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.

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Theme music created by Jon Ehrens.  Logo designed by Louis Umerlik.

Ways to Connect

Courtesy the National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African-American History and Culture is exhibiting a stone once used as a slave auction block in Hagerstown. We discuss slave auctions of enslaved and free blacks in western Maryland and the fissures still felt from those sales. Our guest is Mary Elliott, a museum specialist at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. She helped research, conceptualize, and design the “Slavery and Freedom” exhibition at the museum, where the auction block is housed.

Special Collections, Sheridan Libraries / Johns Hopkins University

Fifty years ago a team headed by Johns Hopkins sociologist James Coleman got a congressional mandate to figure out how to make educational opportunity more equal. They surveyed hundreds of thousands of students. One conclusion: that a child’s family has more bearing on academic success than school. We’ll talk to three experts, including one who helped write the Coleman Report.

Scanned from "Thomas Eakins: Volume II" by Lloyd Goodrich. Harvard University Press, 1982. / Wikimedia Commons

Mercury. Today we think of it as a dangerous poison, but during the Civil War, medicinal mercury was used in varied forms to treat many illnesses. The National Museum of Civil War Medicine’s annual conference this week reminds us that what we know about health care today is shaped by the past. We’ll also hear about a syndrome affecting Civil War soldiers and veterans; with symptoms like rapid heart rate and tunnel vision, a medical historian tells us it looked a lot like what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder.

Baltimore City government

Baltimore’s Civilian Review Board aims to provide a check on police misconduct by allowing citizen representatives to review the public’s complaints against police. Last month, the Justice Department’s report noted the board’s effectiveness was limited by a lack of resources. We speak to Kisha Brown, director of Baltimore City's Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement, which oversees the CRB, and Keisha Allen, chair of the board, about how the board investigates complaints and the obstacles it faces.

Simon & Schuster

The young adult novel “All-American Boys” takes on police brutality from the perspective of two teenagers: one black, one white. Jason Reynolds, who is black, and Brendan Kiely, who is white, wrote the book as a call to action. We’ll talk to the authors about how their conversations about race brought them together and what action they hope will be sparked by their depiction of two teens coming to grips with a police beating.

UB School of Law

True crime procedurals like the Netflix documentary "Making a Murderer" have shone a spotlight on the problem of wrongful convictions. How true-to-life are these stories? How hard is it to overturn a wrongful conviction? And what’s it like to serve time for a crime you didn’t commit? We talk to a man who served five years for murder before he was exonerated, and to his lawyer, about the hard road to proving your innocence once you’re no longer presumed innocent.

Penguin Random House

Baltimore ranks second in the country - behind Detroit - in the number of tenants threatened with eviction. In any given year, about 6 percent of Baltimore’s renters face eviction; most likely of all are black women with children. We’ll talk to Zafar Shah, staff lawyer with the Public Justice Center, and Karen Wabeke, senior staff attorney with Homeless Persons Representation Project, about how public policies work against tenants in rent court, what’s changed recently and what changes they’d like to see.

Wikimedia Commons

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, the first in this season’s Baltimore Speaker series, shares his thoughts on what it takes to compromise.

Photo by Philip Laubner/CRS

Around the world, 65 million people have been forced from their homes by wars and other disasters--the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II. Humanitarian agencies are calling for a new approach to aiding refugees. We’ll talk to Sean Callahan, incoming president of Catholic Relief Services, one of the international nonprofits based in Baltimore which took part in a meeting this month at the United Nations.

Early this summer more than 80 people were being held in county and city jails in Maryland, even though courts had said they needed in-patient mental-health care. Now the number is about a dozen. We ask Van T. Mitchell, Maryland Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene, what changes have made it more likely detainees will get mental-health services, and what challenges lie ahead. Does the state have enough mental-health workers, and enough beds to meet its obligations? We also talk about Maryland’s growing epidemic of overdose deaths related to heroin and fentanyl.

Paula Poundstone, Emmy-Award winning stand-up comedian and a regular panelist on the weekly news quiz show "Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me!", will cruise through Maryland this weekend as part of her current stand-up tour.  Sheilah chats with her about her new book and what running for class president in the 6th grade taught her about politics.


Today we get the backstory from the co-founders of The Stoop Storytelling Series, live performances in which ordinary people in Baltimore tell true stories from their lives. The Series is about to start its eleventh season. What makes for a good story? What makes for a good storyteller? Do you have to be an extrovert? Jessica Henkin and Laura Wexler will share their thoughts. 

What kind of movie can a filmmaker put together in just one month? You can find out this week at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore. More than two dozen short films shot and edited in just 29 days will premiere. Now in its eighth year, the 29 Days Later Film Project is a competition meant to inspire local filmmakers and get their work in front of an audience. We chat with local filmmaker Bob Rose, a longtime participant and former grand prize winner, about the appeal of the competition and what makes for a good short. And we'll discuss the bizarre short Bob made for last year's competition, titled "Black Jeans Whoa." 

smysnbrg/Flickr via Creative Commons

Emails of the Democratic National Committee were leaked this summer. Last year, a Chinese hack of the US Office of Personnel Management exposed the personal data of millions of Americans. So, how safe is the ballot box? Cybersecurity expert Dr. Richard Forno, Assistant Director of the UMBC Center for Cybersecurity, walks us through the potential vulnerabilities of voting systems in America.

Within a decade of its launch by Arunah Abell in 1837, the Baltimore Sun was so dominant that the U.S. president learned from the Sun--not from the War Department--that the U.S. had won its war with Mexico. In the 20th century, the Sun was one of three daily newspapers that FDR devoured with breakfast. The new book, "The Life of Kings," contains recollections by dozens of Sun writers and recalls the Sun’s reach and independence. We look back at the Sun's heyday with Stephens Broening, the Sun’s first op-ed page editor and co-editor of the book, “The Life of Kings: The Baltimore Sun and the Golden Age of the American Newspaper.” We’ll also hear from former Sun reporters Fraser Smith and Antero Pietela about their most memorable assignments and the future of print journalism.

On the first “On the Record,” with technology replacing more and more jobs, there’s more talk of a universal basic income--the idea of the government giving a minimal income to everyone, no strings attached. We speak with former labor boss Andy Stern. He and others, from the right and the left, are pushing the idea of a universal basic income, in which the federal government would pay everyone a monthly stipend, no strings attached. Stern's new book is: “Raising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income Can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream.”