On Point on PRE News & Ideas

Weekdays 10 am - 11am
  • 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

President-elect Joe Biden says ‘America first’ is history. But is the U.S. as world leader history, too? We discuss Biden’s foreign policy team and America’s place on the world stage.


Peter Beinart, contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and editor-at-large for Jewish Currents. Professor of journalism at the City University of New York. (@PeterBeinart)

Radio Diary: The Kindness Of A Phone Call

Dec 18, 2020

Hear our hour on the mutual benefits of kindness.

Allyson Cook is a 23. She’s a grad student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

And since the pandemic began, she’s been volunteering for something called the Get Connected program at the Northwood long-term care facility.  “This was an opportunity for volunteers to reach out to seniors … just asking if they were interested or not,” Allyson says.

Republicans made inroads among Latinos this election – the same voters that Democrats also believe are key to the future of their party. We talk with Democrat Vicente Gonzalez about the lessons he says his party needs to learn.  

Hear today’s radio diary on an ER doctor’s ethical dilemma amid the pandemic. 

The pandemic has been rife with ethical dilemmas: from patient care to vaccine distribution nationwide. We discuss how to think through the ethical implications of COVID-19.

Dec. 14 marks the day electors from 50 states meet to certify election results. The states have already certified their votes. But key Republicans are still filing lawsuits to overturn the result. We discuss the democracy stress test and what happens next.


Bertrall Ross, chancellor’s professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. (@Bertrall_Ross)

President-elect Joe Biden announced his health care team this week. We’ll check out their credentials and ask if they’re up to the task of pushing back the pandemic and pushing forward health care in America.  

What would the Biden team need to do, in concrete terms, to help specific communities? For example – the Navajo Nation. Navajo leaders say the coronavirus is spreading virtually uncontrolled across 75 communities. And this week, the Navajo Nation expanded its current lockdown by an additional three weeks, until at least Dec. 28.

In Kentucky, a high school newspaper uncovered a disturbing story. For years, the State Police had used a training manual with quotations from Adolf Hitler. On today’s show, we spoke with the student journalists who discovered the story.

In Kentucky, a high school newspaper uncovered a disturbing story. For years, the State Police had used a training manual celebrating quotations from Adolf Hitler. Today, the student journalists share the whole story with us.  

How Australia Beat COVID-19

Dec 9, 2020

“We need[ed] to sacrifice in the short-term to gain the long-term back — and to gain our lives. And it worked.” That’s how the Australians beat back the COVID pandemic to just a few cases across the entire country. We discuss how Australia did it, and lessons for the U.S.  


Dina Rosendorff, manager of ABC Radio Melbourne. (@DRosendorff)

Section 230 protects internet companies from liability for publishing offensive material. Now, there’s a move to do something to change section 230. How would it change the internet?  

There’s energy and pushback over a big Democratic policy proposal: forgiving student loan debt. We discuss the debate over student loan forgiveness.

President-Elect Joe Biden has named his new economic team. What do they need to do to help Americans, and are they the team to accomplish it?

Loretta Ross is a Black feminist, activist and scholar. One of her biggest concerns now? The pervasiveness of callout culture. We hear why Professor Ross wants to call people in instead of calling people out.

This radio diary is part of our hour with former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher about health equity. Listen here.  

At the start of the pandemic, Dr. Ala Stanford started hearing from her Black friends that they were not able to get coronavirus tests. Dr. Stanford, a pediatric surgeon in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has dedicated her career to eliminating racial health disparities. So she decided to act.

Dr. David Satcher grew up in the segregated south. He went on to serve as the 16th U.S. surgeon general and director of the CDC. We talk to him about race, health and the pandemic.  

Radio Diary: On The Frontlines

Dec 1, 2020

This radio diary is a part of our hour that checks in with nurses around the country. Listen here.

The U.S. health care system relies on tens of thousands of workers — nurses, doctors, lab technicians, porters, food service workers, sanitation workers and many more.

Nine months. 13 million cases. More than 260,000 deaths. How are health care workers doing? We talk with nurses about what they’ve seen, and how they’ve endured.  


Juan Anchondo, medical-surgical floor nurse at the Las Palmas Medical Center in El Paso, Texas. During the pandemic, he’s taken care of COVID-19 patients and has been floated to the COVID floor every two weeks.

The dawn of 2020 saw a record number of American children experiencing homelessness. For many of those million-plus children, school was the most reliable place in their life. So what happens when education goes remote?  


Barbara Duffield, executive director of SchoolHouse Connection, a non-profit focused on homeless youth and education. (@DuffieldBarbara)

A conversation with journalist Chris Whipple about the challenging road ahead for President-elect Joe Biden, restoring the CIA and his new book “The Spymasters.”


Chris Whipple, journalist and documentary filmmaker. Author of “The Spymasters” and “The Gatekeepers.” (@ccwhip)

This program originally broadcast on September 17, 2020.

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

We take a look at who Biden has picked to lead, and what the choices say about the administration that’s taking shape.  


Tyler Pager, national political reporter for Bloomberg News. (@tylerpager)

Election 2020 again proved there’s a problem with polling. But when it comes to understanding the electorate, are there any better options? We discuss the problems with polling, and how to fix it.  


Natalie Jackson, research director at the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). (@nataliemj10)

Matthew Sheffield started his career as a conservative blogger. He says many Americans don’t understand how powerful right-wing media really is — or how damaging it is to American democracy. Now, he says he wants to free people from it.  

President Trump has fired several top level members of his administration in the past couple of weeks. So what else can we expect from the president in his remaining days in office?  


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

The Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska is one of the largest intact temperate rainforests left in the world. And as a national forest, the land serves many purposes, from fishing to logging. Now, the Trump administration wants to open up half the forest to logging and development. We’ll discuss the complex story of a forest’s future.


Joel Jackson, tribal president of the Organized Village of Kake.

Early data shows that two COVID-19 vaccines are over 90% effective. So what’s next? We follow the vaccine’s journey from testing to public distribution.


Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, medical director for immunizations for the Arkansas Department of Health. (@ADHPIO)

Why Voters Are Rejecting The War On Drugs

Nov 17, 2020

Wherever the war on drugs was on the ballot this year, the war on drugs lost. In Oregon, Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota and Mississippi, too, voters approved measures to legalize recreational or medical marijuana. We discuss the drug-related ballot measures that passed on Election Day and the shift in American drug policy.

South Dakota family doctor Tom Dean knows his community well — he’s been in practice there for 42 years. And he’s seen a lot in that time. But nothing like COVID. We get a South Dakota family physician’s message for his patients, his community and his state.  


Dr. Tom Dean, family physician in Wessington Springs, South Dakota.

Much of the GOP in Washington won’t acknowledge Joe Biden as president-elect. What about the consequences for the country? We look at a week of presidential transition and Republican intransigence.