Midday Podcast | WYPR

Midday Podcast

Annie Leibovitz

Tom's guest for the hour is Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

In her new book on presidential character, Leadership in Turbulent TimesGoodwin asks: Do leaders shape the times or do the times summon their leaders? Goodwin argues persuasively that while great presidents were highly ambitious and driven to succeed, they also overcame devastating personal setbacks to lead the country through the most difficult challenges our republic has ever faced.

Goodwin chronicles Lincoln’s struggles with depression and his handling of the Civil War. She explores how Theodore Roosevelt’s leadership philosophy changed after his young wife and his mother died on the same day, and how he went on to broker a settlement in a potentially crippling coal strike. She writes of Franklin Roosevelt’s struggle with polio, and his decisive moves to end the Depression and win World War II.

Photo Courtesy Associated Press

On today’s show, a closer look at polls released by Goucher College on Tuesday and Wednesday which revealed some contradictory preferences among Maryland voters.  Gov. Larry Hogan enjoys a sizable lead in his bid to be re-elected, but several of the ideas espoused by his Democratic opponent, Ben Jealous, also enjoy wide support. 

An increase in the minimum wage, Medicare for All, and increasing funding for education are all popular and have all been central tenets of the Jealous campaign since the former head of the NAACP announced his candidacy more than a year ago.  But the Maryland governor remains very popular as well, with an approval rating of about 66%, one of the highest of any governor in the country. 

Mileah Kromer is an associate professor of political science and Director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College.  Luke Broadwater reports on City Hall and local politics for the Baltimore Sun. 

They join Tom for a look behind the numbers. 

Photo Courtesy Rep Stage

Today, Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom with her review of Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, now playing at the Rep Stage in Columbia. 

From the pages of the Penny Dreadful, to the stage and screen, the story of the 'Demon Barber of Fleet Street' has been adapted many times over over the years.  But, be it a fable of love or revenge, the shocking deeds of the murderous barber,  his accomplice, the lovelorn baker Mrs. Lovett, and her dubious recipe for meat pies, have frightened and enchanted audiences for over a century. 

Joseph W. Ritsch directs and choreographs the Tony Award-winning Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler musical, which is set in the impoverished lanes of Victorian London.

Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street continues at the Rep Stage through Sunday September 23rd.

Photo Courtesy Al Redmer Jr., for Baltimore County Executive

Today, another in our series of Conversations with the Candidates, with Maryland Insurance Commissioner and former state delegate Al Redmer, Jr.   

Mr. Redmer is the Republican nominee for the office of Baltimore County Executive, running against Democratic candidate Johnny Olszewski, Jr.  

Mr. Redmer served as the Maryland Insurance Commissioner during the Ehrlich administration, and in 2015, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan appointed him to be the Commissioner for the second time.  Gov. Hogan has endorsed Mr. Redmer's campaign for Baltimore County Executive.

Photo courtesy of the Ben Jealous campaign

Today on Midday, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates.

Tom's guest for the hour is Ben Jealous, the Democratic nominee for Governor of Maryland. He was one of nine Democrats on the ballot in the primary last June. He beat the crowded field handily with 40% of the vote, defying pollsters and pundits, many of whom had predicted a win by Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker.

In the end, Mr. Jealous bested Mr. Baker by nearly 10 points. Ben Jealous and his running mate Susan Turnbull, the former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, are now challenging Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov Boyd Rutherford. 

Photo Courtesy Reginald F. Lewis Museum

On today’s show, a conversation about the legacy of Jim Crow, representation, race and reclaiming racial stereotypes. 

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture has mounted a traveling exhibition from the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia in Big Rapids, Michigan.  It’s called Hateful Things, and it includes objects from the 19th century through the present that dehumanize African Americans, and show, in striking and disturbing ways, how the pernicious legacy of Jim Crow remains woven into the fabric of the American story.   

On Saturday afternoon, the Johns Hopkins University Center for Africana Studies is presenting a panel at the Lewis Museum called “Unpacking Hateful Things & Contemporary Practices.”  Today, Tom welcomes two of the panelists to Studio A.

Photo courtesy the Olszewski campaign

Today we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates with former state delegate John Olszewski, Jr., the Democratic nominee for Baltimore County Executive. He won a nail-biter primary, emerging as the winner in a four person race by just 17 votes.

Mr. Olszewski, also known as "Johnny O," is running against Republican Al Redmer Jr., the state insurance commissioner in the upcoming general election. Olszewski is a lifelong resident of Dundalk. A graduate of Sparrows Point High School and Goucher College, he holds a PhD. in Public Policy from UMBC. He was just 23 years old when he was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates, where he served for nine years. He taught in County schools for seven years. 

We live-streamed this conversation on the WYPR Facebook page.  If you missed that video, check it out here.   The general election takes place on Tuesday, November 6. Early voting begins on October 25. Find out how to register to vote – and where to vote – here.  

Photo Courtesy April Ryan

Today, Tom's guest is veteran White House reporter April Ryan.  She has been a fixture in the White House press corps for more than two decades.  In addition to her reporting for the American Urban Radio Networks on the administrations of Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump, she joined CNN last year as a political analyst. She is also the author of three books, the latest of which explores the chaotic inner workings of the Trump administration.  It’s called Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House.

April Ryan will talk about her book at the Baltimore Book Festival on Sunday, September 30th.   

Photo Courtesy Everyman Theatre

This week, Midday's esteemed theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, joins us for a review of Dancing at Lughnasa.  

Director Amber Paige McGinnis brings playwright Brian Friel's 1990 Tony Award-winning fable of family, harvest and hearth to Baltimore's Everyman Theatre.  The play is set in 1930s Donegal, Ireland, and tells the tale of the five Mundy sisters, characters reportedly inspired by the playwright's own mother and aunts.  Friel, who is often referred to as the "universally accented voice of Ireland" uses carefully crafted prose and empathetic protagonists to transport the audience to an Ireland that remains hopeful, even in the shadow of economic depression and political turmoil.  

Dancing at Lughnasa continues at Everyman Theatre through Sunday, October 7.   

Photo Courtesy Ben Jealous for Governor

Today, another installment in our series of Conversations with the Candidates Tom's guest for the hour is Susan Turnbull.  Active behind the scenes of the Democratic party for years, she is now stepping out front as the Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, running alongside former NAACP president, and the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Ben Jealous

Susan Turnbull served as chair of the Maryland Democratic Party from 2009 to 2011.  Prior to that, she was vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.  She also chaired the DNC Women’s Committee in the late 90s and early 2000s, and she led the DNC’s Women’s Leadership Forum. 

Turnbull is also a co-founder of Emerge Maryland, a non-profit organization that offers training to women who want to run for elective office.  She also served on the Montgomery County Board of Appeals.

It's Midday on Education: School children in Baltimore City and around the state returned to their classrooms last week.  Some kids in the City and in Baltimore County couldn’t go to school, or they were dismissed early on a few days because their classrooms weren’t air conditioned.  Others formed the first classes in brand new, state of the art buildings, constructed under the 21st Century Schools program.

The budget for the current year did not call for any teacher layoffs.  It did target literacy coaching as a priority, and it does includes some cuts for Charter Schools.  Unlike school systems in some of the adjacent counties, Baltimore City Public Schools has faced shrinking enrollment for many years, a persistent problem that speaks to the larger challenges of the city in attracting and keeping young families.

Declining enrollment, of course, affects funding.  Changing the formula for how schools are funded is one of the mandates of the Kirwan Commission, which is expected to release its long awaited final report this month, or early next month. 

Dr. Sonja Santelises, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, joins Tom in Studio A.  This conversation was live-streamed on the WYPR Facebook page.  If you missed that video, check it out here. 

Photo Courtesy Craig Wolf for Attorney General

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates.  The general election is on November 6th, which is 56 days away.

Tom's guest is  Craig Wolf, the Republican candidate for Maryland Attorney General.  He is facing the incumbent Democrat, Attorney General Brian Frosh, who's held the seat since 2015.  

In the 1990s, Mr. Wolf served as a federal prosecutor in the Justice Department, and as an Assistant State’s Attorney and Senior Circuit prosecutor in Allegany County.  He also served as Counsel to the US Senate Judiciary Committee. 

As a businessman for ten years, he was the President and CEO of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, a position he left last June. 

At the age of 40, in 2003, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Mr. Wolf enlisted in the Army.  He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and the Bronze Star for his service during Operation Enduring Freedom.  He currently serves as an International Law Officer with the Civil Affairs Brigade.

Craig Wolf is 55 years old.  He lives in Howard County.  He and his wife Sally have two children in their twenties.

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

Photo Courtesy Calvin Ball for Howard County Executive

Our Conversations with the Candidates series continues with Calvin Ball, the Democratic candidate for Howard County Executive.  He is facing incumbent Republican, Allan Kittleman, who has held the seat since 2014.  

Dr. Ball has served on the Howard County Council since 2006.  He represents the Villages of Long Reach and Oakland Mills, as well as parts of Elkridge, Ellicott City and Jessup.  He is the youngest person to serve as the Council Chair.  He is in his fourth term. 

He is the Director of the Baltimore City Community College Complete Baltimore Program.  Dr. Ball holds a PhD in Education from Morgan State University. 

Dr. Ball is 43 years old.  He and his wife Shani have two teenage daughters. 

A reminder that early voting begins on Thursday October 25, 2018.  The November 6th general election is just 57 days away.  

Today's discussion was live streamed on WYPR's Facebook page.  

Photo Courtesy Flickr

It’s the Midday Newswrap: The Labor Department released the monthly job numbers this morning, and, as has been the case for the last seven or eight years, the numbers continue to be good.  The unemployment rate has stayed steady at 3.9%.  The economy added 201 thousand jobs in August, and wages grew by .4 percent , up nearly three percent for the year.  Analysts have observed that wages are growing at a faster rate than inflation for the first time in a long time.

In a controversial op-ed in the NY Times submitted by a person identified by the Times only as a "senior administration official,"  the author claims that she or he is one of many people working for President Donald Trump who have been alarmed by the "amorality" of his decision-making, and who are now working "to frustrate parts of his agenda, and his worst inclinations.”  Just what parts, just how many people, and who is making this claim, are not yet known. 

Also this week: the NFL opened its season Thursday night in a broadcast that featured a new Nike commercial narrated by Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who ignited controversy by kneeling during a game-opening national anthem to protest racial injustice in America.  We’ll talk about Nike’s decision to place Kaepernick front and center in its 30th anniversary ad campaign.

Tom is joined in studio by Michael Fletcher, a senior writer with ESPN’s The Undefeated, the online platform that explores the intersection of race, culture and sports; and Ian Samuel, an associate professor of law at Indiana University, and the co-host of a podcast about the Supreme Court, called First Mondays.

Stephen Houseworth Photography

The fourth annual Madonnari Festival kicked off this weekend in Little Italy.  The festival is the brainchild of Cyd Wolf, who runs Germano’s Piattini, a great cabaret venue here in Baltimore.  Madonnari is art that literally takes it to the streets.  60 artists from all over the world are hard at work as we speak creating Chaulk art on the streets of Little Italy and in front of the American Visionary Art Museum.  You can see their work come to life all weekend. 

The festival also includes 100 performing artists, and we hear now from three musicians from Italy's Liguria region: Carlo Aonzo is an Italian mandolin player, who is joined here in Studio A by Lorenzo Piccone on guitar and Luciano Puppo on double bass.  Together they are the Carlo Aonzo Trio.

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

On this installment of Midday Culture Connections: we  look at one of the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade that might not immediately come to mind:  modern business management.  A new book looks at how the pecuniary practices of slave owners have endured and how those practices continue to inform capitalism.    

Caitlin C. Rosenthal, an Assistant Professor of History at UC Berkeley in California, details the correlation between modern finance and chattel slavery in her new book Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management.  She joins us on the line from her office in Berkeley. 

Plus, a conversation about the cities and industries profiting from the increase in what’s become the big business of detaining immigrants and asylum seekers.  

 Dr. Sheri Parks is the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the Maryland Institute College of Art.  She’s the author of Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman, and she joins us on the first Tuesday of the month for Midday Culture Connections.   She is also the host of Beyond the Ballot here on WYPR, which airs twice a month on Thursday afternoons during All Things Considered.

Photo by Robert Kniesche/Baltimore Sun

(This program originally aired October 10, 2017.)

Today, we present an archive edition of Midday for the Labor Day holiday: MiddayWYPR and the Baltimore Museum of Industry team up for a special program -- presented as part of BMI's Issues in Industry series -- examining Baltimore's calamitous de-industrialization, the challenge of rebuilding the city's workforce, and the future of work in Baltimore's increasingly dynamic industrial landscape.  Broadcast in front of a live audience at BMI's Communications Gallery, the hour-long discussion features guest panelists Anita Kassof, BMI’s executive director; Dr. Nicole King, associate professor and chair of the Department of American Studies at UMBC;  Phillip J. Pack, a retired Sparrows Point steelworker and union trainer; Lauren Purviance, with Jane Addams Resource Corp., a Baltimore job training firm; Dr. Julianne Malveaux, a labor economist, author, media commentator and CEO of Economic Education, LLC; and Joe Jones, Director, Center for Urban Families, a Baltimore nonprofit.

The panel also addresses audience questions and comments emailed and tweeted during the show.

Associated Press photo

(This program originally aired August 7th, 2018)

Today, a conversation about what has come to be known as the "Black Tax."  It is imposed on people of color, in different ways and in different places, every day. 

Reports of hate crimes are on the rise, and in 2017, once again, African Americans were targeted more than any other group.

And in the last few months, social media have been rife with instances of people of color being harassed in public spaces by white people: A 7th grader mowing a lawn; a group of Black women playing golf; a former White House staffer moving into his apartment in Manhattan; a graduate student at Yale taking a nap. 

What are the psychological, social and political implications of this disturbing uptick in racial profiling? Tom considers the question with two astute observers.  

(This program originally aired on July 11, 2018.)

Today, a conversation about sports -- kinda, sorta.  Not the World Cup.  Certainly not the Orioles, God help us.  Not the Ravens, who start training camp a week from Thursday, but instead, we’re going to talk about a simple question, that when applied to certain moments and historical realities in sports can lead to some delicious fantasizing.  That question is “What if?” 

What if Billie Jean King had LOST to Bobby Riggs?  What if Richard Nixon had been Good at Football?  What if the Olympics had never dropped Tug of War?  What if Muhammad Ali had GOTTEN his draft deferment?

 

Mike Pesca has assembled a group of essayists to pose those and other questions in a great and engaging and funny and sometimes profound book called Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History. 

Pesca is the host of The Gista podcast on Slate.com, and a former sports reporter at NPR.  He joins Tom from Slate's studio in New York.

Copyright Epic Photography Jamie Schoenberger

(This program originally aired on October 24, 2017.)

Tom’s guest today is Alice McDermott, the New York Times best-selling author of eight novels. Three of them, After This, At Weddings and Wakes and That Night, were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Another novel, Charming Billy, won the National Book Award in 1998.

Her eighth novel, The Ninth Hour, published in 2017 and available in paperback in September 2018, is a profound and moving contemplation on the big issues: love, family, faith, religion, and bringing meaning to one’s life. The story is told with tenderness and compassion, by an artist at the height of her creative and literary powers.

Alice McDermott is the Richard A. Maksey Professor of the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University. 

The author will read from her work at an event at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, on November 29, 2018 at 6pm.

(This program originally aired on August 9, 2018.)

Today, Tom's guest is Dr. Brit Kirwan, chair of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, better known as the Kirwan Commission. For the past two years, the commission has been studying the public K-12 education system in our state, and it’s planning to release a series of recommendations as to how the state should re-order its educational priorities, improve accountability, and fund schools. This past January, the commission released a Preliminary Report of its findings.

Dr. Kirwan was the President of the University of Maryland, where he served on the faculty for 34 years, and the Chancellor of the University System of Maryland from 2002-2015. Prior to that, for four years, he served as the president of Ohio State University.

This conversation was livestreamed on WYPR's Facebook page. To see that video, click here.

Photo Courtesy Sean Yoes

This program originally aired on July 16, 2018.  

It has been a little more than three years since the city of Baltimore was convulsed with violence following the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody on April 19, 2015.  After the National Guard went back to their barracks, after the fire at the CVS Drugstore at the corner of Penn and North was extinguished, and after the curfews were lifted, there was a frenzy of finger pointing as to how the city responded to the crisis.  The Mayor at the time, Stephanie Rawlings Blake, would decide a few months later not to seek re-election.  A new police chief was appointed, and political leaders at the state and local levels promised decisive action to address the underlying problems of poverty and inequality that were seen as the root causes of the unrest.  The business community and numerous non-profits pledged to redouble their efforts to help lift neighborhoods like Sandtown Winchester out of its economic and social morass.

So, what, if anything, has changed since 2015?

Photo Courtesy Associated Press

On this edition of the News Wrap: pressure continues to mount on the White House this week with a conviction and a guilty plea in the cases of two of President Trump's associates, and an increasingly contentious relationship between Trump and his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

Guest Host Nathan Sterner speaks with David Smith, the Washington Bureau Chief of The Guardian about the tumult swirling around the Trump White House and the potential negative impact these latest events may have on GOP candidates as midterm elections loom ever closer. 

Here in Baltimore, there are new developments in the case against Keith Davis Jr. as a prosecutor who worked on the case for the States Attorney's office is fired after details of a DWI conviction are brought to light, and Maryland's Catholic Community reflects on child sex abuse in the church following the release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing acts of  sexual violence perpetrated by 301 predator priests on over 1,000 children.  Many are calling for Attorney General Frosh to initiate similar investigations here in Maryland.  Baltimore Sun investigative reporter Jean Marbell and Real New Network Reporter, and contributor to the Baltimore AFRO,  Stephen Janis join us for a look at these stories and more.

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.

Photo Courtesy Joy Buolamwini from the Coded Gaze

On, today's program a discusion about the basic unit of Artificial Intelligence – The Algorithm.  What does it do? Who creates an algorithm? Who’s served by it? Who’s ill-treated by it? And why?

Sci-fi movies and books give us dramatic scenarios about possible dystopian futures,  impending singularities, and computers overthrowing their human creators and spelling the destruction of our species, but the reality is that Artificial Intelligence is already here, and we already trust it with some really important decisions.  But even in its infancy, AI is already veering off in seriously problematic directions.

Guest host Aaron Henkin sits in for Tom Hall today for a conversation about racial and gender bias in AI. Joining Aaron on the line from California is Dr. Safiya Noble, Assistant Professor at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California, and author of the book, “Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism.”

And from WBUR studios in Boston, we are joined by Joy Buolamwini, the founder of the Algorithmic Justice League to fight coded bias, and a researcher at the MIT Media Lab where she is also working on her PhD. 

U.S. Department of Education

Guest host Jamyla Krempel sits in for Tom Hall today for a conversation about sexual education. In the era of the “Me Too” movement – with its steady stream of stories about actors, politicians, clergy, executives, people in virtually every profession being accused of sexual assault, is sex ed teaching students about how power can be used to hurt others, and about the importance of consent? Have schools updated their curricula to reflect students’ gender identity and sexual orientation?

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