Buckeye, Arizona, is a small city with big dreams.
Located on the western edge of the Phoenix metro area, Buckeye has the distinction of being one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. In the past few decades, its population has ballooned more than twentyfold, and the city plans to add more than 100,000 new homes in coming years. Some Buckeye boosters are betting the city will become “the next Phoenix.”
The only catch? Growth requires water. And Buckeye doesn’t have enough. So what’s a small city with big dreams to do?
Part of the answer lies in one scrubby acre of land way out in the Harquahala Valley that’s owned by a group of investors. Buckeye wants to buy the plot for $80 million for the water that lies beneath it.
In this episode, we follow one small city in its quest to secure more water. We visit a master-planned community out in the Arizona desert. And we explore how hedge funds and other investors are profiting from the water crisis and reshaping the West.
Google Maps: In a quarter mile, turn left.
Amy Scott: Not a person in sight. It’s late July, and I’m way out in the Arizona desert. Now there’s more green. About 70 miles west of Phoenix in the Harquahala Valley.
Amy Scott: Just sort of went through a little speck of town basically and now back in the middle of the desert.
Amy Scott: It’s 108 degrees, that kind of blazing hot day where you just pray your car doesn’t break down.
Google Maps: Your destination is on the right.
Amy Scott: This maybe the weirdest place I’ve ever Google Mapped to my destination being a field. I drove all the way out here to look at a one acre plot of land. Well, here it is. Because this dusty field is about to be sold for a staggering amount of money. This acre of grass and dirt surrounded by not much, is apparently worth $80 million. I’ve toured some pricey properties and at $1,800 per square foot. This one costs far more than a plot of land in Miami’s billionaire bunker. If you listened to season two. It’s just a bunch of scrub and a couple of weeds. But the water underneath is absolutely precious. Yep, there’s a vast aquifer underground, a possible lifeline for one small city many miles away.
Terry Lowe: The thing with water in Arizona is it’s really not how much water is there gonna be. It’s it’s how much do we want to pay for it.
Amy Scott : This little acre of land. It’s kind of encapsulates what’s happening in Arizona and a lot of the west right now, where people are adapting to and profiting from the climate crisis. Does it hurt a little bit to have to pay so much money to investors who basically just made a water play and now are cashing in?
Terry Lowe: No, no. I mean, that’s that’s business.
Amy Scott: Do you think people should be able to profit from the crisis, the water crisis in the West?
Kathy Ferris: Well, my own personal view has always been no.
Amy Scott: I’m Amy Scott. Welcome to How We Survive a podcast for Marketplace about people navigating solutions to a changing climate. This season: The Worth of Water. More than 20 years into a mega-drought made worse by climate change. A lot of scientists think the word drought doesn’t really cut it anymore. That what we’re looking at in the American Southwest is aridification. A long-term drying out of the region. And one wet year doesn’t change the trajectory. And yet, people keep moving here. Some of the fastest growing cities in the country, Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas depend on a dwindling resource. So, this season, we’re asking how can we continue to live in the hotter, drier southwest.
Patt Mulroy: It has been a constant battle against mother nature.
Matt Capalby: Whiskey’s for drinking water is for fighting.
Rhett Larson: You want water I’ll get you all the water you want. Just going to have to pay for it.
Shannon Schulz: In the West Water is going to be gold.
Music by Phunk Junkeez “Going Down To Buckeye” (1992)
Amy Scott: And it’s not just the American west. Scientists tell us by 2050, more than 5 billion people around the world will face water shortages. This season, we’re diving into water and what happens when there’s not enough of it. We’re going to start with the story of that scrubby acre of land in the desert, how it came to be owned by a group of investors. Why it’s worth so much to a small city with big dreams and what it tells us about how the rest of us can adapt to an uncertain future. This is episode one: The $80 Million Acre. Before I tell you more about that $80 million acre of land, I want to introduce you to the city that wants to buy it. Buckeye is in Maricopa County at the far western edge of the Phoenix metro area. And when the band Phunk Junkeez released this song in 1992. Buckeye was a cow town. Only about 5000 people lived there.
Joe Valiente: When I turned 16, we went to buy a car and we bought it on a pig farm in Buckeye.
Amy Scott: Joe Valiente AKA Soulman was a member of Phunk Junkeez. Joe grew up in Phoenix and lives there still. And he says in the 90s Buckeye was a place he and his friends had to pass through to get to Mexico.
Joe Valiente: There was nothing in Buckeye, there’s one gas station in Buckeye. So it used to be a one stop town you would go through you would stop at the main light right there where the train tracks were and you would roll through but getting through Buckeye was was a catch. Because they had a sheriff they had a you know, it was a really small town. So if you got popped in Buckeye, more than likely your weekend is done.
Amy Scott: Sometimes Buckeye was the weekend plan.
Joe Valiente: We would all do like desert parties in Buckeye. So it was kind of like one of those things where you’re, it was farm town then it definitely wasn’t the boom town it became.
Eric Orsborn: We have grown to a population of over 110,000 right now.
Amy Scott: Eric Orsborn is Buckeye’s Mayor from 5000 people in 1992 to more than 110,000 today, that’s more than 20 fold growth, in just a few decades
Eric Orsborn: One of the fastest growing cities in the United States.
Amy Scott: And some of the city’s boosters are even betting it’ll become the next Phoenix. And what’s bringing people here?
Eric Orsborn: I think it’s opportunity as part of it. Available land, good home values, amenities and the white tank mountains and the Gila River and, and now jobs are bringing people to the city of Buckeye.
Amy Scott: Opportunity is what brought Jonathan Draughn to Buckeye. He’s originally from Tennessee and moved here several years ago for an iron working job.
Jonathan Draughn: Then over the years. There’s more work out here so we just stayed.
Amy Scott: My producer Caitlin and I met Jonathan one afternoon in June, as we were driving around Buckeye and came across an oasis in the desert. You’re greeted by palm trees, lighted tennis courts and splashpad. Lush green lawns. Okay, it’s really just a master planned community with one of those vaguely exotic sounding names developers come up with that Caitlyn and I cannot seem to remember. Terra Nova. Terra, what did you call it? Terra Santo, Santo, Terratzo. Actually it’s Tartesso, a community of about 33-hundred homes so far. All of them look about the same beige two stories with a garage desert landscaping. One house caught my eye because of all the cars in the driveway. That’s where we found Jonathan in a backwards baseball cap and sunglasses working with a buddy to install air conditioning in the garage. So I run a tailor made motorsports I’m running side business out of here. I was wondering what was going on here. You got a nice Mercedes over there.
Jonathan Draughn: Oh, yeah. A few around here.
Amy Scott: Oh, yeah. These are all Mercedes. Is this one too?
Jonathan Draughn: Ah this is a Subaru.
Amy Scott: Okay.
Jonathan Draughn: Yeah, it’s a rally car for a customer. We’re just building it out and doing some cool stuff for him.
Amy Scott: For his day job, Jonathan now works at a solar power plant about an hour away near Gila bend. He lives in Tartesso with his wife and five year old daughter Harley.
Jonathan Draughn: She’s inside coloring magnets for the fridge. Nice. Yeah, the little art project while we’re out here, doing some work, keep her busy.
Amy Scott: Jonathan bought this place here in Tartesso in 2019.
Jonathan Draughn: We got our keys Christmas morning.
Amy Scott: When the more developed part of Buckeye was starting to feel too crowded.
Jonathan Draughn: Too congested, just too much going on. And Tartesso’s good community. It’s far enough out of the way. But it’s close enough to everything.
Amy Scott: The closest gas station is 15 minutes away. There’s no grocery store or shopping. But that’s why houses here are also more affordable than closer into Phoenix.
Jonathan Draughn: We got in good time. Great price. Now it’s equities is impressive. But as far as paying what the prices are for homes now, what I would sell my home for today, I would never buy my home for that price.
Amy Scott: Like the rest of the country, Phoenix doesn’t have enough houses to meet demand. And Jonathan doesn’t expect his peaceful neighborhood to stay that way very long.
Jonathan Draughn: Once a gas station goes in and wants something pops up, then it just kind of explodes into a populace. Everyone wants to be somewhere new. So they sell, they move. They buy, they build. And yeah, it’s coming this way.
Amy Scott: North of where Jonathan lives builders are scraping the raw desert to make way for a man massive new developments called Terravalis. With plans to eventually add 100,000 homes by 2060. Officials estimate Buckeye’s population will reach more than 375,000. The only problem growth requires water and Buckeye doesn’t have enough of it.
Katie Hobbs: Everyone good?
Amy Scott: Just before our visit, Arizona governor Katie Hobbs held a press conference.
Katie Hobbs: Well, good afternoon, everyone. And thank you for joining us for an important water update.
Amy Scott: To build new subdivisions in this part of Arizona developers have to prove they have a 100 year assured water supply for the people who live there. New modeling by the state had shown that there wasn’t enough groundwater for all the housing planned in the Phoenix suburbs.
Katie Hobbs: If we do nothing, we could face a 4% shortfall in groundwater supplies over the next 100 years.
Amy Scott: So the governor had some grim news for builders.
Katie Hobbs: We will pause approvals of new assured water supply determinations that rely on pumping groundwater.
Amy Scott: In other words, she’s pumping the brakes on new development in places like Buckeye. Unlike Phoenix or Scottsdale that have renewable supplies of water from the Colorado and other rivers, Buckeye relies almost entirely on groundwater. The state projects that the part of the aquifer beneath Buckeye will come up 15% Short within a century. Standing behind the governor at that press conference was a woman with blond hair wearing a pale green jacket named Kathleen Ferris. She’s a big deal in Arizona water, a longtime attorney and policy expert at Arizona State. And how would you describe your role in the landmark 1980 Groundwater Management Act?
Kathy Ferris: Not gonna lie it was pivotal.
Amy Scott: Kathy helped write the law that governs groundwater use in the state. She says the law was weakened in the 1990s to allow builders to rely on groundwater and push further into the outskirts of Phoenix.
Kathy Ferris: Groundwater, for the most part is a finite resource. We call it a fossil source of supply.
Amy Scott: And drought effects that supply in two ways. Groundwater can’t be replenished as fast. And less precipitation means less water flowing through rivers. So communities have to rely on groundwater even more.
Kathy Ferris: When I was starting in this business, we always talked about groundwater as being a savings account. It was intended not to be a supply that you used on a day in day out basis, it was supposed to be preserved for when you had shortages of surface water supplies, just like is really happening now. So climate change really does affect our groundwater supplies. And we cannot continue to overdraft our groundwater basins if we’re going to have any kind of meaningful civilization here in the future.
Amy Scott: How confident are you that we can continue to live in an increasingly arid southwest?
Kathy Ferris: Well, not as confident as I used to be. My thinking is that Buckeye can have a lot of dreams about what it wants to be but it better secure the water first. To just assume that it’s all going to be there is rather frightening.
Amy Scott: So, what’s a small city with dreams of becoming the next Phoenix to do? It will have to find new sources of water. That’s where that $80 million acre of land comes in. After the break. I’m standing next to a canal watching murky brown water flow by I see algae bits of trash.
Dave Roberts: Dead fish, probably from the Verde River.
Amy Scott: Most of this water is effluent as in wastewater.
Dave Roberts: From Pheonix. It’s coming from a wastewater treatment plant at 91st Avenue and the riverbed.
Amy Scott: So it’s treated but not potable.
Dave Roberts: It’s not potable, but it’s okay for farming.
Amy Scott: Dave Roberts is a former Water Resource Manager in Phoenix he ran the area’s largest water and power utility. He keeps trying to retire and escape to the house he’s building in Wyoming. But cities like Buckeye keep luring him back, paying him as a consultant to hunt down new sources of water. It’s a tall order land wise Buckeye is huge 640 square miles, that’s even bigger than Phoenix.
Dave Roberts: The city got that big about 15 years ago when some pretty excited mayors and councils decided they wanted to be really big. And and now it’s come home to roost in terms of how do you develop a water supply for that entire area and it’s practically impossible.
Amy Scott: But Dave likes a challenge and he knows water. He’s like a walking almanac.
Dave Roberts: Smaller amount, probably not more than an acre foot per acre, which have created about 75,000 acre feet of storage space and other 50,000 acre feet, total it all up 180,000 acre feet.
Amy Scott: Acre feet, you’re gonna hear that term a lot this season. An acre foot is the amount of water it would take to cover one acre of land one foot deep. So picture a football field a foot deep and water and you’ve got the idea. In Arizona, it’s enough for about three households in a year. One solution Dave is working on to bring more acre feet to Buckeye involves the effluent running through this canal. years ago, Phoenix made a deal to deliver treated wastewater to farms here. But that deal is set to expire in a few years. And Dave is helping negotiate a new deal to eventually let the city of Buckeye use some of this water treated to drinking water standards and deliver it to homes and businesses. We’re looking at this like canal of kind of gross water slimy water floating by and everybody wants it right, in the future. Phoenix is going to be fighting for this water. Buckeye’s going to be fighting for this water. Potentially the farmers who are currently using it are going to be fighting for the water.
Dave Roberts: And so the idea is to get certainty on water supplies for everybody.
Amy Scott: Another solution turn farmland into housing and shopping centers.
Dave Roberts: Agricultural land takes about five to six acre feet per acre of groundwater, urban land about one to two. So if you retire that ag land, you’re going to save a lot of groundwater. Now, it’s not going to urbanize all at once. It’s going to take 30 or 40 years to urbanize. But you’re going to have a plan to save that water.
Amy Scott: Are there developers who want to build houses here?
Dave Roberts: A lot of this land is owned by developers. And they lease it back to farmers. There are also farmers who would like to make that last big crop which is homes.
Amy Scott: So part of the solution to Buckeye’s water problem could lie in effluence and farmers selling out to housing developers the last crop, but that’s not enough. Other ideas include raising a nearby dam to store more water and leasing water from Native American tribes. Longer term, there’s even talk of importing desalinated water from Mexico. But in the near term, there’s that acre of land in the Harquahala Valley. This acre of grass and dirt surrounded by not much is apparently worth $80 million to the city. Of course, it’s not the land the city is paying for.
Terry Lowe: Nobody is spending that kind of money for a piece of land. It’s the, it’s the water.
Amy Scott: Terry Lowe is Buckeye’s director of water resources. He says the deal comes with rights to almost 6000 acre feet of water per year for 100 years. Enough to supply about 18,000 homes. And Terry says they’d like to buy even more if they can.
Terry Lowe: The thing with water in Arizona is it’s really not how much water is there going to be. It’s how much do we want to pay for it?
Amy Scott: The city is buying the acre from a group of landowners and a hedge fund who’ve teamed up to sell farmland for the water rights. Does it hurt a little bit to have to pay so much money to investors who basically just made a water play and now are cashing in?
Terry Lowe: No, no I mean that’s that’s business. And that’s that’s foresight. And actually, if we didn’t have that play out there, I don’t know what we would be doing. So over 100 years, it’s not a bad price. Like it’s only going to go up
Amy Scott: I wondered how farmers in the Harquahala Valley feel about that?
Bill Perry: Well, I guess I have mixed emotions.
Amy Scott: Bill Perry farms mostly alfalfa these days in the Haquahala Valley, a few miles from that $80 million acre of land.
Bill Perry: I’m a big believer in private property rights. You know, if you want to sell your water and it’s legal to do it, but I love farming and they love making smart investments.
Amy Scott: So it’s not your preference, but you don’t blame them for trying to make a buck?
Bill Perry: Hey, yeah.
Amy Scott: Bill’s 72 With slicked back hair and a ruddy face tanned by the Arizona sun. His family has been farming and ranching in the States for generations.
Bill Perry: Growing up, I don’t remember ever wanting to do anything but farm. That’s all I ever thought about growing up.
Amy Scott: And after college Bill rented the farm right next door to his dad’s.
Bill Perry: Which was handy, because I was able to use a lot of equipment until I was able to purchase some.
Amy Scott: And now he’s farming with his own son.
Bill Perry: I would have never known how much joy there is, in being in partners with a son. I’m sure he the same way with the daughter, but it’s just it’s one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced. It’s just awesome. It’s just awesome. And he’s really smart and he loves farming.
Amy Scott: Bill says out in the Harquahala Valley, anything grows.
Bill Perry: It’s just really really good dirt.
Amy Scott: This year, Bill and his son are farming 4200 acres of alfalfa together which they sell to feed lots and dairies and a little goes to export.
Bill Perry: There’s nothing like the the fragrance of fresh mowed hay, I’ve often thought maybe I should get some cologne that smells like that.
Amy Scott: But farming in the desert comes with some challenges.
Bill Perry: It takes a lot of water to grow food.
Amy Scott: This year Bill and his son had to scale back their farming operation because of the drought. They lost access to the little Colorado River water they had rights to. So now they rely entirely on groundwater. Is there plenty of groundwater for now?
Bill Perry: Well, I guess it would depend on your definition of plenty.
Amy Scott: Bill says the water table has dropped a lot in the last 60 years used to be wells hit water at 150 feet deep. Today, bills wells are 600 feet deep.
Bill Perry: I read a quote by John Wesley Powell that said every year you will find that you have a little less water than what you need. It’s certainly true in farming, in the desert anyway. I’ve often wondered, how long will it last?
Amy Scott: Have you been approached to sell your land?
Bill Perry: Yes. But it just wasn’t the right. The number wasn’t right.
Amy Scott: Can you say what they offered you?
Bill Perry: You know I better not.
Amy Scott: Okay. But it was it was tempting, but it didn’t pencil?
Bill Perry: It wasn’t you know what it? My son and I perked up, perked up a little.
Amy Scott: Bill says when he got the offer, he felt like he was playing out a scene from the TV show Yellowstone.
Bill Perry: The characters played by Kevin Costner, the dad of the operation.
Scene from Yellowstone (2018)
Bill Perry: They kind of insinuate that he’s kind of having a tough time financially and they don’t know how long they can keep this big, huge ranch going. So some hedge fund or something talked to the daughter and wants to buy a small part of the ranch for $500 million. So she goes to the dad. And she says look, I got an offer right here in writing.
Scenes from Yellowstone (2018): You are a rancher. I am a businessman. And I have spent my career making 100 million dollar deals for others. Now I want to make one for you.
Bill Perry: He just immediately says nope, not gonna sell it. I can relate.
Amy Scott: But I can tell Bill’s torn.
Bill Perry: You know as much as as much as I love farming. It gets to a point where if those numbers are real, you just can’t walk away from. They are talking some pretty good money.
Amy Scott: The offer to buy Bill’s lands came from a New York based hedge fund called Water Asset Management (WAM for short) part of the same group of investors selling their land to Buckeye.
Bill Perry: They’ve been out there maybe 10 years. I want to say.
Amy Scott: We tried several times to interview someone at wham. No one ever replied. But here’s how co founder and president Matthew Diserio talked about investing in water in a 2020 interview with Institutional Real Estate Inc, a trade publisher.
Mathew Diserio: The biggest emerging market on Earth is water infrastructure and water resources in America. It’s a trillion dollar market opportunity.
Amy Scott: For years they’ve been buying up farmland all over the Southwest sometimes continuing to farm it sometimes just holding on to it. But the ultimate play is the water.
Mathew Diserio: Obviously these farms always have bulletproof water rights. And in an environment where climate change is impacting water supply. Those farms just as farms become more valuable.
Amy Scott: WAM can then sell Will that land to thirsty cities at a premium price. We found more than 6000 acres owned by WAM affiliated companies in Arizona. And it’s not the only one.
Kathy Ferris: I’m seeing a lot of this in Arizona, wherever investors think they can make money, they will invest their funds.
Amy Scott: Ferris, again, the architect of Arizona’s groundwater law, Kathy says investors can have a role to play building infrastructure, treating water and moving it to places that need it.
Kathy Ferris: But if they’re just holding the land, and just speculating on a big payout, then then I have more concerns about it. Because of course, you can’t survive anywhere without water and least of all in the desert. So drive drives up the cost of water is what I’m saying.
Amy Scott: You know, when I talked to folks in the Harquahala Valley, they kind of shrug. It’s like, you know, yeah, do I like it? No, but these are, you know, investors, it’s capitalism. But I wonder if we, as you know, citizens should be concerned about private investors controlling more of the water in the West. And as you said, you know, potentially raising the price of something that is already so precious and increasingly at risk.
Kathy Ferris: Well, I think we should have some concerns. I definitely think we should be skeptical. And the question is, are there enough safeguards in place that make it so that they’re not adding significantly to the cost of water.
Amy Scott: Who is Water Asset Management and what do you know about them and their business model?
Kathy Ferris: I don’t know much. I don’t know much. I don’t think many people do.
Amy Scott: But Bill says the various players are well known around the Harquahala Valley. One of WAM’s founders Disque Dean Jr. used to work for Vidler Water Company, a pioneer in water speculating. In the late 1990s Vidler realized that the Phoenix metro area faced a long term water shortage and that under Arizona law, groundwater could only be exported to Phoenix from a few basins in the state, including the Harquahala Valley. So Vidler started buying up thousands of acres of farmland in the Valley for the water rights.
Bill Perry: When Vidler sold. They made a real good profit when they sold that in 05 or 06. So he had a real sense of what water was worth out there or what it could be worth.
Amy Scott: On its website. Vidler says it made more than $123 million selling to a power company, a real estate developer and some golf courses in the Phoenix area. Bill says others involved in the Buckeye deal are a hotel magnate named Gary Tharaldson.
Bill Perry: I know he’s he’s from North Dakota. I think he’s the richest guy in North Dakota. Maybe that’s not a very high bar.
Amy Scott: And somewhat notorious land speculator named Conley Wolfswinkel.
Bill Perry: Everybody in the land business knows Conley, Conley Wolfswinkel. He’s well known.
Amy Scott: He was convicted of bank fraud in the 1990s and caught up for years and a legal battle over a land deal in Buckeye, plus a bunch of bankruptcies involving him and his companies. For all the money that’s changed hands over land in the Harquahala Valley, not a drop of water has actually been exported out of the valley, yet. If the Buckeye deal goes through, it’s still waiting on state approval. The next challenge will be delivering that water.
Eric Orsborn: I don’t know that we have all of that figured out yet.
Amy Scott: Again, Buckeye Mayor Eric Orsborn.
Eric Orsborn: There are a couple of really good options for that. One is to pump the water out of the ground, treat it, put it into the CAP canal.
Amy Scott: That’s the Central Arizona Project, the 336 mile canal system that brings water from the Colorado River to the greater Phoenix area, and runs through the northern reaches of Buckeye.
Eric Orsborn: And then move it through to areas where we can pull that out of the canal. There’s also the opportunity of piping that directly to us. It’s maybe a 30 mile pipeline, which in the scope of pipelines is not that big of pipeline.
Amy Scott: As we’re talking about all of Buckeye’s plans to buy water, move it across miles of desert just to keep growing in an increasingly inhospitable place. I keep thinking, that all sounds very expensive.
Eric Orsborn: Yeah, none of that is going to be cheap.
Amy Scott: And this is going to be the story all over the West, as ramping growth butts up against the hard realities of water scarcity. That’s what we’re digging into this season. We’re on a hunt for solutions from the mundane.
Adria: You can lose about 15,000 gallons with a toilet leak.
Amy Scott: For one toilet?
Adria: For one toilet.
Amy Scott: To the fantastic:
Jeremy Cho: We’re tapping into an ocean that’s just around us right now. Right. So the atmosphere is kind of a hidden ocean.
Amy Scott: We’ll check out the technology that’s making drinking water from some surprising sources.
Desert Monks: This direct, potable reuse water is so clean and fresh.
Amy Scott: And this is wastewater right? This is coming from the sewer?
Desert Monks: Originally. Yes.
Amy Scott: And we’ll look back at the unequal way water rights were distributed in the first place. And the effect it still has today.
Stephen Roe Lewis: This goes back to our historic fight to regain our water right over 150 years ago, our water was stolen from us.
Amy Scott: Next episode, we’ll look at a community that fought to bring water back and is now trying to protect it. How does that feel to have this this precious resource that is increasingly in demand and valuable? Everybody wants this water and you’ve got some.
Stephen Roe Lewis: So it’s a tremendous responsibility as a community that we do not take lightly. But at the same time, we will make sure that there’s not a second taking over water.
Amy Scott: That’s it for this episode. Thanks for listening. If you like what you hear, please leave a review or share with a friend. It really helps. How We Survive is hosted by me, Amy Scott, Senior Producer, Caitlin Esch and I wrote this episode. Our producers are Hayley Hershman, Lina Fansa, and Courtney Bergsisker. Help this season from Peter Balonon-Rosen and Sophia Paliza-Carre and Marketplace reporter Savannah Maher. Our editor is Jasmine Romero. Sound design and original music by Chris Julin and audio engineering by Brian Allison. Special thanks to Jon Gordon, Nancy Farghalli and our colleagues at APM Research Lab. Our theme music is by Wonderly. Bridget Bodnar is director of podcasts, Francesca Levy is Executive Director, Neal Scarbrough is Vice President & General Manager of Marketplace.