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.



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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Sat November 12, 2011

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.


Fri November 11, 2011


Tue November 8, 2011

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

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



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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Mon October 24, 2011

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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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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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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Wed July 13, 2011

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.


Fri June 17, 2011

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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Sun June 5, 2011

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.


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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Sat April 30, 2011

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.


Sun April 24, 2011

Labor Dept. Job Hunting For Youths



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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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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Mon April 11, 2011

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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