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 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.

"It's an Orange Aardvark!" is the new book from Michael Hall. It's a short book, so we don't want to give anything away. But we can tell you it involves carpenter ants, a lot of holes and a hilarious payoff. Kirkus Reviews calls the book “suspenseful and entertaining; all-around great fun.”

The Texas Standard spoke to Hall on the phone, on a lunch break between school visits. "I enjoy the school appearances," Hall said. "The kids are so attentive and curious. They're just great audiences and it's a lot of fun."

Samantha Ortega for Texas Standard

There are few incidents in Texas history as compelling as the UT Tower shooting.

On August 1, 1966, a UT student and ex-marine named Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the UT Tower and opened fire on the pedestrians below. 16 people were killed. Dozens were injured. It was the first mass shooting on a US college campus. And it changed many lives.

Austin novelist Elizabeth Crook has used the events of that day to craft a vivid and emotional novel, "Monday, Monday." She told KUT's Emily Donahue that she felt some qualms about her subject matter. She began writing in 2006. And as she wrote, several school shootings occurred, from Virginia Tech to Sandy Hook.

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.

Samantha Ortega for KUT News

The novel "The Burgess Boys" took the nation by storm last year. This month, the novel is available in paperback.

The follow-up to Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel "Olive Kitteridge" spent weeks atop the New York Times bestseller list and months making the rounds of book-circles.

Elizabeth Strout visited with the Texas Standard's Emily Donahue to talk about her book. Listen to their conversation in the audio player below.

A young man about to go to war meets a young woman. They fall in love. A reckless, passionate affair follows. It lasts just a week, but it reverberates through six lifetimes.

That's just one layer of the narrative in a new novel by Austin author Justin Go. “The Steady Running of the Hour” includes a race against time and crosses two centuries and multiple continents – from the drawing rooms of London to the horror of World War I battlefields – through Europe, Asia and the U.S.

Timothy A. Hazel, U.S. Navy

President Jimmy Carter is one of four U.S. presidents attending the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Library and Museum in Austin this week.

President Carter, who served from 1977 to 1981, grew up in Southern Georgia during some of the worst days of Jim Crow. The 39th president of the U.S. is also promoting a new book, "Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power," in which he discusses what he calls discrimination and violence against women and girls worldwide – what he calls "the most serious and unmet worldwide challenge" of our time.

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.


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.  


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.


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.