The Roundtable

Weekdays, 9 a.m.

Credit Peter Steiner

 WAMC's The Roundtable is an award-winning, nationally recognized eclectic talk program. The show airs from 9 a.m. to noon each weekday and features news, interviews, in-depth discussion, music, and much (much) more! Hosted by Joe Donahue and produced by Sarah LaDuke, The Roundtable tackles serious and lighthearted subjects, looking to explore the many facets of the human condition with civility, respect and responsibility.

The show's hallmark is thoughtful interviews with A-list newsmakers, authors, artists, sports figures, actors, and people with interesting stories to tell. Since hitting the airwaves in May of 2001, The Roundtable has interviewed the likes of Arthur Miller, Kurt Vonnegut, Maya Angelou, Madeleine Albright, Jimmy Carter, John McCain, Bob Dole, Bill O'Reilly, Steve Martin, James Taylor, Stephen King, Melissa Etheridge, Lin-Manuel Miranda and lots of other really cool people. Plus, Wilco does our theme song. What more can you ask for?

If you would like to be on the show email us at roundtable@wamc.org

Send your comments or questions for The Roundtable Panel to panel@wamc.org

10:25 - The Writer's Almanac
11:10 - Earth Wise
Book Picks lists are here.
You may also hear Pulse of the Planet and Sound Beat on The Roundtable.

2016 was a bloodbath for Democrats.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York representative Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat from the 18th district, continues his conversation with WAMC’s Alan Chartock.

William Kunstler was an American radical lawyer and civil rights activist, known for his politically unpopular clients. He was an active member of the National Lawyers Guild, a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union and the co-founder of the Law Center for Constitutional Rights. Kunstler's defense of the Chicago Seven from 1969–1970 led The New York Times to label him "the country's most controversial and, perhaps, its best-known lawyer."

Starting later this week, Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, MA will present The Creative Place International/And Theatre Company production of Kunstler starring Jeff McCarthy in the title role. The show will run on BSC’s St. Germain Stage through June 10th. It is directed by Meagen Fay.

Jeff McCarthy is a Tony Award nominated actor and Associate Artist at Barrington Stage and he joins us.

5/15/17 Panel

May 15, 2017

  The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Director of the Journalism Program at the University at Albany Rosemary Armao, and political consultant and lobbyist, Libby Post. 

Jared Diamond is a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. He began his scientific career in physiology and expanded into evolutionary biology and biogeography. He has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.

Among Dr. Diamond's many awards are the National Medal of Science, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, Japan's Cosmos Prize, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and the Lewis Thomas Prize honoring the Scientist as Poet, presented by Rockefeller University. He has published more than six hundred articles and several books including the New York Times bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

The 20th anniversary edition of Guns, Germs, and Steel features a new afterward by Diamond.

Mark Lukach is a teacher and freelance writer. His work has been published in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Wired, and other publications. He is currently the ninth grade dean at The Athenian School, where he also teaches history.

Mark and Giulia’s life together began as a storybook romance. They fell in love at eighteen, married at twenty-four, and were living their dream life in San Francisco. When Giulia was twenty-seven, she suffered a terrifying and unexpected psychotic break that landed her in the psych ward for nearly a month. One day she was vibrant and well-adjusted; the next she was delusional and suicidal, convinced that her loved ones were not safe.

Mark recounts their experience in My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward: A Memoir.

Many members of Congress hold town meetings — but usually in their own district.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York representative Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat from the 18th district, speaks with WAMC’s Alan Chartock.

Unwarranted: Policing Without Permission by Barry Friedman tells the stories of ordinary people whose lives were torn apart by policing -- by the methods of cops on the beat and those of the FBI and NSA.

Driven by technology, policing has changed dramatically. Once, cops sought out bad guys; today, increasingly militarized forces conduct wide surveillance of all of us.

5/12/17 Panel

May 12, 2017

  The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, author and activist Barbara Smith, and Director of the Journalism Department at the University at Albany, Rosemary Armao.

Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in Florida. He is the author of thirteen previous novels, including the best sellers Bad Monkey, Star Island, Nature Girl, Skinny Dip, Sick Puppy, and Lucky You, and five best-selling children’s books, Hoot, Flush, Scat, Chomp, and Skink. His most recent work of nonfiction is Dance of the Reptiles, a collection of his columns from The Miami Herald.

In his most recent novel Razor Girl, now out in paperback, Merry Mansfield specializes in kidnapping for the mob. Her preferred method is rear-ending her targets and asking them for a ride. Her latest mark is Martin Trebeaux, owner of a private beach renourishment company who has delivered substandard sand to a mob hotel. But there's just one problem: Razor Girl hits the wrong guy. Instead, she ends up with Lane Coolman, talent manager for Buck Nance, the star of a reality TV show about a family of Cajun rooster farmers. Buck Nance, left to perform standup at a Key West bar without his handler, makes enough off-color jokes to incite a brawl, then flees for his life and vanishes. Now a routine promotional appearance has become a missing persons case.

Will Pullen and Khris Davis in Sweat
Joan Marcus

Playwright Lynn Nottage made history last month as the first woman to win two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama. Her play Sweat — her first to be produced on Broadway — was awarded the honor. She received her first Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for Ruined, which was produced off-Broadway.

Sweat first premiered and was co-commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage. After a sold-out run at off-Broadway’s prestigious Public Theater, the play moved to Broadway where it is now running at Studio 54 and is nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play.

Directed by Kate Whoriskey, Sweat takes place in Reading, PA and features characters whose way of life is falling apart after the decline of the manufacturing, steel, and coal industries. They work together and they drink together - and when layoffs and picket lines begin - they find themselves fighting each other in the hard fight to keep going.

We are joined now by actors Khris Davis and Will Pullen - they play best-friends, Chris and Jason in Sweat. (To learn more about Davis and Pullen - their bios are below.)

Positive Train Control is still being delayed.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Connecticut Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, a Democrat from the fifth district, concludes her discussion with WAMC’s Alan Chartock.

Why is a course on ancient Chinese philosophers one of the most popular at Harvard? Because it challenges all our modern assumptions about what it takes to flourish.

Astonishing teachings emerged two thousand years ago through the work of a succession of Chinese scholars exploring how humans can improve themselves and their society. And what are these counterintuitive ideas? Transformation comes not from looking within for a true self, but from creating conditions that produce new possibilities.

The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life is written by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh. 

Our guest is Michael Puett -- the Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Chair of the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University. He is the recipient of a Harvard College Professorship for excellence in undergraduate teaching and is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science.

5/11/17 Panel

May 11, 2017

  The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond. Today we did the show with a live audience at the Times Union's Hearst Media Center.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Times Union Editor Rex Smith, Times Union Associate Editor Mike Spain, and Director of the Journalism Program at the University at Albany Rosemary Armao.

Albert Einstein and the people around him — many of whom shaped science history — are getting a fresh look on the new National Geographic series Genius. The new show, which premiered in April, jumps back in forth in time, focusing on the physicist’s early school days and young adulthood and his middle age experiences fleeing Germany. Samantha Colley plays the brilliant thinker Mileva Maric, who would become Einstein’s first wife. She has also appeared on stage and in the series Victoria.

Nancy Isenberg’s bestselling book: White Trash: The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America is now in paperback with a new preface covering the 2016 election.

Nancy Isenberg said the following about the political climate years ago surrounding Sarah Palin, “When you turn an election into a three-ring circus, there’s always a chance that the dancing bear will win.” And we recognize how right she is today. Yet the voters that put Trump in the White House have always been a permanent part of our American fabric, argues Isenberg.

In White Trash, Isenberg looks to obliterate the myth of America as a land of unbounded opportunity and social mobility and makes the case that while both class and identity politics matter, neither are sufficient alone to define categories of voting behavior. Again the name of the book is: White Trash: The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America. 

The Roundabout Theatre Company production of Kander and Ebb’s classic Tony Award winning musical drama, Cabaret, is at Proctors this week. This touring production was directed by Sam Mendes and co-directed and choreographed by Rob Marshall.

To set the stage:

1930s, Berlin: The Kit Kat Klub is a seedy cabaret, a place of decadent celebration. The Klub's Master of Ceremonies, or M.C., is joined by the cabaret girls and headliner-of-sorts, Sally Bowles.

In a train station, Cliff Bradshaw arrives, a young American writer coming to Berlin to work on his new novel.

At Proctors this week, Jon Peterson plays the Emcee and Benjamin Eakeley plays Cliff.

The White House’s budget plan is predicated on massive cuts.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Connecticut Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, a Democrat from the fifth district, continues her discussion with WAMC’s Alan Chartock.

Jeremy Daniel

Based on the 2007 movie of the same name, the hit Broadway musical Waitress was directed by Diane Paulus and was nominated for 4 Tony Awards last year. The show has a book by Jessie Nelson and the music and lyrics are by Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles.

Bareilles is currently making her Broadway debut as Jenna -- a pregnant diner waitress and inventor of pies who needs to stop burying her hope and unhappy marriage in creative ingredients and make a change.

The other half of that unhappy marriage is Earl, the kind of guy who peaked in high school and never got over it. Earl is handsome but gruff, disconsolate, short tempered, beer-soaked -- and currently being played on Broadway by Will Swenson. His last performance at the pie-scented Brooks Atkinson Theatre will be on June 11th. (Sara Bareilles will leave then, too and Betsy Wolfe will begin performances as Jenna on June 13.)

Swenson’s recent Broadway credits include Disaster!, Les Misérables, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Hair -- for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. In the summer of 2015 he played Jamie Tyrone in Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten at the Williamstown Theatre Festival - opposite is wife Audra McDonald; and last summer he served up a boisterous and bodacious Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance at Barrington Stage.

5/10/17 Panel

May 10, 2017

    The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Communications Specialist Theresa Bourgeois, and corporate attorney Rich Honen.

In the 1950s, a young Indianapolis minister named Jim Jones preached a curious blend of the gospel and Marxism. His congregation was racially integrated, and he was a much-lauded leader in the contemporary civil rights movement. Eventually, Jones moved his church, Peoples Temple, to northern California. He became involved in electoral politics, and soon was a prominent Bay Area leader.

In The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple, Jeff Guinn examines Jones’s life, from his extramarital affairs, drug use, and fraudulent faith healing to the fraught decision to move almost a thousand of his followers to a settlement in the jungles of Guyana in South America.

This week's Book Picks from Amy Lane at The Open Door Bookstore and Gift Gallery in Schenectady, NY.

List:
Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
The Widow's House by Carol Goodman
Magnetic City: A Walking Companion to New York by Justin Davidson
Bread Toast Crumbs by Alexandra Stafford - Event at Open Door - Saturday, May 13
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely - Event at Schenectady High School - Tuesday, May 16
Escargot  story by Dashka Slater, pictures by Sydney Hanson

The president says the press is the enemy of the people.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Connecticut Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, a Democrat from the fifth district, speaks with WAMC’s Alan Chartock.

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

The Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill is now open for its 2017 season and features two new landmark exhibitions. 

“The Parlors” is an immersive installation that combines technology and meticulous historic restoration of the two parlors of Cole's 1815 Home, the rooms where America's first major art movement was born. It features a stunning discovery revealed during the restoration: the earliest-known, interior decorative painting by an American artist. 

Also, “Sanford R. Gifford in the Catskills” is an exhibition of Catskills paintings of Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880), a leading member of the Hudson River School of landscape painting, who credited Cole’s works with stimulating his interest in landscape painting. Gifford grew up in Hudson, and this is the first such show of this magnitude to take place in the region that inspired Cole and Gifford.

Betsy Jacks, Executive Director of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, joins us this morning to discuss the opening these two exhibitions and their importance to the history of the region. 

5/9/17 Panel

May 9, 2017

    The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Associate Editor of The Times Union, Mike Spain, and WAMC's Ray Graf.

BJ Leiderman
Mark Edward Atkinson

We’re about to talk to a person whose work is heard multiple times a day on WAMC — but rarely his voice. Until now. BJ Leiderman, the composer behind several public radio theme songs including those for Morning Edition, Marketplace, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, is out with his first album, called BJ. The album is both funny and serious, cheeky and earnest. And it even features Bela Fleck on banjo.

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