KCRW Press Play

KCRW Press Play Press Play airs on KCRW every weekday at 12 and 7 PM. Host Madeleine Brand looks at news, culture and emerging trends through the lens of Los Angeles.

Madeleine Brand hosts Press Play on KCRW every weekday from noon to 1pm. The show examines the latest ideas and trends that are shaping our world and shaping Los Angeles. Madeleine talks with newsmakers, big thinkers, and everyday people as we map out our modern world. Madeleine Brand joined KCRW in 2013 to host the midday show, “Press Play.” She most recently came from KCET, where she won an Emm

y award for her work on the tv news show, “SoCal Connected.” She’s best known for her career in public radio, where she created and hosted a daily show at KPCC. Before that, she was a reporter and host at NPR for more than 13 years.

“The album is not about abuse. It’s about the journey out of abuse, the transformative power of art and love and communi...
11/15/2022

“The album is not about abuse. It’s about the journey out of abuse, the transformative power of art and love and community,” singer-songwriter told Press Play.

Russell's solo debut album "Outside Child" made her a breakout star in the Americana genre last year. She is performing at tomorrow, November 15th.

Photo Credit: Marc Baptiste

After founding the iconic band , bassist Oliver Sim has released his debut solo album. The lyrics tackle HIV stigma, sha...
09/12/2022

After founding the iconic band , bassist Oliver Sim has released his debut solo album. The lyrics tackle HIV stigma, shame and learning to celebrate.

“Songwriting is only a conversation with myself. There's no back and forth there. I don't have to be in the room when somebody listens to this,” Sim told KCRW.

Sim’s new album “Hideous Bastard” is out now.

Photo Credit: Laura Coulson.

Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett () hit indie-rock stardom nearly 10 years ago when her music impressed fan...
07/15/2022

Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett () hit indie-rock stardom nearly 10 years ago when her music impressed fans with personal lyrics about love, anxiety, depression and panic attacks. Now Barnett is the subject of a new documentary called “Anonymous Club,” which explores the difficulties of being in the spotlight while managing mental health.

“A lot of the film is hard for me to watch actually, because I can hear how sad I sound,” Barnett told KCRW. “But it’s also nice to reflect on those moments.”

“Anonymous Club” premieres in Los Angeles on July 15 at Brain Dead Studios ()

Photo credit: Mia Mala McDonald.

“I’ll find the money. There won't be any new taxes. I am not in favor of new taxes. And we can hire the police, which we...
04/29/2022

“I’ll find the money. There won't be any new taxes. I am not in favor of new taxes. And we can hire the police, which we desperately need. We are underserved with the amount of cops we currently have in LAPD. Crime is rising, and we have 500 less police officers on the street. And that's why crime will continue to rise,” says LA mayoral candidate and billionaire businessman of his plan to hire 1,500 new LAPD officers.

Caruso is best known for developing projects like The Grove and The Americana. He also served as president of the LA Police Commission in the early 2000s and as chair of the USC Board of Trustees from 2018 until earlier this year, when he stepped down to run for mayor. The latest polls show Caruso leading the race to be the next mayor, though very narrowly and within the margin of error.

Caruso has spent at least $10 million dollars of his own money on his campaign — an unprecedented amount this early in the race. He’s used that money to blanket TV, mailboxes and social media with campaign ads. But he refutes the idea that he’s buying his way into the race.

“I don't believe people can buy elections. I believe people need to get their message out there, and then the voters will make a good choice,” Caruso says.

spoke with Caruso earlier this week about his plans to end street encampments, build 30,000 shelter beds in his first year, and why he chose not to release his tax returns.

📸 courtesy of the Caruso for Mayor campaign.

“I think there's more support for defunding the police than you think because we're not just talking about defunding the...
04/28/2022

“I think there's more support for defunding the police than you think because we're not just talking about defunding the police. We're talking about refunding a community. And I think whether we know it, we feel it. We are not well as a society. We are not taking care of one another. And it is time to have different priorities,” says LA mayoral candidate .

Viola, a community organizer, says as mayor, her ultimate goal would be to abolish the police, but that that would happen gradually over time.

“I think the first step to it is not hiring any new police officers,” Viola says. “That's the first step we need to take.”

Viola is also running on a platform of increasing the minimum wage to $39. ’s Madeleine Brand spoke with Viola earlier this week about her campaign.

📸 by KCRW

“It is not solving [homelessness] to criminalize people, even if you are so fed up that you have no more empathy. If you...
04/20/2022

“It is not solving [homelessness] to criminalize people, even if you are so fed up that you have no more empathy. If you lead to a strategy like that, you might lock somebody up in city jail. They might be there for three days, and they'll be right back on the street,” LA mayoral candidate Karen Bass says.

California Congresswoman Karen Bass talks about her plan to house 15,000 homeless Angelenos, and why LA needs a nonviolent approach to alleviate crime.

When New York Times food writer  set out to write his first cookbook about Korean American cooking, he decided he needed...
04/15/2022

When New York Times food writer set out to write his first cookbook about Korean American cooking, he decided he needed to study at the foot of the master: his own mother, Jean. 

“Learning from home cooks is one way to really nuance your cooking and to really find not just joy, but also incredible secrets. Like my mom, the way she cooks certain things, no one else does it like her. And it's because she didn't learn it from a book,” Kim tells . “She just learned it from real life. … That's the kind of cooking that I'm really interested in writing about. It's in the ordinary that you find real nuance.” 

So Eric left New York City and moved back into his childhood home in suburban Atlanta for almost an entire year. He spent his days learning the recipes his mother cooked for him as a kid developing new ones with her – and even cementing his own voice as a Korean American in and out of the kitchen. 

Those recipes – and the family stories that inspired them – make up Eric’s new cookbook, “Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home.” 

📸s 1 and 3 courtesy of Penguin Random House. 📸 2 by Jenny Huang.

“What I appreciated most was to give a voice to this woman who is somebody's mother, somebody's auntie, somebody's grand...
04/13/2022

“What I appreciated most was to give a voice to this woman who is somebody's mother, somebody's auntie, somebody's grandmother, who we pass on the streets … who goes unnoticed and unheard, and not appreciated in any way, any form,” stopped by to about her film

Photo Courtesy of



Press Play continues our series of conversations with the leading candidates hoping to become the next mayor of Los Ange...
04/04/2022

Press Play continues our series of conversations with the leading candidates hoping to become the next mayor of Los Angeles.

City Attorney Mike Feuer () is promising to make shelter beds available for every person experiencing homelessness by the end of his first term as mayor, and to centralize the city’s response to homelessness.

“It's imperative that we have a single person who is responsible for the issue of homelessness, with transparent goals and timeframes to accomplish those goals,” Feuer says. “It's the right thing to do. And it's the most efficient thing to do. And it'll make Los Angeles much more effective when it comes to grappling with the issue of homelessness.”

Feuer also discussed his plans to reduce crime and his love of Steve Wonder.

📸: Marcelle Hutchins/

"My plan is: Those who are living on the streets, give them two options, whether it's a BRIDGE Home or Project RoomKey. ...
03/24/2022

"My plan is: Those who are living on the streets, give them two options, whether it's a BRIDGE Home or Project RoomKey. And if they refuse, there ought to be consequences because when a bed is available, the sidewalk should not be an option," Joe Buscaino tells Madeleine. "As a last resort, I've always felt that a citation or arrest has to be on the table."

Today we kicked off the first in our series of interviews with LA's leading mayoral candidates.

In the first of five interviews with LA mayoral candidates, LA City Councilmember Joe Buscaino talks about his plan to provide immediate shelters to unhoused Angelenos, and defends his use of donor cash to travel abroad with his family.

Do you have questions to ask LA's next mayor? Madeleine is interviewing the top five candidates, but we need your help t...
03/22/2022

Do you have questions to ask LA's next mayor? Madeleine is interviewing the top five candidates, but we need your help to make that happen.

What do you want to ask the candidates running for LA mayor? Homelessness, crime, transit and beyond — send us your burning questions.

"Empowerment is not a destination, it's something that you need to negotiate on an everyday basis,” says filmmaker Rintu...
03/17/2022

"Empowerment is not a destination, it's something that you need to negotiate on an everyday basis,” says filmmaker Rintu Thomas.

In rural northern India, group of women has done something extraordinary. For 20 years, they’ve run a newspaper in a part of the country where electricity and indoor plumbing are still scarce, and India’s caste system still reigns.

Most of these women journalists come from the Dalit caste — the “untouchables” or lowest designation. And yet this publication is a force to be reckoned with.

Since they moved online, they’ve amassed half a million YouTube subscribers and hundreds of millions of views for their stories. They report on sexual assaults, mining disasters, vigilantism, the rise of Hindu nationalism.

Their story is told in Writing With Fire, which is nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

For 20 years in rural northern India, an all-women group has run an increasingly popular news outlet called Khabar Lahariya. Most of them come from the Dalit caste, which is the lowest. Their story is told in the Oscar-nominated film, “Writing with Fire.”

"I said I can't do this if you have a hearing person playing a Deaf part. It's been too long that this has been done tha...
03/16/2022

"I said I can't do this if you have a hearing person playing a Deaf part. It's been too long that this has been done that you can't have inauthentic portrayals, you can't have hearing people put on costumes of Deafness," on the and the casting of instead of an A-list leading man. She spoke to about the Oscar-nominated film, her 35-year career, and fight for accessibility.

photo courtesy of Apple+TV
Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin and Daniel Durant in “CODA.”

“We knew we needed someone who could capture Kareem’s spirit and personality, that gravitas, and we were having a real h...
03/09/2022

“We knew we needed someone who could capture Kareem’s spirit and personality, that gravitas, and we were having a real hard time finding anyone to tick all those boxes,” says HBO's "Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty" showrunner Max Borenstein.

Enter Solomon Hughes. The one-time Harlem Globetrotter-turned-college professor-turned-actor had never performed onscreen until being cast as legendary Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Abdul-Jabbar was the cornerstone of the Lakers when they drafted Magic Johnson in 1979. The two couldn’t have been more different - Johnson a smiling, charismatic 19-year-old rookie; Abdul-Jabbar the towering, 7-foot stoic intellectual and NBA veteran.

“There was obviously going to be some friction, but it's the meshing and the alchemy between those two characters that helped create the Showtime team,” Borenstein says. “It was this mix of flash and glamor and competitive spirit. They didn't just bring the show, they actually delivered the goods and won rings.”

The Lakers in the 1980s won five NBA titles and were known for bringing glitz and glamor to the Forum in Inglewood. They’re the focus of HBO’s “Winning Time.”

At age 97, American pianist Ruth Slenczynska is releasing a new album, “My Life in Music.”Once a child prodigy, she bega...
03/07/2022

At age 97, American pianist Ruth Slenczynska is releasing a new album, “My Life in Music.”
Once a child prodigy, she began performing at just 4 years old. A few years later, she became the star of a concert in Los Angeles, when the composer Sergei Rachmaninoff became injured and couldn’t play. She was his substitute.

“He was curious to hear me play because everyone seemed satisfied with the substitution except for him. I don’t think he enjoyed being replaced by a nine-year-old girl,” Slenczynska told KCRW.

She later studied with Rachmaninoff in Paris. Today, she’s believed to be his last living pupil. Her new album is available on March 18th.

Photo Credit: Meredith Truax.

"I really at one point wondered: 'Do I need to literally describe what a compact disc is?' Part of me was like, 'Well, I...
03/03/2022

"I really at one point wondered: 'Do I need to literally describe what a compact disc is?' Part of me was like, 'Well, I knew what a reel-to-reel was growing up. I didn't see one of those.' You can still find compact discs. But I think just the idea of why a compact disc had meaning now seems bizarre. When you have access to all the music in the world for $10 a month, the idea that people used to go to Best Buy and spend $14 to get 12 songs they could only play on one specific machine, it almost seems like a masochistic thing. And it actually seemed like an improvement over cassettes," Chuck Klosterman says.

The 1990s was a decade of dial-up internet, compact discs, and Hollywood favorites such as “American Beauty” and “Friends.” Chuck Klosterman’s new book unpacks it all.

The new art exhibit “Wake Me When I’m Free” honors the legacy of Tupac Shakur. Known as 2Pac, he was one of the most inf...
03/01/2022

The new art exhibit “Wake Me When I’m Free” honors the legacy of Tupac Shakur. Known as 2Pac, he was one of the most influential rappers of all time.

“There's no one way to talk about this guy,” says culture writer . “You can focus on the music, which was powerful. It was emotional, it was tragic. And then you look at his movie career, and then you think about the controversy in his life.”

Tinsley spoke to KCRW about Shakur’s life and death, and how his artistry still resonates today. The exhibit can be seen at L.A. Live until May 2022.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

The story of Cyrano de Bergerac has been told and retold since the 19th Century. The new iteration, "Cyrano," stars Pete...
02/23/2022

The story of Cyrano de Bergerac has been told and retold since the 19th Century. The new iteration, "Cyrano," stars Peter Dinklage and is a musical. "I think it’s lasted because it is about a universal experience, that of feeling of unworthiness of love, fear of intimacy, fear of allowing people to see into you for who you really are, and trusting that those people will love you for who you are, instead of the persona that you try and perform for the world,” explains director Joe Wright .

Cyrano opens in movie theaters Friday.

Photos by Peter Mountain.
Peter Dinklage stars as Cyrano and Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Christian
Haley Bennett stars as Roxanne and Peter Dinklage as Cyrano.
Peter Dinklage stars as Cyrano and Bashir Salahuddin as Le Bret.

“I hated how people that weren't Black made you feel if you told them you weren't a regular at the Comedy Store or the L...
02/22/2022

“I hated how people that weren't Black made you feel if you told them you weren't a regular at the Comedy Store or the Laugh Factory or The Improv, and it made you feel like you weren't a real comic," explains the launch of Phat Tuesdays a weekly event that helped launch the careers of Tiffany Haddish, Nick Cannon and Kevin Hart. His new docuseries reveals how his driving passion to get Black comics stage time, helped desegregate comedy clubs nationwide.

Snoop Dogg, Tiffany Haddish photo courtesy of Prime Video




The comic book series “Primos” follows a group of Mexican American cousins who come together to save the world from evil...
02/19/2022

The comic book series “Primos” follows a group of Mexican American cousins who come together to save the world from evil. Set between Mexico and Los Angeles, it was created by actor and comedian

The series follows Ricky Pascal, a teenager who likes to party, and prefers video games over homework. Then he discovers that he comes from a long line of ancient Mayan sorcerers.

“I put this 17-year-old Boyle Heights kid in that line. And now he's got all this responsibility. He can't even barely take care of himself, let alone others,” Madrigal told KCRW. The character soon learns that only his family can defeat the bad guys.

“He’d always shunned responsibility, and now the weight of the world is on his shoulders.”

Photo 1: Cover art for “Primos.” Credit: AWA. Artist: Dave Johnson

Photo 2 credit: Comedian and writer Al Madrigal. Credit: Troy Conrad

The new Prime Video series "As We See It" follows three roommates who are on the autism spectrum, played by actors who t...
02/15/2022

The new Prime Video series "As We See It" follows three roommates who are on the autism spectrum, played by actors who themselves have autism. It stars Sue Ann Pien, who, like her character Violet, grew up trying to navigate a world that didn’t understand her needs and wants.

“There’s a sense of loneliness,” Pien says. “Just because you have differences doesn’t mean that you don’t feel the need to have connections.”

Creator and showrunner Jason Katims says he was inspired to create the show because his son has autism, and he realized there wasn’t enough representation of adults on the spectrum.

“There is no one way of being autistic. As many people as you meet who are on the spectrum, that’s how many different types of autism there are,” Katims says.

Amazon’s new series, “As We See It,” follows three roommates who are on the autism spectrum, played by actors who experience it in real life.

I made a promise to everyone that [for] every penny that came in, we would make sure that goes and serves a hot meal to ...
02/08/2022

I made a promise to everyone that [for] every penny that came in, we would make sure that goes and serves a hot meal to someone,” . “For the whole 2020, we just survived on a break-even model of getting donations and using that money to feed people.”

meets the people actively preserving Latinx cuisine in LA's Chavez Ravine. Photo credit: Randall Michaelson.

Finnish conductor and composer .official led the LA Philharmonic for 17 years, transforming the institution into one of ...
02/08/2022

Finnish conductor and composer .official led the LA Philharmonic for 17 years, transforming the institution into one of the most contemporary and innovative orchestras in the world, spotlighting new composers and debuting more than 100 new pieces of music. He now serves as the music director of the San Francisco Symphony.

This month he returns to the LA Phil as conductor laureate, with two programs, including the U.S. orchestral debut of his composition "Fog." He spoke with KCRW about his ideas for the future of classical music, including using tech and virtual reality.

“I'm not looking for something that would replace the actual, pure concert experience, but I'm interested in the future of an art form.”

Photo Credit: Benjamin Suomela HS

Author, Daily Beat columnist and political commentator Wajahat Ali says he’s told almost everyday to “go back to where y...
02/02/2022

Author, Daily Beat columnist and political commentator Wajahat Ali says he’s told almost everyday to “go back to where you came from,” for no other reason than the fact that he’s Pakistani American. Ali says he prefers to respond to these kinds of racist comments with humor, rather than anger, because he finds it to be more powerful.

“Humor, if deployed with intention, can disrupt and flatten your opponent. You can b***y trap those stereotypes,” Ali says. “And [it] also allows for catharsis, a relief, and allows you to smile.”  

That humor runs through Ali’s new memoir, “Go Back To Where You Came From.” Over the course of the book, Ali reflects on life growing up in Fremont, Ca; his political awakening after 9/11; and how his life was turned upside down when his parents were arrested just months before he graduated from college.

Ali spoke with about his new book. 📸: Damon Dahlen, Huffington Post

When Marin Alsop was just a child, she saw a concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein and was inspired to become a conduct...
02/01/2022

When Marin Alsop was just a child, she saw a concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein and was inspired to become a conductor herself. She later became the first woman to head a major American orchestra.

But her journey to that milestone came after many music institutions rejected her ambitions. Everything changed when she was eventually accepted to study under Bernstein at the Tanglewood Music Center, starting her formal training as a conductor.

“I understood that he valued me not as a woman conductor, but as a talented young conductor — period," Alsop told KCRW.

Her story is now being told in the new documentary "The Conductor."

Credit: Cargo Film & Releasing.

Parts of   were filmed in his neighborhood, but  says he doesn’t like sets or showing that side of the city. “There’s a ...
01/11/2022

Parts of were filmed in his neighborhood, but says he doesn’t like sets or showing that side of the city. “There’s a dressed-up version of New York in other kinds of media and that is so much harder to do to me to try to dress up New York or try to avoid all the stuff that's front and center. Everything the street gives you, that's your cast.” He joins to take behind the scenes of his quirky .

On Arooj Aftab’s third album “Vulture Prince,” the musician sings ancient Islamic poetry, mostly in her native language ...
01/10/2022

On Arooj Aftab’s third album “Vulture Prince,” the musician sings ancient Islamic poetry, mostly in her native language Urdu, and creates songs that feel both urgent and rooted in history. Aftab moved to the U.S. from Lahore, Pakistan when she was only 19 years old to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. She’s since been active in Brooklyn’s music scene for more than a decade and her latest album was met with critical acclaim. Last year, Aftab became the first Pakistani woman to be recognized by the Recording Academy with nominations for Best New Artist and Best Global Music Performance.

“It feels like the Academy is doing a good thing here, where it's realizing that this is also popular but just from a different lens, and it deserves to be in the running as a Best New Artist,” she told Press Play. “And one of the biggest things is that the American audiences are okay now listening to music that isn't in English, because everywhere else in the world, they've been doing this for a long time very easily, right? … It's like a giant breakthrough.”

Photo Credit: Vishesh Sharma

For the indie artist Moses Sumney, natural environments are crucial to the creative process. So for his new film “Blacka...
01/03/2022

For the indie artist Moses Sumney, natural environments are crucial to the creative process. So for his new film “Blackalachia” he went to the mountains. Created over the course of two days, Sumney filmed an hour-long musical performance in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Birds chirp in between songs, the wind howls through the trees, all while he’s dressed glittering couture. He spoke with KCRW about making and directing the film, and leaving Los Angeles to create his music.

“I think there’s just something about a naturalistic environment that clears the mind and reopens the channel for writing and creation in general,” Sumney said.

Photo Credit: Spencer Kelly

EGOT Winner Rita Moreno joined  to share stories from her life and talk about the . And the joys and difficulties of joi...
12/14/2021

EGOT Winner Rita Moreno joined to share stories from her life and talk about the . And the joys and difficulties of joining the new cast of the .
"Until that minute I had always been known as Anita of West Side Story and I'm suddenly looking into another face Ariana Debose who by the way is just marvelous. . . It was so strange. I don't think it was any more comfortable for Ariana Debose,"
Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions and MGM Media Licensing

It’s been nearly 20 years since the halftime performance that birthed the term ‘wardrobe malfunction.’  looks back at th...
11/22/2021

It’s been nearly 20 years since the halftime performance that birthed the term ‘wardrobe malfunction.’ looks back at the events leading up to nipplegate and the backlash that followed and continues. talks to director .gomes about “Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson.”
“There were two people on stage that night, and one person clearly, her career was diminished while another one ascended and it's undeniable that that happened. And it's something that we wanted to speak truth to power in the film.”

Photo courtesy of



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