Press Play with Madeleine Brand-logo

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.



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Memorial Day music special

On this Memorial Day, Press Play re-airs some favorite music segments. Bruce Springsteen has a devoted following in the queer community. Comedian Tim Heidecker shares his musical side. Miles Davis’ music was shaped by the women in his life. Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” turns 40 years old this summer.


What to expect at parks, tourism hotspots over Memorial Day Weekend

Big Bear Lake is allowing restaurants and stores to resume business, though the state’s stay-at-home orders are still in effect. Joshua Tree National Park, some state parks, and some beaches are now open too. How will park officials make sure these places aren’t overcrowded?


Relocating unhoused people living near freeways

On Wednesday, the city and county of LA were supposed to present a plan to shelter some 7000 homeless people living near overpasses and freeways. Last week, a federal judge ordered them to find a way to do that. But Wednesday’s hearing was canceled because the two sides could not agree on a plan. The sticking point? Who’s going to pay to shelter the homeless amid massive budget shortfalls related to the pandemic? But they’re running out of time. The judge’s order is supposed to go into...


What will it take to reopen LA by July 4?

LA County hopes to reopen the economy and lift stay-at-home restrictions by July 4, but public health officials say the date will ultimately be driven by data and science, and getting there will take work. More than 350,000 people have been tested out of a population of more than 10 million.


When to expand social circles amid COVID-19?

As public health officials continue to encourage families to stay at home, some are weighing the risks and benefits of expanding their social circles. One Woodland Hills teacher recently hosted a get-together at her home for her teen daughter and her friends — with chairs six feet apart and everyone wearing masks. Another mom is questioning what isolation means for brain development of her 3 year old and 4 year old.


Graduating during a pandemic

Virtual graduations took place over the past few days. But now, students who’ve finished college can’t do in-person job interviews or travel, and they face uncertain futures. Two graduates from UCLA and USC share their hopes and plans.


California’s dire financial picture

This week, Gov. Gavin Newsom said California could face a $54 billion shortfall if the federal government doesn’t provide help. It’s a rapid financial collapse, with California going from a comfortable budget surplus to a massive deficit in about eight weeks.


COVID-19 and kids, the auto industry’s future, and Evan Kleiman’s ‘beach pasta’

On this episode of Press Play: How COVID-19 affects kids, and a mysterious illness similar to Kawasaki Disease; the author of a viral post about how the coronavirus spreads, and what we should do as California starts to open back up. Also the future of the auto industry in these quarantine times; KCRW’s Evan Kleiman with a beach pasta as the beaches partially reopen; our regular Friday film reviews, but on Thursday!


Obamagate, the ‘deep state,’ conspiracies, and executive power

On this episode of Press Play: Debunking “Obamagate” and other conspiracy theories President Trump has mentioned during the pandemic. Author David Rohde on his book about why Trump is obsessed with the so-called “deep state.” Vox’s editorial director Laura McGann on what she found — and didn’t find — chasing the story of Tara Reade and her assault allegations against Joe Biden. And two stars of HBO’s hit series “The Sopranos” on their episode-by-episode rewatch podcast.


California’s stubbornly persistent coronavirus

On this episode of Press Play: California isn’t seeing a decline in COVID-19 cases despite early stay-at-home orders. California’s 25th Congressional District special election has national implications as vote-by-mail becomes a partisan issue. The creator of a new TV series about Catherine the Great, and how to raise a reader in the age of quarantine.


As countries reopen, who’s doing it right?

Germany, South Korea, and even Wuhan, China have seen new infections after reopening parts of their economy. Flying is a miserable experience right now, and there could be big, permanent changes on planes and in airports once the first wave of this global pandemic is behind us.


LA’s Skylight Books stays closed, while other stores reopen

Stores selling clothing, books, music and flowers are allowed to reopen today in LA. But the co-owner of Skylight Books in Los Feliz says her store won’t reopen until there is clearer evidence that the virus is on the decline.


Hotels for unhoused people during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are still living on the streets in close quarters. California has started Project Roomkey, which aims to provide hotel rooms for 15,000 of the most vulnerable unhoused people in LA County. Activists demand more.


The future of amusement parks

Theme parks worldwide have shut down due to COVID-19. That includes Disney, which reports a loss of $1 billion in operating revenue due to park closures. However, Disney plans to reopen its Shanghai theme park next week — with temperature checks and face mask requirements. There’s no word on when Disney’s other parks might open.


Reopening states

Governor Gavin Newsom announced that retailers like bookstores, florists and sporting goods shops can be open for pickup as soon as Friday. The LA Times reports that over the past week, the state has averaged more than 1500 new COVID-19 cases and around 70 deaths per day. Meanwhile, federal health officials recommend a two-week decline in cases and deaths before lifting some COVID-19 restrictions.


Lawsuit demands refunds from UC, Cal State

Hundreds of thousands of students have joined a class action lawsuit against the University of California and Cal State systems. They want refunds for the fees they paid toward now-shuttered facilities like gyms and health centers. Also, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner says LA public schools will start on August 18, but will teachers and students be ready?


Environmental regulations take another hit from Trump administration

The upside to the coronavirus pandemic: less pollution as most people are staying at home. Environmentalists say this is what the world could look like if there’s a move away from fossil fuels. However, the Trump administration has been deregulating more environmental standards.


Freelancers and unemployment benefits in California

On Tuesday, California launched a new portal for freelancers to receive pandemic unemployment benefits. A freelance event planner shares her difficulty in accessing the portal. Also, the program director for the National Employment Law Project discusses the problems plaguing the state's unemployment system.


What we’ve learned: COVID-19 tests, contagion, immunity

The U.S. now has about a million confirmed coronavirus cases. Epidemiologist Janet Hamilton says many different tests have been manufactured, and their accuracies vary. She also explains the different (and sometimes intermittent) symptoms, the role of air quality and temperature in the virus’ survival, and whether you’re immune to another infection if you’ve recovered from COVID-19.


Lives of working moms under quarantine

With COVID-19 keeping families inside, some “working-from-home” moms have set up offices in their bathrooms or cars to get privacy. Some women are discovering just how unbalanced work and life are right now. California Congresswoman Katie Porter has proposed legislation to help.