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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Digital Life
4:33 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

A Mohawk Hero In The Not-So-Diverse Gaming World

For the latest installment of Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed series, set in Colonial America, the hooded main character is part Mohawk. The company brought in a Mohawk consultant and hired a Native actor to play the role.
Courtesy of Ubisoft

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 5:49 pm

The Assassin's Creed video game series has become a megahit for gaming enthusiasts. The story line follows a bloody war between Assassins and the Knights Templar, first during the Crusades and then in Renaissance Italy.

The newly released Assassins Creed III crosses the ocean and a couple of centuries so the action could take place during the Revolutionary War and would be wildly anticipated on its own.

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Election 2012
7:05 am
Thu October 25, 2012

A Challenging House Race In California's Heartland

Freshman California Rep. Jeff Denham, a self-described Valley farmer and Republican businessman, is in a battle against challenger Jose Hernandez, former NASA astronaut and engineer-businessman in a realigned district in the San Joaquin Valley. It's a tight race, with lots of money being poured into both candidates from their respective parties.

Crime In The City
3:26 am
Mon August 20, 2012

Robert Crais: LA Is A 'Natural Canvas' For Nightmare

The canals in LA's Venice neighborhood serve as the scene of a murder in Robert Crais' 2011 novel, The Sentry.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 1:50 pm

It's been a few decades, and many published books, but Robert Crais can tell you exactly when mystery writing first caught his attention: He was a bright 15-year-old living in Baton Rouge, La., when he read Raymond Chandler's The Little Sister, which depicted the shady side of sunny Los Angeles through the eyes of private investigator Philip Marlowe.

Since then, Crais has found huge success with his own crime novels, also set in LA. The city is the perfect canvas for a modern mystery, and Crais' eyes still grow wide when he talks about what Chandler painted on it.

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Television
4:10 am
Thu July 26, 2012

At Bravo, A Pop-Culture Kingpin Works Day And Night

Andy Cohen on the set of his nightly Bravo talk show, Watch What Happens: Live. Cohen is also Bravo's executive vice president of development and talent, and has helped make Bravo a pop-culture heavyweight.
Heidi Gutman Bravo

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 10:35 am

Andy Cohen has been yakking for most of his 44 years. He has a book titled Most Talkative — a title he earned in high school.

"My mouth has been my greatest asset and also my biggest Achilles' heel," he says.

Most days, it's an asset.

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Art & Design
3:54 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

A Trailblazing Black Architect Who Helped Shape L.A.

The Degnan residence was built as a weekend retreat in La Canada Flintridge — a Los Angeles suburb reachable by freeway in 40 minutes (in light traffic) today, but that took a couple of hours' drive in 1927, before major freeway construction began in Southern California. This Spanish Colonial Revival home was Williams' first commission as an independent practitioner.
Copyright Benny Chan

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 8:37 pm

Paul Revere Williams began designing homes and commercial buildings in the early 1920s. By the time he died in 1980, he had created some 2,500 buildings, most of them in and around Los Angeles, but also around the globe. And he did it as a pioneer: Paul Williams was African-American. He was the first black architect to become a member of the American Institute of Architects in 1923, and in 1957 he was inducted as the AIA's first black fellow.

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American Dreams: Then And Now
5:11 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Nailing The American Dream, With Polish

A model shows off an ABC student's work. Most of the students are studying manicuring.
Courtesy of Advance Beauty College

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 8:25 pm

If you've had a manicure in California, odds are the person at the other end of the emery board was of Vietnamese heritage.

Vietnamese immigrants now dominate California's nail-care industry — and make up a significant percentage of all manicurists nationwide.

The story began with a hurried immigration after the fall of Saigon almost four decades ago.

Sparked by the interest of a group of refugees and the help of a Hollywood star, the demand for affordable manicures quickly became the foundation of the American dream for many Vietnamese newcomers.

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Politics
5:29 am
Tue June 5, 2012

Obama To Fundraise In Economically Strapped Calif.

Originally published on Wed June 6, 2012 9:03 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

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Reporter's Notebook
8:18 am
Sun April 29, 2012

The L.A. Riots, As A Neighbor Remembers It

Smoke covers Los Angeles Thursday, April 30, 1992, as fires from the riots burn out of control.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 12:31 pm

Twenty years ago Sunday, Los Angeles erupted into destructive riots after the verdict in the Rodney King trial. The violence lasted six days and left more than 50 dead and over $1 billion in damage. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates remembers; she lived in the one of the neighborhoods that went up in flames.

Several years ago, I interviewed Karl Fleming for the 40th anniversary of the Watts riots. He was a veteran journalist who'd covered the civil rights movement in the in the 1960s for Newsweek.

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Around the Nation
6:05 pm
Fri April 27, 2012

How Koreatown Rose From The Ashes Of L.A. Riots

A crowd of more than a thousand rallied in Los Angeles on May 2, 1992, calling for healing between Koreans and the African-American community.
David Longstreath AP

Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 7:42 pm

Twenty years ago during the Los Angeles riots, a lot of the city's neighborhoods went up in flames, but Koreatown is one community that literally rose from the ashes.

During the six days that the riots raged, hundreds of businesses, many of them owned by Korean immigrants, were torched in the violence that followed the acquittal of the four LAPD officers who beat Rodney King. Whole blocks of Koreatown went up in flames that night.

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Author Interviews
3:23 am
Mon April 23, 2012

Rodney King Comes To Grips With 'The Riot Within'

After suffering from injuries from the beating and struggling publicly with alcoholism, today Rodney King is contented, sober and engaged — to Cynthia Kelley, who served on the jury of King's civil trial against the city.
Morgan St. John

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 11:30 am

With a helicopter buzzing overhead, the videotape of Rodney King's encounter with police is so famous, you could say he was beaten into American history: The image of him writhing in pain as several Los Angeles police officers repeatedly beat, kicked and tasered him is, by now, world-famous — and synonymous with abuse of power.

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Movies
3:26 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Many Colors Of Prejudice Are Revealed In 'Dark Girls'

Student Pamela Moore is one of the women interviewed in Dark Girls, a documentary on color discrimination by actor-director Bill Duke and co-director D. Channsin Berry.
Dark Girls, LLC

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 7:56 am

Bill Duke knew he was going to get flak from a lot of people before he ever turned the cameras on to film Dark Girls, a new documentary about the painful encounters dark-skinned black women experience in a society where lighter is usually considered better.

It's a subject that has, more often than not, been considered taboo to discuss outside the black community. So Duke knew making a general-distribution movie about color prejudice within the black community was definitely going to rub some black folks the wrong way.

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U.S.
4:00 am
Wed March 21, 2012

Social Media Put Fla. Case In National Spotlight

Civil rights leaders and residents of Sanford, Fla., attend a meeting Tuesday to discuss the death of Trayvon Martin, who was shot by a neighborhood watch captain. The Justice Department and the FBI opened an investigation into the shooting, and the local state attorney announced that he had asked a grand jury to investigate.
Gerardo Mora Getty Images

The shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Florida has sparked heated reactions across the country, but there was a lag before mainstream media picked up on the story. Not so online, where a more immediate outcry grew into a petition drive this week to encourage a federal investigation.

Now the Justice Department is looking into Trayvon Martin's death at the hands of a neighborhood watch volunteer, and black media and social media were key in demanding closer scrutiny.

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Music News
1:37 pm
Sun February 12, 2012

Whitney Houston, A 'Perfect Instrument,' Dies

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

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

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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