A Charlottesville, VA jury today convicted a white supremacist of first-degree murder for killing Heather Heyer. He intentionally drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors at the “Unite the Right” rally for neo-Nazis and white nationalists. A week after that rally, in August 2017, I visited Charlottesville to speak with Henry Abraham. Abraham, now 97, spent his Jewish boyhood in Nazi Germany. He tells stories of anti-Semitism and how his mother made his survival and life in the United States possible. Armed with her optimism and his love of teaching, he became a scholar of the U.S. Constitution and an esteemed professor at the University of Virginia. We spoke about his life’s journey and the déjà vu he experienced during the rally. He has much to teach us.

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America is hungry for the voice of an honorable leader. So Wavemaker brings you the voice of Retired Admiral William McRaven, former Navy SEAL and Commander of all U.S. Special Operations Forces. He was the architect of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. This episode features McRaven’s viral University of Texas commencement address: 10 memorable lessons from Navy SEAL training for those “who want to change the world” – aka the “Make Your Bed” speech. It’s 20 minutes of uninterrupted inspiration that parents can be proud to share with our children. My thanks to the Texas Exes, the University of Texas alumni association, for permission to post the speech.

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Environmentalists don’t vote. At least not nearly as much as the general population. They have a turnout problem. By Nathaniel Stinnett’s estimate, 10.1 million registered voters who consider climate change or the environment as one of their top two priorities, sat out the 2016 presidential election. An even larger number stayed home for the 2014 midterms. But for Stinnett, those big numbers mean a big opportunity. Right now, his Environmental Voter Project is targeting 2.4 million environmentalists in Georgia, Florida, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Pennsylvania – registered voters who are considered unlikely to vote. Stinnett employs an unusual messaging strategy to get them to the polls– which he explains in our conversation. If he succeeds, he believes no candidate will be able to get their name on a ballot without talking about the environment.

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Jane Alexander’s illustrious acting career was launched in 1968 by her breakthrough performance in the Pulitzer Prize winning play (and later movie) The Great White Hope. She then took the political stage as Chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts, when the NEA was on the political right’s hit list. She and her husband had virtually all their money stolen by an accountant who did a convincing job acting like their friend. And now, after dozens of movies and TV shows, including Kramer vs. Kramer and All the President’s Men, and some one hundred plays, she puts the spotlight on the men and women leading the conservation battle in her book Wild Things, Wild Places. So much fascinating ground to cover in this conversation, which was recorded live at the 2018 Nantucket Book Festival, courtesy of @NCTV17. We begin with an angry outburst…

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Standup comic Pete Dominick joins me to dissect Michelle Wolf’s routine at the recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Why now? Because this Sunday, May 27th, Wolf’s new series, The Break, debuts on Netflix. That’s just as good an excuse as any. Dominick, with Wolf as a launching point, helps make us all more astute observers of the art of comedy. Among the issues we discuss: using the P word, punching up versus punching down, and what it was like being in the room during Wolf’s speech. Pete also takes a swing at my tennis coach in Georgia, who didn’t like Wolf’s routine. I gave Coach Ross air time to swing back. Is that punching up or down? Warning: contains some explicit language.

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May 12, 2018

Michelle Wolf: Raw

Here is Michelle Wolf’s entire performance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.  Most people have only heard clips.  Here is all of it – 19 minutes and roughly 50 jokes – unedited.  This is the beginning of a broader mission on Wavemaker: exploring the deeper significance of comedy – from ancient Greece to the 2018 mid-term elections and beyond.  What’s funny?  Why?  Can comedy enable Americans of divergent political perspectives to laugh – together?  Should that even be its goal?  Those are just a few of the questions I’ll be pursuing with future guests (one of whom you’ll get to sample at the end of this episode) from my perspective as both a journalist and the son of a standup comic.  Warning: the language in this routine gets very explicit.

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There’s a new surge of military veterans running for Congress.  And they’re split about evenly between Democrats and Republicans.  Do veterans have a competitive edge over those who have not served in the military?  Are they better equipped for the job?  Can they help bridge the hyper-partisan divide?  This Wavemaker episode begins looking for answers with Jeremy Teigen, veteran, professor, and author of the new book Why Veterans Run: Military Service in American Presidential Elections, 1789-2016.

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Some people recognize potential threats to our democracy before others.  My guest, Barbara Simons, is one of those people.  15 years ago, not long after the infamous “hanging chads” threw the Bush v Gore vote count into turmoil and computerized voting became the new rage, Simons, a computer scientist, and some of her colleagues, concluded that in order to protect the integrity of the vote count, we would have to move to paper ballots – everywhere.  Simons became a co-founder of VerifiedVoting.Org, which is racing to inoculate America’s voting systems against hackers.  In the beginning, Simons got nowhere.  But she persisted.  With 228 days until the mid-term elections, her voice and message need to be urgently spread.  And for those of you who may not find your calling early in life, Simons will share her journey from college dropout to Ph.D.

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Introducing former Army Sergeant Matt Martin, author of “I’ve Been Shot In Combat.  And As A Veteran, I’m Telling You: Allowing Teachers To Be Armed Is An Asinine Idea.”   Since writing it two weeks ago for his new hometown’s website, CharlotteFive.com, Martin’s story has been viewed more than 2-million times on Facebook. “When I saw the news flash of another school shooting,” he said of the Parkland massacre, “I couldn’t help but think of the firefights I had been involved in and how these students and teachers just encountered their own version of Afghanistan.”  Listen to Matt Martin share the insights he drew from those firefights in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and why he believes they’re so relevant as Americans assess how to move forward after Parkland, Florida.    

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Introducing Saru Jayaraman.  Millions of Americans caught a glimpse of her at this year’s Golden Globes, where she was Amy Poehler’s guest – recognized for her role in the battle against sexual harassment in the restaurant industry.  Jayaraman, who was accepted to Harvard at the age of 16 and said no thanks, is the co-founder and President of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.  Her organization's extensive research into the restaurant industry has documented pervasive sexual harassment.   It often begins with managers insisting waitresses show more cleavage.  As you’ll hear, it often does not end there.  Saru’s solution?  Listen on.

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