DiscoverThe New Yorker Radio Hour
The New Yorker Radio Hour
Claim Ownership

The New Yorker Radio Hour

Author: WNYC Studios and The New Yorker

Subscribed: 51,173Played: 713,013
Share

Description

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.
© WNYC Studios
387 Episodes
Reverse
Since January, Peter Hessler has reported from China under quarantine. Now, as restrictions lift, he tells David Remnick about his return to normal life; recently, he even went to a dance club. But, although China’s stringent containment measures were effective enough to allow a rapid reopening, one scientist told Hessler, “There is no long-term plan. There’s no country that has a long term plan.” Back in Washington, Evan Osnos explains how blaming China for its sluggish response—and insisting that it cost lives worldwide—has become a touchstone of the Presidential race in America. The candidates have found a rare moment of agreement that it is time to get tough on China, and that their opponent is weak.
When schools were closed owing to the coronavirus outbreak, the English teacher Petria May did the most natural thing she could think of: she assigned her tenth-grade class to read Albert Camus’s novel “The Plague,” which describes a quarantine during an outbreak of disease. Plus, a short story by Peter Cameron. In “Memorial Day,” a teen-age boy is forced to spend a beautiful Memorial Day with the two people he really can’t deal with: his mother and his new stepfather, Lonnie, who’s so young he’s sometimes mistaken for the narrator’s brother. The boy is talkative in school, and he writes letters to pen pals in prison, but at home he hasn’t spoken a word in months. Noah Galvin reads the story, which was originally published in The New Yorker in 1983.
Abie Roehrig, a twenty-year-old undergraduate, has put his name on a list of volunteers for a human-challenge trial to test the efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine. A human-challenge trial for a vaccine would be nearly unprecedented: it would entail giving subjects a candidate vaccine against the virus, and then infecting them deliberately to test its efficacy more quickly than a traditional, safer vaccine trial. Larissa MacFarquhar talks about this highly controversial proposal with the epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch, who supports such trials for COVID-19, and the virologist Angela Rasmussen, who feels that the scientific benefits are too limited to justify the enormous risks. Plus, Jelani Cobb speaks with the legal scholar Ira P. Robbins about the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, and why prosecutors declined  for months to arrest the white man who killed him. In the Arbery case, Robbins sees a fatal confusion of citizen’s-arrest laws, stand-your-ground doctrine, and racial profiling. 
The New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino has been following the artist Mike Hadreas, who records as Perfume Genius, since his first album; he has just released his fifth, “Set My Heart on Fire Immediately.” He sings about his life and his sexuality in a style that evokes Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison—simultaneously vulnerable and swaggering. “That’s the music I’ve listened to my whole life . . . but felt like there was always not completely room for me in the music,” he tells Tolentino. Plus, Anthony Lane, having completed an extensive review of plague-theme cinema, shares three picks with David Remnick: a German silent picture nearly a century old, a gritty piece of realism from the golden age of Hollywood, and a more recent film that everybody’s been watching these last three months.
Jill Lepore discusses the “stay at home” campaigns that ran on radio stations during the polio years, devised to keep children indoors; she is especially fond of a program that featured a young Hubert Humphrey reading comics. Lepore finds solace in revisiting the desperate measures of that era. “One of the reasons I study history,” she says, “is I like to see how things began, so I can imagine how bad things end.” She describes the momentous day, in 1955, when Dr. Jonas Salk and his colleagues announced the success of the polio vaccine trials. “That’s the great blessing of a vaccination program,” Lepore says. “We forget how bad the disease was.” Plus, David Remnick speaks with three mayors who have to negotiate the task of reopening their cities safely.
For more than fifteen years, the fiction writer Edwidge Danticat has called Miami’s Little Haiti home. The neighborhood is full of Haitian émigrés like herself, many of whom support families back home. Though the virus has barely touched Haiti, the economic devastation it has wreaked on the U.S. will have dire consequences on the island. Over the years, Danticat has watched as Haiti’s struggles—political, economic, and environmental—have affected her friends and neighbors in Florida. “People would often say, ‘Whenever Haiti sneezes, Miami catches a cold,’ ” says Danticat. “But the reverse is also true.” Plus, two Western writers—Thomas McGuane and Callan Wink, separated by more than forty years in age—go fishing on Montana’s Yellowstone River, and share a pointed critique of “Western writing.”
Michigan is the tenth-largest state by population, but it has the third-largest number of COVID-19 deaths. Governor Gretchen Whitmer enacted some of the country’s most stringent stay-at-home orders, even forbidding landscaping and fishing. Furious and sometimes armed protesters became national news. Meanwhile, Whitmer’s outspoken criticism of the Trump Administration’s efforts on behalf of the states made her a frequent target of the President. “I didn’t ask to be thrown into the national spotlight,” Whitmer tells Susan B. Glasser. “I’m just trying to do my job, and I’m never going to apologize for that. Because lives are at stake here.” Whitmer’s national visibility has brought rumors that she is on the short list for Joe Biden’s Vice-Presidential pick. Whitmer is a sexual-assault survivor herself, and she explains why she stands by Biden despite the accusation made by his former aide Tara Reade.     Susan B. Glasser also speaks with David Remnick about the tensions that have emerged between the federal government and the states. While mostly targeting Democratic governors, Trump has also criticized some in his own party. 
Three months ago, Kai Wright, the host of WNYC’s the United States of Anxiety, joined David Remnick for a special episode about the effects of mass incarceration and the movement to end it. Now, as the coronavirus pandemic puts inmates in acute and disproportionate danger, that effort may be gaining new traction. Wright and Remnick reconvene to examine the COVID-19 crisis in prison and its political effects. David Remnick also speaks with Phil Murphy, the governor of New Jersey, who has signed an executive order to release certain at-risk inmates from states prisons—the sort of measure that would once have been deeply unpopular and risky. “I haven’t really spent any time on the politics,” Governor Murphy says. “In all the steps we’ve taken, we’re trying to make the call as best we can, based on the facts, based on the data, based on the science.” And Kai Wright interviews Udi Ofer, the head of the A.C.L.U.’s Justice Division, who notes that “the communities that the C.D.C. has told us are most vulnerable to COVID-19 are exactly the communities that are housed in our nation’s jails and prisons,” including a disproportionately older population among inmates. Given the lack of social distancing and, in many cases, substandard hygienic conditions, Ofer says that reducing the inmate population “literally is a life-and-death situation.”
As of the end of April, thirty million people have filed for unemployment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Yet many believe that this is only the first stage or initial shock of the financial system’s abrupt halt. “It’s more like a heart attack than the Great Depression,” John Cassidy explains. He speaks with David Remnick about the ways that this crisis could play out, and when and how the economy could bounce back. Plus, we meet Chika, a rapper who was hailed by P. Diddy as “best of the new school.” And Mike Birbiglia imagines his ideal death.
As black people die from COVID-19 at disproportionate rates, the disease is highlighting health disparities we’ve long known about. Kai Wright, the host of WNYC’s “The United States of Anxiety,” speaks with Arline Geronimus, a public-health researcher, about what happens to black people’s bodies—on a cellular level—while living in a racist society. Plus, we hear from one essential worker in New York who’s doing his best to weather the pandemic.
Experts predicted that Wednesday, April 15th would be a peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, its epicenter. On that day, a crew of New Yorker writers talked with people all over the city, in every circumstance and walk of life, to form a portrait of a city in crisis. A group-station manager for the subway talks about keeping the transit system running for those who can’t live without it; a respiratory therapist copes with break-time conversations about death and dying; a graduating class of medical students get up the courage to confront the worst crisis in generations; and a new mother talks about giving birth on a day marked by tragedy for so many families. The hour includes contributions from writers including William Finnegan, Helen Rosner, Jia Tolentino, Kelefa Sanneh, and Adam Gopnik, who says, “One never knows whether to applaud the human insistence on continuing with some form of normal life, or look aghast at the human insistence on continuing with some form of normal life. That's the mystery of the pandemic.”
Before she published “Silent Spring,” one of the most influential books of the last century, Rachel Carson was a young aspiring poet and then a graduate student in marine biology. Although she couldn’t swim and disliked boats, Carson fell in love with the ocean. Her early books—including “The Sea Around Us,” “The Edge of the Sea” and “Under the Sea Wind”—were like no other nature writing of their time, Jill Lepore says: Carson made you feel you were right there with her, gazing into the depths of a tide pool or lying in a cave lined with sea sponges. Lepore notes that Carson was wondering about a warming trend in the ocean as early as the 1940s, and was planning to explore it after the publication of “Silent Spring.” If she had not died early, of cancer, could Carson have brought climate change to national attention well before it was too late?  Excerpts from Carson’s work were read by Charlayne Woodard, and used with permission of Carson’s estate.  This segment was originally broadcast on September 14, 2018.
Bill McKibben and Elizabeth Kolbert join David Remnick to talk about the twin crises of our time: the coronavirus pandemic and the climate emergency. During the COVID-19 national emergency, the Trump Administration has loosened auto-emissions standards, and has proposed easing the controls on mercury released by power plants, among other actions. With protesters no longer able to gather, construction on the controversial Keystone Pipeline has resumed. Still, McKibben and Kolbert believe that the pandemic could remind the public to take scientific fact seriously, and possibly might change our values for the better. Plus: Carolyn Kormann speaks with a disease ecologist who hunts for coronaviruses and other deadly pathogens in the bat caves where they originate.
The contributor Yiyun Li is a fiction writer who also teaches creative writing at Princeton University. “The campus is empty,” she tells Joshua Rothman. “The city is quiet. It has a different feeling. And it’s a good time to read ‘War and Peace.’ ” When the coronavirus outbreak began, Li reached for Tolstoy’s epic of Russia during the Napoleonic Wars; there is no better book, she feels, for a time of fear and uncertainty.  So as many of us were retreating to our homes in March, Yiyun Li launched a project called Tolstoy Together, an online book club in which thousands of people, on every continent except Antarctica, are participating. In the morning, Li posts thoughts about the day’s reading (twelve to fifteen pages), and participants reply, on Twitter and Instagram, with their own comments. “War and Peace,” Li believes, is capacious enough to be endlessly relevant. “The novel started with Annette having a cough. And she said she was sick, she couldn't go out to parties, so she invited people to her house for a party and everybody came. And so that was ironic. I have read the novels so many times. This is the only time I thought, ‘Oh, you know, a cough really means something. These people really should be careful about life.’ ” Plus, with the coronavirus pandemic delaying the start of the M.L.B. season, David Remnick revisits a conversation with baseball’s greatest observer: the Hall of Fame inductee Roger Angell.
David Remnick on the hope and catharsis that he finds in New York City’s daily mass cheer, which celebrates all those who are keeping the city alive at their peril. Plus, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor on the inequality of COVID-19. On the surface, it may seem to be a great leveller—princes and Prime Ministers, musicians and Hollywood A-listers, NBA players, and other prominent people have made headlines for contracting the virus—but the pandemic exacerbates the inequality of the American health-care system. Minorities, and particularly African-Americans, account for a greatly disproportionate number of deaths in places around the country. Taylor explains that the disparity is caused not only by underlying medical conditions that are more prevalent among the poor; even the basic preventative measures urged on Americans by the C.D.C., such as social distancing and sheltering in place, are less accessible in black communities. 
This week, Jair Bolsonaro, the President of Brazil, ignored the advice of his own health minister, and went for a walk in the capitol, declaring “We’ll all die one day.” Bolsonaro, a right-wing populist elected to the Presidency in 2018, is known for flouting conventional wisdom. He is especially cavalier about the environment. Several weeks ago, he introduced a bill to allow commercial mining on protected indigenous lands in the Amazon. Jon Lee Anderson, a New Yorker staff writer, recently returned from Brazil, where he was reporting on the effects of these exploitative practices on one indigenous group in particular, the Kayapo. He says that Bolsonaro’s mining bill, like so many of his more radical policies, will have effects that are almost impossible to predict. “The indigenous people are the last defense for some of the world’s last wilderness areas. Its habitats, its ecosystems, the animals that live within it, the medicinal plants that we have yet to even know exist—the indigenous people turn out to be the final custodians,” Anderson says. “And, in some tragic cases, they are also the handmaidens to their own destruction. And it’s always been that way, and that’s what people like Bolsonaro understand.”   Audio used from the video of the late Chief Mro’o’s was produced by Glenn Shepard, an anthropologist at the Goeldi Museum, in Brazil. Additional music by Filipe Duarte.
Despite the warnings of politicians and health-care professionals, many have failed to treat the coronavirus pandemic as a serious threat: the spring breakers on beaches, the crowds in city parks. Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning expert on human behavior, speaks with Maria Konnikova about why the threat posed by COVID-19 defies intuitive comprehension. “There should be clear guidelines and clear instructions. We all ought to know whether we should open our Amazon packages outside the door or bring them in,” Kahneman said. “It’s not a decision individuals should consider making on the basis of what they know, because they don’t know enough to make it.” Plus: the story of a nine-hour virtual party that attracted hundreds of thousands of attendees—including Rihanna, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Drake.
An old Alcoholics Anonymous slogan goes, “Seven days without an A.A. meeting makes one weak.” But COVID-19 has made in-person meetings impossible in many situations, removing the foundation on which many alcoholics build their sobriety. Reagan Reed, the executive director of the New York Intergroup Association of Alcoholics Anonymous and a member of A.A., has watched as nearly a thousand regular meetings across the state have been cancelled. Earlier this month, she made the difficult decision to close the organization’s central office. The Radio Hour’s Rhiannon Corby spoke with Reed about the challenges of staying sober in a tumultuous time, and how A.A. continues to help people in recovery. Plus: social distancing remains the best way to contain the coronavirus, but many are starting to feel the emotional toll of constant isolation. David Remnick called Jia Tolentino, a staff writer at The New Yorker, in search of a few things to help lift our spirits.
Across the country, doctors and nurses are being forced to care for an increasing number of COVID patients with dwindling supplies and no clear end to the outbreak in sight. Two emergency-room doctors, Jessica van Voorhees, in New York City, and Sana Jaffri, in Washington State, describe the scope of the crisis as seen from their hospitals. “It would be typical in a twelve-hour shift to intubate one patient who is critically ill, maybe two,” Dr. Voorhees says. “The last shift I worked, I intubated ten patients in twelve hours.” Plus: it’s been just over a month since Donald Trump gave his first public statement about the coronavirus—saying, in essence, that the virus did not pose a substantial threat to the United States. Why did he so dramatically underplay the risks of COVID-19? “With Trump, sometimes the answer is pretty transparent,” Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker’s Washington correspondent, told David Remnick, “and, in this case, I think the answer is pretty transparent. He didn’t want anything to interrupt his reëlection campaign plan, which entirely hinged on the strength of the U.S. economy.”
As the coronavirus pandemic brings the country to a standstill, David Remnick and New Yorker writers examine the scope of the damage—emotional, physical, and economic. Remnick speaks with a medical ethicist about the painful decisions that medical workers must make when ventilators and hospital beds run out; John Cassidy assesses how the economic damage will compare to the Great Depression; and an E.R. doctor describes her fear for her safety in treating the onslaught of COVID-19 without adequate supplies.
loading
Comments (32)

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
Reply

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)

Билэгтийн Баатарцогт

.

Dec 16th
Reply

calafia

I thought my app was malfunctioning, but the sound makes it impossible to listen.

Nov 21st
Reply (1)

Peter Lansdale

the sound is messed up

Nov 16th
Reply

Alex Mercedes

somehow, Remnick too often sounds/feels antagonistic. Makes me grind my teeth as I listen...so...unsubscribing from podcast today. Fresh Air interviews many of the same people, poses challenging questions, permits a closer look without sounding like the verge of an argument.

Nov 11th
Reply

Alex Mercedes

Jelani hits the nail on the head. Trump is mentally imbalanced and this is not being taken seriously enough.

Oct 13th
Reply

Alex Mercedes

if this had been the first episode I ever heard...the climate change report was too short to say much and the conversation with the Congressman was worthless, as in unfocused questions and blah blah SOS politician talk. it's okay. I know you can do better -- I've heard past episodes.

Sep 16th
Reply

Rachel McVey

important topic -- personally, not a fan of this different "investigation" kind of format for the episode

Sep 15th
Reply

Robby Mckelvey

Cortez is a retard..

Sep 13th
Reply

Alex Mercedes

tough interview. she handled herself well.

Sep 2nd
Reply (1)

Alex Mercedes

only 2 minutes in and already my time is well spent. I did not grow up with Internet. I predate it and the description at 1:40 is exactly how it seems to me too (with unlivable being the essential descriptor) though most people tell me I'm being harsh or hysterical. thanks for the validation.

Aug 27th
Reply (1)

Pema Karma Deschen

LOL. Great interview... Lena is so well spoken and articulate. But did anyone catch the end where he said thank you Amelia after he clinked her glass? Interesting in particular to me because I have been listening to old podcasts..currently August 2019...but I JUST finished listening to the Amelia Clarke interview.hmmmmmm. They weren't anywhere near one another Amelia was 2018 I think? 😲🤔😄

Aug 20th
Reply

ABR

First interview was great, no thanks to Wickenden. I have to admit, there were several times I felt like screaming at her. She has a very poor understanding of the adolescent experience in the late 20th and early 21st century. And for the record, many teenage girls are into guns and explosives too.

May 30th
Reply

Natalia Mironova

I am crying from happiness, right now! The most fragile social group of sybarite Southern Aristocrats found!

May 26th
Reply

Wendy Bruder

The idea of endless growth NEEDS to end. Humans need to stop procreating and change our ways drastically. Glad to day no progeny of mine will be forced to live on the planet humans have destroyed.

May 10th
Reply (1)

Toby Barraud

Why aren't the prosecutors named in this radio program? I agree with John Thompson : they are guilty of attempted murder. It's an outrage the legal system refuses to hold them accountable. The very least punishment they suffer should be the public recognition of what they did.

Jan 30th
Reply

Rachel McVey

Thanks for having David Bentley Hart on the show to talk about his translation of the New Testament! I was a member of a Bible church until age 24 and was "in the word" every day, instructing others in the scriptures -- while trying my best not to think too much about research on the history of the Bible and its translation that suggested my leather bound NIV might not be precisely God's truth. After listening to this episode, I immediately bought a copy of Hart's translation. It will be the first Bible I'll have opened in more than two years!

Dec 23rd
Reply
loading
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store