The New Yorker Radio Hour

WNYC Studios and The New Yorker

Profiles, storytelling and insightful conversations, hosted by David Remnick.

  • 28 minutes 36 seconds
    Julián Castro on the Biden Problem, and What the Democratic Party Got Wrong

    The panic that gripped Democrats during and after President Biden’s performance in the June debate against Donald Trump didn’t come out of nowhere. In January of last year, the Radio Hour produced an episode about President Biden’s age, and the concerns that voters were already expressing. But no nationally prominent Democratic politician was willing to challenge Biden in the primaries. After the debate, Julián Castro was one of the first prominent Democrats to say that Biden should withdraw from the race, and he went on to tell MSNBC’s Alex Wagner that potential Democratic rivals and even staffers “got the message” that their careers would be “blackballed” if they challenged him. Castro—who came up as the mayor of San Antonio, and then served as President Obama’s Secretary for Housing and Urban Development—ran against Biden in the Presidential primary for the 2020 election. He talks with David Remnick about how we got here, and what the Democratic Party should have done differently.

    12 July 2024, 7:00 pm
  • 20 minutes 15 seconds
    Florence Welch Talks About Life on the Road

    Across five studio albums, Florence and the Machine has explored genres from pop to punk and soul. Florence Welch, the group’s singer and main songwriter, is by turns introspective and theatrical, poetic and confessional. She sat down with John Seabrook at The New Yorker Festival in 2019 to reflect on her band’s rapid rise to stardom. She also spoke about her turn toward sobriety after years of heavy drinking. “The first year that I stopped, I felt like I’d really lost a big part of who I was and how I understood myself,” she says. “What I understood is that that was rock and roll, and, if you couldn’t go the hardest, you were letting rock and roll down.” But eventually getting sober let her connect more deeply with fans and with the music. “To be conscious and to be present and to really feel what’s going on—even though it’s painful, it feels like much more a truly reborn spirit of rock and roll,” she says.  Welch wrote the music and the lyrics for “Gatsby: An American Myth,” which opened in June at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    This segment originally aired on May 24, 2022. 

    9 July 2024, 10:00 am
  • 30 minutes 49 seconds
    Robert Caro on the Making of “The Power Broker”

    Fifty years ago, in July, 1974, The New Yorker began publishing a lengthy excerpt of Robert Caro’s “The Power Broker.” When the book appeared, it ran more than twelve hundred pages and won a Pulitzer Prize. In vivid, astonishing detail, it shows how a city planner named Robert Moses gained power over New York City that dwarfed that of any mayor or governor, and radically changed the city. “The Power Broker” became a landmark of political reporting and biography, and made Caro one of the most celebrated writers in America. David Remnick sat down with Caro at the McCarter Theatre, in Princeton, New Jersey, in 2019, when “Working”—a collection of short pieces about Caro’s methods—had been published. Their discussion encompassed Caro’s early years as a newspaper reporter, his interviewing techniques, and his determination to tackle huge projects, including his chronicle of the life of Lyndon B. Johnson, four volumes of which have been published to date.

    This segment originally aired on June 18, 2019. 

    5 July 2024, 7:00 pm
  • 31 minutes 12 seconds
    The New Yorker’s Political Writers Answer Your Election Questions
    1. At the beginning of 2021, it seemed like America might be turning a new page; instead, the election of 2024 feels like a strange dream that we can’t wake up from. Recently, David Remnick asked listeners what’s still confounding and confusing about this Presidential election. Dozens of listeners wrote in from all over the country, and a crack team of political writers at The New Yorker came together to shed some light on those questions: Susan B. Glasser, Jill Lepore, Clare Malone, Andrew Marantz, Evan Osnos, Kelefa Sanneh, and Benjamin Wallace-Wells. 
    2. Some years ago, the poet Ada Limón moved from New York City to Lexington, Kentucky. In a book called “Bright Dead Things,” she writes about adjusting to a new home, and the constant talk of thoroughbreds. “People always asking, ‘You have so many horses in your poems—what are they a metaphor for?’ ” she told the Radio Hour. “I think they’re not really a metaphor. Out here, they’re just horses.” Limón, who’s the current Poet Laureate of the United States, took us on a tour of Keeneland racecourse, in Lexington, and read her poem “How to Triumph Like a Girl.”This segment originally aired on April 13, 2018. 
    2 July 2024, 10:00 am
  • 19 minutes 47 seconds
    John Fetterman’s Move to the Right on Israel

    Many Democrats saw John Fetterman as a progressive beacon: a Rust Belt Bernie Sanders who – with his shaved head, his hoodie, and the zip code of Braddock, Pennsylvania – could rally working-class white voters to the Democratic Party. But at least on one issue, Fetterman is veering away from the left of his party, and even from centrists like Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: Israel’s war in Gaza. Fetterman has taken a line that is not just sympathetic to Israel after the October 7th attack by Hamas; he seems to justify the civilian death toll Israel has inflicted on Gaza.  “When you have that kind of an evil, or that kind of a movement that came out of a society,” he told Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “whether it was Nazi Germany or imperial Japan or the Confederacy here in the South, that kind of movement has to be destroyed. . . . that’s why Atlanta had to burn.” Wallace-Wells shares excerpts from his interviews with Fetterman in a conversation with David Remnick, and they discuss how Fetterman’s support for Israel is driving a wedge among Pennsylvania voters, who will be critical to the outcome of the Presidential election. 

    John Fetterman’s War was published in the June 24, 2024, issue.

    28 June 2024, 7:00 pm
  • 16 minutes 30 seconds
    Emily Nussbaum on the Beginnings of Reality TV

    Reality television has generally got a bad rap, but Emily Nussbaum—who received a Pulitzer Prize, in 2016, for her work as The New Yorker’s TV critic—sees that the genre has its own history and craft. Nussbaum’s new book “Cue the Sun!” is a history of reality TV, and roughly half the book covers the era before “Survivor,” which is often considered the starting point of the genre. She picks three formative examples from the Before Time to discuss with David Remnick: “Candid Camera,” “An American Family,” and “Cops.” She’s not trying to get you to like reality TV, but rather, she says, “I'm trying to get you to understand it.”

    25 June 2024, 10:00 am
  • 32 minutes 35 seconds
    Kevin Costner on “Yellowstone,” “Horizon,” and Why the Western Endures

    Kevin Costner has been a leading man for more than forty years and has starred in all different genres of movies, but a constant in his filmography is the Western. One of his first big roles was in “Silverado,” alongside Kevin Kline and Danny Glover; he directed “Dances with Wolves,” which won seven Oscars, including Best Director and Best Picture; more recently, Costner starred as the rancher John Dutton in the enormously successful “Yellowstone.” Perhaps no actor since Clint Eastwood is more associated with the genre. Throughout his career, Costner has also been working on a project called “Horizon: An American Saga.” Too lengthy and expensive for studios (Costner put up tens of millions of dollars to fund it), “Horizon” evolved over decades into a series of four films about the founding of a town in the West. Part 1, which involves the destruction wrought on Native communities by white settlement, comes out next week. While the politics of the genre have evolved, “there were certain dilemmas that [Westerns] established,” he tells David Remnick, that were timeless. “They talked to me about character and just as important, lack of character.”

    21 June 2024, 7:01 pm
  • 14 minutes 42 seconds
    Paul Scheer Picks the Very Best of the Very Worst Movies

    Paul Scheer is a noted actor and comedian, and the author of the new memoir “Joyful Recollections of Trauma.” Off the screen, his true obsession is bad movies—even terrible movies. With his wife, the actor and comedian June Diane Raphael, and their friend Jason Mantzoukas, he presents the podcast “How Did This Get Made?,” picking apart all manner of bombs. David Remnick met Scheer at the Brooklyn Brewery and asked him for his top five of the very worst movies, and why they deserve recognition. Scheer discusses “The Room,” “Miami Connection,” “Samurai Cop,” “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” and “The Apple.” “When I hear a director go ‘passion project,’ I’m in,” he says.  

    Plus, Francis Ford Coppola invested much of his personal fortune in a passion project, “Megalopolis.” It was mocked as a colossal failure before it even premièred. But the New Yorker film critic Justin Chang was at that première, and he thinks the chatter is wildly off base. 

    18 June 2024, 10:00 am
  • 36 minutes 24 seconds
    Is Being a Politician the Worst Job in the World?

    On July 4th—while the U.S. celebrates its break from Britain—voters in the United Kingdom will go to the polls and, according to all predictions, oust the current government. The Conservative Party has been in power for fourteen years, presiding over serious economic decline and widespread discontent. The narrow, contentious referendum to break away from the European Union, sixty per cent of Britons now think, was a mistake. Yet the Labour Party shows no inclination to reverse or even mitigate Brexit. If the Conservatives have destroyed their reputation, why won’t Labour move boldly to change the direction of the U.K.? Is the U.K. hopeless? David Remnick is joined by Rory Stewart, who spent nine years as a Conservative Member of Parliament, and now co-hosts the podcast “The Rest Is Politics.” He left the government prior to Brexit and wrote his best-selling memoir, “How Not to Be a Politician,” which pulls no punches in describing the soul-crushing sham of serving in office. “It’s not impostor syndrome,” Stewart tells Remnick. “You are literally an impostor, and you’re literally on television all the time claiming to understand things you don’t understand and claiming to control things you don’t control.”

    14 June 2024, 7:00 pm
  • 28 minutes 1 second
    After Serving Decades in Prison for Murder, Two Men Fought to Clear Their Names

    For years, the staff writer Jennifer Gonnerman has reported on the case of Eric Smokes and David Warren. When they were teen-agers in Brooklyn, in 1987, Smokes and Warren were convicted of second-degree murder during the mugging of a tourist; the papers called them “the Times Square Two.” It was the testimony of another teen-ager, who received a reduced sentence in a separate case for his coöperation, that sent them to prison. Ever since, Warren and Smokes have protested their innocence, and Walker later acknowledged that he had lied. But in requesting parole, after years in prison, the two men had to take responsibility for their crime, and four years ago, a judge denied their appeal. Gonnerman tells the story of their long fight for justice, and how it finally came to pass. 

    11 June 2024, 10:00 am
  • 22 minutes 38 seconds
    Senator Raphael Warnock on America’s “Moral and Spiritual Battle”

    When Raphael Warnock was elected to the Senate from Georgia in the 2020 election, he made history a couple of times over. He became the first Black Democrat elected to the Senate from the Deep South. At the same time, that victory—alongside Jon Ossoff’s—flipped both of Georgia’s Senate seats from Republican to Democrat. Once thought of as solidly red, Georgia has become a closely watched swing state that President Biden can’t afford to lose in November, and Warnock is a key ally. He dismisses polls that show younger Black voters are leaning toward Trump in higher numbers than older voters; Biden’s record as President, he thinks—including a reported sixty per cent increase in Black wealth since the pandemic—will motivate strong turnout. Warnock returns to Atlanta every Sunday to preach at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he remains senior pastor, and he thinks of the election as a “moral and spiritual battle.” “Are we a nation that can send from the South a Black man and a Jewish man to the Senate?” he asks. “Or are we that nation that rises up in violence as we witness the demographic changes in our country and the struggle for a more inclusive Republic?” 

    7 June 2024, 7:00 pm
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