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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.


Santa Monica, CA




Host Madeleine Brand looks at news, culture and emerging trends through the lens of Los Angeles.




Black deaths in horror films, pies for dinner, jittery US banking

A new book called “The Black Guy Dies First: Black Horror Cinema From Fodder To Oscar” traces 50 years of Black characters and culture in scary movies. What pies could constitute a full dinner? Consider a savory one with swiss chard for the main course, and a sweet one with rhubarb and raspberries for dessert. The Sklar Brothers talk about Japan topping the U.S. in Tuesday night's World Baseball Classic, and March Madness. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates, while juggling banking...


LAUSD strike day 1, tax tips, first US band to go behind Iron Curtain

The LAUSD strike has started. KCRW hears from a special ed assistant teacher who says she makes $37,000/year. She says her classroom has too many students and not enough resources. This tax season, personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary explains how to claim adult dependents, get deductions for classroom expenses, and find an accountant. A Fox News producer is suing the network, alleging its lawyers coerced her to give misleading testimony in the legal battle over Fox's coverage of...


San Quentin reimagined, COVID origin theory, Nowruz songs

Gov. Newsom wants to transform the state’s oldest prison — San Quentin — into a rehabilitation center inspired by prisons in Scandinavian countries like Norway. Earth is approaching catastrophic levels of global warming and irreversible damage within the next decade, but there’s still a little time to avoid calamity, says the U.N. COVID-19 may be linked to raccoon dogs that were illegally being sold at a seafood market in Wuhan, China. That’s according to a team of international...


LAUSD scrambles as bus drivers, custodians, others might strike

SEIU Local 99 — the union representing LAUSD staff like bus drivers, janitors, cafeteria workers, and teacher aides — could be on the verge of a three-day strike. Sunday is the 20th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. Along with the government con to sell it to the public, the war launched a still-current age of grift. Critics review the latest film releases: “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” “Inside,” “La Civil,” and “Wildflower. Wouldn’t it be lovely to cultivate a pot or two of...


Lily Tomlin on iconic roles, Jane Fonda, women in Hollywood

Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award-winning actress Lily Tomlin reflects on her biggest roles and female representation in Hollywood. In Texas today, a federal judge heard a case that could undo the Food and Drug Administration’s decades-old approval of the abortion pill mifepristone. LA Metro’s trains and buses are facing a huge increase in crime and drug overdose deaths. Fewer commuters are using public transportation now. Gustavo Dudamel will leave for the NY Philharmonic in three years. One...


‘Bel-Air’ characters carry spirit of OG cast, but are much different

Morgan Cooper’s drama “Bel-Air” has the same premise as the 1990s sitcom, but differs in format and characters’ journeys, and relies heavily on music. A California state appeals court has upheld Proposition 22, which defines workers for companies like Uber, Lyft, and Postmates as independent contractors. The U.S. Justice Department is reportedly investigating the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. Its failure is the latest problem hitting the tech industry. Lawmakers have already...


‘Healthy’ label, sugar limit: FDA, food makers in bitter fight

The Food and Drug Administration is trying to crack down on food labels and more clearly define what actually is healthy, particularly when it comes to added sugar. President Joe Biden says the American financial system is safe, as regulators rushed to secure two regional banks that failed in the last week. KCRW gets the latest in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case that looks into whether Donald Trump broke campaign finance laws and falsified business records. Thee Sinseers is...


CA drops Walgreens as GOP increases anti-abortion rhetoric

California will not renew a $54 million contract with Walgreens after the chain announced it would not dispense mifepristone in at least 20 states. The U.S. Department of Energy announced an accidental lab leak was the most likely origin of COVID-19, but added a caveat of having “low confidence.” Critics review the latest film releases: “Scream VI,” “Fugue,” “Champions,” “Pacifiction.” Michael Schulman’s new book, “Oscar Wars,” looks at some shocking moments and controversies in the...


LA Mayor Karen Bass on cutting bureaucracy to house Angelenos

LA Mayor Karen Bass talks about her first three months on the job, including her work to address homeless and housing, plus safety and policing on public transit. The FICO scores of credit card users in the South were lower than anywhere else in the nation, researchers found when reviewing more than 200 million credit cards. Former President Jimmy Carter is 98 and now in hospice care. Press Play reflects on what may be the biggest accomplishment of his presidency: the 1978 Camp David...


Why series of storms is good news for CA drought

Another atmospheric river storm system is expected to hit California this week. It’s the latest in a series of storms that have pummeled the Golden State. The drug Ozempic has become an appetite suppressant for some rich and well-connected people. It's changing the definition of thinness and what it takes to achieve it. "The Martha Mitchell Effect" shows how the wife of President Nixon's campaign manager blew the whistle on Watergate and helped bring down his presidency. Now 16 years...


No power, no phone: Couple hiked 3 miles through snow to escape storm

Emergency crews are still trying to free Californians who have been trapped by record snowfall. One resident shares his story of fleeing home. The U.S. Supreme Court may throw out an election law case from North Carolina that would give state politicians unprecedented power. In “The Elephant Whisperers,” a South Indian couple adopts an abandoned baby elephant named Raghu, showing how humans and animals can thrive together. This year’s Latin Grammys will take place outside the U.S. for the...


‘How Do You Measure a Year?’ focuses on childhood, father-daughter bond

“How Do You Measure a Year?” is a window into the intimate moments between a parent a child and their love for each other. Drugmaker Eli Lilly announced on Wednesday that it’ll slash the price of insulin. Why does diabetes continue to increase around the globe? As the GOP anticipates Ron DeSantis announcing a 2024 presidential run, KCRW assesses what his campaign could look like, and whether his brand of politics will play as well nationally. Critics review the latest film releases:...


Oscar contender ‘Stranger at the Gate’ focuses on PTSD, religion, common ground

The Oscar-nominated documentary short “Stranger at the Gate” focuses on a military veteran who planned to bomb a mosque, but ultimately became its president as he converted to Islam. Tens of thousands are protesting an overhaul of Mexico’s election laws that critics say would cripple its independent election watchdog and threaten its democracy. In LA, road rage is the worst it’s been in a decade and has become more violent, according to number crunching from the news outlet...


‘Haulout’: Migrating walruses seek refuge on land as sea ice disappears

The Oscar-nominated documentary short "Haulout" follows a Russian scientist who tracks the lives of walruses, a species increasingly struggling amid climate change. “Party Down” — about a catering company staffed by aspiring actors, writers, and lost souls — has been rebooted. If semiconductor chip manufacturers want new federal subsidies, they’ll have to meet certain requirements like ensuring affordable child care for their employees. In summer, California’s power grids are strained by...


Using police dogs to arrest people might be banned in CA

Two California lawmakers want to ban the use of police dogs to arrest or apprehend suspects. A historian shares the history of dogs in law enforcement. American officials are increasingly concerned that China will supply Russia with weapons as the war in Ukraine enters its second year. The Supreme Court will soon hear oral arguments in a pair of challenges to Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. Nearly half-a-trillion dollars worth of debt relief is at stake. This year’s Oscar nominees...


Long COVID is likely a ‘neuroimmune disorder,’ scientist says

Researchers are honing in on why some people develop long COVID, which includes symptoms such as lingering fatigue, brain fog, and shortness of breath. Rare weather is fueling an unusual storm in Southern California. Parts of LA and Ventura County are under a blizzard warning Friday and Saturday. Critics review the latest film releases: “Cocaine Bear,” “The Quiet Girl,” “Jesus Revolution,” “Die Hart: The Movie,” and “We Have a Ghost.” Support women-owned hospitality businesses during the...


Food pleasure: Everything we eat travels from the gut to the brain and impacts mood

In “Eat and Flourish: How Food Supports Emotional Well-Being,” author Mary Beth Albright explores the relationship between food and mood. Today the Supreme Court is hearing a case that asks whether social media companies can be sued for allowing terrorist groups to put dangerous content on their platforms. The Southern Baptist Convention has expelled Southern California’s Saddleback Church in response to its decision to ordain women pastors. Following the overturning of Roe. v. Wade, some...


US presidents and first ladies used food as political tools, PR moves

Author Alex Prud’homme explores the appetites of more than two dozen U.S. presidents in “Dinner with the President: Food, Politics, and a History of Breaking Bread at the White House.” For decades, tech companies have not been held liable for the content they host. That’s due to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which the Supreme Court is now reexamining. UCLA researchers found that some pills bought from Mexican pharmacies contain life-threatening ingredients such as...


Presidents’ Day special: Atsuko Okatsuka, Allison Russell, NASA’s Opportunity rover

On this Presidents’ Day, Press Play rebroadcasts some of our favorite interviews. Stand-up comedian Atsuko Okatsuka went viral on TikTok for doing the drop challenge with her grandmother, and afterward, she took her comedy to HBO. The film “Good Night Oppy” tells the story of Opportunity, a NASA rover that exceeded expectations, and explored and analyzed the planet’s surface for nearly 15 years. Musician Allison Russell wants to heal the world — and herself — in her latest album “Outside...


Amateur sleuths crack the case of a gay porn actor’s murder

East Palestine, Ohio, is still reeling after a freight train — that was carrying hazardous materials — got derailed. The body parts of a gay porn actor were found in a West Hollywood dumpster in 1990. His case stumped detectives for more than 30 years. Critics review the latest film releases: “Of An Age,” “Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey,” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.”