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


Two or three million people in the U.S. are living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder--more, if you add in the half-million children and teenagers coping with OCD. Their brains are sending danger warnings about some recurring thoughts, and they try to calm their anxiety by repeating some procedure or ritual. We’ll hear from two therapists: Hannah Breckenridge has been dealing with OCD herself since she was a child. And Jon Hershfield, who’s written books about it, heads the OCD and Anxiety Center of Greater Baltimore.  

Acroterion / Wikimedia Commons

160 years ago this week, the abolitionist John Brown led a raid on the army arsenal at Harpers Ferry hoping to arm slaves who would rise in rebellion. We ask historian Martha Jones what drove Brown, and how history views him.

Then, author Ed Maliskas tells how the farm in Washington County Maryland, where Brown and his men planned their raid, was bought by the Black Elks fraternal organization as a landmark of freedom, and then drew crowds of young people for concerts by R&B giants. 

RubyT / 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. Original air date: June 24, 2019.

Read more about drug shortages here:
In Short Supply
Drug shortages jeopardize the lives of children with cancer
Pediatric oncologist urges solution to public health crisis caused by drug shortages

The Stoop Storytelling Series

Here is a Stoop Story from Shawna Renee about her early start as a restaurateur.

The Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins

The late P.M. Forni, the Italian literature scholar who put civility on the map in Maryland, still inspires his fans. Dan Buccino, a psychotherapist who succeeded Forni as head of the Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins, says he learned from Forni that humans have always struggled to find a civil way to deal with each other.

Flickr/Esther Max

Where can those on the frontlines of healthcare turn for emotional support? Bonnie DiPietro interim president and CEO of The Maryland Patient Safety Center, tells us about an effort called ‘Caring for the Caregiver: Implementing RISE: Resilience In Stressful Events,' created in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins RISE Team and supported in part by the Josie King Foundation. We also meet Mindy Ralls, an intensive care nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center. She’s trained as a first responder in RISE, assisting colleagues who experience extreme stress on the job. She explains that ultimately, the goal is patient safety.

For more information about RISE, visit this link or this link.

Anne Arundel County Office of Planning & Zoning

As time passes and towns grow or shrink, first-hand knowledge about important places fades away. A virtual trail of African-American heritage in Anne Arundel County aims to halt that loss and preserve historical sites from the past four centuries.

Jane Cox, of the county’s Office of Planning and Zoning, tells us about putting the Four Rivers Heritage Trail together. And Lyndra Marshall recounts how they collected oral histories from residents, including memories of businesses, schools, and places of recreation. 

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.

MERIT Health Leadership Academy is recruiting the next generation of doctors, nurses, and researchers.

Executive director Jake Weinfeld tells us how internships, SAT prep, and college visits, put motivated Baltimore City high school students on the path to a career that will improve public health and reduce disparities. We hear from MERIT alumna Jessica Cooley and current participant Kanira Jones

The Stoop Storytelling Series

Here’s a Stoop Story from Brian Volck about the lessons he learned while working on a Native American reservation. You can hear his story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com.

The next live Stoop show is October 10th at the Mansion House at the Maryland Zoo. The theme is "Stories of Strength: An Evening of Stories from Maryland's Foster and Disconnected Youth".

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. When the Margaret reached Annapolis, she was met by James Carroll, cousin of the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence and of America’s first Roman Catholic bishop. Carroll’s ledger lists the sale of most of the Africans.

Morgan State historian Herbert Brewer explains how the voyage played into Maryland’s economy and what it meant for those on board. Dr. Brewer will be speaking tomorrow the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore. Information here.

Learn more about the Margaret here

Melissa Gerr

Just as Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and Democrats in the state legislature are squaring off over how much to invest in revamping Maryland’s public schools … a new Goucher Poll finds three out of four Maryland adults claim they’re willing to pay higher taxes for better schools. We ask Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, about that as well as other topics Marylanders weighed in on. Then we get a sample of the debate over school funding from State Budget Secretary David Brinkley and Democrat Sen. Bill Ferguson of Baltimore.

You can see all of the results from the Goucher Poll here.

Tin House publishers

For 14 years after she was raped … by her best friend … Jeannie Vanasco lived with it … lived with recurring nightmares … and with an aching sense of confusion about whether she was making too much or too little of it. Eventually, she reached out to ask him to speak with her, and recorded a series of phone conversations that are the core of her new memoir, "Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl."

For information on upcoming events and author talks, visit this link.

flickr/creative commons

You can start drawing Social-Security benefits at age 62--four or five years before full retirement age. That sounds pretty sweet to many people--until they realize they’re locking in the smallest possible benefit, which could leave them short of funds if they live to a ripe old age.

Webster Phillips, with the advocacy group, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, walks us through it. Check out the NCPSSM Delay and Gain calculator.

Then: What’s Maryland doing to help workers who don’t have a savings plan at work?

Original airdate: July, 25, 2019.

justgrimes / Flickr Creative Commons

When Russian operatives were designing ways to influence the 2016 election, Maryland was at dead center of their targeting. The Russian troll factory called the Internet Research Agency bought more Facebook ads targeting Maryland, most of them aimed at Baltimore, than any other state.

This is a key finding of a deep investigation by students at the University of Maryland College of Journalism, led by Washington Post Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Dana Priest. We speak with Priest and one of her students, data journalist Riin Aljas.

A Stoop Duet

Sep 27, 2019
The Stoop Storytelling Series

The Stoop Storytelling series, founded by Laura Wexler and Jessica Henkin, asks ordinary people to share extraordinary moments in their lives. Their tales are strange, inspiring, and true.

Today we share two such stories. Chijioke Madugwulike bravely recounts the painful loss of his father, and Rebecca Ward shares why it’s important to take risks.

There are two Stoop events in October. On October 10th, at the Mansion at the Maryland Zoo, storytellers will share stories to raise funds for the nonprofit Pressley Ridge. On October 24th, at the Senator Theratre, storytellers will share on the theme, "Twilight Zone: Stories about everything from the supernatural to the super weird".


The third annual Baltimore Japan Art Festival next week is a chance to broaden Americans’ perspectives of Japanese culture and highlight Japanese artists.

Of the millions who came to America during the Age of Revolution, three times as many were African as European, and free Africans reached these shores before the English.

trpnblies7 / Flickr Creative Commons

We hear stories about young, apparently healthy athletes who suddenly die after an intense performance. What’s going on? For some, about one in five thousand, a heart disorder known as ARVD is to blame. It’s a genetic condition that affects heart tissue, causing fat and scar fibers to build up, interfere with electrical impulses, and disrupt the heart’s rhythm.

Hopkins cardiologist Dr. Hugh Calkins says treatment includes this sobering advice exercising: no endurance sports, no competitive sports. And we hear from Preston Haugh, who thought soccer might be his path to the Olympics, until a fainting episode altered his dream.

Wikimedia Commons

Former Secretary of State John Kerry, a key negotiator of the Paris Climate Accord from which President Trump pulled the U.S., is clearly frustrated that greenhouse gas emissions are still rising around the globe. Kerry is putting forth his own environmental initiative, to highlight science and refute those who deny climate change. Also, ahead of Kerry’s visit to Baltimore, we also ask about the Saudi oilfield strike, relations with Iran, the implications of the Israeli elections, and whether the Democratic presidential field is too crowded. 

For information about the Baltimore Speaker Series, visit this link.

Creative Commons/KGH

It’s a mysterious disease: tiny collections of inflammatory cells ... that can form in any part of your body. It’s called “sarcoidosis.” Dr. Mark Lamos of GBMC explains the complexity of the disease and the difficulty of diagnosis. Then we meet Toni Robinson, who tells of her experience living with sarcoidosis … . Sean Hull, founder and president of the Life and Breath Foundation,’ a non profit dedicated to raising awareness of the perplexing illness. For information about Flip-Flop Festivus, the Life and Breath Foundation event, visit this link.

Jamyla Krempel

This morning scores of students in Baltimore are marching in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike: a worldwide walk-out to underscore the urgency of climate change and to demand action from political leaders around the globe. We talk with two local organizers: Trinity Eimer, a senior at The Bryn Mawr School, and Helen Schott, a senior at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, who says the event’s purpose reaches far beyond a one-time walk-out and hopes to educate young voters on environmental issues.

The Stoop Storytelling Series

Here's a Stoop Story from Robyn Stegman about finding her true voice -- by becoming the voice -- of Mr. Trash Wheel in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast. And fans of Mr. Trash Wheel, Professor Trash Wheel and Captain Trash Wheel won’t want to miss the second annual ‘Trash Wheel Fan fest’ tomorrow evening, Sept. 21 at Peabody Heights Brewery at 401 E. 30th St. It starts at 7 p.m.


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. For information on the Walk to Defeat ALS, sponsored by The ALS Association, visit this link.

Thilo Wischmeyer / Flickr Creative Commons

One tool in the fight against overdose deaths is mentors who can share their stories of recovery from addiction. Known as peer recovery coaches, these individuals are trained to offer a helping hand and listening ear to patients who might be struggling with drugs or alcohol.

Social worker manager Cassandra Dobbs gives us an overview of the peer recovery program at Saint Agnes Health Institute. And coach Rodney James says that his experience of relapse and recovery can help him connect with patients who are considering treatment.

Learn more about SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment). Click here to find resources for treatment across the state.

Lawrence Lanahan’s book, The Lines Between Us, introduces us to a white suburban businessman and his wife, who felt a religious call to move to Sandtown in solidarity with its disenfranchised residents … and to an inner-city African-American mother, who believed her son would have a better life if they moved to a more affluent community in Howard County.

Amazon/the authors

From his childhood home on Light Street in Baltimore, Marc Tanenbaum grew up to become a rabbi who fought for human rights all over the world. He defended Jews in the Soviet Union. He negotiated an important document of reconciliation between the Vatican and Jews. He stood with Holocaust survivor Eli Weisel to protest the genocide of Cambodians. Though he died 27 years go, Tanenbaum’s widow Georgette Bennett contends his techniques could help solve today’s issues of intolerance.

For information about Bennett's talk at Church of the Redeemer on Wed. Sept 18, visit this link.

The Stoop Storytelling Series

Here's a Stoop Story from interfaith scholar and educator Homayra Ziad  about the powerful combination of protest and prayer. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast. And watch for the upcoming season of live Stoop shows that begin in October.

Tomorrow, in addition to the big block party 11am to 4pm Saturday to celebrate the Central Library’s renovation, Marin Alsop and musicians from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform a free concert for the city of Baltimore at 4 pm tomorrow at New Shiloh Baptist Church, 2100 N. Monroe St. 

Open Works Baltimore

Open Works, a makerspace in Baltimore, attracts both hobbyists and entrepreneurs looking to rent studios, tools, and equipment.

As Open Works finishes its third year, Dr. Ron Williams of Coppin State University tells us about a new study tracing its impact on the city and state economy. Executive director Will Holman says job creation is a top priority. Read the report here.

Plus, Dominique Hellgeth of Greenmount Tile and Austin Brown of Global Air Media describe how they used resources of Open Works to grow their businesses.

Johns Hopkins surgeon Marty Makary says American health care is broken. He makes the case in his new book, "The Price We Pay," with tales of doctors talking patients into surgeries they don’t need, air ambulances hiding steep fees, and hospitals suing patients into bankruptcy over bills that were inflated to begin with.

Makary says people without good insurance often are hit with huge bills they can’t pay. But he contends new ways of tracking data are starting to make fees more transparent, which opens competition and new designs for delivering care mean a better deal for patients.