On the Media

By WNYC Studios

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Reviews: 29


 Dec 31, 2022

Podcast Republic User
 Jun 3, 2022


 Nov 28, 2021

Peter
 May 16, 2021
Great analysis of news stories and how the media covers them.

Alan
 Mar 19, 2021
it's great

Description

The Peabody Award-winning On the Media podcast is your guide to examining how the media sausage is made. Host Brooke Gladstone examines threats to free speech and government transparency, cast a skeptical eye on media coverage of the week’s big stories and unravel hidden political narratives in everything we read, watch and hear.

Episode Date
Sorry, That's Classified
50:45

If millions of Americans have access to classified documents, can we really call them secrets? On this week's On the Media, a former Pentagon official explains how America’s bloated classification system came to be. Plus, a look at the stories we tell about Baby Boomers, and how our country might change after they’re gone.

1. Oona Hathaway [@oonahathaway], professor at Yale Law School and former special counsel at the Pentagon, on the complicated nature of classified documents. Listen.

2. Noah Smith [@VildeHaya], contributing reporter for The Washington Post, on how a video game led to leaks of military documents. Listen

3. Philip Bump [@pbump], national columnist at The Washington Post, on his latest book 'The Aftermath: The Last Days of the Baby Boom and the Future of Power in America.' Listen

4. Brian Lehrer [@BrianLehrer], host of WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show, on the news events that defined generations. Listen

Music:

Passing Time by John Renbourn
Atlantic City by Randy Newman
Eye Surgery by Thomas Newman
Young at Heart by Brad Mehldau
Your Mother Should Know by Brad Mehldau
When I'm 64 by Fred Hersch

Jan 27, 2023
Operation Podcast: What the CIA's Latest Media Venture Can Teach Us About the Agency
26:26

For decades, the Central Intelligence Agency has cultivated its appeal as an organization shrouded in secrecy, engaged in cutting edge tech and no-holds-barred espionage in defense of the US. It’s an image that sells in Hollywood. The CIA also assisted in the making of some movies about some real life operations. But as the agency ages, it continues to strive to stay up to date. In 2022, when the CIA turned 75, the agency launched operation:podcast. Brooke speaks with David Shamus McCarthy, author of Selling the CIA: Public Relations and the Culture of Secrecy, about the latest venture for the agency and the CIA's long history of public relations initiatives. 

 

Jan 24, 2023
Great Expectations
50:11

1. Paris Marx [@parismarx], the host of the podcast ‘Tech Won’t Save Us,’ and the author of ‘Road to Nowhere: What Silicon Valley Gets Wrong about the Future of Transportation,' on the longstanding debate on electric cars in the US, and whether they really do enough to lower carbon emissions. Listen.

2. Rebecca Leber [@rebleber], a senior reporter covering climate at Vox, on how the controversy surrounding gas stoves is nothing new, and the gas industry's long PR campaign to convince the public that "cooking was gas" is just better. Listen

3. William Broad [@WilliamJBroad], a science journalist and senior writer at The New York Times, on new research published in Nature that suggests that our mad sprint for scientific breakthroughs has slowed significantly, and what this might mean for science. Listen

 

Jan 20, 2023
Salvation Through Technology?
17:53

Human aspirations for technology are vast. One day, maybe we'll develop technologies that cure cancer. Rid us of viruses. Perhaps fix that pesky climate change. Even, deliver us from death altogether.... But is the increasing belief in salvation through technology just religion in new clothes? Meghan O'Gieblyn is the author of the book God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning. In the fall of 2021 Brooke spoke to O'Gieblyn about the shared assumptions of Christian creationists and transhumanist tech leaders, the flawed metaphor of the mind as a computer, and the relationships of humans to the machines we build.

This is a segment from our October 15th, 2021 program, Against the Machine.

Jan 18, 2023
It’s a Machine’s World
50:42

Schools across the country are considering whether to ban the new AI chatbot, ChatGPT. On this week’s On the Media, a look at the ever-present hype around AI and claims that machines can think. Plus, the potential implications of handing over decision-making to computers.

1. Tina Tallon [@ttallon], assistant professor of A.I. and the Arts at the University of Florida, on the love-hate relationship with AI technology over the past 70 years, and Nitasha Tiku [@nitashatiku], tech culture reporter for The Washington Post, on history of the tech itselfListen.

2. Geoffrey Hinton [@geoffreyhinton], a cognitive psychologist and computer scientist, on holograms, memories, and the origins of neural networks. Listen.

3. Matt Devost [@MattDevost], international cybersecurity expert and CEO and co-founder of the global strategic advisory firm OODA llc., on the rise of AI-powered weapons and what it means for the future of warfare. Listen.

Music:
Original music by Tina Tallon
Horizon 12.2 by Thomas Newman
Bubble Wrap by Thomas Newman
Seventy-two Degrees and Sunny by Thomas Newman
Eye Surgery by Thomas Newman
Final Retribution by John Zorn
Lachrymose Fairy by Thomas Newman

Jan 13, 2023
HBO's "The Last of Us" and The Curse of Video Game Adaptations
21:08

This week HBO is set to release its latest show, The Last Of Us, about two strangers, who end up on a perilous journey together through a zombie-infested post-apocalyptic America. The show, starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, is based on a hit video game series of the same name. It should be an easy hit for the network.

Yet, the show's creators have had to contend with what's known as the “video game curse.” Dating back to the 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie, adaptations of video games into film and television have left us with a long list of critical failures. From 2022's Uncharted, to the 2021 Mortal Kombat, and the 2016 Assassin’s Creed movie, which earned a whopping 19% on Rotten Tomatoes. This week, OTM Correspondent Micah Loewinger speaks with New Yorker writer and editor, Alex Barasch, about his latest piece ‘Can a Video Game Be Prestige TV?,’ if HBO's latest venture could finally break the infamous curse, and why studios continue to make productions based on video games.  


Jan 11, 2023
Caution: Fragile!
51:00

The start of a new year is a time to look both forward and back. On this week’s On the Media, hear how facing our climate’s fragility could inspire hope, instead of despair. Plus, a physicist explains how creation stories help us understand our place in the universe.

1. Luke Kemp [@LukaKemp], a Research Associate at Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, on a new study that says we need to put more attention on the possibility of human extinction and other climate catastrophes. Bryan Walsh [@bryanrwalsh], editor of Vox’s ‘Future Perfect,’ also explains why our brains have a hard time processing catastrophes like climate change. Listen.

2. Mark Blyth [@MkBlyth], professor of International Economics and Public Affairs at Brown University, on how the economy is ultimately a mirror of our accomplishments, advances, fears, and mistakes. Listen.

3. Guido Tonelli, a particle physicist at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, on the importance of creation myths, and what scientists can tell us about the fragility of the universe. Listen.

Music in this week's show:
Merkabah - John Zorn
Carmen Fantasy - Anderson & Roe
The Stone - The Chieftains
Suite for Solo Cello No. 6 in D Major (Bach) - Yo Yo Ma
Sentimental Journey - The Sydney Dale Orchestra
Peace Piece (Bill Evans) - Kronos Quartet
Love Theme from Spartacus - Yusef Lateef

Jan 06, 2023
A Taxonomy of TikTok Panics
21:56

At the end of 2022, Congress passed legislation to ban TikTok from all government devices, citing data privacy concerns and potential ties between the app and the Chinese government. But this isn't the first time the incredibly popular social media platform occupied headlines. Ever since TikTok exploded worldwide in 2018, news outlets across the country have breathlessly reported on TikTok challenges, which they claim range from the bizarre (licking toilet seats) to the dangerous ("National School Shooting Day"). However, the actual reach and impact of these challenges remain mysterious — or, more often, minimal. 

On the Media correspondent Micah Loewinger breaks down a short history of these TikTok panics, and looks into the failures of news outlets to judiciously report on overblown TikTok virality, as well as the cyclic paranoia that arises when we face new technology (think: comic books corrupting youth in the 1950s). He poses the question: haven't we been through this already? 

Special thanks to New York City Municipal Archives for providing archival audio related to the effects of radio and comics books on children.

This segment originally aired on our May 13th, 2022 program, Seeing is Believing.

Jan 04, 2023
Bookish
49:58

1. Alexandra Alter [@xanalter], reporter at the New York Times, on how the booming publishing industry is wrestling with supply chain nightmares and more to meet reader demand. Listen.

2. Katy Waldman [@xwaldie], writer at The New Yorker, explains what's at stake in the DOJ v. Penguin Random House case. Listen.

3. Margot Boyer-Dry [@M_BigDeal], freelance culture writer, on why book covers are looking more and more similar, blobs and all. Listen.

4. John B. Thompson, Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, on how Amazon changed the book market for good, and why the appeal of the print book persists. Listen.

Music in this week's show:
Paperback Writer - Quartetto d’Archi Dell'Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano
Guiseppe Verdi
Tymperturbably Blue - Duke Ellington
I Could Write A Book - Miles Davis
Tateh’s Picture Book - Randy Newman
My Baby Loves A Bunch of Authors - Moxy Fruvous

Dec 30, 2022
The Origins of America's White Jesus
18:59

During this holiday season, you likely encountered public nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus, presenting the family with very rare exceptions as white. And the same can be said of his ubiquitous adult portrait –– with fair skin and hair a radiant gold, and eyes fixed on the middle distance. In this segment from 2020, Eloise talks to Mbiyu Chui, pastor at the Shrine of the Black Madonna in Detroit, about unlearning Jesus's whiteness. She also hears from Edward Blum, author of The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America, about how the image came dominate in the U.S., and psychologist Simon Howard on how White Jesus has infiltrated our subconsciouses. Lastly, Eloise speaks to Rev. Kelly Brown Douglaswomanist theologian and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, about the theology of the Black Christ.

This is segment first aired in our October 1st, 2020 program, God Bless.

 

Dec 28, 2022
In Retrospect
50:54

And just like that, 2022 is coming to a close. On this week's On the Media, a look back at our year of coverage, from Russia’s war on Ukraine, to an unprecedented rise in book bannings at home. Tune in to hear about the fights, fictions, and things we’re still figuring out.

With excerpts from:

  1. Is Talk of a Possible 'New' Civil War Useful?
  2. The Perils of a Gauzy History
  3. How Meduza is Adapting to Russia's Crackdown on Speech
  4. When the World Starts to Look Away
  5. Joe Rogan's Podcast isn't Just 'Entertainment'
  6. Musk And The International Reach of Twitter
  7. How Anti-LGBTQ Rhetoric Foreshadowed a Deadly Shooting
  8. Republicans' Latest Go-To Dog Whistle
  9. How to Interview a 'Big Lie' Believer
  10. In Georgia, a Conservative Elections Official Stands Up to the Big Lie
  11. How Books Get Removed from Classrooms and Libraries
  12. Parents vs. Democracy
  13. Libraries Under Attack
  14. The Big Sigh: An Assessment of Our Economic Future
  15. This Much Death is Not 'Normal'
  16. The State of Our Immunity
  17. Should the Country See What an Assault Rifle Does to the Body of a Child?
  18. How Racism Ended a Renaissance of Weight
  19. Donald Trump, Ye, and The New Old Anti-Semitism

Music:

What's That Sound by Michael Andrews
Lost, Night by Bill Frisell 
Fallen Leaves by Marcos Ciscar
Eye Surgery by Thomas Newman
German Lullaby by The Kiboomers
Gormenghast by John Zorn
Berotim by John Zorn featuring Bill Frisell, Carol Emanuel, and Kenny Wollesen

Cellar Door by Michael Andrews
Liquid Spear Waltz by Michael Andrews
Harpsichord by Four Tet


 

Dec 24, 2022
The Divided Dial - BONUS EPISODE!
16:25

We covered a lot of ground in the series, so in this bonus episode we wanted to give space to some of the voices we couldn’t fit into the story; a concerned citizen who tried to take the issue of combatting on-air conspiracy theories into her own hands, a journalist who went into the belly of the beast, a former talk radio host and some of the people on the receiving end of the right wing broadcasts...the listeners.

 

Dec 21, 2022
The Good Ol' Days
50:53

This year, right-wing groups at home and abroad were animated by wistful recollections of the past. On this week's On the Media, hear how nostalgia is weaponized in politics. Plus, a deep dive into newspaper archives reveals that we’ve been having the same debates for over a century.

1. Sophia Gaston [@sophgaston], social researcher and the Head of Foreign Policy & UK Resilience at UK think tank Policy Exchange, on the use of nostalgia as a cultural and political force in Europe. Listen.

2. Adam Serwer [@AdamSerwer], staff writer at The Atlantic, and the author of “The Cruelty Is the Point," on weaponized nostalgia in American discourse. Listen.

3. OTM correspondent Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] speaks with political scientist Paul Fairie [@paulisci] about at some of the big media narratives that felt representative of 2022 and how little has changed in our political discourseListen.

 

Music: 

Berceuse in D Flat Major by Ivan Moravec

 

Dec 16, 2022
The Divided Dial: Episode 5 - There's Something About Radio
49:34

Highly politicized, partisan companies like Salem have a hold on the airwaves — and they don’t plan to give it up. Senior Vice President of Salem, Phil Boyce speaks candidly to Katie about the personalities he handpicked to spread Salem’s message and about the company’s plans to expand into the media world off the airwaves. And in this final episode of the series we ask the perennial question: peddling election denialism seems to be a solid business model — but is it legal? 

 

The Divided Dial is hosted by journalist and Fulbright Fellow Katie Thornton. Her written articles and audio stories have appeared in The Atlantic, 99% Invisible, The Washington Post, BBC, NPR, WNYC, Minnesota Public Radio, The Guardian, Bloomberg’s CityLab, National Geographic, and others. She is a lifelong radio nerd who got her start in media as a teenager, volunteering and working behind the scenes at radio stations for many years. You can follow her work on Instagram or on her website.
The Divided Dial was edited by On the Media's executive producer, Katya Rogers. With production support from Max Balton and fact-checking by Tom Colligan, Sona Avakian, and Graham Hacia. Music and sound design by Jared Paul. Jennifer Munson is our technical director. Art by Michael Brennan
With support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.
Dec 15, 2022
Still Watching?
50:48

A 2020 story about Hunter Biden's hacked laptop keeps finding its way back into the news cycle. On this week's On the Media, a look at Elon Musk's so-called Twitter Files and whether they’re newsworthy. Plus, the meteoric rise and fraught future of HBO, which turned 50 this year.

1. Blake Montgomery [@blakersdozen], tech news editor at Gizmodo, and Olivia Nuzzi [@Olivianuzzi], Washington correspondent for New York Magazine, on the Twitter Files and their relationship to the story of Hunter Biden's laptop. Listen.

2. Christopher Grimes [@grimes_ce], correspondent for the Financial Times, on Disney's foray into the culture wars and its ongoing battle with the governor of Florida. Listen.

3. John Koblin [@koblin], co-author of It's Not TV: The Spectacular Rise, Revolution, and Future of HBO, on the history and lasting impact of HBO. Listen.

Dec 09, 2022
The Divided Dial: Episode 4 - From The Extreme to The Mainstream
36:33
In the 1970s, talk radio was hitting its stride, with hosts and listeners from all political persuasions. But the radio dial was about to change forever. Community needs assessments, requirements to offer public service programs and multiple perspectives, and limits on how many stations a single company could own were all eradicated. Technological and legal changes would consolidate the radio industry exponentially, allowing conservative talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh to take over the airwaves. In this episode, we look at radio’s last four decades to understand how we got to where we are today, and how conservative talk radio came to dominate a medium that once thrived on varied viewpoints.

 

The Divided Dial is hosted by journalist and Fulbright Fellow Katie Thornton. Her written articles and audio stories have appeared in The Atlantic, 99% Invisible, The Washington Post, BBC, NPR, WNYC, Minnesota Public Radio, The Guardian, Bloomberg’s CityLab, National Geographic, and others. She is a lifelong radio nerd who got her start in media as a teenager, volunteering and working behind the scenes at radio stations for many years. You can follow her work on Instagram or on her website.
The Divided Dial was edited by On the Media's executive producer, Katya Rogers. With production support from Max Balton and fact-checking by Tom Colligan, Sona Avakian, and Graham Hacia. Music and sound design by Jared Paul. Jennifer Munson is our technical director. Art by Michael Brennan
With support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.
Dec 06, 2022
The Oldest Trick
50:35

An ancient scapegoat for society’s woes is back in the news. On this week’s On the Media, a deeper look at the confusing landscape of modern anti-semitism. Plus, a conversation with some of the dogged reporters who spent years uncovering the truth behind the 2014 Malaysia Airlines crash in Ukraine.

1. Leo Ferguson [@LeoFergusonnyc], the Director of Strategic Projects for the Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, on the rise of modern anti-Semitism. Listen.

2. Aric Toler [@AricToler], Director of Research and Training at Bellingcat, an investigative news outlet, and Roman Dobrokhotov [@Dobrokhotov], the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Insider, a Russian investigative online news outlet, on what it took to uncover the truth behind the 2014 Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine. Listen.

3. Christo Grozev [@christogrozev], the lead Russia investigator with Bellingcatabout how he uncovered the real identity of a Russian "sleeper" agent who went by the name Maria Adela. Listen.

Dec 02, 2022
Brooke and Brian Lehrer Interview Each Other
24:29

This week, we’re sharing a chat Brooke had with her longtime colleague Brian Lehrer for Interview Magazine. Brian hosts his inimitably thoughtful daily talk show for WNYC, where he rallies a community of callers and experts to talk about the issues they care about most. But you may not know that Brian was once the first ever host of this very show. In this conversation, Brooke and Brian discuss how they made their ways into public radio, parasocial relationships, and the difference between accuracy and objectivity. This conversation appears in full on Interview Magazine's website, with the headline "Brian Lehrer Points the Mic at Brooke Gladstone."

Dec 01, 2022
The Divided Dial: Episode 3 - The Liberal Bias Boogeyman
32:39
How did the right get their vice grip of the airwaves, all the while arguing that they were being silenced and censored by a liberal media? In this episode we look at the early history of American radio to reveal that censorship of far-right and progressive voices alike was once common on radio. And we learn how, in the post-war and Civil Rights period, the US government encouraged more diverse viewpoints on the airwaves — until it didn’t.
The Divided Dial is hosted by journalist and Fulbright Fellow Katie Thornton. Her written articles and audio stories have appeared in The Atlantic, 99% Invisible, The Washington Post, BBC, NPR, WNYC, Minnesota Public Radio, The Guardian, Bloomberg’s CityLab, National Geographic, and others. She is a lifelong radio nerd who got her start in media as a teenager, volunteering and working behind the scenes at radio stations for many years. You can follow her work on Instagram or on her website.
The Divided Dial was edited by On the Media's executive producer, Katya Rogers. With production support from Max Balton and fact-checking by Tom Colligan, Sona Avakian, and Graham Hacia. Music and sound design by Jared Paul. Jennifer Munson is our technical director. Art by Michael BrennanSpecial thanks this episode to Tianyi Wang.
With support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.
Nov 29, 2022
Bark and Bite
50:38

Conspiracy theories and disinformation have found a home on right-wing talk radio, where falsehoods often escape scrutiny from regulators and fact-checkers. On this week’s On the Media, hear how one Christian radio network grew a gargantuan audience and served up the Big Lie. Plus, a look at how the rise in LGBTQ hate online is connected to the deadly shooting in Colorado.

1. Jo Yurcaba [@JoYurcaba], a journalist focused on LGBTQ+ issues for NBC News, on how anti-trans rhetoric contributed to increasing fears in the queer community in the days leading up to the shooting in Colorado Springs. Plus, Sophie Bjork-James [@sbjorkjames], Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University, on the impact of religious fundamentalism in supporting ant-LGBTQ+ talking points. Listen.

2. Journalist Katie Thornton, host of "The Divided Dial," on the how right-wing talk radio embraced election lies. Part 1 & Part 2.

Nov 25, 2022
11/22/63
11:29

In television's younger days, going live was extremely difficult, costly and rare. But in November of 1963 a monumental tragedy made live coverage essential, no matter the cost, whenever a president left the White House. WNYC’s Sara Fishko recollects those dreadful days in November when everyone was paralyzed in front of the small screen.  

Nov 23, 2022
The Divided Dial: Episode 2 - From Pulpit to Politics
33:27

Episode 2: From Pulpit to Politics

How did the little-known Salem Media Group come to have an outsized political influence? In this episode we trace the company’s rise to power from its scrappy start in the 1970s to the present day — a growth that paralleled and eventually became inextricable from the growth of the Religious Right. We learn that Salem is tightly networked with right wing political strategists, pollsters, big donors, far right leaders and Republican party mainstays thanks to their involvement with the Council for National Policy — a secretive group of Evangelical and conservative leaders. For decades, the CNP has been working behind the scenes to get a specific, highly influential subset of voters to act. And Salem has been a megaphone for their cause.

The Divided Dial is hosted by journalist and Fulbright Fellow Katie Thornton. Her written articles and audio stories have appeared in The Atlantic, 99% Invisible, The Washington Post, BBC, NPR, WNYC, Minnesota Public Radio, The Guardian, Bloomberg’s CityLab, National Geographic, and others. She is a lifelong radio nerd who got her start in media as a teenager, volunteering and working behind the scenes at radio stations for many years. You can follow her work on Instagram or on her website.
The Divided Dial was edited by On the Media's executive producer, Katya Rogers. With production support from Max Balton and fact-checking by Tom Colligan, Sona Avakian, and Graham Hacia. Music and sound design by Jared Paul. Jennifer Munson is our technical director. Art by Michael Brennan.
With support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.
Nov 22, 2022
Flipping The Bird
50:18

Since Elon Musk took over Twitter, there has been nothing short of crisis — leading to massive layoffs and lost advertisers. On this week’s On the Media, what this chaos means for activists worldwide who used the platform as a public square. Plus, how political predictions distort coverage of elections. 

1. James Fallows [@JamesFallows], writer of the “Breaking the News” newsletter on Substack, on the political press' obsession with telling the future and the narratives that have a chokehold on elections coverage. Listen.

2. Zoë Schiffer [@ZoeSchiffer], Managing Editor of Platformer, on the mass exodus of employees from one of the world's most significant social media sites. Listen.

3. Avi Asher-Schapiro [@AASchapiro], tech reporter for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, on the impact of Musk's leadership on Twitter users around the world. Listen.

4. Clive Thompson [@pomeranian99], journalist and author of Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World, on the website many are fleeing to amid chaos at Twitter. Listen.

Nov 18, 2022
Mastodon: The Platform Taking Twitter's Worn and Weary
25:39

In the wake of the five alarm fire at Twitter, a small, quiet social media alternative has been quietly attracting the tweeting weary. Mastodon, named for the prehistoric elephant relatives, was originally created by a German programmer named Eugen Rochko in 2016. And even though it shares similarities to its blue bird peer, the two platforms possess many differences. For one, Mastodon is organized by groups called "servers" or "instances," there's no universal experience like on Twitter. It's also completely decentralized — each server is run by individuals or small groups — with no overseeing company. But is it here to stay? This week, Brooke sits down with Clive Thompson, a tech journalist and author of the book Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the Worldto talk about why people like Mastodon, who it's for, and why we should watch its latest evolution.

You can find Clive Thompson on Mastodon at @clive@saturation.social and OTM by searching @onthemedia@journa.host.

Nov 16, 2022
The Divided Dial: Episode 1 - The True Believers
29:31

Episode 1: The True Believers

In 2016, Christian talk radio host Eric Metaxas begrudgingly encouraged his listeners to vote for then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. By 2020, he pledged his life to fighting the “stolen election” while talking with Trump on the air. Ahead of the midterm elections, Metaxas and many of his fellow talk radio hosts made sure the falsehood of massive 2020 election fraud was top of mind — on the airwaves and beyond. And while election-denying candidates didn't do as well as many on the right had hoped, at least 170 such candidates have been elected to state and national offices, some of whom will be in charge of future elections. We meet the company whose hosts never backed down from the lies of the stolen 2020 election: Salem Media Group, the largest Christian, conservative multimedia company in the country – and perhaps the most influential media company you’ve never heard of.

The Divided Dial is hosted by journalist and Fulbright Fellow Katie Thornton. Her written articles and audio stories have appeared in The Atlantic, 99% Invisible, The Washington Post, BBC, NPR, WNYC, Minnesota Public Radio, The Guardian, Bloomberg’s CityLab, National Geographic, and others. She is a lifelong radio nerd who got her start in media as a teenager, volunteering and working behind the scenes at radio stations for many years. You can follow her work on Instagram or on her website.
The Divided Dial was edited by On the Media's executive producer, Katya Rogers. With production support from Max Balton and fact-checking by Tom Colligan, Sona Avakian, and Graham Hacia. Music and sound design by Jared Paul. Jennifer Munson is our technical director. Art by Michael Brennan.
With support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.
Nov 15, 2022
Infinite Scroll
50:14

Across the county, librarians are fighting to keep libraries open and books on the shelves. On this week’s show, hear what the American Library Association is doing to stand up to unprecedented challenges, and what a suit against the Internet Archive could mean for the future of e-books. Plus, how the legend of the ancient Library of Alexandria continues to inspire utopian projects today.

1. Emily Drabinski [@edrabinski], incoming President of the American Library Association, on the greatest threats to libraries today, and how to fight them. Listen.

2. Nitish Pahwa [@pahwa_nitish], web editor at Slate, on how a lawsuit against the Internet Archive could affect how libraries lend out e-books for good. Listen.

2. Molly Schwartz [@mollyfication], OTM producer, takes us inside the quest for a "universal library," from the Library of Alexandria to today. Listen.

 

Nov 11, 2022
Re-Sorting the Shelves: A Look at Bias In the Dewey Decimal System
20:14

Jess deCourcy Hinds is the solo librarian at the Bard High School, Early College library in Queens, New York. In 2010, she received a new order of books about the civil rights movement, but Hinds noticed something strange: all of the books had Dewey Decimal numbers in the 300s, meaning they were supposed to be shelved in the social sciences section. She thought that some of the books belonged in the 900s, the history section. Like books on President Obama. Because texts about the 44th President were classified as social science, he would be separated from all the other books about U.S. presidents in her library. It seemed like part of a trend. "When it came to the LGBTQ books, and the women's history books, and books on immigrant history, all of those were in the 300s as well," says Hinds. So she and her students decided to rebel, to put books about President Obama into the history section: "we just started moving them."

The Dewey Decimal Classification System is a method that dates back to 1876 and is used by most libraries around the world. The second most popular system, the Library of Congress Classification System, was published in the early 1900s and based on the organization of Thomas Jefferson's personal library. These systems help patrons find books on the shelves and facilitate resource-sharing between libraries. But they also encode bias into the structure of libraries. To understand what that means for our current collections, On the Media producer Molly Schwartz spoke with Wayne A. Wiegand, a library historian and author of Irrepressible Reformer: A Biography of Melvil Dewey, Caroline Saccucci, former Dewey Program Manager at the Library of Congress, Emily Drabinski interim chief librarian of the Mina Rees Library at CUNY, and Dartmouth librarian Jill Baron from the documentary Change the Subject 

This segment originally aired in our September 3, 2021 program, Organizing Chaos. 

Nov 09, 2022
Free and Fair
56:01

As the midterms approach, conspiracy theories about election fraud are shaping some races. On this week’s On the Media, a deep dive into the impact of the Big Lie on local elections, and the people who run them. Plus, how misinformation about the attack on Paul Pelosi spread like wildfire.

1. Angelo Carusone [@GoAngelo], President and CEO of Media Matters, on how conspiracy theories around the attack on Paul Pelosi spread all the way up to Fox News. Listen.

2. OTM Correspondent Micah Loewinger[@MicahLoewinger] traveled to Georgia to speak to activists who are challenging peoples' right to vote, those who've been challenged, and election workers caught in the crosshairs of conspiracy theories about election fraud in Georgia. Listen.

3. OTM correspondent Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] traveled to Georgia to talk with Anne Dover, a Republican in charge of elections in one of Atlanta's most conservative areas, about how her role has changed since the rise of the Big Lie, and what she's doing to stand up to it. Listen

Nov 04, 2022
Inside the Sunken Place: A Conversation with Betty Gabriel
10:12

When Jordan Peele’s horror film Get Out hit theaters in 2017, it became an unexpected blockbuster and cultural phenomenon. The movie follows a black man named Chris, played by Daniel Kaluuya, who goes to visit his white girlfriend’s family in the country. Shortly after arriving, Chris starts to notice that something seems off and the other black people he encounters act... strangely. Slowly it’s revealed that Chris’ girlfriend, Rose Armitage, played by Allison Williams, and her family are a part of a cult that hijacks black people’s bodies and transplants the brains of their white members inside them. Their victims are still conscious but trapped in "The Sunken Place,” alive but unable to change their fate. 

Betty Gabriel played Georgina the maid, whose body is possessed by the white matriarch of the Armitage family. Gabriel, in a sense, played two characters at once. This Halloween, OTM producer Rebecca Clark-Callender did a deep dive on the history of Black horror movies, and sat down with Gabriel to ask about how she prepared to play a woman possessed. For this midweek podcast we’re bringing you an extended cut of their conversation. 

Nov 02, 2022
Fear Itself
50:02

With early midterm voting underway, Fox News has been increasing crime coverage to drive voters to the polls. On this week’s On the Media, a look at the ways fear impacts our minds and bodies, both on and off screen. Plus, how filmmakers like Jordan Peele have inspired a renaissance of the Black Horror genre.

1. Philip Bump [@pbump], national correspondent at The Washington Post, on what Fox News' focus on crime can tell us about the Republican party's midterm strategy. Listen.

2. Nina Nesseth [@cestmabiologie], science writer and author of "Nightmare Fuel: The Science of Horror Films," on the neuroscience behind horror films. Listen.

3. OTM producer Rebecca Clark-Callender [@Rebecca_CC_] takes a deep dive into the history of Black horror to see what it is and who it is for, featuring: Robin R. Means Coleman, Ida B. Wells and Ferdinand Barnett Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University and author of Horror Noire: A History of Black American Horror from the 1890s to Present; Tananarive Due, an author, screenwriter, and lecturer on Afrofuturism and Black Horror at University of California, Los Angeles; Rusty Cundieff, writer and director of Tales from the Hood (1995); and Betty Gabriel, actor widely known for her acclaimed performance as "Georgina" in Jordan Peele's blockbuster Get Out (2017). Listen

Oct 28, 2022
The Digital Divide
12:07

An investigation by nonprofit newsroom The Markup found that four internet providers disproportionately offered lower-income and least-White neighborhoods slow internet service for the same price as speedy connections they offered in other areas. According to Leon Yin, Investigative Data Journalist at The Markup, homes in historically redlined areas were offered internet speeds so slow, the FCC doesn’t consider it to be broadband. This week, guest host Micah Loewinger asks Yin how he trawled through more than 800,000 internet service offers with his team to arrive at his findings, and what's at stake. (Responses from the internet providers that Yin surveyed can be found in The Markup article, here.)

Oct 27, 2022
The F Word (Rebroadcast)
49:59

Early in the pandemic, weight was named a risk factor for severe covid-19. But what if the greater risk is poor medical treatment for fat people? This week, On the Media dives into the fictions, feelings, and fraught history of fat. Including how sugar and the slave trade laid the groundwork for American beauty standards. 

1. Dr. Yoni Freedhoff [@YoniFreedhoff], Associate Professor of Family Medicine at University of Ottawa, on what we do and don't know about the relation of weight and the severity of a Covid infection. Listen.

2. Katherine Flegal [@CeriseFlegal], epidemiologist and former senior scientist at the Centers For Disease Control, on our flawed understanding of the data around weight and death, and Katie Lebesco [@KatieLeBesco], researcher focusing on food, pop culture, and fat activism, on why the "obesity epidemic" is a moral panic hiding behind a thin veil of scientific language. Listen.

3. Sabrina Strings [@SaStrings], sociologist at the University of California, Irvine, on how European attitudes about fat dramatically changed in the 18th century. and set the standards Americans still see today. Listen.

Music in this Week's Show:
Slim Jenkins Place - Booker T and the MGs
Eye Surgery- Thomas Newman
String Quartet No. 5 (Phillip Glass) - Kronos Quartet
Disfarmer - Bill Frisell
Lost, Night - Bill Frisell
In the Bath - Randy Newman
The De Lessup’s Dance - Gavin Wright
Breakaway - Regina Carter

Oct 21, 2022
SPECIAL OFFER! ONLY 50 LEFT!!!
12:01

What counts as media? For us, its any medium through which we express ourselves — whether from one to one, from one to many, or just from one... to one’s own self. 

We can do it with our style. Our hair. Even our glasses. They're choices that express not just our aesthetics, but our politics, too. 

It was the idea of Poppy King, lipstick designer extraordinaire, whose Frog Prince lipstick was listed by Elle Australia as one of the most iconic lipstick shades of all time. King's a devoted listener, so, in collaboration with the show, she designed a special lipstick. It's called Well Red and she offered a batch of them to us as a donation so that we can pass them on to you.

We are offering these very special lipsticks to you for a donation of $12 a month or $144 for a year's worth of support for this show. 

Go to onthemedia.org/donate or text lipstick to 70101.

Thank you so much!

PS here's a video we made of all of us trying it on

 

 

 

Oct 19, 2022
At What Cost?
50:22

A jury recently ordered Alex Jones to pay nearly one billion dollars to the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. On this week’s On the Media, a former Alex Jones staffer struggles with the damage his participation wrought. Plus, does social media really turn nice people into trolls?

1. Elizabeth Williamson [@NYTLiz], features writer for The New York Times, on the Sandy Hook defamation trials against Alex Jones and what the trials taught us about the spread of misinformation. Listen.

2. Josh Owens [@JoshuaHOwens ], a former InfoWars employee, on what can be done to help people who have become consumed by conspiracy theories. Listen.

3. Michael Bang Petersen [@M_B_Petersen], political science professor at Aarhus University, on the difference (or lack thereof) between on and offline behaviors, and how social media might not be affecting us in the ways we think. Listen.

Music:

The Artifact and Living by Michael Andrews
Cellar Door by Michael Andrews
Boy Moves the Sun by Michael Andrews
Exit Music (For A Film) by Brad Mehldau Trio
Eye Surgery by Thomas Newman
Hammer of Los by John Zorn

 

Oct 14, 2022
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee
21:51

Monday was Indigenous People’s Day, renamed from Columbus day to honor the lives and history lost to centuries of colonization. Often the stories shared about the first people here are those of loss, like the Trail of Tears and the Massacre at Wounded Knee. This week, David Treuer, an Ojibwe professor of literature at the University of Southern California, offers a counter-narrative to this tragic account in his book, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America From 1890 to the Present. 

Oct 12, 2022
So Sue Me
50:17

This week, two cases headed to the Supreme Court that could change the internet as we know it. On this week’s On the Media, a look at the legal gray areas of how news gets shared online. Plus, how one reporter’s prolific coverage of Trump earned her friends and enemies alike. 

1. Daphne Keller [@daphnek], director of the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford University's Cyber Policy Center, on how two new Supreme Court cases may reshape social media as we know it. Listen.

2. Lachlan Cartwright [@LachCartwright], editor at large at the Daily Beast, on the recent lawsuits plaguing Fox News, and how they reveal glimpses of a future news empire. Listen.

3. Maggie Haberman [@maggieNYT], senior political correspondent for the New York Times, on her extensive reporting on Donald Trump, and why it has inspired strong reactions in journalistic circles. Listen.

3. Dave Enrich [@davidenrich], the business investigations editor at The New York Times, on how Big Law attorneys can still fly under the media's radar. Listen.

Music:

Fallen Leaves by Marcos Ciscar
Night Thoughts by John Zorn
Solace by The Sting
Main Title by Randy Newman
Bubble Wrap by Thomas Newman
Newsreel by Randy Newman
Accentuate the Positive by Syd Dale Orchestra

Oct 07, 2022
Still Loading...
50:19

Are the women-led protests in Iran powerful enough to force change when past attempts have failed? On this week’s On the Media, a look at the moments that ignite movements, both online and in the streets. Plus, how silly videos built one of the largest media companies in the world, and the story of how one Twitch streamer successfully took down an army of harassers. 

1. Fatemeh Shams [@ShazzShams], poet and professor of Persian literature at the University of Pennsylvania, on how the recent wave of protests in Iran differs from previous movements. Listen.

2. Ben Collins [@oneunderscore__], senior reporter for NBC, on how a famous Twitch streamer got an online forum taken down. Listen.

3. Mark Bergen [@mhbergen], journalist and author of Like, Comment, Subscribe: Inside YouTube’s Chaotic Rise to World Domination, on how YouTube transformed from a dating site to an essential part of society. Listen.

 

Sep 30, 2022
In John Waters' Home (But Not In His Colon)
32:52

John Waters is the writer and director of such cult classics like Pink Flamingos, Serial Mom, and his biggest mainstream success, Hairspray. He’s been making movies since the 1960s and this year he released his debut novel, Liarmouth: A Feel Bad Romance.

The novel is an incredibly dirty romp filled with the kind of taboo storytelling that John Waters revels in. In his work, he shines a light on the worst of us but rarely to ridicule, more as a reminder of how gloriously sinful we can be, as we discussed when I spoke with him in his Manhattan home. His interest in the carnal, though, has its limits. “When I got a colonoscopy, they said, do you wanna watch? No!” he told us. “Why do I wanna go on a fantastic voyage up my a–hole?” 

We also talked about money management, aging, and his secret to maintaining his many long friendships. “I do stay in touch and if anything bad happens to you, I call. If you get a bad review, I call. If you go to jail, I definitely am your first visit,” he laughed. “I never don't come visit you if you're in jail.” 

Sep 28, 2022
Case Closed?
50:05

Adnan Syed, the subject of the hit podcast Serial, left prison this week after serving two decades for a murder conviction. On this week’s On the Media, Brooke speaks to the friend whose call to the podcast producers started the chain of events that ended this week with Syed's release. Plus, how Ron DeSantis’ decision to fly migrants to Martha’s Vineyard was a made-for-Fox News event.

1. Philip Bump [@pbump], national correspondent The Washington Post, on the manipulative plan for 48 Venuzulean migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard. Listen.

2. Rabia Chaudry [@rabiasquared], attorney and friend of Adnan Syed, on Syed's recent release and what was left out of his story on Serial. Listen.

Sep 23, 2022
No. The Medieval Times Were Not All Game of Thrones
14:32

Today, when we encounter the medieval world it’s mostly a dark time. Un-enlightened by reason, but also literally gloomy – all bare stone and grey skies. We know it as a brutal time, dominated by white men with steeds and swords, or drenched in blood by marauding Vikings. But in their new book, The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe, historians Matthew Gabriele and David M. Perry trace the harm of the myths of the “Dark Ages,” and illuminate the medieval stories that have mostly escaped our modern gaze. 

This is a segment from our January 14th, 2022 program A Question of War.

Sep 21, 2022
The Fine Print
50:06

The federal court is hearing a case that could change the publishing industry as we know it. On this week’s show, hear what readers will lose if conglomerates further monopolize the market. Plus, print sales far exceed expectations — it turns out readers do not want to curl up with a good ebook. 

1. Alexandra Alter [@xanalter], reporter at the New York Times, on how the booming publishing industry is wrestling with supply chain nightmares and more to meet reader demand. Listen.

2. Katy Waldman [@xwaldie], writer at The New Yorker, explains what's at stake in the DOJ v. Penguin Random House case. Listen.

3. Margot Boyer-Dry [@M_BigDeal], freelance culture writer, on why book covers are looking more and more similar, blobs and all. Listen.

4. John B. Thompson, Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, on how Amazon changed the book market for good, and why the appeal of the print book persists. Listen.

Music in this week's show:
Paperback Writer - Quartetto d’Archi Dell'Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano
Guiseppe Verdi
Tymperturbably Blue - Duke Ellington
I Could Write A Book - Miles Davis
Tateh’s Picture Book - Randy Newman
My Baby Loves A Bunch of Authors - Moxy Fruvous

Sep 16, 2022
How a Russian Sleeper Agent Charmed Her Way Onto NATO's Social Scene
35:09

This week, Brooke talks to Christo Grozev, lead Russia investigator with Bellingcat, about how he uncovered the real identity of a Russian "sleeper" agent who went by the name Maria AdelaGrozev tells Brooke about how rarely these kinds of spies are discovered, what made "Maria Adela" an unlikely spy and what kind of information she could have gathered on NATO.

Sep 14, 2022
Lock Him Up?
50:25

As the government continues its investigation into classified documents found at former President Donald Trump’s home, a tough question has emerged. On this week’s On the Media, hear how democracies around the world have grappled with whether to prosecute a former leader. Plus, why new leadership at CNN is reigniting the debate over the place of objectivity in journalism.

1. James D. Long [@prof_jameslong], associate professor of political science at the University of Washington, on the consequences of modern democracies across the globe prosecuting — or choosing not to prosecute — their former leaders. Listen

2. Rachel Donadio [@RachelDonadio], a journalist and contributing writer for The Atlantic, discusses what we can learn from Italy’s experience with trying Silvio Berlusconi for crimes relating to his business and personal life. Listen

3. Yael Freidson [@YaelFreidson], the Legal and Jerusalem affairs correspondent for Haaretz, on Israel's struggle around prosecuting a sitting prime minister. Listen.

4. Rick Perlstein [@rickperlstein], a journalist and author of The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, explains the continuing impact of Gerald Ford's decision to pardon Richard Nixon for his crimes. Listen.

5. Jon Allsop [@Jon_Allsop], a freelance journalist and author of a daily newsletter for Columbia Journalism Review titled, The Media Today, on CNN's new leadership and the long-reigning debate over impartiality in political journalism. Listen.

 

Sep 09, 2022
"Library With A Turret On Top"
16:00

This week saw the conclusion of the campaign to shut down one of the internet’s most toxic forums, Kiwi Farms.

Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti aka “Keffals” led the charge against the site after she was targeted by anonymous users of Kiwi Farms for being a trans woman and speaking out against anti-LGBTQ laws. Stalkers repeatedly doxxed her and her family members, and left them threatening voicemail messages.

Harassment campaigns against trans people, journalists, influencers, activists, sex workers, all sorts of people, effectively became the site’s raison d'etre after it was founded in 2013. OTM correspondent Micah Loewinger spoke to NBC's Ben Collins about the life and death of Kiwi Farms.




 

Sep 07, 2022
Ukraine's Fight
49:55

Six months into Russia’s invasion, Ukrainians are still fighting back on all fronts. On this week’s show, hear how Ukraine’s newest struggle is for our attention, and how Big Tech is letting Russian propaganda spread. Plus, the story of a Ukrainian gaming influencer who turned to video games and his internet community to survive the conflict.

1. Olga Tokariuk [@olgatokariuk], Ukrainian journalist, describes watching international attention on the war wane in real time, and its consequences. Listen.

2. Andrey Boborykin [@mediaborscht], Executive Director of Ukrainska Pravda, one of Ukraine's biggest independent outlets, speaks with Brooke about how big tech companies continue to platform Russian propaganda. Listen.

3. Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger], OTM correspondent, on the Ukrainian Twitch streamer who used his virtual military skills and online community to get his family to safety when the invasion began (Part One). Listen

4. Micah Loewinger revisits his reporting on Bobi, the Twitch streamer who escaped war in Ukraine, to learn what has happened since (Part Two). Listen

Sep 02, 2022
Big Tech vs. Ukraine's Local Media
14:23

For most of the 20th century, during which time it was the control of a Moscow-based government for nearly 70 years, Ukraine didn't have an independent press. Over the past two decades, an ecosystem of independent press has grown in Ukraine. This Ukrainian press corps has been tirelessly covered the Russia's invasion of Ukraine over the past six months. But even as their audiences grow, funding from advertising for their reporting has dried up as Ukraine's economy struggles. Ukrainian media have also been subject content bans on Facebook for "glorifying violence" as they report on the war. Andrey Boborykin, Executive Director of Ukrainska Pravda, one of Ukraine's biggest independent outlets, speaks with Brooke about the ongoing information war between Ukraine and Russia, how big tech companies continue to platform Russian propaganda, and what local Ukrainian media outlets are doing to keep their doors open. 

Aug 31, 2022
Russia's War
49:58

Six months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Putin has rallied the Russian population around the brutal conflict. On this week’s On the Media, hear how the Kremlin’s crackdown on the press paved the way for war. Plus, a look inside the world of Russian propaganda, and how it influences people.

1. OTM Producer Molly Schwartz [@mollyfication] speaks with Alec Luhn [@ASLuhn] and Veronika Silchenko [@NikaSilchenko], freelance journalists for Vice, on reporting in Russia under repressive new laws. And Kirill Martynov [@kmartynov], Editor-in-Chief of Novaya Gazeta Europe, and Katerina Kotrikadze [@katyakotrikadze], news director and anchor at TV Rain, and Roman Dobrokhotov [@Dobrokhotov], Editor-in-Chief of The Insider, on working as Russian journalists-in-exile. Listen.

2. Thomas Rid [@RidT], author of the book Active Measures, on the the long ancestry of modern-day Russian info ops, and Francis Scarr [@francis_scarr], senior digital journalist at BBC Monitoring, on the false narratives that Russian state TV broadcasts about the war in Ukraine. Listen

3. Anastasiia Carrier [@carrierana22], freelance journalist, on growing up with Russian propaganda and unlearning the Kremlin's lies. Listen.

Music:

String Quartet No. 3 by Henryk Gorecki
Exurgency by Zoe Keating
We Insist by Zoe Keating
The Artifact & Living by Michael Andrews
I Got a Right to Sing the Blues by Billy Kyle
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy by Pyotr Tchaikovsky
The Hammer of Los - John Zorn
Khovanshchina Overture (remix) 
Blackbird by Brad Mehldau

 

Aug 26, 2022
Softening Expectations
32:46

This week OTM shares the third and final episode of Hard, a series about Viagra from our colleagues at Death, Sex & Money. In this episode we hear from Viagra users past and present whose ideas about sex have shifted—from being a goal-oriented pursuit to one that is much more about pleasure and acceptance. 

You can hear more from Death, Sex & Money here.

Aug 24, 2022
We Are Family
50:13

When you hear the word “Neanderthal,” you probably picture a mindless, clumsy brute. It’s often used as an insult — even by our president, who last year called anti-maskers “Neanderthals.” But what if we have more in common with our ancestral cousins than we think? On this week’s On the Media, hear how these early humans have been unfairly maligned in science and in popular culture.

1. John Hawks [@johnhawks], professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, on our biological family tree—and the complicated branch that is Neanderthals. Listen.

2. Rebecca Wragg Sykes [@LeMoustier], archeologist and author of Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art, on and what we know about how they lived. Listen

3. Clive Finlayson [@CliveFinlayson], Director, Chief Scientist, and Curator of the Gibraltar National Museum, on how studying what’s inside Gorham and Vanguard caves can help reconstruct Neanderthal life beyond them. Listen

4. Angela Saini, science journalist, on how Neanderthals have been co-opted to push mythologies about the genetic basis of race. Listen.

Music:

Boy Moves the Sun by Michael Andrews
Young Heart by Brad Mehldau

Sacred Oracle by John Zorn
Tomorrow Never Knows by Quartetto d’ Archi Di Dell’Orchestra di Milano Guiseppe Verdi
Investigations by Kevin MacLeod

Aug 19, 2022
Little Pill, Big Pharma
31:14

This week OTM shares the second episode of the three-part series, Hard, produced by our WNYC colleagues at Death, Sex & Money. In this installment, the team dives into the scientific advancements that led to Viagra's FDA approval in 1998. From an unforgettable conference presentation...to an overnight drug study, where an unexpected side effect kept popping up. Also the intentionality around the early marketing of Viagra—when former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole encouraged men to summon the bravery to talk to their doctors—and how that message has shifted over the years. 

You can hear more from Death, Sex & Money here

Aug 17, 2022
Reading the Room
50:02

An old threat has returned to classrooms across the country — and it’s made of pages and ink. On this week’s On the Media, hear what it means to ban a book, and who has the right to choose what kids learn. Plus, meet the student who took his school board all the way to the Supreme Court in the 80s. 

1. Kelly Jensen, editor for Book Riot who writes a weekly update on “book censorship news,” on what it means to ban a book. Listen.

2. Jennifer Berkshire [@BisforBerkshire] and Jack Schneider [@Edu_Historian], hosts of the education podcast “Have You Heard,” on the rights—both real and fictional—of parents to shape what their kids learn. Listen.

3. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] takes a deep dive into our nations history of taking books off shelves, with the 1982 Supreme Court decision in Island Trees School District v Pico. Featuring: Steven Pico, then student and plaintiff in the case and Arthur Eisenberg, New York Civil Liberties lawyer, who represented him. Listen.

Music:
Tymperturbably Blue by Duke Ellington
York Fusiliers by Douglas Monroe & Yorktown Fife and Drums
Eye Surgery by Thomas Newman
Viderunt Omnes by The Kronos Quartet

Aug 12, 2022
Erectile Disappointment
31:45

In 1998, when Viagra was approved by the FDA, it suddenly opened up new sexual possibilities for people who had previously had none. The drug also sparked an earnest and very public conversation about erectile dysfunction — one that quickly veered toward late-night punchlines. And yet, despite the millions of prescriptions written during its nearly 25 years of existence, for some, Viagra did not prove to be the quick fix they had hoped for. This month, OTM shares the first episode of a compelling 3-part series about the drug from our colleagues at Death, Sex & Money

You can hear more from Death, Sex & Money here.

Aug 10, 2022
Handle with Care
50:06

A group of climate scientists warn that the potential for humanity's mass extinction has been dangerously underexplored. On this week’s On the Media, we hear how facing our planet’s fragility could inspire hope, instead of despair, and a physicist explains how creation stories are essential for understanding our place in the universe.

  1. Luke Kemp [@LukaKemp], a Research Associate at Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, on a new study that says we need to put more attention on the possibility of human extinction and other climate catastrophes. Bryan Walsh [@bryanrwalsh], editor of Vox’s ‘Future Perfect,’ also explains why our brains have a hard time processing catastrophes like climate change. Listen.

  2. Charles Piller [@cpiller], investigative reporter for Science Magazine, on his six month investigation into how faulty images may invalidate groundbreaking advancements in Alzheimer's research. Listen.

  3. Guido Tonelli, a particle physicist at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, on the importance of creation myths, and what scientists can tell us about the fragility of the universe. Listen.
Aug 05, 2022
Under The Table
15:12

This week’s podcast extra is about podcasts, but this story has its roots in the early days of rock 'n' roll. Alan Freed was a celebrity DJ on WINS in New York, famous for helping popularize the nascent genre through the 1950s. But, unbeknownst to his listeners, record promoters were secretly bribing Freed and other popular disc jockeys across the country for extra air time for their artists — in a rampant practice known as “payola,” which eventually caught the eye of regulators. In 1960, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) outlawed payola, requiring broadcasters to disclose any payments received. However, members of the music industry would continue to blow the whistle on similar behavior in the decades that followed.

According to Bloomberg reporter Ashley Carman, a similar culture of pay-to-play is taking hold in the world of podcasting. Her latest piece is titled, “Podcast Guests Are Paying Up to $50,000 to Appear on Popular Shows.”

Aug 04, 2022
The Cold Shoulder
49:50

Former president Donald Trump is trying to bury the January 6th committee’s findings, but his old allies aren’t helping. Meanwhile, we take a look at the governor of Florida’s polarizing press strategy, and why reporters think presidential hopefuls are no longer returning their calls. 

  1. David Folkenflik [@davidfolkenflik], media correspondent for NPR, on the resurgence of Trump-related news. Listen

  2. David Freedlander [@freedlander], freelance political journalist, on why he thinks Republicans are no longer speaking to the press. Listen

  3. Dexter Filkins, staff writer at The New Yorker, on Ron DeSantis’ press strategy and where politicians' relationship with the press went wrong. Listen

  4. Kate Kelly [@Kate_Kelly_Esq], human rights attorney, on the importance of the the Equal Rights Amendment and how it can protect abortion rights. Listen

 

Jul 29, 2022
Great White Lies
18:21

It's Shark Week. This year's Discovery programs boast flashy titles like Stranger Sharks, Air Jaws, Great White Serial Killer, and Rise of the Monster Hammerheads, and feature sharks writhing through murky water, their jaws clenching on dead fish bait, sharp teeth snapping at divers. 

Sharks first splashed into Hollywood — and widespread infamy — with the 1975 blockbuster Jaws. It's the type of horror film that sticks with you, especially when you're on a swim at the beach and think, what's out there? Over the last few decades, beachgoers have encountered a slight uptick in shark sightings and incidents. This summer is no exception. 

But even as these predators shut down beaches, many marine biologists have waged a counter PR campaign for sharks, arguing that popular media have far overstated their danger. Chris Pepin-Neff is a senior lecturer of Public Policy at the University of Sydney, and author of the book Flaws: Shark Bites and Emotional Public Policymaking. They say that the maligning of these fish harms not only sharks — but humans as well.

Jul 28, 2022
In This Economy?
49:46

Gas prices are coming down. Inflation is still going up. Jobs are strong, yet recession fears abound. This week, On the Media dives into the contradictory mess of money news – and what it ultimately says about us. 

1. John Cassidy [@JohnCassidy], staff writer at the New Yorker, on why Americans feel gloomy about the economy, even when it isn't affecting their spending. Listen.

2. Rani Molla [@ranimolla], senior data reporter at Vox's Recode, on the data behind today's weird job market. Listen.  

3. Felix Salmon [@felixsalmon], chief financial correspondent at Axios, on the power of the price of gas. Listen.

4. Mark Blyth [@MkBlyth], professor of International Economics and Public Affairs at Brown University, on how the economy is ultimately a mirror of our accomplishments, advances, fears, and mistakes. Listen.

Jul 22, 2022
Escaping the Kremlin's Propaganda Machine
28:46

This weekend marks five brutal months since Russia invaded Ukraine — with no end in sight. And in Russia, support for the war has remained high. 77% approve of Putin’s actions in Ukraine, according to a survey conducted in late May by the Levada Center, Russia’s only remaining independent pollster. The war, at least in its neatly repackaged, Kremlin-approved form, is somewhat popular amongst Russians. On March 4th, Putin signed a "fake news" law, which threatens imprisonment for any journalist who deviates from the Kremlin's depiction of the war in Ukraine, shielding the operation of a durable and effective propaganda machine — which has been turning its gears for decades. 

Independent journalist Anastasiia Carrier was born and raised in Russia. She’s spent the last few years in the US working as a reporter, and actively wrenching herself away from the propaganda she grew up believing about Russia’s unequal prominence. In this episode of On the Media, Carrier talks about breaking away from her past as a Putin supporter.

 

Jul 21, 2022
How to Report a Cold Case
50:10

In 2014, the brutal killing of John and Joyce Sheridan, a prominent couple with personal ties to three governors, shocked even the most cynical operatives. In February 2015, the Somerset prosecutor announced that John Sheridan had murdered his wife in cold blood and then killed himself. In 2017, the manner of death was updated to “undetermined.” In this episode of On the Media, hear Nancy Solomon's investigation into their brutal deaths, and the damning evidence of corruption she found at the highest levels in the Garden State.

Dead End: A New Jersey Political Murder Mystery is hosted by Nancy Solomon. You can (and you should!) listen to all 8 episodes here

Jul 15, 2022
Why Reporter Nancy Solomon Chose True Crime
16:39

Earlier this year, the New Jersey Attorney General opened up an investigation into the killings of John and Joyce Sheridan, a well known couple with personal ties to three governors. In 2014, they were found stabbed to death, and their home set on fire. Local police thought that John Sheridan murdered his wife and then killed himself. That was eight years ago. So why is the Attorney General revisiting the case now? Well, this year, our WNYC colleague Nancy Solomon released an investigation into their brutal deaths, and found damning evidence of corruption at the highest levels in the Garden State. The series is called Dead End: A New Jersey Political Murder Mystery. In this midweek podcast, Nancy tells Brooke how she used the true crime format to get listeners to care about corruption in New Jersey.

Jul 13, 2022
The F-Word
49:59

Early in the pandemic, weight was named a risk factor for severe covid-19. But what if the greater risk is poor medical treatment for fat people? This week, On the Media dives into the fictions, feelings, and fraught history of fat. Including how sugar and the slave trade laid the groundwork for American beauty standards. 

1. Dr. Yoni Freedhoff [@YoniFreedhoff], Associate Professor of Family Medicine at University of Ottawa, on what we do and don't know about the relation of weight and the severity of a Covid infection. Listen.

2. Katherine Flegal [@CeriseFlegal], epidemiologist and former senior scientist at the Centers For Disease Control, on our flawed understanding of the data around weight and death, and Katie Lebesco [@KatieLeBesco], researcher focusing on food, pop culture, and fat activism, on why the "obesity epidemic" is a moral panic hiding behind a thin veil of scientific language. Listen.

3. Sabrina Strings [@SaStrings], sociologist at the University of California, Irvine, on how European attitudes about fat dramatically changed in the 18th century. and set the standards Americans still see today. Listen.

Music in this Week's Show:
Slim Jenkins Place - Booker T and the MGs
Eye Surgery- Thomas Newman
String Quartet No. 5 (Phillip Glass) - Kronos Quartet
Disfarmer - Bill Frisell
Lost, Night - Bill Frisell
In the Bath - Randy Newman
The De Lessup’s Dance - Gavin Wright
Breakaway - Regina Carter

Jul 08, 2022
Hong Kong's Rewritten Histories
13:06

This fall, students in Hong Kong will learn a new version of history — one that erases the fact the region was ever a British colony. According to four history textbooks currently under development in China, Hong Kong has always been a part of China, despite over a century of British dominion. And so continues a pattern of effacing and repainting histories.  

During her years as a reporter in Hong Kong, Louisa Lim, author of the new book Indelible City: Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong, stumbled across shards of her city's various, conflicting histories — some imposed by colonial forces, others originating from Hong Kongers themselves. This week, Annalee Newitz talks to Lim about the myths that obscure the region's past, and the impact this myriad of histories has had on Hong Kongers' sense of political and cultural identity.  

Jul 06, 2022
Locked and Loaded
50:23

The overturning of Roe v. Wade will remain the most discussed opinion of this Supreme Court term. But just a day earlier, the high court issued another monumental opinion — this one on guns. On this week's On the Media, hear why this latest ruling will send lawyers scrambling into historical archives. Plus, an inside look at Justice Clarence Thomas' unique strain of conservatism. 

1.  Timothy Zick, professor of law at William and Mary Law School, about what's next in the debate over gun control, and why it will be all about history. Listen

2. Corey Robin [@CoreyRobin], writer and professor of political science at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, on all that we've missed (or ignored) about Justice Clarence Thomas. Listen.

Music:

Dream Machine - John Zorn
Sign and Sigil - John Zorn
Whispers of  A Heavenly Death - John Zorn 

 

Jul 01, 2022
The End of Roe in the Armed Forces
18:59

As the country reels from last Friday’s decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, people, politicians, and health care providers are scrambling to figure out what’s next. But pregnancy was already an especially complicated process, full of rules and regulations, for one particular sector of the population — the military. According to a 2018 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, women made up just 16.5% of active-duty service members in the Department of Defense; however, military women are more likely than their civilian counterparts to have unintended pregnancies. They’re also more likely to suffer a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, making medical care an essential should the department continue to diversify. This week, Brooke sits down with Kyleanne Hunter, senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation and a Marine Corps combat veteran, to talk about how the department had just begun to make positive changes, and now sits in a complex limbo.

 

Jun 30, 2022
Struck From the Record
50:20

This week, the Supreme Court officially struck down Roe v. Wade, overturning fifty years of legal precedent and abortion rights across the country. On this week’s On the Media, hear about the case that almost defined the abortion debate instead. Plus, the Jan 6 committee’s latest bombshell evidence of Trump’s manipulation of the justice department. 

1. Alana Casanova-Burgess [@Alanallama], former OTM producer, and Jessica Glenza [@JessicaGlenza], health reporter at the Guardian, look at the case that Ruth Bader Ginsburg wished the Court heard instead of Roe v. Wade. Neil Siegel, a professor of law and political science at Duke University School of Law, puts the Susan Struck v. Secretary of Defense case in context. Dahlia Lithwick [@Dahlialithwick], who writes about the courts at Slate, untangles what the justices actually decided in RoeListen.

2. Michael Waldman [@mawaldman], president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, discusses how the January 6 committee's findings could aid a Justice Department indictment. Listen.

Music:

The Water Rises (Laurie Anderson) - The Kronos Quartet
John’s Book of Alleged Dances - The Kronos Quartet
Tateh's Picture Book - Randy Newman
Atlantic City - Randy Newman

Jun 24, 2022
The 'Country Queers' Who Don't Want to Flee Rural America
16:28

All across the country this month, people are celebrating queer and trans pride with parades, cookouts, dances, and family gatherings. And yet the future of the community feels darker than it has in a long time. Threats from Proud Boys and elected officials seem to reinforce the idea that LGBT people cannot survive or thrive in places outside a few coastal cities. But a study from the Movement Advancement Project in 2019 revealed that at least 3 million queer people live in rural America. And many have no interest in fleeing to big cities for protection. This week, Annalee Newitz sits in for Brooke, and talks to Rae Garringer about their oral history project, Country Queers. When Garringer was attending college in the early 2000s, the only queer rural representation they saw was in crime stories. Country Queers features LGBT people who are living in rural parts of the United States, in small towns and remote farms, and they’re often taking great joy in it. 

Jun 23, 2022
The Conspiracy Machine
50:37

In this week's January 6th committee hearings, a documentary selling election conspiracies was laughed off by the likes of Bill Barr. But myths about a stolen election are no joke. On this week’s On the Media, hear about a pundit's efforts to revitalize and repackage The Big Lie. Plus, one man’s escape from the conspiracy theory machine. 

1. Philip Bump [@pbump], national correspondent at The Washington Post, on debunking election myths made for the silver screen. Listen.

2. Nina Jankowicz [@wiczipedia], former head of the Disinformation Governance Board, on the lessons learned from government-led attempts to counter disinformation. Listen.

3. Josh Owens [@JoshuaHOwens], former staff member at InfoWars, on what made him leave, and how he's come to terms with his past role in dangerous movement. Listen.

Music in this Week's Show:
Ava Maria D. 839 - Pascal Jean and Jean Brenders
First Drive - Clive Carroll and John Renbourn
Boy Moves the Sun - Michael Andrews
Exit Music (For A Film) - Brad Mehldau Trio

Jun 17, 2022
Alex Jones Doesn't Care About You
34:55

Josh Owens was an InfoWars employee from 2013 to 2017. In an essay published on CNN.com this week, Owens described his deep regret over the past 5 years as he grappled with the damage his work caused. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger spoke to Owens this week about Jones' role in the dissemination of disinformation in the light of what we are learning about the January 6th insurrection. 

Jun 16, 2022
Worth a Thousand Words
50:21

Gun control legislation appears doomed once again, even as Congress heard heartbreaking testimony from parents of the children killed in Uvalde. On the latest episode of On the Media, why some activists and journalists now advocate for publishing the gruesome photos of victims. Plus, how one family grappled with the brutal video of their loved one's death in prison.

1. Susie Linfield, professor of journalism at New York University, on the push to share photographs of victims, and the limited political power of an image. Listen.

2. Spencer and Gail Booker, family of Marvin Booker, who was killed by police in 2010, share what their family went through, and why Marvin's death being caught on camera remains so difficult. Listen.

3. Lois Beckett [@loisbeckett], senior reporter for The Guardian, on why our coverage of gun violence tends to focus on just one kind tragedy, and how we could make it better. Listen.

 

Jun 10, 2022
The Messy Politics of Oprah and Dr. Oz
22:57

Back in the before-times, when we used to go into the radio station every day, our office next-door neighbor was WNYC host Brian Lehrer. He hosts a 2 hour live radio call-in show every day from 10 to noon in New York city.

In this segment from his show he examines the relationship between Dr. Oz and Oprah Winfrey.

The Trump-endorsed Dr. Oz recently won the Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania. One reason the doctor is so popular, despite the many critics who say he promotes unscientific therapies and cures, is his many appearances on Oprah Winfrey's long-running daytime talk show. Kellie Jackson, historian, associate professor of African Studies, Wellesley College and host and executive producer of the Oprahdemics podcast, and Leah Wright Rigueur, associate professor of history, Johns Hopkins University and co-host of the Oprahdemics podcast, talk to Brian about Oprah's role in giving Dr. Oz a platform, what he became and if she has any responsibility to speak out.

 

Jun 08, 2022
When the Fog Clears
50:24

This week, On the Media looks ahead to the January 6th committee hearings that will air live in primetime this month. Find out which questions reporters hope the hearings will answer — like what really happened inside the White House that day. Plus, how a lie about a suitcase full of fake ballots took on a life of its own.

1. Ilya Marritz [@ilyamarritzand Andrea Bernstein [@AndreaBNYC], creators of the award-winning series Trump, Inc., break down why the upcoming January 6th committee hearings could be the most consequential yet. Listen.

2. Ilya Marritz [@ilyamarritzand Andrea Bernstein [@AndreaBNYC] return in an excerpt from their new show Will Be Wild, examining the forces behind the January 6th insurrection with stories from those who tried to stop the attack, and those who took part. Plus, some pineapple. Listen.

For transcripts, see individual segment pages.

Jun 03, 2022
How The Media Failed Amber Heard
41:22

This Wednesday afternoon, in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia, a jury awarded Johnny Depp $15 million in damages in libel suit against Amber Heard, and gave her $2 million in her countersuit against him. All this, over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as "a public figure representing domestic abuse." Depp’s lawyers say he was defamed by the article even though it never mentioned his name. This case, argued over six weeks before a seven-person jury and judge, and a noisily expanding online audience, drove much of the internet crazy with guilty pleasure. Thus ensued a collective hurling of feces at Amber Heard, despite the evidence gathered meticulously in a 2020 British libel case also focused on Depp’s spousal abuse. The only quarter of the media that seemed reluctant to engage in the facts of the case was the progressive press, or the liberal media. There you could find coverage of the social media chaos, but not the underlying reality. This bothered journalist Michael Hobbes, host of the podcast Maintenance Phase, who observed that usually reliable outlets tended to steer around the facts, and sold an already victimized woman down the river. 

Jun 02, 2022
Imperfect Immunity
50:23

As we trudge through our third year of the pandemic, what is the state of our immunity to COVID? On this week’s On the Media, hear how vaccines and reinfections interact with fast-evolving variants. Plus, why we should take the recent monkeypox outbreak seriously, but avoid panicking.

1. Katherine Wu [@KatherineJWu], staff writer for The Atlantic, on building immunity three years into the pandemic. Listen.

2. David Robertson, doctoral candidate at Princeton University, on what the press got wrong when covering herd immunity. Listen.

3. Fiona Lowenstein [@fi_lowenstein], journalist and founder of Body Politic, on how to write about Long Covid. Listen.

4. Jon Cohen [@sciencecohen], writer at Science, on why we shouldn't compare the recent monkeypox outbreak to Covid. Listen.

Music: 
Sleep Talking by Ornette Coleman
Sonata for Violin and Guitar (Mauro Giuliani) by Itzhak Perlman and John Williams
Superstition (Stevie Wonder) by Jung Sungha
I Got A Right To Sing the Blues by Billy Kyle
John’s Book of Alleged Dances by The Kronos Quartet

For transcripts, see individual segment pages.

May 27, 2022
Again and Again and Again and Again (and Again)
20:33

Last week’s show was titled “Again and Again” and it led with an essay about the then latest devastating mass shooting, in Buffalo. We combed our archives for all those people we’d spoken to in the past about the  tropes and mistakes that litter the coverage of these abominations. We didn’t gather new tape because...honestly? We’ve said it all before. And then it happened again. This time in Texas at an elementary school.

August of 2019 saw another moment where 2 shooting rampages occurred within days of each other; one in El Paso, Texas and the next in Dayton, Ohio. 

At the time, Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote, “When a mass shooting happens, even when it happens twice in a 24-hour period — even when the death tolls soars into the dozens — we reflexively spring into action. We describe the horror of what happened, we profile the shooter, we tell about the victims’ lives, we get reaction from public officials. It’s difficult, gut-wrenching work for journalists on the scene.  And then there’s the next one. And the next one. If journalism is supposed to be a positive force in society — and we know it can be — this is doing no good.”


Lois Beckett is a senior reporter for The Guardian. She covered gun violence for many years, now gun policy. She says that mainstream coverage of the issue is flawed because it's focused mainly on one type of tragedy. She explained to me when I spoke to her 3 years ago, how better coverage would mean focusing on the root causes of gun violence.

This is a segment from our September 6th, 2019 program, Pressure Drop.

May 25, 2022
Again and Again
49:54

In the wake of yet another racist mass shooting, this time in Buffalo, New York, media outlets are churning out heartbreakingly familiar stories, with the same tropes and the same helplessness. On this week's On the Media, how we've become mired in patterns and lost sight of the potential solutions. Plus, how journalists should cover the ongoing siege on democracy. Then, a deep dive into the forgotten legacy of one of America's most influential writers.  

1. Brooke Gladstone [@OTMBrooke], OTM host, on the tropes that choke coverage of every mass shooting, and why we should focus on consequences and the 'rot at the root.' Listen.

2. Jay Rosen [@jayrosen_nyu], professor of journalism at New York University and media critic for PressThink, on why journalists should still be in "emergency mode." Listen.

3. Paul Auster, acclaimed novelist and author of Burning Boy: The Life and Work of Stephen Crane, on the 19th century writer's forgotten legacy. Listen.

Music:

White Man Sleeps by The Kronos Quartet
Fergus River Roundelay by Gerry O’Beirne
Middlesex Times by Michael Andrews
A Ride with Polly Jean by Jenny Scheinman
Cellar Door by Michael Andrews

May 20, 2022
Where in the World is Brooke?
34:19

This week we're airing an interview that Brooke did while on a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. She and her husband Fred Kaplan (author of the War Stories column in Slate), sat down with Mark Hannah, host of the podcast "None of the Above," produced by the Eurasia Group Foundation

From the Crimean War of 1853 to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year, journalists, reporters, and the media have shaped the public’s understanding of war. But do the stories we read and the photos we see provide an impartial picture of the wars they document? As Hannah recently explained in Foreign Policy, certain aspects of American war coverage—reliance on government sources and incentives to simplify geopolitics as battles between good and evil—have long compelled news organizations to tilt toward military action.

May 18, 2022
Seeing Is Believing
50:17

With Roe v Wade under threat, some politicians and media outlets are trying to turn the national conversation away from abortion and toward civility. On this week’s On the Media, how the GOP has mastered the art of setting the narrative. Plus, how moral panics surrounding dangerous TikTok trends follow a century-old pattern of blaming new technology for the deviant behavior of teenagers.

1. Paul Waldman [@paulwaldman1], opinion writer for the Washington Post, on Republicans decrying the draft opinion leak and protests to motivate their base ahead of the midterms. Listen.

2. Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger], OTM correspondent, on alarmist news coverage of TikTok challenges and its misleading influence on panicked parents. Listen.

3. Brandy Zadrozny [@BrandyZadrozny], senior reporter for NBC News, on the story of Tiffany Dover, and how misinformation about her death fueled anti-vax messaging. Listen.

Music:

Fallen Leaves by Marcos Ciscar
The Camping Store by Clive Carroll and John Renbourn
Coffee Cold by Galt MacDermot
Middlesex Times by Michael Andrews 
May 13, 2022
How the Depp v. Heard Trial Became a Meme
12:53

This week, we take a look at the latest celebrity trial to ensnare the national attention. Johnny Depp is suing Amber Heard, his ex-wife, for defamation, and she’s counter suing him for the same. Depp’s suit takes issue with an op-ed Heard wrote back in 2018 for the Washington Post in which she identifies herself as a survivor of domestic violence. She first came forward with allegations against Depp in 2016. In 2018, Depp sued British tabloid, The Sun, for defamation over headlines that accused him of abuse, but he lost that case. Given the history, you might expect to see fewer headlines over this latest trial. But, not so. The ratings for Court TV, which is broadcasting every moment of the trial, have more than doubled. Pair the live visuals with Depp’s rabid online fanbase, and you’ve got a case being watched billions of times over — in fact, the #JusticeforJohnnyDepp hashtag has upwards of 10 billion views on TikTok and it’s spawned several viral sounds and trends and … comedy sketches. Guest host Brandy Zadrozny asks EJ Dickson, senior writer for Rolling Stone, about how pro-Depp coverage of the case took over TikTok, and its consequences.

May 12, 2022
Crime and Punishment
50:00

Across news outlets, crime reporting often relies on police sources and incomplete data. On this week’s show, hear how to spot bias in crime stories and what more nuanced coverage looks like. And, the struggle to protect whistleblowers calling out police abuse. Plus, the story of one powerful tabloid that has stymied bail reform for decades.

1. Laura Bennett, the co-author of ​“Freedom, Then the Press: New York Media and Bail Reform,” on how to read a crime story. Listen.

2. Matt Katz [@mattkatz00] WNYC reporter, on what bad coverage of bail reform looks like. Listen.

3. Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, on how to protect whistleblowers on police misconduct. Listen.

4. Tauhid Chappell [@TauhidChappell], Philadelphia Project Manager for Free Press, on abolishing the crime beat. Listen.

May 06, 2022
The Abortion Underground
33:18

This week, OTM presents a story from our colleagues at The Experiment. There’s a common story about abortion in this country, that people have only two options to intentionally end a pregnancy: the clinic or the coat hanger. They can choose the safe route that’s protected by Roe v. Wade—a doctor in a legal clinic—or, if Roe is overturned, endure a dangerous back-alley abortion, symbolized by the coat hanger. But a close look at the history of abortion in this country shows that there’s much more to this story. As a draft of the majority opinion overruling Roe v. Wade was leaked to the media this week, activists are once again preparing to take abortion into their own hands.

Reporter Jessica Bruder explores the abortion underground to learn about the movement’s origins, and reveals how activists today are mobilizing around effective and medically safe abortion methods that can be done at home. 

A transcript of this episode is available. 

Further reading: “A Covert Network of Activists Is Preparing for the End of Roe

May 04, 2022
Ghost in the Machine
49:19

After news broke that Elon Musk is likely to purchase Twitter later this year, the billionaire began sharing a controversial vision for the app. On this week’s On the Media, hear why Musk’s plan to turn Twitter into a so-called free speech platform could spiral out of control and how urban planning can make safer digital spaces. Plus, how science fiction inspired some of Silicon Valley’s most powerful men.

1. Anand Giridharadas [@AnandWrites], author of Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, Erika D. Smith [@Erika_D_Smith], LA Times columnist, and Natalie Wynn [@ContraPoints], YouTuber and political commentator, on the implications and possible outcomes of Elon Musk's potential purchase of Twitter. Listen

2. Eli Pariser [@elipariser], co-director of Civic Signals, on how urban planning can manage the problems of social programing to create digital spaces that don't exploit us. Listen

3. Jill Lepore, Harvard historian and staff writer at the New Yorker, Annalee Newitz [@Annaleen], former Editor-in-Chief of Gizmodo and science fiction author, and Gene Seymour [@GeneSeymour], longtime cultural critic, on tech moguls' obsession with science fiction. Listen

Apr 29, 2022
Dead End
30:27

On this week's podcast extra we present episode 1 of a new series from our colleague, Nancy Solomon. She’s our New Jersey specialist at WNYC and she’s got quite the tale to tell. It’s about a murder on a Jersey cul de sac that was never solved. And it involves some of the most powerful people in the state. It’s even got a waterfront land deal. It’s sort of like Chinatown meets American Hustle. It’s a seven episode podcast, and we think you’ll like it. Listen and subscribe here: https://link.chtbl.com/M_a20dat?sid=otmwebsite

Apr 27, 2022
Work Work Work Work Work
50:12

Checking in on the so-called Great Resignation. On this week’s On The Media, hear why the trend is a logical response to the cult of work. Plus, when technology makes our jobs harder, maybe being a 'luddite' isn't such a bad thing. 

1. Sarah Jaffe [@sarahljaffe], journalist and author of Work Won't Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone, on how love and meaning became intertwined with our jobs. Listen.

2. Anne Helen-Peterson [@annehelen], writer and journalist, and Charlie Warzel [@cwarzel], contributing writer at The Atlantic, on how technology isor, dramatically is not — making life easier at work. Listen.

3. Gavin Mueller [@gavinmuellerphd], assistant professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, on what modern lessons can be learned from the Luddite workers of 19th century England. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

Sign and Sigil by John Zorn
BROKE by Modest Mouse
Middlesex Times by Michael Andrews
Blues by La Dolce vita Dei Nobili
Liquid Spear Waltz by Michael Andrews
Stolen Moments by Ahmed Jamal Trio

Apr 22, 2022
The Holiday You May Have Missed
17:49

International Workers' Day is celebrated with rallies and protests all over the world on May 1, but it's not a big deal in the United States. Back in 2018, Brooke spoke with Donna Haverty-Stacke of Hunter College, CUNY about the American origin of May Day — and about how it has come to be forgotten. The first national turnout for worker's rights in the U.S. was on May 1, 1886; contrary to what you may have heard elsewhere, it wasn't the same thing as the Haymarket Affair. Haverty-Stacke is also author of America’s Forgotten Holiday: May Day and Nationalism, 1867–1960, and she explains that the fight over May 1, or May Day, is also about the fight for American identity and what it means to be radical and patriotic at the same time. 


 The OTM crew (in 2018) sings "Into The Streets May First," a never-before-professionally-recorded 1935 Aaron Copland anthem:

 

Apr 20, 2022
How Cassettes Changed the World
51:00

Cassette tapes mostly gather dust these days. But back in their heyday, they fundamentally changed how we communicate, in ways we’re still making sense of today. On this week’s On the Media, hear how the cassette tape fueled the Iranian revolution, helped pierce the Iron Curtain, and put human connection in the palm of our hands.

1. Simon Goodwin on his innovation to broadcast computer software over the radio back in 1983. Listen.

2. Computer programmer Fuxoft explains his role in 'Sneakernet,' which saw pirated material of all types smuggled into 1980s Czechoslovakia via cassette tape. Listen.

3. The role of cassette tapes in the Iranian Revolution. Listen.

This episode was reported, produced, scored and sound designed for Radiolab by Simon Adler with original music throughout by Simon. Top tier reporting and production assistance was provided by Eli Cohen.

Apr 15, 2022
It's Tax Season!
9:55

Few clichés are as well-worn, and grounded in reality, as the dread many Americans feel towards doing their taxes and the loathing they have for the IRS. But as much as the process is despised, relatively little is known about how it could be improved. Pro Publica's Jessica Huseman said that's largely because tax prep companies keep it that way. Brooke spoke to Huseman in 2017 about what an improved system might look like and how tax prep companies work to thwart any such changes.

One of the primary roadblocks to change, said Huseman, is an organization called the Free File Alliance, a public-private partnership whereby private tax companies agree to provide a free service for most Americans in exchange for the IRS not offering any such service itself. Brooke spoke with Tim Hugo, Executive Director of the Free File Alliance, about whether it is really the best way to help American taxpayers.

Apr 13, 2022
Our Unfinished Pandemic
53:12

Congress is threatening to cut billions in COVID aid even as a new variant emerges. On this week’s On the Media, how our policy debate reveals an indifference for long COVID disabilities and death on a staggering scale. And, how that apathy tracks with a pattern of past pandemics. Plus, a look at the novelist Kurt Vonnegut’s theory of storytelling, and what it tells us about why so many Americans have stopped paying attention to the virus.

  1. Ed Yong [@edyong209], staff writer at The Atlantic, on why mass deaths from COVID have failed to provoke a strong political and social reckoning. Listen.
  2. Laura Spinney, [@lfspinney], author and science journalist on how pandemics have historically disabled people, and what this teaches us about Covid long-haulers. Listen.
  3. Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger], OTM correspondent, on how to make sense of Covid's ever-changing plot, using Kurt Vonnegut's theory of "the shapes of stories." Listen.

Music:
Agnus Dei by Martin Palmeri
Love Theme from Spartacus by Fred Hersch

Passing Time by John Renbourn
Misterioso by Kronos Quartet
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered by Brad Mehldau Trio

 

 

Apr 08, 2022
New Variant on the Block
16:24

Hey waddayaknow? There are more variants in the news. Back when Omicron was first making headlines at the end of last year, we made a Breaking News Consumer's Handbooks: Variant Edition. Brooke spoke to Katherine J. Wu, a staff writer at The Atlantic who covers science, to review the steps a news consumer can take to stay informed minus the anxiety. 

For a linkable text equivalent, a pdf version is available here.

This is a segment from our December 3rd, 2021 program, Pigeon With A Mustache.

Apr 06, 2022
Still Armed, Still Dangerous
52:59

More than a month into Putin’s invasion, Ukrainian resistance has proved mightier than the Russian leader seems to have anticipated. On this week’s On the Media, hear how Russia is following the well-established American track record of entering wars without plans for ending them. Plus, a sober look at Russia’s nuclear strategy. And, how the threat of nuclear apocalypse has shaped American culture since World War II. Then, a look at the 1983 made-for-TV film that spurred a national conversation about disarmament. 

1. Gideon Rose, author of How Wars End, on what Russia should've learned from America's misadventures in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Listen.

2. Kristin Ven Bruusgaard[@KBruusgaard], postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oslo, on the actual threat of Russia's nuclear arsenal. Listen.

3. Alex Wellerstein [@wellerstein], historian of science at Stevens Institute of Technology, on why the threat of nuclear apocalypse can be hard to comprehend. Listen

4. Marsha Gordon [@MarshaGGordon], professor of film studies at North Carolina State University, on one of the most important films about nukes. Listen.

Music:

Sacred Oracle by John Zorn 
Horizon by Thomas Newman
In The Bath by Randy Newman
La Vie En Rose by Toots Thielemans
Gormenghast by John Zorn
White Lotus Theme by Cristobal Tapia De Veer
99 Luftballoons by Nena

Apr 01, 2022
The Simpsons in a Time of Nuclear War
17:50

A new poll this week from AP-NORC found that when asked, close to half of Americans say they are very concerned that Russia would directly target the U.S. with nuclear weapons, and an additional 3 in 10 are somewhat concerned. Given that Vladimir Putin put his nuclear forces on high alert at the start of his invasion of Ukraine, and with the rhetoric heating up as the war continues, it's hardly surprising that people are worried. 

All the talk of nukes got us thinking about a segment from a few years back in which Brooke spoke to playwright Anne Washburn, about her work Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play. In it she imagines a world that has been devastated by a nuclear incident and how the remaining civilization would process the destruction over time...by retelling an episode of The Simpsons and about what the episode's evolution over the decades says about society's need for stories and about the role of comedy in the face of tragedy.

Excerpts taken from the 2013 production at Playwrights Horizons, directed by Steve Cosson, and a 2017 production at Amherst Regional High School, directed by Nathan Baron-Silvern. Music by Michael Friedman.

Mar 30, 2022
All the World's a Stage
51:06

This week’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson were filled with dog whistles and distractions. On our latest episode, hear how Republicans are using rhetoric about pedophiles to discredit their opponents. Plus, the story of an American author who learned and unlearned Putin’s myth about Ukrainian nazification.

1. Melissa Gira Grant [@melissagira], staff writer at The New Republic, on the cruel new Republican buzzword: "grooming." Listen.

2. Lili Loofbourow [@Millicentsomer], staff writer at Slate, on the eerie experience of watching Zelesnsky act in the television show, "Servant of the People" and more. Listen.

3. OTM presents a story from The Experiment, featuring Franklin Foer [@franklinfoer], on his family's debt to Ukrainians. Listen.

Music:

Sarabande (Barry Lyndon OST) by National Philharmonic Orchestra
German Lullaby by The Kiboomers
Juliet of the Spirits (Main Theme) by Nino Rota
Heroes by David Bowie
Lost, Night by Bill Frisell

Mar 25, 2022
A Handy Guide to How the Supreme Court Works
15:57

The Supreme Court is an opaque and difficult to understand institution. Luckily, drawing on the expertise of seasoned SCOTUS reporters, we've put together a handy guide for the discerning news consumer to make sense of the court, its decisions, and its coverage.

Song: "Jeopardy! (Theme and Variations)" by the Resonance Flute Consort

Mar 23, 2022
We Were Warned
50:25

As the horrific violence in Ukraine escalates, the global far-right is justifying Russia’s invasion with outlandish conspiracy theories. On this week’s On the Media, guest host Matt Katz digs into one viral lie that went mainstream. Plus, how internet sleuths are collecting digital evidence of alleged Russian war crimes to be used in international courts. And, we hear from the author of a new book about four foreign correspondents who shaped early American coverage of World War II.

1. Ben Collins [@oneunderscore__], senior reporter with NBC News, on the viral Ukrainian "bioweapon labs" conspiracy theory. Listen.

2. Eliot Higgins [@EliotHiggins], founder of Bellingcat, on how his organization uses open source investigations to track alleged Russian war crimes. And Alexa Koenig [@KAlexaKoenig], Executive Director of the Human Rights Center at the UC Berkeley School of Law, on how such digital evidence may be used by future war crime tribunals. Listen.

4. Deborah Cohen [@DeborahACohen], professor of history at Northwestern University, on her new book about four foreign correspondents who sounded the alarm on WWII. Listen.

Mar 18, 2022
The Death of Historical Memory in Russia
14:17

Russia's Memorial International maintained an archive whose purpose was to amass and preserve the crimes against humanity committed in the Soviet Union. On March 3rd it was closed down by order of the Kremlin. It was only a month ago that we first aired this piece about the threats to the archive, but already the information and media landscape in Russia is unrecognizable. Unknown numbers of journalists have fled draconian new laws that could land them in prison for 15 years for contradicting the party line on the war in Ukraine and state controlled media has has tightened its stranglehold l of the airwaves. In the chaos of the past few weeks, Memorial’s closing was - tragically, just another data point…another nail in the coffin for truth seekers. 

OTM producer Molly Schwartz - who was in Moscow but has since left, visited Memorial International and spoke with archivist Nikita Lomakin about the importance of preserving Russia’s oldest Human Rights organization. In this piece, Molly also interviews historian Ivan Kurilla, author of The Battle for the Past: How Politics Changes Historyabout how the attacks on the archive resonate with Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

This is a segment from our February 11, 2022 program I’m No Expert.

 

Mar 16, 2022
The Escape
51:15

The refugee crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may be the fastest-growing displacement of people in Europe since World War II. On this week’s On the Media, hear the story of an internet community that guided an influencer and his family through the warzone. Plus, how Russia’s draconian anti-press laws have driven journalists out of the country.

1. Michael Wasiura [@michael_wasiura], writer and former pundit, on how his role giving the American perspective on Russian state TV became obsolete and what he's doing now. Listen.

2. Alexey Kovalev [@Alexey__Kovalev], investigative editor at Meduza, on his experience fleeing Russia after the Kremlin tightened it's grip on information about the war, choking out independent media. Listen

3. Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger], OTM correspondent, on the Ukrainian Twitch streamer who used his virtual military skills and online community to get his family to safety when the invasion began. Listen

Music:
Frail as a Breeze by Erik Friedlander
Glass House (End Title) by David Bergeaud
Time is Late  by Marcos Ciscar
Horizon 12.2 by Thomas Newman
Peace Piece (Bill Evans) by Kronos Quartet

Mar 11, 2022
The Kremlin's M.O.
15:44

This is a piece we first ran last September. It's reported by OTM producer Molly Schwartz who until the war in Ukraine started was a fellow on a journalism program in Moscow. Molly’s recounted for us the effects of a bizarre and cumbersome law - one of the many tactics used by the Kremlin to silence dissenting voices. 

Following widespread protests across Russia last year in support of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny, Putin's government has engaged in a wave of crackdowns on dissent, expelling and imprisoning opposition leaders, and shutting down independent news outlets. They've also, since April 2021, added 30 Russian journalists or news outlets to the government's list of "foreign agents." 

Journalists or news organizations who are labeled as "foreign agents" don't have to to shut down or stop publishing. Instead, they have to jump through various bureaucratic hoops — like reporting all their income and expenses to the Ministry of Justice (to be publicly posted on its website), and, perhaps most Kafkaesque of all, including a 24-word legal disclaimer on top of everything they publish. This includes every article, every advertisement, every tweet, every Instagram story, every response to a friend's comment on social media. 

This is a segment from our September 24th, 2021 program, The Subversion Playbook.

Mar 09, 2022
The Fog of War
50:18

Footage captured and shared by Ukrainian civilians is helping the world see through the fog of war. But not every video in your news feed is the real deal. On this week’s On the Media, how to sift fact from fiction with our new Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Ukraine Edition. Plus, how journalists and analysts are using OSINT to track the war. Then, how an international white Christian nationalist movement is fueling Putin’s views and violence. 

1. Jane Lytvynenko [@JaneLytv], senior research fellow at the Technology and Social Change Project at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center, on how to sort out the real from the fake while keeping up with the news from Ukraine. Listen.

2. Peter Aldhous [@paldhous], science reporter at Buzzfeed, on how open-source intelligence is changing how we all experience war. Listen.

3. Casey Michel [@cjcmichel], writer and investigative journalist, on white Christian nationalism—here and in Russia. Listen.

4. Jason Stanley [@jasonintrator], professor of philosophy at Yale University, on the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that plague eastern Europe. Listen.

Music: 

Exit Music For A Film by Brad Mehldau
Motherless Child by LaTonya Peoples
Eye Surgery by Thomas Newman
The Artifact & Living by Michael Andrews
Trance Dance by John Zorn
Using the Apostate Tyrant as His Tool by Kronos Quartet
Final Retribution by John Zorn
Waltz (From Swan Lake) by Europa Philharmonic Orchestra


Mar 04, 2022
'La Brega' in Puerto Rico
50:04

This week, OTM presents stories from Puerto Rico as told in a podcast series called "La Brega," hosted by Alana Casanova-BurgessHear what that term means, how it's used, and what it represents. Also, how one of the most famous homebuilding teams in American history tried to export American suburbanism to Puerto Rico... as a bulwark against Cuban communism. 

1. Alana [@AlanaLlama] explores the full meaning(s) of la brega, which has different translations depending on who you ask. According to scholar and professor emeritus at Princeton, Arcadio Diaz Quiñonez, the closest English word is "to grapple." Alana also speaks to Cheo Santiago [@adoptaunhoyo], creator of "Adopta Un Hoyo" (Adopt a Pothole), which encourages people to paint around and photograph potholes to alert other drivers. Because the roads are rarely fixed properly, the challenges of potholes and what people do to get around them is a metaphorical and literal brega in Puerto Rico. Listen.

2. Next, Alana turns to the boom and bust of Levittown, a suburb that was founded on the idea of bringing the American middle-class lifestyle to Puerto Rico during a time of great change on the island. Alana (herself the granddaughter of an early Levittown resident) explores what the presence of a Levittown in Puerto Rico tells us about the promises of the American Dream in Puerto Rico. Listen.

Created by a team of Puerto Rican journalists, producers, musicians, and artists from the island and diaspora, "La Brega" uses narrative storytelling and investigative journalism to reflect and reveal how la brega has defined so many aspects of life in Puerto Rico. All episodes are out now, and available in English and Spanish. 

Listen to the full series: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Podcasts

Music in this series comes from Balún and ÌFÉ

Feb 25, 2022
How SPAM built a town—and tore it apart
43:09

This week, OTM presents the second installment of a new series by our colleagues at The Experiment. In this episode, we learn that SPAM is at the center of one of the longest and most contentious labor battles in U.S. history. In 1985, workers at the Hormel Foods plant in Austin, Minnesota, went on strike, demanding better working conditions and stable wages. Generations of meatpackers had worked at the plant, some for most of their lives—and that gruesome, difficult work afforded them a sustainable, middle-class life. So when that way of life was threatened, they fought back. SPAM boycotts spread to cities and towns around the world. The strike went on for almost two years, pit neighbor against neighbor, and turned violent; the National Guard was called in to protect those who crossed the picket line. In the end, the strike is a Rorschach test: either a lesson in what is possible when workers unite, or a cautionary tale about biting the SPAM that feeds. 

This episode is the second in a new three-part miniseries from The Experiment—SPAM: How the American Dream Got Canned.”

Feb 23, 2022
Good As Gold
50:22

Mainstream journalists keep falling for crypto scams that can end up costing their audiences a fortune. On this week’s On the Media, hear why all of us might want to become at least a bit literate in crypto-technology. Plus, the story of an American pundit living in Moscow, who’s being paid to be Russian TV’s favorite punching bag.

1. Adam Davidson [@adamdavidson], founder of NPR's Planet Money, on the need for market context when reporting on cryptocurrency. Listen.

2. Katie Notopoulos [@katienotopoulos], senior tech reporter at BuzzFeed and Maxwell Strachan [@maxwellstrachan], features writer and editor at Motherboard at VICE, on the backlash from covering crypto investors who'd rather remain anonymous. Listen.

3. OTM producer Molly Schwartz [@mollyfication], on how Russian TV downplays talk of war using an American as a straw man. Listen.

Music:

I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles by Classic Carnival Circus Calliope Music
Newsreel by Randy Newman
Ave Maria - Pascal Jean & Jean Brenders 
Avalon by Randy Newman
Fergus Roundelay by Gerry O'Beirne
Sonata for Violin and Guitar (Mauro Giuliani) by Itzhak Perlman & John Williams
Peter and the Wolf (Prokofiev) by Mario Rossi & Wiener Opernochester

 

Feb 18, 2022
All about SPAM (the meaty kind)
22:14

On this week's  podcast we’re bringing you a story from our colleagues at The Experiment.

It’s about SPAM: the meaty kind. During World War II, wherever American troops spread democracy, they left the tinned pork-mix in their wake; tossing cans of SPAM out of trucks to the hungry people they sought to liberate. That’s how Experiment producer Gabrielle Berbey’s grandfather first came to know and love SPAM as a kid in the Philippines. Once a classic American product, 80 years later it is now a staple Filipino food: a beloved emblem of Filipino identity. 

In this episode Gabrielle sets out to understand how SPAM made its way into the hearts of generations of Pacific Islanders, and ends up opening a SPAM can of worms. 


This episode is the first in a new three-part miniseries from The Experiment—SPAM: How the American Dream Got Canned.

 

Feb 16, 2022
I'm No Expert
50:19

Joe Rogan’s fans, critics, and everyone in between have spent weeks hearing his name plastered on the news. On this week’s On the Media, a look at the real lessons emerging from the debate about the debate. Plus, what Putin’s attack on Russia’s past might tell us about Ukraine’s future.

1. Greg Bensinger [@GregBensinger], member of New York Times editorial board, Peter Kafka [@pkafka], host of the Vox podcast Recode Media, Andy Campbell [@AndyBCampbell], senior editor at HuffPost, and Tom Webster [@webby2001], senior vice president at Edison Research, on why we're all talking about Joe Rogan. Listen.

2. Jill Filipovic [@JillFilipovic], attorney and writer, on who holds responsibility for misinformation. Listen.

3. Gita Jackson [@xoxogossipgita], on the misguided defenses of Joe Rogan's racist comments. Listen.

4. OTM producer Molly Schwartz [@mollyfication], on Russia's newest effort to erase the past. Listen.

Music:

Blue Monk by Jimmy Giuffre
Ain't Misbehavin’ by Hank Jones
Investigations by Kevin MacLeod
I Am by India Arie
Breathe by India Arie
String Quartet No.5 (Philip Glass) by Kronos Quartet
Peace Piece (Bill Evans) by Kronos Quartet

Feb 11, 2022
Man of the Left
21:13

Todd Gitlin - writer, academic, media analyst, sociologist and lifelong activist died on February 5th. In his youth he helped organize the first national demonstration against the Vietnam War, held in Washington in  1965.  He organized rallies against South Africa aparthied and for civil rights in America. Later as an educator and author and media critic of the left and right, worked as both an observer and shaper of thoughts  about media narrative until the end of his life.  

Gitlin was also a mentor to many and a huge influence on many who came to the nascent field of media criticism. Among them, New York University journalism professor and Media critic Jay Rosen, writer of the oft-quoted pressthink blog, and a regular here on our show. Brooke spoke with Rosen this week about the influence Gitlin had on his career. 

  

Feb 09, 2022
Read the Room
50:20

An old threat has returned to classrooms across the country — and it’s made of pages and ink. On this week’s On the Media, hear what it means to ban a book, and who has the right to choose what kids learn. Plus, meet the student who took his school board all the way to the Supreme Court in the 80s. 

1. Kelly Jensen, editor for Book Riot who writes a weekly update on “book censorship news,” on what it means to ban a book. Listen.

2. Jennifer Berkshire [@BisforBerkshire] and Jack Schneider [@Edu_Historian], hosts of the education podcast “Have You Heard,” on the rights—both real and fictional—of parents to shape what their kids learn. Listen.

3. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] takes a deep dive into our nations history of taking books off shelves, with the 1982 Supreme Court decision in Island Trees School District v Pico. Featuring: Steven Pico, then student and plaintiff in the case and Arthur Eisenberg, New York Civil Liberties lawyer, who represented him. Listen.

Music:
Tymperturbably Blue by Duke Ellington
York Fusiliers by Douglas Monroe & Yorktown Fife and Drums
Eye Surgery by Thomas Newman
Viderunt Omnes by The Kronos Quartet

Feb 04, 2022
Barney Rosset Never Backed Down
13:09

In 1951, Grove Press was a tiny, almost-defunct independent publisher, with just three titles in its catalog, including Herman Melville’s The Confidence Man. But then Barney Rosset took over and, with a few choice books, helped push America past its Puritanical roots and into the sexual revolution. He died in 2012 and we are re-airing this interview I did with him many years back, to set up this week’s show in which we’ll be trying to unpack the latest round of book banning in America. 

 

Feb 02, 2022
Humans, Being
50:28

When you hear the word “Neanderthal,” you probably picture a mindless, clumsy brute. It’s often used as an insult — even by our president, who last year called anti-maskers “Neanderthals.” But what if we have more in common with our ancestral cousins than we think? On this week’s On the Media, hear how these early humans have been unfairly maligned in science and in popular culture.

1. John Hawks [@johnhawks], professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, on our biological family tree—and the complicated branch that is Neanderthals. Listen.

2. Rebecca Wragg Sykes [@LeMoustier], archeologist and author of Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art, on and what we know about how they lived. Listen

3. Clive Finlayson [@CliveFinlayson], Director, Chief Scientist, and Curator of the Gibraltar National Museum, on how studying what’s inside Gorham and Vanguard caves can help reconstruct Neanderthal life beyond them. Listen

4. Angela Saini, science journalist, on how Neanderthals have been co-opted to push mythologies about the genetic basis of race. Listen.

Music:

Boy Moves the Sun by Michael Andrews
Young Heart by Brad Mehldau

Sacred Oracle by John Zorn
Tomorrow Never Knows by Quartetto d’ Archi Di Dell’Orchestra di Milano Guiseppe Verdi
Investigations by Kevin MacLeod

Jan 28, 2022
Debate This!
15:36

Earlier this month, Ronna McDaniel, Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, wrote a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates—the independent, bipartisan organization that has convened general election debates since the 1980's. In her letter, McDaniel said that the RNC would boycott the presidential debates during the upcoming election cycle. That is – unless the commission was willing to meet its demands. The move is the latest refusal by Republicans to meet political norms. And it also poses the question: What – if anything – would be lost if the presidential debates didn’t happen? Brooke spoke to Alex Shephard, staff writer at The New Republic who's article on the subject was titled: “Let the Presidential Debates Die.”

 

Jan 26, 2022
Political Fictions
49:59

It’s been over a year since Donald Trump was defeated fair and square in the 2020 election, but polling shows that belief in the Big Lie is as strong as ever. On this week’s On the Media, hear journalists debate how to interview Americans convinced by this dangerous myth. Plus, find out why one political linguist isn’t sure the press can pull democracy back from the brink.

1. Matthew Sitman [@MatthewSitman], host of the Know Your Enemy podcast, shares his tips for interviewing right-wing intellectuals. Listen.

2. Bill Kristol [@BillKristol], editor-at-large of The Bulwark, reckons with 'Stop the Steal'-ers in his party. Listen.

3. Astead Herndon [@AsteadWesley], national politics reporter at the The New York Times, on why he'd rather interview a 'Big Lie'-believing voter than a politician. Listen.

4. George Lakoff [@GeorgeLakoff], linguist and cognitive scientist, reflects on the "truth sandwich." Listen.

Music: 

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered by Brad Mehldau
Cellar Door by Michael Andrews
Cello Song by Nick Drake
Boy Moves the Sun by Michael Andrews
I’m Not Following You by Michael Andrews
White Man Sleeps I by Kronos Quartet
Love Angel by Marcos Ciscar
Traveling Music by Kronos Quartet

Jan 21, 2022
Snow...in the tropics?
28:39

This week we are airing another episode from the show "La Brega"a podcast about life in Puerto Rico and hosted by former OTM producer Alana Casanova-Burgess.

During the early 1950s, the children of Puerto Rico were invited to an icy winter spectacle. Mayor Felisa Rincón de Gautier, the charismatic mayor of San Juan, arranged for Eastern Airlines to bring a plane-load of snow for a snowball fight in the city. It was a feat that has become legend for a whole generation. But while this winter wonderland came to San Juan free of charge, it wasn't without a cost.

In this special episode of La Brega, we learn how the snow was actually transported to San Juan from Hilda Jimenez, Doña Fela’s assistant. And we hear from some of the people who experienced it up-close. Ignacio Rivera (of the radio program Fuego Cruzado) was 8 years old and threw snowballs; the artist Antonio Martorell remembers that too, but also sees the event as part of Puerto Rico’s troubling colonial relationship with the United States. Seventy years later – when ice is at an even greater premium – journalist and author Ana Teresa Toro says Puerto Rico is still grappling with how to understand that special delivery.

To learn more about Doña Fela, we recommend a visit to the Casa Museo Felisa Rincón de Gautier.

You can learn more about Antonio Martorell in a recent documentary called El Accidente Feliz. His portrait of the mayor is here

The snowball fight is also the subject of a piece by the artist Sofía Gallisá Muriente, called Lluvia con nieve, now part of Whitney's collection.

Ana Teresa Toro’s new book of poetry is “Flora animal.”

Jan 19, 2022
A Question of War
50:20

Since the insurrection on January 6, warnings of a second American Civil War have been sounded. This week, On the Media explores whether the civil war talk is an alarmist cry, or actually a sober assessment. Plus, hear how the myth of “the Dark Ages” paints an unfair portrait of medieval times. 

1. David Remnickeditor of The New Yorker and host of the New Yorker Radio Hour, on the risk of second civil war. Listen.

2. Barbara Walter [@bfwalter], professor of International Relations at the University of California, San Diego, on the tell-tale signs that a country is headed for insurgence. Listen.

3. Charlie Warzel [@cwarzel], journalist and contributing writer at The Atlantic, on when journalists should sound the alarm (and how loud we should ring it). Listen.

4. David M. Perry [@Lollardfish] and Matthew Gabriele [@prof_gabriele], authors of The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe, on how the Dark Ages might have not been so dark. Listen.

Music:

Wade in the Water by Hank Jones and Charlie Haden
The Glass House - Marjane’s Inspiration by David Bergeaud
Seinfeld Theme - Jonathan Wolff
Lowland’s Away by Gregory Blavenz - The Us Army Fife And Drum Corps
Harpsichord - Four Tet
Ad summan missam: Santus II by Ensemble Aeolus









Jan 14, 2022
Is New York Times v Sullivan on the Chopping Block?
13:04
Jan 13, 2022
Road To Insurrection
50:19

It’s been one year since the armed insurrection at the Capitol, what do we know now about how it happened? On this week’s On the Media, hear about the signs that reveal militia groups were preparing for that day — or something like it — long before January 6th. Plus, how the attack may have transformed the far-right in America. 

1. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] on the efforts to shape the media narrative among gun rights activists at Virginia's Lobby Day. Listen.

2. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] and Militia Watch founder Hampton Stall [@HamptonStall] investigate how a walkie-talkie app called Zello is enabling armed white supremacist groups to gather and recruit. Featuring: Joan Donovan [@BostonJoan] Research Director of the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University, and Megan Squire [@MeganSquire0] Professor of Computer Science at Elon University. Listen.

3. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] on Zello's role in the January 6th insurrection, and what the app is finally doing about its militia members. Featuring: Marcy Wheeler [@emptywheel] national security reporter for Emptywheel, and Cynthia Miller-Idriss [@milleridriss] Director of Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab at American University, and Jared Holt [@JaredHolt] Resident Fellow at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab. Listen.

Music:

Tick Of The Clock by Chromatics
Cyclic Bit by Raymond Scott
Genocide by Link Wray

Procession Of The Grand Moghul by Korla Pandit 
Gormenghast by John Zorn

Jan 07, 2022
Aaron Swartz: The Wunderkind of the Free Culture Movement
29:18

In 2013, 26-year-old software developer and political activist Aaron Swartz died by suicide. He had been indicted on federal charges after illegally downloading 4.8 million articles from JSTOR, a database of academic journals, and potentially faced a million dollar fine and decades in jail. While his death made headline news, Swartz had long been an Internet folk hero and a fierce advocate for the free exchange of information. In his book, The Idealist, writer Justin Peters places Swartz within the fraught, often colorful, history of copyright in America. Brooke talks with Peters about Swartz's legacy and the long line of "data moralists" who came before him.

Music in this podcast extra:

"Moss Garden" by David Bowie
"Heroes" by David Bowie; performed by The Meridian String Quartet
"Life On Mars?" by David Bowie; performed by The Meridian String Quartet.

This segment originally aired in our January 15, 2016 program, "Terms of Engagement."

Jan 05, 2022
Reputation
50:30

Should we cancel the word “cancel”? On this week’s On the Media, find out who benefits from the newest culture scare, and a history of "cancellation." Plus, hear how three women reporters covered the Vietnam War against all odds.

1. Michael Hobbes [@RottenInDenmark], co-host of Maintenance Phase, on the anecdotes that fuel "political correctness" and "cancel culture" panics. Listen. 

2. Erec Smith [@Rhetors_of_York], associate professor of rhetoric and composition at the York College of Pennsylvania, on his experience being "cancelled" within an academic context. Listen. 

3. Clyde McGrady [@CAMcGrady], features writer for The Washington Post, on the derivation and misappropriation of the word "cancelled." Listen.

4. Elizabeth Becker [@Elizbeckerwrite], author of You Don't Belong Here, on how women journalists covered the Vietnam War in groundbreaking ways, and yet were forgotten by history. Listen.

Music:

Middlesex Times by Michael Andrews
Bubble Wrap by Thomas Newman
You Sexy Thing (Remix) by Hot Chocolate
John’s Book Of Alleged Dances  by Kronos Quartet
Carmen Fantasy by Anderson & Row


Dec 31, 2021
An Interview With Basketball Great Walt "Clyde" Frazier
16:41

Basketball Hall of Famer Walt "Clyde" Frazier made a successful transition from NBA star to sports broadcaster on the MSG Network. With his cool rhymes and even cooler clothes, Frazier sat down with Brooke for a live event in 2013 to discuss basketball, broadcasting, and the art of being cool.

This segment originally aired in our March 29, 2013 program, "Culture and the Courts, The Legacy of Rand Paul's Filibuster, and More."

Dec 29, 2021
Scene of the Crime
50:05

On this week’s On the Media, a look at the journalists and newspapers we lost in 2021, and hopes for the press in the year ahead. Plus, is the ever-popular genre of true crime good for us? And the mob gets a podcast. 

1. Micah Loewinger [@micahloewinger], tells Brooke about a year of newspaper closures, murdered journalists, and the end of the Trump Bump. Listen.

2. Emma Berquist [@eeberquist], author of Devils Unto Duston how the true crime genre can rot our brains. Listen.

3. Rachel Corbett [@RachelNCorbett], author of You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin, on why the feds love podcasts by mobsters. Listen.

Music:

After The Fact by John Scofield
The Hammer of Los by John Zorn
Smooth Criminal by 2Cellos


Dec 24, 2021
Ten Things That Scare Brooke Gladstone
6:43

Merry Christmas, to those who celebrate! To those who don't (and, aw heck, to those who do too) we offer a very special end-of-year gift: fear. More specifically, Brooke's greatest fears, courtesy of our WNYC colleagues 10 Things That Scare Me. Fear is a subject — and experience — near and dear to our beloved Brooke, so we can assure you that this is not a conversation to skip. 

Dec 22, 2021
Fame and Misfortune
50:38

Text messages obtained by the January 6 commission revealed the panic of Fox News hosts — even as they downplayed the insurrection on camera. On this week’s On the Media, how to hold the news station accountable. Plus, an investigation of the celebrity profile – from the biting to the banal.

  1. Angelo Carusone [@GoAngelo], President and CEO of Media Matters, explains what the new January 6th revelations say about the state of Fox News. Listen.

  2. Anne Helen-Peterson [@annehelen], writer and journalist, on why the profile of Jeremy Strong in The New Yorker struck a chord. Listen.

  3. Bobby Finger [@bobbyfinger] and Lindsey Weber [@lindseyweber], co-hosts of the podcast "Who? Weekly," talk about the scrappy, B-list celebrities do for fame. Listen.

Music:

Il Casanova di Federico Fellini by Nina Rota
Paperback Writer by Quartetto dell'Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi
The Art Of War by Richard Beddow
Investigations by Kevin MacLeod
Newsreel by Randy Newman
Hard Times by Leftover Salmon

Dec 17, 2021
Everything You Never Knew About Movie Novelizations
11:29

Write a great book and you're a genius. Turn a book into a great film and you're a visionary. Turn a great film into a book...that's another story.

Novelizations of films are regular best-sellers with cult followings -- some are even more beloved than the films that spawned them -- but respected they are not. Instead, they're assumed to be the literary equivalent of merchandise: a way for the movie studios to make a few extra bucks, and a job for writers who aren't good enough to do anything else. But the people who write them beg to differ.

Back in 2016, former OTM producer Jesse Brenneman went inside the world of novelizations; featuring authors Max Allan Collins, Alan Dean Foster, Elizabeth Hand, and Lee Goldberg.

Songs:

"The Blue Danube Waltz" by Johann Strauss

"The Throne Room and End Title" by John Williams (from the film "Star Wars")

 

*Correction: In the piece it is stated that the Star Wars novelization begins, "Another time, another galaxy." In fact it begins, "Another galaxy, another time." 

Dec 15, 2021
Take This Job and Shove It
50:33

Amid the so-called Great Resignation, nearly 39 million Americans have left their jobs. On this week’s On The Media, hear why this trend is a logical response to the cult of work. Plus, when technology makes our jobs harder, maybe being a 'luddite' isn't such a bad thing. 

1. Sarah Jaffe [@sarahljaffe], journalist and author of Work Won't Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone, on how love and meaning became intertwined with our jobs. Listen.

2. Anne Helen-Peterson [@annehelen], writer and journalist, and Charlie Warzel [@cwarzel], contributing writer at The Atlantic, on how technology isor, dramatically is not — easing our lives at work. Listen.

3. Gavin Mueller [@gavinmuellerphd], assistant professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, on what modern lessons can be learned from the Luddite workers of 19th century England. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

Sign and Sigil by John Zorn
BROKE by Modest Mouse
Middlesex Times by Michael Andrews
Blues by La Dolce vita Dei Nobili
Liquid SpearWaltz by Michael Andrews
Stolen Moments by Ahmed Jamal Trio


Dec 10, 2021