Maryland Morning Podcast | WYPR

Maryland Morning Podcast

Sagamore Development

After months of public hearings, private meetings, and political maneuvering, a deal to provide Tax Increment Financing to create the infrastructure for the massive Port Covington development appears to be headed for approval by the Baltimore City Council. A final vote is scheduled for Monday night. Tom speaks with 

Bishop Douglas Miles, a co-chair emeritus of Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD), one of the groups of community activists who negotiated what many are calling an historic agreement.     Then, Joshua Harris is the Green Party candidate for Mayor of Baltimore.  He’ll join me to discuss his vision for the future of Charm City.   And,  Mother’s Lament is a new oratorio composed in response to the Baltimore Uprising by James Lee, III and librettist Vincent Stringer.  They’re here with a preview of tomorrow’s premier at Morgan State.

We’re just about seven weeks away from the election, as one of America’s most divisive and unpredictable presidential campaigns continues to challenge political norms.  Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton blast each other as unfit for office, as charges of “deplorable” and “racist” and “hateful” fly from both camps.  The tumultuous presidential campaign has led to uncertainty up and down the ballots of both major parties. Washington Post syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne joins Tom to try make sense of the rapidly evolving electoral landscape.

Then, the iconoclastic punk rock band, Deerhoof. Producer Max Savage Levenson sits down with the band’s co-founder, Maryland native Greg Saunier, who’ll explain how a band that’s never had a hit is still going strong after more than two decades on the road. 

We begin with a conversation about the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. There are some who believe that if this type of gas drilling were allowed in Western Maryland, it could generate up to 3,000 jobs and at least $5 million in annual tax revenues. But many have concerns about the impact on the environment and public health. We’ll hear from Dr. David Vanko, the former head of the Maryland Fracking Commission, and co-host Nathan Sterner talks to Dr. Brian Schwartz, a researcher from Johns Hopkins, and Senator Bobby Zirkin, who proposed banning fracking.

Then, Alan Walden, the Republican candidate for Mayor of Baltimore, joins Tom to talk about his vision for the future of Charm City. And theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck has a review of the new show at Ford’s Theater in Washington, Come From Away. The musical tells the true story of the 7000 airline passengers whose planes were diverted to the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, immediately after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and how the tiny community’s embrace of these stranded strangers became an inspirational counterpoint to the horrors that brought them together. 

Chris Carlson/AP

The NFL opened its season last night, amid a controversy surrounding San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has protested inequality in communities of color by refusing to stand during the playing of the national anthem. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist ER Shipp joins Tom for a conversation about protests and patriotism.

 Plus, our Movie Mavens, Jed Dietz and Ann Hornaday, on this summer’s epidemic of “sequel-it is” and the Obama effect: how the first family has transformed tinsel town.  

Local Government Insurance Trust

For the finale of our Focus on the Counties series with a look at Kent County. The smallest of Maryland’s 23 jurisdictions, it’s home to Chestertown, a popular destination for retirees, and Washington College. Kent County is one of nine counties in the state that does not have a county executive, instead administrators are appointed by a board of elected commissioners. 

Tom is joined by Kent County Administrator Shelley Herman Heller and Chris Cerino, the mayor of Chestertown, to talk about their efforts to attract new jobs, young families, artists, and more tourists. Then, theater as therapy.  Joanne Lewis Margolius moved to Maryland 30 years ago from her native England to form the Magical Experiences Arts Company, which presents interactive theatrical programs for disabled children and adults to address the often overlooked emotional dimensions of their lives.


Here’s a cheery thought to kick off your holiday:  The first two leading causes of death in the United States are heart disease and cancer.  The third leading cause?  Medical errors.  Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that mistakes in prescribing drugs, miscues in surgery, and miscommunication between care givers leads to an astonishing number of preventable deaths every year.  One of the authors of the study, Dr. Michael Daniel, explains how the medical community is addressing this endemic problem. 

Then, 53 years after the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  led the March on Washington, a conversation with an eyewitness to history: pioneering civil rights activist Gloria Richardson, one of the founders of what came to be called The Cambridge Movement on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

And, local author Kathy Flann on her latest collection of Baltimore-based short stories, Get a Grip.  

Community Healing Network

We revisit a conversation about African centered approaches to mental health with Dr. Cheryl Grills of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and Enola Aird, the founder and president of Community Healing Network. This conversation originally aired on April 15, 2016.

Then, comedian and political satirist Barry Crimmins weighs in on the presidential election and discusses how the abuse he experienced as a child informs his work today. 

Plus, we go up on the roof to hear about one pastor's efforts to get voters to the polls in his community during the 2016 primary season. This conversation originally aired on April 20, 2016. 

Russell Sage Foundation

What’s your identity project? The thing that puts a skip in your step when you wake up every day? Maybe it’s the instrument you play, or the poetry you’ve written. For a lot of kids living in Baltimore’s most impoverished neighborhoods, their identity project can be their ticket out of economic hardship. A Hopkins researcher spent 10 years studying kids in Baltimore’s public housing. Why are some kids able to break the cycle of poverty? Stefanie DeLuca on Coming of Age in the Other America.

Then, National Book Award winner James McBride on Kill 'em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul.

And, Smart Nutrition: Our Nutrition Diva, Monica Reinagle, has some tips about long term weight loss.

Goldman Environmental Prize

Today's podcast begins with our story, first broadcast this past May, on Destiny Watford. She's a winner of the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize for her work with Free Your Voice, a grassroots organization that opposed construction of an incinerator in Curtis Bay.  The Goldman Prize is awarded to one person on each of the six inhabited continents.  Ms. Watford, at age 20, is this year’s winner for all of North America.  She joins Tom to talk about lighting a fire for justice in South Baltimore.  (See our full Destiny Watford web article for a statement from the incinerator's intended builder.)

Then: Yesterday marked the 53rd anniversary of the March on Washington, the peaceful demonstration that brought more than 200,000 protesters to the Lincoln Memorial to demand racial and employment equality.  In a conversion she had with Tom this past January, Helena Hicks recalls her role in the 1955 sit-in at the then-racially segregated Read's Drug Store, which took place eight years before Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the Washington march.

And an Annapolis troupe of three actors offers The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) in a rollicking 90 minute parade of witty skits inspired by the Bard of AvonTheater critic J Wynn Rousuck has a review.  

MacArthur Foundation


Liz Lerman, a MacArthur award winning dancer and choreographer joins Tom to discuss her new appointment as a Professor in the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts at Arizona State University.

Then, Donald Hicken, who retired from the theater department at the Baltimore School of the Arts in June, joins Tom to share his reflections after three and a half decades of changing young lives. 

And, Sharayna Christmas is a dancer, writer and the executive director of Muse 360, an organization that works with youth to cultivate their interests in the arts.  In July, Muse 360 took a  group of young people from Baltimore City to Havana, Cuba where for two weeks they studied history, Spanish and dance. The trip was put together in conjunction with The African Diaspora Alliance and Frederick Douglass High School.   This program originally aired on June 17, 2016. 

Since April of 2015, the narrative of the Baltimore uprising has been inextricably woven into the fabric of a broader national conversation about how police relate to communities of color, tempered by more deaths of Black and Brown people at the hands of police, targeted murders of law enforcement officers, and an acrimonious Presidential campaign. This morning, reporter Mary Wiltenburg brings us a Sound Montage from Baltimore’s West Side. Police and protesters: Voices from the Uprising.

Then, our Living Questions Series continues with the Rev. Dr. Robert Franklin, the President Emeritus of Morehouse College and Professor of Moral Leadership at Emory University.  Followed by Baker Artist Award winner Todd Marcus on the joys of the bass clarinet.

Phot courtesy Steve Phillips

We’ll start with a conversation with Steve Phillips, the co-founder of PowerPAC.ORG, which has worked to mobilize voters in under-represented communities.  In his recent book, Brown is the New White, he argues that people of color and progressive whites constitute a new American majority, and that acting with an understanding of this new reality is key to the future success of the Democratic party. 

Then:  Sammy Hoi has been at the helm of MICA for the past two years, and he has quickly established himself as one of the region’s most imaginative arts leaders.  How does an art school fit into the fabric of Baltimore, and how does the city inform the training of the next generation of artists and creators? 

And our theater Critic J. Wynn Rousuck reviews Hand to God at the Studio Theater in Washington, which has extended the play's run to Sunday, October 2. 


Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman joins by phone to give an update on recovery efforts in Ellicott City after the devastating flash flood that left two people dead, 200 buildings damaged or destroyed, and hundreds of cars strewn about the historic streets or thrown into the Patapsco River.  

 Then, Culture Connections with Dr. Sheri Parks. As the Olympics enter its final weekend, star gymnast Simone Biles and gold medal swimmer Simone Manuel are just two of several Black athletes who have become household names. Has Rio changed the narrative around race and sports? Then Old Line Spirits is one of the latest entries in the crowded field of craft distilling.  We’ll take a sip of this new single malt.  

Creative Commons

On Monday night, the City Council voted to send a minimum wage bill back to committee. Luke Broadwater from the Baltimore Sun and WYPR’s Metro Reporter Kenneth Burns were in the council chambers for the debate and vote, and they will walk-us through how and why the council took this step, and what it will mean for the city moving forward.

 Plus, Natalie Sherman of the Baltimore Sun and Melody Simmons of the Baltimore Business Journal have been covering the complexities of the proposed Port Covington development for many months.  They’re give a status update on the enormous project. Then, the Nutrition Diva, Monica Reinagel on meat substitutes. Are they healthier? And are they worth the trade-off in taste?  

Dr. Carla Hayden joins Tom for her first interview since being confirmed by the Senate July 13 as the next Librarian of Congress.  After 23 years in what most people consider a transformative tenure as the CEO of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library, Dr. Hayden next month will become the first woman and the first African American to hold the most high-profile library post in the nation. 

Then, Producer Bridget Armstrong visits the Reginald F. Lewis Museum’s latest exhibition, called Now, That’s Cool!  It features rare artifacts, like an original picture of Frederick Douglass, from a decidedly not-so-cool era of slavery.

Plus, theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck reviews The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory's new production of Julius Caesar

And historian Lawrence Jackson on The City That BleedsHe wrote a provocative essay in the July issue of Harper’s on Freddie Gray and the legacy of inequality that seeded last year’s uprising.

National Press Foundation

Dr. Leana Wen joins us for this month’s edition of Healthwatch.  With an extended Code Red heat alert in effect for the Baltimore region, what precautions must we take to stay safe in 100-degree temperatures? The Zika virus.  What have we learned as we watch the Greater Miami area struggle to contain this sometime fatal disease?  And as opioid overdoses continue to spike, how is the city responding to help addicts find treatment?  And how can the rest of us prepare to lend life-saving assistance when we encounter someone who's overdosing on heroin, fentanyl or other dangerous opioids?  The Health Commissioner talks about efforts to put the overdose antidote drug, Nalaxone, into more people's hands.

Then, unconstitutional conduct by the Baltimore Police Department: Commissioner Kevin Davis responds to the scathing Department of Justice report, Kevin Rector of the Baltimore Sun puts it in context, and Lynh Bui of the Washington Post  describes how the Prince George’s County Police Department's 2004 consent decree with the DOJ has affected day-to-day policing practices.

Photo courtesy Frederick County Government

We continue our Focus on the Counties Series with a conversation with first term Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner. Elected in 2014, Ms. Gardner is Frederick’s first County Executive, as they’ve transitioned from a commissioner system to a charter system. A Democrat, Jan Gardner is overseeing one of the fastest growing counties in the state, which is wrestling with the impulse for development in an area with a longstanding agricultural tradition.


Two decades ago, new research and new diagnostic tools led to a sharp rise in the numbers of children diagnosed with autism. The surprising prevalence of the developmental brain disorder – affecting an estimated 1 in 68 children born in the U.S. – sparked a wave of special programs designed to help autistic children achieve their full potential. Now, as these children have grown into adults, programs to help them live their lives with purpose and dignity are few and far between. Producer Rob Sivak reports on some local efforts to address the unique challenges of adults with autism.

 Then, theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck reviews the Baltimore Playwrights Festival production of Crash & Burn.  And Tom talks with local author Suzanne Feldman about her new novel, Absalom’s Daughters -- a book that explores race and self-discovery in the American South.


They started playing soccer on Wednesday. The opening ceremony is tonight.  Ready or not, here comes Rio. Sports guru Mark Hyman joins Tom for an Olympic Preview. The build-up to the Rio games couldn’t have been more unsettling: the Zika virus; concerns about rampant crime, political instability, filthy water. Are Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky ready for a repeat? Are Christina Epps and Matt Centrowitz ready for a breakout? Is Rio ready?

 Our movie mavens are always ready to recommend a good movie or two. Jed Dietz of the Maryland Film Festival and Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post  join me for Movie Mayhem. What’s hot, what’s not, and what’s new in the world of cinema.


Today, we continue our Focus on the Counties Series with a conversation with first term Harford County Executive Barry Glassman. He was one of three county executives elected in the Baltimore region in the 2014 Republican wave led by Governor Larry Hogan. Harford County is wrestling with a tenacious problem of opioid addiction, the tensions between rural and suburban land use, environmental contamination, and other issues.  I’ll talk to County Executive Barry Glassman on what’s ahead for Harford County.

 Then, Theater Critic J.Wynn Rousuck reviews "The Lord of Flies", an adaptation at the Annex Theater of William Golding’s chilling 1954 novel of not quite the same name.  

Baltimore City Gov.

We’ll spend the hour with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake. Within 5 months of the violence and uprising that ripped through the city in 2015, the Mayor had announced that she would not seek another term, saying she didn’t want to be distracted by politics while she worked to rebuild the city after that cataclysmic event.  What role will the Port Covington development play in those efforts, and have city officials properly vetted all aspects of this enormous project? What’s the status of the frayed relationship between police and communities of color?  And what does the future hold for a young former mayor, who’s no stranger to the national spotlight? 

Alex Wong/Getty Images

This week, the Democrats gathered in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, aspiring to unify the party, rebuff criticism of Hillary Clinton as untrustworthy, and articulate the dangers of electing Donald Trump. First lady Michelle Obama, former president Bill Clinton, and President  Barack Obama were the headliners who all adduced strong arguments for historic nominee, Hillary Clinton. Fairai Chideya of FiveThirtyEight and Michael Fletcher of ESPN’s The Undefeated join Tom to discuss the convention and Sec. Hillary Clinton's Thursday night address. 

 Then, Marilyn Mosby has discontinued the prosecution of the officers indicted in the arrest that led to the death of Freddie Gray.  Our legal eagles, Edward Smith and David Jaros help us understand the ramifications moving forward.  

Jim Young/Reuters

Are the calls for unity at the Democratic National Convention working? Baltimore Sun reporter John Fritze joins Tom by phone from the convention for an update. 

Then, co-host Nathan Sterner speaks with John Racanelli, host of A Blue View on WYPR, about why the National Aquarium has decided to relocate its dolphins to a marine sanctuary. 

Plus, resident foodie Sascha Wolhandler stops by to share some international salad ideas that will spice up your summer. 


The Democratic National Convention kicks off today. Sheri Parks from the University of Maryland and Michael Higginbotham from the University of Baltimore School of law join Tom for a DNC preview. 

Then, theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck reviews Spamalot on at Cockpit in Court.   Then, Living Questions continues with Rabbi Jessy Gross, who’s recently been named one of America’s most inspiring Rabbis. She’ll introduce us to the Charm City Tribe, a group of millennials who are practicing religion in a different way.   


With two days down and two to go, Republicans in Cleveland are making the case for Donald Trump to a general election audience.  With so many A-list Republican luminaries skipping the convention, and in the aftermath of a divisive and controversial primary campaign, has Trump begun to unify the party, and to bring the country together around his cause? Jenna Johnson has been covering Donald Trump for the Washington Post for most of the last year.  She joins Tom by phone from Cleveland. 

Then, analysis of the verdict in the trial of Lt. Brian Rice, one of the six officers charged in connection to the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, with our legal experts, attorney Edward Smith and University of Baltimore Law professor David Jaros. Plus, the Nutrition Diva, Monica Reinagel on “The Mind Diet;” foods that feed the brain, and may help ward-off Alzheimer’s disease.  

The Republican convention gets underway today in Cleveland. Elizabeth Copeland, a Baltimore Republican who is the founder of the Urban Conservative Project, gives a preview.


Baltimore City Health Commissioner Leana Wen joins for another installment of Healthwatch. It’s one thing to call gun violence in America an epidemic. It’s another to actually treat it like a public health crisis, and to employ scientific methods to shape policy and save lives. Leana Wen talks about efforts to combat gun violence in the city. 

Then, sports guru Mark Hyman talks about the Orioles best start in almost 20 years, and how Zika has impacted the upcoming Olympic games.  Plus, Wyclef Jean talks about his new music and Black Lives Matter before kicking off Artscape tonight.

Tom speaks with Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh for the Focus on the Counties series. 

Schuh was one of three county executives elected in the Baltimore region in the Republican wave led by Governor Larry Hogan. When Steve Schuh took office in late 2014, he was the third person to head the county in two years, following the scandal-ridden administration of John Leopold, and the brief tenure of Laura Newman. His working relationship with the county council has not always been smooth; he talks about his plans to streamline government, reduce taxes, and build more schools.   Then, Baltimore author James Magruder on his latest novel "Love Slaves of Helen Hadley Hall," a tale about the love lives of graduate students in the 1980s.        

David Y. Lee

Three out of five people who are arrested are not able to post bail, which means they are incarcerated, sometime for months, until their cases come to trial or are resolved. What are the standards for setting the amount of bail, and do those standards disadvantage the poor? Cherise Fanno Burdeen, the executive director of the Pretrial Justice Institute, and Tara Huffman, the director of Open Society Institute-Baltimore Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program join Tom to talk about making bail safer, fairer, and more effective. They also discuss #unconvicted, a photography exhibition organized by OSI-Baltimore the PreTrial Justice Institute that spotlights the plight of pretrial detainees. 

 In the light of events in Baton Rouge, St. Paul and Dallas  how has the conversation about police misconduct changed? Dr. Lester Spence, from Johns Hopkins University, and Dr. Eddie Glaude from Princeton discuss how we got this point and the way forward.   Plus, theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck on the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s  production of The Three Musketeers.

We continue our Focus on the Counties series with Howard County executive Alan Kittleman, In 2014, he won election as a Republican in a place where Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly two to one. Howard County is diverse and multi-cultural, and it’s one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in the country. As the town of Columbia prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, will fewer people be able to afford to live there? Can Columbia continue to be a model for sustainable, diverse communities nationwide? Alan Kittleman on what’s next for Baltimore’s neighbor to the south. 

Then, from Howard County to The Bridges of Madison County. Theater Critic J.Wynn Rousuck joins Tom to talk about the musical production of the Kleenex classic at the Kennedy Center.