Award-Winning Podcast The Uncertain Hour Launches Pop-Up Season With Historical Look at Topics Tied to the New Pandemic Economy

Marketplace’s Wealth & Poverty team explains how we got here by examining the history of unemployment, quarantines and other topics shaping the COVID-19 economy in A History of Now

*Listen to the Season 4 trailer and subscribe here.

LOS ANGELES--()--Announced today, Marketplace will premiere a special season of its award-winning podcast, The Uncertain Hour. Hosted by Krissy Clark, The Uncertain Hour dives into one controversial topic each season to bust longstanding myths about our economy and shed light on opaque realities of the world we live in. Given that nothing is more uncertain than our present economic outlook, the team is launching a new series of pop-up episodes to help listeners understand this moment. Episode 1 is available May 13.

Titled A History of Now, the pop-up podcast will feature weekly episodes exploring the backstory of key themes that are impacting our lives in new ways due to COVID-19. From why we handle unemployment the way we do to how the holes in our social safety net got there and the history of quarantine—the team will unpack complex topics to explain what’s happening in this economy and how your income and class will likely determine your fate.

The Marketplace Wealth & Poverty team, which was born out of the 2008 financial crisis to explain the Great Recession’s impact on vulnerable communities, uses its deep expertise to add context about what’s happening right now.

“The Coronavirus and the economic disaster left in its wake have made the inequalities that already existed in America feel even more stark—from access to health care, to financial help, to safe working conditions,” says Krissy Clark, host of The Uncertain Hour. “Some people are going to come out of this crisis okay and some people are not. And the reasons for that are built into our economy and into our policy. So, this season we’re going to talk about how this happened, to try to make sense of how we got to this moment, and how we might get through it.”

With more than 3 million downloads, The Uncertain Hour has won a Webby Award for Best Podcast: Business Category and was both an Investigative Reporters and Editors and Gerald Loeb finalist.


The essential work of a chicken catcher
One episode follows workers in rural Mississippi who catch and process chickens for large poultry companies. As major meat-processing plants shutter operations amid the coronavirus pandemic, the work of chicken catchers and plant workers is more important than ever. But the jobs are low-paid, dangerous and provide few benefits or protections. Krissy Clark and team take a look at how these workers came to be so vulnerable and what that means for our food supply.

A wealth and poverty history of quarantine
Throughout history, quarantine has been used to divide societies not just along the lines of healthy vs. contagious, but rich vs. poor. From the crackdown on the indigent during the bubonic plague in the 17th century to the 26-year lockdown of a poor Irish immigrant cook named Mary Mallon (aka Typhoid Mary), who was suspected of spreading typhoid to the wealthy families who employed her. Impoverished people have often borne the brunt of quarantines, which can be used as a means of social control. They can also lead to greater equality, as governments provide social supports to slow the contagion.

The history of unemployment insurance
On March 6, 1930, thousands of people marched to mark International Unemployment Day and call for government relief. As the Great Depression devastated America, the inequalities of a society reliant on steady employment emerged. This episode will examine the backstory of how “unemployment” was invented and how the benefits system was originally designed to preserve racial inequities. It will also ask whether the system helps or hinders the goal of actually getting a job. A deep philosophical debate emerges about who deserves help when they lose a job and what that help should look like.

The holes in the safety net: fissured workers
Many workers are falling through gaps in the current social safety net: independent contractors and gig workers; low-wage workers at large companies; people who work for third-party contractors; various kinds of “non-employees.” Members of these categories are often overlooked and suffer the consequences. How did this happen?


Host Krissy Clark and producer Caitlin Esch make a dynamic, experienced reporting team. Clark is an award-winning senior correspondent for Marketplace. She brings her curiosity, playfulness and empathy to the task of making sense of fundamental shifts in the U.S. economy, including the widening gap between rich and poor and what that means for economic mobility and the American Dream.

Esch brings her reporting and producing skills to the team. With her roots in public media, Esch’s stories have aired on NPR News, NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered, KQED, KCRW and KPCC. She has a master’s degree in journalism from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s in English literature from The George Washington University.

About Marketplace

Marketplace® is on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country. Its core programs — Marketplace®, Marketplace Morning Report® and Marketplace Tech® — are currently broadcast on more than 800 public radio stations nationwide and heard by nearly 14 million weekly listeners. Marketplace podcasts, including Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly, The Uncertain Hour® and Corner Office, can be found at or on your favorite podcast app. The Marketplace portfolio of programs are produced and distributed by American Public Media®, one of the largest producers and distributors of public radio programming in the world. For more information on Marketplace, visit, follow us on Twitter @marketplace or like us on Facebook. For more information on American Public Media, visit

About American Public Media

American Public Media® (APM) is the national programming and distribution division of American Public Media Group and reaches 19 million listeners via approximately 1,000 radio stations nationwide each week. APM is one of the largest producers and distributors of public radio programming in the world, with a portfolio that includes BBC World Service, Marketplace®, and the leading classical music programs in the nation. APM offers a diverse array of podcasts featuring the best in food, culture, entertainment, business and investigative journalism. For more information on APM, visit

Source: Data are copyright Nielsen Audio, Nationwide DMA data, Persons 12+, Fall ’19.


Alison Ver Meulen
(310) 490-5354


Alison Ver Meulen
(310) 490-5354