Midday | WYPR


Monday-Friday from noon-1:00 pm, Tom Hall and his guests are talking about what’s on your mind, and what matters most to Marylanders:  the latest news, local and national politics, education and the environment, popular culture and the arts, sports and science, race and religion, movies and medicine.  We welcome your questions and comments. Email us at midday@wypr.org, tweet us: @MiddayWYPR, or call us at 410-662-8780.

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Midday programs with Sheilah Kast as host ended on September 16, 2016

Archive prior to October 5, 2015

  This week on the Friday News Roundup: Governor Hogan unveiled this week a $700 million dollar plan to eliminate blight across Baltimore City. Four thousand properties have been identified as vacant and will be demolished, beginning with a block in the Sandtown Winchester neighborhood. We get reaction to the governor’s controversial plan from urban designer Klaus Philipsen and activist Lucky Crosby.

Then, Baltimore Sun’s John Fritze brings us up to speed on the race to fill the Senate seat left by the retiring Barbara Mikulski. Who’s ahead, and has Elijah Cummings missed his chance to contend?

Plus news headlines from the Baltimore Business Journal. Melody Simmons tells us about Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s development vision for Port Covington.

Unless an appeals court says no, Officer William Porter will be compelled to testify against Caesar Goodson, the next Baltimore police officer on trial for the death and arrest of Freddie Gray. Legal experts are calling this move unprecedented. University of Maryland law professor Doug Colbert offers his analysis at noon. 

Chasing A Killer & Preventing Gun Violence

Jan 6, 2016
Karl Merton Ferron via Baltimore Sun

  Last year was arguably Baltimore’s deadliest ever. By its end, the city suffered 344 homicides, and saw an additional 600 non-fatal shootings. Across town these crimes have strained resources, but perhaps none harder than police investigators.

In September, the Baltimore Sun was given exclusive access to the Baltimore Police Department’s homicide unit as it investigated the killing of a 29-year old man, Kevin Cannady, from Northwest Baltimore. The result was the five-part investigative series, Chasing A Killer, which details the painstaking process of uncovering and chasing leads in a homicide investigation and the struggle by police to regain the community’s trust. The series' author, Justin Fenton, is our first guest.

Executive Action on Guns

Jan 5, 2016

President Obama outlined this morning a series of executive actions intended to curb gun violence. The actions include requiring background checks for all methods of gun purchases, expanding access to mental health treatment, and increasing funds for enforcement of gun laws.

Back in October, a military surveillance blimp escaped from Aberdeen Proving Ground and drifted to Pennsylvania, leaving a trail of power outages in its wake. Congress last made a big cut in the wayward blimp’s funding. We get an update from Ian Duncan of the Baltimore Sun.

Can being black be bad for your health? In his memoir "Black Man in a White Coat," Maryland native Dr. Damon Tweedy reveals - through personal reflections and hard statistics - the disparities between blacks and whites in the world of medicine.


  A new survey finds that a large majority of Marylanders believe that police in their neighborhoods are doing a good job of fighting crime. On the other hand, many also believe that officers do not treating blacks and other minorities the same as whites. We speak to Ann Cotten, director of the University of Baltimore's Schaefer Center for Public Policy, about the results and how perceptions differ between residents in Baltimore City versus the rest of Maryland.

A cop, a dancer, a cyclist, a refugee, an artist. What do they have in common?

They are all members of the Open Society Institute’s new class of Baltimore Community Fellows. These innovators will work full-time for the next 18 months on projects that revitalize neglected neighborhoods and reach out to underserved groups. In this hour, we’ll hear from five of the fellows. We’ll learn about Darlene Crider's project to connect youth in Baltimore’s Oliver community with retired law enforcement officers, as well as Brian Gerardo's effort to teach young dancers how to lead their own classes. Plus, Hannah Brancato's program of healing through art, Hari Adhikhari on life as a refugee, and Chavi Rhodes talks bike mechanics for teens.

Open Society Institute's 2015 Fellows: Part I

Dec 29, 2015

Since 1998, the Open Society Institute in Baltimore, or OSI, has provided fellowships supporting innovative individuals using unconventional approaches to solve some of society’s most prevalent challenges. Over the next two days, Midday will interview each of the ten members of the OSI’s Fellows of 2015.

Today we’ll speak to three educators, Greg Carpenter, Dave Eassa and Brion Gill, who respectively bring baking, art and poetry classes into local prisons to help inmates express themselves; A drummer, Menes Yahuda, who brings African music and culture in inner city middle school classrooms, and a documentarian, Meryam Bouadjemi, who produces creative campaigns advocating for job opportunities for those returning from prison.

In mid-January, leaders from all different fields and walks of life will gather at Morgan State University for TEDxBaltimore, an event featuring short lectures on technology, education, art, and more. The goal: to highlight ideas to change the world.

In this hour, we’ll get a preview from three of the event’s speakers. James Page, chief diversity officer of Johns Hopkins, tells us why doctors shouldn’t write off different cultures' approaches to healthcare. Victor Rodgers, also known as Slangston Hughes, describes how the art of spoken word can be a force for change in Baltimore. And Alexandra Petri, columnist and blogger for the Washington Post, pokes fun at criticism leveled at how women speak.

Overdoses on heroin and prescription painkillers are epidemic in the U.S., and in Maryland. In the first half of 2015, more than 500 Marylanders died of heroin and pain-pill overdoses. Part of the state’s response is a new policy that lets pharmacists dispense - without a prescription – naloxone, a drug that counteracts the effects of an opioid overdose. Since October Baltimore has issued 1,600 doses of the antidote, and trained 7,000 residents to administer it.

Aggression, insomnia, headaches, and even seizures. A traumatic brain injury can have life-altering consequences for individuals and their families. Today we’ll hear from Dr. Sandeep Vaishnavi, a neuropsychiatrist at Duke University Medical Center and the co-author of "The Traumatized Brain: A Family Guide to Understanding Mood, Memory, and Behavior after Brain Injury," published by John Hopkins University Press.

Food Insecurity During the Holidays

Dec 21, 2015
Getty Images via HuffingtonPost.com

  For many of us, the holidays means family gatherings with more food than we know what to do with. But for 1 in 8 Marylanders, this is still a time when they may not know where their next meal is coming from. Making matters more difficult: one third of those who report food insecurity earn too much to qualify for government aid. In this hour of Midday we'll discuss hunger, it’s surprising prevalence, and why it needs to be addressed year round - not only during the holidays. 

Our guests are Wes Moore, Deborah Flateman,  president and CEO of the Maryland Food Bank, Michael J. Wilson the director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, and John Gaddis the superintendent of Somerset County Public Schools, which now serves free meals to all students.

Friday News Round-Up

Dec 18, 2015
Christopher Connelly

Justice Reinvestment; Declining Abortion Rates; Power Plant Protests; Police Reform Coalition

Last year Maryland taxpayers spent $1.3 billion dollars to incarcerate more than 20 thousand offenders -- most of them convicted of non-violent crimes. We talk to Chris Shank, executive director of the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention, and Del. Kathleen Dumais (D- Mont. Co), members of a bipartisan panel that just recommended shorter drug sentences, more predictable parole and and other changes that could save taxpayers nearly a quarter billion dollars over the next decade.

Plus, America’s abortion rate hits a record low. Dr. Amina Chaudhry, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Maryland, provides a breakdown of the data. And protests against an incinerator planned for South Baltimore ended in arrests this week. Fern Shen of the Baltimore Brew gives us the details.

Then, Reverend S. Todd Yeary, co-chair of the Maryland NAACP, urges residents to channel outrage constructively, by working for structural reform of the Baltimore Police Department. All this on Midday's Friday news round-up.

Hung Jury Follow Up: What's Next?

Dec 17, 2015
Rachel Baye

Baltimore is reacting to the mistrial in the trial of Police Officer William Porter. The jury told Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams it could not reach a verdict on any of the four charges against him. In this hour we’ll get the latest on whether prosecutors plan to try Porter again. We’ll analyze what took place over the last three weeks with law professors J. Amy Dillard and Doug Colbert. Ericka Alston of the Penn-North Community Resource Center and founder of the Penn North Kids Safe Zone joins us to gauge her community’s reaction to the mistrial. 

Smart Transitions

  The Millennial Generation is now even more numerous than Baby Boomers. People think of millennials as confident, tech savvy, and team-oriented, but across the country, millions of the youngest millennials also fit the definition of disconnected: 16 to 24 years old, out of school and out of work.

Maryland estimates that one out of ten of its young people, 94 thousand, are disconnected. Today we’ll learn what’s behind this sad social trend and who is most affected. We’ll talk with Mark Mittelman, the executive director of New Pathways; Susan Emfinger the director of business and community relations for Hope-Forward; and Jamal C. a formerly disconnected youth and alumnus of New Pathways who is now seeing better days.

Meet East Baltimore Midway's Stakeholders

Dec 15, 2015
Connor Graham

Baltimore citizens and city leaders have long called for stronger investments in inner city communities, especially after the unrest in the spring. But what happens when there are competing plans for improvements?

In this hour of Midday, we’ll speak to stakeholders from the East Baltimore Midway neighborhood: Cheryl Carmona and Patrick Baron, Founder and  Manager and Development Coordinator of the Boone Street Farm; and Tamir Ezzat, a young architect based in Howard County, who hopes to turn blighted neighborhoods back into thriving communities. The problem is, they're in competition for the same lots.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz is here to take your questions. We’ll talk about the re-development of Sparrows Point and what kind of jobs might materialize there, the repeal of the rain tax and what impact that will have other items in the budget, and Kamenetz’s disputes with Republican Gov. Hogan and with Democratic Comptroller Franchot over money for schools. We’ll also get his thoughts about public housing, how the region is recovering from the riot and protests in April, and what role county residents should play in that recovery.

P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

It’s two weeks down - and supposedly- less than one to go in the trial of Officer William Porter. What have we learned from this week’s testimony? How will competing timelines of when Gray was injured impact the jury? University of Baltimore law professor J. Amy Dillard offers her analysis.

We welcome State Senator Catherine Pugh to Midday, as we continue our conversations with Baltimore’s 2016 mayoral candidates. We'll talk about education - Pugh helped found the Baltimore Design School in Station North - and reducing violent crime - she’s co-chair of the General Assembly’s Public Safety and Policing Work Group. Plus, how will she work to grow Baltimore's business sector? Join the conversation with your questions and calls for Senator Catherine Pugh.

University of Maryland’s president has recommended the renaming of College Park's football venue, Byrd Stadium. To many Harry Cliftion Byrd is a home state hero; for others he is an outspoken racist. Is the change is warranted, or simply political correctness run amok?

Today we'll hear from Bonnie Thorton Dill, Dean of University of Maryland's College of Arts and Humanities; University of Maryland sophomore and journalist for the Diamondback, Andrew Dunn; University of Maryland senior and student activist, Colin Byrd; and Ken Lawson, the Mayor of Crisfield, MD, " Curley" Byrd's hometown.

Of the 322 murder victims this year in Baltimore City about 90 percent were African American. For the family and friends left behind, losing a loved one to homicide can color the grieving process with shame, blame, and stigma. Survivors may be reluctant to share what happened, fearing that people will assume the deceased was involved in criminal activity. But bottling up feelings of anger and sadness can lead to symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and other health problems.

2015 has been a tough year for Baltimore City. The world saw the city in flames in April, following the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, and by mid-November the surge in violent crime claimed its 300th homicide victim. But in a new report measuring 50 U.S. cities’ commitment to Black Male Achievement, Baltimore ranked fifth. A representative from the Campaign for Black Male Achievement will join us to analyze the data. Then: an interview with 2016 Mayoral candidate Elizabeth Embry. We’ll ask her what her experience as a public servant - not a politician - can bring to the city.

  On today's Friday News Roundup: The first week of the trial of Officer William Porter draws to a close. WYPR reporter Kenneth Burns gives us an update. Then, an East Baltimore neighborhood calls for an end to violent crime. We hear from Marques Dent, an organizer for an event tonight called "Peace in our Streets," about the community’s grief and frustration. Plus, new cases of diabetes are on the decline in the U.S. Dr. David M. Nathan, the Director of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital will tell us what more can be done to prevent the disease. Rick Seltzer of the Baltimore Business Journal will catch us up on business headlines from the Port of Baltimore to McCormick Spice Company, and take a look at whether April’s unrest impacted hiring in the city. And Annie Howe of the Charm City Craft Mafia gives us a head’s up about an upcoming holiday market.

We live in a world of internet-based technology, like social media, cloud storage, and instantaneous messaging. We also live in the midst of war with extremists, terrorism and very real threats to our safety.

In this hour of Midday, we’re going to talk about the overlap of those two worlds: Sean Gallagher, the Baltimore-based IT editor of Ars Technica, joins us to talk about ISIS propaganda on social media and “hacktivist” twitter accounts that aim to bring them down. Also, deck the halls with holly and drones: How did drones become one of this Holiday season’s most popular requests, and how much are we paying for them?

It’s one of the most fundamental and indispensable skills: the ability to read. Low reading scores on recent standardized tests in Maryland public schools shocked some parents – both fourth-graders and eighth-graders showed a drop in reading. As a result, education experts are asking whether teachers are being adequately prepared for the classroom.

On today’s show: what’s the best way to teach reading? We’ll talk about the debate over phonics versus whole-language. We’ll hear from Karen Robertson, associate dean in the College of Education at Towson University; Walter Dunson executive director of Cardinal Reading Strategies; Steve Buettner, the head of the Baltimore Lab School; and Donald Bolger, associate professor in the Department of Human Development & Quantitative Methodology at the University of Maryland.

For many of us, ‘tis the season for shopping, and holiday glee. But for high school seniors, it’s the time of year where their thoughts turn to college and where they’ll be next fall. Unfortunately for most graduates of Baltimore City public schools who enter college there is the need to take remedial courses before they start on college-level work. A new report from the Fund For Educational Excellence finds that students also need sharper understanding of independence, time management and finances.

In this hour of Midday, we’ll talk to Cassie Motz of the College Bound Foundation, Joe Fisher of First Generation College Bound, and hear from students they’ve worked with including Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott, and Neyesia Lawrence, a junior at Towson University.

Arash Azizzada / Flickr via creative commons

A new survey finds that a large majority of Marylanders believe that police in their neighborhoods are doing a good job of fighting crime. On the other hand, many also believe that officers do not treating blacks and other minorities the same as whites. We speak to Ann Cotten, director of the University of Baltimore's Schaefer Center for Public Policy, about the results and how perceptions differ between residents in Baltimore City versus the rest of Maryland.

Plus, the trial of the first Baltimore police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray began this morning. Meanwhile, the release of dash-cam video of a Chicago police officer shooting an unarmed African American teen has triggered protests in the city. Is there a connection between the deaths of black men in police custody and the surge in homicides in Baltimore, Chicago, Milwaukee and some other big cities? With police-involved shootings under scrutiny, how are cops reacting? Some blame the crime spike on less proactive policing. Are cops pulling back? Are they worried about being filmed doing their jobs?

Now that holiday shopping can be done with the click of a button, why do people still line-up as early as Thanksgiving afternoon to get a start on big box store sales? In this Black Friday edition of Midday, we’ll take a look at consumer psychology, and hear what’s on many shopping lists this holiday season. Philippe Duverger is a professor of Marketing at Towson University. Barry Meyers is the founder and president of Get Geeked Media, a New York-based tech-marketing company.

Is The G.O.P. Too Polarized To Function?

Nov 25, 2015

  From filibusters and threats to shut down the government, to outsider presidential candidates and vows to keep out Syrian refugees, the Republican party is in a peculiar and "unprecedented" place. Is the G.O.P. too polarized to function?

In this hour of Midday, we take a  historical look at political insurgencies from the past: from the democratic Watergate Babies in the seventies, to the Tea Party and Freedom Caucus of today. Our guests: Barry Rascovar from the Maryland Reporter; Laura Blessing, the Senior Fellow Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University and Geoffrey Kabaservice, author of ‘Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party.'