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.

Navy planes flying above Pax River
Liz Goettee, U.S. Navy

 Last week, President Obama released his budget for fiscal year 2015. It includes substantial defense cuts--the Army would shrink to its smallest size since before World War II. The military accounts for almost $35 billion dollars of economic activity in Maryland, according to a 2008 state government report. So, how might Maryland be affected by these cuts? 

A Wage with a Past

Mar 7, 2014
Flickr / Compfight


  In 1938, the federal government established a minimum wage for the first time. It was 25 cents an hour, or 4.15 in today’s dollars.  Now, both President Obama and Governor O’Malley have made raising the minimum wage a priority.  In Maryland, the minimum wage is currently the same as the federal rate, 7.25. The legislature is considering a proposal that would raise that to $10.10 by 2017.  

Dealing with Debt After a Foreclosure

Mar 5, 2014
Flickr / Jeffrey Turner

In Maryland, lenders have up to 12 years to take homeowners to court for any remaining debt they owe on a foreclosed home. It’s known as a “deficiency judgment.”  The General Assembly is considering two bills that could change deficiency judgments in Maryland.   We talk about both.

The Scandalous Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay

Mar 5, 2014
Catherine Pelura

Erika Robuck, who lives in Annapolis, has made a specialty of weaving fictional plots around the real lives of literary giants of the early 20th century.  Her latest is a book called Fallen Beauty, a novel that traces the life of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, the third woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in poetry.


This is The Checkup, our weekly series about how healthcare is changing in Maryland.  One of the goals of the Affordable Care Act is to change incentives for providers of healthcare, so economic rewards would be more attached to keeping patients well than to the number of tests, treatments, and procedures performed on those patients.

Still from the film AFTER TILLER

Baltimore County native Martha Shane's documentary film After Tiller follows the four doctors in the country who openly perform late term abortions.  We talked with her  before an audience at the Brown Center on the campus of MICA as part of the Maryland Film Festival Spotlight Series.  You can learn more about the Film Festival here.

Author Sheri Booker
Alvin Gray

Before her mid-20s, Sheri Booker already had worked for nine years in the Albert P. Wyle Funeral Home.  She started at 15 with a summer job answering phones and, as she says, Baby-sitting bodies. Over the years the job turned into a lot more, and Sheri Booker has written about it all in her memoir, Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner City Funeral Home.  


The Maryland legislature is considering a bill called the "Maryland Second Chance Act of 2014" (SB 0804, HB 1166) which would shield convictions for ten non-violent misdemeanors from the eyes of the public-including most employers. A path to a second chance, or an unfair restriction on employers?

The Cost of Health Disparities

Feb 28, 2014
University of Michigan Health System

Race can be a major predictor of how healthy you are, and what diseases you’ll get, and how much money you’ll make—or not make—over the course of your life.  A new study from the Bloomberg School of Public Health found that health disparities among African-American and Hispanic men cost the economy more than $450 billion dollars between 2006 and 2009.  Researchers looked at both the direct costs of medical care, as well as the indirect costs such as lower productivity.

Credit: Charlie Wambeke
Charlie Wambeke

The federal government has ordered Baltimore city to pay back $3.7 million of federal stimulus money intended to reduce homelessness. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says the city failed to properly account for the funds it spent. Luke Broadwater, City Hall reporter for The Baltimore Sun, reported on the story. He joins Sheilah Kast by phone to talk about it.

You can read Luke's reporting on the story, along with The Baltimore Sun's Yvonne Wenger's,  here.

Restroom Use Debated in Gender Identity Bill

Feb 26, 2014

The General Assembly is considering a bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment,  housing, and public accommodations.  It’s sponsored in the House by Luke Clippinger, Democrat of Baltimore City, and in the Senate by Richard Madaleno, Democrat of Montgomery County.    

Credit Alex Proimos
Alex Proimos

Today, we continue our series, The Checkup, our weekly series on how health care is changing in Maryland. One big change announced yesterday for the state’s online health insurance marketplace: The board of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange said it’s ending its contract with Noridian, the North Dakota-based company that had been the prime I.T. contractor. Joining Sheilah Kast now to talk about the change is Maryland Health Secretary Joshua Sharfstein, who chairs the board of the exchange. 

Our first two guests, when Maryland Morning launched almost eight years ago, were the then-CEO of the East Baltimore Development, Incorporated – and the community activist who was leading the charge to make sure that the people who had lived in Middle East had a chance to work and live in the re-developed community. That community activist is Dr. Marisela Gomez, who's speaking at the Pratt Central Library tonight.

Baltimore Sun Media Group Buys City Paper

Feb 24, 2014
Stephanie Hughes


Baltimore’s alternative weekly, City Paper, is being bought by the Baltimore Sun Media Group.  The deal was announced last week, and  will close in early March.  Already many are asking: what does it mean for an alternative weekly to be bought by the traditional “paper of record”? We talk with Tiffany Shackelford, executive Director of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, and with one of the co-founders of Baltimore's City Paper, Russ Smith.  He sold the paper to its current owner, Times-Shamrock Communications, in 1987.

Envision Salisbury

It’s been more than three decades since a new building went up in downtown Salisbury on the Eastern Shore.  The city’s is aiming to revitalize itself – and one unusual element in that effort involves dozens of graduate and undergraduate architecture students re-designing Salisbury’s downtown. Since January, 58 students from the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (MAPP) have been researching Salisbury history, and mapping, drawing and analyzing data from residents in a project called “Envision Salisbury.”

Baltimore Names Greg Thornton Schools CEO

Feb 21, 2014

Baltimore City Schools has a new leader.  Gregory Thornton, who currently leads Milwaukee public schools, will take over the post of CEO this July.  We talk with two reporters about what to expect from his tenure.

Credit: Markus Grossalber / Flickr / Creative Commons
Markus Grossalber / Flickr / Creative Commons

The number of medical drugs in short supply has tripled since 2007. What can be done to lower the impact on patients?  We ask Dr. Yoram Unguru from the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.

Vicki Schassler shoveled the sidewalk in front of Spirits of Mount Vernon in Baltimore.
Stephanie Hughes

The heavy snow closed most schools and many offices yesterday. But some people had to work… someone had to clear the roads and sidewalks.  It raises a very unromantic question on this Valentine’s Day: what’s the economic impact of a winter storm?

Helping Elders During a Snowstorm

Feb 14, 2014
Compfight / Creative Commons

Maryland has been hit by heavy snow over the past two days.  How do our older neighbors plan for and deal with this kind of weather?  Sheilah Kast asks Judah Ronch, Dean of the Erickson School at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Data set of toll transactions in Maryland via

What can Maryland do to make the data it collects more accessible to you? How could you use it? We talk with State Senator Bill Ferguson about creating a new Open Data Policy for Maryland.

Are ACOs Changing the Way Doctors Work Together?

Feb 11, 2014
a.drian / Creative Commons
a.drian / Creative Commons

Today, on the Checkup, we look at Accountable Care Organizations, or ACOs. Those are groups of independent providers in a particular community who join together to coordinate care—and to save money.  ACOs can include hospitals, physicians, and specialists. 

Editor B/flickr

Maryland is one of 45 states that has adopted what’s called the Common Core standards for curriculum in public schools.  The Maryland State Board of Education adopted them in June 2010, but this is the school year the standards are being implemented – and the movement against them by some parents and teachers is building steam.

Dwight Watkins
Dwight Watkins

Baltimore writer Dwight Watkins published a piece in the online magazine Salon this week about the isolating effects of poverty in the East Baltimore neighborhoods where he grew up. Sheilah Kast talks with him about how some in East Baltimore are "too poor for pop culture."

Why HIV-Positive Teens Aren't Getting Tested

Feb 5, 2014
Stephanie Hughes

Many teenagers with HIV are not getting treatment for the disease until the virus is in advanced stages.  That’s the finding of a study published this week in the journal Pediatrics.  It was a retrospective study of 13 clinic sites around the country, including one in Baltimore.  They looked at new patients ages 12 to 24.  They looked at teenagers who were infected through behavior, not those who became positive at birth. 

Church of the Messiah burning at Fayette and Gay Streets
Public Domain

  One-hundred ten years ago this Friday, Baltimore could be seen as a glow in the night sky for miles around the city. It wasn’t the city lights that generated the glow but a wind-stoked fire that ravaged much of the city’s downtown. The Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 is considered the third worst fire to hit an American city and it shaped downtown in ways still visible today.

Jamyla Kay

Every year more than 50,000 refugees and asylees enter the United States, and hundreds resettle in Maryland. 

On today’s edition of The Checkup, we hear from refugees and service providers about the changes to refugees' healthcare and the unique health challenges that many face.

“Magic is what people call it when the universe corrects itself,” says one of the characters in Laurel Snyder’s new book.  We met Laurel Snyder, who was born in Baltimore, about two years ago, when we talked about her book for kids, Bigger than a Bread Box.  It’s a book about families with a dose of magic.