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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.




WarnerMedia-Discovery merger: What’s behind it, how it may affect TV streaming

AT&T will spin off WarnerMedia (the parent company of HBO, CNN, and Warner Brothers film studio) and merge it with Discovery (which owns HGTV, TLC, and Animal Planet) to create a new company. This is a $100 billion deal that might lead to new programming and a restructuring of current content libraries. That’s according to Alejandro Rojas, director of applied analytics at Parrot Analytics. “Everybody's trying to get people's attention, and everybody's trying to become that first...


Supreme Court takes up abortion case that could overturn Roe v. Wade

Today the Supreme Court agreed to take up a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Former Mississippi Republican Governor Phil Bryant signed it three years ago, but it never went into effect because lower courts blocked it. With a new conservative majority on the Supreme Court, this means the landmark 1973 decision Roe v. Wade could be in trouble. The justices will likely hear arguments on this Mississippi case in the fall. “This was clearly an...


How Parkland shooting survivors transformed into gun control activists

On Valentine’s Day 2018, 17 students and staff were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, students who were directly affected spoke out. Many of the survivors became gun control advocates and founded the March for Our Lives movement. Peabody award winning documentarian Kim A. Snyder’s new film “Us Kids” follows Parklank survivors, including Sam Fuentes, as they recover from their injuries, process their grief, and try...


Hollywood Bowl and Disney Hall are coming back. Here’s how the concerts will work

The Hollywood Bowl is reopening this summer. Gustavo Dudamel will conduct many of the classical concerts. Artists like Christina Aguilera, Flying Lotus, and Kool and the Gang will also perform. There’ll be five free concerts for frontline workers. KCRW’s World Festival returns too. Shows in May and June will be socially distanced, then in July, capacity will likely expand to 67% of the venue’s 17,500 seats, says LA Phil CEO Chad Smith. People must wear masks when entering and exiting. Those...


Instagram Youth draws fire over safety and privacy

Instagram Youth is specifically targeted at kids ages 13 and younger. Facebook, which owns Instagram, says the separate platform could be safer for children who are already finding ways to use the adult version. Critics say this could hurt children’s mental health, and be a place for cyber bullies and predators. This week, 44 state attorney generals are urging Facebook to scrap Instagram for kids. They point to research saying social media use can increase loneliness, contribute to...


Newsom promises $600 stimulus checks as California projects budget surplus

Today Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled his California Comeback Plan, which means two-thirds of Californians would receive $600 stimulus checks, and some families with children would get $1100 checks. This is all happening as the state is projecting a $75 billion budget surplus. It’s a far cry from the $54 billion fiscal shortfall projected last year. The boom is the result of California’s top earners doing financially well during the pandemic, says Nicole Nixon, politics reporter for Capital...


Camp Fire survivors haven’t received promised payouts from PG&E. Where’d the money go?

The Camp Fire ripped through the town of Paradise in November 2018, becoming the most destructive and deadliest fire in state history. The fire was sparked by Pacific Gas and Electric’s faulty equipment. As part of a bankruptcy settlement, PG&E agreed to pay more than $13 billion to victims of the Camp Fire and other recent fires in Northern California. The money was put in a special Fire Victims Trust. But KQED reveals that nearly all of the victims haven’t seen a dime of that money....


Economy reopens but where are workers?

LA County has moved to the least restrictive yellow tier in California’s reopening plan. But as businesses try to meet demand, some employers say they’re struggling to hire workers, despite millions of people still being unemployed due to the pandemic. One of the industries hit hard by staff shortages is restaurants. The National Restaurant Association estimates nearly 2.5 million jobs were lost last year, and more than 100,000 bars and restaurants closed permanently.


Vaccine misinformation sweeps through Latinx community

Latinos make up less than 40% of the California population — but more than 55% of the state’s coronavirus cases. Just a quarter of all vaccines administered in the state have gone to Latinos. There’s lots of hesitancy in the community, driven partly by online and bilingual misinformation. Some of it has explicitly targeted Latinos.


California home prices hit record high, and buyers are moving fast

In the Golden State, the median home price is $758,990, which is up nearly 24% from a year ago, according to The California Association of Realtors. Prices have hit a record high due to an explosion of demand, and people are purchasing homes faster than ever, says Andrew Khouri, who covers the housing market for the LA Times. When prospective buyers come to their appointments to view properties, many arrive with a pre-approved mortgage letter in hand, he says. “A homebuyer explained it to...


How Caitlyn Jenner’s anti-trans comments are affecting LGBTQ community and her gubernatorial bid

Caitlyn Jenner, reality TV star and California gubernatorial hopeful, said over the weekend that she was against trans girls competing in girls’ sports. She suggested support for a growing Republican movement to pass laws prohibiting trans athletes from girls sports. “This is a political move,” says Dawn Ennis, managing editor at Outsports. “She has turned this political campaign now into a complete disaster. … She's running on a platform that doesn't even exist in California. California is...


Olympics will go on in Tokyo despite local COVID surge

The 2021 Olympics in Tokyo are slated to start at the end of July. But last week, Japan declared a coronavirus-related state of emergency. The country’s been hit by another surge of new cases. Movie theaters, department stores, and bars are closed until mid-May. So far, only about 1% of its population is fully vaccinated. It’s unclear what COVID-19 protocols the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will roll out for athletes, says Sally Jenkins, sports columnist for the Washington Post....


Kamala Harris’ first 100 days as vice president: How is she tackling the historic role?

Kamala Harris has been using her voice as a woman of color and former California attorney general to connect with the Black community after the Derek Chauvin trial, and to speak out against xenophobia after the spa shootings in Atlanta. She also has a bigger portfolio, which resides on earning the trust of President Biden.


Cut back on excessive sanitizing to save ‘good germs’ as pandemic eases, says scientist

More than a year ago when people knew nothing about how COVID-19 spread, hygiene theater was in overdrive. That meant wiping down everything, and even disinfecting groceries. That resulted in killing certain microbes and bacteria that protect the human body. From birth, humans coexist with bacteria, fungi, and viruses, and each has a different biological function, says Brett Finlay, microbiologist and immunologist at the University of British Columbia. He says they’re involved with how the...


Apple’s software update could eat into Facebook’s bottom line

This week, Apple released a software update that would let its device users decide whether to share their data and activities with apps and websites. The update could spell trouble for companies whose business models rely on ad revenue, like Facebook. “One of the dirty secrets of digital advertising is that a lot of these companies, and especially the big digital advertising companies like Google and Facebook, track us across the internet and across our phones,” says New York Times reporter...


India is now the COVID epicenter, US plans to send medical supplies

For four straight days, India has broken the global daily record for new coronavirus cases, but experts say the actual number of new infections could be much higher. The country’s health care system is collapsing. Hospitals are running out of oxygen and morgues are full. This is a perfect storm of multiple factors: a new double mutant variant in the country, surging superspreader events, and a sense of complacency among the Indian government. That’s all according to the Atlantic staff...


Whether schools and businesses can require COVID-19 vaccinations

The UC and Cal State college systems say they plan to require students and faculty to get COVID-19 vaccines before returning to campus this fall — but that’s only after the FDA approves the vaccines (on a nonemergency-use basis) and supplies are sufficient. Meanwhile, private businesses can also require employees and customers to be vaccinated, according to law professor Dorit Reiss.


Can LA house Skid Row residents by October?

U.S. District Court Judge David Carter has ordered the city and county of Los Angeles to offer shelters for people on Skid Row by October 18. The deadline is sooner — within 90 days — for women and children. Carter’s ruling comes at the heels of his visits to multiple encampments around the city, according to LA Times reporter Benjamin Oreskes. He says both the city and county are unsure how to make this court order a reality. Skid Row community activist Jeff Page says that after years of...


Individual accountability won’t solve systemic racism in policing, says USC professor

On Tuesday, the jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty in the death of George Floyd. Chauvin was deemed guilty on all three charges: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Retired LAPD sergeant Cheryl Dorsey says lots of change must come next, and there must be consequences that are equal to an officer’s misconduct. “Every division has somebody like Chauvin who nobody wants to work with. You put him on morning...


LA’s $1 billion proposed plan to fight homelessness

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s so-called “justice budget” for the next fiscal year includes nearly $1 billion to fight homelessness. That money would go to renting, buying and building more housing. It would fund programs to keep housed residents from slipping into homelessness. The mayor also proposed giving some low-income families $1000 to $2000 per month for a year — no strings attached. The City Council still needs to approve the proposal. KCRW reporter Anna Scott says the new proposals are...