On Point

Weekdays mornings at 9c/10e

Hear provocative voices and informed discussion examining stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. On Point explores the latest news and the arts, and welcomes questions and comments from listeners.

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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.

Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat studies authoritarian regimes, like Italy under Mussolini. Can a democracy pry itself out of a strongman’s grip?


Ruth Ben-Ghiat, professor of history and Italian studies at New York University. Author of “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present.” (@ruthbenghiat)

The On Point Coronavirus Task Force

Nov 11, 2020

This year, we’ve talked to some of the top scientists and doctors in the country about the pandemic. We pull them back together for a meeting of our own task force to hear their advice for the Biden team.


Angie Rasmussen, associate research scientist at Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity. (@angie_rasmussen)

The Global View Of Election 2020

Nov 10, 2020

“I believe at our best, America’s a beacon for the globe.” So declared President-elect Joe Biden. But what does the world really think of the American example now? Does the international community see the U.S. as the leader it once was?  


Simon Kuper, life and arts columnist for the Financial Times. (@KuperSimon)

Elizabeth Saunders served five years in the U.S. Navy. And last Tuesday, she served her country again, by being a poll worker in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Specifically, at precinct 24 in North Tulsa.

“As a veteran, I don’t really care who you vote for, just that you are there showing up to actually engage in your civic duty to have your say in how this country is run,” Elizabeth says.

This was Elizabeth’s second stint as a poll worker. When she walked into the Sheridan Avenue United Methodist Church at 6:30 a.m. on Election Day, she’s the first to admit … she was pretty nervous.

The race for the presidency presses on, as Trump doubles down on baseless claims about election fraud. We sort through this historic week, and look ahead at what’s to come.


Ron Suskind, investigative journalist and author. (@RonSuskind)

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

On Sunday, President Donald Trump made clear what he planned to do following the end of voting. Court battles have marked this entire election season. We look at the latest litigation around the 2020 presidential election.


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

What We Know About Election 2020 Results

Nov 4, 2020

The day after election day. What tallies are known? Where are votes still being counted? We discuss the latest in the race for the White House and Senate and what’s next in this historic moment for the United States.  


Luis Carrasco, editorial writer and member of the Houston Chronicle’s Editorial Board. (@lfcarrasco)

We talked today about the mismanagement of coronavirus—the ways citizens and leadership have failed to take steps necessary to curb the spread. But in San Francisco, California, it is a different story.

San Francisco is the second densest city in the country. It also has the lowest coronavirus death rate compared to any other major city in the United States, according to San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

Regardless of election outcomes, one thing is certain: the coronavirus pandemic is surging. We talk about what to expect in the pandemic’s next phase.  


Ed Yong, science writer at The Atlantic. Author of “I Contain Multitudes.” (@edyong209)

Catherine Hill, epidemiologist.