherer. Their children were grown and had little babies. When Jackie Sevier says nobody has moved here, it's useful to remember that when new people do move here they are persecuted as was this entire family. We have never had a good town board, ever. The town board that caused the unincorporation was simply the worst one and we were sick of it. We have been talking about unincorporation for years. Neither Nancy Isom nor Jackie Sevier lives in Seneca. I doubt if either of them has ever been out of Nebraska. I am offended that it is being said that we are poor, rural, and uneducated. Warren Buffett and Ted Turner pay taxes and Nebraska has excellent schools and roads. We are all well educated. Please do not insult our Sandhills schoolteachers. We have five school age children here now. We are rich people with no money. Some of us are old, some of us are not. There's unnecessary ageism in the preceding comments. The Isoms and Seviers do not live in this town and are not neighbors. They were no help to any of us. My vote broke the tie and it was a legal vote. No one from the town board ever offered to help me with my house and gigantic trees, they only criticized and threatened. Much of the evil comes from the hateful church in town - no resident of Seneca is permitted in their church. We must not ride horses, play music, walk our dogs, or work in our yards while the holy ones rage and gossip about other people's sins. The board sued every voter because of its arrogance. They thought they were better than the rest of us because they have fancy houses, more debt, produce none of their own food, and are not healthy. Seneca continues to be divided. The Seviers do not speak to any of us and are afraid to come to the post office for their mail fearing they will meet one of us, and the Isoms haven't lived here since they were in high school. They showed up because Simon was coming. We now have excellent street care and less light pollution. The town board never LOOKED UP at the star-filled Nebraska skies. Seneca neighbors are closer and more loyal now that the Isoms are gone and the Seviers do not cross the river. Not nice people. In the words of John Prine "Some humans ain't human, some people ain't kind". When there is a bad government, we vote them out. That is what Americans do. Remember this on November 8.

Oct. 17 2016 12:52 AM

This was the worst episode I have ever listened to, and I LOVE this podcast. What was the actual point? Trying it into the election was a real stretch. I agree with other comments- hard to follow, tangential, had no unifying point.

Oct. 16 2016 08:22 PM
Sarah Siddell

I keep coming back because I remember the great shows....the ones that gave me a completely new idea or perception that I had to share with friends.

Today I made a promise to myself: if I am bored 10 minutes into the show, I will take my precious time and go somewhere else where there are wonderful things to be heard and learned.

Robert and Jad, This American Life is perhaps the best, most-consistently-interesting show on the air. Don't try to imitate Ira and company. When you do, your show invariably falls flat.

You are driving us away. Please stop!

Oct. 15 2016 08:04 PM
Mari from Colorado

I thought that the recommended link at the top of this page explained the story pretty well, better than the episode. I had problems keeping all the people and their viewpoints straight. I'm guessing that the point of the episode was to show that political environment in a very small town is equally as contentious as the political environment in Washington, and the country as a whole. Small towns are sometimes held up as symbols of virtue and of the longing some people have for the good old days. But small town politics can be as harsh as city politics as was in evidence here.

Oct. 15 2016 04:37 PM
Jeff from Minneapolis, MN

Alright, that was not even a decent episode of Radiolab, it lacked the real story and attempted to make a connection without the actual substance. I agree with the rest of you that I miss those good old Radiolab episodes. What I would like to do is unpack the real story that happened in Seneca, NE.

From my understanding of the comments on here from actual Seneca residents (thank you for contributing) the story went something like this:

There was a horrible incident with animal abuse and a horse had to be put down.

The town hall (city council?) members decided to pass a law that no one could have horses. Then the city council members ran around informing citizens of laws already on the books about cleaning up the town and that those laws would begin to be enforced.

Then out of nowhere, some sort of charlatan individual (I'm thinking the mono-rail salesman from "The Simpsons") moved into town and decided it would be fun to dissolve the town. He ran around town and registered 2 felons to vote, slandered the city council members and lied to the town citizens about losing all their animals if the new anti-horse law were to pass. Finally, his desire of dissolving the town was accomplished by 1 vote.

Correct me where I'm wrong, but that appears to be what happened. It would be useful if people could offer up names of the charlatan or felons who swindled the citizens out of their town; or if my interpretation holds up with what happened.

One real big issue the Seneca residents seem to have is that Simon from Radiolab misrepresented the story he was going to tell, he was supposed to talk about a stolen election with illegal votes as I described above but that's a very sensitive issue for liberal broadcasters from the NYC so apparently that part of the story was left out.

Finally, what were the consequences of the loss of the town being incorporated? Did taxes drop? Sounds like there was the loss of some equipment but street lights seem like a waste for a town of 33-35 unless the individuals nearby want to pay for them, which sounds like the current system. To me it seems like the township incorporation was unnecessary all along...just hire someone to plow your roads in the winter and pay for your street lights to be on nearby your house and all is good. Also, seems like the current animal cruelty laws could have easily handled the inhumane horse owner that began this entire story.

Oct. 14 2016 05:23 PM
Julien Couvreur

I see a common theme with your recent "The Girl Who Doesn't Exist" episode. Apparently Radiolab reporters think that things that aren't registered with the government or as a political entity don't exist.

Oct. 14 2016 01:59 PM
Joe Henly from US

This is ridiculous. I have so many questions, by looking at comments of people from Seneca, IF this was truly an illegal vote, and radiolab missed the mark. Which I don't understand reporting on a squabble in a town. We all have them.
1. Did the entire village of registered voters show up? If not, why are they not being blamed?
2. How do you know that one vote was illegal? One person said it was a military dependent vote? How do you know that military person didn't get married/discover a child of legal age, etc? How do you know the exact details? If there are those details, can they be LEGALLY divulged? none of your business probably.
3. My county is over 150,000 residents. I am positive my Election official is not checking to see if I am physically still living here.
4. There is a flaw in our voting system nationwide, yes. Systems do not always connect state to state. I can have a house in lets say Nebraska and Minnesota...declare residency in both places and vote in both places, because Nebraska and Minnesota systems are not compatible. (that is just an example, I have no idea if they are compatible)

I do not think the Seneca "savers" are uneducated but they are really coming off as obsessive in the comments over 1 vote. Maybe it was one of the savers that misunderstood the ballot wording. YOU HAVE NO IDEA.
Shame on you Radiolab for even reporting such a ridiculous story.

Oct. 14 2016 12:55 PM
Anders Gjöres from Sweden

Well someone before wrote what I thought when listening; "a weak This American Life clone".

Oct. 14 2016 11:47 AM
Peter Ross from San jose

You guys gotta abbreviate and shorten these sagas somehow. I don't know how maybe experiment with a speech compression or sampling routine which is what I do to plow through your stuff in 90-seconds or so to get an impression and take the edge off my impatience. If you had a better clickable routine I could launch that would only take a minute or two and with two slightly different passes give me the gist I need to move on with a pretty good gestalt corpus body impression -- i know that doesn't show very much respect to RadioLab and your work but what are you gonna do in a twitter world of gimme now damn it. Thank you, and sincerely yours, one impatient SOB.

Oct. 14 2016 09:04 AM
JB from Georgia

I was struck by the last segment when Simon talked about how we are a diverse country and have managed to get along for centuries and ( shortly after) The resident still talks about living in a town.

I think perhaps that in the past, while we had differing opinions, we were not actually different from one another. We had a relatively unified culture that others assimilated into. Now, with a significantly more diverse population, I would expect disagreements to become more extensive and sharper. It could very well be that this country is headed for something similar to Seneca.

With regard to the resident considering Seneca a town even though it's not a legal town, this brings to mind the old frontier spirit and folks not needing the government to tell them they are a town for there to be a "town" (read community).

Oct. 13 2016 06:36 PM

No need to restate the previous comments, so Amen and Ditto to most of the non-Seneca resident comments above. I'm just glad I listened to Seneca while doing some really boring accounting work, so I only wasted half of my time for 29 minutes. Seriously, I was a generous donor last year, but how does one keep donating when this is the return? Less Seneca and Dave and the Wire and MORE Tree to Shining Tree, Juicervose, Rhino Hunter, Gray's Donation, etc. You know how to make my little world bigger Radiolab... now go produce it!

Oct. 13 2016 05:32 PM
Bobbie from Seneca

Dear Simon,
I believe your objective was to show how corrupt elections can be in small town USA and Presidential elections, however YOU fell short, way short!
You failed to get the real story out there. You failed to tell your listeners how ONE man used and manipulated the elderly into illegally signing the circulation of a petition to un-incorporate this small town, when she never carried the petition. How two felons were manipulated into registering to vote (all three were charged and sentenced). Or how he manipulated the poor to believe that un-incorporating the town was their only option and ALL their animals would be taken away from them if they didn't. ONE man took advantage of the young /ignorant to vote an absentee ballot when not a resident or had NEVER been a resident of Seneca or a military dependant. ONE man who attacked the character of a person by posting a slanderous sign on his home.
This, Simon, is how Seneca became a small town no longer!

Oct. 12 2016 09:13 PM
Joanne from Colorado

I listen to this online, but no where, was there a reason why an illegal vote was allowed. It didn't state what would happen to the town after it was disbanded, like according to the Nebraska by-laws of the state, only one bar is allowed in the county ( bar and cafe was combined), more crime happening due to no lighting of the streets or maintenance, if you need assistance you best be prepared to wait at least an hour,( if not more than 3 hours) also possibly close down the post office, any an all public building to close.
During the winter, the Seneca Hill becomes impassible, so you will get snowed in, God help you if you need medical assistance, the last time I seen any county maintenance, if they felt like it you might get a snowplow down the hill, there was many times while I was in school the school bus ended up staying over night, because they could NOT get back up the hill.
Seen in comments asking about children, unless something happened there are no school age children in town unless they are visiting grandparents. As far as dances and such, yep you could say they were fun drunk filling over half the floor fights inside and out of the dance hall, shootings, and stabbing, so yes they were fun times. So everything you stated or reported on was NOT the true issue just like mainstream media places their slant on the news so the TRUTH is never reported.

Oct. 12 2016 08:57 PM
Jeff from Ohio

Tune in next week when we watch paint dry.

Oct. 12 2016 08:21 PM
Jackie Sevier from Nebraska

Shame on you, Simon, and shame on you Radio Lab. We invited you into our homes on your word the story was to be about the election and not open old wounds. You sensationalized a story that serves no constructive healing purpose. You played our voice clips when you were told you did not have consent or authorization to use our name our interview unless it was for the purpose you presented when we agreed to meet with you. You used us for your own gain and we trusted you. We have more connection here and more loyalty for each other and our community than you have in your entire New York City studio. Your credibility is zero and I plan to tell everyone who will listen. Here in Seneca, we call it integrity.

Oct. 12 2016 04:59 PM
Nancy isom from Seneca resident

Simon, we told you the focus of our story should be on the illegal primary election that took place causing our small village to become unincorporated. Also,the process that took place. If the process would have been (according to law), we would have no problem with the outcome. If you had done the story as you were told, it would show how one vote cast illegally could unincorporate a small town. Thus ending 118 years of beautiful history and stories. Not focusing on bitter fighting and division of Senecas residents. That idea is ridiculous as we clearly told you. The message should read if an illegal election can be swayed to take place in our country and gotten by with IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU IN YOUR TOWN! Our doors may be closed now, and you see more traffic going out of town than coming in, but they can't take away our beautiful memories of what used to be. Oh, I believe there's a song to that effect.

Oct. 12 2016 03:52 PM
Nick from Baltimore

Although other commenters derided this episode for its topic, its methods, and its lack of depth I thought it captured perfectly the same kind of anger folks are feeling nationwide about different groups. The "save the town" side wants to make a small change, but the "town is okay as it is" side says there is nothing to fix. Feelings are hurt and tensions rise until both sides forget what they started with, and why they started fighting. Not a groundbreaking episode, but the retelling of an all-too-familiar tale these days.

Side note, I got so interested in this little town, I used Google Streetview to take a drive thru (as of 2012). I also took the time to update the road map on the Waze app; who knows, maybe they'll get a few more folks driving through town.

Oct. 12 2016 03:46 PM
Sandy Hansen from Seneca

At the time Simon called and asked to talk to me it was to be about one vote mattered. Did anyone hear anything about that one vote?or the fact that people moved to town shortly before that and moved out right after they voted. Ordinances were in the book published in 1921 about keeping dogs on leash, confining chickens to your own yard, and others concerning the care of animals in town. As we are in an area that rattlesnakes call home there were also ordinances about the upkeep of property as to removing weeds, trash etc. All the town board did was to bring these laws to the attention of people. There is a sign up stating I am a liar. Sorry I state facts and if you have the mentality to believe all the spray painted signs you see then God help you. Simon said nothing about the fact we lost our street lights. Yes I have one because I pay each month for it to be there. We lost all street maintaince as well as the equipment.

Oct. 12 2016 03:38 PM
Kresta Sherman from Scottsbluff, Ne

To Simon (the one that did the didn't even talk about the real issue of this story, which was an illegal election. They had no right to unicorporate Seneca because a vote was cast by someone who wasn't even a ligetimate resident of Seneca. Thomas County failed to check and make sure that everyone who voted was actually a resident of that county. So the unicorporation shouldn't have even gotten as far as the state. I grew up in Seneca, from the time I was born in 1981 to 1995 when we moved 3 hrs west to Scottsbluff. My dad, also grew up there most of his life, and my Grandparents lived there for more than 50+ yrs and my grandfather's family has been in the sandhills area since WWI...I still conaider it my home as I still have lots of family in the area and my parents and I have land there right acrossed the river. I had great hopes of building a place on that property and one day living there, and I alomg with my family tried to help the wonderful people that actually reside there keep it incorporated because we didn't want to lose the streetlights and the road equipment, and the town hall and the restaurant. It wasn't about "keeping those lower class people in line" as it was put. It was about keeping up your place so it wasn't falling down around your ankles, looking like trash and taking care of your animals so they weren't starving to death or dying. We were asked by the board just the same as everyone else to do something with our land because it had become a breeding ground for wild possibly dangerous animals and so we did what we could to abide by the rules. It's just what you do. You don't decide to completely destroy at town because of it. You need to do a Seneca Part 2 and talk about the real issues here!!!

Oct. 12 2016 03:14 PM
Ted Stiffington from stiffsville

I thought that RadioLab had gotten its grove back after a rough patch earlier this year. "Playing God" and "Tree to Shining Tree" were wonderful examples of RadioLab at it's best. Unfortunately, we wound up with another sub-par outing cut from the same cloth as "Dave and the wire" and "Debatable". Maybe the staff should shut things down for the rest of 2016 and figure out if RL is gong to be the show that we all love or a weak This American life clone.

Oct. 12 2016 03:02 PM
Valley from Nebraska

Simon was also vague on his purpose to explore this story. The premise he used to interview the community was that it would be about one vote that abolished a village with over 125 years of history. Otherwise most would not have consented to meet with him. He was deceptive. This story has nothing to do with the questionable process of the election we agreed to talk about. This is his email quote.

"I'm interested in these question not to pick at old wounds or to reawaken tensions that may have gone dormant, but because I believe Seneca's story speaks loudly to the political divides we're seeing nationally."

I regret consenting to meeting with him.

Oct. 12 2016 02:51 PM
Julia J from New York

This has to be my least favorite episode in recent memory. Why does the interviewer keep interrupting his interviewees? Why do we care about this story? You're expecting the listener to relate this story to the election without actually tying it together or offering thoughtful insight. I've generally found the recent episodes to be pretty good albeit different from the original Radiolab recipe of finding a common theme and weaving ideas together, but this episode felt especially lazy and ungratifying.

Oct. 12 2016 01:13 PM
Kylie from from Connecticut

Was everyone from Seneca over 65 years of age and determined to die in their homes? What was the population of the town 25-30 people? Nothing about this town felt much like typical America to me. Maybe I'm wrong here, but there must not be any school age children in town right, so no one cares about the vote and how it would effect education.

Oct. 12 2016 12:29 PM
Nicole from Miami, FL

Ugh...I miss the old RadioLab. The quality of the stories has gone down since Jad stepped away. This story would've been perfect for This American Life.

Oct. 12 2016 10:54 AM
John from US

This was way too abstract for Radiolab. Overly-analyzed human interest fluff is the reason I stopped listening to other podcasts but kept up with Radiolab, but you guys seem to be too willing to stoop to the overly-analyzed human interest fluff.

Oct. 12 2016 10:35 AM
timmy from the block

I though we were done with these go nowhere stories after "Dave and the Wire"? Guess I was wrong. Would have been much better is you guys delved into exactly what the consequences of the vote really were. Did un-incorporating the town have any effect on the day to day life of people? Did any one regret their vote? Was there any unforeseen benefits from the vote? Any unforeseen negative impact? I know it's an election year and all but please get back to the science.

Oct. 12 2016 08:53 AM
Caitlin from Phoenixville, PA

RadioLab has been producing some really lame shows recently.

The whole time I was listening to this, the most important question was NEVER answered. What was the town ruling that was so inflammatory that half the residents wanted to unincorporate the town??? I heard people say things like "they want to punish us for being who we are!" and "they want to make this look like a Denver community!" or something vague like that.
The story I heard went like this: some people in the town had 6 horses ("6" was repeated again and again as if it were an important number) who they were abusing through neglect. The town sheriff created an ordinance demanding the horse owners put the horses in a bigger facility where they could move around. Then the community became outraged and voted to unincorporate the town...
WHAT??? THERE'S A BIG CHUNK OF THE STORY MISSING!!! What part of the ordinance affected the rest of the town? Did the ordinance change the law so drastically to help these horses that all of a sudden everyone else in the town was bound by the same ridiculous law? Or were they all just ordered to keep their lawns a certain height and not let chickens roam the streets? Someone mentioned they "wanted to take ALL the animals away" but a) that doesn't sound like a law that could be enforced and b) it sounded like there were plenty of animals still around.
And there was never any description of what the houses/properties of the interviewees looked like. Were they completely dilapidated, therefore explaining why half the residents wanted laws that forced other residents to take care of their properties? That doesn't sound unreasonable. Or did the ordinance force each resident to make drastic changes to their property that required them to use time, energy, and/or money they didn't have? In which case, I would side with those who were against the change.

The whole show was vague, non-linear, and just plain badly-investigated. I don't know if there was a deadline that had to be met and no time to edit, but this was just frustrating to listen to. I genuinely liked some of the people being interviewed and really wish there had been some more in-depth investigation and better editing.

Oct. 12 2016 08:51 AM
Grady Phelan from Texas

I'm listening to this episode on NPR one. Strange things are happening with the audio. It keeps jumping back-and-forth between Ads and the show and different parts of the show. I've heard this before on the podcast app through iTunes but this time it's really awful. I thought it might be on my end but as I watch the time tick by it is steady second after second, it doesn't jump around like you might think. I've been listening to radio lab for a long time and part of me feels like this is some kind of experiment. Any thoughts?

Oct. 12 2016 07:54 AM

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