All five episodes of 30 for 30 Podcasts’ new season, delving deep into the complicated world of Bikram yoga, debuts today on the ESPN App, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn and wherever podcasts are available. The audio documentary series tells the story of the rise and fall of Bikram yoga and how the community is still grappling with its identity in the wake of the sexual assault allegations against its founder, Bikram Choudhury. Watch the video trailer: https://es.pn/2Gu9fBL
Reported and produced by ESPN’s Julia Lowrie Henderson, the series explores how this young Indian yogi used his connections with celebrities to launch a hot yoga empire that changed yoga in America forever. As Choudhury rode the money train of fitness-obsessed America, the Speedo-clad and Rolex-wearing guru used the healing powers of his yoga revolution to hide his increasingly dark behavior – bilking business partners, verbally harassing students, and ultimately sexually assaulting several followers. Today, there is a warrant for Choudhury’s arrest and he has filed for bankruptcy and left the country.
Henderson, having practiced and worked in the Bikram Yoga community, uses her experience to help listeners get inside a deeply private community. The series features in-depth interviews with Bikram practitioners, teachers, studio owners, and women who claim to have been abused by Choudhury. Henderson calls into question the guru’s origin story by traveling to his hometown of Calcutta, India, and tracks him down at his teacher training in Acapulco, Mexico. More about on her reporting journey can be found in a video testimonial on the 30 for 30 Podcasts’ website.
“This serialized season is a huge step as 30 for 30 continues to expand into the podcast storytelling space,” said Libby Geist, vice president and executive producer, ESPN Films and Original Content. “We dipped our toes in last year, but now we’re taking the plunge into a multi-layered story and one that is still unfolding – which is unusual for 30 for 30. We’re so proud of this project and of Julia’s handling of this delicate topic at such an important time for female empowerment.”
30 for 30 Podcasts, which first debuted in July 2017, tell original sports stories in the likeness of the acclaimed 30 for 30 documentaries, but made exclusively for audio. The first two seasons featured individual episodes that explored and reported on new sports stories that combine original interviews and archival sound. 30 for 30 Podcasts is sponsored by Delta Air Lines and ZipRecruiter. More information can be found in the official press kit: http://bit.ly/2HZZL3e
About ESPN Films
ESPN Films has been an industry leader in documentary filmmaking since its inception in March 2008, producing more than 100 documentaries that have showcased some of the most compelling stories in sports. The high quality of storytelling, highlighted by the Peabody and Emmy-Award winning 30 for 30 series and the Academy-Award winning documentary “O.J.: Made in America,” has led to record viewership as well as multiple honors and critical acclaim. Additional projects from ESPN Films over the years have included 30 for 30 Shorts, Nine for IX and the SEC Storied series.
About ESPN Radio
ESPN Radio, the country’s largest sports radio network, ESPN Deportes Radio, ESPNRadio.com, and ESPN Podcasts comprise ESPN Audio.
ESPN Radio, which launched January 1, 1992, provides more than 9,000 hours of talk and event content annually, reaching 20 million listeners a week on 500 nationwide stations, including more than 375 full-time affiliates and clearance in the top 25 markets. ESPN owns and/or operates stations in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. ESPN Radio programming is also available on SiriusXM and via digital distributors Apple Music, Slacker Radio and TuneIn.
ESPN Audio launched its first podcast in 2005, and in 2017 recorded more than 288 million downloads. In December 2017, ESPN podcasts reached five million people, ranking ESPN fourth among podcast producers in America (per Podtrac). The most popular titles include Fantasy Focus Football, The Lowe Post and podcast versions of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, First Take, Pardon the Interruption and Around The Horn. Listeners spend more than 3:22 per week listening to ESPN Podcasts. The critically acclaimed “30 for 30” series expanded into podcasting in 2017.