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Profiles, storytelling and insightful conversations, hosted by David Remnick.
346 Episodes
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The panic that gripped Democrats during and after President Biden’s performance in the June debate against Donald Trump didn’t come out of nowhere. In January of last year, the Radio Hour produced an episode about President Biden’s age, and the concerns that voters were already expressing. But no nationally prominent Democratic politician was willing to challenge Biden in the primaries. After the debate, Julián Castro was one of the first prominent Democrats to say that Biden should withdraw from the race, and he went on to tell MSNBC’s Alex Wagner that potential Democratic rivals and even staffers “got the message” that their careers would be “blackballed” if they challenged him. Castro—who came up as the mayor of San Antonio, and then served as President Obama’s Secretary for Housing and Urban Development—ran against Biden in the Presidential primary for the 2020 election. He talks with David Remnick about how we got here, and what the Democratic Party should have done differently.
Across five studio albums, Florence and the Machine has explored genres from pop to punk and soul. Florence Welch, the group’s singer and main songwriter, is by turns introspective and theatrical, poetic and confessional. She sat down with John Seabrook at The New Yorker Festival in 2019 to reflect on her band’s rapid rise to stardom. She also spoke about her turn toward sobriety after years of heavy drinking. “The first year that I stopped, I felt like I’d really lost a big part of who I was and how I understood myself,” she says. “What I understood is that that was rock and roll, and, if you couldn’t go the hardest, you were letting rock and roll down.” But eventually getting sober let her connect more deeply with fans and with the music. “To be conscious and to be present and to really feel what’s going on—even though it’s painful, it feels like much more a truly reborn spirit of rock and roll,” she says.  Welch wrote the music and the lyrics for “Gatsby: An American Myth,” which opened in June at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts.This segment originally aired on May 24, 2022. 
Fifty years ago, in July, 1974, The New Yorker began publishing a lengthy excerpt of Robert Caro’s “The Power Broker.” When the book appeared, it ran more than twelve hundred pages and won a Pulitzer Prize. In vivid, astonishing detail, it shows how a city planner named Robert Moses gained power over New York City that dwarfed that of any mayor or governor, and radically changed the city. “The Power Broker” became a landmark of political reporting and biography, and made Caro one of the most celebrated writers in America. David Remnick sat down with Caro at the McCarter Theatre, in Princeton, New Jersey, in 2019, when “Working”—a collection of short pieces about Caro’s methods—had been published. Their discussion encompassed Caro’s early years as a newspaper reporter, his interviewing techniques, and his determination to tackle huge projects, including his chronicle of the life of Lyndon B. Johnson, four volumes of which have been published to date.This segment originally aired on June 18, 2019. 
At the beginning of 2021, it seemed like America might be turning a new page; instead, the election of 2024 feels like a strange dream that we can’t wake up from. Recently, David Remnick asked listeners what’s still confounding and confusing about this Presidential election. Dozens of listeners wrote in from all over the country, and a crack team of political writers at The New Yorker came together to shed some light on those questions: Susan B. Glasser, Jill Lepore, Clare Malone, Andrew Marantz, Evan Osnos, Kelefa Sanneh, and Benjamin Wallace-Wells. Some years ago, the poet Ada Limón moved from New York City to Lexington, Kentucky. In a book called “Bright Dead Things,” she writes about adjusting to a new home, and the constant talk of thoroughbreds. “People always asking, ‘You have so many horses in your poems—what are they a metaphor for?’ ” she told the Radio Hour. “I think they’re not really a metaphor. Out here, they’re just horses.” Limón, who’s the current Poet Laureate of the United States, took us on a tour of Keeneland racecourse, in Lexington, and read her poem “How to Triumph Like a Girl.”This segment originally aired on April 13, 2018. 
Many Democrats saw John Fetterman as a progressive beacon: a Rust Belt Bernie Sanders who – with his shaved head, his hoodie, and the zip code of Braddock, Pennsylvania – could rally working-class white voters to the Democratic Party. But at least on one issue, Fetterman is veering away from the left of his party, and even from centrists like Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: Israel’s war in Gaza. Fetterman has taken a line that is not just sympathetic to Israel after the October 7th attack by Hamas; he seems to justify the civilian death toll Israel has inflicted on Gaza.  “When you have that kind of an evil, or that kind of a movement that came out of a society,” he told Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “whether it was Nazi Germany or imperial Japan or the Confederacy here in the South, that kind of movement has to be destroyed. . . . that’s why Atlanta had to burn.” Wallace-Wells shares excerpts from his interviews with Fetterman in a conversation with David Remnick, and they discuss how Fetterman’s support for Israel is driving a wedge among Pennsylvania voters, who will be critical to the outcome of the Presidential election. John Fetterman’s War was published in the June 24, 2024, issue.
Reality television has generally got a bad rap, but Emily Nussbaum—who received a Pulitzer Prize, in 2016, for her work as The New Yorker’s TV critic—sees that the genre has its own history and craft. Nussbaum’s new book “Cue the Sun!” is a history of reality TV, and roughly half the book covers the era before “Survivor,” which is often considered the starting point of the genre. She picks three formative examples from the Before Time to discuss with David Remnick: “Candid Camera,” “An American Family,” and “Cops.” She’s not trying to get you to like reality TV, but rather, she says, “I'm trying to get you to understand it.”
Kevin Costner has been a leading man for more than forty years and has starred in all different genres of movies, but a constant in his filmography is the Western. One of his first big roles was in “Silverado,” alongside Kevin Kline and Danny Glover; he directed “Dances with Wolves,” which won seven Oscars, including Best Director and Best Picture; more recently, Costner starred as the rancher John Dutton in the enormously successful “Yellowstone.” Perhaps no actor since Clint Eastwood is more associated with the genre. Throughout his career, Costner has also been working on a project called “Horizon: An American Saga.” Too lengthy and expensive for studios (Costner put up tens of millions of dollars to fund it), “Horizon” evolved over decades into a series of four films about the founding of a town in the West. Part 1, which involves the destruction wrought on Native communities by white settlement, comes out next week. While the politics of the genre have evolved, “there were certain dilemmas that [Westerns] established,” he tells David Remnick, that were timeless. “They talked to me about character and just as important, lack of character.”
Paul Scheer is a noted actor and comedian, and the author of the new memoir “Joyful Recollections of Trauma.” Off the screen, his true obsession is bad movies—even terrible movies. With his wife, the actor and comedian June Diane Raphael, and their friend Jason Mantzoukas, he presents the podcast “How Did This Get Made?,” picking apart all manner of bombs. David Remnick met Scheer at the Brooklyn Brewery and asked him for his top five of the very worst movies, and why they deserve recognition. Scheer discusses “The Room,” “Miami Connection,” “Samurai Cop,” “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” and “The Apple.” “When I hear a director go ‘passion project,’ I’m in,” he says.  Plus, Francis Ford Coppola invested much of his personal fortune in a passion project, “Megalopolis.” It was mocked as a colossal failure before it even premièred. But the New Yorker film critic Justin Chang was at that première, and he thinks the chatter is wildly off base. 
On July 4th—while the U.S. celebrates its break from Britain—voters in the United Kingdom will go to the polls and, according to all predictions, oust the current government. The Conservative Party has been in power for fourteen years, presiding over serious economic decline and widespread discontent. The narrow, contentious referendum to break away from the European Union, sixty per cent of Britons now think, was a mistake. Yet the Labour Party shows no inclination to reverse or even mitigate Brexit. If the Conservatives have destroyed their reputation, why won’t Labour move boldly to change the direction of the U.K.? Is the U.K. hopeless? David Remnick is joined by Rory Stewart, who spent nine years as a Conservative Member of Parliament, and now co-hosts the podcast “The Rest Is Politics.” He left the government prior to Brexit and wrote his best-selling memoir, “How Not to Be a Politician,” which pulls no punches in describing the soul-crushing sham of serving in office. “It’s not impostor syndrome,” Stewart tells Remnick. “You are literally an impostor, and you’re literally on television all the time claiming to understand things you don’t understand and claiming to control things you don’t control.”
For years, the staff writer Jennifer Gonnerman has reported on the case of Eric Smokes and David Warren. When they were teen-agers in Brooklyn, in 1987, Smokes and Warren were convicted of second-degree murder during the mugging of a tourist; the papers called them “the Times Square Two.” It was the testimony of another teen-ager, who received a reduced sentence in a separate case for his coöperation, that sent them to prison. Ever since, Warren and Smokes have protested their innocence, and Walker later acknowledged that he had lied. But in requesting parole, after years in prison, the two men had to take responsibility for their crime, and four years ago, a judge denied their appeal. Gonnerman tells the story of their long fight for justice, and how it finally came to pass. 
When Raphael Warnock was elected to the Senate from Georgia in the 2020 election, he made history a couple of times over. He became the first Black Democrat elected to the Senate from the Deep South. At the same time, that victory—alongside Jon Ossoff’s—flipped both of Georgia’s Senate seats from Republican to Democrat. Once thought of as solidly red, Georgia has become a closely watched swing state that President Biden can’t afford to lose in November, and Warnock is a key ally. He dismisses polls that show younger Black voters are leaning toward Trump in higher numbers than older voters; Biden’s record as President, he thinks—including a reported sixty per cent increase in Black wealth since the pandemic—will motivate strong turnout. Warnock returns to Atlanta every Sunday to preach at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he remains senior pastor, and he thinks of the election as a “moral and spiritual battle.” “Are we a nation that can send from the South a Black man and a Jewish man to the Senate?” he asks. “Or are we that nation that rises up in violence as we witness the demographic changes in our country and the struggle for a more inclusive Republic?” 
In “The Other Olympians: Fascism, Queerness, and the Making of Modern Sports,” the journalist Michael Waters tells the story of Zdeněk Koubek, one of the most famous sprinters in European women’s sports. Koubek shocked the sporting world in 1935 by announcing that he was transitioning, and now living as a man. The initial press coverage of Koubek and another prominent track star who transitioned, Mark Weston, was largely positive, but Waters tells the New Yorker sports columnist Louisa Thomas that eventually a backlash led to the 1936 Berlin Olympics instituting a sex-testing policy for women athletes. Any female athlete’s sex could be challenged, and cisgender women who didn’t conform to historical gender standards were targeted as a result. These policies slowly evolved to include chromosome testing and, later, the hormone testing that we see today. “And so as we talk about sex testing today,” Waters says, “we often are forgetting where these policies come from in the first place.”
When the jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant was profiled in The New Yorker, Wynton Marsalis described her as the kind of talent who comes along only “once in a generation or two.” Salvant’s work is rooted in jazz—in the tradition of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan and Abbey Lincoln—and she has won three Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Album. But her interests and her repertoire reach across eras and continents. She studied Baroque music and jazz at conservatory, and performs songs in French, Occitan, and Haitian Kreyòl.  “I think I have the spirit of a kind of a radio D.J. slash curator,” she tells David Remnick. “It’s almost like making a mixtape for someone and only putting deep cuts.” And even when singing the standards, she aims “to find the gems that haven’t been sung and sung and sung over and over again.” During a summer tour, she visited the studio at WNYC to perform “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” made famous by Barbra Streisand; “Can She Excuse My Wrongs,” by John Dowland, the English composer of the Elizabethan era; and “Moon Song,” an original from Salvant’s album “Ghost Song.”
In their breakout comedy series, “Broad City,” Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson played raucous and raunchy best friends who were the glue in each other’s lives. In “Babes,” the new movie co-written by Glazer and directed by Pamela Adlon (fresh off her own series, “Better Things”), friendship is, again, a life force. Glazer plays Eden, a yoga teacher who gets pregnant unexpectedly and becomes a single mom. This time Glazer plays opposite Michelle Buteau, whom Glazer calls a “muse” for the film. Even though it didn’t take long to get the script green-lit, Glazer says some of the more graphic realities of pregnancy and having children were taken as somewhat “blue.” That assessment, she tells The New Yorker’s Naomi Fry, makes her wonder, “Perhaps we’ve been so disembodied from our own life force, from our own origin stories, that we find it disgusting. But it’s not disgusting. It’s hilarious, it’s beautiful, it’s also ugly, it’s sweet and soft, it’s hard and intense, but the way women talk still really rubs people the wrong way.” Glazer also talks with Fry about what Jacobson taught her about being an artist, going to therapy three times a week, and being wild about her daughter.
On the reality-TV dating show  “Love Is Blind,” the most watched original series in Netflix history, contestants are alone in windowless, octagonal pods with no access to their phones or the Internet. They talk to each other through the walls. There’s intrigue, romance, heartbreak, and, in some cases, sight-unseen engagements. According to several lawsuits, there’s also lack of sleep, lack of food and water, twenty-hour work days, and alleged physical and emotional abuse. New Yorker staff writer Emily Nussbaum has been reporting on what these lawsuits reveal about the culture on the set of “Love Is Blind,” and a push for a new union to give reality-TV stars employee protections and rights. “The people who are on reality shows are a vulnerable class of people who are mistreated by the industry in ways that are made invisible to people, including to fans who love the shows,” Nussbaum tells David Remnick. Nussbaum’s forthcoming book is “Cue the Sun! The Invention of Reality TV.”
Some time in her forties, something shifted in Miranda July. She started having “this new, grim feeling about the future, which was weird, because I’m, like, a very excited, hopeful person,” she tells New Yorker staff writer Alexandra Schwartz, who recently profiled July for the magazine. July attributes some of that “feeling” to the disparity between all the information there was about her reproductive years, and how little there was about middle age and perimenopause. “If it’s stories that we need, you know, dibs. Dibs on menopause,” she tells Schwartz. July’s explorations and conversations with other women made their way into her new novel, “All Fours,” about a woman who upends her life and her marriage, and her sense of who she is and who she’ll be in the second half of her life. Miranda July is fifty now, and she is taking some pages from her own book.  
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who has never held elected office but is related to many people who have, is emerging as a potential threat to Democrats and Republicans in the 2024 Presidential race. “There’s nothing in the United States Constitution that says that you have to go to Congress first and, then, Senate second, or be a governor before you’re elected to the Presidency,”  he told David Remnick, in July, when he was running as a Democrat. Now, as a third-party Presidential candidate, his numbers have grown in the polls—enough to push votes away from both Biden and Trump in November, especially, it seems, among younger voters. Besides his name, the seventy-year-old environmental lawyer is known as an anti-vaccine activist and a proponent of conspiracy theories. This election season, we’re eager to hear from you. What questions do you have? Let us know at: newyorkerradio@wnyc.orgThis interview originally aired on July 7, 2023.
David Remnick talks with a proponent of the TikTok ban that just passed in Washington. Jacob Helberg, an executive with the data giant Palantir who serves in a government agency called the United States–China Economic and Security Review Commission, was all over Capitol Hill in the run-up to the vote on TikTok, convincing legislators that it was an urgent matter of national security. The bill will remove TikTok from distribution in U.S. app stores unless its owner, ByteDance, sells it to some other entity—or unless TikTok prevails in its lawsuit against the U.S. government. With a China-based company, Helberg asserts, attempts to safeguard Americans’ data from the Communist Party are futile: “The Chinese government has a master backdoor into everything,” he says. “TikTok is a vehicle for Chinese propaganda, and it’s also a vehicle for Chinese surveillance, which is a major national-security threat to this country.” For another perspective on the TIkTok ban, listen to David Remnick’s conversation with the journalist Katie Drummond, the global editorial director of Wired magazine.
David Remnick talks with Katie Drummond, the global editorial director of Wired magazine, about the TikTok ban that just passed with bipartisan support in Washington. The app will be removed from distribution in U.S. app stores unless ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, sells it to an approved buyer. TikTok is suing to block that law. Is this a battle among tech giants for dominance, or a real issue of national security? Drummond sees the ban as a corporate crusade by Silicon Valley to suppress a foreign competitor with a superior product. The claim that TikTok is a national-security threat she finds “a vast overreach that is rooted in hypotheticals and that is rooted in hypocrisy, and in … a fundamental refusal to look across the broad spectrum of social media platforms, and treat all of them from a regulatory point of view with the same level of care and precision.” Plus, the food writer Hannah Goldfield on salmon cooked in the dishwasher, and other highlights of culinary TikTok videos.
When Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., appeared on this show back in July, it was early in his run for President, and he was considered a fringe candidate. He had the name recognition, obviously, and not much else. Now the question seems to be not whether Kennedy is going to be a spoiler in the election but which side he’s more likely to spoil. On The Political Scene, the New Yorker podcast, Washington correspondents Jane Mayer, Evan Osnos, and Susan B. Glasser gather to talk about Kennedy’s candidacy and his potential impact. “He’s not a serious threat in terms of being able to win,” Mayer says, “but he is potentially a serious threat in being able to spoil this election for one side or the other.”  
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Comments (109)

New Jawn

Hearing little David's giggling took a lot away from the interview.  Usually he tries to mimick the Simon Whine (named after NPR's Scott Simon, who when he deems it necessary to add gravitas to the conversation, affects a mousy I-apologize-for-breathing voice) but breaking out the giggle was particularly disturbing, especially because there wasn't a single thing funny being said.

Jun 15th
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Steven Maurice

journalism

May 25th
Reply

David L (GeeseBear)

Can the interviewer sound more high nosed and arrogant. Geez.

May 20th
Reply

Carolee Elliott

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May 10th
Reply

New Jawn

It's as if he lacks even a basic understanding of methodology and statistics, but then he's writing to appeal and sell to a mass audience, and clearly he's quite good at that.

Apr 20th
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Hengameh Nahid

Great interview, well done.

Mar 28th
Reply (5)

Deborah Spillman

This podcast is garbage and full of lies

Mar 22nd
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Paja Storec

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Jan 13th
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Miss Br

Did you just say Shah was Iran's last corrupt monarch?! and corrupt as in...?

Dec 22nd
Reply (1)

Nellie Fly

ty for this valuable perspective

Dec 19th
Reply

Richard Thornton

Cheney actually saw merit in 93% of trumps political values. I’m sick of all the phony politicians who are either too naive, too stupid, or too corrupt, but pretend to be looking out for the country. I saw thru Trump in the 1980s. He is and always was an a&&hole , completely unworthy of any respect on any level. The fact that because he’s a “Republican” means that he’s somehow the “lesser of two evils” is sick crap. To hell with the USA if he’s re-elected; I’ve got nothing more to say.

Dec 13th
Reply

Steven Maurice

if only liberals had the unity and used power the way conservatives think they do...

Dec 7th
Reply

New Jawn

I thought it was a nothingburger podcast. Rather than let one speak substantively and at length, all spoke superficially.

Dec 6th
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New Jawn

Exceptionally weak, straw man questions. Her ridiculously uncritical perspective is one of the reasons so many have turned against Israel.

Nov 18th
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New Jawn

it's a chat between friends. it's definitely not a "master class" on how to write non-fiction

Sep 10th
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New Jawn

it's a chat between two friends, but it's definitely not a "master class" on how to write non-fiction.

Sep 10th
Reply

Tom Tomaka

Miller-Meeks is incapable of dodging her own partisan rhetoric. Her reply when Remnick asked her to explain what she means by "common sense solutions": "Well, it's hard to get a consensus on what that means." 🤣😂

Aug 24th
Reply

Leaslie Wilhoit

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Jul 10th
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Jeremy Mesiano-Crookston

what an incredible dipshit. the words "Robert f Kennedy I appreciate your time" must be the most sarcastic words in human history.

Jul 8th
Reply

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Jul 5th
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