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 58: Bruce Springsteen Talks with David Remnick  

In October, 2016, Bruce Springsteen appeared at The New Yorker Festival for an intimate conversation with David Remnick. (The event sold out in six seconds.) This entire episode is dedicated to that conversation.

Episode 57: Zadie Smith and Conservatives Strike Back  

David Frum is a card-carrying conservative who won’t jump on the G.O.P.’s Trump bandwagon—he believes that America’s fundamental rights will be at risk under the President-elect. The novelist Zadie Smith explains why she thought writing in the first person was an indulgence. And the much-derided can of cranberry sauce finally speaks up for itself—and, boy, is it pissed.


Episode 56: Leonard Cohen’s Last Days and Donald Trump’s First Term  

David Remnick spoke with the songwriting master Leonard Cohen in the last months before his death. Plus, Amy Davidson and George Packer wade into the uncharted waters of the Trump Administration.

Podcast Extra: Looking Back with Leonard Cohen  

Leonard Cohen, who died this week, was one of America’s greatest songwriters -- Bob Dylan told Cohen he considered him his nearest rival -- and is a figure of almost cult-like devotion to generations of fans.  He began as a poet in the vein of Allen Ginsberg or Frank O’Hara before releasing his first album in 1967.  Suffering from terrible anxiety, not much calmed by alcohol and drugs, he only seemed to conquer his fear of performing on stage after decades of Zen practice. David Remnick sat down with Cohen in the summer at his home in Los Angeles to discuss his career, his spiritual influences, his triumphant final tours, and preparing for his end.  “I’m ready to die,” Cohen told him, already suffering from a number of health problems.  “I like to tie up the strings. It’s a cliché, but it’s underestimated as an analgesic on all levels. Putting your house in order is, if you can do it, is one of the most comforting activities and the benefits of it are incalculable."

Episode 55: Final Notes on the 2016 Election  

In this episode, the election is adapted into a screenplay that needs significant revisions to make it more believable. A prominent evangelical theologian contemplates the decline of Christian influence on Republican politics. Our lawyer weighs in on publishing hacked e-mails. And, in a new song, Michael Friedman tells the story of a porn actor who identifies as an anarcho-socialist, and who might be supporting Donald Trump.

Podcast Extra: The State of The Union Songbook Live  

The presidential election may seem like some kind of theatre — part thriller, part satire — but Michael Friedman wants to make it a musical. Friedman has been traveling the country interviewing voters (and some non-voters) and making songs out of the transcripts. The result is a series of musical snapshots that capture how Americans are thinking about politics in 2016. The New Yorker's Sarah Larson hosted Friedman at the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space on October 26th, where Friedman debuted the songs with special guests Kristolyn Lloyd and Jeremy Pope.

Episode 54: Syria, the World’s Nightmare  

What began as an Arab Spring uprising has turned into a grinding six-year civil war and the worst humanitarian crisis of the twenty-first century. The Syrian civil war and its refugees are destabilizing the Middle East and Europe. This week’s show examines the origins of the conflict and evaluates what the future might hold for Syria.

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.


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