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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.




Juneteenth is an official holiday. California looks into reparations for Black Americans

President Joe Biden signed a bill into law today declaring June 19, commonly referred to as Juneteenth, a federal holiday. It marks the 1865 day when slaves in Texas learned they were free. The revelation came months after the end of the Civil War and two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, though slavery wasn’t truly abolished until the 13th Amendment. But today Black Americans still feel the effects of slavery. They earn on average about $30,000 less than whites, and...


Recall threats and turf fights heat up over LA homelessness

Political fallout is mounting as LA grapples with how to house its many residents living on the streets. Councilmembers Joe Buscaino and Mike Bonin are butting heads with LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on how to address the crisis in Venice and Echo Park. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, residents in Bonin’s district served the councilman a recall notice. The move follows news that Councilmember Nithya Raman is also under a recall.


California reopens today. Here’s what listeners don’t want to change

KCRW’s Press Play asked audience members to share one habit they’ve picked up in the past year that they hope to keep. More than 120 responses flooded our voicemail, email inbox, and social media direct messages. “Where I might be concerned about what suit I'm going to wear to work, I don’t care about that anymore. … Now I can spend more time feeling relaxed, being outdoors, talking to my children who just went away to college this year,” says Ann van Winkle, who lives near Century...


Gov. Newsom plans a vaccine verification system as California fully reopens Tuesday

California plans to roll out a statewide electronic vaccine verification program, which Gov. Gavin Newsom does not call a passport. As the state fully reopens this Tuesday, businesses can still enforce their own COVID-19 safety measures, but the pending verification system could allow them to eventually check customers’ vaccination status. “There are a lot of anxieties around people manufacturing these [fake] vaccine cards online and selling them to people. The attorney general, the...


‘In the Heights’ has thrilling musical numbers and big story, says critic

Critics review “In the Heights,” the film adaptation of Lin Manuel Miranda’s 2008 Tony Award-winning musical, all about the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City; “The Power of the Kangwon Province,” a Korean film from the 1990s that’s streaming this weekend at the Lincoln Center; “Holler,” a coming of age story about a young woman dreaming of leaving her small hometown in Ohio; “Sublet,” which follows an older New York Times travel writer as he goes to Tel Aviv for his column,...


Lots of goods are more expensive. Is this temporary?

The cost of living surged 5% last month, according to the Department of Labor. That’s the highest inflation rate we’ve seen in more than a decade. Used cars, furniture, and even bacon have gotten more expensive. The increase can be traced to global supply chain issues that have been present throughout the pandemic, says Bloomberg economics reporter Reade Pickert. Now due to the broader reopening of the economy, there’s more demand for goods and services. “Folks have extra savings that...


Kamala Harris, Guatemala, and what’s driving the migrant crisis

Vice President Kamala Harris visited Central America this week. She told would-be migrants in Guatemala “do not come” (to the U.S.), which drew criticism from progressive democrats. Republicans and some democrats are arguing she should have visited the U.S. border to see the effects of a surge of migrants who’ve arrived in recent months. Harris did announce tens of millions of dollars in support for Guatemala during her trip. Central American countries are struggling with poverty, gang...


Political tension rises over homelessness in Venice

LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino is running to replace Mayor Eric Garcetti, and he held his first official campaign event on Monday along the Venice Beach boardwalk. LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva was also in the area. When people in the crowd saw an unhoused woman standing nearby holding a knife, police immediately detained her as onlookers jeered at her. Over the last year, the visibility of homelessness in Venice has increased, says KCRW reporter Anna Scott. Outside of Skid Row, the...


Amazon wants to network its devices using your home internet

Starting Tuesday, your Amazon devices, along with everyone else’s in your neighborhood, will be able to connect to each other and the internet systems they use. The project is called Amazon Sidewalk. The company says this will help its products work more efficiently. Amazon never asked users for their permission to open their home internet to outsiders, so it’s letting users opt-out, but they’ll have to do it before June 8. INC tech columnist Jason Aten uses the analogy of someone...


Hyperlocal app Citizen pushes the limits of public safety platform

Last month, LA saw its first major fire of what’s expected to be a devastating season. That night, neighborhood watch app Citizen was blowing up users' phones with notifications about the blaze. As it turned out, users and the app's employees had identified a suspect in the arson. His photo was plastered all over push notifications and the app even offered a $30,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. There was one problem though: he wasn’t the man who police say set the fire....


Michelin-starred chef Josiah Citrin on losing his son to a drug overdose

Josiah Citrin, the Michelin-starred force behind Mélisse and Citrin in Santa Monica, lost his 23-year-old son Augie to an opioid overdose in December. Citrin is speaking out about the tragedy to hopefully prevent other parents from experiencing the same kind of heartbreak. “You don't worry about a Vicodin or a Xanax. Obviously, we worry about our kids being addicted to it and having a problem, you know, substance abuse. But I don't think it was ever like oh, it can actually kill you,”...


The future of work post-pandemic

More than half of all American adults have been vaccinated, according to the Biden administration, and life is seemingly speeding back to normal. But offices aren’t quite sure how to approach bringing back employees, especially now that so many jobs can be done from home in pajamas. “There's gonna be a desire to really have a more hybrid and flexible schedule that works with the rhythms of a person's day and person's week, instead of simply saying that every single person, no matter the...


Closing racial wealth gap: What Biden plans to do

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, President Biden today marked the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, and he unveiled new measures to address the racial wealth gap. They focus on housing and government contracts. Not included are reparations or debt forgiveness. The Tulsa Race Massacre is a symbol of stolen potential, according to Anne Price, president of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. “Think about the kinds of flourishing businesses in Tulsa that could have been...


Memorial Day replay: Roxana Jullipat, Stacy Michelson, Evan Kleiman, Ellen Reid

On this Memorial Day, Press Play replays some of our favorite interviews. Baker Roxana Jullipat shares how to go back in time and cook with ancient grains. Illustrator Stacy Michelson’s new book has all sorts of fun facts, like Ancient Egyptians invented the Marshmallow, and all Haas avocados can be traced back to a single tree. Good Food host Evan Kleiman has cider recommendations. And how about hiking in Griffith Park to personalized music by composer and sound artist Ellen Reid?


Santa Monica lawmaker says 1991 hate-filled letter could help fight racism today

Santa Monica has a reputation as a paradise for lefties. But the city isn’t exactly welcoming to Latinos. That’s according to Jean Guerrero, an author and journalist who wrote about a shocking racist incident in Santa Monica that happened 30 years ago. A hate-filled rant, written on Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District letterhead, was sent to nearly 800 Latino families in the city. The perpetrator was never found. The typed, one-page letter was filled with anti-Latino slurs. A...


San Jose shooting: Gunman had history of domestic violence

A gunman in San Jose killed nine people and then himself at a light rail yard on Wednesday. His neighbors told local media outlets they were scared of him and that he had a temper, while court records indicate a history of alleged domestic abuse and violent mood swings. He also had access to illegal firearm magazines. The shooter’s victims were all Valley Transit Authority employees who worked in the maintenance yard. “Some had been working for decades, some just several years. It's unclear...


After pandemic wanes, emotional effects remain

The worst days of the pandemic appear to be over in the U.S., and a lot of us are trying to return to some semblance of normalcy. But the sum total of these past 14 months is astonishing: Nearly 600,000 Americans died, more than 33 million were infected, and our way of life was totally upended. Now with the constant fear of infection melting away, we should feel relief, excitement and joy. But that’s just not happening for some people, or maybe for most of us. “A lot of people crumble. …...


New California Attorney General Rob Bonta wants to take a different approach to criminal justice

Last year, California passed legislation that requires the Office of the State Attorney General to investigate all police shootings that result in the death of an unarmed civilian. “We are absolutely committed to doing this right, making sure we have impartial, fair, comprehensive investigations with complete integrity,” Attorney General Rob Bonta tells KCRW. “That's what California deserves.” Right now, society is engulfed in both a racial justice reckoning and a law enforcement...


Year after George Floyd’s murder, what happened to ‘defund the police?’

Tuesday marks one year since George Floyd walked into a store to buy cigarettes and ended up dying at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Immediately afterward, people nationwide pushed for defunding the police. But now with gun violence up, LA’s police budget is going up too. The LA City Council voted last week to hire about 250 more officers, which is the opposite of what activists have been demanding for the last year. KCRW looks at the state of policing with...


Indigenous US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo explores ideas of home

As a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo is the descendant of Native Americans who were forcibly removed from their land in the 19th century Trail of Tears. Thousands died on the march from their ancestral homes in the Southeast to so-called “Indian Territory,” which is now Oklahoma. Much of Harjo’s work explores themes of home, place, and displacement. “Natives have been so disappeared [sic] from the American story. And yet, if we make a map that shows no...