David Brown

Host, Managing Editor, The Texas Standard

David entered radio journalism thanks to a love of storytelling, an obsession with news, and a desire to keep his hair long and play in rock bands. An inveterate political junkie with a passion for pop culture and the romance of radio, David has reported from bases in Washington, London, Los Angeles, and Boston for Monitor Radio and for NPR, and has anchored in-depth public radio documentaries from India, Brazil, and points across the United States and Europe. He is, perhaps, known most widely for his work as host of public radio's Marketplace. Fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving to Texas full-time in 2005, Brown joined the staff of KUT, launching the award-winning cultural journalism unit "Texas Music Matters."

A graduate of Washington and Lee University School of Law, David is currently completing his PhD in journalism at the University of Texas, and helping to launch, as host and managing editor, an innovative news program about which he is genuinely proud and thrilled to be a part of: The Texas Standard.   

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Texas
12:01 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Willie Nelson Donates Stash of Personal Artifacts To Briscoe Center

Jeff Newman Southern Lights/Northern Cross Collection, Briscoe Center for American History

Even as he celebrated his 81st birthday – how else, but by getting his fifth-degree black belt in a martial art called GongKwon Yusul - legendary musician Willie Nelson does not show signs of slowing down.

It was, however, announced today that he has decided to donate a large portion of his personal collection to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Transportation
4:28 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

When it Comes To Traffic, Everything's Bigger in Texas

Everything's bigger in Texas – or so the saying goes. But after years of population growth, many are worried the Lone Star State is experiencing the hidden costs of its prosperity.

The Texas Standard's David Brown recently sat down with Wall Street Journal reporter Nathan Koppel to discuss strains on state infrastructure.

"It's great for the state, and you'd certainly rather be Texas than other parts of the country that are losing population, but it is a challenge for Texas," Koppel explains. "Just the sheer pace of the population increase has been difficult to manage, particularly for cities which are just booming. "

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Texas Tech Climatologist Katharine Hayhoe
10:58 am
Fri April 25, 2014

The Texas Scientist Reconciling Climate Change & Evangelical Christianity

Ashley Rodgers, Texas Tech University

Time Magazine just released its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. This year the list includes Texas Tech climate scientist and evangelical Christian Katharine Hayhoe.

For Time, actor Don Cheadle wrote "There’s something fascinating about a smart person who defies stereotype. That’s what makes my friend Katharine Hayhoe – a Texas Tech climatologist and an evangelical Christian – so interesting."

The Texas Standard's David Brown recently spoke with Hayhoe about science, her faith, and making TIME's list.

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Crime & Justice
12:53 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Could Europe Put a Stop to the Death Penalty in Texas?

Execution room in the San Quentin State Prison in California.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

This week, Oklahoma's Supreme Court stopped the executions of two convicted murderers. At issue: where the state gets its execution drugs. The state does not want to reveal its source.  

Texas also has long kept its lethal drug suppliers secret, although Attorney General Greg Abbott recently issued an opinion stating it's time to go public.  But as death penalty opponents increase the pressure to expose suppliers and to disrupt the supply of the drug, some states are reviewing their options on capital punishment.

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Why It's Not So Bad to Speak 'Bad English'
3:22 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

On the Bard's Birthday, Who Wrote It: Shakespeare or a Rapper?

Shakespeare or Big Daddy Kane? According to "Bad English" author Ammon Shea, slang and informal English is usually "much older than we think."

It's happened to all of us: just when you're ready to deliver the perfect rebuttal,  last word or final point, your tongue trips up and you slaughter your English.

Don't fret about it, says author Ammon Shea. The man who spent a year reading the Oxford English Dictionary is taking on grammarians and nitpickers alike.

Shea's new book "Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation" (out this June) is an eye-opening look at how language mistakes have become accepted as correct usage.

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Texas City Blast
3:35 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Before the West Explosion, There Was Texas City

Texas City as viewed from the air, April 16, 1947
Credit AP archival photo

April 17 marks exactly a year since one of the biggest industrial disasters in American history: the explosion at the fertilizer plant in West, Texas that left 15 people dead, more than 150 injured, and large parts of the town flattened and destroyed.

Shocking as it was, the West explosion is not the worst industrial disaster in American history. That anniversary is today, April 16 – marking 67 years since the Gulf Coast town of Texas City was razed.  

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UT-Austin
11:08 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Bill Powers on Regents Drama, Civil Rights Summit & Those Mysterious Maroon Bluebonnets

UT-Austin President Bill Powers welcomes guests to a panel at the LBJ School & Museum's Civil Rights Summit, on Wednesday, April 9, 2014.
Rodolfo Gonzalez, American-Statesman

Reports over the past week suggest that the screws are tightening on one of the biggest critics of William Powers, Jr., President of the University of Texas at Austin.

University Regent Wallace Hall likely committed impeachable offenses, according to a 176-page report prepared for legislators looking into Hall's campaign to oust Powers. Among the charges: that Hall leaked confidential student information in apparent violation of state and federal law, that he attempted to coerce UT administrators to alter testimony to investigators, and that he abused his position as regent.

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Texas
3:21 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

You Can Buy Your Way Into Texas' Oil Boom. But Is It Worth It?

A jointly-owned oil rig atop the Eagle Ford shale south of San Antonio.
Credit Larissa Liska

In the history of Texas, few figures are as colorful as the wildcatters: oil prospectors who gambled big on the lure of black gold and striking it rich, or went broke trying. But what if you could be a wildcatter with a click of the mouse?

According to a company selling stakes in rigs right now, you too can own an oil well – or at least part of it – right here in the states. 

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Education
1:27 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Interview: Dr. Clay Johnston on Innovations at Dell Medical School

Dr. Clay Johnston (center), speaking after being named inaugural dean of the Dell Medical School.
KUT News

The Dell Medical School at UT Austin is scheduled to open for classes in 2016. The man leading the school to that opening is newly appointed dean, Dr. Clay Johnston.

Johnston spoke with Texas Standard host David Brown about what needs to happen before classes begin – and more importantly, how the new medical school will break the mold for student education and patient care.

"We can't treat this as our one opportunity to change things," Johnston says. "The reality is that academia – at least in medicine – moves very, very slowly. So we want to create the structures, the culture, that allow us to continually move, to be nimble and move forward."

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Life & Arts
6:05 am
Mon March 17, 2014

What You Don't Know About Mavis Staples and Her Music

Mavis Staples at Austin City Limits fest in 2011.
Laura Fedele, via flickr.com/wfuv

For a slightly younger generation, the Staples Singers evoke memories of avocado colored refrigerators and polyester pants. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but certainly not the reason you should know the name Mavis Staples

In the new book, "I’ll Take You There," music journalist Greg Kot connects the dots between modern American culture and the great migration as African-Americans moved from the deep south to Chicago. 

Mavis Staples is part of the fabric of Chicago, Kot tells Texas Standard's David Brown.

"[She's] a cultural institution. Her family is a cultural institution," he says.

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Sports
11:59 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Texas' First Gay Basketball League Provides a Safe Place to Play

The Austin Gay Basketball League (AGBL) has more than doubled in size since its creation in 2010.
Sam Ortega for KUT News

Last May, Jason Collins – a 12-year veteran of the NBA – made history when he penned an editorial in Sport Illustrated revealing he was gay. "I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport," he wrote. "But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation."

The issue of homosexuality in sports has certainly become a topic of discussion, from the politics of the Sochi Olympics to NFL hopeful Michael Sam coming out as gay. But many athletes feel there is still a long way to go before gay players are fully welcomed into sports.

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Politics
7:52 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Meet the Candidates: Barry Smitherman

Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman is running for Texas Attorney General
Credit Todd Wiseman for The Texas Tribune

Raised in Highlands, Texas, Barry Smitherman initially set his sights on the world of finance. But a funny thing happened on the way to the top: an op-ed he cowrote on reforming Houston's finances led to him getting fired from his high-profile post at Bank One.

At age 42, Smitherman had to start over, accepting a post as a "baby" prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney's office. Out the blue came an appointment from the Governor to serve on the Texas Public Finance Authority and then the Public Utility Commission, where he became chairman. In 2012, He was elected to the Railroad Commission, which he chairs.

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Austin
12:16 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

The Smartphone App Connecting Austin to Protests in Venezuela

Protestors in Venezuela use smartphone app Zello to communicate
flickr.com/aandres

According to published reports, for the first time in four years Venezuela is set to send an ambassador to the US. This comes despite the fact that Venezuela's president is accusing Washington of fomenting violent anti-government protests – protests that have left more than a dozen people dead. 

Just last week, Venezuela expelled three US diplomats accused of conspiring with student protesters, a charge rejected by the Obama Administration. But that's not to say there's been no Texas role – albeit an unofficial one.  

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Attorney General Race
6:00 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Meet the Candidates: Dan Branch

State Representative Dan Branch is running for Texas Attorney General
Credit Michael Stravato for the Texas Tribune

If you follow Texas politics, you've heard the news: Republican Greg Abbott's running for Governor.  That leaves his former seat open, clearing the way for the first competitive primary race for Attorney General since … well, you have to go all the way back to 1998.

Three prominent Republicans have stepped up to the plate: State Sen. Ken Paxton of McKinney, Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman, and, in our studios today, State Rep. Dan Branch of Dallas.  

First elected to the Texas House in 2002, Branch has been practicing law for nearly three decades, launching his own highly successful firm. 

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Lt. Governor Race
6:00 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Meet the Candidates: Leticia Van De Putte

State Senator Leticia Van De Putte announces her bid for Texas Lt. Governor
Credit Janis Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Last spring, as Republican lawmakers tried to defuse Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis’ 10 hour filibuster on abortion restrictions in Texas, a fellow Senator named Leticia Van de Putte attempted to get the attention of the presiding officer.  

"Mr. President," Van De Putte shouted, "at what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?"

The remark won Van De Putte some attention, all right.  

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Lt. Governor Race
6:05 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Meet The Candidates: Todd Staples

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is running for the GOP nomination for Lt. Governor.
Tamir Kalifa, Texas Tribune

Growing up in rural East Texas, Todd Staples says he didn’t think much about politics until a fateful telephone call from a former high school teacher. There was ‘a mess’ in the local city council: would Staples consider making a bid for local office? At first he declined. Then there was silence on the line. “I’ll never forget the words he spoke to me,” Staples says. “He said, ‘we gave to you, and it’s time for you to give back’.”

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Lt. Governor Race
5:03 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Meet the Candidate: Jerry Patterson

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is a Republican candidate for Lt. Governor.
Callie Richmond for The Texas Tribune

Who wants to be "number two"?  LBJ was famously warned that the job of vice president’s not worth a warm bucket of spit. (Or something like that.)

But it’s a different thing being "number two" in Texas. Indeed the Lieutenant Governor in Texas wields enormous power in steering legislative policymaking. Right now four prominent Republicans are duking it out for the party’s nomination, including incumbent David Dewhurst, State Sen. Dan Patrick, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, and – in the first of our conversations with the candidates in the major statewide races – Jerry Patterson, who’s hoping to trade his current job as Land Commissioner for a new role as Lt. Governor.

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Texas
2:20 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Interview: UT President Bill Powers on Job Reductions, Sexual Assault & Campus Climate

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

In late January, President Barack Obama assembled a task force to come up with ideas to reduce sexual assault on college campuses. According to the administration, one in five women is a survivor of attempted or completed sexual violence while in college. President Obama urged members of college communities nationwide to ask their leaders what they're doing about this issue. 

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers recently sat down with KUT's David Brown to talk about campus climate and the current job reductions at the University of Texas.

Listen to the interview in the audio player.

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Energy & Environment
11:42 am
Tue February 11, 2014

What You Might Have Missed During 'The Big Game'

Michael Webber of UT's Energy Institute

Unless you're a Seahawks fan, this year's Super Bowl was not so super. Seattle's blowout victory over Denver almost certainly inspired more than a few million viewers to tune out shortly after halftime. 

The real contest this year, as in years past, was among TV sponsors who paid approximately $4 million per half-minute to push their messages to viewers.  Much of the post-game commentary was devoted to who won bragging rights for 'best commenrcial'.  But Michael Webber, Deputy Director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin saw much more than the usual ads for beer, soda, insurance and autos.  

Sure, the Super Bowl may be an American ritual.  But if you look a little closer, Webber says, the big game reveals a national obsession bigger than football: an insatiable appetite for energy.

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Sochi Olympics
5:30 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Are Russia's Anti-Gay Laws All That Different From Texas?

Eight states, including Texas, have so-called 'no-promo homo' laws echoing Russia's 'homosexual propaganda' provision
Credit flickr.com/mr_t_in_dc

As the Winter Olympics in Sochi get underway, Texas-based AT&T became the first major sponsor to join a chorus of opposition to Russia's ban on so-called "homosexual propaganda." In another sign of protest, the Obama administration has sent three openly gay athletes as representatives to Sochi.

But American critics of the policy may want to look at what's on the books closer to home, notes Yale Law School professor Ian Ayres. In a commentary for KUT's upcoming daily news magazine Texas Standard, Ayres highlights so-called "no promo homo" rules codified across the U.S. – including Texas. 

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