Emily Donahue

News Director & Executive Producer, Texas Standard

Emily Donahue founded KUT News in 2001 as the station’s first news director. She's currently developing and launching KUT's daily news program, "Texas Standard".  Under Donahue’s leadership, KUT has grown from a staff of four into a nationally recognized newsroom with a radio and multi-media internship program cited far and wide; and has won more than 100 local, national and international awards for reporting, including five National Edward R. Murrow awards, two National Headliner Awards and a Clarion. Prior to joining KUT, Donahue was with the Peabody award-winning “Marketplace” team as producer of the Marketplace Morning Report. Emily has worked as a journalist for close to three decades in operations large and small. She says of all the places she’s worked – including London, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and even tiny Lexington, Virginia -- Austin is the best. In fact, it’s home. 

Ways to Connect

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

James Ellroy has a penchant for the persecuted.

His previous works including “L.A. Confidential,” “The Black Dahlia” and “The Big Nowhere” delve into forgotten times and seedy locales, where even the good guys have a bad streak.

His new noir novel “Perfidia,” like his other yarns, is a deep dive into Los Angeles during World War II, just after Pearl Harbor.

Ellroy spoke with Texas Standard’s Emily Donahue ahead of his appearance at his appearance at the Texas Book Festival later this month.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

CNN has called her "the woman who could turn Texas purple."

That's a bold claim in a state that hasn't elected a Democrat to statewide office in two decades. But supporters are hoping that Senator Leticia Van de Putte – the Democrat running for Lieutenant Governor –can bring some blue back to red Texas.

Van de Putte sat down with Texas Standard's Emily Donahue to discuss her top priorities for the state.


For Texans, barbeque is nestled somewhere between football and firearms as things closest to a state-mandated religion. We take our barbecue seriously, so it’s no surprise that Texas Monthly magazine would hold an invitation-only barbecue festival every year.

This year's fifth, and largest, annual festival brings 25 of the best pit bosses in the state. The Texas Standard’s David Brown spoke with Texas Monthly BBQ Editor Daniel Vaughn to see which of the competitors have the chops to make the cut.

Flickr user Barney Moss, https://flic.kr/p/gnBD1o

On September 18, Scottish voters will decide on the future of their country – whether Scotland should be an independent country, or remain part of the United Kingdom.  If a simple majority of votes is cast in favor of independence, then a process of negotiations would begin to grant full independence to Scotland.

Here in Texas, we’ve got some experience with declarations of independence from major nations – so we should have some advice to offer to our Caledonian friends.

The Texas Standard’s David Brown speaks with Dr. Stephen Hardin, a professor of Texas history at McMurray University in Abilene.

With the dog days of summer in full swing and fall's slate of television premieres waiting in the wings, now might be the perfect time to kick back and crack open a book.

Luckily, the Texas Standard's got you covered. Kirkus Reviews' Clay Smith gives us some book recommendations that will, hopefully, keep your mind off the mind numbing heat until cooler temperatures prevail.


Mark McKinnon is best known as a longtime advisor for President George W. Bush, but recently he’s been taking a surprisingly liberal stance on a popular topic – gay marriage. In opposition to many of his GOP compatriots, McKinnon has been campaigning to bring same sex marriage to the Lone Star State. The Texas Standard’s David Brown speaks with McKinnon on his stance and how he plans to go about it.

Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway/U.S. Air Force

Texans are still talking about Gov. Rick Perry's statements this week on the growing threat posed by the Islamic State terror group, known by the acronym ISIS.

Gov. Perry told an audience at the conservative Heritage Foundation that "ISIS or other terrorists" could have crossed into the U.S. through the Mexican border. "I think there is a very real possibility that they may have already used that," Perry said. 

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

In the Texas Tribune today, Aman Batheja reports on a significant change that has researchers and politicos drooling: Exit polls are returning to Texas.

Batheja writes:

This year, with a high-profile gubernatorial race on the November ballot, the National Election Pool confirmed on Tuesday that it plans to conduct more robust exit polling in Texas this year, giving researchers and political analysts the means to better examine the outcome. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Chris Tomlinson spent most of his life comfortable that he knew who he was and where he came from. After all, a small part of Texas was named after his ancestors. Tomlinson Hill is a small town community in Falls County. It's a place where generations of his family carved out a comfortable living from the land.

Before the Civil War, they also owned slaves. But Chris grew up believing what he'd been told: that the slaves his family owned were happy – so happy they took the family name and settled the land after they were free.

It was not until after he returned from 11 years in Africa as the Nairobi Bureau Chief for the Associated Press that Tomlinson decided to delve into his family history. What he learned not only changed his sense of family, it changed his sense of history as well. The result of his search is the book, "Tomlinson Hill."

Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters /Landov

Both pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian government forces are denying any responsibility for downing the Malaysia Airlines jetliner carrying 295 passengers and crew. Multiple reports state the Boeing 777, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, appeared to have broken up before impact, with the burning wreckage scattered over a wide area. All passengers are believed to have died. 

At a press event in Delaware, President Obama said he has directed national security advisors to stay close contact with the Ukrainian government. Reuters reports that just yesterday, the U.S. administration tightened its sanctions against Russia over the ongoing fighting in Ukraine. Shortly thereafter, Ukraine claimed that Russian had downed one of its war planes.

Photo by Stuart Boreham

Imagine there was a disaster. You were there. But you saw something no one else saw—something that would change everyone else's mind about what really happened. That is, if they believed you. Now, imagine there's another person who saw exactly what you saw. But no one believes him either. What would you do?

Austin author Meg Gardiner's new book, Phantom Instinct, pursues that question through 356 action-packed pages. She spoke to the Texas Standard's Emily Donahue.

ChinLin Pan/KUT

If you read fiction, and you don’t know about  "The Rosie Project," you’re missing something. The book was a breakout hit all over the world, raking in reviews ranging from merely exuberant to down right delirious. So what’s all the fuss about?

"The Rosie Project" is a flat-out fun read by an author who appears to have a lot of different interests dosed with a healthy sense of humor. But believe it or not, the book started out as high drama.

"This is the story of Don Tillman," author Graeme Simsion tells The Texas Standard's Emily Donahue. 


While the crisis in Iraq is half a world away, it’s impact can be felt here in the U.S.  The rapidly destabilizing region is a base for major Texas oil companies, some of whom have had to evacuate the increasingly hostile environment.  

ChinLin Pan/KUT

People across the nation – especially here in Texas – have been riveted this past month by the crisis unfolding at the border as thousands of children arrive on their own. So desperate to flee their home countries in Latin America, children set off on a perilous journey, unsure of how they’ll be received once they get here.

Photo Jeremy Spierer

Joel Dicker is the author of the international bestseller, "The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair." The 28-year-old author seems – on the surface – to have a lot in common with his protagonist. 

Dicker's novel is a blockbuster, first in Europe and now in the U.S. The same's true with the hero of his book, Marcus Goldman. But in the book, Goldman finds himself wrapped up in several layers of self-angst and mystery, at the center of which are 1) a murder and 2) his mentor.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT News

Update: Austinite, Texas Ex and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan won a Tony Award last night for his play "All the Way."

The play stars Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad" fame as President Lyndon B. Johnson. Cranston also won a Tony for his performance. KUT spoke with Cranston about the role last November.

Original Story (Nov. 21, 2013): Amid all the talk of JFK as we approach the 50th anniversary of his death, one could make the case that as tragic as the Kennedy assassination was, the accidental presidency of Kennedy's successor – Lyndon Baines Johnson – was far more consequential in reshaping the landscape of the United States.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan takes it even further in his new drama "All The Way." Actor Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad" fame plays LBJ – from the moment of his swearing in aboard Air Force One in 1963, to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Robert Schenkkan came to KUT's Newsmaker studio and spoke with David Brown.

Filipa Rodrigues

Austin novelist Sarah Bird has been writing for a while. Long enough to become beloved in Austin and build a loyal following for her fun, easy stories with an Austin flair. But this month, Sarah Bird's about to ruin her reputation. Her new novel, Above the East China Sea looks at life from a completely different perspective. 

This weekend not only kicks of the summer vacation and travel season. It also kicks off the summer reading season. So The Texas Standard reached out to the mavens of manuscripts at the Kirkus Reviews. 

Editor-in-chief Clay Smith sat down with David Brown to discuss some of the best books available this season. Smith's picks for summer reading with a punch include:

Natchez Burning by Greg Isles. "Greg Isles is a guy who has been publishing thrillers for a while and he was on a routing publishing schedule, you know, year after year ... He had a car crash and was induced into a coma recently and so this is his first thriller in five years. And it deals with all that southern stuff. You know, race, long held secrets, society and readers are loving it. It is hard to put down."


In recent years, tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors have tried to make their way into the U.S. from the southern border only to be apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol and immigrations officials.

Now, Lackland Air Force Base in south Texas is being pressed into action as a makeshift holding center for as many as 1,000 unaccompanied undocumented children.

Jennifer Podkul works with the Women's Refugee Commission on issues associated with unaccompanied minors in detention. In a conversation with Texas Standard host David Brown, Podkul compared detention conditions to a refugee camp. 

Flickr user Doug L., flic.kr/ps/2bA2fE

The San Antonio Spurs face the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight in Game Two of the NBA's Western Conference playoff.

While the game's on the Spurs' home court in the AT&T Center in San Antonio, several Spurs players don't hail from San Antonio – or Texas – or even the United States for that matter. In fact, the Spurs are the most international team in the NBA.

Other teams are on their way. In the 2013 NBA draft, the number one pick was a Canadian. This year, the number one pick may well be another Canadian.