On Being

Nathan Schneider — The Fabric of Our Identity

Thursday, October 09, 2014


On Being

[Unedited] Nathan Schneider with Krista Tippett

Thursday, October 09, 2014


Slate Culture Gabfest

The Culture Gabfest: Wolfie is My Safe Word Edition

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Slate critics Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens and June Thomas discuss "The Wolf of Wall Street," the BBC's "Call the Midwife Christmas Special," and Britney Spears' Vegas comeback.



Soundcheck Writers Club: Crime Novelist Ian Rankin's Pick Three

Monday, July 01, 2013

In this episode: Crime novelist Ian Rankin talks about how his latest crime novel, Standing in Another Man's Grave, was inspired by a misheard song lyric. He explains and weighs in with three of his favorite songs in a Pick Three, singing the praises of his fellow Scotsmen Django Django. And, singer-songwriter Lyla Foy performs as Wall, live in our studio.

Transportation Nation

Subway Sea Wall Of Steel Rising Between A Train And Jamaica Bay

Monday, April 01, 2013

Pile driver installs a section of steel wall between A train tracks in the foreground and Jamaica Bay behind. (photo by Jim O'Grady)

(New York, NY - WNYC) New York is Holland now: the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority is building a wall to keep out the sea along a two-mile stretch of the A subway line on its way to the Rockaway peninsula in Queens. The wall is made of thick steel and runs along the eastern side the tracks on the island of Broad Channel, in the middle of Jamaica Bay.

The $38 million project is the MTA's first big step since Sandy to prevent flooding from future storm surges.

To make sure the wall is strong enough to hold off another flood, workers are pounding each section about 30 feet into the ground. In the end, the wall will rise only seven feet above the rails, two feet above Sandy's height. The MTA thinks that's high enough.

On a recent windy afternoon, Contractor Mitch Levine was watching workers pile drive and weld each section into place. He said the wall is designed to withstand salt water. "This steel is special steel," he said. "It's marine steel, which will stop it from eroding over the course of 100 years."

Keeping the hungry waves at bay

NY MTA program manager Raymond Wong said the wall is supposed to prevent future storm surges from doing what Sandy did in this area, which was rip the embankment right out from under 400 feet of track.

"The tracks were hanging in the air," he said.

For three weeks after Sandy, each tide took another bite from a larger section of the embankment--until the NY MTA rebuilt the shore by dumping tons of stone and concrete next to the tracks. But this stretch of the A train across Jamaica Bay is still not in service. Thousands of riders now cram into crowded shuttle buses and face rush hour commutes that can end after midnight.

The wall will also serve a second purpose: keeping debris off the line. Forty-eight boats came to rest on the tracks after Sandy, along with jet skis, docks and fuel tanks. The clean up alone took three months.

Why a wall?

NY MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said engineers chose a steel wall to protect the A train because, "It could meet strength requirements as well as timing requirements--we wanted to make sure the wall would be in place by May 1." The line is scheduled to return to full service by summer.

Although Jamaica Bay is part of Gateway National Park, Ortiz said the wall didn't need to go through "any type of approval process" because it's within the right-of-way of the tracks, which is controlled by NYC Transit. Ortiz said the NY MTA did consult with the National Park Service and Army Corps of Engineers about the plan.

At the Broad Channel station replacing signals and thousands of feet of cable and other components. (Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Kevin Ortiz)

Bringing the power back

The MTA is taking a much more short term approach to repairing the A train's damaged electrical system. A mile away from Broad Channel, a control house sits in the railyard at the end of the line in Rockaway Park. Inside, Wong showed off rooms stuffed with equipment that looked modern in the 1950s, when it was installed. One panel has thousands of fuses, each with its own hand-lettered tag. Sandy turned these rooms into temporary aquariums.

"Everything was just coated in salt water that undermined the copper," Wong said. "When we came here, this whole thing was a big block of rust."

Electricity is vital to the subway. It powers signals that keep the trains apart, and switches that move those trains down the right track. There's also lighting at stations, public address systems, and power to the third rail to move the trains--the list goes on.

So what is the MTA doing to protect the electrical equipment at low-lying sites from future storms? "We're just trying to get up and running over here," Wong said. "There's really not much you can do."

Wong said, ideally, the MTA will lift the control house 10 feet in the air, rip out the old components and computerize the system. But that's millions of dollars and years away. His goal right now is to get the A train back by summer, however he can.

Click here for more photos of restoration work on the A line.

Read More



Wall Of Steel Rising Between A Train and Jamaica Bay

Monday, April 01, 2013


It's official: New York is Holland now. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is building a wall to keep out the sea along a two-mile stretch of the A line on its way to the Rockaways.

Comments [4]


The Rise of Dave Grohl; Wall In-Studio

Friday, March 22, 2013

In this episode: In just over a year’s time, Dave Grohl has won five Grammys for his latest Foo Fighters album, released the documentary Sound City, reunited the other surviving members of Nirvana to rock Saturday Night Live with Paul McCartney, and delivered the keynote address at South by Southwest. We talk to Paul Brannigan, author of the biography This Is a Call, about Grohl emerging as a power player in mainstream rock.

Plus: In the addictive video series Black Cab Sessions, artists play acoustic (and sometimes electric) sets in the back of a London taxi. The first signing to the project’s new record label is Wall, a young English singer, songwriter, and producer who turned heads last year with her cover of Karen Dalton's "Something on Your Mind." She joins us in studio to perform live.

    The Truth

    Domestic Violins

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    Produced at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio Beyond Radio conference, featuring performances by Amie McKenna, Michele Durman, Michael Whalley, and Martin Dingle Wall. Produced by Ed Herbstman and Jonathan Mitchell.


    Slate Culture Gabfest

    Slate: The Culture Gabfest, Explain It To Me Like I’m a Golden Retriever Edition

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    In this week's Culture Gabfest, our critics Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner review the new Wall Street drama Margin Call and Showtime’s new series Homeland. For their final segment, they discuss the life and influence of New Yorker film


    Slate Culture Gabfest

    Slate: The Culture Gabfest, “Beyoncé’s Cafeteria” Edition

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Listen to Slate's show about Occupy Wall Street, Beyoncé’s dance plagiarism, and the films of Pedro Almodóvar.


    The Brian Lehrer Show

    NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's Wall Street Forecast

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    New York State comptroller Thomas DiNapoli discusses his Wall Street forecast, and the role that the financial sector plays in the local economy.

    → Add Your Comments, Listen, and Read a Recap at It's A Free Country


    Painting New York's Skyline

    Monday, February 28, 2011

    Once, hand-painted outdoor advertisements on building walls were widespread, but now they are a rare breed. One Brooklyn company is trying to change that. Check out our slideshow to learn more about the daring artists who make their living by braving tremendous heights and biting winds.

    Comments [3]

    WNYC News

    Runway Painters & Star Shepherds: Unsung Heroes of Fashion Week

    Friday, February 11, 2011


    New York Fashion Week, which kicked off Thursday, generates more than $400 million and draws roughly 230,000, including fashion elite, style mavens and A-list celebrities. But it also temporarily employees thousands -- and not all of them are models.


    The New Yorker: Out Loud

    Nick Paumgarten on the financial crisis

    Monday, May 11, 2009

    Nick Paumgarten on understanding the financial crisis.


    The New Yorker: Out Loud

    John Lanchester on finance

    Friday, October 31, 2008

    John Lanchester on why derivatives are like modernist art.


    The New Yorker: Out Loud

    Ken Auletta on Rupert Murdoch

    Friday, June 22, 2007

    Ken Auletta discusses Rupert Murdoch's WSJ takeover bid.