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

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.

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.  

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. 

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.  

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’.”

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.

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.

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.

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. 

facebook.com/HarnessMakersDream

The Kallison family name has resonated amongst Texans for generations.

It's the name of the department store in San Antonio crowned by a cowboy carrying a saddle on his right shoulder. It's also the of the Kallison Ranch, the place that brought Texas ranching into the 20th century.

"The Harness Maker’s Dream" recounts the story of Nathan Kallison, the Jewish Russian who escaped persecution and later became a successful rancher in Texas.

 

Kerrville Folk Festival

Though Ray Benson's been the de facto musical ambassador of Austin now for decades, he admits that by stepping out as a solo artist for the first time in more than a decade, he's just now getting to do what he always dreamed of doing when he started out in music as a teenager.  

"I didn't think I was good enough," he confesses.  

Benson's new album, "A Little Piece" seems to offer ample evidence he's good enough, at least if the critics are to be believed. In fact, Tom Semioli of the Huffington Post places Benson's new recording up there with the likes of breakthroughs like Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" and Willie Nelson's "Phases and Stages."

facebook.com/theshoeburnin

It started one night with a box of shoes. 

Some Alabama artists ran out of firewood and, they surmised, a box of shoes seemed an appropriate enough substitute for traditional kindling. So began the first shoe burning — a well-kept Southern literary tradition of telling stories for each sole burned.  

In Shoe Burnin': Stories of Southern Soul over a dozen authors and songwriters collected their tales in a combination of musical and literary sojourns.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The passing of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has raised talk of his legacy, especially with respect to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Several groups of American scholars, including the American Studies Association, are calling for US universities to boycott their Israeli counterparts. The president of the University of Texas at Austin, William Powers, is hosting a conference of several key figures in higher education this week. One such figure, Hunter Rawlings, President of the Association of American Universities, spoke with KUT's David Brown.

flickr.com/photos/57043777@N03/

A nationwide shortage of Sriracha sauce has fans of the hot stuff in something just short of a panic, but one state representative has a plan for Texas to come to the rescue.

State Representative Jason Villalba (R-Richardson) has propositioned California-based Huy Fong Foods Inc. to move its operations to Texas after production of the peppery product was halted due to complaints from citizens living near its factory in Irwindale, CA.

KUT's David Brown spoke to Villalba about state and city pitches to recruit Huy Fong, California's "over-regulated" business climate and his go-t0 Sriracha dishes.  

Spot On Sciences

In baseball, the crowd holds its breath, waiting for the pitch.

In the business world, pitching is similar: suspense can be a killer, and ideas often get knocked down. Scrappy start-ups and venture capital abound in the modern economy, but success isn’t always guaranteed.

Dr. Jeanette Hill, CEO of Spot On Sciences and home blood test HemaSpot knows pitching – and it's nothing like what you’ve seen on "Shark Tank."

“You’ve got about 60 seconds, sometimes up to two minutes,” she tells KUT’s David Brown. “You have to get your idea across, you have to sell the audience … get it out there without stumbling.”

flickr.com/thetexastribune

The UT Board of Regents is expected to discuss the employment of University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers during its executive session today. It’s the first time his employment has been placed on the agenda for discussion – and the latest development in what’s become a power struggle among state leadership.

The scene: boardrooms, committee chambers or behind closed doors. The characters: men who hold power in the Texas capitol, or the UT Tower. But how did the situation get to this point?

Reuters /Mike Hutchings /Landov

Thursday's passing of Nelson Mandela brought back many memories for Austinites: Mandela was an icon of a student-led anti-apartheid struggle at the University of Texas.

In the mid 80's, students held sit-ins, rallied on the mall, and broke into the president's office demanding divestment in South Africa. KUT’s David Brown recently sat down with two people who were, at that time, on opposite sides: William Cunningham, the former president of the University of Texas at Austin, and Derrick Eugene, a student leader in the anti-apartheid movement.

Pages