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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.




6th Street Viaduct speaks to LA’s need for more public space

Street racers have performed stunts, donuts, and burnouts on the 6th Street Viaduct, drawing the attention of the LAPD and national news outlets. Mark Finchem, a member ​​of the Arizona House of Representatives and the far-right Oath Keepers, is now the Republican nominee for secretary of state. New texts from Alex Jones’ phone indicate he may have withheld evidence during his defamation case against the families of victims in the Sandy Hook shooting. Critics review new film releases:...


Beyoncé’s ‘Renaissance’ centers on Black queerness and self-love

Beyonce’s latest album “Renaissance” is a celebration of Black queer culture that weaves disco, house, and ballroom. It’s an homage to the legends who came before her. Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully died Tuesday at age 94. He spent 67 years as the voice of baseball for the Los Angeles team. On Tuesday the Senate approved the PACT Act, which would help veterans struggling with health problems after being exposed to toxic chemicals mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prosecutors would be able...


Why moral panic over homosexuality swept DC in 20th century

“Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington” details the brave and sometimes salacious characters of Washington D.C.’s gay culture during the 20th century. President Biden on Monday night announced the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri, who became al-Qaeda’s leader after Osama bin Laden died in 2011. What happens to the extremist group now? Nearly a year after U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan, some 19 million Afghans face life-threatening hunger, and women’s rights have...


Monkeypox reaches kids. Is wider outbreak unfolding?

Nearly 85 kids globally now have monkeypox, says the World Health Organization. There are concerns that the disease may spread as kids return to classes and are in close contact. President Biden on Saturday announced that he tested positive for COVID again. He had been negative. Like many people, he apparently now has the Paxlovid rebound. Most Americans disapprove of SCOTUS’ decision overturning Roe v. Wade, but that doesn’t seem to bother the author of the opinion, Justice Samuel...


‘Antiracist Activity Book’ teaches you to have hard conversations daily

“Do The Work! An Antiracist Activity Book” features comedy, crosswords, cutouts, and even a white supremacy word search. It’s written by CNN host W. Kamau Bell and activist Kate Schatz. On Wednesday, Sen. Joe Manchin confirmed support for a spending package to tackle President Biden’s climate priorities. It would give tax credits to people who create clean energy projects. In some low-income African countries, 5% or less of the population is fully vaccinated, according to local government...


Lizzo’s reality show dismantles norms about beauty

“Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls,” an Emmy-nominated reality competition show, documents the pop star’s quest to find the next talented addition to her dance crew. Another mask mandate might be imposed on LA County as early as July 29. The risk of COVID infection is now high, but the risk of a bad outcome is low, says UCSF’s Dr. Robert Wachter. The Kansas Constitution currently guarantees abortion access, and residents will soon vote on whether the legislature could restrict the...


Cristela Alonzo on cheering up mom with jokes, validating depression

Comedian Cristela Alonzo talks about her childhood without financial security or health insurance, and the responsibility she shouldered as a first-generation Mexican American. California has over 400 monkeypox cases, and tests and vaccines are tough to access. “It's important not to minimize how painful and difficult it can be to go through,” says a UCLA epidemiologist. As the House Select Committee continues its probe into the January 6 insurrection, KCRW looks at a key figure in...


US mental health care needs to be strengthened beyond 988 hotline

Americans can now call or text 988 to access the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. But many mental health centers are still understaffed and struggling to keep up with callers. Californians will be able to sue anyone who imports, distributes, manufactures, or sells illegal guns in the state starting in January 2023. Gov. Newsom signed SB-1327 into law on July 22. It’s expected to face legal challenges. In the four-part EPIX original docuseries “Women Who Rock,” women music legends...


Summer Mixtape: Making music is a never-ending struggle, says Maxwell

Press Play continues its second annual series, “Summer Mixtape,” which features musician interviews and custom sets from KCRW DJs. R&B artist Maxwell has earned three Grammy wins and 13 nominations. Now he’s performing new and old hits, including “Off,” as he travels the country for “The Night Tour.” Anthony Valadez spins an exclusive DJ set inspired by Maxwell and the neo-soul style of R&B. It includes tracks from D’Angelo, Chaka Khan, Erykah Badu, and more.


Summer Mixtape: Laura Veirs’ focuses on different forms of love with ‘Found Light’

Press Play continues its second annual series, “Summer Mixtape,” which features musician interviews and custom sets from KCRW DJs. KCRW’s Indie-folk singer Laura Veirs’ new album “Found Light” is about heartbreak and hard times. It also explores love of kids, community, friends and family. Valida Carroll spins an exclusive DJ set inspired by indie-folk musician Laura Veirs. It features songs that communicate sadness, confusion, anger, liberation, and happiness.


Summer Mixtape: Indie rocker Bartees Strange goes from ‘Farm to Table’

Press Play continues its second annual series, “Summer Mixtape,” which features musician interviews and custom sets from KCRW DJs. Before Bartees Strange became a musician, he worked on labor and climate movements. His new album, “Farm to Table,” focuses on the personal journey that shapes his genre-bending sound. KCRW’s Dan Wilcox spins an exclusive DJ set featuring new artists: Automatic, Zenizen, Plato III, Cola, and Say She She. Plus, a 1974 classic by John Cale resonates right now.


Summer Mixtape: Regina Spektor on fame, fairy tales, war in Ukraine

Today kicks off Press Play’s second annual series, “Summer Mixtape,” which features musician interviews and custom sets from KCRW DJs. Singer-songwriter Regina Spektor talks about “Home, before and after,” her first album in six years. She reflects on the power of storytelling and fairy tales in her music. KCRW’s Wyldeflower spins an exclusive DJ set inspired by singer-songwriter Regina Spektor. It includes tracks from Spektor, Fiona Apple, Jimetta Rose, and Khruangbin.


Bay Area cowboy culture spreads Black pride, inspires kids

“The New Black West” is a photo book that highlights Black cowboys and cowgirls in the Bay Area. Photographer Gabriela Hasbun says this is one of the safest, warmest, fun communities she’s met. Critics review new movie releases: “Where The Crawdads Sing,” “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” “Murina,” “The Gray Man,” and “Paws Of Fury: The Legend Of Hank.” Dodger Stadium will host the All-Star game next week, and UCLA and USC are joining the Big Ten Conference. LA County has received some 7,000...


Trader Joe’s, Ralphs, Sprouts: Where to shop when food is 11% pricier?

One reporter visited 10 of the most popular grocery stores in LA and found dramatic differences in prices for goods such as bread, avocados and coffee. Why the disparity, and where should you shop? Two California-based farmers explain how inflation, supply chain disruptions, and gas costs are making it tougher to find supplies and set prices for their produce. Truckers who move goods out of SoCal are threatening a work stoppage on July 14. They’re opposing a law that reclassifies independent...


Stunning images from James Webb telescope are here. Don’t space out

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has released its first images that show stars and galaxies never before seen. Some are believed to be more than 4 billion years old. Today’s January 6 Select Committee hearing focuses on extremist groups. The Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys were galvanized by Trump’s call to overturn the 2020 election results. Yosemite’s Washburn Fire has scorched 3,000 acres. To stave off the worst damage, should California focus on putting out current fires or preventing...


Buying on Amazon? Your money isn’t all going to the sellers

Amazon has taken bigger cuts of each transaction over the past seven years, and its artificially low prices contribute to inflation, says a Columbia law professor. Omicron BA.5 is spreading faster than previous COVID strains. How should you approach testing now, and what does a negative home result really mean? California will be the first state to make its own insulin, Gov. Newsom announced last week. It’s an effort to lower the cost of care for state residents with diabetes. Twitter is...


‘Mean Baby’: Selma Blair on motherhood, multiple sclerosis, sexual assault

Actress and author Selma Blair talks about her multiple sclerosis, addiction struggles, and sexual assault. She also explains how she grew to understand her mom, who was loving but neglectful. Critics review new film releases: “Thor: Love and Thunder,” “Clara Sola,” “Both Side of the Blade,” and “The Sea Dragon.” Could Gov. Gavin Newsom be planning to run for president? His TV ad in Florida caused a stir this week. Meanwhile, 71% of Democrats don’t want President Joe Biden to run for a...


There’s 99% chance of COVID being aboard a plane, says doctor

LA is experiencing another COVID surge. On an airplane of 50 passengers or in a restaurant of 20-30 diners, there’s a 90-99% chance that someone there has COVID, says Dr. Bob Wachter. The LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk has certified the results of the state primary election. Karen Bass is the frontrunner in the LA mayoral race, and progressive candidates beat established incumbents on LA City Council. With Roe v. Wade overturned, Meta is removing posts offering abortion...


Traveling this summer? Expect long lines, maybe avoid Florida

The airline industry is seeing a whiplash in demand following COVID, says Laurie Garrow, who studies air mobility at Georgia Tech. She offers advice for traveling during peak summer. Individual states will have the discretion to decide who gets a concealed carry permit, following a recent Supreme Court ruling on the Second Amendment. Michelle Albert is the first woman of color to lead the American Heart Association. She has spent her career studying how heart disease affects Black women....


Marcel the Shell confronts real size of his ambition in new film

“Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” debuted on YouTube in 2010 in a three-minute video, which has gained more than 32 million views. Now the seashell’s story continues in a full-length film. Critics review new film releases: “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” “The Forgiven,” “Mr. Malcolm's List,” and “Accepted.” This term, the Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to an abortion, expanded gun rights, and chipped away at the separation of church and state. The Supreme Court’s decision...