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.

Brian Witte / Associated Press

As the nation remains glued to the returns in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Arizona, we focus on some of what we can learn from this week’s vote.

UMBC political scientist Tom Schaller joins us to talk about why the polls leading up to this week were so wrong, what a potentially divided Congress could mean for coronavirus recovery, and why both parties failed to achieve a decisive win.

IMF Photo/Cory Hancock / Flickr

The coronavirus rocked the food industry. A trade survey estimates that one out of six restaurants has faced permanent or long term closure since March.

Melissa Gerr

In Charm City, almost none of the nail-biting turmoil of the national races: Democrats running to take or hold offices in City Hall made a clean sweep. Fairly early in the evening, Brandon Scott declared victory in the race for mayor, and voters gave Councilman Nick Mosby the nod to step into the job Scott will vacate, president of the City Council. We’ll ask WYPR reporter Emily Sullivan … and Lisa Snowden-McCray of Real News Network what’s next and what will be the impact of other choices the voters made.

Arcadia Publishing

Throughout Maryland’s history, the Bay’s bounty -- and its access to transatlantic trade -- proved irresistible to pirates.

In her book “Pirates of the Chesapeake Bay,” Jamie Goodall explores the role of these legendary rebels. We hear the stories of a free black man who joined a privateering crew and a prolific Quaker ship builder in Fell’s Point. Original air date: July 28, 2020.

Hari P. Close Funeral Service

We’re seeing monumental efforts to get out the vote--from letter-writing campaigns and big-name music concerts, to viral social media campaigns and more. But don’t forget about … the funeral directors. Dr. Hari P. Close, who owns a Hari P. Close Funeral Service in northeast Baltimore, tells us about “Limos to the Polls." It’s a nationwide endeavor by funeral directors to provide rides to voting centers for seniors and others who need help. Close emphasizes that the service is free and is non-partisan.

Plus, Philip Kahn-Pauli from RespectAbility describes how the needs of people with disabilities are being addressed at the polls, and in the polls.

Links: Limos to the Polls, RespectAbility.

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

The numbers we had all hoped to see dwindle by now are rising instead: the number of people infected with Covid-19. The number hospitalized. The number in the ICU. The number who have died. What’s behind this surge, now, and what could tamp it down? Epidemiologist Dr. Lisa Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention for the Johns Hopkins Health System, admits public messages have been muddled, but stresses that masks, social distance and hand-washing do work. Maragakis will speak at A Woman's Journey on Nov. 7, 2020.

Links: A Woman's Journey, JHU Covid-19 Map.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here's a Stoop Story from Jonathan Jenssen about accidentally-almost-missing his future wife! You can hear his story and many others at, as well as the Stoop podcast.

John Lee / WYPR

While about one-quarter of Maryland’s eligible active voters already have returned their ballots by mail, tens of thousands are showing up each day to make this decision in person. WYPR reporter John Lee relays what he is hearing from voters about this choice. 

Melissa Gerr

Even before the pandemic, Zion Church of the City of Baltimore had to learn to adapt. Founded in 1755 by German immigrants, they’ve offered worship in German and English and hosted cultural events. But like many religious institutions, Zion is figuring out how to remain relevant as it honors the past. We hear from several congregants, as well as clergy about Zion’s future. Plus, we take you behind the scenes we learn how four thousand dumplings are made for Zion’s Sour Beef event. It's on pause this year due to the pandemic, but we were feeling nostalgic ... Enjoy!

Links: Zion Church of the City of Baltimore, video of The Dumpling Brigade.

This episode of On the Record was produced in conjunction with the Goethe Institut’s ‘The Big Pond’ listening series.

Chesapeake Bay Program / Flickr

The migrant women who pick crabmeat on the Eastern Shore are essential workers. They are not immune to discrimination or hazardous work conditions. A new report, titled “Breaking The Shell,” shines light on the conditions these workers face.

AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco

Rising statistics about coronavirus infections  and the number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 point to a sobering conclusion: We will be living with this for months to come. A vaccine is the ultimate weapon -- but is there something effective for use now? Two Johns Hopkins doctors think there is. Doctors David Sullivan and Shmuel Shoham explain how antibodies work, how they can be transferred safely from one person to another and what it will take to complete their clinical trials. 

To find out if you qualify for particiation in the trial call 888-506-1199.

Links:, National Covid-19 Convalescent Plasma Project, further reading


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." We also discuss whether Schwartz, a white man, is the right one to tell the stories of Black and Brown teen-agers and young adults.

Adam Schwartz and his fellow Washington Writers’ Publishing House awardee, poet Steven Leyva, will speak at several virtual events in coming weeks. Sunday, Oct. 25 at 1p.m. at Politics and Prose in Washington, on Thursday, Nov. 5, at the Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore, and on Friday, Nov. 6, at 5 p.m at The Writer's Center in Bethesda.

More reading from Schwartz: Baltimore Sun, and the New York Daily News.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here's a Stoop Story from Shawna Potter about the empowerment that comes with being done with being fed up. You can hear her story and many others at, as well as the Stoop podcast.

The National Library of Medicine/Public Domain

A small piece of cloth has sparked a big debate in the U.S. -- some Americans believe mandates to wear a mask infringe on their personal freedoms. Turns out, this has happened before.

Marian Moser Jones, associate professor in the University of Maryland School of Public Health, tells us about the Anti-mask League of 1918. Jones admits that today’s social distancing and mask-wearing mandates can feel inconvenient, but says we can learn from the Spanish Flu pandemic. Plus, how did that deadly flu play out in Baltimore?

To learn more about Baltimore during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, visit this Baltimore Sun linkThis program originally aired on August 5, 2020.

Wikimedia Commons

Many of us regard bugs and insects simply as pests -- to be rid of. Our guests today know that, and hope to change the hearts and minds of the insect-averse. Spider glue researcher Sarah Stellwagen waxes poetic about the mysteries and science of spider webs. And entomologist Mike Raupp, also known as ‘The Bug Guy,’ is on a mission to help people understand our connection to the creepy crawly critters, starting with the fascinating life cycle of what he claims as his ‘spirit bug’ -- the stupendous cicada. We preview their upcoming talks at the Natural History Society of Maryland.

City Schools TV / YouTube

1,000 Baltimore City students will be able to return to the classroom next month. The district will offer this option to pupils it says are struggling with virtual learning - like students with disabilities. Alison Perkins-Cohen, chief of staff to the city schools’ CEO, lays out the preparation needed.

Colby Ware/OSI Baltimore

60 years ago so many members of the Lumbee Indian Tribe migrated from North Carolina to East Baltimore, that the area was known as “the reservation.” Today folklorist Ashley Minner is working to preserve this history and the memories of Lumbee elders. She guides us through the walking tour she’s created, which includes the Baltimore American Indian Center and Heritage Museum and Rose's Bakery.

Check out her Google map here. Click on the sites and the images to see more information. 

Tomorrow at 7 pm, Minner will be speaking as part of the virtual discussion series, “Art and The Archive,” hosted by the Maryland Institute College of Art. This Thursday at 1 pm, Minner will offer a virtual version of her walking tour for the Oral History Association’s Annual Meeting. And on October 29th, she will be part of a panel discussion exploring the migration of Lumbee Indians to the urban centers.

Harper Collins

Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings died a year ago tomorrow. He invested time in his final months, amid painful health challenges and tough confrontations between Congress and President Trump … to write a memoir called, “We’re Better Than This: My Fight for the Future of our Democracy” It weaves his personal story with accounts of some public battles. His widow and partner, Maya Rockeymore Cummings, says we can hear in the memoir what her late husband would be telling America in anticipation of this year's election.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here’s a Stoop Story from Marshai Allen being a pioneer and the power of poetry. You can hear his story and others at or on the Stoop podcast.

For 14 years after she was raped by her best friend Jeannie Vanasco lived with it, lived with recurring nightmares and with an aching sense of confusion about whether she was making too much or too little of it. Eventually, she reached out to ask him to speak with her, and recorded a series of phone conversations that are the core of her new memoir, "Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl."

You can catch Jeannie Vanasco, a week from today, in conversation with author Kate Wyer to discuss Wyer’s new book “Girl, Cow, & Monk,” at a virtual event hosted by the Ivy Bookshop. And week from tomorrow, on October 23rd, Vanasco will moderate a virtual panel with four authors from different genres to discuss how they approach writing about trauma.

Jewish Museum of Maryland/website screenshot

The Lloyd Street Synagogue, an anchor for the Jewish Museum of Maryland, turned one hundred seventy five this year. To celebrate, JMM shot for the moon! Executive director Marvin Pinkert tells us about their exhibit "Jews in Space: Members of the Tribe in Orbit." Plus, psychologist Harriette Wimms and Tracie Guy-Decker, JMM deputy director, discuss the series: “Jews of Color, Jewish Institutions and Jewish Community in the Age of #Black Lives Matter.” 

Melissa Gerr

The new Goucher Poll asks Marylanders whether the state is on the right track, what they see as its most pressing issue, whether they’ll take a Covid vaccine … and what financial and emotional tolls the pandemic is taking. It also looks at the reform ideas growing out of Black Lives Matter protests of police brutality: how do Marylanders assess proposals for independently investigating complaints of police misconduct? Making such investigations public? Banning chokeholds? De-funding the police? All that in our conversation with  Goucher assistant politics Professor Mileah Kromer, who directs The Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center. 

Links: Goucher Poll.

Wikimedia Commons

Imagine an election jammed with tension … voter intimidation … threats of violence … and then after the vote, months of bitter dispute over the electoral votes of four divided states. The election of 1876 almost plunged the country back into civil war. Part of the stakes, says University of Maryland historian Michael Ross, was the course of Reconstruction, the Republican regime that posted federal troops in the old Confederacy to protect former slaves.

Andy Reago and Chrissy McClarren/Creative commons

Think your car gets good mileage? Blackpoll warblers, birds that weigh about one ounce during migration, achieve the equivalent of 720,000 miles per gallon each year when they fly to and from North and South America. We learn these facts and more with Chris Eberly, director of the Maryland Bird Conservation Partnership. Later this month he’ll be presenting, through the Natural History Society of Maryland: ‘Unlocking the Mysteries and Marvels of Bird Migration.”

Links: NHSM event: Unlocking the Mysteries and Marvels of Bird Migration, Safe Skies Maryland, Lights Out Baltimore.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here's a Stoop Story from Terri Diener about what our pets want us to know. ...Whether we like it or not! You can hear her story and others at stoopstorytelling dot com or on the stoop podcast.

The next virtually live Stoop show is Invisible Labor: Stories About Hidden Work, Unseen Efforts and Toiling Far From the Limelight. It happens on Thursday Oct. 15 at 7pm via zoom.

F Delventhal / Flickr Creative Commons

Many Americans are finding the pandemic has reshaped their sleep schedule, for better or worse. Dr. Stephanie Wappel is a physician at GBMC Health Partners –Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine. She details the side effects of both too little or too much sleep. One habit to avoid-- screen time before bed.

JHU Bloomberg School of Public Health

The COVID-19 pandemic may not be a hurricane, a terrorist attack or a war, but it is a disaster. As a disaster psychologist George Everly has spent four decades responding to the mental-health needs of victims of calamities around the world. One of his conclusions is that the psychological casualties of a disaster--people so badly hurt mentally or emotionally that they can’t do what they need to do in life--always outnumber the physical casualties. What should we be doing now to address the pandemic’s psychological cost?

George Everly's blog in Psychology Today is “When Disaster Strikes: Inside Disaster Psychology.” In this commentary for the the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, he describes steps in moving past the pandemic. Original airdate: July 20, 2020.

Public Domain

In the midst of the off-the-charts unpredictability of this year, we turn to Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute.She doesn't predict the future. But she’s spent decades analyzing trends and intuiting signals that help governments and global companies plan for the long range. How is the pandemic opening a market for clothing that doesn’t physically exist? Which huge corporations will emerge stronger? How could Baltimore capitalize on the work-at-home trend? And Webb has advice for the average person looking to ease the panicky feelings 2020 has wrought: “The best that we can do is be more flexible and adaptable everyday. And to keep our eyes on the future, and the future we want to inhabit, and try to get there.”

Links: Books by Amy Webb; Future Today Institute Newsletter.

Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States / Flickr Creative Commons

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg may have been a petite woman, but she was a judicial giant. Karen Rothenberg, former dean of the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, shares her memories of the late justice and her legacy. Rothenberg is a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and the Marjorie Cook Professor Emeritus of Law at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. 

Then, a cloud of uncertainty as the Supreme Court’s new term begins today. Will President Trump’s conservative nominee Judge Amy Coney Barret be confirmed? How quickly could it happen? University of Baltimore law professor Michael Meyerson discusses the shifting ideological shape of the court, and its imminent docket.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here is a Stoop Story from Sean McDonald about his possible paranormal visitor and his wise aunties.

Listen to more stories from the Stoop Storytelling Series, as well as the Stoop podcast, here. The next live Stoop show is October 15th via Zoom. The theme is "Invisible Labor."