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Notebook on Cities and Culture S4E38: East- and West-Coastification with Madeleine Brand

madeleinebrandColin Marshall sits down under the cafeteria at Santa Monica College with beloved Los Angeles radio personality Madeleine Brand, now host of Press Play on KCRW, formerly of NPR’s Morning EditionAll Things Considered, and Day to Day, KPCC’s The Madeleine Brand Show, and KCET’s SoCal Connected. They discuss how much easier she has it waking up for noon radio nowadays instead of morning radio; what to call her format, a popular one in Los Angeles, where one host talks to a series of people, each with their own thing going on in the news; the distinctive difficulty of finding subjects that interest a large percentage of Los Angeles; her first decade in Southern California, and her later college years in Northern California as KALX’s “Madame Bomb”; Los Angeles’ unusually close relationship with the radio; the east-coastification she experienced in her years amid the “visceral humanity” of New York; how the heightening, densifying Los Angeles we see on the way (and imagined in Her) strikes her inner New Yorker; her lingering nostalgia for the sense of “peace, openness, and quiet” that formerly characterized this city; how we might allow Los Angeles to both define itself and not define itself, retaining its borderlessness with the rest of the world; how she’s solved part of the hours-in-the-day problem (and the traffic problem) by hiring a driver; the asshole each and every one of us turns into when we get behind the wheel ourselves; what, exactly, makes for a “news story”; her task of making a subject meaningful beyond the first thirty seconds; the grim public radio listener’s moment of realization that they’re trying to guess what interests you; the mechanics of a five-minute interview (featuring an actual, table-turning five-minute interview); how often complaints come from a legitimate argument, and how often they come from a bad life; how easy Los Angeles makes it to live a bad life; the missing types of public discourse she’d like to hear in Los Angeles; the sorts of problems that public discourse can help to solve, such as school segregation; and whether to call him “Smokey Bear” or “Smokey the Bear.”

Download the interview here as an MP3 or on iTunes.

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