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WYPR Features

The Gig Economy

May 25, 2018

You may have heard of the so-called gig economy – the one in which people earn money not at regular jobs, but by occasionally engaging in activities that generate income for them.  Recent research indicates that the gig economy is particularly important to growing numbers of retirees, who are looking to expand their incomes without committing themselves to a demanding employer.  According to a 2017 Prudential Financial survey, approximately 31 percent of workers who only work in the gig economy are baby boomers.  

Listen to learn more. 

Tom Pelton

May 25, 2018

Tom talks with Environment in Focus Host Tom Pelton.

Tom recommends: 

"Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser

"From the Bottom Up" by Chad Pregracke

America’s Beloved Poet: Lucille Clifton

May 24, 2018
Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame

In her work, Poet Lucille Clifton explored the African-American experience and exalted our human capacity to persevere. For her efforts, she won major awards and widespread appreciation, including the claim that no American poet was more beloved than she.

Steve Chu, owner and head chef of Ekiben, tells us about his desire to bring people together inside his Fells Point restaurant.

National Trails Day

May 24, 2018

For hundreds of years, nature has served as inspiration for a multitude of writers. In a collaboration between Maryland Humanities and Delaware Humanities, nature and literature converge in a one day program at the Ben Cardin-Mike Castle National Trail next month. Ciera Fisher from Delaware Humanities tells us more about the trail and the event. 

Photo of the Enviva Ahoskie wood pellet mill in North Carolina, courtesy of the Dogwood Alliance


Last month, during an Earth Day event staged with timber industry executives at a school in Georgia, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the Trump Administration would officially consider the clearcutting and burning of forests to be good for the climate.

The administration declared that burning wood – or “biomass,” as it’s called in industry jargon – to generate electricity is “carbon neutral.” Why? Because the carbon dioxide pollution that wood-fueled power plants release will allegedly be balanced out by the industry’s replanting of trees. This “carbon neutral” designation means EPA will grant the rapidly-growing biomass industry exemptions from any future carbon dioxide pollution control rules.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of the policy shift is a Bethesda, Maryland-based company called Enviva Biomass. Enviva is the world’s largest producer of industrial wood pellets, and it owns manufacturing plants in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Mississippi and Florida.

Suzette - www.suzette.nu

Levening is what we do make dough rise and become much less dense.  This actually involves somehow incorporating air into the mixture.  Yeast, baking soda, baking powder and egg whites are the four most common mechanisms for levening dough.  The secret is to cause a chemical reaction in the dough that will result in the creation of carbon dioxide.

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, reacts with the acid in a dough to produce the gas.  Typically, buttermilk, vinegar, or lemon juice provide the acid.

Baking powder, however, carries its own acid with it, thus avoiding unwanted flavors.

Here are several baking recipes Jerry has used at Schola Cooking School.

In the early days of the Maryland colony, John Dandy, the only gunsmith in town, got away with murder for years. This is his story.

South Africa

May 23, 2018
david mcspadden/flickr

Significant improvements for an old and troubled wine region. Click the links to purchase Al and Hugh's recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

Home Sweet Home

May 23, 2018

A neighborhood strewn with trash and lined with vacant homes is much more than an eyesore. It is an indicator that the children who live there may never reach their potential.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health studied data on thousands of children, starting at birth, for more than 10 years. They asked parents living in East Baltimore to rate the perceived quality of their neighborhood for raising children on a five point scale ranging from poor to excellent. The parents who rated their neighborhood “poor” lived among abandoned houses, litter including discarded drug paraphernalia, and were noisy.  The researchers found that children growing up in these neighborhoods are more likely as teens to display problem behaviors like fighting, stealing, vandalism, or disobeying rules than children living in the “excellent” neighborhoods.

Summer is right around the corner, and on this edition of The Weekly Reader, our book critic Marion Winik shares a pair of books that are not only great reads, but summer itself plays a starring role in both stories.


May 22, 2018
All About Birds

I’m always on the lookout for our native plants and animals, and bright and early in the morning is a great time to see some of our most unusual species. Last week, I was up early and enjoying a cup of coffee before I started my day. I looked out my window at our birdfeeder, where a number of small songbirds had gathered for breakfast. One bird stood out from the rest with bright yellow markings. Initially, I thought this bird might be special – a rare find for our area. I looked for the rare bird’s markings – a back the same dusty brown as our common sparrows, with a bright yellow breast. It would also have a yellow “mask” around its eyes, making it look like a sparrow that was dressed up like a super hero. The bird I thought I saw was a dickcissel, a species that is now more commonly found in the Midwest than here on the East Coast. Alas, this time, my bleary morning eyes were just misidentifying a goldfinch.

Hathaway: Reignite Moral Consciousness to Stop Violence

May 22, 2018

Rev. Alvin C. Hathaway of Union Baptist Church comments on the violence in Baltimore City, and calls for the 'Thou shalt not kill' mandate to be honored.

As we discussed last week, there is a conventional wisdom that one needs about $1 million to retire comfortably, that may or may not be true.  Given that many Americans have literally nothing saved for retirement, a million dollars sounds like plenty.  But according to a new report from personal finance site GoBankingRates, depending on where one lives, retirees could blow through that one million dollar nest egg in as little as 12 years.

The Reports: May 7-11

May 21, 2018

This week: Financial inclusion, global health care, the World Cup economy, public employees, and the changing American car business. 

Manatees (Re-air)

May 21, 2018

These gentle giants have rebounded in recent years, making their way off the endangered species list, but we must be vigilant to protect their resurgence. Let’s check in with manatees.  

Joining us today for Why Baltimore is Jennifer Bodensiek, President and CEO of Junior Achievement of Central Maryland, a non-profit that is helping young people lay the foundation for career success so Baltimore’s job pipeline stays strong.

Reading Development and Preventing Learning Loss

May 17, 2018

Did you know that third grade is a pivotal year for students learning to read? Reading proficiently by the end of that grade can be a marker for successes through a student’s college years. Angelique Jessup, Program Director at the Baltimore Campaign for Grade Level Reading, tells us more about reading development.

Depression isn’t good for mothers. That’s obvious. Now a study has found links from mom’s depression to difficulties her kids may be experiencing.

Baltimore Sun

After moving to New York in 1890, the Preakness Stakes made its triumphant return to Pimlico in 1909.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Kevin Omland, a biology professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, stands below a highway overpass towering above a wooded stream valley in the Patapsco Valley State Park, just southwest of Baltimore.

He aims his binoculars up at a scraggly nest of sticks that ravens built in the steel beams beneath Interstate 195.

 “Give yourself a second and you can see three young,” Omland said. “They are hanging out there quite peacefully. Not flapping, maybe stretching a little bit.”

 “Wow!"  I replied. "Three large, black, sinister looking dudes sitting up on their nest under the bridge -- kind of ominous."

“Tom, you’re squinting incorrectly. Those are beautiful creatures,” Omland said. “They are going to have marvelous iridescent plumage in just a few days.”

Portuguese Sampler

May 16, 2018
François Philipp/flickr

Super values from one of Europe's hottest travel destinations.  Click the links to purchase Al and Hugh's recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

Fungus Gnats

May 15, 2018
Planet Natural

Last week, I talked about one of our unsung insect heroes, the house centipede. This got me thinking about other small insects in our natural world that probably don’t get the attention or respect they deserve. Many of these creatures are very small and in many cases, are seen as a nuisance to us humans who just want to enjoy a nice day outside without insect interruption. Even though we view many insects as pests, their presence is an important link in the natural chain that ties all species together. So, I thought what better bug to feature than one who is instrumental in the reproduction of one of our native plant species, jack-in-the-pulpit? The insect I have in mind is the fungus gnat and, with a name like that, I think it could use some positive PR.


When the whole Eat Local movement got started in the Bay Area of San Francisco, foraging in the wild for healthy edible food became a signature activity.  Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley would dispatch dozens of volunteers to head out into the wilds and bring back baskets of amazing ingredients.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino points out, those of us living in "the other Bay Area" can do the same.

On this edition of The Weekly Reader, we review two books that feature characters that break the mold of the typical leading lady, reminding us that interesting people come in a variety of styles.

The National Aquarium

A complex and delicate connection exists between Atlantic horseshoe crabs and a threatened migratory bird called the Rufa Red Knot in nearby Delaware Bay. Hear how human-induced issues such as coastal development, sea level rise and climate change, have put the ties that bind them in jeopardy.

Baker: Keep Working to Save the Bay

May 14, 2018
Michael Busada

Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation encourages Marylanders to "Finish the job. Save the Bay." 


You could get pretty good odds in Vegas or even at Pimlico this weekend that you couldn’t say with specificity what you were doing on April 13, 2009, or that you are doing the same thing now.

Don’t be insulted. That’s no knock on you personally, but rather a recognition that most of us don’t have total recall or perform precisely the same task over an extended period.

Heck, that date was my birthday and I don’t even remember what I did.

An exception might be granted to members of the McDonogh girls lacrosse team. From the aforementioned April date nine years ago until last Friday, the Eagles did one thing, the same thing, over and over.


Every once in a while, an organization will publish their rankings of the best and worst states or cities for retirement.  Bankrate recently did just that, ranking the nation’s fifty largest metropolitan areas.  Bankrate considered a host of factors, including cost of living, taxes, crime healthcare, public transit, weather, things to do, and the percent of population 65 or older. Get the results in this episode.

Mike Subelsky Twitter

Mike Subelsky, chief technology officer for Staq on why Baltimore was the perfect city to help him start global software companies.