The New Yorker Radio Hour

The New Yorker Radio Hour

United States

The New Yorker Radio Hour is a weekly program presented by the magazine’s editor, David Remnick. 


Episode 53: Putting Trump in the White House, Playing Andrew Bird in the O.R.  

At the 2016 New Yorker Festival, a panel of experts from across the political spectrum discusses the hypothetical first term of President Trump. And Atul Gawande, a surgeon and self-avowed music nut, talks with Andrew Bird, whose music Gawande plays in the operating room. Bird discusses “Puma,” a song about the radiation therapy his wife was given after she had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and performs two numbers live.  

Episode 52: Mikhail Baryshnikov, T.C. Boyle, and Germany's Kriegskinder  

This week, Mikhail Baryshnikov talks about playing the troubled genius and revolutionary choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky and having an awkward dinner with Donald Trump. Burkhard Bilger explores the repressed trauma of Germans who were children during World War II.  The prolific novelist T.C. Boyle talks about a favorite new band, his favorite web videos, and his favorite nature writer. And a Yemeni man who lost everything in his country's civil war builds a place of beauty and respite in a refugee camp.

Episode 51: David Axelrod on the Cubs and the Candidates, and Kenya Barris on “Black-ish”  

In this episode, Cathy O’Neil, the author of “Weapons of Math Destruction,” takes a break from a bluegrass jam session to explain how the national crisis of bad algorithms affects us all. David Axelrod, Barack Obama’s former campaign strategist, discusses Clinton and Trump, and muses about the Chicago Cubs’ shot at the World Series. And the “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris recounts a family trip to Disneyland that he just had to write into his show.

Episode 50: A Visit with Harry Belafonte, and an Isolated Tribe Emerges  

Harry Belafonte, at age eighty-nine, has been a star for more than sixty years, as well as an activist, he says, since birth. But he feels that the civil-rights movement is in decline, and he’s doing what he can to turn things around. Jon Lee Anderson journeys up the Amazon to witness a once-in-a-lifetime encounter: the emergence of an isolated tribe from the forest to make contact with other civilizations. And one of our writers tries out the new voice-recognition device from Amazon—living with Alexa, she says, is like “2001: A Space Odyssey” crossed with “The Golden Girls.”

Episode 49: The State of Debate and Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad  

How did the 2016 Presidential-primary debates become insult-laden, substance-free shouting contests? Jill Lepore explores the history of debate broadcasts and wonders what we might expect from the three Clinton-Trump showdowns. Colson Whitehead then tours two stops on the Underground Railroad and discusses his new novel about American slavery. The classical-music critic Alex Ross shares his favorite cultural works of the moment—including a “Finnegans Wake” Twitter account. Plus, Sharon Horgan, the creator of the TV shows “Divorce” and “Catastrophe,” speaks with David Remnick about society’s changing attitudes toward marriage. And the comedian Chris Gethard tells us about his smartphone’s extraordinary features.

Episode 48: High-Fashion Hijabs, Jill Soloway, and Bluesman Blind Joe Death  

Modelling can be a tricky business for Muslim women who cover up. Judith Thurman visits Nailah Lymus, the head of a new modelling agency that represents the modestly dressed, and admires the bright, bold hijabs Lymus designs. Jill Soloway, the creator of “Transparent,” joins David Remnick in a discussion about her new show, “I Love Dick.” And two fans of the guitarist John Fahey mourn his difficult life and celebrate his transformational music.

Episode 47: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Ups and Downs of Ayahuasca  

In trendy places like Brooklyn and Silicon Valley, the drug of the moment is ayahuasca: a psychedelic brew that makes its users vomit, cry, envision their deaths, and, occasionally, even attain enlightenment. The New Yorker staff writer Ariel Levy investigates the hallucinogen. Jenny Allen seeks enlightenment, too, in the form of compassion for her obnoxious co-workers. She recites gathas for modern mindfulness. Plus, David Remnick talks politics and sports with the N.B.A.’s all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who has reinvented himself as a writer. 

Episode 46: Gary Johnson, Angel Olsen, and a Bee Stylist  

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Presidential candidate, was once a staunch advocate for legalizing marijuana. The former New Mexico governor joins David Remnick in a discussion about his new pot-free life, Social Security reform, and whether schoolteachers should have semiautomatic rifles in the classroom. Plus, singer-songwriter Angel Olsen and Kelefa Sanneh listen to a track from Olsen’s latest album, “My Woman”; a curator at the American Museum of Natural History spiffs up a dead bee; actor Reed Birney reads Donald Barthelme’s classic short story “The School”; and Joshua Rothman investigates our obsession with travelling to Mars.

Special Preview: Gary Johnson’s Bid for the White House  

Gary Johnson, a former two-term governor of New Mexico, was once a staunch advocate for legalizing marijuana. He's given up smoking pot now that he is running for President. Johnson joins David Remnick in a discussion about Social Security and Medicare reform, and whether school teachers should have semiautomatic rifles in the classroom.

Episode 45: Father Pfleger, Larry David, and the History of Autism  

This week, Father Michael Pfleger, a white priest on Chicago’s South Side, holds a funeral for a young man who threatened his life; Larry David applies his passive-aggression to Missed Connections listings; and the authors of a new book on autism discuss “patient zero,” an elderly man in Mississippi who was the first person ever to receive the diagnosis.


This episode originally aired on February 26, 2016.

Episode 44: Russia Then and Now, and the Bard of Katonah  

Twenty-five years ago, an attempted coup rattled the Soviet Union. David Remnick and Masha Lipman recall reporting from Moscow during the August Coup and discuss how its aftermath shaped Vladimir Putin's path to power. Jake Sullivan, Hillary Clinton’s top policy adviser  discusses how Russian hacking has affected Clinton’s campaign. And The New Yorker staff editor Andrew Marantz talks with a high-school grad who's putting Harvard on hold to break big in pop music.

Episode 43: Summer in the City  

In this episode, F. Murray Abraham reads Arthur Miller’s essay “Before Air-Conditioning,” in which Miller recalls the sweltering New York summers of his youth. The New Yorker staff writer Jiayang Fan chats with the novelist Janice Y. K. Lee about class in Hong Kong; the comic-book writer Marjorie Liu discusses the need for more comic-book heroines; and two short-story writers go fly-fishing.


Episode 42: The Honorable John Lewis, and the Inimitable Paul Simon  

John Lewis, a civil-rights leader, has represented Georgia in Congress for nearly thirty years. At the 2015 New Yorker Festival, Lewis spoke with David Remnick about his commitment to nonviolent activism and the state of social progress in the United States. Plus, Paul Simon walks The New Yorker’s poetry editor, Paul Muldoon, through the process of writing a song, line by line.


Episode 41: Hillary Makes History, and Archery Makes a Comeback  

In this episode, Patricia Marx gives her favorite summer-camp sport, archery, another try—in her New York City apartment. The New Yorker writers Jelani Cobb, John Cassidy, and Andy Borowitz give us their takeaways from the Democratic National Convention. And Jake Halpern travels to Poland to investigate a local legend about a Nazi train filled with looted treasure, hidden underground.

Episode 40: Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter and a Poet Fighting Cancer  

When Tony Schwartz ghostwrote Donald Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal”,” he had no idea that his narrative would one day help propel Trump to a Presidential candidacy. In this episode, Schwartz tells The New Yorkers Jane Mayer about his deep regret, and fear at the prospect of Trump becoming President. Plus, the satirical news columnist Andy Borowitz discusses the Republican National Convention, the poet Max Ritvo explains how poetry is helping him face terminal cancer, and a Chinese reporter explains why Trump might make democracy a harder sell in China.

Trump’s Remorseful Ghostwriter  

When Donald Trump announced his candidacy last year, one of the qualifications he listed was his best-selling book, “The Art of The Deal.” Part memoir, part business advice book, it presents Trump as the savviest of negotiators. But there’s a problem: Trump didn’t actually write the book—at least not according to “Art of The Deal” ’s co-author and ghost writer, Tony Schwartz. Schwartz spent more than a year with Trump back in 1986. He hasn’t ever talked publicly about the experience of working with him —until now.

Episode 39: The Gawker Sex-Tape Blowup, and George Saunders on Trump  

The Web site Gawker’s coverage of celebrity and media-world scandals has made it one of the Internet’s great success stories, but a publishing policy of “when in doubt, put it out” has its consequences. In a conversation with David Remnick, Gawker’s founder, Nick Denton, discusses the lawsuit that has put the site in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Also, Parker Posey performs Demetri Martin’s sketch about a summer camper from hell, and one of America’s great fiction writers tackles a character stranger than fiction: Donald Trump.


Episode 38: The Wisdom of John McPhee, and the Agony of an iPod Lockout  

The longtime New Yorker writer John McPhee is an influential teacher of writing, with bookshelves full of titles written by his former students. One of those students, David Remnick, talks with McPhee about the secret to his seminal “nature writing”: it’s all about people. Also, James Surowiecki speculates on the uncertain future of Brexit, a reporter forgets the code to a trove of critical data, and two schmucks take their ugly breakup public.

Special Preview: George Saunders on the Trump Campaign  

Many of George Saunders’ short stories deal with characters who are economically on the margins, and feeling anxious about their prospects. They are people who, if they were not fictional, might well be fans of Donald Trump. Saunders recently spent time reporting from the Trump campaign trail, going to rallies across the country, and he spoke with the The New Yorker's Deborah Treisman about what he learned. Saunders’ “Who Are All These Trump Supporters?” appeared in The New Yorker.

Episode 37: El Chapo v. Flores Brothers, and Jack Handey’s Santa Fe  

If Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the drug kingpin known as El Chapo, is extradited to the United States, he might face two formidable witnesses: identical twin brothers, former drug traffickers on a major scale, who gathered evidence against him for government prosecutors. Jack Handey tells some “Tales of Old Santa Fe,” where the cowboy past collides with the New Age present. And David Remnick talks with Alicia Garza, who co-founded Black Lives Matter, about the movement’s goals, and her issues with Hillary Clinton.

Originally aired January 15, 2016


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