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.
July 19, 2017
After the Republican Party’s seven-year attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act kicked the bucket this week, Donald Trump declared that he would “let Obamacare fail.” He has plenty of options for moving that failure along and his actions inevitably would hit poor people the hardest, a fact that does not surprise Jack Frech who spent 30 years serving the poor in Appalachian Ohio. Frech was saddened but not surprised by the proposals put forward by house and Senate Republicans. He says such ideas are both perennial and bipartisan. For example the Clinton administration bundled what was once federal welfare assistance into block grants to states where the money often is misdirected or hoarded by the states, even as its shriveled by inflation. For context in the ensuing healthcare battles we are replaying a conversation Brooke had with Jack just after the house bill was passed.
July 14, 2017
The press are calling Don Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer a “smoking gun.” Why Trump supporters see it otherwise. Plus, the White House’s plan to cement the voter fraud narrative in service of future voter suppression. And, an Iraqi radio broadcaster puts his life on the line fighting ISIS propaganda in Mosul and a group of Syrian citizen journalists push back on the narratives about Raqqa.
2. Russian journalist Alexey Kovalev on what the American media get wrong in its reporting on Vladimir Putin.
4. City of Ghosts director Matthew Heineman describes the efforts of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a band of citizen journalists led by Abdel Aziz al-Hamza who risk their lives to report on conditions in Raqqa, Syria.
5. Radio Al-Ghad's Mohammad Al-Musali describes how his pirate radio station defied the media blackout in Mosul under ISIS rule in order to shine a light onto the city.
July 12, 2017
Bullseye host Jesse Thorn has just launched a new podcast called The Turnaround. It’s a series of longform interviews with interviewers about interviewing, with people ranging from Ira Glass to Larry King to Marc Maron and this week, with Brooke. Jesse really wanted to get into how On The Media is made, and why it sounds the way it does.
July 7, 2017
Science fiction has always been an outlet for our greatest anxieties. This week, we delve into how the genre is exploring the reality of climate change. Plus: new words to describe the indescribable.
1. Jeff VanderMeer @jeffvandermeer, author of the Southern Reach Trilogy and Borne, on writing about the relationships between people and nature.
2. Claire Vaye Watkins @clairevaye talks about Gold Fame Citrus, her work of speculative fiction in which an enormous sand dune threatens to engulf the southwest.
3. Kim Stanley Robinson discusses his latest work, New York 2140. The seas have risen 50 feet and lower Manhattan is submerged. And yet, there's hope.
4. British writer Robert Macfarlane @RobGMacfarlane on new language for our changing world.
Throughout the show: listeners offer their own new vocabulary for the Anthropocene era. Many thanks to everyone who left us voice memos!
July 5, 2017
In our upcoming episode we’ll examine how science fiction has taken on the challenge of imagining life after global warming. There’s drought, flood, grievous loss and even some optimism. So with that in mind, we thought we’d whet your appetite for annihilation by replaying this interview Brooke did with author Ben Winters a few years back. In his trilogy “The Last Policeman” it isn’t the slow creep of melting glaciers and devastating drought that heralds the end of the world, it’s an asteroid.
All the action takes place in the 6 final months before the the date of impact which spurs responses ranging from frolicking on beaches to suicide to murder. But the central character in Winter’s trilogy is a policeman who just wants to do his job.
June 30, 2017
Our northern neighbor is celebrating its 150th birthday this weekend, yet many Canadians don’t care. Why Canada’s lack of patriotism might be a good thing. Also, how families of black people killed by police often have to grieve under the media spotlight. And the tale of a composer's search for the sound of America.
1. Canadian writer Stephen Marche @StephenMarche on the differences between Canadian and American views on diversity and culture.
2. Writer Mychal Denzel Smith @mychalsmith on the "obligation for black families to mourn in public."
3. WNYC's Sara Fishko on composer Aaron Copland's quest to capture American identity in music.
June 29, 2017
Bob's take on this week's back and forth between the President and the press who cover him.
June 28, 2017
This week, at the annual conference of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, Bob sat down with former FCC chairman Newton Minow to survey the "vast wasteland" of television. They discuss the Kennedy administration, the changing landscape of TV, and... Gilligan's Island.
June 23, 2017
Following the Republican victory in Georgia this week, a look at how gerrymandering makes some political outcomes inevitable—and why the media aren't talking about it. Also, the US Census is on the rocks, and the repercussions could be severe. Plus, how Mexico's most prominent journalists and activists have been targeted by sophisticated government spyware.
1. FairVote's David Daley (@davedaley3) on the vast influence of gerrymandering on American politics.
2. Former Census director Kenneth Prewitt on recent shakeups at the Bureau and the implications of a crippled Census.
3. Sociologist Cristina Mora (@GCristinaMora) on how Univision helped create a new Census category for the 1980 survey: "Hispanic."
4. Citizen Lab senior researcher John Scott-Railton (@jsrailton) on the use of spyware against Mexican activists and reporters, and Mexican journalist Salvador Camarena (@SalCamarena) on being targeted firsthand.
Become a member of the On the Media community today. Sign up to donate just $7 a month and we'll send you a copy of Brooke's new book "The Trouble with Reality." OntheMedia.org/donate
June 20, 2017
On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that a law denying federal trademark protection to names deemed disparaging is unconstitutional. Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the unanimous decision that “it offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.”
The suit was brought by the Portland dance-rock band The Slants, a group of Asian-American musicians who have taken their name from an ethnic slur and worn it with pride. The musicians sued because when they tried to register trademark for their name, the US Patent and Trademark Office said, “The Slants? No no no no no no."
Bob spoke to the founder of The Slants, Simon Tam, exactly 2 years ago, when the band had just lost its appeal at the Federal Circuit Court.