While maintaining the civility and fairness that are the hallmarks of public radio, OTM tackles sticky issues with a frankness and transparency that has built trust with listeners and led to more than a tripling of its audience in five years.
Since OTM was re-launched in 2001, it has been one of NPR's fastest growing programs, heard on more than 300 public radio stations. It has won Edward R. Murrow Awards for feature reporting and investigative reporting, the National Press Club's Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism and a Peabody Award for its body of work.
February 22, 2018
In the wake of the school shooting in Florida we are recycling two interviews that we recorded following two other mass shooting tragedies. The first is about a chapter in the NRA's history that not many people know about. We’ve become accustomed in the past 20 years to seeing the issue of guns in America broken down into two camps: gun control advocates — led by police chiefs and Sarah Brady — and the all-powerful National Rifle Association. In an interview that originally aired after Sandy Hook in 2012, Bob talks to Adam Winkler, author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms In America, who says there was a time, relatively recently, in fact, when the NRA supported gun control legislation, and the staunchest defenders of so-called "gun rights" were on the radical left.
The second interview we thought deserved another airing is about the dearth of research into these events. Hours before the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, a group of physicians petitioned Congress to end the so-called Dickey Amendment, a nearly twenty-year-old ban that effectively prevents the CDC from researching gun violence. Brooke spoke to Todd Zwillich, acting host of The Takeaway, about the history of the ban and its current political state.
February 16, 2018
This week, we dive headfirst into the uncomfortable and the untrue — on the international stage, in the White House, and in your local newspaper. How claims from Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] press releases sometimes end up, almost verbatim, in local reporting on deportations; why a New York City immigration advocate's history muddies the waters around his advocacy; what Poland's new Holocaust law really means for the country; and how personal stakes can shape our understanding of the plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar.
1. Bob, on the Trump White House getting caught up in lies once again.
3. Errol Louis [@errollouis], host of Inside City Hall on NY1, on the press's coverage of immigration advocate Ravi Ragbir.
4. Geneviève Zubrzycki, sociology professor at the University of Michigan, on Poland's new law regarding the Holocaust.
The Street by Elmer Bernstein
Susan the Stage by Chico Hamilton
III. White Man Sleeps by Kronos Quartet
Totem Ancestor by Kronos Quartet
Slow Pulse Conga by William Pasley
The Glass House - Mitra's Sadness by David Bergeaud
February 14, 2018
On Monday, Donald Trump released the second budget proposal of his presidency. There’s lots in it — more money for defense, veterans and border security and some tax changes too. But what really jumps out is the proposal to cut funding for federal assistance programs including a 20 percent cut to Section 8 housing, a 22 percent cut to Medicaid and a brutal 27 percent cut to SNAP (the benefit formerly known as food stamps). Bobby Kogan, who on Twitter identifies himself as “chief number cruncher for the Senate budget committee”, points out that SNAP benefits are already small at just $1.40 per meal, and that “cutting the program by a quarter is extremely cruel.”
The proposed cuts did trigger outrage from advocates for the poor, who have also noted that the social safety net has big holes and vulnerable people have been falling through them for years.
In the fall of 2016, Brooke reported a series we called “Busted: America’s Poverty Myths.” Over five episodes she explored the central myths of poverty as we see them: that the poor deserve to be poor, that you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps and (the one we are re-airing now), that the safety net can catch you.
With the help of Linda Tirado, author of Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America, and Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, we consider how anti-poverty programs can actually keep people poor and offer little hope for a way out.
Also, Brooke meets Margaret Smith, a Columbus woman made homeless after a violent crime derailed the life she'd carefully built with her six children. And we visit an Athens County food pantry that provides not just meals to the community, but also school supplies, clothing, furniture, job training, home repairs, disaster relief... even burial plots.
February 9, 2018
This week, we devote an entire hour to what one important scholar deemed “the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.” From its earliest role as a source of nourishment to its depictions in ancient literature, we examine the roots of mankind’s everlasting drinking problems. Plus, how a bizarre 60 Minutes piece spread the idea that red wine has medicinal effects. Then, a look at how popular culture has incorrectly framed Alcoholics Anonymous as the best and only option for addiction recovery. And, a scientist cooks up a synthetic substitute for booze.
1. Iain Gately, author of Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol, on the ancient origins of our core beliefs about booze.
2. Robert Taylor, assistant managing editor at Wine Spectator, on red wine's constantly changing reputation as a healthy substance.
3. Gabrielle Glaser [@GabrielleGlaser], author of Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink - And How They Can Regain Control, on the history and P.R. methods of Alcoholics Anonymous.
4. David Nutt [@ProfDavidNutt], psychologist at Imperial College London, on his new alcohol substitute, "alcosynth."
When I Get Low I Get High by Ella Fitzgerald
Tomorrow Never Knows by Quartetto D/Archi Dell'Orchestra Sinfonica Di Milano
Il Casanova Di Federico Fellini by Solisti E Orchestre Del Cinema Italiano
Option with Variations by Kronos Quartet/composer Rhiannon Giddens
February 7, 2018
Back in January last year, Donald Trump, newly elected, not yet sworn in, tried to quell concerns about his many conflicts of interest by declaring he would turn over the day-to-day running of his company to his sons. Did he follow through on that? Has he leveraged the presidency to enrich himself? Who are his partners? Who does he take money from? Trump has rejected the advice of ethics experts to divest himself from his enterprises. He’s also refused to release details about his finances (including, of course, his tax records).
Our colleagues in the WNYC newsroom. Ilya Marritz and Andrea Bernstein together with Pro Publica’s Eric Umansky, experienced investigative journalists all, were researching these questions when they slammed into a wall: The documents with the answers were not available.
Their solution? A new weekly podcast of course, called: Trump Inc. They’re calling it an “open investigation” because they’ll be laying out what they know and what they don’t. And they’re inviting everyone — fellow reports, experts, tipsters and listeners — to join them in the quest for answers.
February 2, 2018
It was yet another week of will-he-won't-he: Will President Donald Trump authorize the release of the House Intelligence Committee's "memo," in spite of senior FBI and Justice Dept. officials' warnings not to do so? (Spoiler alert: He did.) Will he continue to edge the U.S. closer to a devastating military encounter with North Korea — as he did for the first year of his presidency, and as he did during his State of the Union address earlier this week? And if the United States finds itself engaged in the unimaginable — nuclear conflict — what lessons will we learn from those who have already tried to imagine just that?
1. Steven Aftergood [@saftergood], transparency advocate, on the House Intelligence Committee's notorious "memo."
2. Lawrence Krauss [@LKrauss1], theoretical physicist and chair of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Board of Sponsors, on the Doomsday Clock's latest move toward midnight.
3. Marsha Gordon [@MarshaGGordon], film studies professor at North Carolina State University, on the 1983 film "The Day After," which imagines a massive nuclear strike in the Midwestern U.S.
4. Anne Washburn, playwright, on "Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play," in which she imagines American cultural life after a devastating nuclear event.
Liquid Spear Waltz by Michael Andrews
White Man Sleeps by Kronos Quartet
String Quartet No. 5 by Kronos Quartet
The Glass House - Marjane's Inspiration by David Bergeaud
German Lullaby by The Kiboomers
January 31, 2018
In his State of the Union speech this week the president announced - to rapturous applause from congressional Republicans, that he had just signed an order to keep open the detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay. When Mohamedou Ould Slahi was released from the prison in 2016, after 14 years behind bars, he was finally able to read Guantanamo Diary, the bestselling book he had written while imprisoned. And for the first time, he saw the thousands of black bars the FBI had placed over much of his account of capture, torture, and interrogation. Late last year, Slahi and his original editor, writer and activist Larry Siems, set to work unredacting his work. Bob spoke to Siems last fall about their efforts to finally release the full Guantanamo Diary. He also spoke to Slahi via Skype from his home in Mauritania to discuss his book, his experience behind bars and what he wants people to learn about the American political and justice systems.
January 26, 2018
A year into the Trump Administration, thousands continue to take to the streets but has the press lost interest? This week we look at the nature of protest in an era of never-ending distraction. We also take a deep dive into the world of right-wing conspiracies, as well as meme culture as a whole. Plus, we remember Ursula Le Guin, the monumental science fiction author who passed away earlier this week.
2. Amanda Hess [@amandahess], internet critic at the New York Times, on the dynamics and politics of meme culture.
3. Zeynep Tufekci [@zeynep], professor at the University of North Carolina, on coverage of protest movements like the Women's March.
4. David S. Meyer [@davidsmeyer1], sociology professor at the University of California at Irvine, on tropes and faults to look out for in coverage of protests.
5. Julie Phillips [@jcfphillips], biographer and critic, on the life and writings of author Ursula K. Le Guin.
Fallen Leaves by Marcos Ciscar
Berotim by John Zorn
Uluwati by John Zorn
Tilliboyo by Kronos Quartet
Love Theme from Spartacus by Yusef Lateef
January 23, 2018
Over these last few months, WNYC reporter Matt Katz has been reporting the story of a congolese man named Andre and his wife, Lisette. They were living in a Malawi refugee camp, but then Andre was given the chance to be resettled in Elizabeth New Jersey. And he had to leave Lisette behind.
When Matt started researching this story he was struck by the fact that in the last 3 years the largest number of refugees to the US were not from Syria or any of the other majority Muslim countries named in Trump’s “extreme vetting” list but from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
President Trump came into office promising a wholesale remaking of U.S. immigration policy - there was the travel ban and, of course, the border wall. But what's gotten less attention is the dramatic shift in refugee policy, like slashing the number of refugees allowed into the country and changing security procedures.
Luckily for Andre, he made it to New Jersey right before things started to change.
January 19, 2018
Recent accusations of sexual misconduct have led some to claim that the #MeToo movement has gone too far. We break down the arguments and look back at a 1994 conversation about feminism to explore where the movement might be headed next. Plus, a change to Facebook's News Feed algorithm has those in the media worried: a newspaper editor voices her frustration over what it means for the spread of information and a Serbian reporter discusses how the social network is marginalizing journalism in his country. Then, radio giant Joe Frank died this week. How his bizarre style influenced important voices you know today, including Radiolab's Jad Abumrad.
1. Caroline Framke [@carolineframke] of Vox examines the various arguments and conversations taking place around a report of sexually inappropriate behavior by the comedian Aziz Ansari.
2. Rebecca Walker [@rebeccawalker] talks to Brooke about how Third Wave Feminism intersects with the #MeToo movement, and reflects on the conversations about consent and pleasure taking place in the early 1990s when she coined the phrase 'Third Wave.'
3. Audrey Cooper [@audreycoopersf], Editor-in-Chief of The San Francisco Chronicle, voices her frustration over Facebook's algorithmic decisions and what they mean for media outlets. Stevan Dojčinović [@StevanOCCRP], Editor-in-Chief of the Serbian website KRIK [@KRIKrs], an independent nonprofit news organization in Belgrade, talks to Bob about how Facebook's decision to move Serbian news into a separate feed called Explore has marginalized independent journalism there.
4. Jad Abumrad [@JadAbumrad] of Radiolab [@Radiolab] reflects on how Joe Frank's late-night shows influenced his work. Then, Mark Oppenheimer, host of Tablet's Unorthodox podcast, discusses his recent interview with Frank and his piece for Slate [@Slate].