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.




MLK Jr. Day with Black leaders Jacqueline Stewart and Anita Hill

On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Press Play re-airs two interviews from 2021 with inspiring Black women: Film historian Jacqueline Stewart, who’s the head of programming at LA’s Academy Museum, plus Anita Hill, author of “Believing.”


‘I cannot believe we are doing this again.’ CA hospital staff stressed by 3rd year of pandemic

An influx of patients is straining already short-staffed hospitals, and some have canceled elective surgeries, including Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the San Fernando Valley. “Hillbilly Elegy” author JD Vance is a GOP candidate for the Senate in Ohio, and he appears to have modeled himself after Donald Trump. KCRW gets reviews for the newest films: “Scream,” “Italian Studies,” “Belle,” and “Hotel Transylvania.” A perennial plant will last many seasons, often growing more robust as...


AI can predict your risk of getting breast cancer by 80%, says MIT professor

Artificial intelligence can predict breast cancer years before it shows up on a mammogram, according to a new MIT study. Two massive voting rights bills would boost voting by mail, make election day a federal holiday, and allow the federal government oversee state voting laws to prevent racial discrimination. White supremacy and systemic racism have been at the core of U.S. identity for the past 400 years, according to Emily and Sarah Kunstler in their documentary called “Who We Are.”


Clarifying mask confusion: N95, KN95, KF94, double-masking

There’s been a lot of mask confusion during the COVID pandemic. What’s the difference between N95, KN95, and KF94? Is double-masking with a cloth and surgical mask effective? Pandemic-induced stress hormones can weaken your brain cells’ connections — and your ability to execute daily tasks, stay focused, and carry on conversations. Mastering sleep and exercise can help. Banks have long made billions of dollars annually by charging people when they overdraw their accounts. Consumer advocates...


Pakistan native Arooj Aftab on her historic Grammy nominations

Arooj Aftab is nominated for Best New Artist at this year’s Grammys. She sings in mostly Urdu, and her work is inspired by an ancient form of Islamic poetry. COVID is here to stay, says epidemiologist Michael Osterholm. Now the question of how to live with COVID remains. The three men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery now face a second trial, this time on federal hate crime charges. KCRW recaps the past weekend's big NFL games and remembers comedian Bob Saget, who died on Sunday.


Why radicalized Americans stormed US Capitol on Jan. 6

More than 700 people face federal charges for storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Writer Kerry Howley profiled three insurrectionists and what’s happened to them in the months since. Writer Barton Gellman says Jan. 6, 2021 was practice, and that Donald Trump’s Republican Party is in better shape to subvert the next election. Critics review the newest movies: “Memoria,” “The Tender Bar,” “The 355,” and “The Lost Daughter.” Evan Kleiman shares quick recipes for soups that can be made...


What it’s like to raise a trans daughter, why gender is overcomplicated

Marlo Mack talks about her book, “How To Be A Girl: A Mother’s Memoir of Raising Her Transgender Daughter.” The LAPD shot nearly 40 people and killed 18 in 2021, which is more than double the number of people that officers killed in 2020, according to the LA Times. The U.S. Justice Department has charged around 700 people for their involvement in Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. At least 80 of them have a military background. This Sunday’s Golden Globes won’t have an...


How bad is student learning loss after nearly 2 years of COVID?

Amid the winter COVID surge, Long Beach, Alhambra, and Burbank districts resumed classes on Monday, and LA public schools will restart next Tuesday. It’s been a bumpy road for students, teachers, and parents. Thousands of flights were cancelled this past weekend amid the COVID winter surge. More airline workers tested positive, and Americans abroad needed to show a negative COVID test before heading home If the Supreme Court upholds Texas and Mississippi laws that severely curtail...


Omicron: New isolation rules, testing hiccups, uncertain spring

Omicron is partly driving LA’s record-breaking COVID surge. UCSF’s Dr. Robert Wachter explains where we stand in terms of isolation rules, testing accuracy, and reliability of immunity. The U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection has sentenced dozens of people for their involvement, and held Mark Meadows and Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Father Gregory Boyle founded the gang intervention organization called Homeboy Industries. He’s out with a new book, “The...


How San Bernardino hospital staff are handling its 5th COVID surge

A doctor from San Bernardino County explains how he’s handling another COVID surge as the Omicron variant spreads, and how he talks to vaccine skeptics. The James Webb Space Telescope will launch on Christmas. It’s meant to help scientists understand exoplanets and the birth and evolution of stars. Critics review the newest film releases: “The Matrix Resurrections,” “Parallel Mothers,” “Tragedy Of Macbeth,” “Jockey,” and “Memoria.” Every year, KCRW’s DJs tally up their favorite artists...


Can you rely on at-home COVID tests amid Omicron?

The Biden administration plans to send at-home COVID tests to Americans who ask for one. Clinical microbiologist Susan Butler-Wu shares how effective they are. President Biden’s $2 trillion “Build Back Better” plan includes major climate change reforms, but it’s lacking support, including from Sen. Joe Manchin. Four months after the U.S. withdrew troops and funding from Afghanistan, residents there can’t afford enough food or fuel. One LA doctor is trying to help. The documentary “Beanie...


More exposure, weakened vaccines: Omicron spreads amid holidays

States nationwide are seeing COVID-19 surges, and New York reported more than 60,000 new cases this past weekend, the most since the start of the pandemic. “We're seeing both a reduction in the ability of the vaccines to protect you against the basic infection, but we're also seeing the fact that you're being exposed so many times, that the number of times your body's able to defend itself declines over time,” says Dr. Jay Varma, epidemiologist and Weill Cornell professor. A U.S. federal...


Omicron holidays: No zero-risk scenario exists, says epidemiologist

As some families are preparing to travel and gather for the holidays next week, they should be especially careful as the Omicron variant is expected to overtake the Delta variant, says UCLA epidemiology professor Anne Rimoin. She emphasizes the importance of booster shots, using high-quality masks, keeping your distance from people if you don’t know their vaccination status, and rethinking which activities are worth it. When it comes to considering holiday plans, she says it comes down to...


Why Twitter Spaces is drawing extremists

Twitter Spaces launched last spring and soon attracted anti-vaxxers, white supremacists, and ISIS recruiters. The company did little to curb hate speech and even helped the content go viral in some cases, according to the Washington Post’s Elizabeth Dwoskin. The Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was just practice, and Trump’s GOP is better equipped to undermine the next election, says the Atlantic’s Barton Gellman. At Michelin-starred restaurant Bros in Italy, food writer Geraldine...


Hospitals short on med supplies amid supply chain woes

U.S. hospitals are bracing for another winter surge as they face a shortage of medical supplies, such as wheelchairs, crutches, syringes, and more. It’s another casualty of the supply chain crisis that’s clogging up global ports. So how are health systems finding much needed gear? Also, Southern California experienced one of its biggest storms of the season today. But it’s not enough to alleviate the severe drought facing the state. Then, top book critics share their favorite reads of...


Rita Moreno reflects on lifetime of acting

Rita Moreno’s career-defining role was in the 1961 film “West Side Story.” Her role as a Puerto Rican immigrant named Anita earned her an Oscar, making her the first Latina to win the esteemed award. She eventually earned EGOT status — the honor bestowed upon entertainers who win all four major entertainment awards (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony). Moreno talks about her early years in Hollywood, handling sexual assault on and off the screen, and her relationship with Marlon Brando. Also, KCRW...


Alberto Carvalho to face big challenges as LAUSD superintendent

Alberto Carvalho announced today that he’s leaving his job as the head of Miami-Dade County Public Schools to become the next superintendent of LA Unified School District. He’s taking the job as hundreds of LAUSD employees were fired for failing to meet the vaccine mandate, and nearly 35,000 students have yet to receive their first dose. In Tripoli, Libya, old warehouses have been turned into secret prisons to hold thousands of Europe-bound migrants, sometimes indefinitely, and under the...


How to travel abroad for holidays amid Omicron variant

With the Omicron variant, the CDC on Monday warned Americans against traveling to popular European destinations, while Israel, Japan, and Morocco have closed their borders to foreigners again. The U.S. now requires all arrivals to show a negative COVID test that they took a day before boarding their U.S.-bound flights. “You have to be really on top of your game if you're heading abroad. And even pay attention to the rules while you're traveling because they're changing so rapidly,...


How a gay Afghan boy escaped war-torn Kabul and found himself

In “Flee,” Danish filmmaker Jonas Poher Rasmussen interviews his longtime friend Amin Nawabi, an LGBTQ Afghanistan native, about fleeing his war-torn home, shedding secrets, and connecting his past and present. California’s Devin Nunes is leaving Congress at the end of the year, and plans to lead former President Donald Trump’s new media company, but the departure is marked by new redistricting maps that show Nunes facing a tough re-election fight. Also, current political discourse in...


In Europe, COVID rises as kids are unvaccinated and closures differ among countries

The European Union is being rattled with coronavirus cases rising, though 70% of residents are at least partially vaccinated. Some of the highest-level outbreaks are in the most vaccinated parts of Belgium, says Kevin Whitelaw, Brussels bureau chief for Bloomberg News. Just outside Detroit last week, a teen killed four students in a school shooting, and the alleged shooter’s parents have been charged with involuntary manslaughter. Managers of a San Francisco restaurant publicly apologized...