Smoke Screen: I Am Rama

Smoke Screen: I Am Rama

Neon Hum Media

Society & Culture

22 episodes

Rama was a spiritual teacher in the 80s and 90s who inspired many of his students while helming what many of his detractors would describe as a cult. He defied society’s archetypal vision of a New Age leader, eschewing minimalism for wealth and celebrity. He was also a man ahead of his time, encouraging his students to develop careers in computer science before that was mainstream. For some, following Rama's lead worked out spiritually, and financially too. But for others, Rama's actions contradicted his cool persona; some eventually came forward with accusations of abuse, others vanished, whistleblowers went to the media, and the group began to shrink and splinter. In this 10-part investigative series, Jonathan Hirsch explores the life, death and impact of Rama.

  • 27 JUL 2021
    Chapter 7: Accused
    28m 50s

    Multiple women accuse Rama of sexual misconduct and emotional manipulation. Many of Rama’s students defend their teacher.  I Am Rama is a Neon Hum Original podcast. Host and Executive Producer: Jonathan Hirsch Producer: Kate Mishkin Edi...

  • 20 JUL 2021
    Chapter 6: Deprogramming
    44m 58s

    Rama finds himself in the crosshairs of the Cult Awareness Network, a group dedicated to extricating people from what they consider to be cults by “deprogramming” them. But Rama’s students tell a much different story. I Am Rama is a Neon H...

  • 13 JUL 2021
    Chapter 5: Brenda
    42m 2s

    A young woman follows Rama to New York, and mysteriously vanishes, leaving behind many to wonder what happened. In this episode, people who knew and loved Brenda Kerber piece her story back together.  Contact White Plains Police Department...

  • 06 JUL 2021
    Chapter 4: Spiritual Contract
    47m 25s

    Will Arntz is a man of many talents, from filmmaker to laser physicist. In this episode, Will relives the time he spent studying with Rama and how it changed his life.  I Am Rama is a Neon Hum Original podcast. Host and Executive Producer...

  • 29 JUN 2021
    Chapter 3: California Dreaming
    32m 4s

    Rama’s growth as a spiritual teacher in the mid-80s starts in California but takes him and his students all over the country. Rama defines his doctrine, turning his attention to the potential of the computer industry. But for his students,...

  • 22 JUN 2021
    Chapter 2: Becoming
    31m 51s

    This episode follows Frederick Lenz III from his early days and education through his introduction to spiritualism with his mentor, Sri Chinmoy, at the dawn of the New Age. Young Freddie  becomes “Atmananda,” a recruiter for his mentor, unt...

  • 22 JUN 2021
    Chapter 1: Golden Light
    40m 12s

    Rama was a man of many faces: teacher, tech entrepreneur, friend - and to some, a scam artist. This episode introduces Rama, examining the world from which he came, the way he shaped those who entered his orbit for better and for worse, and...

  • 08 JUN 2021
    Coming Soon: I Am Rama
    3m 38s

    Rama was a spiritual teacher in the 80s and 90s who inspired many of his students while helming what many of his detractors would describe as a cult. He defied society’s archetypal vision of a New Age leader, eschewing minimalism for wealth...

  • 24 MAY 2021
    Introducing: Cheat!
    7m 57s

    Have you ever wondered about those people in life who don’t play by the rules? Maybe it was the person who looked over your shoulder in that exam. The person who got the job instead of you because they lied on their application or the nice...

  • 18 MAY 2021
    Introducing: The Vaping Fix
    6m 54s

    Two young Silicon Valley entrepreneurs set out to rid the world of smoking with an incredible new product. The device stands to disrupt the tobacco industry and make them rich, until it falls into the wrong hands and lives are ruined. From...

  • 12 OCT 2020
    Introducing Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen
    8m 52s

    For the past 6 years, someone — or some group — has been terrorizing a certain class of Hollywood workers. Strivers — day players and physical trainers and make-up artists and security guards — receive a phone call or email offering the job...

  • 08 OCT 2020
    Episode 9: How To Get Away With Fraud
    41m 45s

    Until now, Father Ryan has mostly escaped punishment for stealing money from followers under false pretenses. What would it take for him to face a jury of his peers? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

  • 01 OCT 2020
    Episode 8: Origin Story
    41m 21s

    Alex Schuman finally has his showdown with Father Ryan. But things don't go as planned because Father Ryan has something to confess about his past that sheds light on why he wanted to become a "priest" in the first place. Learn more about y...

  • 24 SEP 2020
    Episode 7: Two Dead Priests
    33m 25s

    In his autobiography, Father Ryan connects himself to two priests who died suspiciously. One he accuses of molesting children. The other? He says he teamed up with to publicly shame pedophile priests. What's the truth? Learn more about your...

  • 17 SEP 2020
    Episode 6: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
    39m 21s

    The father-daughter investigator team discovers the cop who arrested Father Ryan may have an ulterior motive. They defend Father Ryan tooth and nail - until they get a troubling surprise of their own. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit...

  • 16 SEP 2020
    Introducing BROKEN: Seeking Justice
    2m 46s

    Investigative Reporter Julie K. Brown exposed Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes to the world. Now his survivors are fighting for the truth. This season, host Tara Palmeri follows the women who are making their own justice. Learn more about your ad c...

  • 10 SEP 2020
    Episode 5: Meet The Browns
    39m 7s

    A sheriff deputy arrests Father Ryan for taking more than $70,000 from an elderly follower. It's looking like he might get 7 years in prison, but then he meets a father-daughter pair of private investigators who change everything. Learn mor...

  • 03 SEP 2020
    Episode 4: Llama Drama
    38m 35s

    After Father Ryan steals a follower's money, her property and even her husband's ashes, she hires a lawyer. A legal battle ensues over unpaid loans and a herd of llamas that Father Ryan leaves high and dry. Learn more about your ad choices....

  • 27 AUG 2020
    Episode 3: The Teacher
    37m 57s

    Even con artists need mentors. Meet the false prophet who teaches Father Ryan how to perfect his con. Father Ryan evades criminal charges again and Alex learns about an unspoken reason prosecutors could let many criminals go free. Learn mor...

  • 20 AUG 2020
    Episode 2: Coming Home
    38m 57s

    Alex tracks down Father Ryan’s son, Jonathan Brady, and discovers Father Ryan was a scammer and manipulator long before he wore a priestly robe. Turns out he had plenty of practice committing fraud before he opened his first church in Wisco...

  • 13 AUG 2020
    Episode 1: An Unholy Priest
    37m 31s

    Investigative reporter Alex Schuman hears about a guy accused of swindling millions who has travelled the Midwest for decades pretending to be a priest. Alex starts his journey talking to two people who have long tried to expose the truth....

  • 31 JUL 2020
    Smoke Screen: Fake Priest Trailer
    2m 15s

    For 30 years, a man claimed to be a priest. He performed baptisms and took confession. Every time he ran into trouble, Father Ryan would move on to another small Midwestern town and start his scheme all over again. Followers who once worshi...