Sir Willard White is an opera singer with a story to tell: from Jamaica, to the Juilliard School, to a knighthood, and beyond. He is as commanding a speaker as he is a singer. With Jay, he talks about his growing up, the decision to sing, the sting of racism, and much more. He even does a little singing — including “Love Me Tender” and “Smile.”

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At the Salzburg Festival this summer, Herbert Blomstedt was a big hit. He was a big hit onstage with the Vienna Philharmonic, and, an hour afterward, a big hit on a smaller stage with Jay. Blomstedt quoted Picasso: “It took me many years to become youthful.” And he described music as a “search for truth.” An inspiring – and fun – conversation (complete with plenty of singing).

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Javier Camarena is one of the leading tenors in the world. He is a guest at the Salzburg Festival, and participated in a series of conversations hosted by the Salzburg Festival Society. The moderator of this series is Jay. This episode of “Q&A” gives you excerpts of the conversation with Camarena. Jay actually had an encounter with this tenor in an opera house years ago – a story that Jay tells toward the end of the episode. It could be that Javier Camarena, in addition to being a bel canto idol, is the politest man in the arts.

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Jay joins from The Sound of Music land to discuss the daily spectacle with Mona: John Brennan’s security clearance, NDAs, “historic” candidates, “zombie Reaganism,” killer sports, misbehaving judges, and of course, music.

Music from this week’s episode: Nessun Dorma by Aretha Franklin (from the 1998 Grammy Awards)

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Will Ocasio Cortez meet Ben Shapiro in debate? Does anyone care about issues these days?

Jay and Mona speak of Rubio’s evolution, the Manafort case, how conspiracy theories are like pornography, and raindrops on concert goers.

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Political philosopher Yuval Levin joins Mona to talk about our dysfunctional Congress. Later,
Jay and Mona consider the Koch/Trump war, the press, the mob, the out of touch elites, the Democrats, and an enduring musical theme: Mission Impossible.

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The Ravinia Festival is the famous music festival outside Chicago. Its longtime president and CEO is Welz Kauffman – who talks with Jay about his life and work. Kauffman has been in the business since the ’80s, encountering the great and the good (and the bad). He has seen changes in American culture, for better or worse. He has his eye on the scene and his finger on the pulse.

A bonus fact: He matriculated with Barack Obama (then known as “Barry”) at Occidental College. And was present for what was probably the future president’s first public speech of any significance.

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Jay and Mona consider the pitfalls of calling balls and strikes. How do you measure harm from lying? They touch on two good Republican congressmen, and one who went tragically bad. They talk about the FBI, and the Mafia, and end with two musicals. 

Music from this episode: The Room Where It Happens by Hamilton: An American Musical

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Kyle Parker is on Putin’s “wanted” list – one of the people Putin wants handed over to the FSB, for questioning. Parker is the chief of staff at the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and a father of the Magnitsky Act, a law that gives Putin a stomach ache. With Jay, Parker talks about life on the list and much more. An interesting and invaluable guy, Kyle Parker.

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Bill Browder is the financier whose lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was tortured to death by Russian authorities. Since that time, Browder has worked for justice, spearheading “Magnitsky acts,” which are laws that place sanctions on Russian human-rights abusers.

Browder is high on Putin’s enemies list. Indeed, he is high on Putin’s literal list: the list of people whom Putin wants handed over to the FSB – formerly the KGB – in a deal with President Trump. Putin singled out Browder at the recent Trump-Putin press conference.

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President Trump batted his lashes at Vladimir Putin and then faced a backlash. Charen and Nordlinger consider NATO, useful idiots, Bill Browder, our “foe” the EU, and more.

Need to Know listeners have been hearing Mona talk about Wine Access for some weeks now.

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Thea Musgrave is a Scottish-American composer and a delight. This year, she and the music world have marked her 90th birthday. Jay sat down with her in her home in New York to talk things over. They talk about her life and her music – and other people’s music. Her husband, the conductor Peter Mark, chimes in with an excellent cameo.

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They called Barry Goldwater “Mr. Conservative.” In a scholarly sense, George H. Nash merits that designation, too: He is one of the world’s leading authorities on conservatism, and on American conservatism in particular. He wrote a landmark book on the subject. He is also the outstanding biographer of Herbert Hoover. Jay talks with Mr. Nash about his background: an upbringing in Massachusetts; attendance at Amherst and Harvard. Then the discussion turns to conservatism: What is it and what isn’t it? Later, Jay asks what he calls an “Oprah-esque” question about Hoover: What is most misunderstood about him? The conversation ends with reflections on what makes an historical mind. George H. Nash has an impressive one.

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Great judges are made not born. Jay and Mona praise the Federalist Society for giving the nation a pool of highly qualified, conservative judges, and President Trump for appointing them. Yale Law students can’t handle it. Is Jim Jordan a victim of the deep state? Should we abolish ICE (er, no), and more.

The podcast is strummed out, over the Blue Yeti’s objections, to John Denver.

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Omar Mohammed is an Iraqi historian and “citizen journalist.” Jay says he is one of the most extraordinary people you will ever meet. At tremendous risk to himself, he chronicled the Islamic State’s occupation of Mosul. What he saw might destroy the average person. But he has pressed on, simply because he wants the world to know, in the hope that people will defend themselves better against the Islamic States of the future.

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David Luhnow is the Latin America editor for the Wall Street Journal. An American, he grew up in Mexico City. His brother Jeff is the general manager of the Houston Astros. (Have they done anything lately?) With Jay, David Luhnow talks about various matters Mexican: crime, economy, culture, politics, and more. The next president is expected to be AMLO – Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He is a left-wing populist and “old-fashioned Mexican nationalist,” as Luhnow says. Things could get interesting in a hurry.

Luhnow is a remarkably well-informed, remarkably balanced, and remarkably clear explainer. At the end of this episode, Jay says he wishes there were a David Luhnow for every region of the world.

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This week, Mona’s book, “Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense,” is published. Jay wants to question her about it. So he does. A conversation on crucially important subjects, ending with a song: “Love and Marriage,” by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn, sung (impeccably) by Dinah Shore.

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The world is bursting with issues, and, in a quick-paced ’cast, Mona and Jay discuss a few of them: family separation at the border; Trump and North Korea; and the doings of Emmanuel Macron in France. As you know, “Need to Know” begins with the Sabre Dance, which is from a Khachaturian ballet called “Gayane.” This particular episode goes out with another beloved Khachaturian piece, the Waltz from “Masquerade” (a play). Haunting and stirring bugger.

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Mu Sochua was born in 1954. She left Cambodia when she was 18, three years before the Khmer Rouge came to power. Most of her family was wiped out. She returned and took up a political career. She served in the government but later turned to the opposition. She is now in exile. Monovithya Kem is the daughter of the opposition leader, Kem Sokha – who is now in prison. Like Mu Sochua, the leader’s daughter is now in exile. Jay Nordlinger talked with them both at the Oslo Freedom Forum. Of great interest.

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Two cropped up in the discussion — one unmentionable, the other not. Jay and Mona covered North Korea, Roseanne Barr, Samantha Bee, sarcasm on Twitter, the economy, Trey Gowdy and much more. A meaty meal!

Music from this week’s show: From Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 13 in B flat, Op. 130

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