Midday | WYPR


Courtesy of MICA

Today, another in our occasional series, Midday on Higher Education, in which we sit down with the presidents of colleges and universities throughout the state.

Among the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, greater Baltimore is the fourth most-educated region in America. Seventeen percent of area residents hold advanced or professional degrees. That’s substantially higher than the national average.

Tom’s guest today is Samuel Hoi, the president of the Maryland Institute College of Art, the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art in the United States.

Mr. Hoi took the reins at MICA in 2014. One of the country’s leading art schools, MICA teaches art and entrepreneurship. And as one of Baltimore’s anchor institutions, it has a unique capacity to contribute to our city’s creative economy.

We livestreamed this conversation on the WYPR Facebook page. Click here to watch the video.

AP Images / Matt Rourke

Today on the News Wrap, we examine how the internet is fanning the flames of political and racial discord in America.  Guest host Nathan Sterner speaks with writer Dale Beran about how the online message board 8-chan became a platform for far-right extremism.

Then, the latest news out of Baltimore County, including ongoing efforts to finance affordable housing projects.

And we look at a new series by the Baltimore Business Journal spotlighting  Baltimore's public transportation woes.  WYPR reporter John Lee and Baltimore Business Journal staff writer Melody Simmons join us. 

photo courtesy Artscentric

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom on our Friday edition this week with a review of the new Artscentric production of Little Shop of Horrors, a re-imagining of the hit 1982 musical by Howard Ashman (book and lyrics) and Alan Menken (music), which spawned the 1986 hit movie starring Rick Moranis. Both the musical and film were based on the 1960 cult classic, The Little Shop of Horrorsby B-movie director Roger Corman.

Artscentric's production is on stage at The Motor House through Aug. 17th.

Photo Courtesy / Baltimore City Hall

Tom's guest is President of the Baltimore City Council, Brandon Scott.  He was elected President by his colleagues on the City Council in a unanimous vote last May, despite Mayor Jack Young’s preference for the Council’s Vice President, Sharon Green Middleton to assume the position she had held in an interim capacity during the weeks former Mayor Catherine Pugh pondered her political future. 

Last week, Mr. Scott weighed-in on where he sees Baltimore’s future.  He unveiled a detailed list of legislative and policy proposals that would result in significant changes in the way the city operates.

photo courtesy Emmy Favilla

Tom's guest today is Emmy Jo Favilla.  She's the senior manager of “brand voice” at BuzzFeed in New York (she'll explain what that job entails), and formerly its senior commerce editor.  For several years before that, she was BuzzFeed’s global copy chief.  As such, she created the BuzzFeed Style Guide, which, when it went public in 2014, was heralded by one reviewer as “the style guide for the internet.”  (Notice the lower-case "i" in "internet.") Favilla's years as a style guru led to her first book, published in 2017.  It’s called  A World Without “Whom”:  The Essential Guide to Language in the BuzzFeed Age. 

It's an instructive and often hilarious guide through the perils and pleasures of the modern English language.  We first dove into Emmy Favilla’s book when she was a guest on Midday last November.  And she joins Tom again today from Argot Studios in Manhattan.

Toni Morrison Society

Toni Morrison, one of the towering figures in American literature and revered narrator of the African American experience, died Monday (August 5) at the age of 88.  The author of 11 powerful novels, she was the first African American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.  She also won the Pulitzer Prize, and in 2012, President Barack Obama awarded her America’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

To begin this month's edition of Midday Culture Connections, Tom and series co-host Dr. Sheri Parks, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at MICA, discuss Toni Morisson's unique contributions to literature, feminism and humanism.

This conversation was livestreamed on WYPR's Facebook page, and you can watch the video here.   The segment runs from 0:00 to 13:45 into the stream.

Kelly Bell Photography

In this month's edition of Midday Culture Connections, Tom talks with series co-host Dr. Sheri Parks, MICA's Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, about the image of Baltimore in the national media, and how that squares with the image its residents have of their city.  In recent days, political leaders and many people on social media have been busy defending Baltimore from verbal assaults by President Trump. But even the city's staunchest defenders acknowledge that Baltimore faces problems long in the making, and very slow in the solving.  We take listener questions and comments.

This conversation was livestreamed on WYPR's Facebook page, and you can watch the video here.   The segment begins at 16:16 into the stream.

Making Baltimore A Trauma-Responsive City

Aug 5, 2019
Courtesy of Baltimore Cease Fire

With so many of Baltimore's challenges in the news over the past week -- and as the number of homicides this year hits 200 -- we turn to some of the city's political leaders to explore new approaches to a future less riven by violence. City Councilmembers Kristerfer Burnett and Zeke Cohen join Tom to discuss the Baltimore City Trauma-Responsive Care Act.

The bill, introduced in late July by Councilman Cohen and 13 co-sponsors and up for a vote by the Health Committee later this  month, would create a task force to harness the resources of all relevant city agencies to better serve youth who've been traumatized by violence and dysfunction.   The measure would also establish systems for measuring which programs and practices are best at mitigating and preventing trauma to children and their families.

AP Images / Paul Sancya

Today on the Midday News Wrap, we recap the second round of Democratic presidential debates. At a CNN-televised event in Detroit, Michigan, on Tuesday and Wednesday, 20 Democratic contenders took the stage to make their case for the party's presidential nomination. 

Then, we discuss the continuing attacks by President Trump on the city of Baltimore and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings.  The president took his assault a step further at a rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Thursday, denigrating several U.S. "inner cities"  run by Democratic mayors.

Who were the stand-out candidates at the debate?  Which candidates will the Democrats choose to run against Trump?  What is the president's purpose in demeaning American cities and citizens? Will the call for oversight outlast the President's grab for the headlines?   On today's Midday News Wrap, Tom considers those questions with two distinguished guests:

NPR National Security editor Franco Ordonez joins us on the line from the NPR studios in Washington.

Julie Bykowicz  reports on money and politics for the Wall Street Journal, and she joins us in studio.

James Lewis Photograph Collection, MdHS.

A fascinating exhibition of portrait photographs selected from the archives of the Maryland Historical Society was recently assembled in a show called Reflections: A Brief History of Looking at Ourselves.”

The exhibition, which opened June 19th and runs through July 1, 2020, highlights themes of identity and place, and showcases portrait work from unsung and in some cases unidentified photographers -- as with the photograph featured to the left -- that are represented in the Historical Society's photo and prints collections. The photographs on exhibit encompass nearly the entire 180-year history of photography, from 1840s daguerreotypes to present-day digital photographs and “selfies.”

Teresa Castracane Photography

It's Thursday, and time for our weekly visit with theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins Tom with her review of Tiger Style!, now on stage at Olney Theatre Center in Olney, Maryland.

Tiger Style! is playwright Mike Lew's response, in part, to the criticisms of Chinese-American author Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a 2011 bestseller which argued that a strict Chinese style of parenting is superior to Western methods. Lew's play, first performed in Boston in 2016, satirizes the rampant stereotypes of Asian-American culture, and examines the timely issues of identity and immigration.

Directed by Natasu Onada PowerTiger Style! features Regina Aquino  as Jennifer Chen, Sean Sekino as Albert Chen, and Michael Glenn, Kurt Kwan, and Eileen Rivera in multiple roles.

Tiger Style!  continues at the Olney Theatre Center through August 18.  For ticket  info, click here.

Midday at the Movies: Messy Masterpieces

Aug 1, 2019
Sony Pictures Entertainment

Quentin Tarantino’s ninth and latest film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is being lauded by some reviewers as fearless filmmaking, and dismissed by others as artistic self-indulgence.  What did you think?

On the August edition of Midday at the MoviesAnn HornadayWashington Post film critic and author of Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies, and Maryland Film Festival founder Jed Dietz join Tom to answer the question Ann Hornaday poses in a recent column: on this 40th anniversary of Francis Ford Coppola's groundbreaking Vietnam War epic, Apocalypse Now, should we be grateful for auteur directors' messy masterpieces?   They also talk about some hot recent releases, including Walt Disney's CGI remake of Lion KingLulu Wang's The Farewell and Danny Boyle's Yesterday.   They start off, however, comparing notes about the role that production, style, and format played in this week's CNN-televised Democratic presidential debates. 

Photo Courtesy AP/ Paul Sancya

Ten Democrats took the stage last night for the first of two CNN-televised presidential debates this week in Detroit, Michigan -- a state that Donald Trump won by fewer than 11,000 votes in 2016.  Former Maryland governor and 2016 presidential candidate Martin O’Malley knows what it’s like to be on that debate stage.  He joins Tom with analysis.

Marissa O'Guinn Dahl

Today, it's another edition of Midday in the Neighborhood, a series in which we’ve set out to spotlight the remarkable tapestry of communities that make up the city of Baltimore.   Today, Tom is joined in Studio A by representatives of Ednor Gardens-Lakeside, located in northeast Baltimore off 33rd Street; and Coldspring Newtown, on the west side of town, south of Cylburn Arboretum.  

LaWanda Edwards is an active member of the Coldspring Newtown Community Association. 

Joseph Kane is Vice President of the Ednor Gardens-Lakeside Civic Association. 

Today's program was live-streamed on WYPR's Facebook page. You can watch that video here.

Cover Art Courtesy Harper Collins

When it was ratified in September of 1787, the U.S. Constitution stood alone as a beacon of freedom from tyranny and an unparalleled attempt to create a republic controlled by the people. 

On today's Midday, CBS News legal analyst and University of Baltimore Law Professor Kim Wehle talks about her new book, How to Read the Constitution and Why

Her book is a how-to guide for reading and understanding the Constitution.  It's also a timely primer on why certain political norms are required for the Constitution to remain that beacon of freedom for America and the world. 

Photo courtesy TopShelf Productions

Before Tom welcomes today's guest, he shares a few thoughts about President Trump's decision this past weekend to single out Baltimore and Representative Elijah Cummings -- the Democratic Chair of the House Oversight Committee -- with  a series of scornful and racist Tweets. We've included the full text of Tom's comments at the bottom of this post. 

As Tom notes in his commentary, "one of the things we can do to understand and address the problem of racial intolerance is to make an effort to understand history."  Tom's guest today has made an important contribution to that history.

The Japanese American actor and activist George Takei has pursued a career that spans 60 years, including his iconic role as "Hikaru Sulu" in the Star Trek television series and the hit movie sequels.  He has also become an influential and powerful voice for social justice, marriage equality and LGBTQ rights. 

Earlier this month, Mr. Takei published an illustrated memoir recounting how he and his family were incarcerated by the U.S. government in internment camps during the Second World War.  Mr. Takei, his parents, and his two younger siblings were among 120,000 people of Japanese descent who were imprisoned during the war, and his memoir deftly illuminates the effect of the stress and hardship of that experience. 

Mr. Takei's new book is They Called Us Enemy,  written with Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott.  The art is by Harmony Becker, with letters by George Lazcano

George Takei joins us from the studios of NPR West in Culver City, California.


AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

On Wednesday, Robert Mueller testified for nearly seven hours in separate hearings before the Democrat-led House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, about his 448-page, two-volume Report on the Investigation Into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential  Election.  It was Mueller's 90th appearance before Congress during a career in public service that spans more than three decades. 

The 74 year-old former FBI Director and former Special Counsel declined to directly answer his congressional interrogators nearly 200 times, responded to most questions tersely and at times haltingly, and refused to read aloud portions of the report he had submitted to the Attorney General in March.  But now that the dust from Robert Mueller's long-awaited appearance before Congress is beginning to settle, we're faced with a cascade of  questions...

Photo by Michael Stavrinos

Today, Live in Studio A, Tom welcomes the talented Baltimore-borne-and-raised entertainer and cabaret singer Mariah Bonner, and pianist Marcus Dagan, for a sampling of great songs to take us into the weekend.

They'll be appearing tonight at Germano’s Piattini in Little Italy here in Baltimore.  Dinner at 6:00.  Jackson Lundy does a set at 7:00.  Mariah and Marcus begin their set at 7:30.   For more information, click here.

This segment was Livestreamed on WYPR's Facebook page; you can watch the video here.

Emily Stubb

Food deserts. In cities and rural areas across America, millions of people live without easy access to supermarkets, or fresh, healthful foods. In parts of Baltimore’s West Side, that's true for nearly 64% of residents.

Emily Stubb’s new film, "deserted," explores food deserts here in Baltimore. Harlem Park activist Anthony Francis is featured in the documentary. They both join Tom on today's Midday.  Click here to see the film's trailer.

We livestreamed this conversation on the WYPR Facebook page.  Click here to see that video. 

Photo by Brandon W. Vernon

It's Thursday, and theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck is back with another of her weekly reviews of the Maryland regional stage. Today, she joins Tom to spotlight Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's new production of the Bard's Love's Labour's Lost, staged outdoors  "In the Ruins" at the Patapsco Female Institute (PFI) Historic Park in Ellicott City.

In this pun-filled romantic comedy penned by William Shakespeare in the mid-1590s, King Ferdinand of Navarre (played by Jonathan Jacobs) and three courtiers -- Berowne (Jose Guzman), Longaville (J.C. Payne), and Dumanin (Alexander Kafarakis) -- agree to avoid the distractions of women for three years while they study and pray. Their high-minded plans are derailed when the beautiful Princess of France (played by Lauren Davis) and her three ladies -- Rosaline (Elana Michelle), Maria (Micaela Mannix), and Katherine (Hilary Morrow) -- arrive on a diplomatic mission, and the men soon become love-struck fools.  For their part, the women conspire to confound the men's amorous ambitions, but the play ends as the death of the Princess's father puts all the romancing on hold for a year.

Directed by Erin Bone Steele, the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company production of Love's Labour's Lost continues at the PFI Historic Park in Ellicott City through Sunday, July 28th.  For more information, click here.

ASSOCIATED PRESS / J. Scott Applewhite

Today on Midday, Tom and his guests discuss President Trump's controversial tweets targeting four minority Congresswomen and his subsequent comments about them. And they consider some of Mr. Trump's previous actions and policies, both as President and in his private career, that have defined him in many people's minds as a racist.  What do you think of the way the President’s view of people of color has been characterized in the media?

Baltimore Police Dept.

Today, Tom's guest in Studio A is the newish police commissioner of Baltimore City, Michael Harrison.  He was appointed by then-Mayor Catherine Pugh in January, approved by the City Council a few weeks later, and sworn into office in March. 

Last Thursday, flanked by Mayor Jack Young and other city officials, Commissioner Harrison unveiled his new plan to address the crime problem that has afflicted Baltimore in particularly acute ways since the riots and unrest that followed the death of Freddie Gray in 2015.

The plan addresses response times by police, where and how they are deployed throughout the city, technology needs and how police can build cases that hold-up in court for people accused of serious crimes, while exploring alternatives to jail for those who commit lesser offenses. 

This conversation was livestreamed on the WYPR Facebook page.  You can watch that video here.


At precisely 4:17 pm Eastern time tomorrow (July 20), it will have been 50 years since a spidery-looking American spacecraft named Eagle touched down on the surface of the Moon.  Two hours earlier, Apollo 11 mission commander Neil Armstrong and Lieutenant “Buzz” Aldrin had left Colonel Michael Collins alone in the orbiting Command Module, beginning their powered descent to the Moon and to their indelible place in history.

Armstrong and Aldrin set the Eagle down on a lunar plain called the Sea of Tranquillity in the nick of time.  They had less than 30 seconds of fuel left by the time they touched down. 

Six hours later,  Neil Armstrong emerged from the lunar module  and slowly climbed down its metal ladder. With billions of people on earth watching live on TV or listening on the radio, Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the lunar surface, uttering those famous words: “That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Today on Midday, we discuss the legacy of Apollo 11’s triumphant mission to the moon with two distinguished chroniclers of America's space history...

photography by Tobias Mugg

Baltimore-based pianist and jazz innovator Lafayette Gilchrist joins Tom in the Midday studio to muse on the makings of his second solo CD, Dark Matter, out today (July 19) on the Lafayette Gilchrist Music label.  The eleven tracks on the new disc were all recorded live in front of an "intimate" crowd at the University of Baltimore's Wright Theater in 2016 by acclaimed hip-hop producer Wendel Patrick (the composer and co-producer with Aaron Henken of WYPR's award-winning Out of the Blocks podcast series, and a man also known in music circles as classical and jazz pianist Kevin Gift). Over the course of the session, Lafayette Gilchrist's compositions range from deeply personal meditations to socially conscious declarations.

This conversation was Live-streamed on WYPR's Facebook page, and you can see the video here.

We open the segment with the title track, Dark Matter, listen to a bit of Blues for Our Marches to End, and close the show with Black Flight, Gilchrist's ode to the famed African American  WWII fighter pilots known as the Tuskeegee Airmen.

Gilchrist celebrates the release of Dark Matter with a hometown CD release concert on Thursday, August 22 at Keystone Korner, the new jazz venue at 1350 Lancaster St., Baltimore. The event features the acclaimed Baltimore artist in a duo performance with legendary saxophonist David Murray. For more information call 410-946-6726 or click here.

“Send her back” has replaced “Lock her up” as President Donald Trump champions fear and divisiveness at a campaign rally in North Carolina last night. Political Scientist Dr. Carole Anderson joins Tom with analysis.

Dr. Carol Anderson is the Chair of African American Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. Her most recent book is called One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy.

"Baltimore" by shootingsawk is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It's another edition of Midday on Sports. We're talking the O's woes, the latest edition of Madden and what the scores mean to NFL athletes, as well as an update on the athletic program at University of Maryland one year after the death of offensive linemen Jordan McNair. 

Milton Kent, the host of Sports at Large here on WYPR and a member of the journalism faculty at Morgan State University, joins Tom here in Studio A. 

Jeff Barker joins us on the line.  He covers national politics and the business of sports for the Baltimore Sun.

Seth Freeman

It's Thursday, and theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us for another of her weekly reviews of the regional stage.  Today,  she spotlights the six plays being presented in rotating repertory at this year's Contemporary American Theater Festival, a showcase for important new work held annually since 1991 on the campus of Shepherd University in historic Shepherdstown, West Virginia. 

The six plays at this year's Festival are: 

My Lord What a Night by Deborah Brevoort, an account of the real-life friendship struck up on a fateful evening in 1937 between two legendary icons: singer Marian Anderson and Princeton astrophysicist Albert Einstein;  Support Group for Mena play by Ellen Fairey about the changing definitions of male identity; A Welcome Guest by Michael Weller, another world premiere commissioned for this year's Contemporary American Theater Festival -- and directed by Festival founder Ed Herendeen -- that explores intolerance, insanity and how much we have in common with our enemies; Wreckedplaywright Greg Kalleres's tale of the isolating power of guilt; Chester Baileya play by Joseph Dougherty about the resilience of the human mind; and Antonio’s Song/I Was Dreaming of a Son, a semi-autobiographical narrative that challenges stereotypes of manhood, race and fatherhood, written by Dael Orlandersmith and Antonio Edwards Suarez. Mr. Suarez also performs solo in the play's title role.

The 29th annual Contemporary American Theater Festival continues at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, through Sunday, July 28th.  For information about the Festival schedule and tickets, click here.

Johns Hopkins University

It’s Midday on Ethics with Dr. Jeffrey Kahn of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.

Today, a show about privacy and those consumer genetic testing kits. Many people choose to do genetic testing and agree to post their results so that their DNA can be compared to others. When they do that, they may discover people who are related to them that they otherwise wouldn’t know about.

But what about the privacy of people who were sperm donors or egg donors, who were assured that their identities would never be revealed? Genetic testing means that the anonymity that these donors were promised is no longer possible. So how does that play out?

Age and the Presidency: How Old Is Too Old?

Jul 16, 2019
Evan Vucci / Associated Press

What happens to our cognitive ability as we get older? Is age a legitimate issue in considering a person’s qualifications to be the U.S. president? And what political calculations might voters make about the argument for maturity and experience versus a desire for a generational shift in leadership? Tom is joined today by two guests with valuable perspectives on these questions.

Lisa Lerer is a reporter at The New York Times who covers campaigns, elections and political power.  She covered the 2016 presidential race for the Associated Press. Lisa Lerer joins us from NPR studios in Washington, DC.

Dr. Jason Brandt is a neuropsychologist and Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Dr. Brandt’s research focuses on cognition and neurological health in the elderly.  Dr. Brandt joins us in Studio A.

Photo Courtesy AP/ Charlie Neibergal

Today, it’s Midday on Politics.  In a racist Twitter rant yesterday, President Trump suggested that elected members of Congress go back to the countries they originally came from, saying they can’t leave fast enough.  It’s assumed he was directing his vitriol at four progressive Democratic women from Minnesota, Massachusetts, Michigan and New York.

The crowded field of Democratic presidential hopefuls is beginning to divide into two tiers, with five candidates polling closely together at the top.   The next edition of the Democratic debates is scheduled for the end of this month in Detroit. 


Kate Payne, reporter and Caucus Land co-host for Iowa Public Radio;

Dr. Shayla Nunnally, Associate Professor of political science at the Africana Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut; 

Julie Bykowicz, Wall Street Journal national political reporter, focusing on money and influence in Washington; and

Zach Montellaro, Campaign Pro reporter at POLITICO.