Margot Adler

Margot Adler is a NPR correspondent based in NPR's New York Bureau. Her reports can be heard regularly on All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition.

In addition to covering New York City, Adler reports include in-depth features exploring the interface of politics and culture. Most recently she has been reporting on the controversy surrounding the proposed Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero. Other recent pieces have focused on the effect of budget cuts on education, flood relief efforts by the Pakistani community in the United States, the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, and the battles over the September 11th memorial as well as the continuing human story in New York City in the years since the attacks. Her reporting has included topics such as the death penalty, affirmative action and the culture wars.

Adler did the first American radio interview with J.K. Rowling and has charted the Harry Potter phenomenon ever since. Her reporting ranges across issues including children and technology, the fad of the Percy Jackson books and the popularity of vampires. She occasionally reviews books, covers plays, art exhibitions and auctions, among other reports for NPR's Arts desk.

From 1999-2008, Adler was the host of NPR's Justice Talking, a weekly show exploring constitutional controversies in the nation's courts.

Adler joined the NPR staff as a general assignment reporter in 1979, after spending a year as an NPR freelance reporter covering New York City. In 1980, she documented the confrontation between radicals and the Ku Klux Klan in Greensboro, North Carolina. In 1984, she reported and produced an acclaimed documentary on AIDS counselors in San Francisco. She covered the Winter Olympics in Calgary in 1988 and in Sarajevo in 1984. She has reported on homeless people living in the subways, on the state of the middle class and on the last remaining American hospital for treating leprosy, which was located in Louisiana.

From 1972 to 1990, Adler created and hosted live talk shows on WBAI-FM/New York City. One of those shows, Hour of the Wolf, hosted by Jim Freund, continues as a science fiction show to this day. She is the author of the book, Drawing Down the Moon, a study of contemporary nature religions, and a 1960's memoir, Heretic's Heart. She co-produced an award-winning radio drama, War Day, and is a lecturer and workshop leader. She is currently working on a book on why vampires have such traction in our culture.

With a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, Adler went on to earn a Master of Science degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York in 1970. She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1982.

The granddaughter of Alfred Adler, the renowned Viennese psychiatrist, Adler was born in Little Rock, Ark., and grew up in New York City. She loves birding and science fiction.



The race is over for Eric Garcetti but it's just beginning for Anthony Weiner. The former New York congressman, who left office in 2011 after a series of raunchy tweets, says that he will run for mayor of New York City. The announcement came with an online video after a month of interviews and articles in which Weiner sought redemption.

NPR's Margot Adler reports.

MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: Anthony Weiner's campaign video is well made and compelling. As a middle-class kid growing up in Brooklyn, he says, I thought we had it all.

When I found out that one of my cousins — now 88 — had hidden from the Nazis in Amsterdam, just like Anne Frank, it was a revelation. It made me want to know more about my cousin's life and story.

"I like to analyze what happens and to put it in writing; that gives you neatness in your head, and that is what I'm after," says my cousin, retired Judge Suzanne Hoogendijk. She was 87 at the time, and was talking about why she loved being a judge. But delving into her personal past was another matter.

Closing arguments are set to take place Monday in the federal class action trial involving New York City's stop-and-frisk policy. The trial has been going on for two months in Manhattan.

Plaintiffs in Floyd v. City of New York claim the New York Police Department, its supervisors and its union pressured police officers to stop, question and frisk hundreds of thousands of people each year, even establishing quotas. They argue that 88 percent of the stops involved blacks and Hispanics, mostly men, and were in fact a form of racial profiling.

In the bustle and craziness of New York's Times Square on a busy afternoon or night, you will see scores of costumed figures: Batman, Elmo, the Statue of Liberty.

But for more than a dozen years, arguably the most original of these is the Naked Cowboy. His fame has now spawned a franchise, with eight different cowboys and cowgirls.

Almost anytime you go to Times Square, you will see the original Naked Cowboy in a white cowboy hat, white boots and white underwear briefs, with the words "Naked Cowboy" written across his butt. That's all he's wearing.

You expect to find great trees in city parks and botanical gardens. But you might not expect to find ancient or unusual trees in the inner city or smack dab in the middle of a highway.

Benjamin Swett has a love of trees so deep that he's written pamphlets about them, created photo exhibits and now has a new book, New York City of Trees. His book has pictures and stories of some 60 trees in the city.

I took a walk with him to some of the great trees, often in unexpected places.

Try to put him in a box and he'll find his way out. Still working at nearly 85 years old, William Klein has gone rogue in at least four different fields: abstract painting, photography, filmmaking and commercial copy writing.

Klein now lives in Paris but I caught up with him in New York City — the place where he was born, but no longer has much affinity for. He's just here to promote a new book, William Klein ABC.

When I ask him what he thinks about the city, he says:

Police officers testifying at a federal trial challenging New York City's stop-and-frisk policy say they were ordered to increase their number of arrests, summons and 250s — the code for stop, question and frisk.

Some 5 million street stops of mostly black and Latino men have taken place in the city in the last decade.



New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is no stranger to controversy. His effort to scale back sugary soft drinks was struck down by a judge and we're going to hear now about another health campaign that's got him on the defensive. This one is an effort to reduce teen pregnancy, as NPR's Margot Adler reports.

Maryland is about to become the 18th state to abolish the death penalty.

A bill has passed the state Senate and is expected to pass the House of Delegates easily with the governor's ardent support. The strongest advocate to end the death penalty in Maryland is Kirk Bloodsworth, who was convicted of murder in that state in 1985 and was the first person in the U.S. to be sentenced to death row then exonerated by DNA evidence.

Legendary birder Starr Saphir died this week at the age of 73, after an 11-year battle with metastatic breast cancer. She led walks in New York's Central Park for some 30 years and enriched so many city lives.

I could never keep up with Starr Saphir. Even when her bones were fragile and you couldn't jostle her, and she stopped to rest several times during a walk to take pain medication, her walks could last five hours.

Union membership is at its lowest point since the 1930s. New figures show a drop, and only about 11 percent of workers belong to unions today.

But these numbers don't deter the New York City Labor Chorus, which has been singing in praise of unions for more than 20 years.

Jana Ballard, the choral director of the labor chorus, is one of the youngest in the group. She's 38. The average age of the 80 members is about 65.

More than 200 houses of worship damaged in Superstorm Sandy have applied for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But given the separation of church and state, it's unclear whether federal funds are available to them.

The sanctuary of Temple Israel of Long Beach, N.Y., was flooded with more than 10 feet of saltwater in some places, says Rabbi David Bauman.

"Roughly 5 to 7 feet [of water] in most, and there were surges — particularly in our mechanical room — that went upwards of 12 to 14 feet," he says.

The New Year's celebration in Times Square in New York is well known, but it actually takes a year of planning. As the event nears, preparations are intense, and it's not just the infamous ball; there are balloons to blow up, confetti to fluff and there's even a place for people to write their wishes on pieces of confetti that will be dropped from seven buildings in the area. With half a billion Chinese watching, and millions in Latin America, it's a worldwide celebration.

The days leading up to Christmas are typically bustling in Newtown, Conn. But given the depth of grief in this community since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, preparations for the holiday began very late.

Local shopkeepers say Saturday was the first day many people came out for holiday shopping since the tragedy. Tamara Doherty, owner of the Wishing Well — a shop filled with local crafts, Christmas ornaments, pottery and potpourri — says her business is finally picking up.

The New York borough of Staten Island was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. Almost two months after the storm hit, many residents will not be back in their homes by the Christmas holiday.

One organization is trying to make the season a bit brighter for uprooted families with a free toy store on the island. This all-volunteer effort looks like a real toy store, but it feels more like a community of neighbors.

The shop boasts shelves filled with toys like model cars, Monopoly, dolls, craft supplies and books — almost everything you would want in a regular toy store.

On Friday, Sotheby's is putting up for auction 44 letters and 35 drawings from Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, to a young woman he was courting.

The letters were written during an eight-month period starting in 1970 when Schulz's first marriage was deteriorating and before he met his second wife. During this time, Schulz, 48, wrote Tracey Claudius, 25, poignant, funny, even innocent notes in pictures and words, often using Charlie Brown to stand in for himself.

Hurricane Sandy's effect on the nation's unemployment figures was less pronounced than expected. The reasons are complex, but one thing is clear: Thousands of victims are still struggling to rebuild their lives and get back to work.

Danielle Siekierski was tending bar at a restaurant in Manhattan's Meatpacking District before Sandy hit. When the restaurant was damaged in the storm, the workers were told it might be a week before it reopened.

Every day I walk down Fifth Avenue on my way to work. I pass glittering holiday store windows, the Salvation Army ringing its bells and the sparkling tree at Rockefeller Center.

But for months I've noticed a mystery: Only one store has huge lines outside before it opens: Abercrombie & Fitch.

Perhaps 90 people stand on line every day before opening, rain or shine. It's been going on for years and not just during this season.



We turn now to Confetti-gate. A student watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City found confetti dropping on him and his friends. That's to be expected. But then he took a closer look and saw on those strips of shredded paper Social Security numbers, names of police officers, license plates, even the route of presidential candidate Mitt Romney's motorcade.

NPR's Margot Adler has the rest of the story.

CROWD: Three, two, one...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Let's start the parade.


New York City lost almost 10,000 trees from the winds of Superstorm Sandy and the nor'easter that followed. That's far more trees lost in the city than in any other storm for which tree damage was recorded.

Walking through Central Park, Ken Chaya peers past a stone arch, observing the damage and uprooting of about 800 trees. He knows more about the park's trees than just about anybody else; he created a map that charts every single one of the roughly 20,000 trees.

As power is restored to many areas affected by Superstorm Sandy, the reality is setting in that tens of thousands of houses and apartments will not have their power back for weeks, or even months, until they are repaired. Money for shelter and repairs has become an urgent issue and officials are urging new initiatives.

Schools in New York City opened for the first time since superstorm Sandy hit the city last Monday. Some buildings had to be cleaned up before students arrived and a few had no heat. Still more than 90 schools remained closed due to storm damage or because they are still being used as evacuation shelters.

NPR's Margot Adler has been covering the storms aftermath. On Saturday, she walked into Central Park, opened for the first time since before the storm. She then went to examine the "border areas," those blocks where there was power and normalcy on one side, and on the other, no lights and just the noise of a few generators pumping power.

NPR's Margot Adler is covering the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in New York.

I walked out of my apartment at 5 this morning in a part of Manhattan -– the Upper West Side — that never lost power. Still, I skirted around downed trees on my way to the subway. Across the street, a car was crushed by a tree. Almost no one was on the street.



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


I'm Audie Cornish. And we begin this hour with Sandy by the numbers. At least 39 people on the East Coast have died, as a result of the massive storm.

SIEGEL: Sixty-nine are dead in the Caribbean.

CORNISH: Eight-point two million people, in the U.S., are without power.

SIEGEL: And while it's too early for an accurate tally, insured losses alone are estimated at 5- to $10 billion.



You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.


The storm on the East Coast is making a devastating impression on New York City. Storm surge coupled with a high tide have swelled the water to record levels in some places that includes Battery Park, and now, reports of flooding in the subway and in automotive tunnels.

NPR's Margot Adler joins us from New York with more details. And, Margot, what can you tell us about these reports of flooding?



You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

Over the past few years, New York City has fared better in this rocky economy than many American cities. A recent report by the Real Estate Board of New York says homes sales are up 6 percent. And NPR's Margot Adler reports that in two boroughs, Brooklyn and Queens, sales are back to pre-recession levels.

MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: So this house is on the market. It's not - it hasn't been sold yet.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: It hasn't been sold yet.

While much of America was watching the second presidential debate, about 2,000 people — many of them between the ages of 20 and 40 — were doing something very different. They had gotten a rare and prized ticket to the only U.S. appearance by J.K Rowling, as she promotes her new book for adults, The Casual Vacancy.

The crowd was huge but happy — double the number originally planned, forcing the organizers to change venues. Attendees got a ticket to the Lincoln Center event and a copy of the book, which Rowling would later sign.

Enter the glorious Rose Reading Room on the third floor of the New York Public Library on a weekday afternoon, and you'll find almost every chair filled.

Scholars and researchers still submit their book requests on slips of paper and wait for their numbers to appear on two large boards.

The stacks, filled with some 3 million volumes, are closed to the public, so books are retrieved from seven floors of shelving below. Still other volumes are stored off-site.

I'm standing in the Manhattan office of Andrew Farnsworth, a research associate at Cornell University's ornithology lab. Farnsworth is using meteorological data, radar data, crowd-sourced eBird data and acoustic data from the flight calls of migrating birds to predict where birds are going and when they'll be there.