Joe Donahue | WAMC

Joe Donahue

Senior Director of News and Programming

Joe talks to people on the radio for a living. In addition to countless impressive human "gets" - he has talked to a lot of Muppets. Joe grew up in Philadelphia, has been on the area airwaves for more than 25 years and currently lives in Washington County, NY with his wife, Kelly, and their dog, Brady. And yes, he reads every single book. 

Ways to Connect

While you may not immediately recognize the name François Clemmons, you certainly may know him from his groundbreaking role as Officer Clemmons, a recurring character on "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" with Fred Rogers.

Clemmons overcame a difficult childhood of discrimination to become a musician, a noted choir director, and to serve as a positive image of a black American at a time when racial tensions in the United States were very high.

As he writes in his new memoir, he found a family in Fred Rogers, a friend and mentor. He writes about his life and his deep friendship with Rogers in his new memoir "Officer Clemmons."

7/10/20 Panel

Jul 10, 2020

      The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are UAlbany adjunct professor and investigative journalist Rosemary Armao, Visiting Professor at Bennington College, President of Beyond Plastics, and former EPA regional administrator Judith Enck, and Siena College Economics Professor Aaron Pacitti.

In the long history of American demagogues, from Huey Long to Donald Trump, never has one man caused so much damage in such a short time as Senator Joseph McCarthy.

We still use “McCarthyism” to stand for outrageous charges of guilt by association, a weapon of polarizing slander. From 1950 to 1954, McCarthy destroyed many careers and even entire lives, whipping the nation into a frenzy of paranoia, accusation, loyalty oaths, and terror. When the public finally turned on him, he came crashing down, dying of alcoholism in 1957.

Larry Tye’s new biography, "Demagogue," is a portrait of a human being capable of immense evil, yet beguiling charm. McCarthy was a tireless worker and a genuine war hero. When he made it to the Senate, he flailed around in search of an agenda. Finally, after three years, he hit upon anti-communism.

When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, President Obama observed that Trump “is not an outlier; he is a culmination, a logical conclusion of the rhetoric and tactics of the Republican Party for the past ten, fifteen, twenty years.”

In his new book "Burning Down The House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party," author Julian Zelizer, esteemed Princeton historian and CNN Political Analyst, pinpoints the moment when our country was set on a path towards the current era of bitterly partisan and ruthless politics.

Zelizer argues that Newt Gingrich’s political strategies in the 1980s, when he waged a campaign against Speaker of the House Jim Wright, have inspired some of the most divisive episodes in contemporary American politics, from the Tea Party movement to the Trump presidency.

7/9/20 Panel

Jul 9, 2020

  The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, UAlbany adjunct professor and investigative journalist Rosemary Armao, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist Linda Ellerbee, and counter-terrorism expert and best-selling author, Malcolm Nance.

Swimming is much more than an Olympic event. According to 2017 data 27 million Americans swim for fitness. Similar data is reported from English cities where more than 4 million men and women's swim at least once a month. USA Swimming, the national governing body for the sport in the United States, has 400,000 members and 2800 teams in the country.

Howard Means has just authored the new book "Splash: 10,000 Years of Swimming."

7/8/20 Panel

Jul 8, 2020

    The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Times Union Columnist Chris Churchill, Communications Faculty member at SUNY New Paltz & R.P.I. and former NYS Senator Terry Gipson, and Vice President for Editorial Development at the New York Press Association Judy Patrick.

Joe Donahue: Amity Gaige's new novel “Sea Wife” is a swift and thrilling literary page turner about a young family who escaped suburbia for a year-long sailing trip that up ends all of their lives. "Sea Wife" is told in dual perspective. Juliet's first-person narration after the journey, as she struggles to come to terms with the life-changing events that unfolded at sea. And Michael's Captain's log which provides a slow motion account of these same inexorable events, a dialogue that reveals the fault lines created by personal history and political divisions. Amity Gaige is the author of three novels, "O My Darling", "The Folded World", and "Schroder", which was shortlisted for the Folio Prize in 2014.

In President Trump's campaign against what he calls "Fake News," CNN Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta, is public enemy number one. From the moment Mr. Trump announced his candidacy in 2015, he has attacked the media, calling journalists "the enemy of the people."

In his book, just out in paperback, "The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America," Acosta presents a damning examination of bureaucratic dysfunction, deception, and the unprecedented threat the rhetoric Mr. Trump is directing has on our democracy.  At Mr. Trump's most hated network, CNN, Acosta offers a never-before-reported account of what it's like to be the President's most hated correspondent. Acosta goes head-to-head with the White House, even after Trump supporters have threatened his life with words as well as physical violence. Acosta will be taking part in an online conversation with Berkshire Eagle Executive Editor Kevin Moran for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Berkshire Community Collegeon Thursday, July 9th at 7pm via Zoom. The program is titled: The Enemy of the People: One Year, One Impeachment and One Pandemic Later.

    This week's Book Picks come from Connie Brooks of Battenkill Books in Cambridge, NY.

List:
"The Party Upstairs" by Lee Conell
"Survivor Song" by Paul Tremblay
"Rotherweird" by Andrew Caldecott
"The Cold Vanish: Seeking the Missing in North America’s Wildlands" by Jon Billman
"Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World" by Olga Khazan
"The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea" by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
"A Peculiar Peril" by Jeff VanderMeer

Carl Reiner, the ingenious and versatile writer, actor and director who broke through as a “second banana” to Sid Caesar and rose to comedy’s front ranks as creator of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and straight man to Mel Brooks’ “2000 Year Old Man,” died on Monday. He was 98. Carl Reiner was one of show business’ best-liked men. His was a welcome face on the small and silver screens: In Caesar’s 1950s troupe; as the self-absorbed Alan Brady of “The Dick Van Dyke Show”; and in such films as “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming” and “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.”

Sarah LaDuke

The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood 2020 Online Festival will soon be underway.

The venerable Lenox, Massachusetts concert grounds are shuttered for live music due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Boston Symphony Orchestra Artistic Administrator Tony Fogg says the virtual summer season will mirror a normal schedule beginning this week.

The schedule includes new content from Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax, as well as programming from the Tanglewood Learning Institute. To tell us more, we welcome Tony Fogg and Tanglewood Learning Institute Director Sue Elliott.

Sarah LaDuke

It sounds impossible to believe, but hundreds of thousands of music lovers will not be taking in concerts from the rolling green grass at Tanglewood this summer because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is taking its acclaimed, months-long music festival into the digital realm.

BSO musicians — along with a wide range of guest artists including cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Emanuel Ax and violinist Joshua Bell — are helping to produce original, pre-recorded performances for the new Tanglewood 2020 Online Festival.

Encore and archival performances are also part of the lineup, in addition to informal conversations with artists and master classes.

According to BSO president and CEO Mark Volpe, more than eight million people have engaged virtually with the organization's output over the past two months and they hope for much more this summer.

7/1/20 Panel

Jul 1, 2020

  The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Dean of the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Cybersecurity at the University at Albany Robert Griffin, Times Union Columnist Chris Churchill, and immigration attorney, an associate with the Albany law firm of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna Cianna Freeman-Tolbert.

Joe Donahue:  Veteran political journalist and 60 Minutes Correspondent John Dickerson's new book "The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency", is a deep dive into the history, evolution and current state of the American presidency, and how we can make the job less impossible and more productive.

In the book, Dickerson writes about presidents in history, such as Washington, Lincoln, FDR and Eisenhower, and in contemporary times from LBJ and Reagan and Bush, Obama and Trump, to show how a complex job has been done, and why we need to reevaluate how we view the presidency, how we choose our presidents and what we expect from them once they're in office. John Dickerson is a 60 Minutes correspondent, prior to that he was a co-host of CBS This Morning, the anchor of Face the Nation. And CBS News' Chief Washington correspondent. The new book, "The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency".

Ask almost anyone who grew up in the tri-state area during the 1980s and they will have a story (and probably a scar) from the infamous amusement park Action Park—or, as it was often known, “Class Action Park” or “Accident Park.”

But for Andy Mulvihill, Action Park was the family business, it was home. In his new memoir, "Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park, " Mulvihill takes readers on an outlandish, hilarious, terrifying, and almost impossible-to-believe ride through the history of this iconic landmark.

His story chronicles the rise and fall of a uniquely American attraction, a wild and crazy 1980s adolescence, and a son’s struggle to understand his father’s quest to become the Walt Disney of New Jersey. Action Park placed no limits on danger or fun, a monument to the anything-goes spirit of the era that left guests in control of their own adventures—sometimes with tragic results.

Leah Konen’s adult debut "All The Broken People," is an unpredictable domestic thriller in which a faked death goes horribly awry.

Set in Woodstock, NY, All the Broken People, introduces twenty-eight-year-old Lucy King, a woman who, in a desperate bid for a fresh start, gets far more than she bargained for.

Soon after arriving at her rustic rental cottage, Lucy meets Vera and John, the disarmingly attractive couple next door whose friendship proves impossible to resist.

With her rocky past behind her, Lucy is happily settling into her new home when her artsy new mentors deliver a staggering bombshell: They, too, need to escape their own small-town troubles, and the only way to wipe the slate clean and start anew is if Lucy helps them fake John's death.

  This week's Book Picks come from Kira Wizner of Merritt Bookstore in Millbrook, NY.

Current Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Open for shopping, porch pick-up, and help shopping if customers would like to stay by the door rather than enter the store.

List:

"A Burning" by Megha Majumdar
"The Blue Ticket" by Sophie Mackintosh
"Death in Her Hands" by Otessa Moshfegh
"I Am Not A Juvenile Delinquent" by Sharon Charde
"Sin Eater" by Megan Campisi
"Saturday" by Oge Mora
"Stamped" by Jason Reynolds + Ibram X. Kendi
"This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work" by Tiffany Jewell and Aurelia Durand
"How to Be an Anti Racist" by Ibram X. Kendi
"Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor" by Layla F Saad
"Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do" by Jennifer L Eberhardt
"Hollywood Park: A Memoir" by Mikel Jollett

6/30/20 Panel

Jun 30, 2020

    The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist Linda Ellerbee, counter-terrorism expert and best-selling author, Malcolm Nance, and former Associate Editor of The Times Union Mike Spain.

Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue will be in conversation with Joe Donahue tonight at 7 in a virtual event presented by Northshire Bookstore.   

Today marks their 40th wedding anniversary of actress Marlo Thomas and daytime talk trailblazer Phil Donahue - the couple joined us from their home to talk about their new book what makes a marriage last.

It features reflections from celebrity couples including Ron and Cheryl Howard, Kira Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon, Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter, and Jane Wagner and Lily Tomlin just to name a few.

What makes a marriage last? Well, to unlock that mystery Marlo and Phil crisscrossed the country and conducted intimate conversations with 40 celebrated couples whose long marriages they've admired - from award winning actors, athletes, and newsmakers to writers, comedians, musicians, a former US President and First Lady - through these conversations Marlo and Phil also reveal the rich journey of their own marriage.

6/29/20 Panel

Jun 29, 2020

       The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, investigative journalist and UAlbany adjunct professor Rosemary Armao, UAlbany Lecturer in Africana Studies Jennifer Burns, and political consultant and lobbyist Libby Post.

On the eve of his 52nd birthday, February 11 1861, the President Elect of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, walked onto a train the first step of his journey to the White House and his rendezvous with destiny. But as the train began to carry Lincoln toward Washington, it was far from certain what he would find they're bankrupt and rudderless.

The government was on the verge of collapse. To make matters worse, reliable intelligence confirmed a conspiracy to assassinate him as he passed through Baltimore. It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of the Republic hung in the balance. How did Lincoln survive this grueling Odyssey to become the president we know from the history books?

The new book, "Lincoln On The Verge"  tells the story of a leader discovering his own strength, improvising brilliantly and seeing his country up close during these pivotal 13 days. Ted Widmer is distinguished lecturer at McCauley Honors College CUNY. In addition to his teaching, he writes actively about American history for the New York Times, The New Yorker and The Washington Post. 

The author of "American Nations" returns to the historical study of a fractured America by examining how a myth of national unity was created and fought over in the nineteenth century--a myth that continues to affect us today.

"Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood" by Colin Woodard tells the story of the struggle to create a national myth for the United States, one that could hold its rival regional cultures together and forge, for the first time, an American nationhood. Woodard tells the story of the genesis and epic confrontations between these visions of our nation's path and purpose through the lives of the key figures who created them, a cast of characters whose personal quirks and virtues, gifts and demons shaped the destiny of millions.

6/26/20 Panel

Jun 26, 2020

  

     The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are Senior Fellow and Visiting Professor at Bennington College, Founder of Beyond Plastics, former EPA regional administrator Judith Enck, counter-terrorism expert and best-selling author, Malcolm Nance, and Siena College Economics Professor Aaron Pacitti.

David Litt entered the White House in 2011 and left in 2016 as a special assistant to the president and senior presidential speechwriter. He will tell us about his new book: "Democracy in One Book or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn't, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think."

Litt says the democracy you live in today is different—completely different—from the democracy you were born into. You probably don't realize just how radically your republic has been altered during your lifetime. Yet more than any policy issue, political trend, or even Donald Trump himself, our redesigned system of government is responsible for the peril America faces today.

6/25/20 Panel

Jun 25, 2020

  The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist Linda Ellerbee, investigative journalist and UAlbany Adjunct Professor Rosemary Armao, and Berkshire Eagle Reporter Jenn Smith.

Cyclonic hordes of insects, a telepathic despot, body-swapping sex - just a few of the surprises Salvador Samuels encounters when he’s swept back to precolonial times, walking in the moccasins of a blind Indian - who, in turn, has been transported into Salvador’s body in present-day America.

Four hundred years apart, they’re bound by a mission to rescue our world, aided by the mysterious presence of the mounds. Thousands of these ancient earthworks once dotted the landscape of North America. We still don’t know why they were created. Jim Metzner's novel "Sacred Mounds" suggests they are as important today as when they were made over a thousand years ago.

"Sacred Mounds" weaves the stories of two men, each a stranger in a strange land. With the help of two remarkable women, they must find a way to save our planet and return home.

6/24/20 Panel

Jun 24, 2020

  The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Dean of the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Cybersecurity at the University at Albany Robert Griffin, political consultant and lobbyist Libby Post, and immigration attorney, an associate with the Albany law firm of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna Cianna Freeman-Tolbert.

Joe Donaue: Megha Majumdar's debut novel "A Burning" is about three characters whose lives become entwined after a terrorist attack in India. It is taut, electrifying, and dazzling. Jivan is a Muslim girl from the slums determined to move up in life who is accused of executing a terrorist attack on a train because of a careless comment on Facebook. PT Sir is an opportunistic gym teacher who hitches his aspirations to a right wing political party, and finds that his own ascent becomes linked to Jivan's fall. Lovely is an irresistible outcast who has the alibi that can set Jivan free, but it will cost her everything that she holds dear. Megha Majumdar grew up in Kolkata, India and studied social anthropology at Harvard and Johns Hopkins. She is currently an editor at Catapult. This is her first novel. 

In J. Chester Johnson's new book "Damaged Heritage: The Elaine Race Massacre and a Story of Reconciliation" he tells the journey of two Americans - one black and one white. "Damaged Heritage" begins with an account of the 1919 Elaine Race Massacre which, though arguably the worst on record, has been widely unknown for a century due to a white-washing of our history.

Chester Johnson is a poet, essayist, and translator, he served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury Department under Jimmy Carter.

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