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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Live at Home Part I: John Legend
Like everyone in the United States, John Legend has spent much of the past year in lockdown. He has been recording new music (via Zoom), performing on Instagram, and promoting his upcoming album. Though many artists have delayed releasing records until they can schedule concert dates—increasingly the most reliable revenue in the music industry—Legend didn’t want to hold back. The new album, “Bigger Love,” was written before the pandemic and the current groundswell of protest for racial justice, but his message about resilience and faith resonates. All art, Legend tells David Remnick, “is there to help us imagine a different future.”
A Novel About a Secret Family, and Adam Gopnik on Being Old
Sanaë Lemoine’s début novel, “The Margot Affair,” is about a seventeen-year-old high-school student whose father, a high-ranking official, does not acknowledge her or her mother publicly. In telling Margot’s story, Lemoine drew upon her own complex family history: when she was twenty-one, she discovered that her father had a secret second family. In an act of literary justice, Margot decides to take action to force her father’s public acknowledgement, in a way that Lemoine herself did not. Plus, Adam Gopnik explores the predicament of an aging population. People of retirement age will outnumber children in the U.S. in about fifteen years, but they are poorly served by the field of design. Gopnik sets out to experience their difficulties firsthand.
The Fight to Turn Georgia Blue
This month, Georgia flipped: its voters picked a Democrat for President for the first time since Bill Clinton’s first-term election. To a significant degree, Charles Bethea says, this was owing to political organizing among Black voters; after all, Donald Trump still received approximately seventy per cent of the white vote. Bethea tells David Remnick about the political evolution of the state, and he speaks with two Democratic organizers: Nsé Ufot, the C.E.O. of the New Georgia Project, and Royce Reeves, Sr., a city commissioner in Cordele, Georgia.
Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld, and Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax
Between the two of them, Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Martin have nearly a century of experience in the delicate art of telling jokes. In a conversation with Susan Morrison during the 2020 New Yorker Festival, they discussed their long careers, learning how to adjust to new cultural forces, and the process of aging. Plus, Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax perform a piece of music that they have both been playing for more than forty years: Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 3 in A Major. “This is such open, hopeful music,” Ax said. Yet Beethoven signed one manuscript of the music, “amid tears and sorrow.” “I thought this was a good piece for this moment,” Ma told The New Yorker’s music critic Alex Ross. “Because people are suffering, and we do think that music can give comfort.”
Jane Mayer on the G.O.P.’s Post-Trump Game
The President’s fantastical allegations about “illegal ballots” are being indulged by quite a number of prominent Republicans in Washington, who have declined to acknowledge Joe Biden as President-elect. If Republicans in some key state legislatures go further and appoint electors who disregard their states’ popular votes, the electoral chaos would be disastrous. To understand how the politicians may proceed, David Remnick spoke with Jane Mayer, who has written extensively about today’s GO.P. and the forces that drive it.
Jill Lepore on Democracy in Peril, Then and Now
In the nineteen-thirties, authoritarian regimes were on the rise around the world—as they are again today—and democratic governments that came into existence after the First World War were toppling. “American democracy, too, staggered,” Jill Lepore wrote in The New Yorker, “weakened by corruption, monopoly, apathy, inequality, political violence, hucksterism, racial injustice, unemployment, even starvation.” Lepore talks with David Remnick about how Americans rallied to save democracy, and how we might apply those lessons in a new era with similar problems.
This segment originally aired on January 31, 2020.