Rob Sivak | WYPR

Rob Sivak

Senior Producer, Midday

Rob Sivak is senior producer of Midday, with host Tom Hall.  Rob joined WYPR in 2015 as senior producer of Hall's previous show, Maryland Morning (which aired its final show on September 16th, 2016).  Before coming to the station, Rob enjoyed a 36-year career at the congressionally funded global broadcaster, Voice of America.  At VOA, he honed his skills as a news and feature reporter, producer, editor and program host.

After reporting stints at VOA's New York City, United Nations and Los Angeles bureaus, Rob spent two decades covering international food, farming and nutrition issues for VOA's 180-million worldwide listeners, and created and hosted several popular VOA science magazines.  At Midday, he continues to pursue his passion for radio and his abiding interests in science, health, technology and politics.

Rob grew up as an ex-pat "oil brat" on the Persian Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia, and studied and traveled widely in the Middle East, Europe and Africa.  He attended Hofstra University in New York and Boston University's School of Public Communications.  Rob and his wife, Caroline Barnes, live in Silver Spring, Maryland, where they've raised three daughters.

Images courtesy Columbia Global Reports

We begin today with a conversation about the rise of nationalism as a political movement.  Brazil is holding a run-off election at the end of the month following the near victory of Jair Bolsonaro, an admirer of some of Brazil’s past dictators.  Several countries in Europe have seen a far-right brand of nationalism ascendant in recent years, and of course, Donald Trump’s doctrine of “America First” and his rallying motto, "Make America Great Again" were key ingredients to his electoral victory in 2016.

Tom's guest is John Judis, who trains his gaze on the global rise of nationalism in his latest book.  John Judis is a former senior editor at the New Republic.  He is an Editor at Large at Talking Points Memo, and the author of seven books.  The new one is called The Nationalist Revival: Trade, Immigration, and the Revolt Against Globalization.

Photo courtesy Dr. Leana Wen

Dr. Leana Wen has been selected as the new president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  She assumes her new role on  November 12. For the first time in nearly 50 years, a physican will lead the century-old reproductive health services and education organization.

As a patient advocate and an emergency physician, Dr. Wen has led the Baltimore City Health Department since January 2015. She has devoted her career to expanding access to health care for low income communities, reducing health disparities, and finding innovative solutions to some of the most challenging public health problems today, from opioid abuse and teen pregnancy to the epidemic of gun violence.

imdb.com

It's another edition of Midday at the Movies, our monthly look at new films and new trends in filmmaking, with our movie maven regulars:  Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday, and the Maryland Film Festival's founding -- and soon-to-retire -- director, Jed Dietz.

Jed and Ann, long-time partners on these monthly Midday get-togethers, spend a few minutes considering the important and enduring changes that have come to the Baltimore film scene since Jed launched the MD Film Festival twenty years ago. One of those changes is the successful restoration of the SNF Parkway, one of the city's oldest movie houses, which now plays a vibrant role on the first-run and art-house film circuits.  The annual Maryland Film Festival, Ann notes, has also energized local filmmaking, and given moviemakers from around the world an important new venue for showcasing their work.

Photography by Bill Geenen

It's time for another weekly visit with our peripatetic theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins Tom today with reviews of not one but two theater-season openers here in Baltimore.

The first is the new production at Baltimore's Center Stage of Tennessee Williams' sultry American classic, Cat on a Hot Tin RoofThis searing drama about multi-generational family ties and unsustainable deceptions unfolds over the course of a sweltering summer night, in the mansion house of a sprawling Mississippi Delta plantation.  Tony and Obie Awards laureate Judith Ivey directs the strong cast, led by actors David Schramm as Big Daddy, Andrew Pastides as Brick, and Stephanie Gibson as Maggie.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof continues at Center Stage through Sunday, October 14.

photo courtesy time.com

It’s anybody’s guess whether or not President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, DC Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh, will replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy on the High Court.  The FBI is reported to be finishing up its supplemental background check on Mr. Kavanaugh, looking into multiple allegations of past sexual assault and misconduct made in recent weeks against the nominee.

Former college classmates and current friends of the Judge have weighed in on his fitness for the Supreme Court, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised a vote this week. 

Today on Midday, perspectives on the Kavanaugh nomination from Cleta Mitchell, a former counsel to the National Republican Senatorial and Congressional Committees;  Ian Samuel, associate professor at Indiana University's Maurer School of Law and co-host of First Mondays, the weekly podcast about the Supreme Court; and Thiru Vignarajah, a former federal prosecutor, former Deputy Attorney General of Maryland and currently a litigator with DLA Piper in Baltimore.

The Kavanaugh confirmation process and the future of the Supreme Court, today on Midday.

Photo courtesy Fox News Channel

Today: President Trump’s record on race.  In Kenansville, North Carolina, in September of 2016, Mr. Trump declared that black communities in the United States today are "absolutely in the worst shape that they've ever been in before."

Putting aside the president’s apparent ignorance of slavery and Jim Crow, Trump’s basic pitch to African American voters came down to a phrase that Juan Williams of Fox News appropriates in the title of his new book, "What the Hell Do You Have to Lose?": Trump’s War on Civil Rights. 

Williams -- a former NPR and Washington Post correspondent who now writes a column for The Hill and co-hosts the Fox News Channel's roundtable debate show, The Five -- examines Mr. Trump’s racial belligerence, from his response to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA, to his contention that undocumented immigrants and other ineligible people voted by the millions in the 2016 election. 

Juan Williams joins us for the hour from the studios of NPR affiliate WABE in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Photo courtesy Cinereach Films

It's another edition of Midday at the Movies, our monthly look at trends in the film industry, and some of the new movies lighting up local screens. We're joined again by our regular movie-mavens: the Maryland Film Festival's founding director, Jed Dietz, is with Tom in the studio.  And Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday joins them on the line from Toronto, Canada, where she is reporting on the 2018 Toronto Film Festival.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Early in September each year, Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck skips her usual weekly review to look ahead at the upcoming theater season, and spotlight some of the interesting productions coming to the region's stages.

Judy begins her 2018-19 Season Preview by noting the exciting news from Baltimore Center Stage, which last month announced its new artistic director, Stephanie Ybarra, currently Director of Special Artistic Projects at The Public Theater in New York City.   She assumes her new role at Center Stage in October.  

Of course, the big theater event coming up in Baltimore will be The Hippodrome's production of Hamilton, toward the end of the season next June.  The historic theater will also be staging a revival in April of the Tony Award-winning musical Come From Away, based on the true story of how the people of Gander, Newfoundland, welcomed a crush of airline passengers stranded there by the 9/11 attacks.  Among the many other Tony laureates getting revivals in Baltimore this season is the uplifting coming-out musical, Fun Home, now set for a January-February run at Center Stage.   

Spires photo by Celia Bell; Collier photo courtesy Michael

Today, it’s Midday on Poetry:  Tom and his guests explore a variety of poetic styles that all resonate with universal themes. 

Tom is joined first by two local poets who enjoy international acclaim.

Michael Collier has written numerous books of poetry over the past forty years, including The Ledge -- a finalist for the 2000 National Book Critics Circle Award.  He served as Poet Laureate of Maryland from 2001-2004, and he stepped down last year after more than two decades as director of the prestigious Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference @Middlebury. He leads the creative writing program at the University of Maryland.  His latest evocative collection, published by the University of Chicago Press, is called My Bishop and Other Poems.

And Elizabeth Spires is the author of seven collections of poetry and six critically acclaimed children’s books.  She is a Professor of English at Goucher College, where she holds the Chair for Distinguished Achievement.  Spires' new book is a searing collection of probing and poignant work called A Memory of the Future

photo courtesy NASA.gov

Earlier this month (August 1), a special edition of The New York Times Magazine went online, and a few days later hit the newsstands.  The issue contained a single 30,000 word article titled, “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change.” Penned by NYTMagazine writer-at-large Nathaniel Rich, with grant support from the non-profit Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, and based on 18 months of reporting and over a hundred interviews, it tells the story (along with a gallery of stunning photos and online videos by George Steinmetz) of the decade between 1979-1989 when an international scientific and political consensus first emerged on the causes and dangers of climate change.

In his detailed narrative history, Rich describes how those hopeful efforts nevertheless failed to develop an effective national and international response to what was known to be an impending global catastrophe.

Spotlighters Theatre/Shaelyn Jae Photography

It's Thursday, and time again for our weekly visit with theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck. Today, she joins guest host Rob Sivak with a review of Consent, a new play about medical ethics from local playwright Glennyce Lynn. It's being produced by the Spotlighters Theatre in collaboration with the Baltimore Playwrights Festival.

Directed by Andre Tittle, the play is set in an unfamiliar near-future, where civilians volunteer to undergo traumatic medical testing, consenting to torturous procedures in exchange for “favors” from the government. In an unexpected turn of events, two doctors suddenly find themselves in lockdown with their angry and unruly patient, and they are forced to confront the questionable ethics of  their work.

Consent continues at the Spotlighters Theatre through Sunday, August 26th.

Photography by Saylor Denney

Tangier Island, Virginia, has been home for eight generations to a unique community of now some 470 hardy souls, many of whom make their living harvesting the region’s prized blue crab. But their island home -- a barely 2-acre sliver of mud and sand and grass in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay -- is fast disappearing beneath the waters.  Whether the culprit is erosion by the Bay’s relentless currents, as most Islanders believe, or the rising sea levels scientists say have been triggered by global climate change, the outlook for Tangier Island and its people is bleak.  

Today, Midday senior producer and guest host Rob Sivak spends the hour with Virginia-based writer Earl Swift, a long-time reporter at the Virginia-Pilot who has spent more than 30 years writing about the Chesapeake region, and who has circumnavigated the Bay in his kayak.  The Chesapeake is the setting of Swift's newest book -- his seventh --  which chronicles the daily lives and hopes of the Tangier Islanders, against a backdrop of environmental and political forces that seem beyond their control. 

The book is called Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island, published by Dey Street Books (an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers).

This program was streamed live on WYPR's Facebook page, and that video can be viewed here.

Photo courtesy Baltimore Sun

Time for another edition of The Midday Newswrap, when we look back at some of the week's important local, national and international developments, and invite perspectives from guest panelists.

In the first segment: Three years after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, a scathing report by the Justice Department and a consent decree, a viral video shows a police officer assaulting a citizen.  The officer has resigned, and been indicted. We’ll have reaction from Baltimore's 2nd District City Councilman Brandon Scott, chair of the Public Safety Committee. 

In the second segment: Paul Manafort awaits a verdict on 18 counts of fraud.  Robert Mueller negotiates conditions for an interview with the President.  Mr. Trump revokes the security clearance of a prominent critic, and a prominent Navy Admiral asks that his be revoked too. Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter  Scott Shane of the New York Times DC Bureau looks behind those and other Washington headlines.  

photo courtesy Victoria Vox

And now, a little music from a former Balti-moron who enjoys both a national and international career.  Victoria Vox is an award-winning singer/songwriter who is one of the leading artists on the ukulele scene.  She’s also a fixture on the national folk music scene.  She’s opened for Jackson Browne, Leo Kottke, Cheryl Wheeler and Tom Chapin, among others.  She moved from Baltimore to Costa Mesa, California, a couple of years ago, and she’s back in the area doing some events this weekend.  Victoria is giving a songwriting workshop at the Creative Alliance tomorrow afternoon.  She’s playing in Columbia on Saturday, in Westminster on Sunday afternoon, and in Hagerstown Sunday night. 

Her new album is called Colorful HeartShe’s been kind enough to stop by, with her ukulele…and her inimitable mouth trumpet.  Victoria Vox performs these songs from her new CD, in this order:  Only Time Will TellDaytime Moon; and Sounds of Summer...

Today's performance was live-streamed on WYPR's Facebook page, and you can find the video here.

Kelli Finch Photography

It's Thursday, and that means our theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, joins us for her weekly review of one of the region's thespian offerings.

Today, she spotlights a show about love and loyalty: ArtsCentric's new production of Aida, on stage at the Motor House on North Avenue in Baltimore.

This Aida is not the famed Verdi opera, but rather the Disney-produced version (with book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls, and David Henry Hwang and tunes by Elton John and Tim Rice),  a multiple Tony Award-winning pop musical that premiered on Broadway in 2000 and ran for four years.  Like the opera, it tells the tale of  forbidden love between a Nubian princess named Aida (played by Awa Sal Secka) and an Egyptian soldier, Radames (played by Jo'Nathan Michael). Radames' engagement to the Pharaoh's daughter, Amneris (played by Kanysha Williams), and Aida's loyalty to her people threaten to tear apart their star-crossed romance.

Directed at The Motor House by Kevin S. McAllister, Aida presents a bevy of Elton John/Tim Rice compositions, including "Elaborate Lives" and "The Past Is Another Land," and showcases the work of musical director Cedric D. Lyles and choreographer Shalyce N. Hemby.

ArtsCentric's production of Aida continues at The Motor House through August 26th.

Boyd Rutherford: Republican for Lt. Governor

Aug 14, 2018

Today, another in our series of Conversations with the Candidates: the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, Boyd Rutherford, joins Tom in Studio A.

In a Gonzales poll released this morning (08/14), Republican Governor Larry Hogan -- with whom Mr. Rutherford is running for re-election on November 6th --  enjoys a 16 point lead over Democrat Ben Jealous.  If he sustains that lead through November, he’ll be the first Republican Governor to serve a second term since Theodore McKeldin in the 1950s. 

Boyd Rutherford has chaired a task force on Opioid Abuse, worked on Public-Private partnerships, and regulatory reform, among other issues. 

What has the Lt. Governor accomplished in those areas? And will he continue focusing there, or shift  his priorities to other issues, if he and Mr. Hogan are re-elected?

Boyd Rutherford is Tom's guest for the hour;  the conversation is joined in the final segment by the Baltimore Sun’s politics reporter, Luke Broadwater

We're live-streaming today's discussion on WYPR's Facebook  page.

photo by Peter Foley/Bloomberg News

Today on the Friday News Wrap, guest host Nathan Sterner takes a look back at a week of dramatic political news, from the Paul Manafort trial to the arrest of Republican Congressman Chris Collins of New York on corruption charges, and a special election in Ohio that’s given Democrats new hope for winning a majority in the House this November.  NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley joins Nathan on the line from NPR studios in Washington to help us make sense of it all...

Today we begin the hour with another edition of the Midday Healthwatch Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen is here to discuss some of the troubling new data on Maryland’s opioid problem, and some new efforts by Congressman Elijah Cummings and Senator Elizabeth Warren to help address it. She'll explain why the city has joined a lawsuit to stop the Trump Administration’s continuing efforts to gut the Affordable Care Act, and why Baltimore is fighting a White House plan to restrict Title X funding for women’s health programs. Dr. Wen also describes the importance of last week's Breastfeeding Awareness Week...and she takes your questions and comments about public health!

Today's Healthwatch was live-streamed on Facebook; the video is available on WYPR's Facebook page.

Margot Schulman

Today our theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, joins Tom (a day earlier than usual) to share her take on the new political musical, Dave, now playing at the Arena Stage in Washington D.C. 

Directed by Tina Landau (SpongeBob SquarePants) and adapted from the 1993 Oscar-nominated film of the same name, Dave tells the story of Dave Kovic -- played by Drew Gehling (Waitress) -- a high school teacher with an uncanny resemblance to the President of the United States (also played by Gehling).  Dave is recruited by members of the White House staff  to stand in as the President's secret double when the Commander-in-Chief falls into a stroke-induced coma.  As Dave  struggles to manage the complex charade, he realizes that he must also gain the trust of the American people -- and the First Lady, played by Mamie Parris (School of Rock, Cats).

Image courtesy Neon

It's another edition of Midday at the Movies, and our favorite movie mavens -- Jed Dietz, founding director of the Maryland Film Festival and Ann Hornaday, film critic for the Washington Post -- join Tom to spotlight film industry trends and some notable new releases.

One of the flicks they talk about today is the new documentary, Three Identical Strangers, by director Tim Wardle.  It tells the remarkable story of three identical triplets who were separated at birth but who find each other coincidentally as young men, and who then discover the dark truth of why they were separated.  

Jed and Ann offer very different takes on the latest Joaquin Phoenix vehicle, director Gus Van Sant's Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on FootThe movie is based on the late cartoonist John Callahan's  titular 1990 memoir of his struggle with alcoholism, the quadraplegia that bound him to a wheelchair after a drunken car wreck, and his efforts to rebuild his shattered life.

And Tom asks Ann and Jed about the latest run of films that explore the Daddy-Daughter relationship, a theme that's been a mainstay of Hollywood movies for decades.

Tom Lauer

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio every week with a review of the one of the region's many thespian productions,  and today she stops by to discuss Cockpit in Court's new production of Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.

Set in an old-style five-and-dime variety store in the small west-Texas town of McCarthy, the play explores the reunion of the "Disciples of James Dean," a fan club obsessively devoted to the brief, stellar career of 1950s film star James Dean, who became a cultural icon after his death in a car crash at the age of 24.  The club members prize their special connection to the moody, handsome actor, recalling their roles as local extras in Dean's final movie, Giant (1956).

Written by Ed Graczyk in 1976, the play became a 1982 film directed by Robert Altman, and now, at Cockpit in Court, the twists and turns of the Disciples' lives again grace the stage, under the direction of Linda Chambers,  

As the Disciples pay tribute to the life of their teenage Hollywood idol , the group is rallied by their ringleader, Mona, (played as a teen by Sarah Jones, as an adult by Regina Rose) as they reminisce about their youth -- and stir up some long-buried passions.

Cockpit in Court's production of Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean continues through August 5th on the Essex Campus at the Community College of Baltimore County.

Today, a special edition of Midday, live from historic Sumner Hall, in Chestertown, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  Sumner Hall was built in 1908.  It served as the meeting place for the Charles Sumner Post #25, a Grand Army of the Republic post founded by African American Union Veterans of the Civil War.   For decades, Sumner Hall was the social and cultural hub of Chestertown’s African American community.  

The theme of our show today is “Embracing Change in a Historic Community,” and over the course of the next hour, Tom and his guests will focus on three examples of that change -- in health care, public education, and race relations -- and its impact on the people of Chestertown and Kent County.

Our Conversations with the Candidates series continues now with Liz Matory, the Republican candidate for Congress in the 2nd District.  She’s facing the incumbent Democrat, Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, who's held the seat since 2003.   

Matory is a Silver Spring-based entrepreneur and business consultant. She’s a former field worker for the Maryland Democratic Party.  She quit the Dems in 2014, and this past June won the Republican primary in the 2nd District.  

This is Liz Matory’s second run for the US Congress. She lost a primary bid to run in the 8th District two years ago. And in 2014, running as a Democrat, she ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates.  She’s the co-author of the 2016 political memoir, Born Again Republican.

Like all our Conversation with the Candidates, this interview was live-streamed on WYPR's Facebook page, and you can find the video here.

Spotlighters Theatre/Shealyn Jae Photography

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us each week with her review of one of the region's many theatrical productions. Today, she spotlights Judy and the Generalthe new musical comedy on stage at Spotlighters Theatre in Baltimore.

Judy and the General is playwright Rosemary Frisino Toohey's funny, feminist take on the biblical character Judith, and her 1st-century confrontation with the powerful Assyrian general, Holofernes. 

The play (whose book, music and lyrics are all by Ms. Toohey) draws from The Book of Judith, a so-called deuterocanonical book that's included in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian versions of the Old Testament Bible, but excluded from Jewish texts and assigned by Protestants to the Apocrypha.

photo courtesy Better Homes and Gardens

Today, Midday goes Back to the Garden!   Two of our favorite green thumbs join Tom in Studio A again to talk about what to grow and how to grow it, and to answer your questions about gardening.

Carrie Engel is the Greenhouse Manager and a plant specialist for most of the past 50 years at Valley View Farms in Cockeysville, Maryland, where today she’s responsible for the well-being of the family-owned company’s large inventory of herbaceous plants, including annuals, tropicals and vegetables...

Denzel Mitchell is an urban farming pioneer in Baltimore.  The former owner of Five Seeds Farm, Mitchell signed on this past Spring as farm manager at Strength to Love 2 Farm, a 1-½ acre workforce training farm in Sandtown-Winchester for returning ex-offenders, and a Baltimore food resource with produce outlets around the city.  The farm is run by the faith-inspired non-profit development group called Intersection for Change…and it’s a member of the Farm Alliance of Baltimore, a network of producers that’s working to increase the viability of urban farming and improve access to city-grown foods.

Photo by Ron Aira, Creative Services GMU

(A Midday re-broadcast: originally aired June 19, 2018)

Tom’s guest is General Michael Hayden.  In more than 40 years in the Air Force and the Intelligence Community, the retired four-star general served as Director of the National Security Agency from 1999-2005, during the George W. Bush Administration.  He also served for about a year as the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and in 2006, he became the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, until President Obama appointed Leon Panetta to that position in 2009.  

The thesis of General Hayden’s latest book is disconcerting and frightening.  Given President Trump’s proclivity to lie about what he knows to be true, and the danger that there are things he should know to be true, but doesn’t, Michael Hayden paints a picture of an intelligence community at risk, whose efficacy is directly affected by the President’s refusal to acknowledge facts, and his harsh and undisciplined rhetoric. 

Midday: The Afro Check-In 7.23.18

Jul 23, 2018
Photo by Jay Reed, Baltimore Sun

Kamau High, managing editor of The Afro, joins us for another of our bi-monthly Check-Ins to talk about some of the stories being reported by The Afro's newsroom this week:

A report on a grieving community's preparations for the funeral of Taylor Hayes, the child who was shot July 5 in the rear seat of her mother’s car, and who died July 19.  The police are still searching for suspects in her killing, and few witnesses have come forward so far. 

A profile of soon-to-be-former Democratic State Senator Nathaniel McFadden, who's represented the 45th District -- and also chaired Baltimore's senate delegation in Annapolis -- since he first won office in 1995.  McFadden, a champion of East Baltimore development efforts, lost his seat to Del. Cory McCray in the June 26th Democratic primary. 

And the sentencing of former state senator Nathaniel Oaks to 3-1/2 years in federal prison for accepting $15,000 in bribes and obstructing justice.  Despite his fall from grace, The Afro reports that Oaks' supporters say they have forgiven him and are "ready to join him for the next chapter in his life." 

Photo courtesy National Review

Today, another edition of the Midday News Wrap.

We begin today with U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  He joins Tom by phone to comment on the roiling controversy over President Trump’s performance at his meeting Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Mr. Trump's contentious discussions the week before with America's European allies, and the President's announcement yesterday that he's invited Mr. Putin to meet again this fall -- at the White House.

Meanwhile, a Russian gun rights advocate and former student at American University is in jail in Washington DC awaiting trial, accused of working as an unregistered agent of the Russian government.  And Congress refuses to increase funding for election securitySenator Ben Cardin talks about what’s next for US-Russia relations.

Later in the hour, Luke Broadwater, who covers city politics for the Baltimore Sun, joins us in the studio to review this week's top local stories, including Mayor Pugh's ambitious redevelopment plans for East Baltimore,  the latest on the Baltimore Police Department's response to the Department of Justice Consent Decree, and a prison sentence for a state senator.

graphic courtesy BOPA

Artscape is underway in the Mt. Royal, Bolton Hill, Charles Street and Station North neighborhoods of Baltimore.  It’s billed as the largest free arts festival in the United States. It runs from July 20-22, and it's produced by the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, lovingly known as BOPA

BOPA has a new boss.  Joining us in the studio today is Donna Drew Sawyer, who took the reins of BOPA a couple of weeks ago, after serving as its chief of external affairs for about a year.  She succeeds Bill Gilmore, who served in various leadership positions at BOPA for more than 37 years. 

As the CEO of BOPA, Donna Drew Sawyer will oversee some of Baltimore’s biggest events, including Artscape, the Baltimore Book Festival and Light City. 

Donna Drew Sawyer joins Tom in Studio A. 

The conversation was live-streamed on WYPRs Facebook page, and you can see that video here.

Photo courtesy Baltimore Sun

So, read a good book lately?  If that’s the case, today’s the day on Midday that we’d like to hear about it.  Tom's guest is Heidi Daniel, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Library here in Baltimore, a position she has held for about a year.  She took the reins last summer from Carla Hayden, who was selected by then President Barack Obama to head the Library of Congress.

We’re at about the halfway point in the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.  And we think it's a good day to talk books, to get some of Heidi’s suggestions, and yours!

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