Nathan Sterner | WYPR

Nathan Sterner

Local Morning Edition Host, Etc.

"If radio were a two-way visual medium," Nathan would see WYPR listeners every weekday between 5am and 3pm. Weekday mornings, Nathan serves up the latest Maryland news and weather (interspersed with the occasional snarky comment).  Nathan also does continuity breaks through the midday, adds audio flaire to Sheilah Kast's "On The Record," infrequently fills in for Tom Hall on "Midday," does all sorts of fundraising stuff, AND "additional tasks where assigned". When not at WYPR, Nathan teaches a class on audio documentary at Towson University, and spends their spare time running around Baltimore's neighborhoods and hiking around Maryland's natural areas. Before coming to WYPR, Nathan spent 8 years at WAMU in Washington -- working every job from part-time receptionist to on-air host, gaining experience in promotions, fundraising, audience analysis, and program production. They've also served as a fundraising consultant, assisting dozens of public radio stations nationwide with on-air fundraisers. Originally from rural Pennsylvania, Nathan has called Charm City home since 2005.

Courtesy of Space Telescope Science Institute

If you’ve ever looked up at the night sky and felt dwarfed by the magnitude of the universe, prepare to feel even more insignificant. When astronomers analyzed deep space images gathered by NASA’s Hubble Telescope in the mid-1990s, they estimated that the observable universe contained about 200 billion galaxies. It turns out they were off by a bit. Well, more than a bit. New models reveal that the previous estimate is at least 10 times too low. There are closer to 2 trillion galaxies in the universe. So, what does this mean? How do scientists know this information? And, why, with 10 times more galaxies, are there still patches of darkness in the night sky? Joel Green, a project scientist in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute, joins us to answer these celestial questions.

We begin with a conversation about the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. There are some who believe that if this type of gas drilling were allowed in Western Maryland, it could generate up to 3,000 jobs and at least $5 million in annual tax revenues. But many have concerns about the impact on the environment and public health. We’ll hear from Dr. David Vanko, the former head of the Maryland Fracking Commission, and co-host Nathan Sterner talks to Dr. Brian Schwartz, a researcher from Johns Hopkins, and Senator Bobby Zirkin, who proposed banning fracking.

Then, Alan Walden, the Republican candidate for Mayor of Baltimore, joins Tom to talk about his vision for the future of Charm City. And theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck has a review of the new show at Ford’s Theater in Washington, Come From Away. The musical tells the true story of the 7000 airline passengers whose planes were diverted to the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, immediately after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and how the tiny community’s embrace of these stranded strangers became an inspirational counterpoint to the horrors that brought them together. 

Today, a look at the controversial issue of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. It’s a method of getting at natural gas that involves injecting millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals into the ground at high pressures to fracture the underlying rock and release the gas.

Fracking has expanded rapidly across the US in the past decade, mostly in western states. There are also thousands of fracking operations in the East, especially in the area known as the Marcellus Shale… a gas-rich rock formation that runs beneath parts of New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland’s two western-most counties.

A Maryland commission-- chaired by Dr. David Vanko, dean of the Fisher School of Science and Marthematics at Towson Universty -- was created in 2011 to study the environmental and health impacts of fracking, as well as its potential economic benefits. Four years and 34 public hearings later, that commission recommended that fracking be allowed to proceed under strict regulations.  But the General Assembly intervened and imposed a two-year moratorium on fracking that expires in October 2017.  

While Maryland’s Department of the Environment may see fracking as a reasonably safe enterprise, public doubts have been fueled by a steady stream of troubling scientific research.  Dr. Brian Schwartz, a professor in the Johns Hopkins-Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Health, has co-authored a series of four papers over the past year that suggest fracking operations could be the culprit in a wide range of health problems.  Dr. Schwartz joins Maryland Morning co-host Nathan Sterner in the studio to discuss those findings.  Joining the conversation by phone is State Senator Bobby Zirkin, who first proposed a permanent ban on fracking back in 2014, and plans to do so again in Annapolis next year.

P. Kenneth Burns

Baltimore City is one step closer to raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour.  But it’s not clear if there will be enough votes next week to make it final.  City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke’s proposal squeaked by in a preliminary vote Monday.

But that vote, 7-4 with three abstentions, was one short of the number needed for final passage.

Aqua.org

 

Big change is coming to the National Aquarium's 25-year old dolphin exhibit.  Last month, Aquarium CEO and marine conservationist John Racanelli announced that the institution will move its small population of dolphins to a marine sanctuary somewhere in the Florida/Caribbean area by the year 2020. The decision comes five years after the Aquarium ended its traditional dolphin shows, and follows protests at the Inner Harbor facility by activists calling for more humane treatment of dolphins. The proposed sanctuary has been applauded by many animal welfare groups.  Dr. Heather Rally, a wildlife veterinarian with the research and conservation arm of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), calls the transfer of the dolphins to a non-breeding marine sanctuary "a monumental move."

The dandy charger, the velocipede, the draisine -- all names for the first versions of the bicycle, which sprung to life in the early 19th century. Bicycles played a role in shaping attitudes about fashion, exercise, and child-rearing. Faced with cobblestones and potholes, early adopters in America petitioned the government to improve road conditions. Before setting their sights on flight, the Wright brothers repaired and manufactured bicycles. They even used bikes to test out early propeller designs. Riding a bike is not just a childhood milestone, it’s a hobby, a sport, and way to circumvent congested commutes. We speak to Margaret Guroff, author of “The Mechanical Horse: How the Bicycle Reshaped American Life."

Rob Sivak/WYPR

Baltimore is a city known for many things, but one of its greatest assets may be its artistic community. A driving engine of that community is MICA, the Maryland Institute College of Art. Founded in 1826, it’s the oldest art and design college in the country. But old as it is, the world-renowned school is all about innovation.  The latest evidence of that is the new program called MICApreneurship. Launched last September, it aims to promote and seed student business enterprises that incorporate artistic and design elements.  And it’s doing so through its new annual UP/Start Venture Competition, a “Shark-Tank”-like contest, the first of which was held on April 28th. MICA student- and alumni-applicants pitched their business plans to a panel of judges, vying for a piece of a $100,000 pool of foundation-supported development grants.

Joining co-host Nathan Sterner in the Maryland Morning studio this morning are members of three of the four winning teams of MICA's  first UP/Start Venture Competition...

Have you had a cup of coffee today? A piece of fruit? You can thank a bee. In fact, most of the plants that provide our food require pollinators. That’s also true of most of the flowers we enjoy. Yet many bees, butterflies, and other pollinator species are in decline. Pesticide use and habitat loss are among the reasons. So what can the average Marylander do? Garden with pollinators in mind! Master gardener Patricia Foster, executive director of the Cylburn Arboretum Association, and Vincent Vizachero, manager for Herring Run Nursery, a non-profit nursery that specializes in native plants, are here to give advice and take your questions.

Today, the latest on the fast-spreading Zika virus.  Once just a Latin American health problem, the mosquito-borne disease has become a global health emergency, with dozens of cases reported across the US, several in DC and Virginia, and on February 11th, the first reported case in Maryland. Baltimore City Health Commisioner Dr. Leana Wen sits down with Nathan Sterner to tell us what’s known about the Zika virus, and what steps the city is taking to raise public awareness of this emerging public health threat.

Then, a rollicking studio session with Juanito Pascual and his New Flamenco Trio, giving a taste of what they’ll be sharing tonight at the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick.

And just in time for the romantic weekend, our regular foodie and restaurant owner Sascha Wolhandler stops by with some delectable dessert ideas for Valentine’s Day.

Gabriele Febbo

Today, the latest on the fast-spreading Zika virus.  Once just a Latin American health problem, the mosquito-borne disease has become a global health emergency, with dozens of cases reported across the US, including several in DC and Virginia and on Thursday, the first reported case in Maryland. Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen sits down with Nathan Sterner to tell us what’s known about the Zika virus, and what steps the city is taking to counter this emerging public health threat.

Nathan Sterner / WYPR

Schools in Central Maryland remain closed today.

Schools on the Upper Shore plan to open, but later than usual:

TWO HOUR DELAY: Caroline County schools and Kent County schools

90 MINUTE DELAY: Queen Anne's County schools and Talbot County schools

Nathan Sterner / WYPR

Last night's snowfall has left this morning's roads icy; officials urge you to be careful on untreated roads, bridges, and overpasses -- and to drive more slowly and carefully than usual.

Some schools are changing their schedules:

In 2010 Baltimore unveiled Vacants to Value, an effort to rehab abandoned properties and eliminate blight across the city. But, while officials have boasted that more than 1,500 houses have been renovated and occupied through the program, a recent investigation found that the real number is closer to just 900 homes.

European Commission DG ECHO / Flickr via Creative Commons

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, along with governors in more than half of US states, is asking for the resettlement of Syrian refugees to cease until the federal government addresses concerns about potential terrorist threats. We discuss the screening process for refugees with Ruben Chandrasekar, the executive director of Baltimore's arm of the International Rescue Committee.

José Eduardo Deboni // Flickr Creative Commons

In April of next year, Maryland Morning will celebrate its 10th anniversary here on WYPR. Sheilah Kast, Nathan Sterner and Tom Hall launched the show on April 21, 2006. The theme music of the show for the first few months was composed by Thomas Newman, an acclaimed film composer. It's a piece called Lunch with the King from the 1999 movie, American Beauty. It’s not unusual for shows to use pre-existing music as their themes, but we always knew that at some point, we would want our very own musical identity, composed just for us. In August of 2006, Jack Heyrman, who owns a music production company in Baltimore called Clean Cuts, made a very generous offer to do just that. The composers at Clean Cuts, who create music for commericals, video games, TV shows, movies, and other purposes, were kind enough to offer us several theme songs as possibilities.

Now, as we approach our 10th birthday, we’ve decided to change our theme music, and we’d like to ask your help in choosing a worthy successor to Chris’ great music. Once again, Jack Heyrman was kind enough to help us out. He put us in touch with Rich Isaac, the Creative Director of Original Music at Clean Cuts, who in turn, reached out to the Clean Cuts composing staff. That group includes Chris Kennedy, along with Austin Coughlin and Louis Weeks. They've written five samples of music that can be developed into our new theme song.  On today's show, Rich Isaac joins Tom and our own Nathan Sterner to shed some light on the process that composers at companies like Clean Cuts go through to create musical identities for shows like ours. And we'll play the tunes Clean Cuts composed for us, then ask which one you think should be the new Maryland Morning theme.

Controlling Maryland's Deer Population

Nov 9, 2015
Nathan Sterner

Love is in the air, especially if you’re a deer. It’s deer breeding season: a time of year that deer-related accidents on the state’s roads skyrocket.

Nathan takes a look at the state’s deer population and the variety of methods being used to control it. He talks with George Timko, Assistant Deer Project Leader with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.  More information about non-lethal deer-control programs in the region is available from Wildlife Rescue, Inc.

On November 5th, 1605, a group of radicals placed explosives beneath the House of Lords in London in order to kill the British king, James I.  Their scheme, which came to be known as the Gunpowder Plot, failed because the bombs never went off. The man tasked with guarding the explosives, Guy Fawkes, was arrested, and Londoners celebrated the survival of their king by lighting bonfires throughout the city.

Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated to this day with ceremonial bonfires and the ritual burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes.  WYPR's Nathan Sterner tells us about his family's unusual observance of this centuries-old holiday.  

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz says the Baltimore region has the fifth worst traffic congestion in the nation.  On Thursday, Kamenetz told state officials that a comprehensive transit system needs to be developed.  WYPR's John Lee gives Nathan Sterner a closer look at what Kamenetz had to say.

Flickr-Commons

Black bears are making a resurgence in Western Maryland. As late as the 1970s, they have been considered an endangered species in our state. But their population has since bounced back – so significantly, that the state has sanctioned annual black bear hunts since 2004.   Licensed hunts are  conducted in Western Maryland’s Garrett and Allegheny Counties to slow the growth of black bears to manageable levels. 

Linda Tanner // Flickr Creative Commons

WYPR was in the middle of our fall pledge drive when NASA announced it had discovered the existence of water on the planet Mars. Now that our members have figuratively “made it rain,” Nathan's going to focus on that Martian water. And planetary scientist Nathan Bridges of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory is here to help. Bridges looks at Mars through the electric eyes of the Curiosity Mars Rover.

There was a protest at last night's Baltimore County Council meeting. About 40 people turned out to express their disapproval with plans to change the shifts at the County's 911 center. WYPR's John Lee was there, and tells Nathan Sterner what the protest was all about.

Giant Reverby Cats In The Sky
Elena Fox

Back in August, Morning Edition featured the sounds of whale song

Elena Fox and her cat Omelet were listening. But what Omelet heard might not be what you'd expect.

David Simpson

We head to Loch Raven Reservoir, just north of Baltimore City, to revisit Nathan’s conversation with photographer David Simpson. We’ll hear about Simpson’s book The Swan at Loch Raven, and the story of how David encountered the majestic bird at the center of the book.

 

Curbing Baltimore's Feral Cat Population

Aug 14, 2015
Elizabeth and Jason Putsché via citylab.com

Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Leana Wen, recently said Baltimore is a city that is “overwhelmed with the overpopulation of animals.” Perhaps no one in the city knows this better than our guest Jennifer Brause, executive director of the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, or BARCS. Brause, her 57 employees and 400-plus volunteers, take in around 12,000 animals each year. And if that number isn’t startling enough, BARCS has neutered and returned close to 1700 outdoor cats so far in 2015. In the first ten days of August BARCS has already taken in more than 100 cats that are available for adoption. 

The planet Pluto was discovered in 1930. But until recently, we didn’t know much about it.

Our knowledge of Pluto is expanding exponentially this week as the “New Horizons” spacecraft beams a trove of pictures and data 3 billion miles back to earth.

Hal Weaver is a project scientist for the mission, and joins us from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel for this update. 

Capture Queen // Flickr Creative Commons

From fuchsia to salmon, azure to aquamarine, the human brain is capable of distinguishing millions of colors. Yet, when it comes to remembering exact hues, our brains fall short.

A Johns Hopkins-led team has published a new paper that says that when remembering a color, our brains drop the specifics. Instead, we retain the “best” version of a color. Nathan talks with Jonathan Flombaum, lead author of the paper. Flombaum is also a cognitive psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins.

dni777 / Creative Commons

Maryland beekeepers have lost an average of 60% of their honeybees in the past year, according to a survey from the US Department of Agriculture. That’s one of the highest death rates in the country. Honeybees have been mysteriously dying in large numbers for years now and scientists still don’t understand exactly what’s causing the problem. One of the people trying to understand what’s going on is Wayne Esaias, former president of the Maryland State Beekeeper’s Association and a Master Beekeeper. He joins Nathan Sterner by phone to talk about it.

National Weather Service / http://www.erh.noaa.gov/lwx/winterstorm/

Winter isn't over yet. With snow coming down around Central Maryland, some schools are changing their schedules: Baltimore County’s Hereford zone schools are on a two hour delay. Carroll County schools are opening two hours late. Frederick County schools are closed today.

National Weather Service / http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/lwx/winterstorm/

A Wind Chill Advisory is in effect until 10AM Friday 3/6/15. 

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