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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.




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 However, music critic Craig Jenkins says Lamar’s message is outdated.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...


Making newsrooms more diverse

Media outlets in Los Angeles are re-examining their hiring practices, diversity and inclusion efforts, and pay disparities. The LA Times put out a report on Monday, which found that diversity hasn’t changed much since the paper started hiring tons of people two years ago, when Patrick Soon-Shiong took over as the new owner. KCRW hears from an LA Times editorial board member and a former LA Times columnist.


Fire season during COVID-19

Fires recently broke out in Santa Clarita, near Bel Air, and in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. None of that is unusual for a Southern California summer. But there’s never been a fire season amid a pandemic that’s straining state and local resources. David Shew, retired CALFIRE staff chief, talks about what to expect.


Homelessness on the rise in LA

LA County saw a 13% increase in people living on the streets and in shelters, according to the 2020 Greater LA Homeless Count. Plus, the TV reality show “Cops” is cancelled, and the 1930’s film “Gone With the Wind” is dropped over concerns about how they glorify police brutality and slavery. How do we reckon with art and media that depict America’s racist past and present?


LA has more reopenings, more coronavirus cases

Governor Gavin Newsom is allowing gyms, day camps, and museums to open their doors on Friday, and film production can restart. LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger talks about her calculations between the economy and the coronavirus.


Georgia's malfunctioning machines, '21st century voter suppression'

KCRW looks at why Georgia’s voting machines malfunctioned during the primary, what that means for the November election, and how two Georgia women got on the short list for Joe Biden’s running mate. Plus, will Biden’s co-authoring of the 1994 crime bill raise issues for voters?


The fight to end qualified immunity for cops

KCRW looks at the 50-year-old Supreme Court doctrine known as qualified immunity, which protects police officers accused of using excessive force.


House Democrats propose national police reform plan

Democratic lawmakers unveiled a new proposal for police reform across the country. It would ban the use of chokeholds, increase racial and implicit bias training, and create a federal registry of police misconduct. This plan comes after the Minneapolis City Council vowed to dismantle the local police department. Also, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti also announced he plans to cut $150 million from LAPD’s annual budget.