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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.




Analysis: Derek Chauvin chooses not to testify in his trial, and the defense rests

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin elected not to testify on Thursday in his own defense — in the trial over George Floyd’s death. After his decision, the defense rested its case. Closing arguments are expected to start Monday, and then the case heads to the jury. Judge Peter Cahill has said jurors will be sequestered while they deliberate. Chauvin is facing charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams...


How crime patterns have changed, and why Californians are buying more guns

This year kicked off with an alarming rise in shootings in Los Angeles, according to the LAPD’s public stats. Homicides are up, robberies are down, rapes are down, car thefts are up. And people looking to buy guns broke records after the attack on the U.S. Capitol. “What we were seeing was a collision of COVID-19 and this country’s long-standing gun violence problem, with data suggesting that 2020 had more incidents in which four or more people were killed or injured due to guns than any of...


How can an officer confuse a firearm for a taser?

Former police officer Kim Potter has been charged with second-degree manslaughter after fatally shooting 20-year-old Daunte Wright in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center last weekend. He was pulled over when driving, then a scuffle ensued, and Potter pulled out her gun and shot him. She resigned afterward, and said she thought she was using her taser. But how is it possible that an officer can confuse a gun and a taser? “When you grab a taser, it feels like a handgun. It's got a...


Johnson and Johnson vaccine is paused. Don’t panic, says doctor

The federal government decided this morning to pause Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. Officials are looking into six cases where women who got the shot developed a serious and rare blood clot. Governor Gavin Newsom also announced today that California would temporarily stop using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “It’s a little overkill to pause, as opposed to what the EU did with a similar side effect with AstraZeneca, which is just for now restrict it to using among older people. Just...


California green lights indoor concerts. But venues face a challenging path to reopening

California is allowing indoor entertainment events to resume this week at reduced capacity. However, the summer is written off at Pomona’s the Glass House, an independent, all-ages venue known for booking local acts early in their careers “Whatever happens over the summer, we're not going to open. … We're hoping to reopen in September. … We have 25 to 30 shows booked, starting in September, but we'll see. … We're not going to open until we're 100% capacity. And then I think that we're...


Amazon workers vote against unionization in Alabama. What does this mean for the online retail giant?

Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama voted against unionization on Thursday night. It was a big win for Amazon, the second largest employer in the U.S. after Walmart. The vote drew national attention as organizers pushed to create the first union at an American Amazon facility. However, the head of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers Union plans to file a formal complaint, alleging Amazon aggressively campaigned against the union and used intimidation tactics...


Eating disorders are up among teens during COVID. How adults can spot red flags and help

Eating disorders jumped in the last year as more young people spent time on screens, according to new research from UC San Francisco. Hospitalizations at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital doubled since March 2020 — for eating disorders such as binging, bulimia, and compulsive exercise. Jason Nagata, professor of pediatrics at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, says some teenagers have gained weight during the pandemic due to overeating or a more sedentary lifestyle. And it’s led to...


Long Beach to shelter migrant kids

The Long Beach City Council voted unanimously last night to make the Long Beach Convention Center a temporary shelter for migrant children. The move follows a surge in the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border. The city follows in the footsteps of San Diego, where city officials started housing hundreds of kids at its convention center last week. But things aren’t going well in San Diego: there are reports the facility is almost at capacity and some kids have tested...


Role of kids in spreading COVID, tips for protecting vaccine cards

As states continue to reopen, COVID-19 cases are spiking nationwide, and variants are starting to make up a growing share of them. That includes the highly infectious U.K. variant, which has been found in all 50 states. “If something is more contagious, it means that the spread becomes potentially exponential,” says Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University. “And if something is contagious, it also means that the activities that we...


Georgia’s new voting law faces pressure from MLB, Fortune 500, civil rights activists

Major League Baseball announced on Friday that it would move this year’s All-Star game and baseball draft out of Georgia. It came in response to the state’s new law that overhauls voting, one that critics argue is tantamount to voter suppression. Other big companies, including Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola, have called the new voting laws unacceptable after local civil rights groups pressured them to speak out against the legislation. More than 170 corporations — including Uber, Dow, and...


Derek Chauvin trial week 1: Emotions ran high

Today wraps up the first week of testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who is accused of killing George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes. His death prompted weeks of protests nationwide. “I didn’t detect a pulse. ... I thought he was dead,” paramedic Seth Bravinder told the jury this week. He was one of the paramedics first called to the scene outside of Cup Foods on May 25, 2020. Bystanders and other witnesses, including...


What Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan means for California

President Biden unveiled his $2 trillion infrastructure plan on Wednesday in Pittsburgh, which Congress would have to approve. He wants to pay for it mostly by raising taxes on corporations. The plan includes money to improve roads, bridges, and public transportation. There will be billions for manufacturing electric vehicles, building charging stations, and converting more school buses and mail trucks to electric. California is one of the states that could benefit from the national plan....


Health care access for transgender youth get restricted in some states

Mississippi’s Republican Governor Tate Reeves signed a bill earlier this month that prohibits trans girls from participating in girls’ sports. Similar bills were signed in Tennessee and Arkansas. Also in Arkansas, state lawmakers sent a bill to the governor earlier this week that would ban doctors from providing health care like puberty blockers and hormone therapies to transgender youth. It’s all part of a push in more than 50 states that restrict access to health care for transgender...


Will California have a fourth COVID wave and vaccine passports?

CDC director Rochelle Walensky says COVID-19 cases overall are up about 10% nationwide compared to last week, and big increases are happening in Michigan, New York and New Jersey. California and LA County officials are also sounding the alarm, warning people not to gather for Easter, Passover, and Spring Break. But the number of new cases in Southern California is still declining, and nearly 30% of statewide residents are vaccinated. Whether California can avoid a fourth wave of...


Senator Alex Padilla on vaccine hesitancy and immigration reform

California Democratic Senator Alex Padilla is in Inglewood today, touring the coronavirus mass vaccination site at SoFi Stadium. “We have to get the right information out there. Yes, the vaccine is safe. Yes, the vaccine is effective. I've had it, I'm doing okay,” he tells KCRW. Also earlier this month, Padilla unveiled the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented essential workers. “The very workers that we've all been...


Cesar Chavez Day replay special: Films on Billie Holiday, ‘9 to 5,’ Bee Gees

On this Cesar Chavez Day, Press Play revisits some of our favorite interviews with filmmakers from the year so far. Director Lee Daniels shares his movie about the FBI’s fight against singer Billie Holiday over her song “Strange Fruit.” One documentary looks at the real women who inspired the movie “9 To 5.” Another documentary celebrates how the Bee Gees rocketed to fame.


Is long-haul COVID the next public health crisis?

Last month, the National Institutes of Health announced a $1 billion four-year study to research so-called “long COVID.” According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath, sleep disorders, fevers, GI symptoms, anxiety, and depression. KCRW talks about the study and impacts of long-haul coronavirus cases with researcher Dr. Denise McCulloch, journalist and long-haul COVID-19 patient Fiona Lowenstein, and health care administrator and long-haul COVID-19 patient...


What can you do — and not do — when fully vaccinated against COVID?

About 46 million Americans are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — some 18% of all U.S. adults — according to the Centers for Disease Control. California state data says about 17% of residents here are fully vaccinated. As more people get their shots and more businesses reopen, a lot of people want to know: Now what? How much of our lives can we resume? We can go to the movie theater, go to the gym, and eat at a restaurant indoors — but should we? KCRW asked listeners to send questions...


Colorado’s history of mass shootings

Colorado has a long history of high-profile mass shootings: King Soopers grocery store in Boulder on Monday, Columbine High School in 1999, the Aurora movie theater in 2012. Colorado has more mass shootings per capita than all but four states, according to a 2019 analysis by the Denver Post. As these shootings take place, it’s a grave reminder of the need to invest in preventative infrastructure, such as a system where concerned parties can report their observations, and trained...


Newsom recall effort gains traction thanks to KABC-AM show

The recall of Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to appear on the fall ballot as state officials announce they’ve validated more than 1.2 million signatures on the petition. The recall campaign has gotten a lot of help from “Friday Night at the French Laundry,” a radio show that launched in late January on KABC-AM in Los Angeles. Three men with little prior political experience launched the show.