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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.




Who’s now eligible for COVID vaccination in LA?

Dodger Stadium reopened today as a coronavirus vaccine site, with the capacity to vaccinate up to 12,000 people a day. Earlier this week, California announced it would make the COVID-19 vaccine available to everyone age 65 and older. LA County says it can’t start vaccinating seniors until it’s finished with health care and nursing home workers and residents. They’re nowhere close, and it’s all a logistical nightmare. “I'm not a big fan of the tier model. I think it's caused a little bit of...


Preparing for Inauguration Day security threats

The nation’s capital will have extensive military presence next week when Joe Biden takes the oath of office and becomes the 46th U.S. president. Washington D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee said on Wednesday, “I think you can expect to see somewhere upwards beyond 20,000 members of the National Guard that will be here in the footprint of the District of Columbia.” State capitals nationwide are also bracing for demonstrations, or at worst, armed insurrection.


Trump is first president to be impeached twice

Today the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump for inciting an insurrection against the federal government. Ten Republicans broke party ranks to vote in favor. This came a week after pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol building, leaving five people dead. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today he would not recall the Senate for a trial before Joe Biden’s inauguration next week, meaning Trump will likely finish his term. But McConnell didn’t rule out...


Will latest recall attempt against Gov. Newsom succeed?

Governor Gavin Newsom’s approval rating was above 60% in June. Now California is one of the world’s coronavirus hotspots, and Governor Newsom is facing another recall attempt. “The COVID pandemic has created the perfect storm that has fueled the recall,” says Politico reporter Carla Marinucci. “And at this point, supporters say they have amassed a million signatures that have not been verified by the Secretary of State's office. But they were given a big boost when a superior court judge...


Will Trump be impeached for inciting insurrection?

Today the House of Representatives introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump, charging him with “incitement of insurrection.” “Which, in plain terms, means that he encouraged the violence that we experienced at the Capitol last Wednesday with his words, with his actions,” says CBS chief Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes. “And Democrats now tell me that they have the votes that they need in order to pass not just that impeachment resolution on Wednesday in the...


Future of the GOP

Following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, there’s a growing movement within the Republican party to divorce themselves from President Donald Trump and his brand of politics. Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska said he’d consider impeachment. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy Devos resigned over the president’s stoking of mob violence. However, after the Capitol was under siege on Wednesday, a half dozen Senators and more than 100...


Who were the Trump supporters that stormed the US Capitol, how did they pull it off?

Hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building on Wednesday, ransacking the House and Senate chambers and the offices of some lawmakers. Four people died and more than 50 Capitol and DC Metro police officers were injured. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser called the Capitol Police’s response a failure. About 70 people have been arrested so far. The Justice Department is pledging to criminally charge more of the rioters, and the FBI asked the public for help identifying them. The big...


The latest on insurrection at US Capitol

In Washington D.C. today, at Donald Trump’s urging, thousands of people protested the results of the November election. A mob stormed the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers debated certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Members of the House and Senate donned gas masks and were rushed to secret locations. Two suspected homemade bombs were found outside the Republican and Democratic National Committee headquarters. Eventually in a video tweet, which Twitter later removed,...


COVID contagion at LA workplaces

One of the nation’s worst COVID outbreaks is in LA County, where the positivity rate over the last week is nearing 20%. Workplaces are partially responsible for this recent surge, including grocery stores, home improvement stores, department stores, and TV shoots. “Any store or any business you might think of where people are still going in every day, they're having cases,” says LA Times health reporter Soumya Karlamangla.


Why COVID vaccine rollout is slower than federal officials promised

LA County continues to be the nation’s hotspot for COVID-19 cases. The county has been averaging around 16,000 new cases every day since the new year. Around 436,000 people have been vaccinated in California, a state with some 40 million residents. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti blames the federal government for the slow rollout. But there are also reports that many frontline health care workers are turning down the vaccines. “There is no coordinated national strategy to getting people vaccinated....


Christmas Eve special: Sopan Deb, ‘Mr. SOUL!’ and David Byrne

On this Christmas Eve, Press Play re-airs some favorite interviews of the year. Sopan Deb shares how his Indian heritage informs his standup comedy. The documentary “Mr. SOUL!” looks at a 1970s-era TV show with a then-radical idea to portray the complexity of Black culture. “Talking Heads” frontman David Byrne talks about “American Utopia,” his Broadway show that turned into a film.


COVID in San Diego, anti-vaccine messaging, presidential pardons

San Diego County’s big box stores, restaurants and group living situations are sites of the most prevalent COVID-19 contagion, according to a KPBS investigation. Anti-vaccine and alt-right groups are teaming up to stoke fears of a COVID-19 vaccine. Ethical questions surround Trump's pre-Christmas wave of 20 pardons and commutations. The Metropolitan Opera is continuing to produce shows by filming singers performing in historic locations around the world. And film critics review “Wonder Woman...


Alex Padilla to fill Kamala Harris’ Senate seat

Gov. Gavin Newsom has named Secretary of State Alex Padilla to fill Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ Senate seat. He’ll be California’s first Latino U.S. Senator. He began his political career as the youngest member ever elected to the LA City Council.


California hospital sets up ‘COVID pods’ and treats patients in hallways

Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley reportedly have no ICU space. Hospitals are creating special COVID-19 wards to handle the influx. There are plans now for how to ration care. St. Mary’s Medical Center in Apple Valley invited Washington Post reporters inside to document what’s happening. “Every day we’re running at 200, 250% capacity. That includes the emergency department, the ICU, all of the inpatient units. We have well over double the number of patients that we were built...


Science's race against COVID

LA, San Diego, and Riverside counties have run out of ICU space at their hospitals. COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are still ballooning. Given the devastation, it’s hard to appreciate how quickly the scientific community developed multiple vaccine candidates for COVID-19, something that had never been done before, and in record time for any vaccine. KCRW talks about this astonishing feat with Ed Yong, science writer at The Atlantic. His latest story is “How Science Beat the...


A timeline for when the COVID pandemic might end

LA County broke another record on Wednesday, reporting more than 22,000 new coronavirus cases. Meanwhile, Moderna’s vaccine may be available as early as next week. Frontline health care workers are already getting the Pfizer vaccine. However, Dr. Nicholas Christakis argues that the end of the pandemic is much further away than people might think. The Yale University physician’s new book is “Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live.” It’s one of the...


COVID among construction workers

One reason why COVID-19 spreads so quickly is because a lot of people who have it never show symptoms — between 20-40% of all cases. A new report finds that certain professions seem to have higher rates of asymptomatic infection than others. Construction workers, who are deemed essential, top that list. The report comes from Curative, a health company processing more than 1 million COVID tests a week.


Will vaccinating teachers mean in-person classes can restart?

The first round of Pfizer vaccines arrived in California on Monday. The state’s vaccine plan prioritizes frontline medical workers, seniors in long-term care facilities, and those directly exposed to COVID-19. Other front line workers, including teachers, are expected to get theirs soon afterward.


Andrew Bird’s new Christmas album ‘Hark!’

“Hark!” is Andrew Bird’s new holiday album featuring classics like “Oh Holy Night” and “Christmas is Coming,” plus pandemic-inspired original songs, and less-traditional holiday tunes such as John Prine’s “Souvenirs.” He says working on this was an unexpected development in 2020. “I sort of stumbled into it and just started gathering songs because I was honestly feeling a bit uninspired early this year. But if you told me a few years ago that I'd be doing a Christmas album I’d think, ‘What...


Congress passes week-long spending bill, but what about another COVID stimulus package?

At the end of the year, in three weeks, some 14 million people will lose the extra unemployment benefits that came with the first round of COVID relief. Meanwhile, the U.S. is hitting records when it comes to new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. On the bright side, the Senate passed a one-week spending bill to avert a government shutdown tonight. It already passed the House, and President Trump is expected to sign it. “We're kind of at square one. People are still eyeball...