Madeleine Brand on New KCRW Gig: It Will Be a ‘Deeper Think’ (Exclusive)

"Radio has a unique way of connecting people in a way that no other medium has," she tells TheWrap

Madeleine Brand, the Southern California radio host who quit her popular KPCC news show last year, is coming back to the public airwaves, this time on KCRW.

Brand, who left the top-rated slot after an ill-fated on-air marriage with co-host A Martinez, confirmed to TheWrap that the new, one-hour news show will be on the air for an hour a day at noon toward the end of the year. She got grilled by TheWrap.

It's exciting to hear you'll be back on the air. What kind of show will this be?
It will kind of be like the one I did, but more culture-y, and have more of a KCRW perspective. It's also a different time of day — at 9 a.m. you need more news; by noon you've heard most of it and you want to hear a deeper think.

So you'll be up against Larry Mantle on KPCC?
It's been a year. I tried TV. That wasn't the thing. But radio is my first and longest-lasting love. I'm so beyond happy to be at KCRW. Not only to work there, but I’m a fan of the station and have been for years. I think they’re doing everything right. The problem with public-radio audiences is that they’re aging. The big problem is how to attract younger audiences — KCRW has figured that out. Trying to get the right mix of news and culture is what KCRW is trying to do. I feel really privileged and excited to be part of that. It’s the future.

Also read: Madeleine Brand Quits KPCC Radio After Failed Shotgun Marriage With Sports Host

How did it come about?
We've been talking a long, long time. It took a long time to figure out the budget — public radio. I'm also working on a national foreign-affairs show, "America Abroad," once a month.

What will the focus of the show be?
It's everything. It will be a local, Southern California show, for sure. I won't be doing what happened at the city council meeting,

Where do you see holes in the public conversation?
(Only) 20 percent of eligible voters bothered to turn out to vote for mayor. That's pathetic. They don't feel connected. Radio in general, this show in particular, will try to address that.

Also read: Alex Cohen on Replacing Madeleine Brand at KPCC: 'I Know Some Listeners Are Unhappy' (Exclusive)

Radio has a unique way of connecting people in a way that no other medium has. If you do it right, you can make people care. That's vital. Or we don't have democracy. That sounds highfalutin. But that's the ineffable quality of radio. It does rely on personality. It's the bond between listener and person speaking. If you don't have that, you don't have a compelling reason to listen.

How do you feel about what’s happened at KPCC?
I can't talk about it. (Pause) I hear from fans all the time. Honestly, a day hasn't gone by in the past year when someone hasn't said, "I miss you on the air, I wish you'd come back on the radio." It's really gratifying. I'm grateful I got to do it at KPCC.

Will it be "The Madeleine Brand Show"?
It doesn’t have a name yet.

Full disclosure: This writer occasionally was a guest on Brand's old show.