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Maryland Morning


Maryland Morning with host Tom Hall aired its final broadcast on September 16, 2016. Programs airing from 10/15 - 9/16/16 can be found below.  Tom is now hosting Midday which can be found here.

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The 18th Annual Maryland Film Festival (May 4-8) kicked off Wednesday night with a program of short films.  The festival continues until Sunday night with the closing film, Hunter Gatherer, and between now and then, there are a whole lot of movies to choose from, and if you go you're going to have to make some tough choices.  This morning, our special edition of the Maryland Morning Movie Mayhem is designed for folks who want a few ideas on what to see. Joining us, as they do every month, are Jed Dietz, the Festival's executive director, who's with Tom in the studio, and Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday, with us by phone from her DC office. 

During the second and third segments of today's special one-hour edition, we’ll be joined in the studio by three of the film makers and producers whose work is being screened this weekend: Lauren Wolkstein, Zach Clark and Marilyn Ness.  

For the full Maryland Film Festival program guide, with information on screening times and venues, click here.


Wednesday means politics on Maryland Morning, and we begin today with Rep. John Sarbanes, live in Studio A.  Congressman Sarbanes, who lives with his family in Towson, is a Democrat who has represented Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2007. He sailed through last month’s primary election, winning 87% of the Democratic vote. His far-flung district includes parts of Baltimore County and Baltimore City but also narrow slices of Howard, Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties, including Annapolis. It’s been called one of the most gerrymandered congressional districts in the country, and it heavily favors Democrats.

The 53-year-old incumbent will face businessman, lawyer and physician Mark Plaster, who won the Republican primary last week. The 3rd District includes a very diverse set of constituents within its serpentine boundaries. Congressman Sarbanes has a wide pallet of policy interests. He is a national voice on campaign finance reform. His recent initiatives have addressed everything from the opioid abuse crisis to climate change, solar energy, and environmental education.

Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun


On Tuesday, the Baltimore City School Board announced that current CEO Gregory Thornton will be replaced by Sonja Santelises, a former city school administrator. The decision comes less than two years into Thornton's four year contract. He will step down this Friday and Tammy Turner, the chief legal counsel for the school system, will serve as interim CEO until July 1st, when Santelises officially assumes the office. 

Erica Green covers the city's education system for the Baltimore Sun. She joins Tom in the studio to talk about Thornton's sudden departure, and the prospects for school system reform under the new leadership of Sonja Santelises.

Baltimore Museum of Art

The Baltimore Museum of Art has named its next director. On Monday night, the Board of the BMA announced that Christopher Bedford will take the reins of the internationally acclaimed museum, which celebrated its 100th anniversary two years ago. Mr. Bedford is currently the director of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, outside of Boston. On August 1st, he will become the 10th director of the BMA, succeeding Doreen Bolger, who retired last year. Christopher Bedford joins us this morning on the phone from New York City.

Baltimore Brew

Time  for another installment of The Accountability Index, our monthly series of conversations with the reporters of the investigative online news journal, The Baltimore Brew. Today, veteran city reporter Mark Reutter joins Tom in the studio to give us the real numbers on Baltimore's vacants - those dilapidated buildings that dot the landscape of so many neighborhoods.  They were a hot topic in the mayoral campaign.  But Mark -- who's been covering this issue for 40 years -- says the real number of vacant and abandoned houses has been seriously under-reported by city agencies and the media.  Why the discrepancy? And how have city leaders allowed this problem to fester for so long?

Photo:Kenneth Lam, Baltimore Sun

The Baltimore-born writer and Salon columnist D. Watkins has assembled a new collection of essays called The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir (Grand Central Publishing).  It's a raw, riveting memoir of his time as a drug dealer, and how the love of a woman and the love of reading enabled him to leave the life of the street, and become one of the country’s most trenchant and compelling African American writers.  D. Watkins joins Tom in the studio to talk about the criminal life he left behind, and how he found a path out of the darkness.

Photo by ClintonBPhotography

Everyman Theatre is promoting this season’s final two plays as “The Great American Rep.” According to the theater, this is the first time Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” and Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” have been performed in rotating repertory.

But why these two? Besides being two of America’s greatest dramatic masterpieces, what do they have in common?

For starters, as the cover of Everyman’s program reminds us, the protagonists in both plays show up carrying suitcases. In “Death of Salesman,” Willy Loman cuts a sales trip short and returns home, lugging his suitcase and a heavy sample case. In “Streetcar,” Blanche DuBois no longer has a home and arrives at her sister’s New Orleans’ apartment, suitcase in hand.

What’s in these suitcases? Clichéd as it may sound, the suitcases are stuffed with dashed hopes and dreams. 


Umar Kahn is a very funny comedian who’s been part of the DC/MD/VA comedy scene for about six years. Among other things, he hosts a comedy showcase on the first Thursday of every month. Umar drops by the studio this morning, and he and Tom are joined by comic Rahmein Mostafavi, on the phone from his home in Manassas, Virginia.   Rahmein and Umar remind us that as bad as the world looks sometimes, there are always a lot of things to laugh about.  An epic thought. 

Rahmein will be headlining Umar's next showcase at Gin and Jokes, a night of standup comedy presented by the Baltimore Whiskey Co., this Thursday night at Joe Squared in the Station North Arts & Entertainment District.  Other comedians on the bill include Jim Meyer, Russ Green and Pierre Bennu.  Doors open at 8:30, show starts at 9:00.   For more information, click here.   

Russell Sage Foundation


Stefanie DeLuca's new book  Coming of Age in the Other America (published by the Russell Sage Foundation), explores the lengths to which young people, born to impoverished families, must go in order to escape the cycle of poverty. The book was created after DeLuca and her colleagues, Susan Clampet-Lundquist and Kathryn Edin, spent 10 years studying children growing up in Baltimore's public housing system. Their research shows how neighborhoods can affect families, and how those who are able to move to better neighborhoods often succeed. DeLuca is a researcher and sociologist at Johns Hopkins University. She joins Tom in the studio.

Everyman Theatre


"A Streetcar Named Desire" is one of the most iconic works in American theater, immortalized in countless stage productions, and the famous 1951 movie starring Marlon Brando. Everyman Theatre in Baltimore has chosen to finish their 25th anniversary season with a production of this enduring masterpiece, but as the great philosopher and TV mystic Ron Popiel used to say, “But wait! There's more!”

Everyman has paired Tennessee Williams’ iconic classic with another work that looms equally large in the panoply of American thespian achievement: Arthur Miller’s poignant and powerful drama, "Death of a Salesman." Both plays are currently in repertory at Everyman, performed by the same cast: A cast that sometimes performs both plays on the same day.

So what do Stanley Kowalski and Willie Loman have in common? What bonds do "Streetcar" and "Salesman" share? To answer these questions, we’ve got two stage directors who share the bond of having worked together at Everyman Theatre on several occasions. Vincent Lancisi joins Tom Hall in the studio. He’s the founder and artistic director of Everyman, and the director of its current production of "Death of a Salesman." Derek Goldman joins us on the phone from Washington, DC. He’s the Artistic Director of the Davis Performing Arts Center and a Professor of Theater at Georgetown University. He has directed Everyman’s current production of "A Streetcar Named Desire."  

Rob Sivak-WYPR

We’ve been talking today to people who’ve used the power of the written word to bring compelling stories to their readers and theater-goers. Our next guest is a young woman who discovered the power, and the joy, of writing at a very early age. Sharese Acheampong is a 17-year-old senior at New Town High School in Owings Mills. She says she's been writing poetry and short stories practically since she first learned how to wield a pen. Last month, she placed first in the 2016 Maryland Poetry Out Loud competition, a poetry-reading and writing contest sponsored by the Maryland State Arts Council, the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. More than 9,000 students from across the state vied for the $200 prize and the chance to compete in the National Finals in Washington DC, May 2-4. To see and hear Sharese Acheampong reading her winning original poem, The Morrison House, click here. She joins Tom in the studio.

Maryland's 2016 primary election is now history.  State Senator Catherine Pugh is a big step closer to her dream of becoming Charm City’s next Mayor, and Chris Van Hollen and Kathy Szeliga will go head-to-head to replace Barbara Mikulski in the U.S. Senate. Results are also in for a host of other city and state-wide races that were decided yesterday.  

What would a talk show be without a little post-primary prognostication?  We welcome back to the broadcast Jayne Miller, an award-winning investigative reporter for WBAL television, who has covered Charm City politics and a whole lot more for many years.

Complete coverage of yesterday’s primary continues today on WYPR on Midday with Sheilah Kast, and with reports from the WYPR news team this afternoon during All Things Considered

We heard a lot about how the pictures of Baltimore that were broadcast around the world last April 27th harmed the image of the city, and created the perception that Baltimore was, among other things, a bad place to do business.  This morning, a contrary view from two people who chose Baltimore as the place to start one of their new businesses, and to expand opportunities for young African-American and other minority innovators.  

Entrepreneurs B. Cole and Aisha Pew moved to Baltimore last year from Oakland, California, established a business and invested in real estate; now they’re working to connect entrepreneurs from African-American and other communities of color throughout the country.  Their Dovecote Café -- located just blocks from the Penn and North intersection where rioting broke out after Freddie Gray's funeral last year -- could be part of a brighter future for post-Uprising Baltimore.  B. Cole and Aisha Pew join Tom in the studio to talk about how Brioxy could empower young people of color -- here in Baltimore and across the country --  to be a part of building that bright future.

Also joining this extended studio conversation is Dr. Kaye Wise Whitehead.  She is an associate professor at Loyola University Maryland in the Communication Department.  Her teaching and research focus on the intersections of race, class, and gender.  She is also the author of a new collection of poems called Race Brave.    

Photo: Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun

We’ll begin today with a conversation about legal justice, another in our series of conversations as we approach the anniversary of the riots and protests that followed the death last April of Freddie Gray, from injuries he sustained while in police custody.  The anniversary of the violence that broke out following his funeral is on Wednesday. 

After last spring's uprising -- even before the curfews were lifted and National Guard troops left -- law enforcement officials and prosecutors began investigating crimes, both serious and menial, that were committed on the afternoon and evening of April 27th.  In a press conference last summer, then Deputy police commissioner Kevin Davis said, "We're going to run this out until we've identified everyone who's committed crimes." This morning, we ask, “Where do those prosecutions stand, a year later?”

Tricia Bishop is the Deputy Editorial Page Editor for the Baltimore Sun.  Last month, she published an essay in which she chronicled the seemingly haphazard way in which justice has been applied to people arrested for allegedly committing crimes during the uprising.  She joins Tom in the Studio.

PHOTO: Claremont School of Theology

Time now for another installment in our monthly series, Living Questions, in which we examine the role of religion in the public sphere.  We’re producing this series in partnership with the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies.

In February of this year, the ICJS inaugurated a three-part lecture series called Imagining Justice in Baltimore, in which a Christian, Jewish and Muslim scholar each address how his or her religious tradition understands the notion of justice -- and how that applies to our community.  

Tom's guest this morning is the third and final speaker in this series, who will address this topic from the Muslim perspective.  Najeeba Syeed is Assistant Professor of Interreligious Education at the Claremont School of Theology, in Claremont, California.

Professor Syeed is recognized internationally as a leader in peace-building.  She has done award-winning work in southern California reducing violence in the schools there and in mediating interracial gang conflicts.   Her international conflict-mediation efforts include work with Israelis and Palestinians, as well as work in Guam, Afghanistan, India, and elsewhere.  Professor Syeed joins us from the studios of KPCC radio in Pasadena, California.

Photo: Richard Anderson

Dominique Morisseau’s play, “Detroit ’67,” takes place in a basement. Even though there’s some illegal activity going on in this basement, it feels like a safe haven in that particular city at that particularly incendiary time.

It’s a time and place that bear decided similarities to the unrest that arose in Baltimore a year ago in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death from injuries suffered police custody. That’s among the reasons Center Stage selected “Detroit ’67.”

Baltimore Tree Trust

In 1872, a bunch of tree lovers in Nebraska set aside one day a year in which they encouraged everyone to plant trees, and voila, Arbor Day was born.  This year, that day falls on Friday, April 29th.  But planting trees just once a year won’t begin to address the tree shortage we have in Baltimore, especially in neighborhoods that have many other deficits to address, like access to healthy food and health care.  And speaking of healthy, our next guest will tell you that planting trees improves health in a big way – the health of people, and the health of neighborhoods.  Amanda Cunningham is an arborist and the co-founder of the Baltimore Tree Trust.  She joins Tom in the studio.    

One Year Later: Voices of the Uprising

Apr 22, 2016
Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun

Continuing our series of conversations as we approach the one-year anniversary of the funeral of Freddie Gray and the protests and street violence that followed, freelance reporter Mary Wiltenburg brings us an audio montage of that tumultuous day and its aftermath. 

Lawrence Lanahan

Election day is less than a week away. Many candidates and their supporters are taking the gloves off and waging attacks against opponents in a last minute effort to sway voters. 

But what if the attacks aren't from real voters or candidates? After freelance reporter Lawrence Lanahan received a tweet from a suspicious account attacking State Senator Catherine Pugh, who is running for mayor, he decided to investigate. He found other suspicious Twitter accounts that seem to have been created with one purpose: to attack Pugh. 

Lawrence joins Tom to discuss the devious design of the social media campaign and who could be behind it -- and how unlikely it is that we'll know before Primary Election Day next Tuesday. 

Read Lawrence's piece here

Award-winning cabaret artists Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano join Tom to discuss some of their classic and  contemporary favorites from the ever-evolving American songbook. Plus, we'll hear a few tracks from their newest collaborative CDs. 

The husband-and-wife duo will be playing Germano’s Piattini in Baltimore’s Little Italy tomorrow

More people have chosen to vote early in this primary election than ever before.  What does that tell us about what we might expect when the polls open on election day next Tuesday?  If the turnout in Baltimore is higher than in previous contests, who does that help, and who does it hurt?  How will the Presidential races affect the contests for the Senate, Congress, Mayor, and City Council?  And, with spending in the Mayor’s race and for one of the Congressional seats at an all-time high, how strongly will the winning candidates be positioned for the general election?  Our panel this morning is Luke Broadwater, City Hall reporter for the Baltimore Sun, Kimberly Moffit, associate professor of American Studies at UMBC, and Kenneth Burns, WYPR's metro reporter.  

Bridget Armstrong

(As this feature was airing Wednesday morning, April 20th, the Jubilee Arts Center reported that 500 people from Sandtown-Winchester have now voted in early Primary Election balloting, and that Elder Harris is ending his roof campaign. )

If you find yourself on the corner of Presstman Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, look up, you might just catch a glimpse of Elder C.W. Harris on the roof of the Harris-Marcus Center

After climbing the fire escape of the four story building, that’s where I found him, sitting under a canopy tent, eating a bag of peanuts, looking out on the city.

Elder Harris is the founder and pastor of Intersection of Change, formerly known as Newborn Holistic Ministries. He’s been living on the roof since last Saturday and he plans to stay there until 500 people from the Sandtown-Winchester community vote.

"In our last election cycle only 257 people voted in the Sandtown Winchester Community. That community has between 12 and 14,000 residents. We only have 2,000 registered voters. We need to change all that."

Elder Harris is a lifelong resident of Sandtown. He says since last year’s uprising following the death of Freddie Gray who was also a Sandtown resident, people are even more disillusioned and disenfranchised with local government. "Things have not gone back to normal as it was before Freddie Gray. Folks are without hope. It is hard for them to believe after so many years of neglect. I don’t hate the players, I hate the game. If they look on the chart and see that there are only a few people from our community who voted why would they listen to us? That’s the game, we have to beat them at their game."

Monica Reinagel

For years, people over 50 – especially women -- have been told by their doctors to maintain a healthy intake of calcium to avoid or slow the onset of osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease that afflicts nearly half of all American women over 50.    Now, there’s lots of calcium in the foods we eat -- dairy products and leafy greens, fortified drinks like soymilk and juices and cereals, and sunlight helps our bodies produce the Vitamin D we need to absorb all that dietary calcium.

Still, most people in the West still don’t get enough calcium, either from food or from the calcium supplements they’ve been taking every day.   Until a few years ago, the solution to this calcium deficit might have seemed obvious:  take more  calcium supplements to erase that deficit.  But a pair of studies last fall (9/15) in the online British Medical Journal confirmed what US officials have previously reported: that taking calcium supplements is not just a waste of time and money, but could actually threaten your health. To help us understand these new findings and how we can properly -- and safely – keep our calcium levels where they’re supposed to be, we turn to our Nutrition Diva, Monica Reinagel. She’s a licensed nutritionist who blogs at Nutrition Over Easy, and whose weekly podcasts appear on Quick and Dirty

E.R. Shipp On The Way Forward, A Year After The Uprising

Apr 18, 2016
BD Portraits

Freddie Gray died a year ago tomorrow, after suffering injuries sustained while in police custody. April 27th marks the one year anniversary of the uprising and violence that followed his funeral. Over the last year politicians, activists and community members have been discussing the issues that were brought to national attention during the uprising; issues like racial and economic inequality and mistrust between communities of color and the police. 

There has been a lot of brainstorming about ways to address the issues we face in Baltimore, but many feel that brainstorming isn’t being backed by active solutions.

E.R. Shipp is an Associate Professor and Journalist in Residence at Morgan State University. In 1996, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her columns in the New York Daily News that focused on race, welfare and social issues. Tomorrow she’ll be participating in a panel discussion about the challenges Baltimore faces. That event is sponsored by the Maryland Humanities Council and is part of a series of panels commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize.

She joins Tom to discuss the year since Freddie Gray’s death and the way forward for Baltimore.

The "Challenges Faced by Baltimore" panel takes place on Tuesday, April 19th. The event is being held at the Baltimore Sun and starts at 7pm.

Kwame Kwei-Armah

Continuing in our series of conversations about Baltimore post the Freddie Gray uprising, Tom speaks with Kwame Kwei-Armah, OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), Artistic Director of Center Stage, about the theater’s latest production Detroit ’67

The play, written by Dominique Morisseau, takes place in Detroit the day of the 1967 riots. Kwei-Armah says the events that took place in Detroit at that time are similar to what happened in Baltimore April, 2015 following the funeral of Freddie Gray.

Kwame joins Tom in-studio to discuss the play and the responsibility of artists and leaders in the art community to respond to the political and social needs of the city.

Detroit ’67 is at Center Stage’s temporary home on the campus of Towson University until May 8th. Find more information and tickets here

Katie Simmons-Barth

On the surface, the title of Brooke Berman’s comedy, “Hunting and Gathering,” refers to finding a place to live in New York – no easy task. The characters on stage share apartments with roommates, sleep on friends’ couches, house sit and occasionally – rarely – rent apartments of their own.

But the title also refers to personal relationships – friendships, romances, affairs. Hunting for them, gathering them up, trying to hold onto them.

The clever set at Rep Stage’s area premiere of “Hunting and Gathering” consists of walls of corrugated packing boxes. Even the stairs in designer Mollie Singer’s set are made of boxes. Some of these boxes hold surprises, which I’m not going to spoil. 

Susan Muaddi-Darraj

In a new book of connected short stories, local author Susan Muaddi-Darraj, traces 100 years of life in a Palestinian village on the West Bank, called Tel al-Hilou.  It’s a book about strong women, about young love, about loss, about the meaning of home, and the intersection of poignant personal stories and historic events in one of the most troubled areas in the world.  Susan Muaddi-Darraj teaches English at Harford Community College and at Johns Hopkins University.  The book is called A Curious Land: Stories from HomeShe joins Tom in the studio.  

She’ll talk about the book at 2:30 Monday afternoon in the Math and Science Hall at the Community College of Baltimore County Catonsville campus, and again on Wednesday at noon at the SMC Campus Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.  It’s part of the University’s celebration of Arab American Heritage Month. 

And on Sunday, May 15, Susan Muaddi-Darraj and a group of women writers hold the first in a new diverse literature reading series they are calling "Raising Our Voices: Womyn Out Loud." It starts at 2pm at the Impact Hub-Baltimore, now located in the historic Center Theater, at 10 E. North Ave., Baltimore, MD 21202.  For more information, click here.

Community Healing Network

Today (April 15th) is Emancipation Day in Washington DC.  The government holiday marks the anniversary of the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act by Abraham Lincoln in 1862 that freed -- and compensated the owners of -- more than 3000 slaves in the District of Columbia.  The Act set the stage for President Lincoln's broader Emancipation Proclamation, a wartime executive order he signed in January, 1863, which declared the 3 million slaves held in the rebellious Confederate states to be free. Neither of these "emancipations" outlawed slavery, nor conferred freedom on all of the nation's four million African slaves.  Slavery remained legal in the United States until  the US Congress, at Lincoln's urging, passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution on January 31, 1865, and the states ratified it on December 6th of that same year.

 This morning, we begin with a conversation about a different kind of emancipation: the emotional emancipation from the mental slavery that afflicts many people in communities of color.  Tonight, the Black Mental Health Alliance will present a panel discussion at Coppin State University about how negative perceptions of Africans and African Americans can have a crippling effect on communities of color, and why African-centered approaches to mental health are crucial to addressing the psychological health of minorities in Baltimore, and beyond.  Two of the panelists at tonight’s event join Tom in Studio A:  Dr. Cheryl Grills is a professor of psychology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and the Immediate Past President of the Association of Black Psychologists.  Enola Aird is a lawyer, and the founder and president of the Connecticut-based Community Healing Network.

Mark Hyman

How ‘bout  them O’s, Hon?  Let’s talk sports here on Maryland.  Or more specifically, let’s wallow in the glory that is the best start to an Orioles’ baseball season in the history of Orioles season-starts.  We can also talk about what may be one of the most ignominious endings to a Masters Golf Tournament, which we’ll do with gentleness and lack of vitriol, because let’s face it, whether it’s golf or tennis or bowling or any other similar pursuit, when we witnessed Jordan Spieth melting down, we’ve been there, done that.  Our resident Sports Guy, Mark Hyman joins Tom today in Studio A.  He’s on the faculty of George Washington University, and the author of several books, the latest of which is titled, Concussions and Our Kids.

Marian Grant

Tomorrow is National Health Care Decision Day. It’s a day to raise awareness about end-of-life planning. 

Many Americans do not have a plan in place for end-of-life healthcare. While it's important to plan and write an advanced care directive, it is equally important to communicate your wishes to loved ones so they aren't left guessing. Marian Grant is the Director of Policy and Professional Engagement at the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care.  She’s also an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing and a certified nurse practitioner who practices on the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Palliative Care Service. Last year Dr. Grant was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow, and she worked both in Nancy Pelosi’s office and at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. Marian joins Tom to discuss the importance of having an end-of-life healthcare plan.  Need help with starting a conversation with your loved ones? Check out the Conversation Project. Additional information about end-of-life-care and advanced directive forms can be found here.