On Point on PRE News & Ideas

Weekdays 10 am - 12 noon
  • Hosted by Meghna Chakrabarti, Monday – Thursday; David Folkenflik, Friday

Go behind the headlines: From the economy and healthcare to politics and the environment – and so much more – On Point talks with newsmakers and real people about the issues that matter most.  Meghna Chakrabarti is your host  Monday – Thursday, and on Friday review the week's news with  David Folkenflik. 

Meghna Chakrabarti is a proven talent, hitting her stride. She’s recognized nationally for her work on Here & Now and the popular podcast Modern Love. Meghna has been the host of WBUR’s award-winning program Radio Boston and has served for the past five years as the permanent fill-in cohost at Here & Now.  She will host On Point Monday-Thursday from Boston.

David Folkenflik is NPR’s media correspondent, covering journalism, the media industry and the intersection between politics and the press. A highly regarded reporter for 15 years at NPR, David has been on top of major ongoing national stories including President Trump’s difficult relationship with the media. Before working at NPR, David was a media correspondent for the Baltimore Sun.  His work has also appeared in the Washington Post, Politico Magazine, CBS This Morning among others. David will host On Point each Friday from New York including the popular ‘Week in the News.’ He will continue to cover the media for NPR based at the network’s New York City bureau.

Ways to Connect

The story of a Boston Globe reporter who decided to document his life with prostate cancer via a new – and very personal – podcast.  

Guests

Mark Shanahan, entertainment reporter at the Boston Globe. Host of the podcast “Mr. 80 Percent.” (@MarkAShanahan)

Listen to our hour on how elections work in a pandemic here.


Election Day is fewer than six weeks away. But concerns around the election persist: Will it be safe to vote in person? How will states execute a variety of voting methods? Can we have faith in the legitimacy of the election results? We tackle those issues and more.  

“We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional.” Norm Ornstein wrote that back in 2012. Eight years later, does Ornstein think there’s any way for the U.S. to regain institutional and political stability? We ask him.

We talk about where we are in the development of a coronavirus vaccine and what we know about the criteria for making a vaccine public.  

Guests

Andrew Joseph, reporter for STAT News. (@DrewQJoseph)

Power is up for grabs in the Senate this November and a Supreme Court vacancy is only escalating the stakes of key races. We talk about how Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death could have an impact on races in Maine, North Carolina, Colorado and Arizona.

Guests

Anthony Brooks, On Point 2020 correspondent. Senior political reporter for WBUR. (@anthonygbrooks)

We discuss the political response to Ginsburg’s death, and what it reveals about the fragility of U.S. institutions. How is American democracy being tested now?

We talk to campus leaders around the country about a challenging semester for college students.

Guests

Andy Thomason, senior editor at the Chronicle of Higher Education. Author of a forthcoming book about the academic fraud scandal at the University of North Carolina and what it revealed about college sports and higher education. (@arthomason)

What we can learn from Dwight Eisenhower’s life and leadership.

Guests

Susan Eisenhower, policy strategist and lecturer. Author of “How Ike Led.” (@eisenhowergroup)

Millions of Americans still haven’t yet received their benefits after being laid off during the pandemic. Denise Mines is one of them. She’s a university librarian who lives in Boynton Beach, Florida. Denise was furloughed on April 17. First thing she did: followed all of the steps to get her unemployment benefits. Should have been pretty easy, right?


In this diary … we hear from:

Denise Mines, a university librarian who lives in Boynton Beach, Florida.

A mathematician turns gender into a math problem. We hear how math can help us rethink ingrained conceptions of gender.  

Next in our voter roundtable series: U.S. military veterans. What qualities are most essential in a commander in chief? What role does — and what role should — the U.S. military play in protecting American democracy?

Guests

Bob Killebrew, retired colonel who served in Vietnam. Longtime independent, now a Democrat.

Michael Logue, corporal who served in Iraq. Trustee for Union Township in Ohio. Volunteer advisory board member for Veterans For Trump.

The Trap Of Meritocracy

Sep 15, 2020

What has become of the common good? Political theorist Michael Sandel traces how meritocracy went from a satiric idea in the 1950s to a bedrock of American culture – and what we might have lost in its ascendance.

Guests

Michael Sandel, professor of government at Harvard University. Author of “The Tyranny of Merit.” (@JusticeHarvard)

Lessons Of The Pacific Northwest Wildfires

Sep 15, 2020

The West Coast is facing some of the worst wildfires in its history. We take a look at the role of forest management in helping control these fires.

Guests

Monica Samayoa, environment reporter for Oregon Public Broadcasting. (@m0nica10)

The Media's Role In Calling An Election

Sep 14, 2020

As we look forward to potentially unprecedented numbers of mail-in ballots in November, should we be preparing for an election night that may not produce a winner? We talk about the history of election results, and the media’s role in reporting them during an unusual election.

Guests

Margaret Sullivan, media columnist for the Washington Post. (@sulliview)

Noah Oppenheim, president of NBC News.

The 2020 campaign heats up. The Senate takes up a pared down COVID-19 relief bill. And evidence that the president knew the threat of the coronavirus in February. All that and more in our week in review.

Guests

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)

To our listeners: On Point has decided to suspend the ‘comments’ section of our website while we explore new ways to engage our audience. On Point listeners are responding more these days via social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook, and effectively moderating On Point’s comments section pulls resources away from our core mission — journalism. We’ve concluded there are better ways to achieve the same kind of community discussion around issues raised in our broadcasts. So please join the conversation on social media (@onpointradio).

To our listeners: On Point has decided to suspend the ‘comments’ section of our website while we explore new ways to engage our audience. On Point listeners are responding more these days via social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook, and effectively moderating On Point’s comments section pulls resources away from our core mission — journalism. We’ve concluded there are better ways to achieve the same kind of community discussion around issues raised in our broadcasts. So please join the conversation on social media (@onpointradio).

The Threat To U.S. Elections

Sep 8, 2020

Russia is attempting to interfere with the presidential election yet again. What’s Moscow doing this time?  

Guests

Jack Delaney, freelance journalist. (@dadrespecter)

James Baldwin's Lessons For America

Sep 7, 2020

This segment originally aired on July 29, 2020.


We look back on the life and work of the great American writer and thinker James Baldwin.  

A Conversation With Jane Goodall

Sep 4, 2020

This broadcast originally aired on July 17, 2020.


60 years ago, Jane Goodall first began her close observations of Tanzania’s chimpanzees. Equipped with simple binoculars, a notebook and patience, she transformed the way the world understood primates and wildlife. She joins us to look back on her legacy, and discuss the urgent challenges around climate and conservation.

College students across the country are returning to campuses for the first time since the pandemic hit. But some campuses closed almost as soon as they opened. We look at how the decisions are being made to reopen higher ed.  

Guests

Andy Thomason, senior editor at the Chronicle of Higher Education. (@arthomason)

Fiscal policy in a pandemic. We discuss why COVID-19 is giving a bigger voice to economists with very different ways of looking at the deficit.

Guests

Stephanie Kelton, professor of economics and public policy at Stony Brook University. Senior economic adviser to Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. Author of “The Deficit Myth.” (@StephanieKelton)

It’s been 15 years since Hurricane Katrina devastated our country. And while many of us remember the storm as an acute moment in history, a new book is making a case that the lead-up to Katrina made its impacts inevitable. We talk about the structural issues that affected our recovery from Katrina, and what more needs to be done.

Across the country this summer, we’ve seen vigilante militants incite violence at protests for racial justice. We talk to a former FBI agent who went undercover with right-wing militants in the 1990s about the groups’ overlap with law enforcement.

An announcement from the White House could expand rapid COVID-19 testing significantly as President Trump boasts about U.S. testing capacity. Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Michael Mina lays out the testing failures so far and how rapid tests could help get our lives back to normal in the pandemic.

President Trump defies the Hatch Act at the Republican Convention, the Gulf Coast is slammed by one of the most powerful storms in decades, and a police shooting in Wisconsin rocks communities across the country. We’ll talk about all that and more in our weekly news roundup.

Guests

Jane Coaston, senior politics reporter for Vox, with a focus on conservatism and the American right. (@cjane87)

We’re talking to voters who cast their ballots for Donald Trump in 2016. Four years later, they explain the issues they care about, what they think of the job President Trump has done, and how they’ll vote this time around.

Guests

Cheryl Johnson, farmer. Voted for Trump in 2016; undecided in 2020.

Matt Powell, marine veteran and car salesman. Voted for Trump in 2016; voting for Trump in 2020.

Tommy Stallings, real estate agent and gym owner. Voted for Trump in 2016; voting for Biden in 2020.

In the 2016 election, Vice President Mike Pence served as an important bridge between then-candidate Donald Trump and white evangelical voters. As the Republican National Convention continues, we’ll look at Pence’s record as VP, and the role he plays now.

The President Versus The Post Office

Aug 25, 2020

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has maintained under oath that his changes to the U.S. Postal Service have nothing to do with President Trump’s reelection. We talk about why it’s still significant that the president is going after a public institution, and the state of our democracy.

Guests

Lisa Rein, reporter at the Washington Post covering federal agencies, including the Postal Service. (@Reinlwapo)

A bipartisan report from the Senate Committee on Intelligence reveals new details about Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. The report provides the most detailed account yet of President Trump’s relationships in Russia. Plus, the most prominent opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin has allegedly been poisoned.

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