On Point

Weekdays, 9am - 10am
  • Hosted by Tom Ashbrook


On Point is broadcast for two hours daily across the country on NPR. The show’s lively conversation covers everything from breaking news to ancient poetry, and features writers, politicians, journalists, artists, scientists and ordinary citizens from around the world.

Broadcast live from 10 a.m. to noon ET, with listener call-in, from WBUR in Boston, the show airs on more than 210 NPR stations coast to coast.

The key to stopping the spread of COVID-19 is knowing who has it. Yet testing in the U.S. has been a fiasco. What went wrong and how can we fix it?


Graeme Simpson, director of Interpeace USA. He developed a fever and a cough after returning from Spain. He’s an at-risk patient at 61 years old and has asthma. He first tried to get a COVID-19 test on March 3. (@Simpson_YPS)

Checking in on China, where officials are now seeing a decrease in the number of newly reported infections. Plus, social distancing is being encouraged as a way to slow the spread of the coronavirus. We’ll talk about ‘flattening the curve.’

If ever there were a time to turn to the experts it’s now. And yet, there’s deepening distrust of expertise. We’ll talk about why and what to do about it.


Tom Nichols, professor at the Harvard Extension School. Author of “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters.” (@RadioFreeTom)

Are U.S. hospitals prepared for coronavirus? We drill down on the data with public health experts to see what the disparities are and where reinforcements are needed.

Emmy-award winning writer and producer, David Simon, on his new HBO miniseries, “The Plot Against America,” and why making the real-life iconic aviator and anti-Semite, Charles Lindbergh, president in 1940 is instructive for our times today.


David Simon, Emmy-award winning writer and producer of “The Wire,” “The Deuce” and “The Plot Against America.” (@AoDespair)

For resources on the coronavirus, visit the CDC’s page here. NPR’s coverage of the coronavirus outbreak is available here

What does it take to make an effective vaccine quickly? Why are testing kits so hard to find? What makes this coronavirus so virulent? We’ll dig deep into the science you need to know.

This program originally aired on Oct. 17, 2019. 

For decades, Rick McIntyre has been one of Yellowstone’s most dedicated and passionate wolf-watchers. And in his book, he tells the remarkable story of Wolf 8, one of the first wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone in the mid-’90s, and how the pup went from being runt of the litter to alpha male.

As the Trump administration’s new asylum policy faces legal challenges, we’ll take a look at the policy’s effect on asylum-seekers at the border.


Julián Aguilar, immigration and border security reporter for The Texas Tribune. (@nachoaguilar)

What Voter Suppression Looks Like

Mar 9, 2020

We look at voting rights in the United States. What happens when Americans are robbed of their right to vote?


Alexa Ura, associate editor and demographics reporter at The Texas Tribune. (@alexazura)

The Democratic race for president reconfigured. Stepped up urgency on coronavirus. Tornadoes in Tennessee. The news roundtable is here.


Emily Siner, news director for Nashville Public Radio. (@SinerSays)

Errin Haines, editor-at-large for The 19th. (@emarvelous)

The Next Chapter In Syria's Civil War

Mar 5, 2020

The battle for the city of Idlib. We’ll get insight on the latest cruel chapter in Syria’s long civil war.


Joshua Landis, Syria specialist and professor of Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma. (@joshua_landis)

What are the major takeaways from Super Tuesday? We’ll tally up the votes and take a look at the path toward the Democratic nomination.


Anthony Brooks, On Point’s 2020 correspondent. (@anthonygbrooks)

Immigrants to the United States assimilate just as quickly as they ever did. We’ll dive into the cutting-edge research from two economic historians and discuss exactly what that means.

On the eve of Super Tuesday, we’ll talk with Latino voters. We’ll discuss their political diversity, growing political power and potential impact on the 2020 presidential race.


Joaquin Castro, Texas congressman. Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. (@JoaquinCastrotx)

Want to learn more about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre? The Oklahoma Historical Society has commissioned recorded interviews with survivors of the massacre, available here: Tape 1, Tape 2 and Tape 3

This series is produced in collaboration with The Conversation

From an endless stream of political misinformation to inescapable lies on social media, are we living in a post-truth world?

Part III: How The Powerful Manipulate Truth

Feb 26, 2020

This series is produced in collaboration with The Conversation

In the third installment of our series on truth, we’ll unpack how media, the information machine and the powerful manipulate the truth.

Judicial appointees and the Trump administration. A slate of new judges will have a major impact on the 9th circuit in the Western United States. We’ll take a look.


Carl Tobias, law professor at the University of Richmond School of Law. (@URLawSchool)

In the second installment of our series on truth, we dive into the science behind truth. How do we define it, how do our brains process it and why do we fight over it?


Jay Van Bavel, associate professor of psychology and neural science at NYU. Director of the Social Identity and Morality Lab. (@jayvanbavel)

This series is produced in collaboration with The Conversation

We kickoff our series on truth – how we use it, how we abuse it, what it means and what it’s worth to us.

Beth Daley, editor and general manager of The Conversation U.S. (@BethBDaley)

How To Fix The Local News Crisis

Feb 21, 2020

Local newspapers have steadily gone out of business throughout the digital age. We’ll dig into the fate of local journalism and what can be done to save it.


John Thornton, co-founder of the American Journalism Project, a venture philanthropy organization dedicated to local news. Founder of the Texas Tribune. (@thorntonaustin)

Democrats take the debate stage. President Trump issues a round of pardons. Former DOJ prosecutors call for AG Barr’s resignation. The roundtable is here.


Astead Herndon, national political reporter for The New York Times. (@AsteadWesley)

Betsy Woodruff Swan, political reporter for The Daily Beast. (@woodruffbets)

David Brooks wants Americans to ditch the idea of the nuclear family. In his latest piece for The Atlantic, Brooks declares the end of the era of mom, dad and two and a half kids. We’ll hear why.


David Brooks, op-ed columnist for the New York Times. Author of “The Road to Character.” (@nytdavidbrooks)

Chinese espionage is a real problem for this country. But is the FBI overreacting to Chinese theft of intellectual property, and creating a new red scare?


Peter Waldman, investigative reporter for Bloomberg News.

Larry Diamond, senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and ch-chair of a 2019 study on Chinese influence campaigns and espionage on American college campuses. (@LarryDiamond)

Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy after years of declining enrollment and mounting allegations of widespread sexual abuse. Is this the death knell for the organization?


Cara Kelly, reporter on USA Today’s investigations team. She’s been covering the Boy Scouts and allegations of child sexual abuse in the organization. (@CaraReports)

Independent bookstores aren’t just back, they’re thriving. As other small retailers struggle to compete with big box stores and online shoppers, how do indie booksellers continue to attract and maintain a loyal base of customers?

Looking to the week ahead in news. The Nevada caucus is next as Democrats fight for the soul of their party. Plus, the latest from Washington and the legacy of impeachment.


Jon Ralston, founder and editor of the Nevada Independent. He’s a moderator of Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate. (@RalstonReports)

On Presidents Day, we’re taking stock of the evolution of the office itself. What has the presidency become? Where is it headed? And what does it say about us?


Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. (@BarbaraPerryUVA)

“Little America” is the new Apple TV + series that documents the complexity of the immigrant experience. Kumail Nanjiani and Joshuah Bearman join us to discuss the stories not seen in the daily headlines.


Kumail Nanjiani, executive producer of “Little America.” Co-wrote and starred in the 2017 Oscar-nominated film “The Big Sick.” (@kumailn)

Former U.S. diplomat Martin Indyk, who has spent his career trying to fix problems in the Middle East, says it’s time to rein in our grandiose vision for the region in exchange for something more attainable.


Martin Indyk, fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and former U.S. ambassador to Israel. (@Martin_Indyk)