David Brown

Host & Managing Editor, 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.   

Ways To Connect

At the ripe old age of 10, Nolan Ryan announced to his parents he was ready to get into the cattle business. And he did just that – buying his first calf from a local dairy farmer outside of his hometown of Alvin, Texas.

Fast forward a few decades, and most folks seem to associate Ryan's name with baseball. Pitching in the majors for 27 seasons, Ryan played for the Mets and California Angels before coming home to Texas, pitching for the Rangers and Astros and being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Addiction affects nearly 23 million Americans, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Yet only about 10 percent of those affected are receiving treatment.

Addiction comes at a high price to society. It's estimated that drug and alcohol abuse costs the United States around $500 billion a year in health care spending, lost productivity and crime. But perhaps the friends and families of those struggling with addiction can best attest to the emotional, psychological and social toll of the illness.

One American family knows the struggle addiction brings all too well. 


The overall Austin population exploded between 2000 and 2010, growing by more than 20 percent. But a University of Texas study [PDF] finds that Austin was the only U.S. city experiencing double-digit population growth that saw its African-American population not only not keep pace, but actually decline.

"Among the ten fastest-growing major cities in the United States, Austin stood out in one crucial respect: it was the only such city that suffered a net loss in its African- American population," says study author Dr. Eric Tang. "Indeed, between 2000 and 2010, Austin was a statistical outlier; it was the only major city in the United States to experience a double-digit rate of general population growth coincident with African-American population decline." 

What do transistors, lithium batteries and AK-47s have in common?

Each one of those inventions fast-forwarded human history. They and many more, argues Austin-based author Robert Bryce, are examples of a trend in nature and society toward making things, faster, cheaper and – Bryce argues – better.

Bryce's new book is called "Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong." He spoke to Texas Standard host David Brown.


The San Antonio Spurs may not have rock star players like LeBron James – they don't have the resources. They might not have the youngest lineup, either (to say the least). And no, they're not flashy.

But the Spurs succeed so often – both on and off the court – they're now considered the top ranked team in the NBA, picked by many to win a fifth championship this year. They must be doing something right.


Wednesday morning the San Antonio Express-News reported that a cancer patient died after waiting two months to start cancer treatment at a Veteran Affairs hospital in Temple, Texas.

The news comes after a series of revelations about secret waiting lists at VA hospitals nationwide, following an initial whistleblower complaint from a VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. 

The reporter who broke the story, Sig Christenson, said he's been in touch with the patient's physician, who was a subcontractor for the VA at the time, and wishes to remain anonymous. The Texas Standard's David Brown had a chance to speak with Christenson about the case. 

Samantha Ortega for KUT News

In the 1960s, Pres. Lyndon Baines Johnson signed a major change in immigration rules into law. Eliminating per country quotas, the move made it easier for immigrants with professional experience and education to come to the Unites States.

From that moment forward, Pakistanis began coming to the U.S. in waves.

Dallas and Houston are now top destinations for Pakistani immigrants. In both cities, Pakistanis have high rates of working in elite positions – a contrast to opportunities available to those remaining in Pakistan today.

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.

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. "

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.

Calif. Dep. 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.

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.

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.  

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.

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. 

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."

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.

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.

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.


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.