On The Record | WYPR

On The Record

Weekdays, 9:30 to 10:00 am

Catch On the Record, hosted by Sheilah Kast, weekdays from 9:30 to 10:00 am, following NPR’s Morning Edition. We’ll discuss the issues that affect your life and bring you thoughtful and lively conversations with the people who shape those issues -- business people, public officials, scholars, artists, authors, and journalists who can take us inside the story. If you want to share a comment, question, or an idea for an interview you’d like to hear, email us at ontherecord@wypr.org.

Special WYPR Coronavirus Coverage

Theme music created by Jon Ehrens.  Logo designed by Louis Umerlik.

Ways to Connect

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here is a Stoop Story from Mike Ricigliano about a prank gone wrong. Check out the Stoop Storytelling Series website, where you can hear more stories and listen to the Stoop podcast.

Francisco Àvia_Hospital Clínic / Flickr Creative Commons

How do doctors and hospitals make gut-wrenching decisions about who gets potentially lifesaving treatment and who doesn’t?

As thousands of ill patients across the country are hospitalized, we discuss the ethical dilemmas of this crisis. Johns Hopkins bioethicist Ruth Faden walks us through the tough calculations physicians must make. Read about the state-wide conversations about ventilator rationing after the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. 

Melissa Gerr

Half of Maryland jobs are in small businesses--most now shut down in the pandemic, like the rest of the economy.  We talk with Maryland Department of Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz to hear about loans and grants available to business owners. Plus we check in with Ken Skrzesz, executive director of the Maryland State Arts Council and Brendan Dorr, president of the Baltimore Bartenders Guild to hear how arts organizations and bartenders coping amidst the closures. 

Visit this link for the Maryland Business Express assitance.

To visit the Virtual Tip Jar where you can support Baltimore area bartenders, visit this link and for the Baltimore Area Restaurant Industry Relief Group, visit this link. For a list of online performances, visit this link.

Ivy Bookshop

Take a break from coronavirus cares. Think back to Fred Rogers’ warm smile as he came through the door, sang his cheerful greeting, and shed his professional jacket for a cardigan. What we saw only indirectly was how meticulously Mr. Rogers had planned his Neighborhood … and how intensely he worked to counter the values of many kids’ shows in the 1960s. We ask Hopkins business professor Alexandra Klarén about Roger’s religious motivation, and his insights into what children need to be secure enough to learn about the world--from her book, On Becoming Neighbors.

U.S. Army National Guard.Sgt. Elise Moore / Flickr

Our guest this morning is Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein is Associate Dean for Public Health Practice and Training and Professor of the Practice at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He previously served as the Health Commissioner of Baltimore City and the Health Secretary of the State of Maryland.

To curb the spread of the coronavirus, universities have dispersed their students and are counting on teaching over the internet to keep students learning. The University System of Maryland, comprising a dozen public universities, had started down that road, but this is a big acceleration. How will it work? How will hundreds of professors who have not taught online before learn how to convey their knowledge and keep students engaged? What about students who don’t have their own computers? Or a strong wi-fi connection? The system’s Associate Vice Chancellor, MJ Bishop, directs the Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation. She says what’s taking place now is remote teaching, not a full-fledged online university.

For resources on remote teaching, visit this link. For news and updates regarding COVID-19 closures and restrictions in the University System of Maryland, visit this link.

Creative Commons/Splanka Therapy Institute

Fearful of the deadly epidemic, many people turn to their faith for comfort and connection -- at the very time restrictions to quell the coronavirus have caused churches, mosques and synagogues to close their doors. We hear how Rabbi Daniel Cotzin Burg of Beth Am synagogue is thinking outside the sanctuary walls to create community. And Right Reverend Eugene Taylor Sutton, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, sees these times as an opportunity to invoke and cultivate faith.

To hear Bishop Sutton's sermon, visit this link. To hear Rabbi Burg's sermon, "Sinai Karaoke: Connection in an Isolation Age," visit this link. For CDC recommendations for clergy and worshippers, visit this link.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here's a Stoop Story from Janet Combs about reclaiming childhood innocence, and what that means when you’re a parent. You can hear her story and many others at Stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

Rachel Baye

The General Assembly has adjourned three weeks early--a remarkable move to reduce legislators’ risk of touching the coronavirus. They hustled through dozens of bills, sometimes suspending rules to pass a state budget, an overhaul of the school system, and a plan to rebuild Pimlico racetrack.

Don Harder / Flickr

As public schools in Maryland remain closed to slow the spread of COVID-19, families and kids are grappling with boredom and stress.

The Dow plunges. Store shelves are picked clean. Thousands of people aren’t going to work, and don’t know how long that will last. Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute, says this time of pandemic uncertainty is exactly when it’s important to make plans .. which is not the same as predictions. As she helps clients imagine responses to good and bad developments, Webb also views the pandemic through an unusual lens.

To access Webb's Axes of Uncertainty, visit this link.

Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development

In five years the non-profit Turnaround Tuesday, which focuses on workforce development, has helped more than 800 Baltimore residents find work. It calls itself “a second-chance jobs movement.”

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here is Jen Antonelli’s Stoop Story about a dog on the run. Listen to more Stoop Stories - and the Stoop podcast - here.

Jake Slagle / Flickr

Beaming lighthouses, seascapes with crashing waves, cottages under puffy clouds. It was common in the 1950s for windows in East Baltimore rowhomes to be adorned with painted screens. Now it’s a rare treat.

Painted screens grew popular for a practical reason: They block the interior of your home from prying eyes.

U.S. Census Bureau / Flickr Creative Commons

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

As more Marylanders are tested for COVID-19, the disease from the new coronavirus, we talk to two doctors watching the epidemic closely. Emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City’s former health commissioner, notes the seasonal flu we’re used to is more widespread than the new disease. Still, Wen says to expect more restrictions on people’s activities, to keep the virus from spreading. And Dr. Cliff Mitchell of the state health department says slowing the spread can keep COVID-19 from overwhelming Maryland’s health system. 

To get updated information from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention on COVID-19, visit this link.

For Maryland Department of Health updated COVID-19 information, visit this link.

Visionary Arts

Mar 10, 2020
Courtesy Bergdorf Goodman/photo: Dan McMahon

Whether it’s the crowd-pleasing Kinetic Sculpture Race, the paws-a-tively delightful Pet Parade or the outsider-art exhibits curated inside its glittering mosaic tile-covered walls -- The American Visionary Art Museum aims to present art as an immersive experience that challenges visitors to think as well as feel. Founder and director Rebecca Hoffberger discusses the current exhibit, ‘The Secret Life of Earth’ and the upcoming Logan Visionary Conference. She also reflects on what it’s like to be at the helm of a space where--for 25 years--art, science, philosophy and social justice intersect.

For information about the Logan Visionary Conference on March 22, 2020, visit this link.


Why was the U.S. at war in Iraq? What did the war mean for those who served or to those at home? Characters created by writer and Marine Veteran Phil Klay work these questions out on the page in his book called Redeployment. We spoke with Klay prior to his humanities-symposium keynote lecture this Thursday at Loyola University Maryland. The book comprises a dozen short stories told from twelve different perspectives of men who served.

The Loyola humanities symposium "Wounds Of War," has been posted. For updated information, visit this link.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here is a Stoop Story from Jonathan Theirman about a not-so-romantic date in the emergency room. Click here for more information about the Stoop Storytelling Series - including upcoming live events and the Stoop podcast.

Elaine Smith / Flickr Creative Commons

Aiming For Zero

Mar 5, 2020
Jody Metzger/Creative Commons

Zero waste and zero toxic emissions--hard to imagine what that means for any city. But there is a plan for Baltimore that proposes just that. We hear from consultant Gary Liss about how other cities are modeling what could work in Baltimore. Plus Terriq Thompson and Meleny Thomas of the non-profit United Workers, talk about ‘Baltimore’s Fair Development Plan for Zero Waste.’

To read the draft proposal for Baltimore's Fair Development Plan for Zero Waste visit this link.

Kelly Colgan Azar / Flickr Creative Commons

A diverse mix of trees, shrubs, and flowers provides a buffet of food for insects and birds, while absorbing the greenhouse gases that warm our planet.

Johns Hopkins surgeon Marty Makary says American health care is broken. He heaped his latest book with tales of doctors talking patients into surgeries they don’t need and hospitals suing patients into bankruptcy over bills that were bloated to begin with.

Photos courtesy of @nytdavidbrooks and @dwatkinsworld

What if, instead of seeing Baltimore as a collection of troubles, traumas, assets, resources and deficits … we looked at her as the heroine of a novel? Or maybe its hero? What would the story be?

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here is a Stoop Story from Dr. Brian Volck about learning to listen. You can listen to more Stoop Stories here.

Wikimedia Commons

The details we know of the voyage made by the sailing merchant ship Margaret in 1718 only hint at what the enslaved Africans on board must have felt.

Flickr Creative Commons / Unnar Ýmir Björnsson

When boxes and papers and family heirlooms take over, it can be hard to find a path forward. For nearly two decades, social worker Elaine Birchall has been helping clients with compulsive hoarding disorder recognize the consequences of hoarding and create a plan to reclaim their space. Her book, co-authored with Suzanne Cronkwright, is “Conquer the Clutter”. 

What are Marylanders thinking? The latest Goucher College poll measures attitudes about sports betting and taxes, fears about coronavirus, and how well Gov. Hogan and President Trump are doing their jobs. Even though a big majority in the state told pollsters they’ve read nothing about the Kirwan Commission and its proposals for improving the state’s schools -- the poll shows strong support for some of what Kirwan calls for, like higher teacher pay and more vocation and job training. Poll director Mileah Kromer joins us to discuss the poll’s highlights.


You can make the case that Baltimore won’t solve any of its challenges--crime, schools, jobs--unless it gets its public transportation system right. The nonprofit Bikemore has invited candidates for mayor to a transit-focused forum, and they plan to ask tough questions. We talk with Liz Cornish, Bikemore’s director and  Taffy Gwitira, a dedicated public transportation advocate and the Public advisory committee vice chair for the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board of the Baltimore Metropolitan council.   

For information about the mayoral candidate forum, visit this link.

To see how candidates responded to Bikemore's advance questions about transportation, visit this link.

To submit a question to the candidates online, visit this link.


What’s the best way to combat the staggering number of murders in Baltimore? One approach supported by Police Commissioner Harrison is a test of aerial surveillance. What could it accomplish? What are its limitations? What privacy concerns does it raise? We speak with Baltimore Beat news editor Brandon Soderberg, who has reported on the technology and with University of Baltimore law professor Colin Starger, who looks at privacy issues kindled by citywide aerial surveillance.

We will post information on public meetings hosted by Baltimore Police Department about the upcoming aerial surveillance as it becomes available.

For information on Legal Hackers meet up where Soderberg is speaking, visit this link.

To read Soderberg's reporting in The Appeal, visit this link.

To learn about the Persistent Surveillance Systems technology, visit this link.

Here are public meetings happening in March:

March 11th, Dorothy I. Height Elementary School, 2011 Linden Avenue

March 16th, Morgan State University, Earl G. Graves Business School

March 19th, Green Street Academy, 125 North Hilton Street

Visit this link for more meeting information.