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.

Open Society Institute

The Open Society Institute tackles many inequities for Baltimore City residents -- from making fresh food available or healthcare accessible to housing rights and more. Each year its community fellows bring game-changing ideas. We hear from James Hendersonwho helps young people in the city find paths toward college and entrepreneurship: “Education and owning businesses is the cornerstone of creating generational wealth.” And also from Bree Jones creates homebuyer collectives to transform abandoned neighborhoods, a whole city block at a time: “They want to live in historically Black spaces as a means of social justice and as a means of wealth building.” 

Links: OSI 2020 Baltimore Fellows, Bree Jones' Parity, James Henderson's College Tours and Entrepreneurship.

Susan Walsh / AP Photo

"I know these are dark times, but there’s always light. That’s what makes this state so special. That’s what it taught me. It taught me the most. There’s always light," President-elect Biden bid farewell to his adopted home state of Delaware yesterday, then headed to Washington for his inauguration today.

John Minchillo / AP Photo

A day before President-elect Biden takes office, we look at two aspects of our bruised democracy. We ask Washington College political scientist Melissa Deckman what the new president must do to restore public trust in elections.

Desiree Kelly

The late congressman Elijah Cummings would have turned 70 Monday. During the months before he died, while he dealt with painful health challenges and tough confrontations between Congress and President Trump, Cummings invested time in writing a memoir, weaving his personal story with accounts of some public battles.

Mark Gunnery

Racial injustices ignited a wave of protests that swept the globe last year and inspired a generation of young people with a lot to say about what they want to make right with the world.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here's a Stoop Story from Danista Hunte about coming home ... and giving back. You can hear her story and many others at, as well as the Stoop podcast.


When the American republic was only a couple decades old, and more people were held enslaved in Maryland than all but two other states, enslaved people could petition the courts for freedom--if they could show they were descended from a woman who had been free. Before slaveholders got the laws changed, hundreds of enslaved people in Prince George’s County won their independence. Researching this history for his book A Question of Freedom, The Families Who Challenged Slavery From the Nation's Founding to the Civil WarWilliam G. Thomas III talked to descendants of people enslaved by Jesuit priests in Prince George’s … and learned that his white forebears helped the Jesuits. This country needs a reckoning of slavery’s impact, Thomas says.

Thomas will speak about A Question of Freedom next month, on Feb. 15, at 6:30 p.m.-- at an event organized by the Prince George’s County Historical Society and the Marietta House Museum - visit this link for more information.

Michael Dwyer / AP Photo

When‌ ‌the‌ ‌General‌ ‌Assembly‌ ‌begins‌ ‌its‌ ‌new‌ ‌session‌ Wednesday,‌ ‌lawmakers‌ ‌will‌ ‌face‌ ‌a‌ ‌crucial‌ ‌question:‌ ‌how‌ ‌to‌ ‌protect‌‌ thousands‌ ‌of‌ ‌Maryland‌ ‌families‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌brink‌ ‌of‌ ‌eviction?‌

Baltimore Heritage/screen shot

Last March Baltimore Heritage put its crowd-pleasing, illuminating walking tours on hold. Since then the small but mighty staff has been churning out ‘Five Minute Histories’ that are reaching thousands of viewers.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Welcome back to On the Record. I’m SK. Here’s a Stoop Story from Jenna Shaw about what she learned from dancing with her dad. You can hear her story and many others at, as well as the Stoop podcast.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

President Trump, still objecting to the election, said Thursday there will be a peaceful transfer of power in two weeks. But the scars of the riot he incited at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday will not fade easily.

Senator Bill Ferguson

When the state legislature convenes next week, Senate President Bill Ferguson says, its goal will be to target help to those hit hardest by the pandemic, including renters at risk of being evicted. Another priority is reforms to raise confidence in police. And Democrats intend to push to fund HBCUs and to override Gov. Hogan’s veto of the Kirwan Plan, the multibillion-dollar blueprint for public schools.

For more than two decades the Open Society Institute has nurtured projects that combat inequities in Baltimore. Today we meet two O-S-I fellows who use the power of storytelling to heal. Darius Wilmore coaches performers who share personal challenges in the ‘Short Kutz Show Narrative Therapy Initiative’: And Tehya Janae Faulk wants to build empathy in others with her online story portal, “Orphan We."

Links: Orphan We, Short Kutz Show Narrative Therapy Initiative, OSI Baltimore Community Fellows, 2020.

ironypoisoning / Flickr Creative Commons

In response to the pandemic, the Mental Health Association of Maryland launched the Connections Project, matching vulnerable seniors in Baltimore County with volunteers who offer a friendly voice and a listening ear over the phone.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here's a Stoop Story from Justin ODonnell with a warning to think twice before sending those year-end letters to friends. You can hear his story and many others at, as well as the Stoop podcast.

OSI Baltimore

Each year Open Society Institute-Baltimore awards grants to highly motivated community leaders. We hear from two recipients about their work.

If you can see it, you can be it. That could be the mantra for each program designed by two Open Society Institute fellows we’ll meet today. Atiyah Wells has created an urban nature center and educational programs to encourage Black and Brown families to explore more. And Monica Lapenta’s project makes elementary and middle school students a chef for a day. It requires more than following recipes and wearing a tall white hat!

Stoop Storytelling Series

Travel is a luxury - perhaps even more dear living with the holiday restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19. But listening to stories of adventure can soothe the sorry traveler’s soul. So today we offer a full itinerary of Stoop Stories to slake your thirst for the road. Kevin Griffin Moreno talks about chasing songs into the deep south. Mike Ricigliano tells about a hike in the Adirondacks that he’ll never forget. And Nikki Gamer explains why travel provides her with more than just a stamp in her passport.


Adam Schwartz has observed hundreds of kids in 22 years teaching in Baltimore public schools. He’s watched them fall in love, make crazy decisions, grapple with moral dilemmas, worry about where they fit in life. Schwartz distilled some of what he’s seen into eight short stories for his new book The Rest of the World. And we discuss whether Schwartz, a white man, is the right one to tell the stories of black and brown teen-agers and young adults. And whether a book that describes acts of violence … is a violent book.

Schwartz will speak about his writing at the end of January--Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in the Reston Reading Series. And he’s doing an author talk with the Howard County Public Library the evening of Thursday, Feb. 11.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

2020 has been a year for the record books. And thankfully, it's also been a year filled with good books as many of us have turned to turning pages as a means of escape during this difficult year.

If you're looking for a new read to lead you into 2021, WYPR's staff have you covered with 21 great titles. Why not 20 books for 2020? Trust us, we tried. There were just too many good ones to choose from!

Check out our book reviews, author interviews and recommendations below. 

OSI Baltimore

Open Society Institute’s Baltimore field office works to improve city life by offering start-up funding to social entrepreneurs. Today, we kick off our profiles of this year’s class of community fellows. First, we meet Isaiah Johnson of the Greenmount East Leadership Project. He is bringing kids together for fitness, arts, and sports programs, as well as community clean-ups. Then, Elizabeth Finne describes her work to recruit volunteers who will help people in prison prepare for parole hearings.

Read more about the 2020 class of OSI-Baltimore Community Fellows here.

Morgan State University

Billionaires have grown richer during the pandemic, perhaps none more than Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. But at least one billionaire--Bezos' ex-wife Mackenzie Scott--is striving to give most of her wealth away. Scott recently donated $4 billion dollars to hundreds of groups -- about one-fifth of it to historically Black, Hispanic and tribal colleges.

Sara Star NS / Flickr Creative Commons

Over the past decade, Maryland hospitals filed more than 140,000 lawsuits against patients, to recover unpaid bills. The median amount owed was just $944. Left unpaid, this debt can lead to a lien on a person’s home or car, or even garnished wages. Marceline White of the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, describes the crushing burden of an unpaid hospital bill.

Click here for more information about the Medical Debt Freedom Fund. Click here to read the report on medical debt lawsuits in Maryland.

Dance and Bmore (screenshot, elders dance video)

Scrambling to adjust operations due to lockdowns last March threw even the most experienced administrators and business owners into a tizzy -- how would it be possible to deliver … or teach … or engage … or assist ... when the only space to be shared was virtual? CJay Philip, founder and artistic director of Dance and Bmore, didn’t panic. Instead she paused to ask: how can we best serve our community of young people and elders? Simple, she thought. Just ask them!

Links: Elders Dance video, Voices of Carmen music video, and to nominate someone for Give Thanks and Give Back, email or call 410 871-8322.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here's a Stoop Story from Sarah Jennings, pulling back the curtain and shining some lights onto life on Baltimore’s Miracle on 34th street. We have more information about the Stoop Storytelling Series - including upcoming live events and the Stoop podcast - at the OTR page at This Sunday night, 7 p.m. WYPR will air “The Stoop Virtual Holiday Hoo-Ha: An evening of seasonal stories, comedy sketches, and music,” hosted by Aaron Henkin. I’m SK. Glad you’re with us, OTR. Make some holiday hoohah of your own this weekend!

Simon & Schuster

As America reckons with the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow, Robert P. Jones--author and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute--argues we cannot overlook the role Christianity played in perpetuating prejudice and ignoring injustice.

Jones grew up in Mississippi, attended church five days a week, studied divinity at a Baptist seminary, and yet he says he can't remember ever hearing a sermon on civil rights or racial justice. His latest book is, “White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity”. Original air date: July 30, 2020.

The Central Maryland Transportation Alliance monitors how buses and trains perform in the Baltimore region and the reliability and safety of the system. How are we doing? We ask CMTA's Eric Norton about the Alliance’s latest public-transit report card ... and what can be improved. Then we hear from Paul Lewis, from the Eno Center for Transportation. He offers scenarios that could help Maryland transform who has a say in transportation decisions and where the money comes from to pay for them.

Links: Central Maryland Transporation Alliance 2020 Transportation Report Card, Eno Center for Transportation report, Transit Reform for Maryland: New Models for Accountability, Stability and Equity.