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

AP photo/Ross D. Franklin

Treasured rewards for the hard work of high school--the prom, senior week, graduation--have all been canceled, postponed, or reworked to keep students and families at a social distance.

Five recent or soon-to-be graduates from across Maryland share how the coronavirus upended their senior year, and how it’s affecting their goals and plans.

We hear from Michelle Castro, Annie Squire Southworth, Laila Amin, Corey Harris and Aliyah Abid. Here's to the resilience of the Class of 2020!

AP photo/Gerald Herbert

When deaths from Covid-19 began adding up two months ago, and schools and businesses closed and jobs started to evaporate, did all the stress trigger a surge in calls to mental- health providers? Dr. Anthony Massey, founder of Gladstone Psychiatry and Wellness, says he saw just the opposite ... but Massey agrees with those who say a wave of mental-health problems is coming. Where will people turn for help? Will there be enough providers? Then Cheryl Maxwell of the Black Mental Health Alliance, discusses how the pandemic is affecting the mental health of African Americans.

Kenneth Cole Schneider / 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.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Health issues still dog Baltimore -- food deserts … addiction to opioids ... disparities in the health of babies and new mothers ... diabetes ... asthma. Now such chronic diseases often complicate recovering from the coronavirus. The White House said last week that Baltimore is near the top of cities whose residents test positive for Covid-19. City health commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said testing shows not just the reach of the pandemic, but how to control it. The city is taking testing into its own hands. When will Baltimore City judge it’s safe to reopen? 

Find the Baltimore City Coronavirus dashboard here. Find the New York Times piece on racial disparities at nursing homes here.  The MAP (Maryland Access Point) phone number is 410 396 2273 .

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here’s a Stoop Story from Baltimore mystery writer Sujata Massey about an ill-fated move and a haunted home.

verkeorg / Flickr Creative Commons

Thousands of low-income families are making it through the pandemic without a computer or reliable Internet access. For students, that means distance learning without a screen big enough to see or a keyboard big enough to type. For adults who have lost their jobs, it means it’s hard to apply for work or unemployment.

AP photo/John Minchillo

Governor Hogan’s decision to relax some restrictions and partly open commerce in the state has been met with elation … and confusion. Ashley Duckman from the Maryland Chamber of Commerce tells us about its ‘ReNEW Maryland’’ proposal, a policy road map to assist business owners and customers through the ‘great reopening.’ And Caryn York, CEO of the Job Opportunities Task Force, says the opening may present a tough choice for many of her clients, who are essential workers. Plus, Tammira Lucas from Moms As Entrepreneurs who talks about what’s available and not available for moms who own businesses.

Go here to see the ReNEW Maryland plan from the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. Visit this link to learn more about and support Job Opportunities Task Force and go here to learn more about and support Moms As Entrepreneurs.

In the world of public health data is king. A syndrome, a disorder, a disease … must be widely tracked in order to garner the resources and support to eradicate it. The U.S. Native American population is flying under the radar in the Covid 19 toll … being categorized as ‘other.’ Kerry Hawk Lessard, executive director of Native American Lifelines in Baltimore tells us why that could devastate her community. Plus, Louis Campbell, educator and sought-after lead male dancer, talks about how native communities around the country are practicing social distance pow wows.

To see a video of Louis Campbell dancing to modern blended music from A Tribe Called Red, visit this link. To see photos of Campbell in traditional dress, visit this link.

For information on Native American Lifelines, visit this link. For general pow wow information, visit this link.

Brandon for Baltimore Facebook page

Baltimore’s next mayor will face the challenge of managing pandemic recovery while addressing gun violence and record unemployment. 

Peter Bulthuis Flickr/Creative Commons

What does it mean that reported cases of child abuse in Maryland plummeted after the stay at home order in March, and are now edging up again? Adam Rosenberg of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, says the reality doesn’t match the numbers. Teachers, child-care workers, therapists and others who might normally spot something going on with a child--and have a duty to report it--aren’t close enough these days. We ask Rosenberg how reporting could be streamlined, how technology might help caseworkers check in with families, and where he thinks the situation is headed.

To view the BCAC PSA, visit this link.  DJ Kopec dance party fund raiser info is here and the NSPCC link is here. To read the Baltimore Sun child abuse op ed, visit this link. For information on CASA, Court Appointed Child Advocates, visit this link.

Stoop Storytelling Series

In honor of Armed Forces Day tomorrow -- which celebrates all branches of the military -- Here’s a Stoop Story from Clarissa ... about what is possible when you refuse to give up.

To hear other Stoop stories, visit stoopstorytelling.com or the Stoop podcast. For information about the virtual Mayoral Stoop show on Wed. May 20, visit this link.

Amber Case/Flickr Creative Commons

Maryland is starting to build a workforce of contact tracers--people who can talk to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, persuade them to self-isolate, and ask who they've been in touch with who now may also have the disease. Tracing is as much about giving information and help in finding what someone needs to stay in quarantine … as about sleuthing out friends and connections.  Dr. Emily Gurley of Johns Hopkins describes the skills of a contact tracer. And we ask Anne Arundel County’s health officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, and nurse Karen Karnes how it works. For information on contact tracing data collection, visit this link.

Elvert Barnes / Flickr Creative Commons

The toll of the coronavirus on the African American community is devastating: higher rates of hospitalization and higher rates of death.

Dr. Lisa Cooper, director of the Hopkins Center for Health Equity and the Hopkins Urban Health Institute, says it is no surprise. Cooper explains how comprehensive demographic data about testing, hospital use, and death can be used to tailor outreach. She shares her concerns about the stigma that falls on the very people at higher risk.

Then, Nneka N'namdi, founder of Fight Blight Baltimore, on what she’s observed in West Baltimore and why public-health outreach is called for. Read her commentary here.


Use of public transit is down in Baltimore during the Covid-19 lockdown, but not as much as in other cities. Many residents rely on public transit as their main method of getting around and many are essential workers. Brian O’Malley, president of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, talks about how reduced schedules and physical distancing are affecting riders and operators. And Liz Cornish, executive director of Bikemore, hopes this ‘citywide time out’ will provide valuable lessons for how streets will be designed in the future.

For the latest public transit updates, visit this link.

To participate in Bike Month, Social Distance style, visit this link. To volunteer to deliver food by bike for Bikemore/Real Food Farms/Civic Works, visit this link.  For more information on the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, visit this link.

Courtesy of T.J. Smith for Mayor Campaign

As Baltimore residents brace for further consequences from the coronavirus pandemic, they are also looking for the city’s next mayor to lead recovery efforts and interrupt the cycle of gun violence.

TJ Smith, former spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, is a Democratic candidate running for Baltimore mayor. We ask about his long career in law enforcement, his plan for economic recovery from Covid-19, and creating jobs.

The deadline to register to vote is May 27th. You can register online at the Maryland State Board of Elections.

Francisco Àvia_Hospital Clínic / Flickr Creative Commons

As citizens across the US anxiously await ‘the great reopening’ from Covid-19 lockdowns, many healthcare workers remain steadfastly in place, caring for and comforting those stricken with the disease. Dr. Zackary Berger, a staff physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Esperanza Center Health Clinic, talks about his experience in a Covid-19 ward. He says that alongside the urgency ... it’s a lot about communication. 

The Covid hotline number for the Esperanza Center (Spanish) is 667-600-2314.

Johns Hopkins Covid hotline (Spanish and English) is 443-997-9537. Spanish speakers can also go to this CentroSOL website.

Stoop Storytelling Series

That was Stoop Story from Susan Ellsberry about her first meeting with her son, whom she gave up for adoption more than three decades before. You can hear her story and others at stoopstorytelling.com or on the Stoop podcast.

Marco Verch / Flickr Creative Commons

Until there’s a vaccine against Covid-19, we’ll need to keep our distance, wash our hands a lot, and sustain the other restraints that are sapping the economy--and our social lives. So Gov. Hogan sounded excited to report that the Free State is moving fast, along with several other research institutions, to test a vaccine.

Creative Commons

As Maryland adapts to a new way of life during the coronavirus pandemic, residents will also adapt to a new way of voting. The June 2nd primary election will be held by mail. Advocates Sam Novey, of Baltimore Votes and the National Conference on Citizenship, and Nykidra Robinson, of Black Girls Vote, join us to answer questions about the process.

Simon and Schuster

Four hundred years ago, after Galileo heard rumors that lenses in a tube could bring the planets and the surface of the moon into focus, he made detailed observations with a telescope and laid the groundwork for the scientific method. He also brought on himself the wrath of the greatest power in Europe, the Catholic Church, which called his analysis heretical. In a new biography, astrophysicist Mario Livio compares Galileo’s critics to those who today deny climate change ...or the science behind the coronavirus. Plus, why the Hubble Space Telescope is still producing amazing science, 30 years after it was launched.

For information on Livio's event on 5.6.20 at the Ivy Bookshop, visit this link.

For events celebrating Hubble's 30th anniversary, visit this link on Facebook or the Hubble website.

Baltimore’s next mayor will face inherited challenges--like persistent gun violence and public transit failures--and new obstacles born of the pandemic.

Mary Miller, a former T. Rowe Price executive and top U.S. Treasury official under President Obama, is running for the Democratic nomination to be mayor of Baltimore. She warns the city may lose as many as a quarter of its small businesses because of the pandemic, and proposes a plan of action.

Stoop Storytelling Series

Here’s a Stoop Story from Monica Guerrero Vazquez about the sacrifices her parents made to give her family a better life.

Check out more from the Stoop Storytelling Series and the Stoop podcast.

Bread for the World/Laura Elizabeth Pohl / Flickr

On the frontlines of the pandemic--the essential workers who pick and process food on farms or in meat-packing plans. Within that workforce are thousands of foreign workers, who come to the US on temporary visas.

How are these workers shouldering the burden of the pandemic? Are employers doing enough to prevent the spread of infection?

Rachel Micah-Jones, founder of Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, a workers’ rights group, raises concerns about the Trump administration push to reduce their wages.

Read more about the issues migrant workers are facing:
Farmworkers: Too essential to be banned, but not essential enough to be truly valued
To Help Farmers, White House Wants To Lower Migrant Wages
Farmworkers, Deemed Essential, Don't Feel Protected From Pandemic

Torbakhopper via Flickr

The COVID-19 crisis is affecting all aspects of life here in Baltimore, and it’s hitting transgender people especially hard. This during a time when the local community is mourning Johanna Metzger, a trans woman murdered earlier this month in Baltimore.

On the latest episode of On The Record, we discuss how the coronavirus is affecting local trans people, including youth, elders, sex workers, and people experiencing housing and food insecurity, and learn how activists, city officials and community members are responding to trans people's economic, healthcare, food, and safety needs.


With the Covid-19 pandemic, restaurants filling only take-out orders could cut back on buying food; retailers whose doors are closed could stop buying inventory. What about farmers? Crops must be planted in the spring and chickens don’t hatch overnight. How is agriculture planning for uncertain markets? We find out how they’re coping by asking Lindsay Thompson, executive director of the Maryland Grain Producers Association and Evan Miles, of Bluestem farms on the Eastern Shore, who is a member of the National Corn Growers Covid-19 task force. He admits this pandemic is unprecedented … but has faith in his fellow farmers. 

Nenad Stojkovic / Flickr Creative Commons

Maryland public schools are closed, and teachers and students are connecting from a distance. What does this mean for students with learning or developmental disabilities? What are the limits and the possibilities of virtual learning?

Rene Averitt-Sanzone, head of The Parents’ Place of Maryland, recommends that parents get familiar with their child’s individualized education plan and document any progress or loss of skills. Check out the COVID-19 resource page. Watch the "COVID-19: What's Next?" webinar. The progress chart mentioned is available here.

Plus, students and parents describe how they are adapting to distance learning and the stay-at-home order. We hear from Rico Winston and his son, Israel, of Baltimore City, and Denise Stringer of Baltimore County. Find local support from Kennedy Krieger's Center for Autism and Related Disorders, the ARC  Baltimore, Decoding Dyslexia Maryland, Disability Rights Maryland, and City Ranch.

The fallout of the coronavirus - thousands are out of work, many small businesses hang by a thread. How will Baltimore’s next mayor lead the city’s economic recovery?

Former mayor Sheila Dixon is seeking the Democratic nomination in the primary election in June. She points to her experience governing during Great Recession as an asset.

Vasiliki Photography

Fewer cars on the road, less electricity generated, many factories on hiatus: the coronavirus lockdown’s side effect of cleaner air-- at least temporarily--has been something to celebrate amid the 50th anniversary commemoration of Earth Day this week. We ask Adam Lindquist, director of the Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor initiative: what’s the connection to the quality of the water in Baltimore’s harbor? To join the secret society The Order of the Wheel, visit this link.