Tom Hall | WYPR

Tom Hall


Host, Midday  (M-F 12:00-1:00)

What are You Reading? (4th Friday of the month, at 4:44) 

Tom Hall joined the WYPR staff as the Host of Choral Arts Classics in 2003. After 10 years as the Culture Editor and then host of Maryland Morning, in September, 2016, Tom became the host of Midday, the highly rated news and public policy program that features interviews with elected officials, community leaders, and thought provoking authors, artists, researchers, journalists, and scholars from around the world. 

Tom is also the Host of What Are You Reading? on WYPR.  In addition, he has served as the host of the Maryland Morning Screen Test, and the WYPR/MD Film Festival Spotlight Series. In 2006, as the Music Director of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Tom received an Emmy Award for Christmas with Choral Arts, a special that aired on WMAR television, the ABC affiliate in Maryland, for 21 years.  He has been a guest co-host of Maryland Public Television’s Art Works, and in 2007, he was named “Best New Broadcast Journalist” by the Maryland Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2009, the Baltimore City Paper named him "Best Local Radio Personality." In 2016 and again in 2017, he was recognized as "Best Talk Show Host" in the Baltimore Magazine Reader's Poll. 

Tom is invited frequently to speak to professional and community organizations, including the Oregon Bach Festival, the American Choral Directors Association, Chorus America, the College Endowment Association, the Baltimore Broadcaster’s Coalition, The Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute, the Johns Hopkins Community Conversations Series, and the Creative Alliance.  He has moderated panels and given presentations at the Baltimore City Lit Festival, the Baltimore Book Festival, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum, the University of Maryland, the Enoch Pratt Library, and MICA. He has also moderated Mayoral Debates, panels at Light City in Baltimore, and at the Stevenson University Speakers Series.

He appears each year as the moderator of the Rosenberg-Blaustein Distinguished Artist Recital Series at Goucher College. His publications include articles in the Baltimore Sun, Style Magazine, and Baltimore Magazine, as well as many scholarly music journals, and he is the co-author of The Bach Passions in Our Time:  Contending with the Legacy of Antisemitism, published on-line by the Institute for Islamic Christian and Jewish Studies. Tom was appointed the Music Director Emeritus of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society in 2017.

Tom Hall lives in Baltimore, with his wife, Linell Smith.  Their daughter, Miranda, is a playwright.

Photo courtesy Daryle Lowden, Lisa Welchman

As families travel and gather together for Thanksgiving here in the United States, today, a conversation with two people whose interactions with genetic data bases led to revelations about their family that no one in the family had known before. 

The story of Lisa Welchman and Daryle Lowden is poignant and heart-warming.  Daryle is in his forties.  Lisa in in her fifties, and just last spring, they discovered that they are half-brother and sister. 

Today on Midday, we’ll hear their story and talk about how they came to know each other after decades of not having even the slightest inkling that the other existed.  We’ll talk about what it has meant for them, and for the rest of their family.

News Wrap 11.16.18

Nov 16, 2018
Associated Press

It's another Midday newswrap.  

British Prime Minister Theresa May proposed a new plan for the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union, a process commonly known as Brexit. Several cabinet members, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, quit in response to what they see as a failure of her leadership. NPR international correspondent Frank Langfitt joins Tom live from London.

Later, Baltimore Sun City Hall Reporter Ian Duncan joins Tom in Studio A to discuss the Baltimore Health Department's 'waste' of $170,000 in  funds, the closing of the Benneker Black Academy charter school and other news.

Paul Muldoon

Tom is joined by Paul Muldoon.  He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, as well as an editor, critic, playwright and translator, who has taught at Princeton University since 1987. He is the author of 12 major collections of poetry and was the poetry editor of The New Yorker for a decade.

He also writes lyrics and spoken word pieces for the band Rogue Oliphant, which is a loose affiliation of well-known musicians who set Muldoon’s lyrics to music. They will perform with Muldoon at the Creative Alliance here in Baltimore tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Check here for more information about that event.

And on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m., Paul Muldoon will host a workshop titled "How To Edit Your Own Poem" at Creative Alliance. Check here for more information.

Michael Curley: "Paying for Tomorrow"

Nov 15, 2018
CRC Press

Whether it’s curbing climate-wrecking carbon emissions, cleaning up toxic industrial wastes or reducing the pollution of our lakes and streams, being good stewards of the environment is an expensive proposition.

Tom is joined by Michael Curley, a lawyer, environmental finance expert and a Visiting Scholar at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington DC.  He’s served as senior financial advisor to both the US Environmental Protection Agency and the World Resources Institute.  He also contributes monthly essays about the environment to WYPR.

In his latest book, Paying for Tomorrow: Maintaining Our Quality of Life, Curley addresses some important questions facing our modern society, including: Who should foot the bill for environmental protections and fixes when their costs can run into the billions of dollars.  And how do we finance these burdensome, but essential responsibilities fairly, and efficiently?

Cara Ober on BmoreArt's Sixth Print Issue

Nov 15, 2018
Photography by Justin Tsucalas

BmoreArt publisher and editor Cara Ober joins Tom to discuss  the forthcoming release of the print journal's sixth issue. Founded in 2007, BmoreArt is a collaborative art publication that reflects art and culture in and around Baltimore. The new issue explores the theme of "Home" through a series of home-based artist profiles, and essays and features offering unique perspectives on the power of place.

A launch party for the new issue, originally planned for this Thursday night, has been rescheduled due to the wintry weather in Baltimore. The new date is Thursday, November 29th, from 7-9 pm, at the same Union Craft Brewing location.  Check here for more info on tickets and directions.

This conversation was live-streamed on WYPR's Facebook page.  It is the second of three segments in today's stream.  You can watch the video here, running from 32:20 to 40:00. 

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom with her weekly review of a theatrical production in the region. What's on her agenda today? Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!   National Theatre in Washington, DC, has staged the pre-Broadway world premiere of Beetlejuice, a new musical adaptation of filmmaker Tim Burton's 1988 cult classic.

The new musical -- with music and lyrics by Eddie Perfect and Book by Scott Brown and Anthony King -- takes a new tack on the movie plot: it tells the story of Lydia Deetz (played by Sophia Ann Caruso), an unusual teenager obsessed with the whole “'being dead' thing.” Luckily for Lydia, her family's new home is haunted by a recently deceased couple (played by Kerry Butler and Rob McClure) and a degenerate demon-for-hire named Beetlejuice (played by Tony Award nominee Alex Brightman). When Lydia calls on the twisted ghost to scare away her insufferable parents (played by Adam Dannheiser and Leslie Kritzer), Beetlejuice comes up with the perfect plan, involving an exorcism, arranged marriages and one very frightened Girl Scout.

Beetlejuice, directed by Alex Timbers, continues at National Theatre in Washington, DC, through Sunday November 18. Get ticket information here.

This conversation was live-streamed on WYPR's Facebook page.  It is the third of three segments in today's stream.  You can watch the video here, running from the 40:00 mark to the end of the stream. 

The Harvard Crimson/Brendan J. Chapuis

On today's show, we're discussing the role of race and class in college admissions. In a federal court case in Boston, Harvard University has been sued by a group of Asian-American students who were denied admission to the elite institution. They allege that Harvard discriminates against Asian applicants and holds them to higher standards.


Word nerds: You’re in luck. With whom is Tom speaking today? Emmy Favilla, the senior commerce editor and former global copy chief at BuzzFeed. As such, she created the BuzzFeed Style Guide which she later developed into a book called A World Without "Whom": The Essential Guide to Language in the BuzzFeed Age.

It is hilarious. It is instructive. It pays homage to the serial comma as the “cilantro of punctuation marks.” It offers a love sonnet to the em-dash. And perhaps most of all, this book is a high-five to popular usage and an ever-so-kindly issued rebuke to every English teacher we’ve ever had.

Exploring the Legacy of WWI

Nov 12, 2018
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

On this Veteran’s Day, Midday is exploring how World War I radically altered not only political boundaries, but also our concepts of war and peace.  The bloody conflict that ended 100 years ago yesterday was originally called "The Great War." At the time, it was considered "The War to End All Wars." Many world leaders gathered in Paris over the weekend to commemorate the centennial of Armistice Day, and ponder its lessons.

A Lifelong Quest for Peace and Social Justice

Nov 12, 2018
Photo by Jim Forest / Flickr

Today, Tom is joined in Studio A by Brendan Walsh and Willa Bickham. They are the founders of Viva House, a Catholic Worker House.  They’ve been helping some of Baltimore‘s most needy people for more than 50 years, and they have been part of a faith-driven peace movement whose roots trace back to the horrors of World War One.

Today's conversation was the second part of a three-segment show we live-streamed continuously on Facebook.  You can watch the video here; this segment begins at 17:30 into the stream. 

United Way of Central Maryland

The United Way of Central Maryland recently released a report on poverty in the state.  They took a close look at what’s called the “ALICE” population — an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed — a group that many people call "the working poor.” The report found more than one-third of Marylanders can’t afford basic necessities.

Franklyn Baker, the President and CEO of the United Way of Central Maryland, joins us to discuss the report and how the struggles of the working poor impact the economic, social and cultural fiber of our communities. 

Today's conversation was the third part of a three-segment show we live-streamed continuously on Facebook.  You can watch the video here; this segment begins at 40:45 into the stream. 

A Birthday Poem

Nov 9, 2018

On today's show, Tom Hall takes a moment to pay tribute to his daughter, on a special occasion:

"And now, I have a favor to ask: I beg your indulgence to read a poem for my daughter, whose 30th birthday is today.  Her name is Miranda Rose Hall.  She’s a playwright.  She is named after her maternal and paternal great-grandmothers.  Miranda’s great grandfather was the poet, Ogden Nash.  Every year on his wife’s birthday, Mr. Nash wrote a poem to celebrate that occasion.  Mrs. Nash’s name was Frances, but on her 30th birthday, Mr. Nash called her “Miranda,” and that’s the name my wife and I chose for our daughter, thirty years ago today. 

The poem is called 'A Lady Who Thinks She is Thirty.'

Midday News Wrap 11.9.2018

Nov 9, 2018
Wikimedia Commons

Today on the Midday News Wrap, we discuss, the resignaationof AG Jeff Sessions, the future of Special Councel Muellers' Russia probe, and the latest on election recount efforts underway in multiple states.  

Tom is joined by, Lisa Desjardins, a correspondent from the PBS Newshour.  And, David Smith, the Washington DC Bureau Chief for The Guardian is on the line from NPR DC.  


Marion Winik is an author, literary critic, and humorist. She's former commentator on All Things Considered and currently a co-host on The Weekly Reader on WYPR. Winik has written 10 books which includes her latest publication The Baltimore Book of the Dead. 

You can join Marion Winik and author Laura Lippman this Saturday Nov. 10th at the Church of the Redeemer located on N Charles St where they will be discussing their new books, as part of the Writers Live series of the Enoch Pratt Library at 7pm.

Photo by Bill Geenan

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us again with her weekly review of one of the region's theatrical offerings.  Today, she spotlights the new production of King of the Yees at Baltimore's Center Stage.

In Lauren Yee's semi-autobiographical dramedy, the award-winning playwright explores ethnic identities and family relationships.  When her father, Larry -- a man of great stature in their Chinese American community -- suddenly goes missing, Lauren embarks on a surrealistic voyage to find him, save his story, and chronicle a rapidly disappearing segment of Chinese-American culture.

Desdemona Chiang directs the production at Center Stage, with a cast that includes Khanh Doan as Lauren Yee, Stan Egi as Larry Yee, Joe Ngo as Actor 1/Ensemble, Celeste Den as Actor 2/Ensemble, and Tony Aidan Vo as Actor 3/Ensemble.

King of the Yees continues at Baltimore's Center Stage thru Sunday, November 18th.  Ticket info here

Unpacking the 2018 Mid-Term Election

Nov 8, 2018
AP/Patrick Semansky and AP/Jose Luis Magana

Today, analysis of the 2018 mid-term election. With voter turnout up, what message are voters sending to leaders in Annapolis and Washington?  Joining us are Andy Green, Editorial Page Editor of The Baltimore Sunand Jayne Miller, who leads the investigative reporting team at WBAL TV. Watch the Facebook livestream of today's show here.  



Tom Hall and Mileah Kromer, the director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, discuss Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous' strategy to get a million votes and how economic issues played a role in voters' decision to support Jealous or incumbent Republican Governor Larry Hogan. 

Tom spoke with Mileah earlier this evening.

Rachel Baye

WYPR reporter Rachel Baye gives Tom Hall a rundown of voting problems around Maryland, including issues with accessibility, polls that opened late, long waits, and power outages. 

Tom spoke with Rachel earlier this evening. 



WYPR reporter Karen Hosler joins Tom to discuss the future of Maryland’s Congressional districts. Democrats have controlled the state's electoral map for the last 50 years, but if Republican Governor Larry Hogan is re-elected his administration may be responsible for outlining new Congressional districts.

Tom spoke with Karen earlier this evening. 


Tom Hall checks in with WYPR reporter John Lee, who is with the John Olszewski Jr. campaign tonight, about what the race for Baltimore County Executive means for the state of Maryland. A win for Olszewski could indicate that a blue wave is real, while a victory for Al Redmer, Jr. would signify a Republican stronghold. 

Tom spoke with John earlier this evening.

Mileah Kromer

Much of WYPR's reporting on statewide and local elections was live, but you can hear a few of Tom Hall's interviews below.

Tom's guest for the hour is James Patterson, the phenomenally prolific American author who has written more than 200 books for adults, young adults and children.  One of his latest thrillers is a best-seller published last summer that he co-wrote with former President Bill Clinton titled The President Is Missing.

James Patterson is a passionate literary activist who promotes reading by people of all ages, and a philanthropist who has backed his activism with millions of dollars in grants and scholarships to support reading programs in schools, universities and libraries across the country. A few years ago he launched ReadKiddoRead, an online platform to promote reading by young people. Kid Stew, a public television series he created to encourage kids to read and explore creative outlets, will be rolling into its second season in May 2019.  Maryland Public Television will air a Kid Stew Marathon of its first season this Saturday morning, from 6:30-8:30am.

Noti Voces

On today's Midday Culture Connections, Dr. Sheri Parks joins us for a conversation about anti-immigration politics in America.

We start by discussing a caravan of several thousand migrants that left Honduras through Guatamela and Mexico toward the US border on Oct. 12. The group has quickly become the target of verbal attacks from President Donald Trump, who has described the Central American caravan as an impending invasion, and stoked anti-immigrant sentiment in the days leading up to the 2018 US midterm elections. 

Today, we examine the history of racial hysteria and anti-immigration rhetoric and how xenophobia is used as a political weapon during times of social change and economic uncertainty. 

Dr. Sheri Parks is Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). She is the author of Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman.  Dr. Parks is a regular contributor to the program, joining us monthly on Midday Culture Connections.   

Baltimore Ceasefire

From last Friday, November 2nd to Sunday the 4th, Baltimore Ceasefire held its fourth ceasefire weekend of 2018. Each quarter, the group calls for 72 hours without murder and plans events to celebrate life in Baltimore. 

Over the weekend, Baltimore police reported two non-fatal shootings and one homicide in the city. 

Letrice Gant, one of the co-founders of Baltimore Ceasefire 365, joins Tom in Studio A to discuss this weekend's ceasefire events.  

The next ceasefire weekend will take place Feb. 1 - 3, 2019. 

Hillyer photo: American Spectator; vandenHeuvel photo: The Nation

Today on Midday,  a conversation about the conservative and liberal wings of the Republican and Democratic parties.  Are Democrats moving away from centrists in their party?  Are Republicans fully embracing Donald Trump, despite their alleged misgivings about his bigotry, his brutishness, or his lack of policy knowledge?  

Joining us on the line from New York is  Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor and publisher of The Nation magazine.  She also writes a weekly column for The Washington Post.

And from the studios of WAVH in Mobile, Alabama:  Quin HillyerHe’s a contributing editor to National Review magazine, and a senior editor for The American Spectator. He has been published in over 50 publications, including the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.

Katrina vanden Heuvel and Quin Hillyer discuss the future of Progressivism and Trumpism, in America's increasingly polarized political landscape.

They also address calls, tweets and emailed comments from listeners.

Photo courtesy the Mera Kitchen Collective

Tom's guests are Jeremy Lyons and Aishah Alfadhalah. 

Lyons is a guitarist and composer, and a member of Pique Collective, the Baltimore-based contemporary music ensemble, whose fellow members* join Jeremy in Studio A today for a brief performance of one of his original compositions.  Alfadhalah, a native of Kuwait, is one of the founders of the Mera Kitchen Collective, an organization here in Baltimore that empowers female immigrants through food entrepreneurship.

They will all be part of  “Today I Welcome You, Tomorrow I Welcome You,” -- an event of music, art and good food centered on the stories of recent immigrants and refugees in Baltimore.  It takes place at The 2640 Space, at 2640 Saint Paul St. in Baltimore, this Sun. Nov. 4, from 6 - 8 pm.

*Pique Collective is Lisa Perry (soprano), Stephanie Ray (piccolo), Nonoka Mizukami (bongos), Peter Kibbe (cello), and Jeremy Lyons (guitar).

Today's conversation and performance by the Pique Collective were livestreamed on WYPR's Facebook page, and you can see the video here.

Associated Press

Today, Tom examines recent developments in the University of Maryland football controversy.

Since the heatstroke-related death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair in June, many people have accused head coach D.J. Durkin of fostering an abusive and toxic environment in the University's football program.

On Tuesday, after two independent reviews of the incident that led to McNair’s death and the culture of the program itself, the University's Board of Regents announced it would not recommend the firing of Coach Durkin or his boss, Athletic Director Damon Evans.  

On Wednesday, after the Regents' move provoked strong criticism  from College Park students, the media, and state political leaders, University President Wallace Loh fired Coach Durkin.  The Chairman of the University's Board of Regents, Jim Brady, did not reply to Midday's request for comment.

Tom is joined on the line by State Sen. Jim Rosapepe, whose District includes College Park.  Sen. Rosapepe is a former Regents Board member, and has been a vocal supporter of Wallace Loh.


It's Midday at the Movies!

To help us spotlight some of the latest crop of Oscar contenders,  author and Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday and founding director of the Maryland Film Festival Jed Dietz join Tom in the studio.  Among the new films they discuss are:

First Man, a dramatic retelling of the 1969 mission to land the first men on the moon, from acclaimed director Damien Chazelle. It opened in October to positive reviews.  The strong cast includes Ryan Gosling as astronaut Neil Armstrong.

The much-anticipated Freddie Mercury biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, has earned a lukewarm critical response ahead of its wide release this weekend. But fans of the late rock singer -- and music fans generally -- will find plenty to enjoy in this lavishly produced tribute by director Bryan Singer.

And Halloween, an effort to revitalize the now decades-old horror franchise about a knife-wielding killer named Michael Myer, stars Jamie Lee Curtis as an elder Laura Strode, in a reprise of her role in the 1978 original.  The film by David Gordon Green has performed far better at the box office than most of the preceding Halloween installments.

Photography by Clinton Brandhagen

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us each week with a review of one of the region's many thespian offerings. This week, she spotlights Sweat, a Pulitzer-Prize winning drama about working class life in rural America playing at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre.

Published in 2015, Sweat earned acclaim for its powerful portrayal of poverty in the United States. Playwright Lynn Nottage interviewed residents of Reading, Pennsylvania, one of the nation's poorest cities, while researching the project. The story focuses on Tracey and Cynthia, two best friends played by Deborah Hazlett and Dawn Ursula, as the factory they work for lays off its employees and relocates to Mexico. Everyman Theatre founding Artistic Director Vincent M. Lancisi directs.

Everyman Theatre's production of Sweat runs through Thanksgiving weekend. Check here for ticket information.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Senate

Today, another installment in our series of Conversations with the Candidates.

Tom’s guest in Studio A is Sen. Ben Cardin.  Sen. Cardin has been a fixture in Maryland politics since 1967, when he was first elected to the House of Delegates.  He was Speaker of the House for eight years -- the youngest person in state history to hold that position.  He was elected to Congress in 1987, and twenty years later, he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Cardin is the Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.  He is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of the Environment & Public Works and Finance committees.

We live-streamed this 30-minute conversation on WYPR's Facebook page.