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.



Listen on a live station

Science behind ‘Zoom fatigue’

“Zoom fatigue” is a generic term for feeling drained after sitting in front of any kind of video conference for much of the day. That’s according to Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. He says using Zoom is like being inside an elevator with people who are all staring at you for the whole ride. He shares tips for making these calls more comfortable, such as hiding “self view” and minimizing the window so it doesn’t take up your entire...


Why rapid at-home COVID tests are still pending FDA approval

Innova Medical Group, based in Pasadena, has developed a test people can buy over the counter and use at home. It costs $5 and produces results in about 30 minutes. It’s complete with a nasal swab, chemical solution, and paper-like strip. Innova Medical Group has been waiting for FDA approval since August.


What’s in California’s new $7 billion COVID relief package

Governor Gavin Newsom today signed a $7.6 billion stimulus package for California. Millions of residents will receive $600 checks. There’s money for small businesses, and relief for child care providers and college students. The package passed with broad bipartisan support in both chambers, and comes at a time when Newsom is sparring with the legislature over school reopenings.


When might Southern California reach COVID herd immunity?

Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths have all been declining in LA County. Dr. George Rutherford, professor of epidemiology at UC San Francisco, says cases in Southern California are dropping quickly because of naturally acquired immunity from so many infections, and people are wearing masks and social distancing. “The rollout of vaccines has sort of tipped the balance. And I think we're going to continue to see this as long as things don't go wrong,” he adds. Rutherford also...


Why museums are still closed while other businesses have reopened in California

Indoor museums are still closed — while malls, tattoo shops, hair and nail salons have been open since Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted parts of the state’s stay-at-home order last month. There’s now an odd scenario: The gift shop is open at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), but the museum itself is not. KCRW talks about the pandemic’s impact on museums with the executive directors of the Museum of African American Art in Baldwin Hills and the Wende Museum in Culver City, plus a New...


Reopening California schools: Public officials v. teachers unions

The Biden administration and the CDC say it’s safe for teachers to return to classrooms before they’re vaccinated. California Governor Gavin Newsom agrees. In LA County, teachers will be eligible for the vaccine starting March 1. LAUSD Superintendent Austin Buetner says elementary schools might be able to reopen if 25,000 teachers and staff get their shots. Meanwhile, United Teachers Los Angeles says it can’t support reopening until in-person staff members are vaccinated and LA County is...


What climate change means for America’s aging power grids

The central and southern U.S. is still reeling from a winter storm that brought snow, ice, and the coldest temperatures in decades. Millions of Texans woke up this morning still without power. Texas, which operates its own power grid, has not been able to keep up with the demand for heat. California also has had blackouts from wildfires and heatwaves. They’re all examples of how the country’s aging power grids can’t keep up with the growing number of weather disasters related to climate...


Blue Shield takes over vaccine distribution

Governor Gavin Newsom is partnering with Blue Shield and Kaiser to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. The contract with Blue Shield is now public, and the goal is to administer 3 million doses a week starting next month. “It centralizes a system that is very fragmented. So you will see a lot of pulling together there and having one entity deciding where the need is, versus it being distributed to counties, and then counties deciding where the need is,” says Melody Gutierrez, state government and...


Recapping Trump’s second impeachment trial

Maryland Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager, gave closing remarks on Thursday in the second Senate trial of former President Donald Trump, this time on the charge of inciting an insurrection. “How can we assure that our commander in chief will protect, preserve and defend us and our Constitution if we don’t hold a president accountable in circumstances like this? What is impeachable conduct if not this?” Raskin said. Over the past four days, House...


Why COVID is spreading in some LA courts

Hundreds of employees and several judges have tested positive for coronavirus — and courts are still open for in-person trials. Americans are dealing with more political division than ever before, says a new survey from American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. New film “Little Fish” tells the story of a couple struggling to remember their love story during a pandemic that wipes away memory. And Dana Point, renowned sea-life destination, has been named America’s first Whale...


What’s fueling attacks on elderly Asian Americans in NorCal?

Elderly Asian Americans in the Bay Area have been targets of violence in the past few weeks. In one video, a suspect runs up to an 84-year-old San Francisco resident — who was originally from Thailand — and violently shoves him to the ground. That man died of his injuries. In Oakland’s Chinatown, a 91-year-old man was approached from behind and sent flying to the pavement.


Judge blocks many of George Gascón’s criminal justice reforms

On Monday, a judge blocked LA District Attorney George Gascón from enforcing one of his major promises: ending the use of prison sentencing enhancements in thousands of criminal cases. The judge’s order stemmed from a lawsuit brought late last year by the union that represents hundreds of LA County prosecutors. The union argued that Gascón’s reforms required them to break state law.


COVID variants vs. vaccines

The U.K. variant of COVID-19 is doubling every 10 days in the U.S., according to a report out Sunday. Dr. Anthony Fauci says this variant could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by the end of March. The U.S. has also seen worrisome mutations from South Africa and Brazil. What does this mean for vaccine rollout?


Disability rights activists push to get COVID vaccines earlier in California

People ages 65 and up can get the coronavirus vaccine now in California. After all, they’re more likely to die of COVID-19 than any other group. But people with serious disabilities — who are younger than 65 — have the same risk too. They’re no longer prioritized. Earlier this week, a state vaccine advisory panel rejected a push from disability rights advocates to let them join people 65 and older in the vaccination line now. One meeting this afternoon could change that, however. KCRW...


The fight over reopening schools intensifies

Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday suggested that in-person instruction in public schools could resume if teachers are prioritized in coronavirus vaccinations. President Biden says he wants to reopen the country’s schools during his first 100 days in office. But California and its teachers’ unions could be one of the biggest hurdles to making that happen.


UC Davis and Long Beach ramp up COVID protection for residents

The University of California, Davis offers free coronavirus testing and quarantine housing not just to students and university employees, but to the nearly 70,000 Davis residents too. The program, known as the The Healthy Davis Together project, has caught more than 800 asymptomatic cases so far. In Long Beach, the city is already vaccinating teachers and grocery store workers. That’s on top of health care workers, long-term care residents and staff, and people 65 and older. Long Beach has...


Will Gov. Gavin Newsom be recalled?

More than a third of California voters say they would vote to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom from office, according to a new poll from UC Berkeley. His job approval is now below 50%, compared to above 80% in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. The slump is driven by his handling of the state’s recent COVID-19 surge, poorly explained sudden policy shifts on reopening, a slow vaccine rollout, that dinner at the French Laundry, and the fact that millions of Californians are suffering...


Johnson & Johnson vaccine: What you need to know

Johnson & Johnson has submitted its vaccine to the FDA for approval. Unlike the vaccines from Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna, this one is a single shot, doesn’t have to be stored at freezing temperatures, and is less expensive. It also has a lower efficacy rate. “Among the 30 or 40 vaccines out there that are in clinical use, there's maybe just a couple of others that have hit 90% efficacy or above. It's very, very unusual for that level of efficacy,” says Dr. Edward Jones-Lopez, assistant...


California eviction moratorium gets five-month extension

Today Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law an extension of California’s eviction moratorium through June. SB-91 allows the state to use more than $2 billion in federal stimulus money to cover 80% of missed rents from low-income tenants dating back to April. To get that money, landlords must forgive the remaining balance not covered by the state, and can't evict tenants. “The governor's proposal basically empowers landlords to pick and choose which tenants are going to benefit from this...


Foreign policy under the Biden administration

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s first full day on the job was Wednesday. He must restaff the department as he confronts serious problems: Iran untethered from the nuclear agreement, an emboldened Russia, a strengthened China, a pandemic and climate change creating instability everywhere, and ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen.