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.


Santa Monica, CA




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




Cozy up with a good book this fall. Here are recommendations

As the weather cools off, why not cozy up on the sofa with a good book? Recommendations include titles by Jesmyn Ward, Safiya Sinclair, Lisa Hamilton, and others. Republicans in Congress might force the government to shut down when the fiscal year ends on Oct. 1. Why does this threat seem to come up each year? The LAUSD board has ended its mandate that school employees be vaccinated against COVID. Workers who were laid off for defying the rule can reapply for jobs. Critics review the latest film releases: The Creator, Saw X, Fair Play, and Dumb Money.


What’s inside WGA deal, when might SAG-AFTRA strike end?

The WGA is back at work today as the union ends its nearly five-month strike. Meanwhile, SAG-AFTRA’s strike could wrap up by Thanksgiving, according to one prediction. Many Americans aren’t happy about a Joe Biden v. Donald Trump rematch in 2024. One of them is Andrew Yang, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. Evan Kleiman and her friends spent 10 hours processing and canning 365 pounds of paste tomato varieties. The method involves precise rules — and stamina.


‘Cassandro’ changed lucha libre for queer wrestlers

Exoticos, wrestlers who dressed in drag and served as comic relief in lucha libre, won over audiences thanks to Saul Armendariz (aka Cassandro). He’s the subject of a new biopic. The Federal Trade Commission and 17 states are suing Amazon, alleging that it holds a monopoly on online retail. This comes after the DOJ sued Google recently. Some 13,000 UAW workers are off the job, demanding better pay and more job security. Their key issue: the shift from gas powered-vehicles to electric. New furniture is often made with cheap, flimsy materials, even those from West Elm and Restoration Hardware. Where can consumers find reliable, affordable options?


After months-long strike, how did WGA reach tentative deal with AMPTP?

The Writers Guild and AMPTP reached a tentative deal, which includes increased pay from streamers and protection from AI. How did the agreement come together? Activists say a section of the 14th Amendment bars insurrectionists from holding public office. States are using this to keep Donald Trump off the 2024 ballot. Costa Rica, known for its “pura vida” lifestyle, is facing runaway drug violence as the cocaine trade ravages Latin America. LA bassist Thundercat is among the most influential players in music. Hear him break down learning bass, staying sober, and escaping comfort zones.


Average LA gas hits $6/gallon. What’s driving the rise?

LA drivers are paying $6/gallon for gas on average. That’s partly due to rising crude oil prices and California’s gas taxes. Fox and News Corp scion Ruper Murdoch passes off the reins to his eldest son, who is even more conservative and sympathetic to Donald Trump. In Laguna Beach, a pet owner could be ticketed if their dog barks for 30 minutes straight or 60 minutes on-and-off within a 24-hour period. How to keep a dog quiet? Critics review the latest film releases: “Flora and Son,” “Invisible Beauty,” and “The Origin of Evil.” And they look back at “Stop Making Sense,” recently re-released in 4K IMAX.


Hollywood strikes: What roles do Newsom and Bass play?

The WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes are costing California billions of dollars. Could the governor and LA mayor help broker a fair deal between workers and studios? Andrew Leland talks about his fears of going completely blind, how it would affect his marriage and family, and how he lives in a world largely hostile to blind people. Unripe quince smells sweet but is terribly sour and rock hard. When cooked, it dramatically changes color, loses the fuzz on the peel, and becomes highly aromatic.


What happened to the American boy band?

Boy band sensation *NSYNC reunited at last week’s MTV Video Music Awards, igniting strong feelings of early 2000s nostalgia. As Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelensky speak at the U.N. General Assembly today, where does the war in Ukraine stand now, and can the U.S. afford to keep sending aid money there? What would a Chat GPT-generated college essay look like, and how much would it threaten the admissions process for prospective students? Tour de France women battled sexism, chauvinism, and stigma to start their own race in the 80s. Then decades passed without an official women's race until last year.


Nina Simone’s newly unearthed live album is about love and revolution

“You’ve Got to Learn,” a previously unreleased recording of Nina Simone’s set at the 1966 Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island, is now widely available. California is suing five major oil companies and their trade association, alleging they conspired to deceive consumers about climate change-related harms for decades. Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers are threatening to impeach a state Supreme Court justice over redistricting, and attempting to oust the state's top election official. After receiving social media outcry, Drew Barrymore, Bill Maher, Jennifer Hudson and hosts of “The Talk” are delaying further production of their shows’ new seasons. In Xbox’s role-playing game “Starfield,” players can explore over 1000 planets. Could realism, plus an old-fashioned quest, turn the game into a blockbuster?


Weekend film reviews, intellectual disabilities within a family

Critics review the latest film releases: “A Haunting In Venice,” “Cassandro,” “Rotting In The Sun,” and “A Million Miles Away.” Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Senior chronicles her family’s reconnection with her Aunt Adelle, who was institutionalized as a baby due to a developmental disability.


US dams are old, poorly maintained, threatened by climate change

A massive storm that’s killed thousands and caused two dams to collapse in Libya is a reminder of the danger of aging American infrastructure. Menopause can include hot flashes, night sweats, and depression. Black and Latino women could experience more severe and longer-lasting symptoms, research shows. In “The Underworld,” journalist Susan Casey takes readers into the deep ocean to explore volcanoes, trenches, and a booming ecosystem that’s vital to our survival. Figs are abundant at the end of summer. With sweetness and rich texture, they pair well with cheeses of all kinds and cured meats.


LA food pantry rarely turns anyone away as poverty rate rises

The U.S. poverty rate jumped to more than 12% as COVID programs helping with food, rent, and unemployment ended. Now food banks are seeing higher demand. Despite a slim GOP majority and looming government shutdown, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy launched an impeachment inquiry into President Biden. In the PBS show “America Outdoors,” journalist and comedian Baratunde Thurston takes viewers on nature adventures and engages locals in conversations. Jacob Collier makes his Hollywood Bowl debut on September 13 with the LA Philharmonic. He talks to KCRW about the performance and his musical roots.


Grace Potter pays a musical homage to the open road

Grace Potter wrote her latest solo album, “Mother Road,” during cross-country trips that began in 2021. She left her LA-area home to reflect on life and COVID. The Justice Department is suing Google, claiming they have a monopoly on internet search. It’s the biggest tech antitrust case since Microsoft in the 90s. Over an 18 month period, federal prosecutors in one Texas district disproportionately prosecuted asylum seekers coming from Muslim-majority countries. An appeals court says the Biden administration likely violated the First Amendment as it tried to fight COVID disinformation. Coco Gauff won the women’s title at the U.S. Open over the weekend, and Serbian superstar Novak Djokovic won his 24th Grand Slam title.


Sex, health, immigration status: Your car could be collecting personal info

Your car is spying on you and likely collecting more personal data than necessary, according to a new study from the Mozilla Foundation. The top candidates for Mexico’s 2024 presidential election are former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and Senator Xóchitl Gálvez. After states passed bans on abortion in the wake of Roe v. Wade’s fall, women are still seeking them in huge numbers in bordering states. Critics review the latest film releases: “Scrapper,” “El Conde,” “The Nun II,” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3.” Ratatouille shows off the best summer produce: squash, eggplant, peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes. The dish originates from Southern France.


The case for stocking up on Narcan, which reverses opioid overdoses

Narcan, the nasal medication used to reverse an opioid overdose, will be available over the counter later this month. A two-dose box will cost about $45. Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was sentenced to 22 years for his role in Capitol insurrection — the harshest penalty yet related to that attack. Chat GPT is worried that people will use OpenAI to generate targeted political ads filled with misinformation. That could spell bad news for U.S. politics. The late feminist bell hooks pushed feminism beyond white, middle-class concerns to include poor women of color. A new collection of her interviews is out now.


CA leads US in offering advanced degrees to people behind bars

For decades, Californians have been able to earn associate degrees behind bars. This fall, a new slate of bachelor’s degree programs will start. More buses of migrants are arriving in LA, NY, Chicago, Boston, and other left-leaning cities, sparking tension between city Democrats and the Biden administration. Unemployment is low, inflation is going down, and the risk of recession is small too. So why do the majority of Americans think the economy is getting worse? States like Florida and Alabama are under fire for excluding Black-majority districts in their state congressional maps. What are the consequences? Two decades after the premiere of “The O.C.,” Alex Zaragoza talks about the problematic way that show portrayed her hometown of Tijuana.


Rotisserie chicken makes for easy meals, US might adopt looser marijuana rules

Rotisserie chickens are affordable, convenient, and can be used in many ways. Include them in Mexican dishes, salads, or a grand aioli. The Biden administration proposed loosening marijuana restrictions and reclassifying cannabis as a Schedule III drug. It could open new avenues for research and change how pot is regulated and taxed. A new reproductive care clinic was scheduled to open in Beverly Hills. Then anti-aboriton activists started protesting. Critics review the latest film releases: “The Equalizer 3,” “Goldfish,” “The Good Mother,” “Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose.”


‘It's scary every day’: Hollywood crew members during strikes

Hollywood’s below-the-line workers are not on strike, but they’re still out of work as writers and actors walk the picket lines. A prop master and a graphic designer share how they’re faring. Last week, Hollywood executives publicly released their latest contract offer to WGA members, who did not react well. And SAG officials haven’t met with studios since their strike began. A group of tech investors bought thousands of acres of NorCal land — for some $1 billion — to build a new city. They kept it a secret from locals. On Labor Day, a new documentary about Little Richard will air on TV. “Little Richard: I Am Everything” shows how rock and roll originated with Richard Penniman. It includes interviews with family members, musicians, and Black and queer scholars.


Students’ gender identity is at center of political fight in Chino

CA Attorney General Rob Bonta on Monday sued the Chino school district over its policy requiring staff to notify parents if students identify as a different gender at school. California banned single-use plastic bags seven years ago. But a new LA Times investigation shows we’re now using more plastic bags, not fewer. Ohio businessman Vivek Ramaswamy has been called Trump 2.0. But whether the brash contrarian can convert his early buzz into GOP primary wins is unknown. The Hollywood strikes have halted U.S. production. But if film/TV executives think international content will save them, they should think again. The US Open is taking place in Queens, New York. All eyes are on Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz, who’ve been competing against each other all season.


Kirk Franklin: Gospel is a reminder that you’re built for something bigger

Grammy winner Kirk Franklin is credited with shaping contemporary gospel. He talks about channeling heated emotions into songs, and making time for his kids while touring A judge set a March date for former President Trump’s federal election trial. Meanwhile, some of Trump's co-defendants in the Georgia election fraud case are requesting speedy trials. New COVID infections and hospitalizations are steadily increasing again, but deaths remain low. Will it remain this way with new variants and a fall booster? “Black California Dreamin’: Claiming Space at America's Leisure Frontier” is an exhibition that looks at how African Americans shaped recreation sites across the state. El Segundo defeated the country of Curacao to win the Little League World Series on Sunday, marking the first time a California team won the title in a dozen years.


CA octopus garden: Why cephalopods are coming here to nest

Some 80 miles off California’s central coast, thousands of pearl octopuses have gathered near an extinct underwater volcano, an ideal place for mating and nesting. During Thursday night's first GOP presidential primary debate, newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy shined. Veterans Chris Christie, Mike Pence, and Nikki Haley held their ground. Frontrunner Donald Trump skipped it all for X. Japan began releasing nearly 8,000 tons of treated radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean today. It’s the first step in a decades-long plan to clean up the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Critics review the latest film releases: “Gran Turismo,” “Retribution,” “Golda,” and “Bottoms.” Evan Kleiman talks about tomato sandwiches, which consist of four or five ingredients: a large and aromatic summer tomato, soft bread that’s white or wheat, mayonnaise, salt and black pepper.