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Brexit, Pursued by Bad Hair

Brandon Boat

The Guardian UK's Parliamentary Sketch Writer, John Crace joined us for a night of Brexit talk and improv comedy! The United Kingdom is slated to leave the European Union on Oct. 31st, but the process is already on it's third Prime Minister. Will the UK and the EU face a no-deal Brexit or does newly elected Prime Minister have some tricks up his sleeve? Can they iron things out in time or should we start stockpiling Cadbury chocolate?

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter

Brandon Boat

One year ago, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter joined us on The Theater of Public Policy in the early days of his term. Now more than a year and a half in, he joined us once again to discuss how the issues he campaigned on are working out in office. We asked him about the city’s new comprehensive plan, city efforts on early childhood education, and what the heck is the deal with trash collection in St. Paul. Seriously, what’s the deal with that?

The (DNR) Commissioner is In

Brandon Boat

In Minnesota, the DNR Commissioner oversees everything form lakes and trails, to hunting and fishing, and even has a say in mining projects in the state. New DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen is a former mayor and assistant DNR commissioner with a reputation for getting things done. She is also the first woman to hold the position. We asked her about her job overseeing Minnesota’s natural resources, and what kind of bait to use for catching Walleye.

Don't Stop the (Pioneer) Presses!

Brandon Boat

The Pioneer Press is one of Minnesota’s oldest newspapers. Just a few years ago, it was purchased by a hedge fund that has made major cuts to their newsroom staff. Yet the paper is profitable and turning out a solid product day after day. What’s the future of St. Paul’s largest newspaper? What can readers do to preserve or strengthen it? We asked the Pioneer Press’s own, Dave Orrick.

Sports! Women Coaching Women

Brandon Boat

Since the passage of Title IX, more women and girls have taken up sports of all kinds. But paradoxically, there are actually FEWER female coaches at the at the college level than before Title IX.

Dr. Nicole LaVoi from the University of Minnesota’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport has dug into this complex issue, and compiles an annual report card on Women in College Coaching. She also studies how female athletes are portrayed in the media compared to their male counterparts. Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach of the University of St. Thomas Julie Lundquist also joined us to offer first hand perspectives.

Editors Note: We had difficulty with the audio feed, so it sounds a bit washed out at times.

Walking on the Wild Side of Plants

Brandon Boat

It’s summer, a time for planting and growing. But these days, many of the plants on farm fields and even in backyard gardens come from nearly identical genetic strains. The lack of genetic diversity in our crops should be a concern to anyone who eats food, according to our guest, Dr. James Bradeen of the UofM Department of Plant Pathology. We talked to him about how cultivating wild plants and investing in gene banks can help protect food systems from disease, insects and the effects of climate change.

Minnesota Education Commissioner

Brandon Boat

Before school lets out for summer, meet Minnesota’s new Education Commissioner. A longtime teacher herself, Ricker has some big challenges in front of her, from closing one of the worst achievement gaps in the country to dealing with approximately sixty snow days this past winter.

The Show Goes to the (Therapy) Dogs!

Brandon Boat

Sarah Palm, Researcher, Nature Based Therapeutics at the University of Minnesota

Colleen Crockford, Human-Animal Bond Social Worker with Crockford Consulting

Dr. Tim Lewis, Professor at the University of St. Thomas

Anyone who has ever loved a pet doesn’t need an improv comedy show to tell them that animals can make us better versions of ourselves. Yet a growing body of research is expanding our understanding of the science behind the human-animal connection. We spoke with three experts about how animals are used in therapy today and about the cutting edge of research in this field.


Brandon Boat

Javier Morillo-Alicea, President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 26

Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, President, Minneapolis Regional Labor AFL-CIO

The Labor Movement helped build the middle class in the United States. Yet union membership has been declining for decades. Recent court decisions have raised new challenges and questions about labor’s future. Yet it still is an important bulwark for worker rights and in politics generally. How is the labor movement today and in Minnesota? What is its future? 

Metropolitan Council Chair

Brandon Boat

Imagine being the head coordinator for a region comprising seven counties and 188 different communities. Now imagine trying to those places to work together on everything from housing and land stewardship to transportation and energy. That’s new Metropolitan Council Chair Nora Slawik’s job.

Provider Tax Sunset

Brandon Boat

Mark Haveman, Executive Director, Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence.
Jim Schowalter, Former CEO of the Council of Health Plans

MinnesotaCare is a health insurance program for those earning too much to qualify for Medicade but too little to afford insurance on the private market. For the past 27 years, it has been funded by a 2% assessment on licensed health care professionals. But that tax is set to sunset this year. Whether to renew the tax, replace it with something else, or scrap it all together is one of the hottest and wonkiest debates at the Minnesota Legislature this term.

There's a New Sheriff in Town

Brandon Boat

Last year, former Metro Transit sergeant Dave Hutch unseated longtime Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, becoming the first openly gay sheriff in the Midwest. Sheriff Hutch has promised reform across the police department, from how inmates are treated in custody (including new procedures for trans inmates) to how it interacts with federal immigration agencies. Three months into the new job, we asked him how those reforms are going, what we can expect in the years ahead, and if he can do something about this parking ticket.

Hennepin County Commissioners

Brandon Boat

From transportation to housing, parks to waste water, the Hennepin County Board has a say in a myriad of issues that affect citizens’ daily lives. The Chair of the Hennepin County Board, Marion Greene, along with one of its newest members, Angela Conley, join us to help explain why county government matters. Together, the two represent all of South Minneapolis on the board, as well as part Northeast and St. Louis Park.

Attorney General Keith Ellison

Brandon Boat

After six terms in U.S. House, Keith Ellison ran to be Minnesota’s Attorney General, and won. In his first few months in this new position, his office has joined a multi-state lawsuit against President Trump’s emergency border wall declaration, taken a special focus on wage theft in Minnesota, and made the office more public than it had been under his predecessor. What can we expect from him and the A.G. Office in the next three and a half years?

Minnesota Recreational Marijuana

Brandon Boat

Senator Melisa Franzen, Senate District 49
Leili Fatehi, Campaign Manager, Minnesotans for Responsible Marijuana Regulation

Talk of legalizing recreational marijuana burned brightly at the Minnesota Legislature early this session, then went out in a puff of smoke. But the debate’s not over. Activists and legislators argue marijuana legalization is about overturning a racially unjust system as much as its about freedom and liberty. We will talk with the author of the Senate bill that would have legalized recreational marijuana in Minnesota, as well as the head of the campaign for “Responsible Marijuana Legalization.”

Panda Procreation, Y2K, and Acid Rain

Brandon Boat


In an era of climate change and political chaos, it’s easy to forget that sometimes disasters are averted. FiveThirtyEight Science writer Maggie Koerth-Baker has been looking at examples in history when humans either worked together to avoid an environmental calamity, or just got lucky. What’s the secret to not destroying the planet or ourselves?

Marlon James

Brandon Boat

Author Marlon James is internationally renowned for his epic novels and stories. What's his process? How does writing contrast with teaching writing? Can he give us a sneak peak of his upcoming new series? Join us to find out.

Searching for the New University President

Brandon Boat

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler has announced he will step down at the end of this academic year. The search was on for a new leader for Minnesota’s premier institution of higher learner. What do you look for in a University president? How do you find qualified applicants? Can anybody apply? We talked with search committee members Matt Kramer, Vice-President of University Relations of the UMN and Adbul Omari, Regent and chair of the search committee.