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.

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

Ways to Connect

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here is a Stoop Story from the late Elijah Cummings, who represented Maryland’s 7th District for two decades. His 69th birthday would have been Saturday. You can hear more stories at stoopstorytelling.com

Christopher Kojzar

In a new exhibit at Carroll Mansion, you can rub chalk dust into the crevices of engraved words, highlighting newspaper coverage of the 1889 graduating class of the first public high school for African Americans in Maryland. 

Scientists always saw the workings of the human mind as separate from the body. Whatever might keep neurons in the brain from sending electrical messages across synapses, experts thought, it had nothing to do with rampant inflammation in the body.

But then, science journalist Donna Jackson Nakazawa reports, new research found that microglia, tiny cells viewed as the brain’s janitors, sometimes go rogue. What could this mean for treating mental-health disorders?

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, the longest-serving state Senate president in U.S. history, is adjusting back to life as one of 47 state senators. He reflects on the changes he’s seen and made in Maryland.

Jamyla Krempel

How did the events of 2019--political, financial or technological -- affect how we conduct our daily lives? What will 2020 and the dawn of a new decade bring? We ask Amy Webb, who founded the Future Today Institute. Each year she compiles an inventory of events, mergers, policy decisions and other developments that affect business and technology. This year, she claims, is the beginning of the end … of the smartphone. Plus, we’ll take a look at that future … through extended-reality eyeglasses! To sign up for The Future Today Institute newsletter, visit this link.

University of Maryland Baltimore

Money was scarce for Dr. Jay Perman, growing up, working in his immigrant parents’ laundry in Chicago. He was 13 when his father died; when he set his sights on medical school, he had no idea how he’d afford it--until he was awarded a full-tuition scholarship. So as president of the University of Maryland Baltimore for the past ten years, Perman stressed making higher education accessible .. for all families. It’s still a top goal now that he’s the new chancellor of the University System of Maryland -- a dozen campuses all over the state. We sit down with him at the start of his new role.

Ulysses Munoz/Baltimore Sun

Cities around the country are struggling to combat crime. They’re appraising tougher arrest guidelines, longer prison sentences, even drone surveillance.

In Baltimore--a different approach from a grassroots group that insists crime can decrease when opportunities and positive role models increase. The We-Our-Us movement provides resources and promotes peace while engaging African American men in their neighborhoods. We meet organizers Pastor Corey Barnes and Andrew Knox

For more information, visit this link. Access the Baltimore Sun article and video here.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here's a Stoop Story by Olu Butterfly about navigating foreign territory and learning to live with some of life’s unanswered questions. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

Flickr/Philip Jones

Is it safe for adults to grow old at home? Nurse practitioner Sarah Szanton believes it is, so she designed CAPABLE: ‘Community Aging in Place - Advancing Better Living for Elders.’ The in-home program offers preventive modifications instead of waiting until AFTER an accident happens. We also meet team member and occupational therapist Allyson Evelyn-Gustave, who says the real power of the program is that it’s driven by patient goals, like those of her client, John Hancock, who also joins us in studio. For more information on CAPABLE visit this link.

Maureen Harvie / WYPR

Baltimore nonprofit Building Our Nation’s Daughters -- BOND -- carves out time for single moms and their daughters to improve communication skills, set goals, and have fun.

Founder Ateira Griffin says her experience as an educator inspired her to create the program. We hear from Griffin and her mother, Alisa Williams.

2019 OSI Baltimore Community Fellow: Dinorah Olmos and Kendra Summers

Jan 7, 2020

Flickr-Creative Commons

The Maryland General Assembly convenes on Wednesday with new leaders in both chambers and several committees. In the House, Del. Adrienne Jones is the first black speaker, and the first female. The Senate is set to elect Bill Ferguson its president. Both say their priorities are building new schools and re-shaping how teaching is done.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here’s a Stoop Story from Mimi Dietrich about her run-in with rock and roll. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com.

Mimi Dietrich / http://mimidietrich.com

Mimi Dietrich finds it “magical” to make a quilt. Why? You can see Mimi's quilts at the Maryland Historical Society, where 40 of her works are on display through March 2020. Originial airdate: March 22, 2019.

Neighborhood food pantries in Park Heights allow families to take what they need. A composting effort in south Baltimore turns food scraps into rich garden soil. Today, two Open Society Institute fellows share fresh ideas to improve city life.

Mariah Pratt Bonkowski founded “Pantries of Peace” to remove obstacles that make typical food pantries hard to access. And Marvin Hayes, founder of the “Baltimore Compost Collective,” describes how composting can create jobs, clean the air, and make food more secure.

Amy Berbert

Do you remember the name of your childhood best friend? Turns out, it’s harder to initiate those solid bonds of friendship as we grow older. Dr. Andrea Bonior, clinical psychologist and advice columnist, explains why and says the feeling is universal. Plus, Carolyn Walton Lynch tells us about Mixolo, a service that helps individuals, regardless of their relationship status, step out on the town and find community. 


To hear Mike Rowe tell it, the fame he’s built from years of producing “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel and lots of other smart-allecky shows, podcasts and books all grew out of the respect for work he learned from his grandfather in Baltimore County, and from his parents Peggy and John. Out of that upbringing also grew a foundation that gives scholarships to young people learning skills. They sign the S.W.E.A.T. pledge -- which stands for “Skills and Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo.” We hear some of the distilled wisdom from his book, 'The Way I Heard It,' Author Peggy Rowe (Mike's mom) keeps the conversation honest.

Open Society Institute

Some of the most powerful support comes from peers who have survived the same challenges. We meet two Open Society Institute fellows whose service grows from their personal experience. First, Janet Glover Kerkvliet tells us how she came to lead the ‘Baltimore Job Hunters Support Group.’ It offers emotional counseling and practical training to older job seekers. Then Damien Haussling describes his project to help people who were homeless ... find the furnishings they need to make their new house ... a home.

For more information about Baltimore Furniture Bank, visit this link. For more information on Baltimore Job Hunters Support Group, visit this link.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here's a Stoop Story by Alexandra Wykowski about motherhood, postpartum depression and the importance of access to healthcare. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

Open Society Institute

The rate of death during pregnancy and soon after childbirth in the U.S. is three times higher for African American women than for whites. Ana Rodney, an Open Society Institute Baltimore community fellow, intends to counter that staggering statistic with MomCares. MomCares offers postpartum support to low-income, single women of color whose babies need neonatal intensive care. Her project came from personal experience.

Sonia Purnell / Viking

Virginia Hall, daughter of an upscale Baltimore family, turned herself into one of the most daring spies of World War II.

Biographer Sonia Purnell recounts Hall repeatedly eluding capture and death while helping the French resist Nazi occupation. Original airdate: November 5, 2019.

Be Delighted!

Dec 25, 2019
Amazon/the author

It seems so simple … but can so easily elude us: noticing the quiet, the surprising, the graceful--the moments of delight--that abound each day. Can we become more aware of delight, with practice? Poet Ross Gay gave himself a year-long task: … each day to fine-tune his ‘radar for delight,’ … to observe the small caretaking gestures that connect us, and to handwrite a short essay. He reads from the result, “The Book of Delights” … and implores readers to slow down and savor the little things. Original air date 2.14.19


What do very old people know about being happy that most of us don’t? Can we put their approach into use in our own lives? New York Times journalist John Leland spent a year with six elders and put what he learned in his new book, Happiness Is a Choice You Make -- Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old. Original air date: 1/31/18


Open Society Institute’s Baltimore field office works to improve city life by offering start-up funding to social entrepreneurs.

We get a behind the scenes view of how OSI community fellows are selected with Pamela King, who oversees the program, and 2016 fellow Gianna Rodriguez, who heads Baltimore Youth Arts.

Then, we kick off our profiles of this year’s fellows with Alphonso Mayo. He was working as a football coach when he saw the gap a mentor could fill. Mayo’s project - Mentors Mentoring - will bring middle, high school, and college students together to build a chain of mentoring.

Melissa Gerr with Jamyla Krempel

Kwanzaa, Christmas, Hanukkah, the New Year … For many the holiday season evokes thoughts of peace, joy ,,, and ‘good will toward men’. What does it mean to ‘love your neighbor’ ... year round? We posed that question to some of our WYPR neighbors, here in Charles Village in Baltimore.

Stoop Storytelling Series

That was a Stoop Story from Bill Kirkner … about a rousing Hanukkah celebration that brought together swim team members comprising Christians, Muslims and Jews ... over dreidels and latkes. You can hear his story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc.

U.S. farms, hospitals, and other businesses rely on thousands of guest workers each year. But the path to a job isn’t easy. Recruiters may illegally demand money or the conditions people encounter once they arrive in U.S. may be dangerous.

Rachel Micah-Jones is founder of Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, a legal-aid organization that advocates for migrant workers’ rights. CDM also operates Contratados.org, a site for workers to review employers.

And we hear Elisa Martinez Tovar’s story - interpreted by CDM Communications Director Evy Peña - about why she left Mexico to pick crabs on the Eastern Shore. You can watch her and other migrant worker women share their stories here.

Maryland Rural Health Association

Eighteen of Maryland’s 24 counties are considered rural. Doctors, dentists and mental-health services can be sparse, but there are some inventive, collaborative ways to provide close-by care. Lara Wilson, executive director of the Maryland Rural Health Association, a nonprofit that advocates for quality healthcare in rural Maryland, tells us about patients whose lives changed once they could get much-needed medical attention. And Mark Luckner, executive director of the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission, a state commission mandated to expand access to health services in underserved areas, talks about funding priorities and why grants to rural nonprofits yield promising outcomes.

To view Maryland Rural Health Association videos, visit this link.

Outdoor Afro

Imagine yourself walking among trees dappled with sun. A clear stream gurgles nearby. Maybe your shoulders relaxed a bit just picturing it. But for some African Americans, walking in the woods is tied to a legacy of racial terror, and could trigger quite the opposite response. The national nonprofit Outdoor Afro is inspiring African Americans to reclaim the outdoors as a place to refresh the spirit, replenish the soul … and simply have fun! We hear from the founder of Outdoor Afro, Rue Mapp and local organizer, Monette Bailey.

For upcoming Outdoor Afro events in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area, visit this link.

Ivy Bookshop/author

Watching Fred Rogers’ warm smile as he came through the door and shed his professional jacket for a cardigan, most viewers didn’t pick up on how meticulously Mr. Rogers had planned his Neighborhood … and how intensely he worked to counter the values of many kids’ shows in the 1960s. 

Hopkins business professor Alexandra Klarén’s new book goes deep into Roger’s religious motivation and his insights into what children need to be secure enough to learn about the world.