Bridget Armstrong | WYPR

Bridget Armstrong

Bridget no longer works for Midday at WYPR.

Bridget Armstrong is a producer for Midday hosted by Tom Hall. She joined the WYPR team as a producer of Maryland Morning in March 2016. Before coming to WYPR, she worked for SiriusXM and prior to that, at NPR.  While at NPR, Bridget worked on the 2014 Elections Desk and Tell Me More hosted by Michel Martin, where she produced discussions addressing race, gender and pop-culture.  A true lover of conversation, Bridget also hosted and produced a roundtable podcast. Bridget is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University, an Historically Black College.

Jessica Anya Blau

Just in time for the summer, Jessica Anya Blau is back with a new book The Trouble with Lexie. Lexie, the book’s protagonist, is a counselor at an elite private school in New England. Things get wild when her search for happiness lands her in some unexpected trouble. 

Jessica joins Tom in-studio to talk about The Trouble with Lexie, her writing process and seeing herself in her characters. 


We begin this morning with another installment in our monthly series, Living Questions, in which we examine the role of religion in the public sphere. Retiring Executive Director Christopher Leighton, Catholic Scholar Heather Miller Rubens, Islamic Scholar Homayra Ziad, and Jewish Scholar Benjamin Sax from The Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies all join Tom in-studio to discuss leadership transition in the organization, as well as what it will take for the voices of tolerance to be heard in the din of bigotry that has taken over much of the public discourse in this unprecedented political year.

J. Wynn Rousuck reviews EVITAwhich is currently playing at Olney Theater through July 24.

The Baltimore African-American Festival is celebrating 40 years. To mark the occasion festival organizers are bringing in  some big names like Common, Vivica Fox, Estelle and Mary Mary. 

There will also be interactive activities focusing on health and wellness, financial literacy and police-community relations.

Shelonda Stokes, president and CEO of greiBO entertainment, and Joe Maye, singer from The Voice on NBC, both join Tom in-studio to discuss the festival. greiBo was hired by the city to plan the events. 

Officer Caesar Goodson, one of the six Baltimore city police officers indicted in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, was acquitted Thursday of second-degree depraved-heart murder, second-degree assault, misconduct in office, involuntary manslaughter, manslaughter by vehicles (gross negligence), manslaughter by vehicles (criminal negligence) and reckless endangerment. In December, Officer William G. Porter's trial ended with a hung jury and last month Officer Edward Nero was acquitted of all charges including reckless endangerment and second-degree assault. 

Judge Barry Williams issued his verdict in the Goodson trial on Thursday morning. Maryland Morning host Tom Hall anchored special live coverage of the verdict. He was joined in-studio by lawyer F. Michael Higginbotham of University of Baltimore Law School and Ray Kelly, president of the No Boundaries Coalition. WYPR reporters P. Kenneth Burns and Rachel Baye provided live coverage from the city courthouse. 

Dave Wetty, Cloud Prime Photography

Dr. Carol Anderson, author of White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, joins Tom in-studio to discuss the reasons behind the racial divide in America. While some argue that the Uprising in Baltimore was a result black anger bubbling over after years of systemic and institutionalized racism, Anderson argues that the chasm between whites and people of color has been animated, throughout American history, by white reaction and opposition to any and all progress towards equality made by minorities.  To support her argument, Anderson points to the white southern reaction to reconstruction efforts following the Civil War, Supreme Court decisions in the 1970s that undermined Brown v. Board of Education, the war on drugs and ongoing voter suppression efforts. 

Then, Nutrition Diva, Monica Reinagel, and Evan Lutz, founder of Hungry Harvest join Tom to discuss efforts to end food waste. Hungry Harvest "recovers" discarded produce from local farms, food wholesalers, and packing houses and boxes and delivers it to paying subscribers. For every box purchased, the program also delivers fresh produce to a family in need. 

Dave Wetty, Cloud Prime Photography

Dr. Carol Anderson is the chair of the African-American Studies Department at Emory University, and the author of White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide

According to Anderson, racial discord and inequality in America is the product of white reaction and opposition to any progress made by people of color.  To support her argument, Anderson points to the white southern reaction to reconstruction efforts following the Civil War, Supreme Court decisions in the 1970s that undermined Brown v. Board of Education, the war on drugs and ongoing voter suppression efforts. 

Dr. Anderson joins Tom in-studio to discuss White Rage and how racial animus towards black and brown people in America perpetuates inequality. 

Sheri Parks

Culture Commentator Sheri Parks on reactions to the mass shooting in Orlando.  Was the shooter a self-radicalized terrorist, a deranged abuser, a virulent bigot, a self-loathing gay man, or some combination thereof?  As the dead are remembered and buried, what will we remember months and years from now about how this tragedy changed the conversation about the fight against terrorism, access to firearms, and bigotry against the LGBTQ community, Latinos, and Muslims?  Sheri Parks is an associate Dean and associate professor at the University of Maryland College Park.  She’ll help us unpack lessons from the massacre at Pulse nightclub.

Plus, Theater Critic J Wynn Rousuck reviews Godspell at Cockpit in Court.

Sheri Parks

Sheri Parks is a culture critic, associate professor in the Department of American Studies and Associate Dean for Research, Interdisciplinary Scholarship and Programming at the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland College Park.

She joins Tom to discuss the massacre in Orlando and how issues of terrorism, gun control and bigotry against the LGBTQ, Latino and the Muslim communities intersect.  Dr. Parks also discusses presidential politics and how President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and other politicians are reacting to the Orlando massacre. 


As Maryland Morning focuses on the arts, Liz Lerman, a MacArthur award winning dancer and choreographer joins Tom to discuss her new appointment as a Professor in the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts at Arizona State University.

Then, Donald Hicken, longtime head of the theater department at the Baltimore School of the Arts is retiring. He joins to share his reflections after three and a half decades of changing young lives.  And, Sharayna Christmas is a dancer, writer and the executive director of Muse 360, an organization that works with youth to cultivate their interests in the arts. Next month, Muse 360 will be taking a group of young people from Baltimore City to Havana, Cuba where for two weeks they’ll study history, Spanish and dance. The trip is being put together in conjunction with The African Diaspora Alliance and Frederick Douglass High School. Sharayna and two of her students share their thoughts about the upcoming trip. 

MacArthur Foundation

MacArthur Award-winning dancer and choreographer Liz Lerman is the author of Hiking the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer and founder of the Dance Exchange

Lerman is also the creator of the Critical Response Process, a system of feedback that is designed to make artists want to go back and work. She’s dedicated her career to challenging notions of who can be a dancer and what dance can mean.  In August, Lerman will be leaving Baltimore to accept an appointment as a Professor in the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. Liz Lerman joins Tom in-studio to discuss her work as an artist and her new job at Arizona State University. She also explains why she believes that much of the public response to last year's Uprising has been misguided. 

Baltimore School for the Arts

Donald Hicken -- one of the most admired figures in the Baltimore theater community -- is retiring this week after a 36-year career heading the Theater Department at the Baltimore School for the Arts.  He helped plan the school back in the late 1970s, and in the years since, as the school has gained national renown, he’s worked to inspire and cultivate countless young talents. Some of his most well-known students include Jada Pinkett-Smith, Tupac Shakur, Tracie Thoms, and Josh Charles.  But for generations of School for the Arts graduates who landed in careers that didn’t put their names in lights, the experience of studying with Donald Hicken still shines brightly.  Donald Hicken joins Tom in the studio to reflect on his nearly four decades at the BSFA, and on the creative new projects that lie ahead.

Sharayna Christmas

Next month, 14 African-American young people will travel to Havana, Cuba to study dance, Spanish and history. The trip is being coordinated by Muse 360 and The African Diaspora Alliance.  According to a study by the Institute of International Education, only five percent of study abroad students are African-American at the college level, for high school students the numbers are even lower.  

To prepare for the two-week excursion students are taking classes and workshops to facilitate conversations about complex issues like systemic racism, health disparities, and manifestations of self-hate within communities of color. The program is designed to expose students to the world outside of Baltimore City while connecting them with the larger African Diaspora. 

Washington Post

In Baltimore City, approximately 25% of school-aged children drink one or more sodas per day. Should sugary drinks come with a label warning against the health risks? And, Prince’s death has been ruled an accidental overdose on the powerful drug fentanyl. In our monthly Healthwatch conversation, Baltimore City’s Health Commissioner Leana Wen, who is a leading voice against opioid abuse, joins Tom to discuss sugary drinks, prescription drug abuse and more. 

Tom then speaks with three local directors Katie Hileman, of the The Interrobang Theatre Company, Evan Moritz, of the Annex Theatre, and Genevieve de Mahy, of Single Carrot Theatre, about stepping out of the wings and onto the stage in Single Carrot Theatre’s Midlife. Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck has a review of Cohesion Theater’s production of Neverwhere.    Then we head over to Chestertown, Maryland, where residents are gearing up for their annual June 16th observance of Bloomsday, a celebration of James Joyce’s iconic work Ulysses. Bob Mooney, Professor of English and Creative Writing at Washington College, and actress Melissa McGlynn join Tom to share what folks can look forward to on Bloomsday.  

Bob Mooney, Melissa McGlynn

Literature lovers in Chestertown are gearing up for their 2nd annual Bloomsday, a celebration of Irish writer James Joyce’s seminal 1922 novel, Ulysses.  Bloomsday is named after the Blooms, the story's protagonist family. 

The novel takes place on June 16, 1904 and every year on that day literature fans and Joyce lovers around the world convene to mark the occasion with dramatic readings, discussions, food and drink.  Melissa McGlynn is an actress who will be performing an iconic passage from the novel known as "Molly Bloom’s Soliloquy" during the Bloomsday festivities.  Bob Mooney is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Washington College. He’ll be leading a discussion of the novel.  They both join Tom from Washington College in Chestertown to discuss the significance of Ulysses and what people can look forward to on Bloomsday. 

Baltimore‘s Promise is a consortium of civic leaders from government, philanthropy, business, education, and religious institutions who are trying to address the multiple challenges faced by so many children in the city of Baltimore.  There is no shortage of well-meaning people and programs aimed at improving outcomes for kids, but what programs and strategies best meet the needs of kids in a city with high levels of poverty. 

Patrick McCarthy, President and CEO of The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Tomi Hiers on Baltimore’s Promise to our children.  And, Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck reviews Framed Illusion at the Theater Project through May 27.  Plus, for children who love to read, a handy guide to books for early and eager readers from Kathleen Isaacs, an expert on children’s literature. 


We begin with another look at discrimination in the mortgage lending market. Scholars took a deep dive into Baltimore’s banking practices found that for years, if you were black, you were at a distinct disadvantage to get a loan on favorable terms, and to build wealth.  Their work has just won them the 2016 John Hope Franklin Prize for writing on Race, Racism and the Law.  Has anything changed since the housing bubble burst? Professor Jacob Rugh joins Tom to explain how inequality manifests itself before you sign on the dotted line.  

 Then, Producer Rob Sivak joins our movie mavens, Jed Dietz and Ann Hornaday, for a recap of film festivals in Baltimore and Cannes, and Andrew Balio, the principal trumpet player of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on the Future Symphony Institute, an organization he founded to create a new model for classical music.

Terry Richardson


John Waters celebrated his 70th birthday in April. From his early days as an enfant terrible film maker and the King of Sleaze, he has sustained a remarkable career as an author, a stand-up comedian, a visual artist, and one of America’s most thoughtful observers on the cultural landscape. He is the master of re-invention, and no work is more emblematic of that than Hairspray, which was a movie, a musical, and then a movie of a musical. This weekend, he’ll narrate Hairspray in yet another iteration: a Symphonic Production with the BSO. John Waters joins me this morning to talk about art, politics, and how to keep looking ahead.

Then, WYPR’s Lisa Morgan talks to Andrew Och, who goes on the road with America's First Ladies,and J. Wynn Rousuck previews the Baltimore Playwright’s Festival.

Terry Richardson

Filmmaker John Waters celebrated his 70th birthday in April. Early in his career, Waters established himself as an enfant terrible and was affectionately dubbed by film critics as the "King of Sleaze." He has sustained a remarkable career as an author, stand-up comedian, visual artist, and one of America’s most thoughtful observers on the cultural landscape. 

Waters is the master of re-invention, and no work is more emblematic of that than Hairspray, his 1988 musical comedy film. This weekend, John Waters will narrate the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's production of Hairspray. He joins Tom in-studio to discuss Hairspray’s longstanding success, art, politics and aging while maintaining his reputation as an enfant terrible.

Nina Subin

Public interest lawyer Bryan Stevenson says that our criminal justice system treats people who are rich and guilty better than those who are poor and innocent. The Equal Justice Initiative, which he founded, has won the release of more than 115 people who have been wrongfully convicted and sentenced to execution. His advocacy for the poor and people of color who confront unequal treatment in the law has earned him countless accolades and awards, and led to a best-selling book. Bryan Stevenson joins Tom to talk about his memoir Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.

Theater Critic J Wynn Rousuck has a review of Superior Donuts at ​Maryland Ensemble Theatre in Frederick through June 19.  And, a star is born in Baltimore. Vivie Eteme is a 7th grader at the Park School. Her talent as a pianist landed her an acting role as a young Nina Simone in the biopic about the artist. We’ll talk about the journey from the practice room to the silver screen. 

Kisha Brown, Baltimore City Police Department

The violence that followed Freddie Gray’s funeral last year and increased scrutiny of police departments nation-wide have focused attention on the question of citizen involvement in monitoring the conduct of police, Kisha Brown is the head of the Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement, which oversees the Baltimore Civilian Review Board, and Rodney Hill is the Chief of Internal Affairs in the Baltimore Police Department.  They join Tom in-studio to discuss how the Civilian Review Board and the Baltimore Police Department is  trying to bridge the divide between law enforcement and communities of color. 

 And, Monica Lopez Gonzalez is a neuroscientist and a theater artist.  Her new play is part of her continuing work exploring the intersection between our brains and our creativity.  She’ll tell us about Framed Illusion.  

Kisha Brown, Baltimore City Police Department

The Civilian Review Board is an independent city agency tasked with investigating claims of police misconduct including abusive language, harassment, false arrest, and false imprisonment.  The CRB handles complaints for the Baltimore City Police Department, the Baltimore City School Police, the Baltimore City Sheriff's Office, the Baltimore Environmental Police, the Police Force of the Baltimore City Community College, and the Police Force of Morgan State University.

Although the board has been around since 1999, many people don't know it exists and  those who do have called it ineffective. 

Courtesy of

How will the not guilty verdict in the trial of Officer Edward Nero, combined with last year’s hung jury in the case of Officer William Porter, affect the State’s Attorney’s case against Ceasar Goodson, whose trial is slated to begin early next month.  He’s the next Baltimore police officer to be tried in connection with the death of Freddie Gray. Legal analysis with Attorney Edward Smith and University of Baltimore law professor David Jaros.

  And, a new multi-media website from ESPN explores the intersection between race, sports and culture with investigative reporting, story-telling and commentary from a staff of richly experienced writers, most of whom are African American.  Michael Fletcher is one of those acclaimed journalists.  He joins Tom to talk about The Undefeated.   Plus, if you’re headed outside this Memorial Day Weekend, our resident foodie, Sascha Wolhandler has ideas about spicing up a picnic. 

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."