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.




Dave Grohl’s journey from Virginia childhood to stardom with Nirvana and Foo Fighters

Dave Grohl’s been part of the two biggest bands of the 1990s and 2000s — drummer for Nirvana and the creator/lead singer for the Foo Fighters. He’s performed thousands of shows, from tiny punk clubs to massive stadiums. In a new memoir, “The Storyteller,” he shares tales from his 35 years in the music industry. Grohl tells KCRW that his three and a half years with Nirvana taught him to take care of himself. “One of the things that I learned was to say no, and if you're in a situation where...


Grammy winner Terence Blanchard on the honor and pride of being Met Opera’s first Black composer

“Fire Shut Up in My Bones” is the Metropolitan Opera’s first production composed by a Black artist — Grammy winner Terence Blanchard. The show is based on the memoir by New York Times columnist Charles Blow, about his difficult childhood growing up in small-town Louisiana in the 1970s. Blanchard tells KCRW that he could see himself in Blow’s story: “There's a lot of things within that family life that people don't talk about. While there's a strong sense of community, sometimes you have to...


Netflix sticks to creative freedom as trans employees walk out over Dave Chappelle special

Netflix employees walked off the job today at the company’s Hollywood offices. It was led by trans employees and allies who were upset about the organization’s defense of Dave Chapelle’s comedy special, “The Closer,” which included jokes described as hateful towards LGBTQ people. “They may not love this special, but they want to stand up for the principle of creative freedom. And ultimately, that is what Netflix is doing here because they are in the business of creative people,” says Matt...


The great teacher shortage — it’s a national problem

LAUSD and other school districts nationwide are struggling to fill positions, including teachers and substitutes, crossing guards, and lunchroom attendants. “Our entire profession is in a crisis mode because people just don't respect it and appreciate it the way that it used to be,” says San Pedro High School principal Steve Gebhart. “The continued systemic pressures that are put on the classroom teacher and just all levels of educators on the school site is just something [educators] are...


Gruelingly long work days on Hollywood sets: Will they be fixed with tentative deal?

IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) leadership struck a tentative deal with major Hollywood studios just hours before production crews were scheduled to walk offset and strike. Some of the three-year agreement’s highlights include a 10-hour break between shifts, a 54-hour weekend rest period, penalties for not taking meals during work, health and pension benefits, and a living wage. Rank-and-file members of IATSE must ratify the deal. “We're already in a situation...


‘The Rescue’ exemplifies selflessness in effort to save 2018 Thai soccer team

“The Rescue” is a new documentary about the international effort to save a young boys’ soccer team and their coach who were stranded inside a Thailand cave during a monsoon in summer 2018. Press Play talks with co-directors E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, the team behind Oscar winner “Free Solo.” Critics also review the latest films: “The Last Duel,” “Introducing, Selma Blair,” “Needle in a Timestack,” and “Halloween Kills.”


Towering figure in LA politics, Mark Ridley-Thomas, faces indictment

LA City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas faces 20 federal charges of conspiracy, bribery, mail, and wire fraud — all connected to an alleged scheme with Marilyn Louise Flynn, the former dean of USC’s School of Social Work. This is the latest in a history of scandals for the Trojans. Along the Santa Barbara coastline, the Alisal Fire continues to burn and is a long way from being contained. Photographer Josh Edelson pivoted to covering California's biggest wildfires and breaking news — after...


National Women’s Soccer League: Abuse allegations, pipeline problem, lack of diversity

In the National Women’s Soccer League, four coaches have been ousted who were accused of verbal and emotional abuse, creating a toxic work environment for women, and sexually coercing players. The league’s commissioner also stepped down this month. “The big question here is: Who can they find to really take this league and make sure players are safe, make sure the league stays alive?” says Molly Hensley-Clancy, sports investigative reporter for The Washington Post. Following the massive oil...


‘Squid Game’ shows dehumanizing aspect of capitalism and twisted nostalgia for kids’ games

Netflix says “Squid Game” is the number one show in 90 countries. The series features 456 contestants who endure violence and risk their lives to win $38 million. “It seems to suggest that chasing money at any cost is dehumanizing. And when your humanity goes into violence, where is your moral compass? It all disappears,” says William Lee Adams, BBC World Service cultural critic. Also, strong winds from Monday night helped fan the Alisal Fire north of Santa Barbara, which has burned...


LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s confirmation to be US ambassador to India: What’s taking so long?

Mayor Eric Garcetti debuted the city’s Indigenous LAnd Initiative today in recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It includes a formal apology from the City of LA and plans to rename city landmarks. Meanwhile, there’s still no timeline for Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Senate confirmation hearing to be U.S. ambassador to India. Drugmaker Merck asked the FDA today for emergency-use authorization for a pill to treat COVID-19. Early trials show that the medication could cut coronavirus-related deaths...


We can't ignore race when it comes to gender violence, says Anita Hill

Anita Hill went from being a relatively unknown law professor to a high-profile and outspoken advocate for victims of workplace harassment and sexual assault — after her 1991 Congressional testimony that President George H.W. Bush’s Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her. Now Hill is out with a new book about what was — and wasn’t — learned in the last 30 years. It’s called “Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence.” “When it comes to women of color, we...


COVID vaccines for kids in US could be coming, plus where to eat during DineLA Restaurant Week

Pfizer and BioNTech have officially asked the FDA to green-light its COVID-19 vaccine use in kids ages 5-11. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has approved the first-ever vaccine for malaria. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has become a microcosm of the nation’s divisions over COVID vaccines. And Press Play gets recommendations for Italian restaurants and steakhouses that are part of DineLA Restaurant Week.


MacArthur ‘Genius’ Jacqueline Stewart on collecting evidence of Hollywood’s racism

One of the newest MacArthur “Geniuses” is Jacqueline Stewart, who uncovers and preserves the lost contributions of Black filmmakers, and aims to make history more inclusive. She’s now the head of programming at LA’s new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. On films that negatively portray African Americans, she says, “If we suppress them because they're painful or problematic, then we also can't call Hollywood to task for these histories. … I think that it's really important to have the...


Pushing for Facebook regulation, helping in Afghanistan, showcasing legacy of ‘Star Trek’

Today Frances Haugen, a former product manager for Facebook, testified before a Senate committee, arguing that the social media company needs to be regulated. “As long as Facebook is operating in the shadows, hiding its research from public scrutiny, it is unaccountable. Until the incentives change, Facebook will not change. Left alone, Facebook will continue to make choices that go against the common good,” she said. Press Play also looks at the feasibility of ending offshore drilling in...


Treating animals hurt by OC oil spill, resuming LA Opera with focus on diversity

More than 126,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the Pacific Ocean this weekend. Orange County officials blamed a damaged pipeline off the coast of Newport Beach and Huntington Beach. It could take weeks to months to respond to the fallout on animals, according to the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) has authorized a nationwide strike. They represent about 60,000 “below the line” workers who’ve complained of long hours, few...


‘The Big Hurt’: A woman’s search for intimacy and acknowledgment

Erika Schickel’s new memoir, “The Big Hurt,” is about how she blew up her marriage and family for an affair with a famous LA crime novelist, and how that echoed an experience she had in high school, when she was kicked out of her East Coast boarding school for sleeping with a music teacher. “My whole life, I had been looking for the connection I had been denied by my mother. … I was just trying to find home. And I was in a loveless marriage. … I was starved for intimacy, and by that, I...


Traveling OB/GYN from CA wants country to see abortion as simply part of medical care

Rebecca Taub, an OB/GYN from California’s East Bay, has been traveling to Oklahoma City once a month to perform abortions at a clinic there. She sees dozens of patients a day, and some are coming from Texas. “It is activism. For me, it is frustrating. I was just talking with a colleague today about how abortion is a part of medical care. And I wish that we could provide this care and just have it be seen in that way. But obviously, that's not the system that we live in,” Taub says. Also,...


Adding diversity to kids’ books, and banning anti-vax info on YouTube

The Conscious Kid is a nonprofit that helps families and educators foster anti-racist conversations through books that feature characters from underrepresented communities. Its executive director Ramon Stephens shares his favorite books. Also, did former President Donald Trump forever damage American democracy? YouTube has barred anti-vaccine content from its platform. And the annual contest has begun to find the fattest bear in Alaska's Katmai National Park and Preserve.


Why your flu immunity might be weaker this year, plus immersive Van Gogh exhibits are taking over

Dr. Anthony Fauci is urging everyone to get vaccinated against influenza and coronavirus as soon as possible. Last year, thanks in part to masks, social distancing, and quarantine measures, there was hardly a flu season. “Because most of us were not infected by flu viruses last year … that means we didn’t get the typical population-level immunity boost that we all normally get,” says Katherine Wu, Atlantic staff writer covering science. Also, only about a quarter of soon-to-be moms are...


Karen Bass wants to leave Congress to be LA’s mayor. Which Angelenos support her?

U.S. Representative Karen Bass officially announced plans to leave Washington D.C. and run for mayor of LA. This makes her the de facto frontrunner in a field that already contains five other Democrats. Meanwhile this week, Democrats are trying to pass a roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill — plus a $3.5 trillion spending bill that would fund major Democratic priorities on health care, education and climate. The 9th Circuit has overturned a federal judge’s ruling that...