Joel McCord | WYPR

Joel McCord

News Director

Joel McCord is a trumpet player who learned early in life that that’s no way to make a living.

He began his reporting career while still a music major at what then was West Chester State College in West Chester, Pa., filing reports for WCSC, the campus radio station. He transferred to the School of Communications and Theater at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he managed to earn a degree in journalism in 1973, despite having spent an inordinate amount of time playing pinochle in the student union.

He worked as a reporter and editor at The Maryland Gazette, America's oldest continuously publishing newspaper, and the Annapolis Capital, where he covered education and county government.  He also spent 23 years as a metro staff reporter and occasional editor at the Baltimore Sun, covering local governments, land use issues, transportation and environment before he became one of the old farts who Tribune Company, the paper’s owners, offered a semi-reasonable amount of money to leave.

McCord worked as a freelance writer and editor until joining WYPR as a reporter, where he has covered the Maryland General Assembly and two governors.  Joel also reprised his role as an environmental reporter, only this time, he used the sounds one hears on God's green earth to help tell the stories of commercial watermen, farmers, hunters and people who are laboring to save the planet.

He became WYPR’s news director in October 2012.

And he still plays the trumpet with your occasional big band or small jazz group, just not as often or as well as he would like.

Joel McCord

Last week, Governor Larry Hogan sharply criticized Pennsylvania and New York for not doing enough to slow pollution and trash flowing down the Susquehanna River into the Chesapeake Bay. Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Environmental Protection fired back, calling the remarks “careless and insensitive.”

But the two were a bit more conciliatory at Tuesday’s Chesapeake Executive Council meeting.

Joel McCord

Record rainfall across the Northeast in July has clogged the Chesapeake Bay and its beaches with logs, debris and other trash. And it’s required a herculean effort to clean it up.

Some 50 volunteers showed up at Sandy Point State Park, just north of the Bay Bridge, over the weekend to help park rangers clear those beaches.

AP

Jarrod Ramos, the man charged in the mass shooting at the Annapolis Capital newspaper, was expected to make his first appearance in court Monday. But his appearance was canceled after his lawyer filed papers on his behalf.

Ramos was scheduled to appear before Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge William Mulford, who, under normal circumstances, would read Ramos his rights, explain the charges against him and the maximum penalty for each count and tell him of his need for a lawyer.

President Trump ordered the United States flag flown at half-staff Tuesday in honor of the victims of the massacre at the Capital Gazette newspapers in Annapolis last week. But the order didn’t come without some controversy.

My Hometown Mourns

Jul 3, 2018
Joel McCord

My hometown is grieving; grieving the loss of four talented journalists and a young sales person who worked for a paper that styles itself "your hometown newspaper."

You can see it in the Annapolis Strong banners and signs that have popped up all over town; stretched across the median strip of Rowe Boulevard, the main drag off U.S. 50, near City Dock and, naturally, out on Bestgate Road at the corner that leads into the 888 office building that houses Capital Gazette newspapers.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Jarrod Ramos, the suspected shooter in Thursday’s attack on The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, was ordered held without bail Friday.

Joel McCord

Five deaths have been confirmed and multiple people have been injured in the Thursday shooting at The Capital Gazette newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland.

Joel McCord has been at the scene and told Morning Edition host Nathan Sterner what he's learning about the incident.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Five deaths have been confirmed and multiple people have been injured in a Thursday shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis. WYPR News Director Joel McCord has been at the scene and spoke with All Things Considered host Audie Cornish this afternoon.

Things are looking up for the Chesapeake Bay, according to scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

The scientists released a report card on the bay’s health Friday morning that found the "positive trajectory" they’ve noted in recent years is now "statistically significant."

AP

The flood that ripped through Ellicott City last Sunday, destroying homes and businesses and claiming one life was devastating. But it wasn’t anything new. Ellicott City has had a long history of floods.

In fact, the first grist mill, built by James Hood in 1766, was destroyed a mere two years later by one of the earliest recorded floods.

The town flooded again in 1817 and 1837. And then there was the flood of 1868 that killed 43 people and destroyed 14 homes.

Joel McCord

The General Assembly wrapped up its 90-day session in Annapolis Monday night with a flurry of activity, passing bills to increase minimum sentences for some repeat offenders, tightening school safety measures and diversifying the medical marijuana industry.

Many lawmakers, including Gov. Larry Hogan, began the legislative session seeking an answer to the recent spike in violent crime in Baltimore. On Monday, the legislature passed what some lawmakers said is part of the solution:  mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders caught illegally carrying a gun.

Monday, March 19, was the 69th day of the Maryland General Assembly's annual session. It's what's known in the State House as Cross-over Day. All bills must pass at least one chamber of the General Assembly and "cross-over" to the other to have a decent chance of getting to the governor's desk.

WYPR's state politics reporter, Rachel Baye, joins news director Joel McCord to discuss what will make it and what might not.

Johnathan Lefcheck

The Chesapeake Bay’s grass beds, once devastated, are making a comeback.

A study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy has documented a three-fold increase in the amount of bay bottom and its tributaries covered by the beds.

It’s gone from 7,000 hectares of grass in 1984 to about 25,000 hectares now, said Jonathan Lefcheck, the lead author of the study. That’s enough grass to cover New York City’s Central Park three times over.

The names of police officers involved in court cases have disappeared from Maryland’s online court data base, setting off protests from both journalists and civil liberties groups.

The disappearance stems from little noticed rules changes proffered last year by the standing committee on rules of practice and procedure. It deleted a section that required that the names of police officers and other government officials involved in court cases be available in the online data base, along with office addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses.

Joel McCord

A group of anthropology majors from Washington College in Chestertown has spent the summer not at the beach, but as research assistants roaming the Eastern Shore, talking to residents about the risks of flooding and projected sea level rise. They’ve traveled through Talbot, Dorchester and Somerset counties talking to local residents about their communities, changes and their experiences with flooding.

And on a recent trip, Kirsten Webb and Hayley Hartman were visiting Roland and Sheilah Bradshaw at their home on Smith Island. Kirsten was hardly into her opening spiel about community response to flooding when Roland jumped in.

Chris Moe / UMCES

Dr. Helen Bailey, who did her PhD work on bottle nose dolphins, says she heard reports of occasional sightings of the marine mammals when she came to work as an associate professor at the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science in Solomons.

But then the underwater microphones the lab was experimenting with began picking up the tell-tale squeaks and clicks of dolphins foraging in the Chesapeake and its tributaries. Now, the scientists are finding out the dolphins are pretty regular visitors to the bay.

"We were discovering that we were actually detecting dolphins quite frequently during June, July and August," she said. "And so then put another hydrophone in the Potomac River and there we were detecting dolphins every day."

Succeeding the speaker?

Jun 7, 2017

Joel McCord and Bryan Sears, of the Daily Record, ponder potential successors for ailing Mike Busch as speaker of the House of Delegates.

The politics of sick leave

May 31, 2017

News Director Joel McCord and Rachel Baye, WYPR's state government reporter, discuss the political implications of Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of the General Assembly's paid sick leave bill.

Brendan Reynolds

Chesapeake Bay advocates got a shock when President Donald Trump proposed zeroing EPA’s Chesapeake Bay program out of the federal budget.

Don Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, said efforts to restore the oyster population, are "very heavily dependent on the continued federal investment."

And Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said the loss of those funds would hurt economically when it comes to the burgeoning oyster industry in Maryland and Virginia. It wouldn’t be just the watermen who harvest those oysters who would take a hit, but also the "shuckers, wholesalers, retailers, those who move the material, restauranteurs," he said.

Joel McCord, WYPR's news director, and Karen Hosler, of the WYPR news team, discuss the changed political of Chesapeake Bay restoration.

MD Manual

U.S. District Judge James Bredar approved Friday a police reform agreement negotiated between Baltimore City and the U.S. Justice Department, despite Trump administration requests to hold off on that approval.

Bredar’s ruling came only a day after an hours-long hearing in which Justice Department lawyers asked for a 30-day delay to re-evaluate the agreement finalized in the last days of the Obama administration. 

Fraser Smith, WYPR's retiring senior news analyst, joins news director Joel McCord to thank those who joined him on this segment over the years.

Sprint to the finish

Mar 31, 2017

Joel McCord and WYPR's Rachel Baye look at the rush of bills the General Assembly has sent to Gov. Larry Hogan's desk just in time for an override vote in case he vetoes any of them.

Joel McCord and Rachel Baye, WYPR's state government reporter, talk about Maryland Democrats' efforts to capitalize on public sentiment for redistricting reform. And about how it's going nowhere.

Joel McCord and Karen Hosler, of the WYPR News team, talk about the $300 million price tag for restoring Pimlico Race Course and preserving The Preakness.

Joel McCord and Kenneth Burns, of the WYPR news team, try to figure out why a state senator wants to increase the residency requirements to run for mayor and city council in Baltimore.

Joel McCord and John Lee, of the WYPR news team, discuss a measure making its way through the General Assembly that would keep landlords from automatically turning down renters with housing vouchers.

Joel McCord

The Maryland Senate adopted a measure Friday that would expand the state attorney general’s power to sue the federal government on an almost party line vote.

Three Democrats, James Brochin and Katherine Klausmeier of Baltimore County and James Mathias, of Worcester County, voted with all 14 Republicans against the measure. It allows the state attorney general to sue the federal government without getting approval of the governor or the General Assembly, as the law now requires.

WYPR's State House Reporter Rachel Baye joins News Director Joel McCord to explain a fast moving bill to allow state Attorney General Brian Frosh to sue the federal government without buy in from the governor or general assembly.

Joel McCord and WYPR's John Lee talk about some apparent friction between Baltimore County's House delegation and the county's executive.

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