The New Yorker Radio Hour

By WNYC Studios and The New Yorker

SHOW DESCRIPTION

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


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EPISODES LIST
02.19.2019
02.15.2019
02.12.2019
02.08.2019
02.05.2019
02.01.2019

John Thompson vs. American Justice

When police showed up to question John Thompson, he was worried that it was because he had sold drugs to an undercover cop.  When he realized they were investigating a murder, he could only laugh: “Shit, for real? Murder?”Thompson was insistent on his innocence, but New Orleans prosecutors wanted a conviction for a high-profile murder, and they were not scrupulous about how they got it. Thompson quickly found himself on death row. Eighteen years later, just weeks before Thompson was due to be executed, his lawyers discovered that a prosecutor had hidden exculpatory evidence from the defense. Thompson had been set up. This was a violation of the Brady Rule, established by the Supreme Court, in 1963, to ensure fair trials. Ultimately, he was exonerated of both crimes, but his attempts to get a settlement from the district attorney’s office—compensation for his time in prison—were thwarted. Though an appeals court had upheld a fourteen-million-dollar settlement, the Supreme Court reversed the decision, declining to punish the D.A. for violating the Court's own ruling. Thompson’s case revealed fundamental imbalances that undermine the very notion of a fair trial.  Under the Brady Rule, prosecutors must share with the defense any evidence that could be favorable to the defendant.  But there is essentially no practical enforcement of this rule. In most states, prosecutors are the ones who hold the evidence and choose what to share, and disclosing exculpatory evidence makes their cases harder to win. We have absolutely no idea how many criminal trials are flawed by these violations.The staff writer Andrew Marantz, his wife, Sarah Lustbader, of the Fair Punishment Project, and the producer Katherine Wells reported on John Thompson’s story and its implications. They spoke with the late John Thompson (who died in 2017), with his lawyers, and with Harry Connick, Sr., the retired New Orleans D.A. who, despite having tried very hard to have Thompson killed, remains unrepentant. This episode contains explicit language and may not be suitable for children.

01.29.2019
01.25.2019
01.22.2019

The Producer dream hampton Talks with Jelani Cobb about “Surviving R. Kelly”

For decades, it’s been an open secret that R. Kelly has allegedly kept young women trapped in abusive relationships through psychological manipulation, fear, and intimidation. His domestic situation has been compared to a sex cult. He was acquitted of child-pornography charges even though a video that appears to show him with a fourteen-year-old girl was circulated around the country. It was described only as the “R. Kelly sex tape.” Why has it taken so long for the reckonings of the #MeToo movement to catch up to him? Lifetime just aired “Surviving R. Kelly,” a six-part documentary by the producer dream hampton that airs the full breadth of the accusations against Kelly. (He continues to deny all charges of illegal behavior.) One young woman featured in the documentary left a relationship with Kelly, whom she met when she was a teen-age supporter outside the Chicago courtroom where he was being tried. “He was cruising eleventh graders on that trial,” hampton tells the New Yorker staff writer Jelani Cobb. “I mean, the hubris!” Cobb and hampton discuss the complicated dynamics of accusing R. Kelly. “It’s a deep shame black women have, handing over black men to this system we know to be unjust and that targets them,” she says. “At the same time, black women are black people, and we too are targeted . . . . Most sexual-violence survivors don’t find justice in this system, regardless of race.” Update: After our program went to air, RCA Records dropped R. Kelly from its roster. 

01.18.2019
01.15.2019
01.11.2019
01.08.2019
01.04.2019
12.28.2018
12.23.2018
12.21.2018

Kelly Slater’s Perfect Wave Brings Surfing to a Crossroads

In December of 2015, a video appeared on the Internet that stunned surfers worldwide. Titled “Kelly’s Wave,” it showed Kelly Slater—arguably the best pro surfer in history—unveiling a secret project he had been working on for more than a decade. With the help of engineers and designers, Slater had perfected the first artificial wave, created by machine in a pool, that could rival the best waves found in the ocean. “One could spend years and years surfing in the ocean,” notes staff writer William Finnegan, himself a lifelong surfer, “and never get a wave as good as what some people are getting here today. Ever.”   Finnegan went to visit the Kelly Slater Wave Company’s Surf Ranch—a facility in California’s Central Valley, far from the coast—to observe a competition and test the wave for himself. Up until now, surfing was defined by its lack of predictability: chasing waves around the world and dealing with disappointment when they do not appear has been integral to the life of a surfer. But with a mechanically produced, infinitely repeatable, world-class wave, surfing can become like any other sport. The professional World Surf League, which has bought a controlling interest in Slater’s company, sees a bright future. But Finnegan wonders what it means to take surfing out of nature. Will kids master riding artificial waves without even learning to swim in the ocean? Finnegan spoke with Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore (the Australian seven-time world champion), and Matt Warshaw (the closest thing surfing has to an official historian). Warshaw, like Finnegan, is skeptical about the advent of mechanical waves. Yet he admits that, when he had the chance to ride it, he didn’t ever want to stop. “It reminded me of 1986,” Warshaw recalls. “The drugs have run out, you already hate yourself—how do we get more?” William Finnegan’s article “Kelly Slater’s Shock Wave” appeared this month in The New Yorker.

12.18.2018

Aaron Sorkin Rewrites “To Kill a Mockingbird”

As he set about adapting “To Kill a Mockingbird” for the stage—the play opened this week on Broadway—Aaron Sorkin first wrote a version that he says was very much like the novel, but “with stage directions.” As he delved into the character of Atticus Finch, though, he found himself troubled. The small-town lawyer is tolerant, but too tolerant, tolerant of everything, including the violent racism of many of his neighbors—which he attempts to understand rather than condemn. And Sorkin felt that Lee’s two black characters, the maid Calpurnia and the falsely accused Tom Robinson, had no real voice in the book. “I imagine that, in 1960, using African-American characters as atmosphere is the kind of thing that would go unnoticed by white people,” he tells David Remnick. “In 2018, it doesn’t go unnoticed, and it’s wrong, and it’s also a wasted opportunity.”   Sorkin’s changes in his adaptation led to a lawsuit from Harper Lee’s literary executor, who had approved him as the playwright but placed specific conditions on the faithfulness of his script. In Sorkin’s view, the criticisms of the executor, Tonja Carter, were tantamount to racism. He thinks they reinforced the lack of voice and agency of black people in the South in the nineteen-thirties. (Carter declined to comment on Sorkin’s remarks.) The two sides eventually reached a settlement, in May, and the play proceeded to production. Sorkin says that, of his own volition, he cut some of his lines that hinted too broadly at the political realities of America under Donald Trump. But Atticus Finch’s realization—that the people in his community whom he thought he knew best, he never really knew at all—mirrors the experience of many Americans since 2016. Plus, a Minnesota senator on running as a Democrat in the age of Trump.  

12.14.2018
12.07.2018
12.04.2018
11.30.2018
11.27.2018
11.23.2018
11.20.2018
11.16.2018
11.13.2018
11.09.2018
11.06.2018
11.02.2018
10.30.2018
10.26.2018
10.23.2018
10.19.2018
10.16.2018

Is Voting Safe?

For democracy to function, we have to trust and accept the results of elections. But that trust is increasingly difficult to maintain in a world where malicious actors like the G.R.U., the Russian intelligence agency, have been actively probing our election systems for technological vulnerabilities. Sue Halpern, who reports on election security, spoke with the researcher Logan Lamb, who found a massive amount of information from the Georgia election system sitting unsecured on the Internet. The information included election officials’ passwords and the names and addresses of voters, and Lamb made the discovery during the time that (according to the Mueller investigation) Russian hackers were probing the system. Georgia is one of a number of states that do not use any paper backup for their balloting, so suspected hacking of voting machines or vote tabulators can be nearly impossible to prove. On top of this, new restrictive voting laws purge voters who, for instance, haven’t voted in the last few elections, so hackers can disenfranchise voters by deleting or changing information in the databases—without tampering with the tallied votes. Susan Greenhalgh of the National Election Defense Coalition tells Halpern that while some states are inclined to resist federal assistance in their election operations, they are poorly equipped to fight cyber-battles on their own. Plus, the story of explorer Henry Worsley, who set out at fifty-five ski to ski alone across Antarctica, hauling more than three hundred pounds of gear and posting an audio diary by satellite phone. New Yorker staff writer David Grann spoke with Worsley’s widow, Joanna, about the painful choice she made to support her husband in an endeavor that seemed fatal.  

10.12.2018
10.09.2018
10.05.2018
10.05.2018
10.02.2018
09.28.2018
09.25.2018
09.21.2018
09.18.2018
09.14.2018
09.11.2018
09.07.2018
09.04.2018
08.31.2018
08.28.2018
The New Yorker Radio Hour Podcast

LAST EPISODE

What Are We Talking About W...

02.19.2019

With the election to the House of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, following up on the surprising Presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, socialism is on the rise, after a long decline in America. But the Harvard historian and New Yorker ...