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

This program originally aired on May 11, 2020. 

Handwashing can help kill the coronavirus. But you may be surprised by how short the history of handwashing actually is among humans.

The Republican Party is falling into dangerous traps that could cost the party elections for a generation. At least, that’s the premise of Harvard professor Thomas Patterson’s new book, “Is the Republican Party Destroying Itself?” We’ll talk to him, plus Republicans who have a different vision for the future of the GOP.

Most mornings, Dave Petee leaves his house early and sets out in search of the sounds of hope and tranquility.

Petee, a Unitarian Universalist minister living in Cambridge, finds them on his daily walks around Fresh Pond Reservoir, courtesy of the birds.

Petee is being treated for cancer, and part of his therapy is going on these regular morning walks around the pond. Accompanied by the chirping and cooing of the local avian life, he’s never really alone. By this point, he’s able to identify many of them by their calls.

The Future Of Home Health Care

Jun 30, 2020

We look at the experience of domestic and home health care workers who are among the most vulnerable during the pandemic.


Linda Walton, domestic worker in Atlanta, Georgia. Member of We Dream in Black, an organization advocating for the rights of home health care workers.

Who will Joe Biden select as his running mate? We assess his short list of candidates.


Christopher Devine, political science professor at the University of Dayton. Co-author of “Do Running Mates Matter?” (@ProfDevine)

Children’s book author Jacqueline Woodson has written over 30 books, often focused on race and identity in America. We get her take on the current moment and talk about the never-ending power of story.

How Coronavirus Will Change City Life

Jun 26, 2020

This broadcast originally aired on May 6, 2020.

Past pandemics changed the way of life in cities around the world. We look at how city features were inspired by history’s worst disease outbreaks.


Brian Melican, journalist, author and translator. (@melican)

Recovering from COVID-19. Millions of Americans have had the disease. Some people suffer from long-term medical conditions. So what does recovery actually look like?


Dr. Mafuzur Rahman, vice chair of medicine, director of hospital medicine and clinical assistant professor at SUNY Downstate. He’s been on the front lines of the pandemic and created a COVID-19 discharge clinic.

Reimagining Democracy For The 21st Century

Jun 24, 2020

Read the ‘Our Common Purpose’ report here.

From political polarization, to rising inequality, to the immediate crisis of the pandemic and police violence, faith in our civic institutions is under fire. A new report takes a hard look at the state of American democracy and how to fix it.

Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt joins us for a chat about parenting, loss, his many projects and keeping humor alive through a pandemic.


Patton Oswalt, comedian, actor and writer. His latest special is “I Love Everything.” (@pattonoswalt)

Professor, author and preacher Michael Eric Dyson has spent his life’s work grappling with the concept of race in America. And he says he’s more hopeful now than ever before. We talk with him.

The History And Hope Of Juneteenth

Jun 19, 2020

Celebrating Juneteenth. We talk about the push to observe and understand the deeper story of the holiday.


Mary Elliott, historian and specialist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. (@NMAAHC)

New York Times business writer Eduardo Porter talks about how racial hostility is impoverishing all Americans.


Eduardo Porter, economics reporter for the New York Times. Author of “American Poison: How Racial Hostility Destroyed Our Promise.” (@portereduardo)

George Mpanga, better known as George the Poet, is a 29-year-old British spoken word artist. His new podcast is a genre-defying mix of music, poetry, storytelling, and personal narrative. We talk to him about his art, his push for social change and this moment now.


George the Poet, London-based spoken word artist. Host of “Have You Heard George’s Podcast?,” the first European podcast to ever win a Peabody award.

The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on workplace protection for LGBTQ workers. The justices ruled 6-3 that portions of the Civil Rights Act extend to gender identity and sexual orientation. We analyze the historic decision and its impact.


Greg Stohr, Supreme Court reporter for Bloomberg News. (@GregStohr)

Some states are reopening, while others have reversed course, as protests for racial justice continue across America. We check in around the country.


Rose Scott, host of “Closer Look with Rose Scott” on WABE, an NPR station in Atlanta. (@waberosescott)

Is The Virtual Workplace Here To Stay?

Jun 15, 2020

Working from home has become the norm for some these last few months, but will it endure after the pandemic? We explore the future of the virtual workplace.


Cal Newport, professor of computer science at Georgetown University.

Nicholas Bloom, professor of economics at Stanford University. (@SIEPR)

More than 44 million Americans have filed for unemployment in just 12 weeks. The shock of the pandemic to the economy is still being felt. We bring back two finance experts to talk about personal finances in this troubled economy and how protests have forced businesses to act on racial justice.

This broadcast originally aired on April 16, 2020.

A look at the Strategic National Stockpile. Where is it? What is it? What should it be used for? We’ll talk with the man who was once in charge of the whole thing.


Greg Burel, former director of the Strategic National Stockpile. (@gburel)

We talk to members of the high school class of 2020 about what it’s like to enter adulthood amid nationwide protests and a pandemic.


Sandy Banks, columnist for the Los Angeles Times. (@SandyBanksLA)

Rafael Escoto, he is graduating from Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School in New York. He plans on attending St. Lawrence University in New York.

Do protests spread the coronavirus? What about asymptomatic people? And where are the next possible hotspots? We look into what we know about the pandemic as global cases continue to rise, while much of the developed world begins to reopen.


Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. (@ashishkjha)

The call for a modern-day civil rights movement. We talk to two scholars of history about the need for change and healing.

Former American military leadership has been speaking out against the use of force against protesters. We talk with some of them about why.


Gen. Wesley Clark, retired four-star general. Former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. Served 38 years in the U.S. Army. (@GeneralClark)

Protests over racism and police brutality continue to grip the country. We hear the stories of organizers on the ground.


Kwame Rose, social activist, artist and organizer in Baltimore. (@kwamerose)

Tay Anderson, community organizer in Denver. Member of the Denver School Board. (@TayAndersonCO)

Black Americans are disproportionately hard hit by the current loss of jobs. We explore why and what can be done to reverse this trend.


Valerie Wilson, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s program on race, ethnicity and the economy. (@ValerieRWilson)

We are seeing people ‘pushed to the edge.’ That’s how Kareem Abdul-Jabbar describes the protests in the Los Angeles Times this week. We speak with the former NBA star.

As protests continue across the United States, we check in directly with Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Atlanta to get the latest.


Angela Davis, host of “MPR News with Angela Davis” on Minnesota Public Radio. (@AngelaDavisMPR)

How should parents talk with their children about all they’re seeing and experiencing right now? We get some good advice.


Melissa Giraud, social justice educator, researcher and advocate. Co-founder of EmbraceRace, an organization that provides resources for parents to teach their children about race. (@RaceEmbrace)

Editor’s Note: This hour discusses addiction and mental health. If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting 741741. 

We look at addiction and substance abuse during the coronavirus pandemic and the resources available to those who are suffering.

As the disrupted school year winds down, educators, parents and students look toward an uncertain fall. What will school look like next year?

Luvelle Brown, superintendent of the Ithaca City School District in New York.  Moderator of Discovery Education’s Equity Talks, a weekly webinar with educational leaders. (@luvelleb)