Sheilah Kast | WYPR

Sheilah Kast

Host, On The Record

Sheilah Kast is the host of On The Record, Monday-Friday, 9:30-10:00 am.  Originally, she hosted WYPR's  Dupont-Columbia University award-winning Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast from 2006 - October 2015.  She began her career at The Washington Star, where she covered the Maryland and Virginia legislatures, utilities, energy and taxes, as well as financial and banking regulation.  She learned the craft of broadcasting at ABC News; as a Washington correspondent for fifteen years, she covered the White House, Congress, and the 1991 Moscow coup that signaled the end of the Soviet empire.  Sheilah has been a substitute host on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday and The Diane Rehm Show.  She has launched and hosted two weekly interview shows on public TV, one about business and one about challenges facing older people.

MGA Legislature / YouTube

Less than five weeks before the election deadline--some state and local politics this morning! WYPR state government and politics reporter Rachel Baye updates us on what proposed changes in police powers and prerogatives state senators started examining in hearings last week. You can view the hearings here.

State Lawmakers Take Up 15 Proposals To Reform Policing
Families Of Police Victims Push State Lawmakers For Change
Police And Its Critics Back Changes To Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights

Then, Ian Round, who covers politics and accountability for Baltimore Brew, discusses the race for mayor of Baltimore, proposals that could shift power between the mayor and council, and a challenge to the District 12 council incumbent.

Muller Paz campaign event postponed after Eastside shooting
Robert Stokes latest campaign fundraising haul: $0.00

Melissa Gerr

A century from now, what will people remember about life during COVID-19? Allison Tolman of the Maryland Historical Society talks about the new project, ‘Collecting In Quarantine.’ She says it’s important to collect stories ‘in the moment’ to capture the nuances of daily life. Plus, UMBC professor Rebecca Adelman tells why she launched the website ‘Coronavirus Lost and Found: A Pandemic Archive' -- a repository of pandemic experiences from around the world. Original airdate 7/9/20.

Links: Coronavirus Lost and Found, and Collecting in Quarantine.

Melissa Gerr

With many bus and train riders staying home during the pandemic, transit agencies across the country are being hit with huge losses in revenue and facing tough decisions. Councilman Ryan Dorsey, chair of the city council’s transportation committee, joins us to discuss the effects of the cuts in service put forth by the Maryland Transit Administration. Brian O’Malley, head of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, argues for alternative ways the state transportation department could shore up its losses. And Dr. Celeste Chavis, who teaches at the Urban Mobility and Equity Center at Morgan State University share her concerns about the long term.

To read more about MTA proposed cuts, visit this link. For Dr. Celeste Chavis's op ed, visit this link.

For information about MTA public comment meetings visit this link and scroll to the bottom. You may also send comments to:

Devin Allen

Trumpeter Brandon Woody is a young artist with big dreams, and the work ethic to achieve them. We hear about his band, UPENDO, as well as how performing has changed during the pandemic.

Listen to the song, "We, Ota Benga." You can catch Upendo this Saturday at R House in Baltimore. Ticket information here.

Episcopal Diocese of Maryland

The Maryland Episcopal diocese has made a powerful statement: delegates to the diocesean convention this month voted decisively to commit one million dollars in reparations -- funds that will go toward strengthening and expanding programs in African American communities in Baltimore and beyond. The Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, Bishop of the Maryland Episcopal diocese, talks with us about forgiveness and reconciliation and the work this generation must do to dismantle structural racism and correct wrongs of the past.

Brian Gratwicke / Flickr Creative Commons

Restoring a meadow habitat, protecting vernal pools, searching for the Eastern Hellbender--the Susquehannock Wildlife Society spans 20 acres in Harford County.

The word ‘Zoom’ takes on a whole new meaning in 2020. It’s no longer just a reference to speed … though it has accelerated the ease with which people connect, whether across town or around the globe. Cellist Amit Peled felt that boosted connection in his newly launched online cello academy--his response to being cut off from students by the pandemic’s lockdowns. Plus, his student from Abu Dhabi, Elham Al Marzooqi, the first and only female cellist in United Arab Emirates, shares her experience.

Amit Peled performs the Bach Suites via livestream at An Die Musik this Sunday, Sept. 20 at 3pm.

For information about the Online Cello Academy, visit this link.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here's a Stoop Story from Beth Frederick about practicing tolerance and experiencing grace. You can hear her story and many others at, as well as the Stoop podcast.

Mark Teske, University of Maryland School of Medicine

The entire world awaits a COVID-19 vaccine. The Trump administration is pushing “Operation Warp Speed” in an effort to find one fast. Dr. Wilbur Chen, of the University of Maryland Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health, is conducting trials and explains the process. Plus, we hear why it’s imperative that African American and Latinx communities be involved in testing a vaccine. George Escobar of CASA’s Department of Health and Human Services works with doctors to ensure participation of the CASA community.

To participate in COVID-19 vaccine trials, visit this link.

View the NYT Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker here.

Baltimore City Public Schools

School is back in session! As distance learning continues across Maryland, Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises joins us for an update. What’s the plan for reopening? How are city schools bridging the digital divide?

If you have technology or academic questions, you can reach City School’s Online Learning Support Line at 443-984-2001, from 10a-3p for assistance. 

F Delventhal / Flickr Creative Commons

You can learn about the history of slavery in Maryland from books, or you can experience by visiting--virtually or in person--the places where enslaved people lived, worshipped, were sold, and sought freedom.

Dennis Doster oversees the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission’s ‘Black History Program.’ To fully understand the Underground Railroad, he says, look further back, to the War of 1812 and the American Revolution.

You can watch Dennis Doster speaking at the recent Preservation Maryland event on the Underground Railroad here.

Plus, campfire conversations and archeological digs. We preview this weekend's event, “Echoes of the Enslaved," with Joseph McGill, founder of The Slave Dwelling Project, and archeologist Stephanie Sperling. This is a virtual event to discuss the lives of the Native Americans and enslaved Africans who once lived in the area. Click here for Friday's event. Click here for Saturday's event. 


The story of voting rights in the United States charts cycles of restriction and expansion. In her book, “Uncounted: The Crisis of Voter Suppression in America,” U-B Law associate professor Gilda Daniels traces a path from Reconstruction to Jim Crow to the Voting Rights Act to today, calling attention to barriers that block minority and marginalized groups from the ballot box. Daniels says these barriers erode confidence in our election system and chip away at democracy. Original airdate 2/19/20

You can hear more from Gilda Daniels at two online events coming up; the first is Monday, Sept. 21, at 5:30pm hosted by the Women’s Bar Association of DC. And on Oct. 1st in conversation through Kepler’s Literary Foundation in Menlo Park, California. That event, called “This Is Now: Fight to Vote,” starts at 9 pm EDT.

Acme Corporation

When was the last time you sat shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers in the dark, waiting for a theater curtain to rise? Or, perhaps the bigger question … When might be the next time? Acme Corporation co-artistic director Lola Pierson was paralyzed by that thought … so she created “The Institute for Counterfeit Memory,” a play contained in a box -- a way for patrons to experience live theater in their homes.

To get the play "The Institute for Counterfeit Memory Delivered to your home, visit this link. Boxes go on sale Tues. Sept. 15.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here’s a Stoop Story from Jay Herzog about the importance of impeccable timing and the difference five seconds can make. You can hear his stories and many others at or on the Stoop podcast.

Maya Aleshkevich/Flickr-Creative Commons

Suicide has been on the increase in the U.S. for two decades, long before the coronavirus showed up, although isolation and stress these days may be raising the risk. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 34. We hear from Dr. Carmen Lopez-Arvizu, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Kennedy Krieger Institute who describes warning signs that parents can watch for in children.  And we talk to Dan Hale, director of Johns Hopkins Healthy Community Partnership, about how depression distorts our sense of self-worth, and how it led to his adult daughter’s suicide. He talks about it in his book, Depression: Out of the Darkness and Into the Light.

Howard County Library System / Flickr Creative Commons

Internet access allows us to work and learn at home. For some, it’s a luxury out of their reach. To dent that digital divide, Adam Bouhmad founded Project Waves, a nonprofit that provides free Internet access to families across Baltimore.

UMBC assistant professor Foad Hamidi describes how lack of internet makes disparities even worse for low-income families. And Jay Bennet tells how getting connected to the web has made life easier.

Sam D / Flickr Creative Commons

Thousands of Marylanders, behind on their rent, are at risk of eviction. The national moratorium on evictions the Trump administration just put in place could help.

Wikimedia Commons

Even as she was growing up in a posh Baltimore family a century ago, Virginia Hall defied convention. Still, no one--especially after a hunting accident forced amputation of her lower left leg-- could imagine she’d become one of the most intrepid spies of World War II.

Rejected as a junior diplomat by the U.S., Hall got a field job in a fledgling British spy operation. It sent her to France to support the resistance against the Nazis. She took alarming risks, adroitly dodging betrayal.

Author Sonia Purnell discusses her spell-binding book, "A Woman of No Importance." Original air date: November 5, 2019.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here’s a Stoop Story from Maggie Master about the ups and downs of parenting and distance learning.

Nenad Stojkovic / Flickr Creative Commons

As teachers across Maryland welcome students to the new school year, we talk about the continued challenges of distance learning.

Univ. of Maryland Center for Health Equity

Data shows that Black and Brown communities are in the crosshairs of the Coronavirus pandemic. But history baked in racism has taught those communities not to trust doctors. Dr. Stephen Thomas, director of the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity, has created a network of barbers and stylists who disseminate accurate COVID-19 information in a trusted atmosphere. Plus, we hear from Mike Brown, a barber and manager of Shop Spa, who has served as a credible source of health and wellness information to his clients for more than a decade.

For more information on the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity, visit this link.

For more information on Health Advocates in Reach and Research H.A.I.R program visit this link.

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Why is it so hard to get a comprehensive count and description of the health care workers who have died from COVID-19? Are agencies … not keeping track, or hiding what they find? ProPublica recently told of an anesthesiologist who was disturbed by that question … and made tracing the ‘lives lost’ her mission. Journalist Nina Martin’s article is: Nobody Accurately Tracks Health Care Workers Lost to COVID-19. So She Stays Up At Night Cataloging the Dead. Plus Yvonne Slosarski from healthcare workers union 1199 SEIU talks about how they advocate for personal protective equipment and crisis pay. Visit the Lost on the Frontline site here.

Penguin Random House

Scientists always saw the workings of the human mind as separate from the body. Whatever might keep neurons in the brain from sending electrical messages across synapses, experts thought, it had nothing to do with rampant inflammation in the body.

Ferd Kaufman/Associated Press

A safe, effective vaccine against Covid-19 could resurrect jobs, send kids back to classrooms--change our lives. But how safe and effective? And how quickly can we have it? Dr. Robert Gallo, the AIDS-research pioneer now leading virus science at the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Global Virus Network, argues we could get much of the benefit by inoculating people with an old, very cheap drug -- the oral Polio vaccine developed seven decades ago. Gallo contends it would trigger our ‘innate immunity’-- the body’s emergency response when a threat shows up.

For more reading on polio vaccine potential, visit this link.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Fifty-seven years ago--August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. transfixed those gathered near the reflecting pool on the national Mall ...for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. “I have a dream,” he said, and described it, including “one day right there in Alabama little Black boys and Black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!” 

That was a year and a week after an 11-year-old Black boy and about 30 of his friends brought their dream to a swimming pool in South Baltimore. The late Congressman Elijah Cummings told a Stoop Story about it in 2010. 

For information about the Virtual March on Washington happening Friday, Aug. 28, visit this link.

George Makris / Flickr Creative Commons

Nearly a week after Baltimore’s housing commissioner was fired, the public doesn’t know why. We ask Tisha Guthrie, a tenants’ rights advocate, why it’s important, and Councilman John Bullock, chair of the city council’s housing committee, what’s next.

Ivy Bookshop

Just weeks after the Declaration of Independence had been signed, George Washington’s rag-tag Continental Army confronted an immense British military force. Washington needed to retreat from Brooklyn into Manhattan--but how to buy time to do it? Four hundred young fighters from Maryland engaged the redcoats to give cover to the escaping Americans. Author Chris Formant blends historic facts with inference about emotions and motivations. His novel is: "Saving Washington: The Forgotten Story of the Maryland 400 and the Battle of Brooklyn."

Thurs Aug. 27 at 6:30pm Enoch Pratt Library is hosting a virtual lecture about the Maryland 400, with historian Owen Lourie from the Maryland State Archives. Here is registration information.


One hundred years ago, women got the vote in the U.S. Constitution. That didn’t mean all women actually got to vote. In her new book, historian Martha S. Jones describes how African-American women strategized, organized, preached and marched--sometimes alongside white suffragists and sometimes alone. They tackled racism at the same time they fought sexism. Jones calls her new book Vanguard, because, she says, "Black women are the organizers, they are the foot soldiers, they are the architects, they are the spokespeople for the necessity of African American voting rights.”

Jones traces how Black women built political skills in churches and women’s clubs … and kept struggling for laws that would keep the promise of the Nineteen Amendment.

Wed, Aug. 26 at 6pm Jones will be in conversation for a program with the National Archives Foundation. Visit this link for registration information.

Jay Hsu / Flickr Creative Commons

From the fear of getting sick to the sadness of canceled plans, children are experiencing a wide range of emotions as the pandemic persists. That stress takes a toll on their mental health.

Postal Woes

Aug 21, 2020
Joe Piette/Flickr Creative Commons

Just as tens of millions of Americans are making plans to vote by mail--came sudden reports of delayed deliveries, vanished equipment, slashed overtime. Much of the country is up in arms about the U.S. Postal Service. The Washington Post reporter Erin Cox fills in details of its slow decline and needed reforms. She tells why the recent appointment of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, and his sweeping changes, have created a perfect storm. Plus, we look at how, when and where Marylanders can cast their ballots.

For information about voting by mail in Maryland, visit this link.  For Erin Cox's reporting, visit this link.