The New Yorker Radio Hour David Remnick is joined by The New Yorker's award-winning writers, editors and artists to present a weekly mix of profiles, storytelling, and insightful conversations about the issues that matter — plus an occasional blast of comic genius from the magazine's legendary Shouts and Murmurs page. The New Yorker has set a standard in journalism for generations and The New Yorker Radio Hour gives it a voice on public radio for the first time. Produced by The New Yorker and WNYC Studios. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, On the Media, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, Here's the Thing with Alec Baldwin, Nancy and many more. © WNYC Studios
The New Yorker Radio Hour

The New Yorker Radio Hour

From WNYC Radio

David Remnick is joined by The New Yorker's award-winning writers, editors and artists to present a weekly mix of profiles, storytelling, and insightful conversations about the issues that matter — plus an occasional blast of comic genius from the magazine's legendary Shouts and Murmurs page. The New Yorker has set a standard in journalism for generations and The New Yorker Radio Hour gives it a voice on public radio for the first time. Produced by The New Yorker and WNYC Studios. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, On the Media, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, Here's the Thing with Alec Baldwin, Nancy and many more. © WNYC Studios

Most Recent Episodes

Maya Hawke on the Fear of "Missing Out," and Jen Silverman on "There's Going to Be Trouble"

At a band rehearsal in Brooklyn, Rachel Syme talks to Maya Hawke about switching gears between acting and music. In "Stranger Things," Hawke plays Robin Buckley, a band geek who cracks a Russian code in her spare time; she also recently appeared in films including "Asteroid City" and "Maestro." "When I'm acting, I inhabit the character that I'm playing," Hawke says, whereas when fronting a band, "I feel like I'm me... But sometimes I have to screw my courage to the sticking place, and that's a bit of a character. It's me, [but] willing to stand up onstage." Hawke discusses the inspiration for her single "Missing Out": a visit to her brother at college, where she came to terms with some of her own choices. Plus, the playwright and novelist Jen Silverman, whose new book "There's Going to Be Trouble" deals with the excitement and uncertainty of getting caught up in a protest.

Maya Hawke on the Fear of "Missing Out," and Jen Silverman on "There's Going to Be Trouble"

How a Republican and a Democrat Carved out Exemptions to Texas's Abortion Ban

Texas has multiple abortion laws, with both criminal and civil penalties for providers. They contain language that may allow for exceptions to save the life or "major bodily function" of a pregnant patient, but many doctors have been reluctant to even try interpreting these laws; at least one pregnant woman has been denied cancer treatment. The reporter Stephania Taladrid tells David Remnick about how two lawmakers worked together in a rare bipartisan effort to clarify the limited medical circumstances in which abortion is allowed. "If lawmakers created specific exemptions," Taladrid explains, "then doctors who got sued could show that the treatment that they had offered their patients was compliant with the language of the law." Taladrid spoke with the state representatives Ann Johnson, a Democrat, and Bryan Hughes, a conservative Republican, about their unlikely collaboration. Johnson told her that she put together a list of thirteen conditions that might qualify for a special exemption, but only two of them—premature ruptures and ectopic pregnancy—were cited in the final bill. Still, the unusual bipartisan action is cause for hope among reproductive-rights advocates that some of the extreme climate around abortion bans may be lessening.

How a Republican and a Democrat Carved out Exemptions to Texas's Abortion Ban

The Film Critic Justin Chang on What to See in 2024

The New Yorker's newest staff member, Justin Chang, shares three films that he's excited to see released in 2024: "Janet Planet," the début feature film directed by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Baker; "Blitz," a wartime drama by Steve McQueen, the director of "12 Years a Slave"; and "Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga," the widely anticipated new entry in George Miller's Mad Max series—which, at forty-five years years old, predates Justin Chang.

The Attack on Black History, with Nikole Hannah-Jones and Jelani Cobb

Across much of the country, Republican officials are reaching into K-12 classrooms and universities alike to exert control over what can be taught. In Florida, Texas, and many other states, laws now restrict teaching historical facts about race and racism. Book challenges and bans are surging. Public universities are seeing political meddling in the tenure process. Advocates of these measures say, in effect, that education must emphasize only the positive aspects of American history. Nikole Hannah-Jones, the New York Times Magazine reporter who developed the 1619 Project, and Jelani Cobb, the dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism, talk with David Remnick about the changing climate for intellectual freedom. "I just think it's rich," Hannah-Jones says, "that the people who say they are opposing indoctrination are in fact saying that curricula must be patriotic." She adds, "You don't ban books, you don't ban curriculum, you don't ban the teaching of ideas, just to do it. You do it to control what we are able to understand and think about and imagine for our society."

Rhiannon Giddens, Americana's Queen, on Cultivating the Black Roots of Country Music

By the standards of any musician, Rhiannon Giddens has taken a twisting and complex path. She was trained as an operatic soprano at the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and then fell almost by chance into the study of American folk music and took up the banjo. With like-minded musicians, she founded the influential Carolina Chocolate Drops, which focussed on reviving the repertoire of Black Southern string bands. Giddens plays on Beyoncé's new country album, which boldly asserts the Black presence in country music. But her view of Black music is unbounded by genre: "There's been Black people singing opera and writing classical music forever." Giddens shared a Pulitzer Prize for the opera "Omar" in 2023, and as a solo artist, she has moved through the Black diaspora and beyond it. David Remnick talked with Giddens when her album "There Is No Other," recorded in Dublin, had just come out, and she performed in the studio with her collaborator, Francesco Turrisi. This segment originally aired May 3, 2019.

Rhiannon Giddens, Americana's Queen, on Cultivating the Black Roots of Country Music

Alicia Keys Returns to Her Roots with Her New Musical, "Hell's Kitchen"

Alicia Keys' new musical is opening on Broadway about a ten-minute walk from where she grew up in Hell's Kitchen. She describes the New York City neighborhood in the eighties as a "place where anyone who didn't belong anywhere accumulated." She tells David Remnick, "There was this unique balance between that grime and the potential of Broadway" just steps away. "Hell's Kitchen" is the name of the musical that incorporates her songs to tell a story about a teen-ager named Ali who is growing up and finding her love of music, and it is even set in the apartment building where Keys was raised. Yet she is adamant that the show is not autobiographical, "because a lot of people think 'autobiographical' and they think quite literally." Keys, who was offered a recording contract at 14, was called the top R&B artist of the millennium by a recording-industry group, and with Jay-Z, she's responsible for the New York City anthem of our time: "Empire State of Mind." In casting the role of Ali, a young woman very much like herself, Keys was looking for a "triple-threat" performer who also had "the energy of a true New Yorker ... That's the hardest part, because you can't teach that."

Percival Everett and the Reinvention of Mark Twain's Jim

In a new novel, Percival Everett offers a radically different perspective on the classic story "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." Everett tells the story of Jim, who is escaping slavery; he calls his book "James." "My Jim—he's not simple," Everett tells Julian Lucas. "The Jim that's represented in Huck Finn is simple." Everett, whose 2001 novel "Erasure" was adapted as the Oscar-winning film "American Fiction," restores Jim's inner life as a father surviving enslavement, and forced to play along with the pranks of two white boys. But like other Black authors, including Toni Morrison and Ishmael Reed, Everett considers Twain's original a central American text grappling with slavery. "I imagine myself in a conversation with Twain doing this. And one of the things I think he and I would both agree on is that he doesn't write Jim's story because he's not capable of writing Jim's story—any more than I'm capable of writing Huck's story."

Trump's Authoritarian Pronouncements Recall a Dark History

In 2016, before most people imagined that Donald Trump would become a serious contender for the Presidency, the New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik wrote about what he later called the "F-word": fascism. He saw Trump's authoritarian rhetoric not as a new force in America but as a throwback to a specific historical precedent in nineteen-thirties Europe. In the years since, Trump has called for "terminating" articles of the Constitution, has celebrated the January 6th insurrectionists as political martyrs, and has called his enemies animals, vermin, and "not people," and demonstrated countless other examples of authoritarian behavior. In a new essay, Gopnik reviews a book by the historian Timothy W. Ryback, and considers Adolf Hitler's unlikely ascent in the early nineteen-thirties. He finds alarming analogies with this moment in the U.S. In both Trump and Hitler, "The allegiance to the fascist leader is purely charismatic," Gopnik says. In both men, he sees "someone whose power lies in his shamelessness," and whose prime motivation is a sense of humiliation at the hands of those described as élites. "It wasn't that the great majority of Germans were suddenly lit aflame by a nihilist appetite for apocalyptic transformation," Gopnik notes. "They [were] voting to protect what they perceive as their interest from their enemies. Often those enemies are largely imaginary."

March Madness 2024: College Basketball at a Crossroads

As this year's annual March Madness tournament kicks off, there's a sense of malaise around men's college basketball. The advent of the transfer portal is partly to blame, and the trend of top talents departing for the N.B.A. after just one year of college play. "There hasn't been that kind of charismatic superstar like Zion Williamson at Duke," Louisa Thomas tells David Remnick, "the big school and the big player, which is the perfect match." But women's college basketball is another story. Last year, superstars like Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark helped the sport reach its highest ratings ever for a final. Clark, in particular, with a penchant for nearly forty-foot throws that almost defies belief, has become such a source of fascination for fans that Remnick compares her to LeBron James. "The question is whether or not she can carry that attention with her" into the W.N.B.A. and to the league's benefit, Thomas wonders, and if "she can leave some of that attention behind. To what extent is this a unique phenomenon around a unique player?"

Judith Butler Can't "Take Credit or Blame" for Gender Furor

A legal assault on trans rights by conservative groups and the Republican Party is escalating, the journalist Erin Reed reports, with nearly five hundred bills introduced across the country so far this year. Reed spoke with the Radio Hour about the tactics being employed. But long before gender theory became a principal target of the right, it existed principally in academic circles. And one of the leading thinkers in the field was the philosopher Judith Butler. In "Gender Trouble" (from 1990) and in other works, Butler popularized ideas about gender as a social construct, a "performance," a matter of learned behavior. Those ideas proved highly influential for a younger generation, and Butler became the target of traditionalists who abhorred them. A protest at which Butler was burned in effigy, depicted as a witch, inspired their new book, "Who's Afraid of Gender?" It covers the backlash to trans rights in which conservatives from the Vatican to Vladimir Putin create a "phantasm" of gender as a destructive force. "Obviously, nobody who is thinking about gender . . . is saying you can't be a mother, that you can't be a father, or we're not using those words anymore," they tell David Remnick. "Or we're going to take your sex away." They also discuss Butler's identification as nonbinary after many years of identifying as a woman. "The younger generation gave me 'they,' " as Butler puts it. "At the end of 'Gender Trouble,' in 1990, I said, 'Why do we restrict ourselves to thinking there are only men and women?' . . . This generation has come along with the idea of being nonbinary. Never occurred to me. Then I thought, Of course I am. What else would I be? . . . I just feel gratitude to the younger generation, they gave me something wonderful. That takes a certain humility."