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


About two dozen sixth-graders from West Baltimore will be diving into an intense agenda, joining 80 current UMB CURE Scholars who are in seventh through ninth grades. Two afternoons a week plus Saturday mornings they’ll focus on building the strong math and science skills they’ll need for careers in medicine or science. Each young scholar is backed by five mentors--students in UMB’s professional schools. Robin Saunders, who leads the CURE Scholars program, says Saturday afternoons are for field trips, lab visits and getting to know specialists in medicine.

Ann Froschauer / US Fish and Wildlife Service

Bats get a bad rap, but they play a pivotal role in nature---they devour insects and their furry bodies can spread pollen. Bats make up one fourth of all mammal species. Maryland Department of Natural Resources ecologist Daniel Feller tells us about the devastation caused by the fungal disease White Nose Syndrome, which has killed millions of bats in North America. How is this disease spread?

Read more about White Nose Syndrome here:

DNR Bats and Diseases page

Maryland's Bat Caves

And Dr. Kirsten Bohn, researcher at Johns Hopkins’ “Bat Communication Lab,” decodes the sounds bats make. Original air date: 4/3/18

Here’s a Stoop Story from Stephanie Murdock about building skateparks and building relationships with young people. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

US Department of Education / Flickr via Creative Commons

While students may be planning what to wear the first day of school, teachers are busy arranging desks and prepping lesson plans. We speak to two third-grade teachers from Lakeland Elementary Middle School in south Baltimore. Mentor teacher Melissa Simmons shares her goals for the new year, and first year teacher Reina Quintanilla, an immigrant from El Salvador, describes feeling called to serve.

"She's Such a Bright Girl, An American Story," is the recounting of how Petula Caesar's African-American father praised her good grades and her light skin. He raised her to be deferential to white people and to see blacks as dangerous. 

Then, Sujata Massey’s novel “The Widows of Malabar Hill," is set almost a century ago in what is now Mumbai, India. Her heroine is a pioneering lawyer who comes upon murder, kidnapping and a secret passageway as she investigates a suspicious will. Original air date: 6/21/18

Each day in the U.S. more than 86,000 older adults fall. That’s about one per second, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for the elderly. We talk with Dr. Kelly Westlake and Dr. Mark Rogers, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who are working to help seniors react faster and stay safer if they take a tumble through innovative balance training. To participate in the study visit this link or call 410-605-7179. Original air date: 1/30/18

Ivy Bookshop

In this gourmet era, canned food doesn’t get much respect. But that humble tin of chicken soup in the pantry has a fascinating backstory. Canning was invented to feed soldiers during the French Revolutionary Wars. And the commercial canning industry that followed was, at first, a dicey business. Historian Anna Zeide talks about her new book, “Canned: The Rise and Fall of Consumer Confidence in the American Food Industry.” Original air date: 6/19/18

Deborah Roffman

The intense reckoning America is experiencing around sexual harassment didn’t come out of nowhere. We talk with Deborah Roffman, author and human sexuality educator at the Park School of Baltimore, about eye-opening events in the past five years that changed attitudes about taking what you want versus getting permission. Roffman teaches boys and girls as young as 9--fourth graders--and says forming personal boundaries starts with building self-respect. Original air date: 12/7/17

A quiet but mighty revolution is growing in Baltimore. For a group of African American teenage girls, it’s been fueled by the power of the page ... filling their minds with positive images of black women in literature. The co-founder of the non-profit, ‘A Revolutionary Summer,’ Andria Nacina Cole, tells why she chose ‘books’ as the medium of choice. We also meet Constance Ui Seng Francois , who wrote and directed a play based on a book the teens read, "I Dream A World, Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America." Performances happen Aug. 25-26. More information here.

A Stoop Story by Lilly Gibbons, about the power of finding one’s voice, and what good can happen if you don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. You can hear her story and others at Stoopstorytelling.com or on the Stoop podcast.

St. Francis Neighborhood Center

Founded more than five decade ago, St. Francis Neighborhood Center has deep roots in Baltimore’s Reservoir Hill community. Free summer and after-school programs for kids, job-seeking assistance for adults, help with groceries, counseling--executive director Christi Green says the center’s mission is to end generational poverty through education.

Longtime participant Emmanuel Leach says the center helped him gain self-confidence and get accepted into the Baltimore School for the Arts.

Check out more information on St. Francis' capital campaign here. Learn how to volunteer here.

Wikimedia Commons

Medical cannabis has been available in Maryland about nine months. Who is using it, and where is this budding new industry headed? We check in with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, for an update on regulations for dispensaries and staff. Plus , Brian Sanderoff, general manager at Curio Wellness shares his experience and his client, Rebecca Kliman, talks about her switch from narcotics to medical marijuana to address severe pain.

CDSA preschool photos / Flickr via Creative Commons

The cost of childcare for an infant can exceed college tuition. To help low-income families cope, Maryland offers vouchers.

Steve Rohde, of the Maryland Family Network, describes recent changes to the state’s Child Care Subsidy program; with the changes, the vouchers are worth more, and more families are eligible for them. And Lindsay Midkiff, a single mom of three, describes how childcare vouchers have helped secure her family’s future and allowed her to work full-time.

For details about the Mayland Child Care Subsidy program, click here. For help locating child care, check out the Maryland Family Network's resources or call 877.261.0060. To check out the Heckman Equation, click here

Flickr Creative Commons

An estimated 20,000 surgeons in the U.S. are over 70--no more immune than the rest of us from weaker vision, slower hand-eye coordination or forgetfulness. Yet there’s not a clear system for telling a doctor it’s time to retire from surgery. Dr. Mark Katlic, chair of surgery at LifeBridge Health Sinai Hospital, has devised a two-day evaluation to test the physical and mental fitness of surgeons. He says a mandatory retirement age is not the answer. We also talk to Dr. Herbert Dardik, who resisted the testing but now thinks it’s needed.

Walters Art Museum

“Taxidermy” conjures images of mounted safari trophies frozen in time, glaring from the fireplace mantels of victors’ dens. But the ‘Baltimore Taxidermy Open’ competition turns that stuffy concept on its head. We talk to judge Greg Hatem, co owner of  curio shop Bazaarand to Hannah Burstein, adult programming coodinator at the Walters Art Museum, which is hosting the event. 

For information on how to submit for the competition go here.

For information on the Baltimore Taxidermy Open event, go here.

Here's a Stoop Story from Robert Marbury, author of ‘Taxidermy Art: A Rogue's Guide to the Work, the Culture, and How to Do It Yourself’.’ Marbury will be a judge for the Baltimore Taxidermy Open competition at the Walters Art Museum on Sept. 6. You can hear his story and others at stoopstorytelling.com or on the stoop podcast.

Teacher Supply Swap

The first day of the school is around the corner--and for some kids, the thought of meeting new teachers and classmates can be overwhelming. What can parents do to calm kids’ nerves? Amani Coker-Warren of Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School gives advice on preparing for the new school year.

Then, teachers often reach into their own wallets to provide pencils, notebooks, and folders, and bigger items. Melissa Badeker tells us how the Teacher Supply Swap, which collects and distributes free supplies, has grown. Information on donating supplies here.

Melissa Gerr

It’s been thirteen years since the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra ventured overseas to perform. That changes next week, when more than one hundred musicians will head to Scotland, England and Ireland for a series of concerts. They’ll play many works by Leonard Bernstein, who mentored Marin Alsop, the BSO’s music director, and whose birth centennial is being celebrated this summer.  We talk with Alsop and also with principal horn player Phil Munds, just before they head out on tour.

If you’d like to wish the BSO ‘bon voyage,’ show up at 5 pm at City Hall Plaza Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018.  The BSO is offering a free concert by its brass and percussion section, conducted by Associate Conductor Nicholas Hersh, who will lead fanfares and classical favorites.


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

Rob Stemple / Flickr via Creative Commons

Maryland’s beloved terrapin faces a serious threat from climate change. Biologist Christopher Rowe of the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science describes how rising sea levels and warming temperatures jeopardize the terrapins’ survival. Read more about the threats to the terrapin here.

Then, fueled by solar and water power, Mr. Trash Wheel and his companions tirelessly pull litter from the harbor. Adam Lindquist of the Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor Initiative gives us an update on their progress.

Ida B's Table

Sharing a meal creates community, and signature dishes give a sense of culture and culinary history. Ida B’s Table in Baltimore shares that philosophy -- it’s behind a series of special dinners that start Sunday. We talk with Chef David K. Thomas of Ida B’s, and Chef BJ Dennis of Charleston South Carolina, who are cooking up the Ancestor’s Dinner. It will feature flavors of the Gullah Geechee cuisine and stories of its people.  For information on the Ancestor's Dinner at Ida B's Table, visit this link.

Other culinary events this weekend:

Off the Chainsaw Cookout at A Workshop of Our Own and The 6th Annual Muslim Food Fest at The Islamic Society of Baltimore. Enjoy!

Here’s a Stoop Story from Gregory Hartzler Miller about going off the grid and finding his truth. You can hear his story and others at stoopstorytelling.com or on the Stoop podcast

Former U.S. Senator Joe Tydings died at age 90, on Monday, October 8, 2018.  Here is the On the Record interview from August, 2018.

At 90, former U.S. Senator Joseph Tydings has fascinating stories to spin of growing up in a family both wealthy and politically connected. As a young delegate in Annapolis Tydings was already irritating those in power in 1960 when he threw himself into campaigning for a presidential hopeful named Jack Kennedy.

With John Frece, former U.S. Sen. Joseph Tydings has written a memoir titled "My Life in Progressive Politics: Against the Grain". Frece will be speaking about what went into writing it Sunday at 5 pm at the Ivy Bookshop on Falls Road.

Melissa Gerr

Eating nutritious food is an important step toward a healthy lifestyle. For some, making nutritious food is a main ingredient to improving self-confidence and finding a path to gainful employment. We talk with Deborah Haust, director of School of Food, and we visit the social enterprise City Seeds in East Baltimore, to meet chef Aharon Denrich and some of his staff.

For information about cooking classes visit School of Food.

For information about catering, visit City Seeds.

Next One Up for College

Aug 7, 2018
Next One Up Instagram

Many of the hurdles that keep young black men from getting into college can trip them up even once they’re there. Young black athletes face the same stumbling blocks. But a community of mentors can make all the difference. Founder Matt Hanna explains how the ‘Next One Up Foundation’ connects with young men through sports, providing support from middle school through college, graduation and on into the workforce. And two students describe the family they've found with ‘Next One Up’.

Joelip / Flickr via Creative Commons

A dozen Russian intelligence officers have been indicted for tampering in the 2016 election. Plus, Maryland officials recently learned a Russian oligarch bought a software firm that holds a state contract for voter registration. How is Maryland ensuring the security of its elections in November?

We speak to Linda Lamone, administrator of the State Board of Elections, and deputy administrator Nikki Charlson. And Hopkins computer science professor and security expert Avi Rubin tells what he learned from serving as an elections judge.

Charles Townley Chapman

One hundred years ago an idea took off--literally--from the grassy airfield in College Park: could these new flying machines move mail between cities faster than trains? Congress okayed a test. Andrea Cochrane Tracey, director of the College Park Aviation Museum, reflects on how basic things were in 1918.

The first flights during sunny August went well. Cydney Shank Wentsel, the granddaughter of Robert Shank, an early pilot, tells us how wintry snow and fog raised the dangers, and pilots pushed for more control over when they’d fly.

For information about events surrounding the airmail anniversary at the College Park Aviation Museum, visit this link.

To view a documentary about Robert Shank, visit this link.

For a look at commemorative stamps for the airmail anniversary, visit this link.

Here’s a Stoop Story from Shaun Adamec. It’s about the extravagant lifestyle that he and his dot-com-boom multimillionaire friend, Chris, briefly enjoyed … which included zipping around in a little Piper Cherokee single prop plane. You can hear his and other stories at stoopstorytelling.com or the Stoop Podcast. This story was edited for length.

Ivy Bookshop

We think of species taking a long time to adapt to changes in their surroundings. Not necessarily, says evolutionary biologist and ecologist Menno Schilthuizen. In his latest book, "Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution," he asserts we don’t have to look far for evidence: Schilthuizen says plants and animals can adapt quickly to survive. Things like mating preferences and diets are in flux when it comes to city living.

National Federation of the Blind

Thousands of blind people travel and commute every day. But they can face challenges, barriers--even discrimination--along the way. Stacey Cervenka, who is blind, tells us about her plans for a Blind Traveler’s Network, a website to provide tips and recommendations for accessible vacation travel. She's a winner of the 2018 Holman Prize for Blind Ambition.

And we meet Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind. He discusses advocacy for equal treatment and access for blind and visually impaired people, and notes that people's perceptions of what it's like to be blind is often the toughest thing to overcome.