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. 

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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.

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.  

flickr.com/cpencis

Barbecue is sacrosanct in the Lone Star State, with brisket being arguably the most Texan of dishes. But since 2006, Texas' extended drought has proved a problem for ranchers. In 2011 – the driest year on record – many cattle ranchers gave up, choosing to sell off as they watched their land dry up.

That wave of sell-offs not only affected Texas ranchers, but also affected the bounty of beef ribs, chopped beef and beautifully marbled brisket throughout the state. Texas Monthly BBQ editor Daniel Vaughn tells Texas Standard's David Brown it's not only caused beef prices to rise, but could affect the taste and quality of Texas barbecue for years to come.

Photo courtesy Hereford Cathedral

This Friday, a rare copy of the Magna Carta and an accompanying King's Writ will go on display in Houston at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Known as one of the most important documents in history, the Magna Carta was written and signed by King John and England's feudal barons in 1215. It directly inspired international constitutional law and the tenets upon which the U.S. Constitution is based.

So why has this rare copy — one of only four in existence — traveled from its home at Hereford Cathedral in England to Houston of all places?

Jeremy Lawson for Penguin Books

I caught up with Jen Lancaster as she was heading to the airport. In the background, her dogs were barking a welcome to the guy who cleans up their “messes” from the back yard. “The best 11 dollars I ever spent in my life,” Lancaster says. “I don’t know what he does with it but that is not my concern [though]; I hope it’s going to a farmer somewhere to be used as fertilizer.”

In her new novel, “Twisted Sisters,”  Jen Lancaster has written a story of sibling rivalry run amok. A story of three sisters – one of which is deeply unhappy in her life but doesn’t realize it – and who transforms her relationships with her sisters in a highly unorthodox way.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Imagine – you have it all – a life of luxury, famous friends, a beautiful lover. You are a good, supportive friend – happy and content. And it’s all a lie.

The truth keeps you up at night, tortures you during the day. But you can’t change who you are.

Patrick Samansky/AP

President Obama will announce changes this morning to how the National Security Agency does its job. This comes after months of revelations of massive warrantless data gathering on US citizens and others around the globe. Obama's been fielding critics since the first of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's leaks last June.

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/e06158

Update 12/30/13: The Federal Aviation Administration has selected Texas A&M - Corpus Christi as one of six drone testing sites across the U.S. The FAA says the Corpus Christi site "plans to develop system safety requirements for UAS vehicles and operations with a goal of protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing." 

Sites in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota and Virginia were also chosen.

Hear more about A&M's drone plans in the interview below.

Original story 10/09/13: From Manhattan to Afghanistan, drones have become big news and big business. Now, there’s a move to turn the skies over Texas into one of the world’s leading drone test sites. 

KUT’s David Brown talks with Ron George, a senior research development officer at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi , and one of the planners of a new drone development center.

flickr.com/pagedooley

The holidays are here and it might surprise people how energy-intensive they can be. Commentator Michael Webber is keeping a list - and checking it twice - on some ways we burn fuel this time of year.

For starters: There's the energy involved in travel to visit family – those long road trips over the hills and through the woods to visit Grandma, plane flights, even train travel.

Then there's the energy for heating our homes during cold weather. In the northeast that's likely fuel oil; gas in the Southwest; and electricity in the South. Then there are all those presents!

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.”

Voice of America via Wikimedia Commons

On Dec. 14, it will have been exactly one year since the school massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut that killed a total of 28 people, including 20 children.

Over the past several days, national news media organizations have been struggling with the question of whether to publish the recently released 911 calls. Clearly, many victims' families simply want to be left alone – to not be forced to relive the horror. And yet a Connecticut judge ruled to release those tapes, citing state law. 

Other states specifically prohibit the release of 911 tapes. What about Texas? 

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

It’s been eight years since Amy Tan’s last book. But critics are already saying “The Valley of Amazement” was worth waiting for. 

It’s a complicated story of mothers and daughters, secrets and lies, the past and the present, China and America. And – perhaps above all – it’s about women’s fierce wills to survive.

KUT's Emily Donahue spoke with Amy Tan about her new book. She was five years into writing a different novel, Tan says, when she took a new look at an old family photo.

“I had a photo of my grandmother sitting on my desk and it was my favorite photo of her,” Tan says. “She looks quite beautiful and dreamy eyed, and it is in fact the photo that is on the hard cover edition of ‘The Bonesetter's Daughter.’” 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Before that afternoon fifty years ago, neither Sid Davis nor Julian Read could have expected what they’d be called upon to do – much less that they’d both be eyewitnesses to history. 

Davis was a young radio reporter based in Washington D.C.

Read was on the other side of the journalistic fence, serving as press aide for Texas Gov. John Connally.

But they were both on a press bus in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963 – the day President John F. Kennedy was shot.

After 50 years of virtual silence, Austinite Julian Read recently opened up to KUT about his experience that day. 

What's so great about the U.S. Constitution anyway? Could Washington govern better if it weren't slavishly devoted to a deeply flawed document over 200-years-old?

These are some of the questions that Sanford Levinson asks in "Framed: America's 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Government." The book comes out this month in paperback.

Levinson, a distinguished member of the UT Law faculty, spoke with KUT's David Brown about what can be done to better governing.

Emily Donahue, KUT News

Imagine a book about the future – a future where children are groomed to feed wild vampire-like beasts. A book with good guys who are bad guys, bad guys who retain a touch of humanity, and a few characters primed to save the world.

The Lair” is the second in a series of young adult books from Round Rock author Emily McKay. The first was “The Farm.”  Both are set in a post-apocalyptic future, in which adults have failed young people, and young people have adulthood thrust upon them.

McKay's vampires are neither glamorous nor elegant, but they are smarter, stronger and faster than humans. And in both “The Farm” and “The Lair,” human children are farmed to feed human/vampire Ticks.

Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin

A report this week in the journal Pediatrics on the risks of  unregulated breast milk – covering sharing between friends, but also Internet sales – found three-fourths of the study samples were contaminated with bacteria.

The populations most at risk from such milk are newborns with significant health issues. They’re children like Nina DeGuire. Now a year old, she was born with a serious heart problem that required a series of surgeries and made it hard for her to take formula. Her mother Lani says she had no choice but to find donated breast milk.

Image courtesy the Austin Film Festival

Disclosure: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

The Austin Film Festival will kick off tomorrow tomorrow night. And, while this year's festival will screen some of the year's most talked-about films, such as the Coen Brothers' 'Inside Llewyn Davis,' Steve McQueen's '12 Years a Slave' and the star-studded 'August: Osage County,' the festival had humble beginnings. 

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: Donna DeCesare is one of four gold medal winners of the 2013 Maria Moors Cabot prize, awarded by the Columbia Journalism School for outstanding reporting on Latin America and the Caribbean. “The Cabot Prize honors journalists who have covered the Western Hemisphere and, through their reporting and editorial work, have furthered inter-American understanding,” reads a statement on the journalism school’s website.

You can see more of DeCesare’s work on her website.

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