Midday | WYPR


Courtesy of the Baltimore Museum of Art

Today, it’s Midday on the Arts.

We begin with a conversation about the profound influence of one artist on another.  The acclaimed MacArthur Award-winning artist Joyce Scott is featured in a new exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art that juxtaposes her work with the work of her late mother, Elizabeth Talford Scott, who was also an artist. They lived and worked together in Baltimore for more than 60 years.

The exhibition is called HITCHING THEIR DREAMS TO UNTAMED STARS. It opened at the BMA yesterday, and continues through December 1st.

photos courtesy Single Carrot Theatre

Midday on the Arts continues with a conversation about the future of the Single Carrot Theater.  Last January, the 12 year-old Baltimore company announced that next month, it will leave the theater it’s called home since 2014.  The final performances in their Remington space take place this weekend.  The closing show is called Pink Milk, by the trans woman playwright Ariel Zetina. It’s based on the life of the mathematician Alan Turing.  (Midday’s theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck reviewed the play on our show last week.)

Pink Milk is pretty typical of the kind of offering we’ve come to expect from Single Carrot Theatre:  a regional premiere of an experimental play that one would be unlikely to encounter anywhere else.  It is also the only play the company has produced this year. 

Joining Tom to discuss the big changes ahead for Single Carrot are Genevieve DeMahy, the  founding Artistic Director, and Alix Fenhagen, who is serving as the company’s Interim Managing Director. 

Photo by Paolo Nogueras

Today's Midday on the Arts concludes with our theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, joining Tom with her review of Christina Anderson's new play, How to Catch Creation, now getting its regional premiere at Baltimore Center Stage.

In this latest work by Anderson, a winner of the prestigious Lorraine Hansberry Award, we meet a wrongly convicted man who is released from prison after 25 years.  As he sets about rebuilding his life, he begins a quest to become a father.  The play spans more than four decades as it explores intersecting lives, family, parenthood, and the power of new beginnings.

How to Catch Creation is directed at Center Stage by Nataki Garrett, and stars Tiffani Barbour as G.K. Marche, Shauna Miles as Natalie, Shayna Small as Riley, Lindsay Smiling as Griffin, Stephanie Weeks as Tami, and Jonathan Bangs as Stokes.

Content Advisory: The play includes some adult language and topics more appropriate for middle schoolers and older audiences.

How to Catch Creation continues at Baltimore Center Stage through Sunday, May 26.

Photo Courtesy Penguin Random House

Chris Wilson is a successful entrepreneur and activist whose story begins with trauma, despair, and a conviction for murder at the age of 18.  Incarcerated for life, estranged from his family, he was seemingly without hope.  But at the age of nineteen, he wrote a list of the things he hoped to accomplish in life, and with incredible grit and determination, he set about achieving many of those goals.

Released from prison after sixteen years behind bars, Chris Wilson has transformed his life and inspired countless others.  He’s written a book that chronicles his amazing story.  It’s called, The Master Plan:  My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose.

Chris Wilson is appearing at the Gaithersburg Book Festival on Satururday.

But first, On today's show, Baltimore Sun City Hall reporter, Ian Duncan updates us on the ransomware attack that has hobbled Baltimore City government.  

cover art courtesy W. W. Norton and Co.

In his new book, the political economist William Davies argues that the decline of trust in scientific expertise has led individuals and governments to rely increasingly on feelings rather than facts.  

William Davies is a political economist at Goldsmiths university of London.  He is the author of many books; his latest is called Nervous States: Democracy and the Decline of Reason.  Davies is also a contributor to publications including the Atlantic and the New York Times.  


Photo Courtesy Simon & Schuster

Tom talks with Professor David Blight of Yale University.  He is the winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for History for his expansive and acclaimed biography of Frederick Douglass. 

A highly respected Douglass scholar, David Blight is the annotator and editor of Douglass’ second autobiography.  This latest contribution to Douglass scholarship explores Douglass’ amazing journey from enslavement on the Eastern Shore of MD to become one of the world’s most transcendent and influential figures.  The book is called Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.   

Harford Community College

Today, another in our occasional series, Midday on Higher Education. From time to time, Tom sits down with the presidents of Maryland colleges and universities to talk about the challenges that each of their institutions face, and how those institutions are connected to the fabric of the communities in which they are located. 

Today, Tom's guest is Dr. Dianna G. Phillips. In 2016, she became the 9th president of Harford Community College in Bel Air. HCC has more than 18,000 students enrolled in credit and non-credit degree and certificate programs. Before taking the reins at Harford Community College, Dr. Phillips was the CEO of the University of the District of Columbia Community College. 

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

Photo Courtesy Facebook

Tom talks with Baltimore Ceasefire co-founders Erricka Bridgeford and Letrice Gant.  The group's mission: the cessation of murder in Baltimore City for one weekend every quarter.  This past weekend was a Ceasefire weekend.  Three people were shot on Friday night.  Two of those victims died.  There were no shootings on Saturday.  One non-fatal shooting took place yesterday. 

Since Freddie Gray’s death four years ago, 1,277 people have lost their lives to violence in Baltimore.  Since they organized the first ceasefire weekend in August, 2017, Erricka Bridgeford and Letrice Gant have acknowledged many of those victims, their families, and the people who made the decisions to kill them.

Johns Hopkins University

It’s Midday on Ethics. An international court has ruled that South African Olympic champion Caster Semenya and other female athletes with naturally high levels of testosterone will need to take drugs that lower their hormone levels to compete in some women’s races.

Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethicsjoins us to discuss the ethics of doping - of a different kind.

This conversation was live streamed on the WYPR Facebook page. You can watch the video here

Michael Cogliantri

Comedian and actor Susie Essman joins us for a conversation about her life and career. She plays the foul-mouthed Susie Greene, Larry David’s nemesis, on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Essman will be in Baltimore next week headlining the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation’s 9th annual Night of the Stars on Thursday, May 16. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit the BHC's website here

Photo courtesy HBO/imdb.com

Today, another installment of Tube Talk, our ultra-occasional discussion of what’s hot and what’s not on TV.  We had some product placement on Game of Thrones that a few folks happened to notice.  We had the displacement of a local TV anchor that has engendered all sorts of reaction about gender, and race.  And a few fan-favorite shows are on extended hiatus, driving more than a few fans nuts. 

Tom is joined by three of those fans, who collectively watch an extraordinary amount of television and who should probably get out more often.  But we are in debt to our Tube Talkers for making that commitment, and giving the rest of us a better sense of what to watch and what to avoid across the vast TV landscape.

Photo by Britt Olsen-Ecker

It's Thursday, and time for another of  Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck's weekly reviews of the Maryland stage. This week, she spotlights the regional premiere of playwright Ariel Zetina's Pink Milk, staged by Single Carrot Theatre as the last production in its Remington home**.

Directed by Single Carrot ensemble member Ben Kleymeyer, Pink Milk is an unorthodox , imaginitive and highly  empathetic exploration of the mind of British mathematician and famed World War II codebreaker, Alan Turing, starring Mohammad R. Suaidi as Alan,  with Isaiah Harvey as Christopher, and Lauren Jackson as The Inanimate Objects.

Pink Milk continues at Single Carrot Theatre through May 19.

**(Single Carrot's  founding Artistic Director Genevieve de Mahy and interim Managing Director Alix Fenhagen will be Tom's guests on Midday next Friday, May 17, from 12:25-12:45pm, to discuss the Company's upcoming transitions.)

Photo Courtesy Twitter

Today, analysis of the seismic shifts taking place in MD politics, as Adrienne Jones becomes the first African American, first woman Speaker of the House;  a seasoned political veteran becomes Baltimore’s Mayor; and a young, ambitious councilman becomes President of the City Council. 

With award winning investigative journalist Jayne Miller of WBAL Television; and Andy Green, the Editorial Page Editor of the Baltimore Sun.

This conversation was streamed live on the WYPR Facebook page. You can watch the video here.  


It’s Midday Culture Connections with Dr. Sheri Parks of the MD Inst Coll of Art.  Today, we are joined by Donna Brazile, a political strategist, and the former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee.  She’s the co-author of a book that chronicles the rise of her and three other African American women to the highest levels of the Democratic Party.  It’s called For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics.

Dr. Sheri Parks is the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the Maryland Institute College of Art.  She’s the author of Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman.  She joins us every month for Midday Culture Connections.

Photo courtesy Creative Commons

On today's show, it’s Back to the Garden, the Spring Planting Edition, in which we spend the hour answering your questions about gardening, and considering the horticultural challenges of Maryland's unsually warm, wet spring.

Worldwide, 90% of people spend 22 hours a day inside, but at least there’s more natural life inside with them.  According to Garden Reasearch.com, 30% of American households purchased a houseplant last year.  Pinterest reports that inquiries about indoor plants are up 90%. 

Whether your garden is in your kitchen, or a pot on a balcony, or a field of dreams, two expert local growers join Tom in Studio A to help us make whatever we’re growing, grow better.  

Denzel Mitchell is the manager at Strength to Love 2 Farm, a 1-½ acre workforce training farm in Sandtown-Winchester, which is part of Intersection of Change, a faith-based community development organization.

Elisa Lane is the co-owner, with her husband Doron, of Two Boots Farm, a commercial farm and floral-design studio in Hampstead  that grows both cut flowers and produce…

Photo Courtesy AP/ Patrick Semansky

Yesterday afternoon, in a one-paragraph letter addressed to now-Mayor Jack Young, former Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned from office.  Her lawyer read a brief statement and took no questions in a press conference that lasted less than two minutes. Meanwhile, investigations by city, state, and federal authorities are underway into Catherine Pugh’s possible malfeasance in office.

Jean Marbella of the Baltimore Sun joins us to talk about what’s happened and what’s next for our City.

But first, Tom speaks with Washington Post State House reporter Ovetta Wiggins about the historic election of Baltimore County Delegate Adrienne Jones as the first African American and the first woman Speaker of the House.

Graphic courtesy Maryland Film Festival

[Host Tom Hall opens the show today with updates on the Mayor Pugh scandal and Baltimore County Del. Adrienne Jones's election Wednesday as Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates.  Del. Jones is the first woman and first African American to hold the office.]

It's Midday at the Movies: the Maryland Film Festival Edition.

The 21st Maryland Film Festival kicks off next week. More than 40 feature-length films and 80 short films will be shown during more than four days of screenings and special events at The Parkway and several MICA venues, from May 8 through Mothers' Day Sunday, May 12.

The Festival's founder and former director Jed Dietz and Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday join Tom with a preview. They 're joined on the phone by documentary filmmaker Farihah Zaman, who is co-producer with director Bassam Tariq of one of the Maryland Film Festival's featured short documentaries, Ghosts of  Sugarland.

Bruce F. Press Photography

It's Thursday and time for our theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, to join us for another of her weekly reviews of the regional stage.  Today, she describes the new production of British playwright Noel Coward's classic comedy, Blithe Spirit: An Improbable Farce in Three Acts, on stage at Baltimore's Vagabond Players

First seen in London's West End in 1941 and produced on Broadway later that year, Blithe Spirit tells the story of mystery writer and socialite Charles Condomine, whose seemingly untroubled life with his second wife is upended when he engages a medium to seek out spirits as material for his next book.  He winds up instead confronting the ghost of his first wife, and mayhem ensues.

Directed at Vagabond by Steve Goldklang, Blithe Spirit stars Alyssa Wellman Houde as Edith, Barbara Madison Hauck as Ruth, Eric. C. Stein as Charles, Ducan Hood as Dr. Bradman, Dianne Hood as Mrs. Bradman, Maribeth Vogel as Madam Arcati, and Kerry Brady as Elvira.

Blithe Spirit continues at Vagabond Theatre through Sunday May 12.

Associated Press

Today, reflections on an unparalleled genius: Leonardo da Vinci, who died 500 years ago tomorrow. Leonardo was the original “Renaissance Man” -- a great artist, inventor, scientist and writer, a genius whose imagination and curiosity knew no bounds. It’s hard to imagine, in our present age of hyper specialization, someone whose scope of talents was as broad, and whose mastery of each was as acute.

Tom’s guest today is Dr. Jonathan Pevsner, a scholar who has written and lectured widely on Leonardo. He has collected nearly 750 volumes about Leonardo, and he has observed that since 1519, as every generation has considered Leonardo’s influence and importance, people have drawn a variety of conclusions about what can be learned from Leonardo about the nature of genius, and the capacity for human achievement.

photo courtesy Friends of Johnny O

Tom’s Newsmaker guest today is Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Junior.  A Democrat, he was elected to office last November, and sworn in on December 3rd.  He’s a former Maryland state delegate, a lifelong resident of Dundalk, and a former high school teacher who made education and the quality of the county’s schools a major part of his campaign for county executive -- and of his first budget.

Two weeks ago, he submitted his 2020 county budget proposal to the County Council.  It’s a $3.4 billion dollar plan, more than half of which is devoted to education spending.  The  Council holds a public hearing about the budget tonight (Tuesday April 30) at 6:00, in Council Chambers in Towson.

Baltimore County Executive Olszewski joins Tom in Studio A to discuss the budget and other issues he's confronted during his first five months in office. 

Listeners with questions and comments can call the studio at 410.662.8780, email us at midday@wypr.org, tweet us at @MiddayWYPR, or comment on  WYPR's Facebook page, where the program was livestreamed.

Photo Credit www.OldGoucher.org

According to the Live Baltimore, the organization that, as its name suggests, promotes city living, there are 278 neighborhoods in Baltimore.  Today, we begin a new series that shines a light on each of them.  From time to time, we’ll sit down with people who are actively involved in their neighborhoods, to learn about the kinds of communities, rich and poor, black and white, well-known and off-the-radar, that comprise the fabric of our diverse and often quirky hometown. 

Tom's guests today are: 

Sache Jones, Director of Health and Food Justice at the No Boundaries Coalition in Sandtown-Winchester on the West Side.

Kim Lane, Executive Director of Pigtown Main Street, a couple of miles south of Sandtown, also on the West side.

Kelly Cross, President of the Old Goucher Community Associationin the center of Baltimore City.   

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Ever since the story of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh's lucrative self-dealing book sales first broke in the Sun March 13th, the city has been on a political roller coaster ride, as an embattled and defiant Mayor was sidelined by pneumonia and took an indefinite leave of absence, while the city council president assumed her duties amid a mounting chorus of calls for Mayor Pugh's resignation.   

The latest turn came at about 6:30 yesterday morning,  when agents from the FBI and the criminal division of the IRS fanned out across Baltimore and executed search warrants in seven different locations, including two of the mayor's homes, and the seat of our city’s government, City Hall. 

Today, Tom speaks with some of the reporters who are covering this rapidly developing story.  A little later, Luke Broadwater of the Baltimore Sun and Jayne Miller of WBAL Television will join us.  We’ll also get the perspective of a defense attorney, William Purpura.  He is not representing Mayor Catherine Pugh, but he has represented people in some very high-profile recent cases. 

But we begin today with the newest member of the WYPR news team, city hall reporter Emily Sullivan

The classical guitar virtuoso Xavier Jara joined Tom in Studio A.

Three years ago, at the age of 22, he won First Prize in the Guitar Foundation of America’s International Concert Artist Competition, and he’s won several other international guitar competitions as well.

A native of Minnesota, he studied there, and in Paris, and he’s in town to play a concert tomorrow night at 8 pm at Towson University’s Kaplan Concert Hall with another great guitarist, Tengyue Zhang. Their performance is part of the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society’s annual series. 

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

Photo Courtesy D. Watkins

In his latest collection of essays, local writer D. Watkins explores the experiences

of Black people in low income neighborhoods who are often discussed, but never heard from directly.  He calls the assumptions and depictions of poor Black people in much of the media the product of a “drone-like” perspective, and he endeavors to dispel some of those assumptions, and bring voices from the hood, to the fore.  The book is called We Speak for Ourselves: A Word from Forgotten Black America. 

D. Watkins is an editor-at-large at Salon and a lecturer at the University of Baltimore’s Klein Family School of Communication Design.  His work has been published in the New York Times and many other national publications.  D. is the author of the New York Times Bestsellers, The Beast Side: Living and Dying While Black in America, and The Cookup: A Crack Memoir. 

photo courtesy Come From Away/Broadway

On Thursdays here on Midday, our theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, usually reviews all things theatrical across the region.  Today, instead of a review, we bring you an interview Judy conducted earlier this month with Canadian playwrights David Hein and Irene Sankoff, the married co-creators of the award-winning show, Come From Away

The couple spoke with Judy by phone from New York City.

Their show was inspired by real-life events in the small Newfoundland community of Gander, immediately following the September 11, 2001 series of  airborne terrorist attacks in the United States. Those attacks prompted the closure of US airspace and the diversion of all US-bound airline flights.  Thirty-eight commercial jetliners were forced to land in Gander, stranding nearly 7000 passengers in the tiny coastal community for the better part of a week.   

The North American touring production of this hit Broadway musical is at the Hippodrome Theater here in Baltimore through Sunday, April 28.  


Click here to listen to more of J. Wynn Rousuck's interview with Irene Sankoff and David Hein.

photo courtesy Come From Away/Broadway

In this Web-only bonus audio from J. Wynn Rousuck's April 11, 2019 phone interview with "Come From Away" co-creators David Hein and Irene Sankoff, the married composer/playwright team provide some additional background on their experience producing this hit Broadway musical.  Irene describes the special concert performance of "Come From Away" she and David attended in Gander, Newfoundland  in 2016 and the responses local townspeople had to their depiction in the musical.  Irene also recalls some of the other Gander strandees and 9/11 survivors they've met since the musical premiered, and David describes his excitement over plans to produce a film version of "Come From Away."

Courtesy Johns Hopkins Medical Center

Whether you bike or hike, run or climb, swim or paddle...however you stay in shape, join us for the Spring Training edition of What Hurts Today?, our seasonal focus on fitness and exercise with Dr. Miho Tanaka

The acclaimed orthopedic surgeon and sport-fitness expert is the founder and former director of the Women's Sports Medicine Program at the Johns Hopkins Medical Center. Now, she is moving to Boston, where she will be directing the same program at the city's Massachusetts General Hospital, and teaching orthopedic surgery at the Harvard Medical School.  But today, Dr. Tanaka joins us to answer your questions about avoiding and coping with athletic injuries, and the best ways to stay fit this season. 

This conversation was live-streamed on Facebook, and you can watch the video on the WYPR Facebook page. 

Baltimore City Council

As Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s indefinite leave of absence stretches into a fourth week, ex officio Mayor Jack Young has described himself as a “stabilizing force” for the city. What is the path forward in the wake of the ‘Healthy Holly’ scandal, and increasing calls for Catherine Pugh to resign? Jack Young joins us in studio for a conversation about the future of Baltimore. 

Photo Credit University of Baltimore

Today, another in our occasional series, Midday on Higher Education, in which Tom sits down with the presidents of the region’s colleges and universities to talk about the challenges that each of their institutions face, and how those institutions are connected to the fabric of the communities in which they are located.

Tom's guest is Kurt Schmoke, who served as the Mayor of Baltimore from 1987-1999. He was appointed the 8th president of the University of Baltimore in 2014. Before taking the reins at UB, he was the dean of the Howard University School of Law. He also served as Howard’s general counsel and interim provost.

This conversation was streamed live on WYPR's Facebook page.  You can watch the video here.

Photo Courtesy AP/Elswick

On today's News Wrap: U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Thursday released his redacted version of the Mueller Report, after sharing it with the White House to decide questions of executive privilege. Did Mr. Trump's repeated efforts to shut down the two-year probe into Russian interference in America's 2016 presidential election amount to obstruction of justice?  We'll talk about what Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded and what his report means. 

Tom's guests are Ronald Weich, Dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law, political law attorney Cleta Mitchell, and POLITICO senior legal affairs contributor, Josh Gerstein.