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.
October 18, 2018
Another chapter in the history of American consumerism came to a close this week when the retail giant Sears announced it was filing for bankruptcy and closing 142 of its unprofitable stores. As experts sifted through the details about what doomed Sears, we found ourselves reading a Twitter thread about a little-known bit of shopping history. Louis Hyman is an economic historian and professor at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He tweeted: "In my history of consumption class, I teach about Sears, but what most people don't know is just how radical the catalogue was in the era of Jim Crow." In this week's podcast extra, Hyman talks to Brooke about what we can learn from the way Sears upended Jim Crow power dynamics, and what lessons it offers about capitalism more broadly. His latest book is Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary.
October 12, 2018
Ten autumns ago came two watershed moments in the history of money. In September 2008, the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers triggered a financial meltdown from which the world has yet to fully recover. The following month, someone using the name Satoshi Nakamoto introduced BitCoin, the first cryptocurrency. Before our eyes, the very architecture of money was evolving — potentially changing the world in the process. In this hour, On the Media looks at the story of money, from its uncertain origins to its digital reinvention in the form of cryptocurrency.
3. How cryptocurrency could shape the future of money, with MIT's Neha Narula [@neha], New York Times' Nathaniel Popper [@nathanielpopper], Vinay Gupta [@leashless] of Mattereum, Brown University's Mark Blyth [@MkBlyth] and artist Kevin Abosch [@kevinabosch]. Listen.
October 10, 2018
Last week, the MacArthur Foundation awarded genius grants to 25 creatives in art, literature, science and music. John Keene, a writer of poetry, fiction and cultural criticism, was one of them. He was recognized for his innovative use of language and form, and the way his work “exposes the social structures that confine, enslave, or destroy” people of color and queer people. Keene spoke to Brooke back in 2015 about his story collection, Counternarratives, which centers the voices of the marginalized in both imagined and reimagined historical moments.
October 5, 2018
On Thursday in the Wall Street Journal, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh acknowledged his sharp tone in recent hearings. This week, we examine the anger and resentment driving the #MeToo backlash. Plus, a deep dive into into our flawed narratives about Native American history, and a close look at the role problematic fantasies about indigenous people play in German culture.
1. Lili Loofbourow [@Millicentsomer], staff writer at Slate, on the purposeful role of male anger in the Kavanaugh nomination process. Listen.
2. David Treuer [@DavidTreuer], writer and historian, on the simplistic, flawed narratives tied up in popular Native American history. Listen.
3. Frank Usbeck, historian and researcher-curator at the State Ethnographic Collections of Saxony, and Evan Torner, German Studies professor at the University of Cincinnati, on the fantasies about indigenous people involved in German politics and culture. Listen.
Rebel Soldier by Nashville Sessions
Prelude of Light by John Zorn
Puck by John Zorn
Tribute to America by The O'Neill Brothers Group
Her Avwerah by Norfolk and Western
Lost, Night by Bill Frisell
October 3, 2018
President Donald Trump has had many roles in his life: Real estate scion, reality show star, Oval Office holder. But through it all, one thing has remained consistent. He tries to control what information becomes public about himself and his business.
In the latest episode of Trump, Inc., a WNYC collaboration with ProPublica, our colleagues look at the ways Trump has tried to buy and enforce silence — and how it matters more than ever now that he’s president. They talk to The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow about just one of the tactics used by those helping the president: the “catch and kill.”
September 28, 2018
The Kavanaugh-Ford hearings this week felt like a watershed moment — but it’s not yet clear what long-term impact they’ll have. This week, we examine some of the policies that could be affected by the Supreme Court if Kavanaugh is confirmed, including dark money disclosure and voting rights. Plus, a moment of zen during trying times.
1. Brooke on this week's Kavanaugh-Ford hearings. Listen.
3. Michelle Ye Hee Lee [@myhlee], national reporter for the Washington Post, on the recent Supreme Court action regarding the disclosure of dark money donations. Listen.
Black Coffee by Galt MacDermot
Melancholia by Marcos Ciscar
September 26, 2018
On Tuesday, nearly four years since a viral comedy routine helped usher a long list of rape and sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby into the fore, the once-beloved artist was sentenced to three to 10 years in a state prison. Years before Cosby's predatory behavior became public knowledge, rumors circulated in Hollywood and privileged circles, well within earshot of journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates. But, in a 2008 profile of Cosby for The Atlantic, Coates merely mentioned some of the sexual assault accusations in passing, without digging into the damning details. Whether willful denial or reckless mistake, this oversight would come to haunt him — so much that he fessed up and agreed to mull it all over with Bob back in 2014.
September 21, 2018
Senators are weighing serious allegations of attempted rape as they consider Judge Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, McDonald's employees in ten cities went on strike to bring attention to sexual harassment at the fast food chain. This week, we look at the ripples from the #MeToo movement and how much further they have to go.
1. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's expected testimony against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has echoes of Anita Hill's testimony against Clarence Thomas in 1991. Kai Wright [@kai_wright] of the podcast The United States of Anxiety revisits how that moment led to a "Year of the Woman" in 1992. Listen.
2. Disgraced former radio hosts Jian Ghomeshi and John Hockenberry recently wrote essays reflecting on their lost status after #MeToo allegations. Slate's Laura Miller [@magiciansbook] discusses the serious shortcomings of those essays. Listen.
Middlesex Times by Michael Andrews
Bubble Wrap by Thomas Newman
Liquid Spear Waltz by Michael Andrews
John’s Book of Alleged Dances by Kronos Quartet
Human Nature by Steve Porcaro, John Bettis, Vijay Iyer
Love Theme from Spartacus by Yusef Lateef
September 18, 2018
This past week’s coverage of Hurricane Florence has had all the trappings of a terrible storm: the satellite images, the sandbags and empty grocery stores, the newscasters dressed in flood gear. One recurring side character we seem to have avoided this time around, though, is the doctored image of a shark swimming on a flooded highway.
It’s a preposterous hoax that succeeds, occasionally, on the merits of some kernel of truth; for instance, whole swathes of interstate highway in North Carolina are, as of this moment, covered with water. That kernel of truth is what hoaxers and jokers build their handiwork upon — as did the veteran hoaxer Alan Abel, who passed away late last week at the age of 94.
Abel made a name for himself inventing characters and causes and turning the joke on the media; in 1980 he staged his own death and got himself an obituary in the New York Times.
Brooke spoke to Abel — and his daughter, Jenny Abel, the director of the documentary, "Abel Raises Cain" — in 2008.
September 14, 2018
The anniversary of a disaster gives us a moment to reflect on whether we have learned the right lessons — or any at all. This week, we examine the narratives that have solidified ten years after the financial crisis, and one year after Hurricane Maria.
1. Political anthropologist Yarimar Bonilla [@yarimarbonilla] on how we can focus our attention on Puerto Rico's structural challenges even as the president spouts falsities about the "unsung success" of the federal response to Hurricane Maria. Listen.
2. Dean Starkman [@deanstarkman], author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism, on how the signs of the financial crisis had been visible leading up to it but many journalists were looking elsewhere. Listen.
4. Copenhagen Business School business historian Per Hansen on Hollywood's depiction of the board room and Wall Street from 1928 to 2015. Listen.
Marjane's Inspiration by David Bergeaud
Glass House by Bonobo
Dinner Music For A Pack of Hungry Cannibals by Raymond Scott
With Plenty Of Money And You by Hal Kemp
Coffee Cold by Galt MacDermot
Modern Times OST by Charlie Chaplin