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Press Play with Madeleine Brand


Host Madeleine Brand looks at news, culture and emerging trends through the lens of Los Angeles.

Host Madeleine Brand looks at news, culture and emerging trends through the lens of Los Angeles.


Santa Monica, CA




Host Madeleine Brand looks at news, culture and emerging trends through the lens of Los Angeles.




LAUSD goes all-online this fall. A parent and a teacher weigh in

LAUSD announced on Monday that students won’t return to in-classroom learning when school starts on August 18. How will parents and teachers plan for more remote learning? KCRW talks with a Silver Lake resident whose son is in high school, and with an East LA high school physics teacher.


Dr. Anthony Fauci won’t quit, despite being sidelined by Trump

President Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci are at the center of the nation’s pandemic response. They haven’t spoken to each other in more than a month. Dr. Fauci plays a big role in developing a COVID-19 vaccine, and Trump cannot fire him.


LA Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on balancing safety and the economy as COVID surges

COVID-19 infection rates, hospitalizations, and deaths are going up in LA. Gyms, hair salons, and retail stores are still doing business. LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas talks about whether businesses must shut down again, getting Angelenos to comply with safety orders, and balancing public health with economic needs.


Public school in LA starts next month. No one knows what it’ll look like

School is scheduled to begin on August 18 for more than half a million students in LAUSD. Howard Blume, LA Times education reporter, talks about whether students might have a staggered schedule for in-person classes, whether states can override district decisions, and where money fits into it all.


LA County can’t keep up with coronavirus testing demand

LA officials say anyone can get tested for coronavirus, symptoms or no symptoms. But appointments are hard to come by, and results can lag by a week or more. Months into the pandemic, the U.S. still isn’t testing enough to keep up with demand and get the virus under control.


US government pours $10 million into vaccine project

The Pentagon and the Department of Health and Human Services are leading “Operation Warp Speed,” a $10 billion program to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Coronavirus has become the defining issue of the 2020 election, and presidential candidate Joe Biden says the Trump administration is downplaying the pandemic. Some colleges and universities say they’ll only offer online courses in the fall to help curb COVID-19 contagion, but now international students will have to return to their native...


Aerosol transmission of COVID-19

More than 200 scientists are demanding the World Health Organization revise its COVID-19 safety recommendations, which are currently not geared toward aerosols. San Diego-based scientist Kimberly Prather says when an asymptomatic person speaks, they produce tiny invisible droplets that can travel much farther than six feet. To protect everyone from aerosol transmission, Prather says masks are key.


John Fremont played a key role in California becoming a state

John C. Fremont was instrumental in California becoming a state. He was one of the first two senators. He was the first Republican candidate for president in 1856. And he and his wife Jessie were one of America’s first celebrity couples.


Sheila Kuehl on more COVID shutdowns, mask enforcement, testing

LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl talks about the recent COVID-19 surge, balancing the health crisis with the economic crisis, possible fines for not wearing masks, and mixed messaging between the city and county over testing.


LAUSD police fund is cut by $25 million. How that affects officers’ work on campus

The LAUSD board voted on Tuesday to cut $25 million from the school police budget. That’s a 35% decrease to a department that employs more than 450 officers. KCRW looks at what went into the decision, and how it affects what officers will do.


Superspreaders might be responsible for most COVID-19 cases

California reported more than 7,000 new COVID-19 cases on Monday — the largest daily jump so far. Other parts of the U.S. are seeing COVID-19 spikes too, including Texas, Arizona, and Florida. This might be due to a small fraction of people infecting the majority of the population, according to James Lloyd-Smith, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCLA.


Music for today’s protests against police violence

Streams for Kendrick Lamar’s hit song “Alright” skyrocketed as protests broke out following the death of George Floyd. However, music critic Craig Jenkins says Lamar’s message is outdated. Jenkins explains why tracks by Lil Baby and Meek Mill effectively capture today’s protests against police violence.


The future of Obamacare during COVID-19

The Trump administration filed a legal brief with the Supreme Court on Thursday night, arguing that Obamacare should be tossed out. Meanwhile, millions of newly unemployed Americans have signed up for it. Enrollments are up nearly 50% this year.


Why COVID-19 cases are spiking in California and US

This week started with California reporting more than 6,000 new cases of coronavirus a day. That’s a record. Despite early sheltering-at-home policies and the current statewide mask mandate, what happened?


Why remote education hasn’t been effective

LAUSD begins in mid August. What that will look like remains unclear. Meanwhile, results are now available on how distance learning has gone so far. “Distance learning got really low marks from school districts throughout the country,” says national education reporter Tawnell Hobbs. She says the issues were mainly about students not being able to get online and/or not having devices to learn at home. She adds that teachers weren’t trained on how to teach remotely, and some parents couldn’t...


Rep. Adam Schiff defends against ‘impeachment malpractice’

Burbank Congressman Adam Schiff addresses criticism of how House Democrats ran the impeachment of President Trump. In a new book, former National Security Advisor John Bolton says Democrats committed malpractice during the inquiry. Schiff also talks about dropping his endorsement of LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey.


The Indigo Girls’ political activism

The Indigo Girls have been intertwining politics and songwriting since they began making music 35 years ago. The folk-rock duo, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, just released their 15th studio album called “Look Long.” They talk to KCRW about new songs and how they figure out their roles in social justice movements. “We are going to take the lead from our educators, our Black activist leaders. And we just want to be — even if the word shifts at this point — I'm going to use the word ‘ally.’ You...


Celebrating Juneteenth as America grapples with systemic racism

Juneteenth has been called America’s second Independence Day — and today it is gaining more attention, as the nation continues to grapple with systemic racism. Police reform bills make their way to Congress. Small California town Fort Bragg faces calls to change its now Confederate-tied name. Among the new films out this week, ‘Miss Juneteenth,’ gets high-praise for its timing and authenticity.


Dreamers win at the Supreme Court

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court today said the White House was arbitrary and capricious in trying to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The ruling protects about 700,000 DACA recipients from deportation, and allows them to keep working and going to school in the U.S. KCRW talks about what this ruling means for the people directly affected by it.


California hanging deaths raise questions

The two recent hanging deaths of Black men in Southern California has raised questions about racism in the Antelope Valley. A documentary director has explored this history of lynching in America. The president's latest poll numbers are, in a word, bad, as Republicans grapple with the response to police brutality. A lot of people are trying to get rich off the government's coronavirus funding. And actress Regina Hall talks about her Showtime series Black Monday and how Hollywood can be more...