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

This Is Your Brain On Books

9 hours ago
Center for Epigenetic Research in Child Health & Brain Development

University of Maryland neuroscientist Tracy Bale does advanced research in epigenetics--changes in gene activity that don’t actually alter DNA but can be passed along to offspring. Bale focuses on health disparities, like how stress affects the way a child’s brain develops and how reading can be good medicine for a stressed brain. She describes one of the goals of the project she started at Callaway Elementary called “Reading on the Brain.” Artist Jay Wolf Schlossberg-Cohen joins the conversation and tells of working with the pupils to open other ways of expressing the science of their brains.

Decades before Victorine Q. Adams was elected the first African-American woman on the Baltimore City Council--in 1967-- she was a teacher. Then she poured her energies into political education, setting up the “Colored Women’s Democratic Campaign Committee” and other grassroots organizing. Morgan State archivist Ida E. Jones’ book, "Baltimore Civil Rights Leader Victorine Q. Adams: The Power of the Ballot," tells how Victorine and her husband, numbers runner “Little Willie” Adams, shared political goals. But Victorine insisted her own hard work convinced voters to give her power, like her push for job training. Original airdate 4/25/19

Courtesy Catholic Relief Services

Today is United Nations World Humanitarian Day. In that spirit, we meet two people whose life’s work is serving others. Lucy Steinitz is a senior technical advisor for protection at Catholic Relief Services. She attends to populations that have experienced trauma to help them find ways to heal and thrive.

We also meet Cindy Williams, who founded Loving Arms, a non-profit that provides shelter and resources for young people experiencing homelessness in Baltimore. 

Here is a Stoop Story from Stephanie Ybarra, artistic director at Center Stage theater in Baltimore, about learning to imagine a bigger future for herself. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

Cynthia Mitchell / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Poplar Island is a haven for diamondback terrapins. Some of the island’s residents arrive there from the Terrapin Education and Research on Poplar - TERP - program, which gives hatchlings a head start in classrooms across the state.

Laura Baker, of the Maryland Environmental Service, explains that time in the classroom helps turtles grow and gives them a better chance of survival. And Paul Taylor, who teaches fourth grade at Church Hill Elementary in Queen Anne’s County, says his pupils learn the scientific method by tracking the growth of terrapins.

Lack of insurance, difficulty finding bilingual medical providers, fear of being detained by federal agents--all these barriers push Baltimore’s Latino community away from adequate health care. To bridge these gaps, Centrol SOL at Johns Hopkins Bayview offers clinical care, advocacy, and education.

Saving Washington: The Maryland 400

Aug 14, 2019
Ivy Bookshop

Just weeks after the Declaration of Independence had been signed, George Washington’s rag-tag Continental Army confronted an immense British military force. Washington needed to retreat from Brooklyn into Manhattan--but how to buy time to do it? Four hundred young fighters from Maryland engaged the redcoats to give cover to the escaping Americans. Author Chris Formant blends historic facts with inference about emotions and motivations. His novel is: Saving Washington: The Forgotten Story of the Maryland 400 and the Battle of Brooklyn.

For information on the author's speaking events, visit this link.

Planet 9 from Outer Space / public domain

What does the future of warfare look like? What constitutes a battlefield? Who are the players? How can a nation protect itself from an enemy it cannot see? Quantitative futurist and founder of The Future Today InstituteAmy Webb discusses why the future of global security will be fought on virtual battlegrounds and how even the vocabulary of ‘what is considered combat’ is in question. Plus, Webb explains why so many private companies are racing to outer space, and what they’re hoping to find. Visit this link to sign up for the free Future Today Institute newsletter, and read more.

Marlayna Demond -UMBC

For many college freshman, the thought of a committing to a PhD is daunting. For students in the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, it’s a chance to be a leader.

With three decades’ of know-how increasing diversity in engineering and the sciences, the scholarship program is now expanding to two universities on the West Coast.

We speak to Keith Harmon, director of the program, and Dr. Michael Summers, chemistry professor and Meyerhoff mentor, about the keys to scholarship's success. And alumna Dr. Crystal Watkins, director of the Memory Clinic in the Neuropsychiatry Program at Sheppard Pratt, and UMBC senior Aliyah Smith, describe the impact of being a Meyerhoff scholar. Original air date: May 7, 2019.

Here’s a Stoop Story from Julie Hackett about her normal - not perfect - childhood. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

Travis Wise / Flickr Creative Commons

The barriers to homeownership seem insurmountable if you’re short of funds for a downpayment, and your credit score is low. The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, NACA, is meeting with thousands of aspiring homeowners in Baltimore this weekend to say, those don’t have to barriers at all.

CEO Bruce Marks says NACA focuses on character, not credit score. And homeowner Robin Wright explains that when she thought owning a home was a distant dream, NACA’s counselors held her hand.

This weekend's event runs through Monday evening and is being held at the Radisson Hotel in Baltimore's Inner Harbor

Melissa Gerr

Heed this advice from first graders: If math scares you … just sing about it! We visit teacher Dawn Johnson and teaching artist Steve Cypher's class at the Young Audiences Summer Arts and Learning Academy to discover how 7-year-olds tame tough equations through song. We also hear from YA education director, Kristina Berdan.

Plus, we meet pianist and composer Scott Patterson, who’ll perform his future-focused compositions tonight at the Peale Center … on a grand piano that’s 140 years old. His commitment to his craft is matched by his goal of helping humanity aspire to greatness.

Sagamore Development

Opportunity Zones are the latest version of federal tax breaks for investors who put money into new businesses or housing in poor neighborhoods; the hope is the new projects will create jobs and revive stressed communities.

When the investigative news operation Pro Publica looked at the low-income, high-poverty census tracts that had won the tax break, one in south Baltimore stood out--the one planned to be UnderArmor’s new campus.

Pro Publica data reporter Jeff Ernsthausen shares the story. Ben Seigel of Baltimore’s development agency describes other budding projects, and Ashiah Parker of No Boundaries offers a view from Central West Baltimore.

jfcherry / Flickr Creative Commons

Each year millions of Americans get the wrong diagnosis from their doctor--a medical problem is seen as something else, missed entirely or identified late. Because of these errors, about 100-thousand patients die or are permanently disabled.

Neurologist Dr. David Newman-Toker heads a center at Johns Hopkins to improve how diagnoses are made. He shares steps patients can take to improve their odds. Original air date: Oct. 31, 2017.

Maryland Office of the Attorney General Facebook Page

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has filed or joined more than 30 lawsuits against the Trump administration. A federal appeals court just threw out the big one that alleged the president violates the constitution when he gets profits from the Trump Hotel.

Frosh argues many of the challenges have succeeded. And he contends they don’t keep his office’s lawyers from taking on big local problems, like the nursing-home company he sued after it evicted a cancer patient when her insurance switched to much lower reimbursement.

For more information about the Equifax breach, click here. You can see if your data was exposed and file a claim here

Here is a Stoop Story from Lynn McDonald about sharing the unconditional love of her furry companion, Bo. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

This is a ceasefire weekend, and Baltimore Ceasefire and Hug-Don’t-Shoot are organizing “Hands Across Baltimore” tomorrow from 6 to 7 pm along North Avenue, from Hilton Street in the west to Milton Street in the east.

Melissa Gerr

It’s Baltimore. It’s August. It’s hot. In times like this, locals head to their favorite snowball shack to beat the heat. The icy, syrupy, slurpy summertime treats are a beloved tradition in Charm City. 

The first stop is with Richard Weiss, owner of Koldkiss. For more than 40 years it's offered everything one needs to set up a snowball shack. Then an historic delve into snowballs with Baltimore food blogger, Kara Mae Harris and finally a visit with Eric Miller, general manager of Quality Snowballs in Hampden. Plus, we hear from several satisfied snowball slurpers.

The Market at Montebello Facebook page

Today, two conversations about the power of food to unite people.

Kwame Onwauchi, executive chef of the Afro-Carribean restaurant Kith and Kin in Washington DC, tells us about growing up in the Bronx and Nigeria, the dishes he grew up with, and his favorite snack. Onwauchi will be at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum on August 8th. Details here.

Then, the Market at Montebello aims to build community in Northeast Baltimore with healthy food vendors, music, cooking demos, and lakeside yoga. Founder Nicole Foster says the market, which runs the third Saturday of each month, is bringing neighbors together. And Kerry Leidquist, studio manager at Bikram Yoga Wellness Works, describes the benefits of outdoor yoga.

The next market is Saturday, August 24th. Learn more about Foster's vegan ice cream company, Cajou, here.

Amazon/the author

For millions of Americans, higher education just doesn’t work. Of all those who start college each fall, barely more than half graduate with a degree or certificate in six years. And many leave campus saddled with huge debts.

Dr. Peter Smith, who has started several innovative colleges and now teaches at University of Maryland University College, says the system ignores the persistent, purposeful learning people do on their own, or at work.

His new book is 'Free-Range Learning in the Digital Age: the Emerging Revolution in College, Career and Education". Original air date 9/19/18

Jeff Eaton / Flickr Creative Commons

The number of jobs in newsrooms has dropped by one-fourth in the last decade. Local reporters are trying to cover the stories that matter with fewer resources.

Lucy Dalglish, Dean of the College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, tells about recruiting diverse students and preparing them for new challenges.

And Lisa Snowden-McCray, editor of Baltimore Beat, points to the mismatch between those who live in the city and those who cover it. Lisa will be speaking at a Creative Mornings Baltimore event on August 23rd

More reading:
U.S. newsroom employment has dropped by a quarter since 2008, with greatest decline at newspapers
The U.S. newspaper crisis is growing: More than 1 in 5 local papers have closed since 2004

Amazon/the author

The new 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 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.

Along the way, author Lawrence Lanahan shows us the public policies and government programs that offer opportunities or throw up barriers. He argues that inequality was designed into the system.

Join Lawrence Lanahan the author of "The Lines Between Us" at Impact Hub Baltimore on July 31st at 6pm.

Melissa Gerr

It was 290 years ago that the Maryland General Assembly issued Baltimore a town charter -- actually, voted out on July 30, 1729 … but Charm City is celebrating tonight with a party put on by Live Baltimore. The little settlement on the Patapsco was named for Cecil Calvert, second Baron Baltimore, first proprietor of the Maryland colony. Calvert never visited his colony. But even if he had, it’s safe to say neither he nor any of the succeeding Barons Baltimore would recognize what the city has become. What hopes do those who live here now hold for Baltimore? We asked more than two dozen denizens -- From Mayor Jack Young to film director and author John Waters -- to make a wish and tell us what they most desire for Charm City, on the threshold of its 290th year.

Here’s a Stoop Story from Jessie Bennett ... about… a birthday celebration that changed the course of her life. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast. Visit this link for bike and bus tours of Baltimore’s urban farms and community gardens organized by the master gardeners of the University of Maryland Extension!

401(K) 2012/401calculator.org / 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, explains. Check out the Delay and Gain website, including a calculator to help people envision how claiming benefits at different ages could change their financial picture.

Then: What’s Maryland doing to help workers who don’t have a savings plan at work? Josh Gotbaum, a guest scholar with the Retirement Security Project at the Brookings Institution, tells us about Maryland$aves.

Amazon/the author

Baltimore; summer 1966. Tensions between white and black residents. Some women testing expectations. And then: a woman’s decomposed body turns up in Druid Hill Park lake. Laura Lippman latest novel, The Lady in the Lake, unscrambles multiple mysteries. 

Lippman will be speaking at the following venues and times:

July 25 at Politics and Prose on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, she’ll speak with journalist and mystery writer Neely Tucker.  On July 26, at A Likely Story on Main Street in Sykesville, Lippman will be in conversation with suspense novelist Dan Fesperman.  Both events start at 7 p.m.

July 29, in Oxford, MD, Lippman will be at Doc's Sunset Grille on West Pier Street starting at 5 pm. At 12 noon July 31 in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Browseabout Books is hosting a luncheon with Lippman at the Crab House, on Coastal Highway.

K. W. Barrett / Flickr Creative Commons

In Maryland, about 100,000 students-almost one in eight-are in special education classes. Do they all belong there?

Longtime public-education advocate Kalman “Buzzy” Hettleman’s latest book is, “Mislabeled as Disabled: The Educational Abuse of Struggling Learners and How We Can Fight It”.

Hettleman says one reason failing students are placed into special education is that they don't receive reseach-based instruction to help them catch up to their peers. 

Dance & Bmore

Broken hearts, violent lovers, vengeance--What do themes from the tragic opera Carmen ... have to do with high school? CJay Philip, artistic director and choreographer of Dance & Bmore and “Voices of Carmen,” says the characters in this contemporary adaptation of the opera wrestle with realities teenagers face every day. Plus, we meet performers Faith Bender and Ui Seng Francois, two actresses who play Carmen.

For more information about how to see 'Voices of Carmen' visit this link.

Here's a stoop story by Manfred van Dulman  about a time he changed his mind ... and decided to grow up. You can hear his story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

Dave Frey / Flickr Creative Commons

“Discover” is the theme of Artscape this weekend, the nation's largest free arts festival.

We preview Teenscape: Jimmie Thomas, principal of the Media Rhythm Institute, tells how students learn artistic and technical skills for careers in the music industry. And we meet up-and-coming performers, emcee Shania Norris and rapper Saniyah Fletcher. Catch their performance on Saturday at Motor House from 5-7 pm. 

Then, Gamescape: Baltimore board chair of the International Game Developers Association, Jonathan Moriarty, describes some of the games and companies taking part and explains the artistic thinking in video games. Check out Gamescape at 1915 Maryland Ave.

Anne Arundel County Office of Planning & Zoning

As time passes and towns grow or shrink, first-hand knowledge about important places fades away. A new 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 online trail together. And Lyndra Marshall recounts how they collected oral histories from residents, including memories of segregated beaches and schools.

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