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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.




Former LAPD sergeant on police response to protests

LAPD Chief Michel Moore apologized for saying the death of George Floyd is on the hands of looters “as much as it is those officers.” Former LAPD sergeant Cheryl Dorsey weighs in on Moore and the department’s response to recent unrest. She also suggests what needs to change. “I think it's important for officers to be able to relate to the people that you're dealing with,” she says.


LA attorney resists the call to reopen courts amid COVID-19

Nearly 3,000 people have been arrested in LA County since Friday, tied to protests against the police killing of George Floyd. But nearly all of the county’s courtrooms have been closed since March because of COVID-19. That means a backlog of thousands of cases. The courts plan to gradually resume hearings later this month, but some people think that’s too soon.


Analysis: When peaceful protests turn to tear gas, rubber bullets, looting

As cities nationwide smoulder with rage after a weekend of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, Floyd’s brother appeals for calm. KCRW looks at how demonstrators and journalists were treated by police, what rights they have, and whether peaceful or violence protests are most effective.


George Floyd, video evidence, public perception

Cities nationwide have erupted in anguish and protest after police recently took the lives of African Americans: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Would the public have known about any of this if it weren’t for cell phone videos taken by witnesses? How do these videos change public perception?


Transit during COVID-19: Bikes, buses, trains

More cyclists are on the roads during the coronavirus pandemic. Adam McDermott, founder of Linus Bike, says his company has been out of stock for several weeks, and shops have customers out the door. When it comes to public transit in LA, ridership is down. LA has reduced service, closed entrances to stations, and started sanitizing vehicles and public spaces a lot more. To improve public transit, USC professor James suggests investing more in buses and less in trains.


California reopens. Is it safe to do so?

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced on Tuesday that retail stores, churches, drive-in movie theaters, and more could all reopen. There are restrictions on how many people can enter certain places at once, and social distancing and face coverings are still required.


Working from home: pros and cons

Many people have been telecommuting for more than two months now. “I really need a lot of quiet. I'm either on the phone interviewing people or am quietly writing. So I don't really need people stopping by unannounced to say things to me,” writer Olga Khazan tells KCRW. But offices can help spur creativity through collaboration and socializing, says columnist Jennifer Senior.


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.