NPR: Karen Grigsby Bates

Karen Grigsby Bates is the Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News. Bates contributed commentaries to All Things Considered for about 10 years before she joined NPR in 2002 as the first correspondent and alternate host for The Tavis Smiley Show. In addition to general reporting and substitute hosting, she increased the show's coverage of international issues and its cultural coverage, especially in the field of literature and the arts.

In early 2003, Bates joined NPR's former midday news program Day to Day. She has reported on politics (California's precedent-making gubernatorial recall, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election campaign and the high-profile mayoral campaign of Los Angeles' Antonio Villaraigosa), media, and breaking news (the Abu Ghrarib scandal, the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia and the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams).

Bates' passion for food and things culinary has served her well: she's spent time with award-winning food critic Alan Richman and chef-entrepreneur Emeril Lagasse.

One of Bates' proudest contributions is making books and authors a high-profile part of NPR's coverage. "NPR listeners read a lot, and many of them share the same passion for books that I do, so this isn't work, it's a pleasure." She's had conversations with such writers as Walter Mosley, Joan Didion and Kazuo Ishiguru. Her bi-annual book lists (which are archived on the web) are listener favorites.

Before coming to NPR, Bates was a news reporter for People magazine. She was a contributing columnist to the Op Ed pages of the Los Angeles Times for ten years. Her work has appeared in Time, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Essence and Vogue. And she's been a guest on several news shows such as ABC's Nightline and the CBS Evening News.

In her non-NPR life, Bates is the author of Plain Brown Wrapper and Chosen People, mysteries featuring reporter-sleuth Alex Powell. She is co-author, with Karen E. Hudson, of Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times, a best-selling etiquette book now in its second edition. Her work also appears in several writers' anthologies.

Bates holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College. Additionally she studied at the University of Ghana and completed the executive management program at Yale University's School of Organization and Management.

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6:02pm

Wed April 4, 2012
Race

Data Reveals Complex Picture Of Hispanic Americans

A Hispanic woman walks down a street in Union City, N.J. In a new study, the Pew Hispanic Center asked Hispanic-Americans how they identify themselves.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Just over half of Americans of Spanish-speaking origin have no preference between the terms "Hispanic" and "Latino," according to new data from the Pew Hispanic Center.

Of those with a preference, 33 percent preferred "Hispanic," versus the 14 percent who said "Latino" better describes them.

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3:00pm

Wed March 28, 2012
NPR Story

Sold: Dodgers Get New Owners

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 2:14 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

It's the day Dodger fans have been waiting for. The Los Angeles team has new owners, provided a bankruptcy judge approves. Current owner Frank McCourt has agreed to sell for a record $2 billion. As NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates reports, Los Angeles couldn't be happier with the new management team and one man in particular.

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8:09am

Sun February 12, 2012
Music

Whitney Houston, A 'Perfect Instrument,' Dies

Originally published on Sun February 12, 2012 5:52 pm

Pop diva Whitney Houston was found dead in her Beverly Hills hotel room on the eve of the 54th Grammy Awards.
Getty Images

On the eve of the 54th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, the conversation was all about Whitney Houston. The 48-year-old pop diva was discovered dead in her room at the Beverly Hilton Saturday afternoon. The cause of her death was under investigation.

Houston died alone in the same hotel that was the venue for a party she had often entered in triumph: the annual pre-Grammy Awards bash given by her mentor, recording impresario Clive Davis.

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12:01am

Thu January 12, 2012
Author Interviews

Connie Rice: Conscience Of The City

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 1:42 pm

For years, civil rights attorney Constance Rice says, she would wake up every morning trying to figure out new ways to sue the Los Angeles Police Department into policing minority communities more fairly.

In her memoir, Power Concedes Nothing, Rice details how she went from the LAPD's antagonist to reformer, convincing police that they needed to court the backing and support of the city's African-American and Latino populations.

Relations between the attorney and the police force have warmed over the years: The LAPD even hosted Rice's book release party.

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6:46pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Living Large: Obesity In America

For Teens, Weight Loss Sculpts New Lives

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 6:42 pm

Located in the North Carolina mountains, Wellspring Academy is a boarding school for overweight teenagers. In addition to their regular classes, students learn to control their weight through a healthful diet, physical activity and counseling.
Travis Dove For NPR

Second of two stories, which are part of an ongoing series on obesity in America. The first part begins in August as students start their weight-loss journey at Wellspring Academy, a boarding school in Brevard, N.C. The second checks in with students in late October.

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4:00am

Wed November 30, 2011
Law

Dr. Conrad Murray Sentenced In King Of Pop's Death

Michael Jackson's personal physician has been sentenced to four years in prison for his role in the pop icon's death in 2009. Because of overcrowding in California's state prisons, Murray will serve his sentence in a downtown jail.

1:58pm

Tue November 22, 2011
Living Large: Obesity In America

School Transforms Teens' Lives, One Pound At A Time

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 7:04 pm

Wellspring students do high steps on the tennis court. Exercise is paramount at Wellspring, and a little rain doesn't get in the way of outdoor activities.
Travis Dove for NPR

First of two stories, which are part of an ongoing series on obesity in America. The first part begins in August as students start their weight-loss journey at Wellspring Academy, a boarding school in Brevard, N.C. The second checks in with the students a few months later.

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8:00am

Sat November 12, 2011
Politics

Celebrity Lawyer Takes Spotlight In Cain Case

It seems like hardly a month goes by without seeing celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred on television. This week, Allred was in the news again, representing one of presidential candidate Herman Cain's sexual harassment accusers. Her bold use of media to call attention to her clients' causes has earned the respect of some, but the irritation of others. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates has a profile.

12:01am

Fri November 11, 2011
Herman Cain

Herman Cain And The Politics Of Race

4:00am

Tue November 8, 2011
Law

Jury Finds Dr. Murray Guilty In Pop Star's Death

Originally published on Tue November 8, 2011 7:25 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This morning, Dr. Conrad Murray is in a jail here in Los Angeles. Michael Jackson's personal physician was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter yesterday. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates has been following the trial and has this report.

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES, BYLINE: The downtown courtroom was packed as those present waited as the clerk of the court read the jury's verdict.

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3:46pm

Mon October 24, 2011
Politics

Cornel West, A Fighter, Angers Obama Supporters

On Oct. 7, West spoke to the crowd rallying in front of the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles.

Federic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Princeton University professor Cornel West has spent much of the past year battling with incensed Obama supporters from Al Sharpton to street demonstrators who resent his criticism of the president.

"He's ended up being the black mascot of the Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats!" West has insisted in several national forums.

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12:01am

Tue October 4, 2011
Author Interviews

Immigrants' Status Explored In 'Barbarian Nurseries'

If Hector Tobar turns out to be the Charles Dickens or the Tom Wolfe of the 21st century, he owes a big thank-you to the people of California.

Some of them, anyway.

"Really, 187's passage is what made me want to write this book," he says.

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3:59pm

Mon August 1, 2011
America's Mayors: Governing In Tough Times

Redondo Beach: Unusual Leadership Dodges Red Ink

While much of California is struggling financially, the city of Redondo Beach has managed to stay out of the red.
The City of Redondo Beach

Part 4 of a 6-part series

The wall in the hallway outside the Redondo Beach Mayor's Office kind of says it all: There is row after row of smiling faces. Almost all male. All pale. Some blond, some gray. All very indicative of what many Americans still think of when you say "California beach city," until the last photo in the last row.

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4:00am

Wed July 13, 2011
Remembrances

Betty Ford Remember At Calif. Service

Former First Lady Betty Ford is being laid to rest in Michigan Thursday. Her funeral was held Tuesday in Palm Desert, California. Among the speakers were former first lady Rosalyn Carter and the head of the Betty Ford Clinic.

12:17pm

Fri June 17, 2011
Politics

In Raunchy California Ad, Echoes Of Willie Horton

A screenshot from an ad targeting Democrat Janice Hahn. The ad, created by independent conservative filmmaker Ladd Ehlinger Jr., features a scantily clad woman gyrating around a stripper pole, while two black men armed with semi-automatic rifles rap.
RightTurnUSA YouTube

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn had no idea she was becoming the talk of the town until her phone started ringing earlier this week with friends urging her to check out a new campaign ad on YouTube.

Hahn is running to replace former Rep. Jane Harman, who retired from her 36th District seat to head a Washington, D.C., think tank. The runoff election pits Hahn against Tea Party-backed Republican candidate Craig Huey, a local businessman who has reportedly sunk a half-million dollars of his own money into what was expected to be a pretty sleepy campaign.

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8:00am

Sun June 5, 2011
Religion

A Calif. Megachurch In Troubled waters

The Crystal Cathedral has filed for bankruptcy. The Garden Grove, Calif., church has been in trouble since its founder, Robert Schuller, retired several years ago. Part of the church's problem may be that it can't decide how to move beyond Schuller's original vision to encompass a changed world.

12:15pm

Thu May 12, 2011
Monkey See

'Hey, Boo': A New Documentary Explores Why Harper Lee Wrote ... And Didn't

Director Mary McDonagh Murphy interviewed Harper Lee's friends, family, and fans to construct a portrait of the writer's life.
Donald Uhrbrock First Run Features

Even if you loved To Kill a Mockingbird, you may be full-up with all the stories that have poured out this year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the book's publication. But if you have room for one more, consider Hey, Boo. It's a documentary that will be released in New York May 13, and other cities soon after. Director/writer Mary McDonagh Murphy wanted a chance to have author Nell Harper Lee explained by people who know her well and love her.

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8:00am

Sat April 30, 2011
History

Gregory Peck Stamp Delivers 'Mockingbird' Memories

The U.S. Postal Service debuted its Gregory Peck stamp as part of the Legends of Hollywood series this week. The stamp premiers just as a new documentary called Hey Boo also comes out. The film is about how To Kill A Mockingbird, which starred Peck, has influenced generations of Americans. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates reports.

8:00am

Sun April 24, 2011
Economy

Labor Dept. Job Hunting For Youths

Transcript

LIANE HANSEN, host:

Low-wage jobs were often filled by young people. But when the recession hit, many of them were squeezed out by adults seeking any work they could get. As the economy improves, there's hope that some entry-level jobs filled by over-qualified adults will open up to teens.

NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates examines the prospects for this summer's job market.

KAREN GRISBY BATES: This used to be a common summer job experience when you were somewhere between 16 and, say, 20.

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12:01am

Tue April 19, 2011
Author Interviews

Simpson Prosecutor Marcia Clark Takes On Fiction

Marcia Clark was a rising legal star in the Los Angeles District Attorney's office when she was assigned to the O.J. Simpson trial. Clark's every move was televised in what has been called the trial of the century. More than 15 years later, she's still hip deep in crime, but from a different perspective — as a mystery writer. Her first novel, Guilt by Association, is being released this week, and it draws from Clark's experiences on the front lines of legal prosecution.

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3:57pm

Mon April 11, 2011
U.S.

Tuskegee Airmen: 'Rock Stars' Of American History

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 12:00 pm

Flight Officer John Lyle, a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen.
Courtesy of Craig Huntly Collection

Harry Stewart looks around the slowly filling ballroom in an Orlando, Fla., hotel and brightens.

"I haven't seen some of these guys in over 66 years," he says. "Some I haven't seen since I entered the service, and others since I left at the end of the war. This is very exciting."

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