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 66: The Two­-State Solution, and a Standing Desk Problem  

With relations between the United States and Israel at a turning point, we examine the peace process and the possible death of the two­state solution. Plus, a rap fan explains how Run the Jewels speaks to the problems of middle age; and that guy in the office who switched to a standing desk won’t stop singing its praises. 

Episode 65: High-Rise Lettuce Farms, and the First Woman President  

Plenty of countries have elected female leaders. In this episode, Amy Davidson tries to determine why the glass ceiling in the United States has been so durable. George Saunders explains why Abraham Lincoln was not just a President but also a spiritual leader. David Remnick talks with Dan Savage about what it’s like to give sex advice for twenty-five years, and Ian Frazier finds the future of farming in an industrial building in Newark, New Jersey. 

Episode 64:  Self-Esteem for Owls, and Newt Gingrich on the Heroin Problem  

Newt Gingrich isn’t known for bipartisanship, but he’s found a broad consensus for his efforts to address the opioid-addiction epidemic, with measures that sound surprisingly liberal. A Turkish novelist looks at what happens when nations act out of fear. A young man learns about love from Motown’s finest songwriters, and an owl with a confidence problem pumps itself up.

Episode 63: Late-Night Icon David Letterman and Songwriter Jason Isbell  

David Letterman talks with The New Yorker’s Susan Morrison about how he’s spending his retirement avoiding late-night television and tackling climate change. And Grammy Award-winning songwriter Jason Isbell talks to John Seabrook about the joys of writing, performing, and living without alcohol.

Episode 62: Laura Poitras, David Bowie’s Last Band, and the Poet Brenda Shaughnessy  

The Oscar-winning documentarian Laura Poitras (“Citizenfour”) talks to David Remnick about her first solo museum exhibition, “Astro Noise,” which channels her investigations of government surveillance into immersive installation art. A group of jazz musicians recall how David Bowie found them in a hole-in-the-wall club and enlisted them to create “Blackstar.” And the poet Brenda Shaughnessy reads Hilton Als a poem about living in a loft full of lesbians, back when New Yorkers could still afford to smoke. 

This episode originally aired on February 5, 2016.

Episode 61: Jeanette Winterson’s Christmas and Obama’s Legacy  

David Remnick assesses the successes and failures of the Obama Presidency with some of The New Yorker’s heavyweight politics reporters. Jeanette Winterson remembers Christmas as a singular bright spot in her Dickensian childhood, and the poet Ocean Vuong shares one of his favorite places to write: a busy Asian food court in Flushing, Queens.

Episode 60: What Is Trumpism?  

Will the Wall Street insiders Trump has picked to run his economy deliver on the populist promises he made? Sheelah Kolhatkar discusses Trump’s new cabinet appointees with David Remnick.  Kelefa Sanneh talks with an unlikely Trump supporter—a socially conservative Catholic university professor. William Finnegan explores the tragic state of Venezuela, and Michael Chabon shares three things that bring him consolation in anxious times.

Episode 59: The Koch Brothers and Boxing Champion Heather Hardy  

Three epic battles: Jane Mayer recounts her experience investigating—and being investigated by—Koch Industries; the boxer Heather Hardy forfeits the prize money for a fight before setting foot in the ring, but wins anyway; and Junot Díaz is stripped of his honors by the government of the Dominican Republic. Plus, the astronomer who wrote “How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming” lays out his evidence for the existence of a new ninth planet.

This episode originally aired on January 22, 2016.

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.

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