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

How do you design programming in order to attract a diverse audience? We talk with two new proprietors about re-envisioning and running performance spaces in Baltimore -- and how they plan to keep their venues entertaining and safe for all audiences to enjoy.

Emile Joseph Weeks reveals plans for the soon-to-open Rituals … And Tecla Tesnau, new owner of Remington’s Ottobar, discusses the power of art to bring people together.

Ivy Bookshop

A remarkably small group of people wields enormous control over our daily experience.

Futurist Amy Webb explains who they are and why we should care in her book, “The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity.”

Original air date: May 6, 2019

Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916 / Flickr Creative Commons

Imagine being a youngster in the fight of your life against cancer--or the parent of such a child--and learning the medicine your doctor says would help is not available. This happens a lot.

Holly Kamm Wahl’s teen-aged son David is being treated for leukemia. She describes how they’ve had to cope with inadequate doses of certain drugs, including an essential pain reliever. Pediatric oncologist Dr. Yoram Unguru has been raising the alarm about medication shortages for years. He says it’s getting worse.

Here’s a Stoop Story from VJ Ramasamy about learning to love himself. You can hear his story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

Catch a live Stoop show at the Creative Alliance, on July 25th. Ticket information here.

Sarah McCann

Ways of Seeing is the name of an exhibition in Baltimore that showcases tactile art --art visitors can experience through touch.

One piece is a sculpture of a cracked eye created by ceramics instructor Sallah Jenkins and Marguerite Woods, president of the at-large chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland. Woods, who lost her sight a decade ago, says the piece reflects her resiliency.

Bebeto Matthews / AP Photo

The latest statewide numbers show a slight drop in fatal overdoses, but deaths are still being driven by opioids--not heroin but fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid often laced into heroin.

WYPR reporter Mary Rose Madden looks at how Baltimore is grappling with the opioid epidemic in her series, “In The Hole: Understanding Maryland's Opioid Epidemic”. 

And addiction medicine specialist Dr. Yngvild Olsen describes how medication can help someone get off illicit drugs.

Thomas Rowe Price Junior, born in Baltimore County at the end of the nineteenth century, set out to be an industrial chemist, but fell in love with investing--choosing stocks by analyzing how a company will add value to the economy.

His biographer, Cornelius Bond, says by the time he set up T. Rowe Price & Associates a few years after the Great Depression, Price on a different path than other investment managers.

We all know there’s no place like home. But what ‘home’ looks like ... depends upon our perspective. We get two perspectives today. LaQuida Chancey, founder of Smalltimore Homes, tells us how she hopes to eradicate homelessness by developing ‘micro shelter’ communities.

For information about Smalltimore Homes, visit this link.

Then, we visit Baltimore’s Inner harbor to learn why people choose to live afloat year round. We hear from Joe Fleischman, Madeleine Schroeher and the Wille family of four! Original airdate 2/21/19


ALS is incurable -- it’s a progressive attack on nerve cells that control voluntary movements--like breathing. We meet two men diagnosed with ALS: Ed Rapp, and Peter Warlick, who are raising awareness and millions of dollars for ‘Answer ALS,’ an unorthodox way to crowdsource research.

And we talk to the research director, Dr. Jeffrey Rothstein, about how the Answer ALS approach mimics research on cancer, by applying stem cell technology.

For information about Answer ALS, visit this link.

Here’s a Stoop Story from Elliot Wagenheim about scouting with his son. You can hear his story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

Cat / Flickr Creative Commons

Expect a bevy of rainbows in Baltimore this weekend, as the city celebrates its LGBTQ community and marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

We speak to Monte Ephraim, chair of Elder Pride, about celebrating the wisdom of older generations. And Louis Hughes Jr. previews a local history tour highlighting LGBTQ sites in Mt. Vernon.

Get more information about Baltimore Pride 2019 here.

Learn more about Baltimore Heritage's LGBTQ tour of Mt. Vernon here.

Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

There is more than one independence day celebrated on American soil. Juneteenth is gaining recognition, but many Americans still don’t understand its significance. National Park Ranger Anokwale Anansesemfo unravels the history behind the holiday that commemorates the proclamation of the end of slavery. Then Sheri Booker, author and spoken word artist, previews her talk at Enoch Pratt Free Library, and shares what she hopes Juneteenth will become.

For information on Juneteenth events, click on these links:

Enoch Pratt Free Library, Hampton Historic Site, Hosanna School, Juneteenth Resevoir Hill home and garden tour, and A Cultural Celebration at Port Covington.

For information on the Black Diamond Girls Club, visit this link.

Melissa Gerr

Death is a part of life -- and deserves to be discussed. Gilchrist bereavement specialist Debbie Jones suggests ways to acknowledge grief and tells us about “The Day of Healing and Remembering -- Honoring Our Losses.” It’s a community event where art therapist Sharon Strouse will prepare activities to acknowledge the loss of loved ones.

Then, we meet Maryland State Anatomy Board anatomical services specialist Dan Hensley. He talks about why people choose to donate their bodies to medical research and how their contributions are honored at a state memorial service.

For information about “The Day of Healing and Remembering -- Honoring Our Losses"  Sat. June 15 at 10am at the Zeta Center, visit this link.

For information about body donation for medical research and the Anatomy Board annual memorial service, Wed. June 26 at 1pm at Century High School, visit this link.

Courtesy CHANA website

People over age 65 are shockingly vulnerable to financial exploitation--sometimes by family members who pressure them to sign over assets, but often by strangers on the telephone who fraudulently promise them big winnings--if they’ll only fork over some money first for up-front expenses. That’s just the start.

Three Maryland experts tell us that an older person who’s lonely is more receptive to the fraudster who claims to care for them. We speak with Jacke Schroeder, a licensed social worker and director of SAFE--Stop Abuse of Elders at CHANA, Debby Chenoweth, Baltimore County Police Investigator and Amy Greensfelder, who heads the Pro Bono Counseling Project.

Here is a list of resources mentioned during the program:

Resources and events of Protect Week (“Protect Older Americans from Financial Exploitation”) here:

Find The Marketplace Morning Report’s “Brains and Losses” series here

The Pro Bono Counseling Project information can be found here   

SAFE Stop Abuse of Elders can be found here.

The Baltimore County Financial/Cyber Crimes Team contact is here.

Creative Alliance

Maryland is home to thousands of refugees and asylees. They have left their homes, fleeing war, violence, and persecution. What traditions do they leave behind?

This Saturday, the Creative Alliance in Baltimore will celebrate World Refugee Day Festival--a day where refugee groups will share music, dancing, food, and art.

Coordinator Ari Pluznik gives us a preview, and Garry Bien Aime, founder of Komite Ayiti, a group for Haitians in Baltimore, extols getting to know people from around the world. 

The World Refugee Day Festival runs from 12-3:30 at the Creative Alliance. Info here. Komite Ayiti will celebrate Kanaval on July 13th. Details here.

Port Discovery Children's Museum

Port Discovery Children's Museum is about to unveil new exhibits to engage a next generation of kids. From a four-story, spiral slide to a nearly life-size ship, visitors can take on roles that make them the storytellers. Bryn Parchman, the museum’s CEO, tells us kids learn best when they’re having fun, and why connecting with Baltimore’s young and old is crucial to Port Discovery’s goals.

Here’s a Stoop Story from Julia Dugan about a crush who led her astray in Scotland. Sometimes it pays to stay on the beaten path ... You can hear her story and others at Stoopstorytelling.com or at the Stoop podcast.

Click on these links for info about upcoming events mentioned at the end of the program: Beers for Queers at Union Craft Brewing, St. Nicholas Greek Folk Festival, Honfest in Hampden and the 2019 AIDS Walk and Music Festival.

Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun

When they meet in Baltimore next week, America’s Catholic bishops will make another run at establishing how bishops should be held accountable in the clerical sex-abuse crisis. Baltimore’s archdiocese has set up a system where complaints of wrong-doing go to a third party for review. David Lorenz of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says the church cannot be trusted to investigate itself. Archbishop William Lori tells us allegations of criminal misconduct are reported to police, and then the church investigates.

For more reporting on recent developments involving Archbishop William Lori, visit the Washington Post link, and to read a letter issued by Archbishop Lori, visit this link.

Maureen Harvie / WYPR

A visit from a friendly pet--be it cat, dog, or parrot--can relieve stress and prompt conversation. Volunteers with the nonprofit Pets on Wheels spend thousands of hours bringing therapy animals to shelters, hospitals, and libraries, hoping to brighten someone’s day.

Executive Director Gina Kazamir describes how the organization trains pets and volunteers to visit more than 175,000 people each year. And volunteer Nancy Stark describes how her dog Kayak comforts those in hospice care.

Plus, Dr. Karen Burks of the Maryland SPCA tells us how to keep man’s best friend cool during the dog days of summer. Find out more about the Wellness Clinic here. Get more pet health tips here

Vehicles for Change

A car can be a second chance: that’s the framework of Vehicles for Change, a nonprofit that repairs donated cars and awards them to low-income families at a fraction of their market value. Repairs are completed by participants in Full Circle, a job-training program for people returning from prison.

We hear from founder Marty Schwartz and from Perry Spain, who finished the program and is on his way to becoming a master mechanic. Original air date 3.12.19

The Tale of Serse

Jun 3, 2019
Cara Gonzalez / The In Series

Glowing lanterns, ornate rugs. These props set the scene when the lights come up on the Baltimore Theatre Project’s reimagined staging of a three-hundred-year-old opera by Handel.

The Tale of Serse takes this classic work, set in the Persian Empire, and dials up the volume on its Persian-ness, blending in calligraphy and poetry by the 13th-century philosopher, Rumi. Performances run June 14-16th. Information here.

Director Timothy Nelson describes the process of modernizing an opera, and artist Parinaz Bahadori describes the power of Rumi to bring Americans and Iranians together. Learn more about the Iranian-American Community Center here.


One of the almost-imperceptible layers that make up every theatrical experience is often taken for granted by the audience: the soundtrack. What goes into creating the sometimes subtle array of tones and noise that accompany a live performance?

We ask sound designer David Lamont Wilson about his approach. He captured and recreated authentic soundscapes for two shows at Everyman Theatre: Queens Girl in the World and Queens Girl in Africa.

Visit this link for information about Everyman Theatre shows.

Here's a Stoop Story from Chijioke Madugwulike about coming to terms with his responsibilities as a son … his role as a doctor … and honoring the memory of his father. You can hear his story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

MCVET Facebook page

Post traumatic stress disorder can cause veterans to spiral into mental illness, substance abuse, or worse. The Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training offers vets wellness services, drug treatment and a haven from homelessness. Jeffery Kendrick, MCVET’s executive director, describes the fortitude of its clientele and the services the center provides. Plus, we meet Holliday Tolson and Betty Holata, two veterans dedicated to personal recovery.

For information on the upcoming MCVET 24th Annual 5k and 10k race and walk, visit this link.

The Monument Quilt

This weekend, the National Mall will be blanketed by the Monument Quilt, a patchwork of thousands of stories from survivors of sexual assault. The project was overseen by the Baltimore artist-activist group, FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture.

Kalima Young, part of the project’s leadership team, talks about the quilt’s significance, and E Cadoux, a member of FORCE, describes the healing process. Learn more about the events, running Friday through Sunday, here.

See more of the quilt here.

University of Baltimore's Second Chance College Program Facebook page

Behind the bolts and locks at Jessup Correctional Institution, some prisoners are making a bid for college. An experimental program by the US Department of Education pays their tuition.

Andrea Cantora, director of the Second Chance program at the University of Baltimore, describes how college courses work inside the walls. And Marcus Lilly, a participant who has returned home, talks about his goals, and the pressure to make the most of this opportunity.

Melissa Gerr

In the spirit of Memorial Day, we meet writer, educator and veteran marine Dario DiBattista, who shares his thoughts about military service and his experience writing and teaching writing to war veterans as a form of post-trauma therapy at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Then we visit the Freedom Hills Therapeutic Riding program in Cecil County, and meet participant Don Koss, a Vietnam vet, to learn how just being near horses can have a calming effect. 

Here’s a Stoop Story from Dana Moore about the importance of identity. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.


Ramadan is a time of prayer, fasting, and contemplation. For Mansoor Shams, it’s also a time to connect with people of other faiths.

Shams is a veteran. A decade after his military service, he founded Muslim Marine to help combat Islamophobia and intolerance through conversation. He sees his mission as both a religious duty and a service to his country.

Amy Webb / Future Today Institute

The coming summer promises a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. But when you choose those juicy plums or ripe tomatoes from your favorite grocery produce section … do you stop to question where and how they were grown? Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute, has some answers. She talks about the future of farming, from genetic editing to collaborative robots to urban indoor warehouse farms. She also offers some perspective about the sci-fi feel of agricultural technology developments.

Webb suggests the online magazine, Modern Farmer, as a good, accessible source to stay informed on future farming developments.