David Remnick is joined by The New Yorker’s award-winning writers, editors and artists to present a weekly mix of profiles, storytelling, and insightful conversations about the issues that matter — plus an occasional blast of comic genius from the magazine’s legendary Shouts and Murmurs page. The New Yorker has set a standard in journalism for generations and The New Yorker Radio Hour gives it a voice on public radio for the first time. Produced by The New Yorker and WNYC Studios.
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Billy Eichner on “Bros” and Joyce Carol Oates on “Blonde”
One of the first queer rom-coms released in cinemas by a major studio, “Bros” is making movie history. But the film’s co-writer and star, the comedian Billy Eichner, tells David Remnick that the milestone has taken too long to achieve. “Culture and society at large, for the vast majority of human existence, [did] not want to talk about the private lives of gay people and L.G.B.T.Q. people,” he says.
Plus, the staff writer Katy Waldman talks with the prolific novelist Joyce Carol Oates about the new film adaptation of her novel “Blonde,” which premières on Netflix this week. Directed by Andrew Dominick, it’s a fictionalized account of the life of Marilyn Monroe. Oates tells Waldman that she enjoyed the production but found it “extremely emotionally exhausting” and “not for the faint of heart.”
Why Play Music: A Conversation with Questlove and Maggie Rogers
Earlier this month, two acclaimed musicians—Questlove and Maggie Rogers—joined The New Yorker’s Kelefa Sanneh live onstage for a conversation that probed at an essential question for musicians and music lovers alike: How can music provide a spiritual experience, and how do we sustain that feeling in our lives? Questlove—the co-founder of the Roots and the musical director of the “Tonight Show”—was one of Rogers’s professors while she was an undergraduate at New York University, and the two have stayed in touch. Rogers received a 2019 Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, after the release of her début album, “Heard It in a Past Life.”
Onstage, both musicians reflected on the space that the pandemic has given them to turn inward, finding a more sustainable path in their careers. “Music is not a job, it’s a way of being,” Rogers said, to which Questlove laughed. “I’m glad you know that at twenty, because I had to learn that at fifty,” he said.
Rogers also performed songs off her new album, “Surrender.”
Roger Federer on Retirement and His Evolution in Tennis
Roger Federer is playing the last professional tennis match of his career this week. It’s the end of an incredible run. Over two decades, he has demonstrated an unmatchable court intelligence and temperament, winning twenty Grand Slam titles and spending three hundred and ten weeks as the top-ranked men’s player.
In 2019, on the eve of playing in his nineteenth U.S. Open, Federer spoke with David Remnick about how he got over an early hot temper and predilection for throwing racquets on the court. At the advanced age of thirty-eight—and as a father of young children—Federer explained what he had to give up in order to keep playing professionally. “I think it’s nice to keep on playing, and really squeeze the last drop of lemon out of it,” he told Remnick, “and not leave the game of tennis thinking, Oh, I should have stayed longer.”
This segment originally aired on August 23, 2019.
Will Voter Suppression Become the Law?
Now seven weeks away, the midterms are often cast as a referendum on the President and his party. But, this year, some see democracy itself on the ballot. One of those people is the attorney Mark Elias, who has made the fight for voting rights his mission. The Supreme Court will hear two of his cases in its upcoming term, which starts next month. Earlier this year, the staff writer Sue Halpern profiled Elias for The New Yorker, and she spoke with him again recently about the legal fight ahead. “I really believe that when the history books are written,” says Elias, “what they write about our generation will be whether or not we were able to preserve democracy.”
Andy Borowitz, and the Hunt for Invasive Lionfish
Not only are we living in a time where people are proud of their ignorance, argues the writer and comedian Andy Borowitz, but some of our most educated politicians are now playing down their intelligence as a strategy to get elected. Borowitz, the author of the long-running satirical column The Borowitz Report, examines this phenomenon in his new book, “Profiles of Ignorance: How America’s Politicians Got Dumb and Dumber.” “When Trump was elected, a lot of us supposedly knowledgeable people were taken by surprise,” he tells David Remnick. “But the more I researched the past fifty years, the more likely and plausible—and maybe even inevitable—his election was, because he actually had a great deal in common with his forebears."
Plus, native to the waters of the Indo-Pacific, lionfish have proven themselves incredibly well adapted to the Atlantic coast. In their original habitat, the fish are kept under control by natural predators: groupers, eels, and sharks. But, elsewhere, predators can’t compete, and lionfish—with their voracious appetite and high fecundity—are upending the equilibrium of reef life. The staff writer D. T. Max takes a stab at lionfish spearing off the coast of Florida and talks with one of the most passionate lionfish hunters diving today, Rachel Bowman.
How Sheryl Lee Ralph Is Reshaping Hollywood
Sheryl Lee Ralph has been a staple of Black entertainment for decades. She played Deena Jones in the original Broadway production of “Dreamgirls,” and was in “Sister Act 2” alongside Lauryn Hill and Whoopi Goldberg. She’s currently starring in the new ABC sitcom “Abbott Elementary,” for which she just won her first Emmy Award. Her decades-long career gives her a unique perspective on how the industry has changed since she started—and how it hasn’t. “I think that, sometimes in order for institutions like Broadway to truly make room for others, you’ve got to break it down,” she tells The New Yorker’s Vinson Cunningham. “Because you’ve got to help people see things differently, outside of their own vision. And, even if it’s 20/20, it’s not perfect.”
This segment was originally aired on February 25, 2022.