Talk of the Nation on KUER 1

Mon - Thu, Noon - 2pm
  • Hosted by , Neal Conan, Monday - Thursday. Ira Flatow, Friday
  • Local Host Mike Anderson

When Americans want to be a part of the national conversation, they turn to Talk of the Nation, NPR's midday news-talk show. Journalist Neal Conan leads a productive exchange of ideas and opinions on the issues that dominate the news landscape. From politics and public service to education, religion, music and healthcare, Talk of the Nation offers call-in listeners the opportunity to join enlightening discussions with decision-makers, authors, academicians, and artists from around the world.

When Hollywood Turns The Camera On Itself

Feb 23, 2012

Two movies about movies — The Artist and Hugo — are up for the 2012 Academy Award for best picture. Hollywood has a unique way of making films that depict life in Tinseltown. Film buff Murray Horwitz discusses Hollywood films that deal with the glitz, glamor and harsh realities of Hollywood.



This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. A little more than a year ago, NPR started to follow six people in St. Louis who started 2011 out of work. Among them, Casaundra Bronner, who joins us now on the phone. Casaundra Bronner, nice to have you on TALK OF THE NATION.

CASAUNDRA BRONNER: Hi. Thank you very much.

CONAN: And you're speaking with us from work?


CONAN: Congratulations. How long have you had a job?

BRONNER: I believe it was March of 2011. March of last year.

All throughout the school's 110-year history, the Manassas High School football team in Memphis, Tenn., was known as a losing team. In 2009, volunteer coach Bill Courtney led the struggling Manassas Tigers to the playoffs.

Filmmakers Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin chronicle the challenges of the team — on and off the field — in the documentary Undefeated.

Lindsay and Martin talk with NPR's Neal Conan about the film, nominated for an Academy Award in the documentary feature category.



Remembering War Correspondent Marie Colvin

Feb 22, 2012



Forgive us if we hold a special place for the reporters who go into harm's way to tell the stories of civilians and soldiers caught in the horrors of combat. All of them are grown-ups and know the risks. The loss of their lives is no more or less tragic than the death of a doctor or a teacher or a grocer, but we would never learn what happened to those others if the reporters didn't take the cameras and notebooks and risk their lives to tell us the story.

Previewing The High-Stakes Michigan Primary

Feb 22, 2012



This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. After all the votes are counted, Romney still wins in Maine. Super-donors dominate the superPACs, and new frontrunner Rick Santorum struggles to stay on-message. It's Wednesday and time for a...

RICK SANTORUM: Phony ideal...

CONAN: Edition of the Political Junkie.

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.

VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: Where's the beef?

Wikipedia is the go-to source for succinct information on almost every topic imaginable. It strives to reflect neutral truths that can be verified by reliable sources. The site, known as "The Free Encyclopedia" is written and edited by volunteers.

In the documentary If A Tree Falls, director Marshall Curry tells the story of the rise and fall of the Earth Liberation Front, a group that the FBI once described as America's number one domestic terrorism threat. The film has been nominated for an Academy Award.

The visit of Chinese Vice President and heir apparent Xi Jingping to the United States, raised questions about internal Chinese politics — from human rights to technological development — and how the country will be governed in the future.

Virginia state legislators passed a bill requiring women to receive an ultrasound — which is conducted via transvaginal probe in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy — before having an abortion. Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor for Slate magazine, calls the proposed law "an abomination."

What Happened To The Rainy Day Fund?

Feb 21, 2012

Americans have tended to save more and spend less in the years since the economic downturn in 2008. But according to a survey from, only 54 percent of Americans have more emergency savings than credit card debt.

NPR's Neal Conan reads from listener comments on previous show topics including the concept of "black cool," Jeremy Lin and "Linsanity," and which country's constitution Egypt should use as an example.

Photojournalist Danfung Dennis has captured the brutalities of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for major publications, including The New York Times, Time magazine, The Guardian and The Washington Post.

Inspired by these experiences, Dennis embedded with the U.S. Marines Echo Company in Afghanistan and created the documentary Hell And Back Again.

Stories about life on Native American reservations often focus on the hardships — alcoholism, drugs, violence and poverty. In Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life, Ojibwe writer David Treuer strives to capture stories about the beauty of life on Indian reservations.

Sorting Out Iran's Regional Ambitions

Feb 20, 2012



This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. A team of U.N. inspectors has arrived in Tehran, and a few days ago, the Iranian government sent a letter that proposed a new round of talks with the U.S. and five other big powers.

But conditions are so tense right now that some believe the failure of either effort might trigger an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, and no one knows what might happen after that.



This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan.

And now, The Opinion Page. Does freedom of speech include the right to lie? After he boasted about his Medal of Honor, Xavier Alvarez became one of the first people convicted under the Stolen Valor Act, a law that makes it a crime to falsely claim military decorations. The case goes before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Should Sugar Be Regulated Like Alcohol?

Feb 17, 2012

Writing in the journal Nature, UCSF pediatrician Robert Lustig and colleagues suggest regulating sugar just like alcohol and tobacco--with taxes and age limits, for example--due to what they call the "toxic" effects of too much sweet stuff. Education, they say, is not enough.



Where's The Cuttlefish

Feb 17, 2012

Duke biologist Sarah Zylinski wants to better understand how cuttlefish see the world. Like their relatives octopus and squid, cuttlefish are master camouflagers--and Zylinski says you can learn something about how they process visual information by testing how they change their skin patterns in relation to different backgrounds.

In his book Concrete Planet, author Robert Courland discusses why the concrete first used by the Romans is more durable than the concrete used in most present day buildings. Plus, mineralogist Peter Stemmerman tells us about his invention, Celitement and why it is greener than Portland cement.

Linguist David Harrison has travelled to remote corners of the world seeking the last speakers of endangered languages. Now, he's using digital tools to to record and revitalize these dying languages. At the AAAS meeting this week, Harrison unveiled 'talking dictionaries' for eight languages.



This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Some good news for the nuclear industry. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensed the construction, issued licenses for the construction, of two nuclear reactors at a plant in eastern Georgia. Until last week, the NRC hadn't approved the construction of any new reactors in the U.S. since 1978. That was a year before the partial reactor meltdown at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.



This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Last week, the government approved the first new nuclear reactor power plants in over 30 years, but in the meantime, the Department of Defense has been investigating a different energy source for its military bases: solar.

My next guest says the military could install seven gigawatts of solar power on its bases. That's roughly equivalent to the output of seven nuclear power plants, and that's all without interfering with bombing ranges or rocket tests and of course the desert tortoise.



This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Almost every day for about a year now, we've heard about the activities of the Syrian opposition: marches and demonstration that in the face of brutal attacks evolve toward armed resistence.

Is An Economic Recovery Underway?

Feb 16, 2012

The number of jobless claims for January 2012 was at the lowest point since March 2008. Businesses are reporting profits, buyers are reporting confidence. Diane Swonk, chief economist for Mesirow Financial, discusses whether it's safe to say an economic recovery has begun.

New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin sprang into the spotlight after he scored 27 points in a game against the Toronto Raptors. Lin, who previous mostly rode the bench, has become a sensation in the U.S., particularly among many Asian Americans. Journalist Chuck Leung feels a bit conflicted about celebrating Lin's success.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has changed the way they nominate documentaries for the Oscars. One of the most controversial changes — proposed by filmmaker Michael Moore — is that films must be reviewed by The New York Times or the Los Angeles Times.

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum swept caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado and the Missouri primary, gaining considerable ground on Mitt Romney's primary lead. NPR's Ken Rudin and Dan Balz, of the Washington Post, recap the week in politics.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, the heir apparent to the presidency, visited Muscatine, Iowa Wednesday. He spent a week with a family there in 1979 to learn about American agriculture. Des Moines Register reporter Kyle Munson discusses the relationships foreign leaders form with U.S. towns.

Providing Therapy Across Different Cultures

Feb 15, 2012

When immigrants face depression, therapy may not be the first option they explore for relief. When they do seek counseling, they often encounter a cross-cultural struggle to understand and be understood by American practitioners.