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The New Yorker Radio Hour

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David Remnick is joined by The New Yorker’s award-winning writers, editors and artists to present a weekly mix of profiles, storytelling, and insightful conversations about the issues that matter — plus an occasional blast of comic genius from the magazine’s legendary Shouts and Murmurs page. The New Yorker has set a standard in journalism for generations and The New Yorker Radio Hour gives it a voice on public radio for the first time. Produced by The New Yorker and WNYC Studios.
WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, On the Media, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin, Nancy and many more.
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497 Episodes
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In 2013, David Remnick published a profile of Naftali Bennett.  He wrote that Bennett was something new in Israeli politics, a man who would “build a sturdy electoral bridge between the religious and the secular, the hilltop outposts of the West Bank and the start-up suburbs.” Though religiously observant, Bennett was cosmopolitan: fluent on Facebook, and as quick to quote Seinfeld as he was the Talmud. He had been a leader of the settler movement, and, although he lived in a modern house in a well-to-do Tel Aviv suburb, there was no ambiguity about Bennett’s hard-line stance on the Palestinian question. He disdained the peace process of an earlier time. “I will do everything in my power to make sure they never get a state,” he told Remnick. “No more illusions.” Bennett has now unseated his former boss, Benjamin Netanyahu, as Prime Minister of Israeli. Remnick spoke with two writers in the region about this political upheaval. Raja Shehadeh, who is based in Ramallah, says that the changing of the guard will mean little on the West Bank, where the recent bloody conflict was a propaganda victory for Hamas. Ruth Margalit, who is based in Tel Aviv, says that, while the peace movement seems all but dead, the changing of a political epoch, and the presence of the first Arab-Israeli party ever represented in the Knesset, has to be seen as an opportunity for change.
The largest Protestant denomination in America is in crisis over the group’s reluctance to acknowledge systemic racism; our reporter talks with the Reverend Dwight McKissic, who considered himself a loyalist but may have reached a breaking point. Plus, our producer looks at the GameStop squeeze of last winter and tries to figure out the motives of the small investors on r/WallStreetBets. Are they out for vengeance on the Man? Are they after lulz? Or are they just trying to make a buck?
It’s easy to see why the director Jon M. Chu was adamant that the release of “In the Heights” wait until this summer, when more people could see it in theatres: it’s big, it’s colorful, the dance sequences are complex—it’s a spectacle in the best sense of the term. “In the Heights,” based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit stage musical, is a love letter to the largely Latino community in Washington Heights, in upper Manhattan. The characters are dreaming big and wrestling with what happens when those dreams start to pull them away from the neighborhood. For Chu, who directed the enormous hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” directing the film was a risk—it’s said that Miranda teased him by writing “Don’t fuck this up” on his copy of the script. As an Asian-American from California, Chu “was already one step removed from this neighborhood,” he tells David Remnick. “How do you make sure you don’t miss a detail? The director is probably the only person on set who can stop everything and say, ‘Let’s discuss this.’ . . . That’s what made me nervous, making sure I was always present to hear those things.”
Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax have both been playing Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 3 in A Major for over forty years. But it took a global pandemic for the two of them to fully understand it. “This is such open, hopeful music,” Ax said. But when Beethoven dedicated the original piece to a friend, he signed the manuscript, “amid tears and sorrow.” Beethoven, Ma and Ax reflected, finished the sonata during a tumultuous period in which Napoleon was at war with Austria and the composer was losing his hearing. “I thought this was a good piece for this moment,” Ma told The New Yorker’s music critic Alex Ross. “Because people are suffering, and we do think that music can give comfort.” The musicians spoke to Ross and performed from an empty concert hall as part of the New Yorker Festival.    The segment originally aired November 13, 2020.
The staff writer Patricia Marx checks out the new vaccinated sections at New York’s Major League Baseball parks. The author and activist Sarah Schulman talks with David Remnick about her new book on the early years of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. The group’s radical tactics forced changes in government policy and transformed how America saw gay people and AIDS patients.
We look back on the year since the murder of George Floyd galvanized the nation. David Remnick talks with Vanita Gupta, the No. 3 official in the Justice Department, who is charged with delivering on President Biden’s bold promises to address racial injustice. A Minneapolis activist explains why it is so hard to abolish the police. Plus, Hilton Als on why America finally rose up against long-standing abuses of Black people.
Spike Lee is one of the most passionate and committed fans of the New York Knicks—not to mention one of the most celebrated filmmakers of our time. Underdogs for many years, the Knicks are enjoying a renaissance, and Lee is in his glory. David Remnick and Vinson Cunningham called Lee to talk about a life of fandom, the politics of activism in the N.B.A. and the N.F.L., and Lee’s multipart documentary about life in New York since September 11th, which will be released to mark the twentieth anniversary of the attacks.
By many accounts, American schools are as segregated today as they were in the nineteen-sixties, in the years after Brown v. Board of Education. WNYC’s podcast “The United States of Anxiety” chronicled the efforts of one small school district, Sausalito Marin City Schools, in California, to desegregate. Fifty years after parents and educators there first attempted integration, the state’s attorney general found that the district “knowingly and intentionally” maintained a segregated system, violating the equal-protection clause of the Constitution. The district’s older public school, which served mostly Black and Latino students, suffered neglect; meanwhile, a new charter school, though racially diverse, enrolled virtually all the white children in the district. The reporter Marianne McCune explored how one community overcame decades of distrust to finally integrate.
The Tulsa massacre of 1921 was a coördinated assault on and destruction of the thriving Black community known as Greenwood, Black Wall Street, or Little Africa. Even today, the death toll remains unknown. In fact, for generations, most people—including many Tulsans—did not know about the massacre at all. This year marks its hundredth anniversary, and it is being commemorated with documentaries, official events in Tulsa, and one very unusual rap album: “Fire in Little Africa,” which comes out in May on Motown Records. It features about forty rappers, and thirty other singers, musicians, and producers who tell the story of Greenwood at its height—and of their dreams of a revitalized Black Tulsa. The freelance producer Taylor Hosking explains the creation of the album to The New Yorker’s Vinson Cunningham.
When a very long year of doing business from home—in sweatshirts and pajamas and slippers—is over, how much effort will people be willing to expend on dressing for the office? Richard Thompson Ford, a law professor and the author of “Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History,” tackles that question along with the New Yorker editor Henry Finder. Clothing, he says, has mostly been used to maintain social hierarchies, but it has also occasionally helped to overthrow them. Dressing up, he says, can be a form of transgression: historically, in Black communities, refined dress has been used to demand dignity and resist white supremacy. Plus, the celebrated critic Als on the work of Alice Neel, who painted her neighbors, friends, and colleagues in a multicultural New York.
After a year of battling COVID-19, parts of the United States are celebrating a gradual turn toward normalcy, but the pandemic isn’t over—and it may never be over, exactly. Atul Gawande tells David Remnick that a hard core of vaccine resisters, along with reservoirs of the virus in domestic animals, may make herd immunity elusive. Rather, he says, the correct goal is to bring the impact of COVID-19 down to that of something like the flu. Meanwhile, India is now overwhelmed by a devastating death toll, reported at around four thousand per day but likely much higher. Siddhartha Mukherjee, who reported on the pandemic in developing nations, says that commitments from the West such as extra doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will barely scratch the surface. A national mobilization will be required to even begin to flatten the curve.
Thomas McGuane reads his story from the May 10, 2021, issue of the magazine. McGuane has published more than a dozen books of fiction, including the story collections “Gallatin Canyon,” “Crow Fair,” and “Cloudbursts: Collected and New Stories,” which came out in 2018.
“The Agitators” is a book about three women—three revolutionaries—who changed the world at a time when women weren’t supposed to be in public life at all. Frances Seward was a committed abolitionist who settled with her husband in the small town of Auburn, in western New York. One of their neighbors was a Quaker named Martha Coffin Wright, who helped organize the first convention for women’s rights, at Seneca Falls. Both women harbored fugitives when it was a violation of federal law. And, after they met Harriet Tubman, through the Underground Railroad, Tubman also settled in Auburn. “The Agitators,” by The New Yorker’s executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden, tells their interlocking stories. “These people were outsiders, and they were revolutionaries,” Wickenden tells David Remnick. “They were only two generations separated from the Declaration of Independence, which they believed in literally. They did not understand why women and Black Americans could not have exactly the same rights that had been promised.”
In June, the director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense are expected to deliver a report about what the government knows on the subject of “unidentified aerial phenomena,” more commonly known as U.F.O.s. The issue is nonpartisan: while he was the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, a Democrat, secured funding for a secret Pentagon project to investigate the subject; John Podesta, a chief of staff in the Clinton White House, argued for government transparency on the topic; most recently, the Republican senator Marco Rubio introduced language in last year’s Intelligence Authorization Act calling for the forthcoming report. This is a shocking turn of events. For generations, U.F.O.s were in the purview of late-night call-in radio shows and supermarket tabloids, not the Department of Defense. Gideon Lewis-Kraus reports on how this change came about. The journalist Leslie Kean, who published a bombshell story in the New York Times, explains how the C.I.A. got involved in casting doubt on U.F.O. sightings. Reid tells Lewis-Kraus that the Pentagon refused to authorize his inspection of contractor facilities which, it was rumored, held U.F.O. crash debris. And a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Christopher Mellon, says that the phenomena observed in many sightings cannot be explained as advanced technology built by one of our rivals. “I really doubt that the Russians or Chinese could be that far ahead of us,” he says. “It looks like centuries ahead.” So, whereas the word “aliens” still seems like taboo in serious conversation, he adds, “it's hard to come up with a hypothesis to explain that without considering the possibility that some other civilization is involved.” Gideon Lewis-Kraus’s “How the Pentagon Started Taking U.F.O.s Seriously” appears in the May 10th issue of The New Yorker. This segment features scoring by Pablo Vergara. Additional archival clips were provided courtesy of James Fox.
Nearly a century ago, during the Spanish Civil War, a group of parents put five hundred of their children on a boat and sent them across the ocean to find safety in Mexico. Few of the refugees ever saw their parents again. The youngest of the children was Rosita Daroca Martinez, who was just three. On this week’s show, her granddaughter, the writer and radio producer Destry Maria Sibley, traces the impact of her grandmother’s trauma down through the generations. Plus, the immigration reporter Jonathan Blitzer ties the story to today’s refugee crisis at the U.S. southern border, where a surge in arrivals has put the Biden Administration on its heels. 
The murder of George Floyd galvanized the public and led to the largest protests in American history. Even Donald Trump said of the videos of Floyd’s killing, “It doesn't get any more obvious or it doesn't get any worse than that,” presumably referring to the use of force by police. America waited anxiously for the outcome of the murder trial of the former police officer Derek Chauvin. The prosecution’s case was notable for the unusually candid and definitive statements against Chauvin’s actions that were made by senior figures in the Minneapolis Police Department. The New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb covered the trial and says that this testimony sends a message to law enforcement. “There are now circumstances where public scrutiny and public outrage and egregious offenses that come to light can actually generate enough outrage that you actually will not be defended by your fellow-officers,” he tells David Remnick. “It may seem like a low bar. But, given what we’ve seen previously, that’s a pretty astounding development.” 
In a special episode on the crisis in Xinjiang region of China, the staff writer Raffi Khatchadourian investigates Xi Jinping’s government’s severe repression of Muslim minorities, principally Uyghurs and Kazhaks. Accounts from a camp survivor and a woman who fled detainment show how, even outside the camps, life in the province of Xinjiang became a prison. The crisis meets the United Nations’ definition of genocide, and the U.S. State Department has also made that determination. With the 2022 Winter Olympics coming up in Beijing, what can the world do about Xinjiang?
Rickie Lee Jones emerged into the pop world fully formed; her début album was nominated for five Grammys, in 1980, and she won for Best New Artist. One of the songs on that record was “The Last Chance Texaco,” and Jones has made that the title of her new memoir. The song evokes a service station on a long stretch of highway, and Jones’s book reflects on her almost obsessive need to travel and uproot herself at almost any cost. “All I wanted to do was leave” from a very young age, she says.“When I talk about it from here, it seems like it was so horribly dangerous.” She adds, “Suddenly I’ll [say], ‘I think I’ll go to Big Sur,’ and I’m in a car, going. But the chaos and trouble that brings to a life!” The producer Scott Carrier, who hosts the podcast “Home of the Brave,” interviewed Jones near her home in New Orleans. 
Oscars, schmoscars! Richard Brody is a critic of wide tastes and eccentric enthusiasms. His list of the best films of the year rarely lines up with the Academy’s. Each year, he joins David Remnick and the staff writer Alexandra Schwartz to talk about the year’s cinematic highlights. Plus, the staff writer Louis Menand talks with Remnick about his new work of cultural history, “The Free World.” Menand writes about the postwar flowering of American culture, when the United States evolved from an economic and military giant into a global creative force. Modern jazz and rock and roll were exported and celebrated around the world. Painters got out from under the long shadow of Europe and led the way into new forms of abstraction and social commentary. Writers like James Baldwin turned a spotlight back on America’s fundamental, unexamined flaws. It was a time, Menand writes, when “ideas mattered. Painting mattered. Movies mattered. Poetry mattered.”
David Fincher made his name in Hollywood as the director of movies that pushed people’s buttons—dark thrillers like “Fight Club,” “The Game,” “Seven,” and “Gone Girl”—but his new film belongs to one of Hollywood’s most esteemed genres: stories about Hollywood. Around thirty years ago, his father, the late Jack Fincher, gave him the draft of a screenplay about Herman J. Mankiewicz, who wrote “Citizen Kane” and other classics. Fincher tells David Remnick that Mankiewicz was a key figure in film—one of that first generation of writers who invented a vibrant language for movies as they came into the sound era.  Nominated for ten Academy Awards (including a Best Director nomination for Fincher), “Mank” is the story of the writer’s conflict with Orson Welles in the making of “Citizen Kane,” and their struggle is one that has bedevilled creators and critics down the decades: Who really authors a film? Plus, the journalist and fiction writer Daniel Alarcón talks about three children’s books he’s been enjoying with his son during the pandemic.
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Comments (52)

Philly Burbs

I'm so sick & tired of hearing about George Floyd' murder many more men have been murdered from all races. if you want change with the whole country behind you you need to highlight new situations & include white males at the hands of police. it happens. I have seen it in my family. the 24/7 coverage has desensitized the American public to his murder. "Defund" only helps increase fear & racism of black males. Work with that & stop banging your heads against the wall by ending the Filabuster.

Jun 1st
Reply (1)

Philly Burbs

thank you for an article that isn't about race.

May 15th
Reply

Samfia Drangus

why do all the guys on these podcasts sound so effete?

May 3rd
Reply

Eumenides LBNAEMG

Does the U.S really has a right to talk about human right? The non-stop wars and massive bombing in the Iraq, Sudan, Syria, etc yet "What does the administration have to show for eight years of fighting on so many fronts? Terrorism has spread, no wars have been “won” and the Middle East is consumed by more chaos and divisions than when candidate Barack Obama declared his opposition to the invasion of Iraq. In 2016 alone, the Obama administration dropped at least 26,171 bombs. This means that every day last year, the US military blasted combatants or civilians overseas with 72 bombs; that’s three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day."--- The Guardian. If you are the president and terrorism exists in your country, what would you do to tackle the issue? China has tried ALL possible solutions: anti-terrorist signs, peace campaigns, big-red banners with peace quotes hanging around the country, identity check at customs. Yet, terrorism still rampant. So tell me, what would YOU do if you are the president and terrorism thrive in your country? At least the Chinese government sent children of the Uyghur family to kindergarten and primary schools to receive an education, instead of bombing the entire country and massive killing the innocents. Moreover, jobs such as cotton harvesting and working in textile manufacturing sitea are given to the Uyghurs for them to make a living instead of deprive their lives through approaches mentioned above. Subsequently, it is these approaches to terrorism that substantially plummet the extent of death rate due to terrorist attacks.

Apr 26th
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James Knight

whats happening on your southern internment camps, Amerika?

Apr 22nd
Reply

ncooty

The story on race in the tax code is race-baiting, irresponsible garbage. The New Yorker and The Radio Hour should be ashamed of this level of pseudo-journalistic trash. The interviewed guest out-right admitted that the effects are fully mediated by wealth (for which we have good direct measures). She merely injected race as a proxy or surrogate measure for wealth--as if all poor people are black and all black people are poor. (Imagine if that logic were used as a legal defense regarding lending decisions.) Her methods and interpretations were clearly reverse-engineered, and should be condemned by anyone who understands responsible research. (But then, responsible research doesn't get you interviewed, does it?) Not only does this create a needless wedge issue that further divides society and foments us-vs-them stories (with imputed and implied racism), but it also misdirects public policy. By her lights, we'd collectively address her racialized red herrings rather than the actual problems of economic inequality. This pseudo-journalism isn't merely wrong and misdirected, it also actively harms society. Moreover, in a pragmatic sense, it risks alienating voters who are capable of thought and would prefer to address the actual issues rather than fueling unfounded hate. I had expected more from The New Yorker than click-chasing, race-baiting, weak-minded, destructive, pseudo-scientific rabble-rousing.

Apr 3rd
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ncooty

@9:40: That's the last straw: using "ask" as a noun. That's it; the GOP has gone too far.

Apr 3rd
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ncooty

So much BS, poor logic, and disingenuous misrepresentation in this interview that I can't stand to listen to more of it. 10 mins was my limit.

Apr 1st
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ncooty

@6:20: The admiral is plainly wrong about failures of imagination. That's rarely the problem. Instead, the problem is much more often--including in the cases he mentioned--that those who imagined such trajectories were dismissed. Of course, only one imagined trajectory can come true in a given domain. That's the difficulty: choosing what resources to allocate to various imagined trajectories, since money spent on avoided trajectories is often politically cast as "wasted" (see COVID). So, it's disheartening to hear such simplistic and small-minded thinking from an admiral... though that explains a bit.

Mar 20th
Reply

BillyG

This is such a beautiful episode

Mar 20th
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ncooty

The sound of the congressman saying thank you at the end shot through me.

Feb 20th
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Philly Burbs

since 2015 then after Trump became President he made it clear Do not to come to the USA. Obama made it clear do not come here so did Bush & Clinton & Reagen. I'm so sick & tired of this topic. our streets are full of homeless. Americans live in cars & under bridges & qualify for nothing despite being attacked. now Biden is supposed to let everyone in? We haven't got enough food, books, medical for our citizens our kids. I'm sick of being expected to learn Spanish unlike when people came from Europe, English became their #1 language. I'm so sick & tired of the money & time spent on this issue. I can not feel sorry for someone who tried to get in knowing what is going on here. are we expected to take in all people who are mugged or raped? who's family has been threatening? Then open the doors to 75% of women below the Border? why do they deserve protection? that is the problem thinking they deserve it. why do they deserve it?

Feb 8th
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ncooty

I didn't have an opinion about Rep. Pressley before this interview, but I dislike her now. Her responses were fluid but unintelligent. She kept changing the subject and attempting to counter-strike rather than talk cogently or sensibly about individual issues. In short, she sounds like just another bull$hitting rabble-rouser.

Dec 13th
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ncooty

Costello comes across as a defensive, self-involved, simple-minded ass.

Nov 8th
Reply

ncooty

It sounds as if the interviewer's mic is inside her mouth. Can't listen.

Oct 4th
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Philly Burbs

campaign was rigged for Biden. if it wasn't for covid he would be losing by 20% points. if they debate, Trump will win. I hate Trump. I hate Perez & the DNC Machine more. not voting.

Jul 11th
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ID17712496

Love this.

May 12th
Reply

ncooty

I'm sure Geronimus is well intentioned, but she made an exceptionally weak argument here. She made a simplistic case that chronic stress (from which she offers no meaningful distinction for "weathering") fully mediates the effect of race on health outcomes. However, she provided no evidence that the stress effects of race are distinct from the stress effects of poverty. (Using race as a proxy for poverty would evince a deep misunderstanding of logic, measurement theory, and scientific methods, but it's a common, short-sighted, ignorant thing to do.) She also glibly asserted that all chronic stress is due to "structural racism". We're left to wonder how she accounts for chronic stress in white people; do people from racial minorities not endure whatever those stressors are? (Poverty would seem to account for both pretty elegantly, but it's less inflammatory.) We're also left to wonder how "structural racism" accounts for the "weathering" of recent immigrants, when many of those people come from places where they are not racial minorities--but those people are often poor, so why pretend this is more about race than poverty? I'm not arguing that her hypothesis is wrong, but that she's offered virtually nothing to support it, and nothing whatsoever to test it (attempted falsification). She's plainly not a scientist, and this sort of garbage just riles people by invoking racism rather than the mundane (more likely correct) explanation of poverty.

Apr 29th
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hey man I'm a fan

An inexcusably lazy and poorly researched interview. The intro references overpopulation but the conversation that follows fails to mention that the one child policy was reversed because the government needs more people not fewer. The title bears no resemblance to the content: not one effect beyond personal was truly addressed or even acknowledged, be it demographic, economic, sociopolitical or cultural. There's the conceit that the film is more than a chronicle of one family's heart-wrenching lore and should serve as an eye-opener but there is tremendous amount of research into the practices and actual effects of China's population program . See at least Mara Hvistendahl's excellent Unnatural Selection, a Pulitzer finalist in 2011.

Jan 7th
Reply

Philly Burbs

Everybody has been wondering what happened to our country, todays GOP are from the bottom of the barrel easily bought off. gerrymandering, voter suppression & RNC CHEATING.

Dec 25th
Reply (1)
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