Midday | WYPR


Photos courtesy Kathleen Matthews/Maya Cummings

Today on Midday, a conversation about the status and future of Maryland's Democratic Party, with two stalwarts now vying for the party's top leadership position.

Maryland Democrats strengthened their majority in the General Assembly in this year’s midterm election. They also kept the Baltimore County Executive seat and picked up seats in Howard and Anne Arundel Counties. But Republican Governor Larry Hogan won a decisive reelection over Democratic challenger Ben Jealous. In the wake of those midterms, the Democratic State Central Committee will elect the next State Party Chair on Saturday.

Photography by Stan Barouh

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom with her weekly review of a regional theatrical production. Today she spotlights Elf the Musical -- an adaptation of filmmaker David Berenbaum's beloved 2003 Will Ferrell comedy, Elf -- now on stage at the Olney Theatre Center in Olney, Md.

David Schlumpf stars as Buddy, a human raised by Santa’s elves in the North Pole who travels to New York City to meet his real father, Walter Hobbs (played by Bobby Smith). Buddy is shocked to learn that Walter, as well as his wife Emily (Janine Sunday) and son Michael (Tyler Smallwood) don’t believe in Santa. He sets out to reignite their belief and spread Christmas cheer. Michael J. Bobbitt directs this fresh take on a holiday favorite.

Elf the Musical -- written by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin with music by Matthew Sklar and lyrics by Chad Beguelin -- continues at the Olney Theatre through the holidays until January 6th. Get ticket information here.

Health Care Options for Marylanders

Nov 27, 2018
Photo courtesy MHBE

Today on Midday on Health Care, Tom sorts through the many changes that have taken place in the health care options available to Marylanders, as they shop for plans during the current Open Season, which began on November 1 and ends on December 15.

Tom talks with Michele Eberle, the executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, the state’s marketplace for private health insurance plans and Medicaid, services offered through its online Maryland Health Connection and the MHC mobile app.

Later, Tom is joined by Vincent DeMarco, the president of the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative Education Fund, a non-profit group established to educate Marylanders about ways to achieve quality, affordable health care. The group pursues its Healthcare For All mission, in coalition with community, business and religious partners, by advocating with policy makers to support improved health care access for everyone in the state.

This program was livestreamed on WYPR's Facebook page, and you can watch the video here.

Photo courtesy OIG

During their campaigning for the November mid-term elections, current office holders and wanna-be office holders often cited government "waste, fraud and abuse" as the trifecta they would address if elected -- a promise that was often followed by a pledge to fund new or existing programs with the massive savings citizens would enjoy when the waste was ferreted out. 

Tom's guest for the hour today is in charge of identifying and exposing wasteful spending -- and other forms of serious misconduct and mismanagement  -- by people who work for the city of Baltimore.  As of a couple of years ago, there were nearly 14,000 people employed by the city. 

Isabel Mercedes Cumming is one of them.  She was appointed to be the city's Inspector General in late January of this year, taking charge of an office that had been left vacant since September of 2016.    

 This program originally aired on October 16, 2018. 

Author Jabari Asim joins Tom in Studio A today.  Asim is a former editor and columnist for The Washington Post and the Editor-in-Chief of The Crisis,  the journal of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. His 2007 book, The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t, and Why was acclaimed for its important and trenchant observations about race in America.

Asim’s latest book, titled We Can't Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies, and the Art of Survival, is a collection of personal and political essays that continues his exploration of the complex dynamics of race, in particular around what he calls the “narrative combat” that white and black people engage in as they live and encounter racial inequality from vastly different perspectives.

[Asim spoke about his new book on October 16 at the Enoch Pratt Central Library, as part of their Writers LIVE series. Find out more information about the series here.]

WYPR photo by Rob Sivak

It’s the What Ya Got Cookin'? -Thanksgiving Edition, a beloved tradition here on Middaygoing all the way back to...2016!  Tom's guests today are two of Baltimore's pre-eminent culinary masters:

John Shields is the chef and proprietor, along with John Gilligan, of Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the author most recently, of The New Chesapeake Kitchen;

And David Thomas is the chef and co-owner with his wife Tonya of Ida B’s Table, a “modern soul food restaurant” on Holliday Street in downtown Baltimore; and he was a winning contestant on last night's (11/21) episode of the hit show, Choppedon the Food Network!

Later in the hour, a brand new segment, Midday with My Mom: Tom Hall's mother, Rosemary Hall, is in the house with our good friend, retired Baltimore restaurateur Sascha Wolhandler, and they'll share their memories of Thanksgiving dinners -- and desserts -- and the many ways that the kitchen helps bring families together.

But first, with the magical day of Thanksgiving upon us:  Maybe you haven’t quite gotten your act together yet, and you’re at the brink of despair and panic.  Or, conversely, maybe you’re completely on top of everything, and you risk making a mistake born of over-confidence.

Either way, or somewhere in between, Chefs David and John are here to talk you through any and all of it, and we’ll do what we can to help you make sure everything goes smoothly and tastes terrific tomorrow.

But most importantly, we look forward to hearing about your family’s special Thanksgiving traditions.  Your favorite recipes, your favorite memories, your favorite part of what, for many folks, is their favorite holiday of the year.

Today's conversation was streamed live on WYPR's Facebook page, and you can watch the video here.

The Thanksgiving Day marathons Tom mentioned are part of the annual Y Turkey Trot Charity 5K -- the YMCA's sponsored 3.1 mile charity runs, held at locations across Central Maryland and the Eastern Shore, to raise funds to help children and families living in poverty in your community.  Follow the link for locations, routes and times. 

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori is live with Tom Hall.

Archbishop Lori leads the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which is the oldest Catholic diocese in the United States.  At the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Fall General Assembly, held last week (Nov. 12-14) in Baltimore, Archbishop Lori was among those who reportedly pressed his colleagues to take some action in response to the allegations of clergy child abuse in the Catholic Church. 

Photo courtesy Daryle Lowden, Lisa Welchman

As families travel and gather together for Thanksgiving here in the United States, today, a conversation with two people whose interactions with genetic data bases led to revelations about their family that no one in the family had known before. 

The story of Lisa Welchman and Daryle Lowden is poignant and heart-warming.  Daryle is in his forties.  Lisa in in her fifties, and just last spring, they discovered that they are half-brother and sister. 

Today on Midday, we’ll hear their story and talk about how they came to know each other after decades of not having even the slightest inkling that the other existed.  We’ll talk about what it has meant for them, and for the rest of their family.

News Wrap 11.16.18

Nov 16, 2018
Associated Press

It's another Midday newswrap.  

British Prime Minister Theresa May proposed a new plan for the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union, a process commonly known as Brexit. Several cabinet members, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, quit in response to what they see as a failure of her leadership. NPR international correspondent Frank Langfitt joins Tom live from London.

Later, Baltimore Sun City Hall Reporter Ian Duncan joins Tom in Studio A to discuss the Baltimore Health Department's 'waste' of $170,000 in  funds, the closing of the Benneker Black Academy charter school and other news.

Paul Muldoon

Tom is joined by Paul Muldoon.  He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, as well as an editor, critic, playwright and translator, who has taught at Princeton University since 1987. He is the author of 12 major collections of poetry and was the poetry editor of The New Yorker for a decade.

He also writes lyrics and spoken word pieces for the band Rogue Oliphant, which is a loose affiliation of well-known musicians who set Muldoon’s lyrics to music. They will perform with Muldoon at the Creative Alliance here in Baltimore tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Check here for more information about that event.

And on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m., Paul Muldoon will host a workshop titled "How To Edit Your Own Poem" at Creative Alliance. Check here for more information.

Michael Curley: "Paying for Tomorrow"

Nov 15, 2018
CRC Press

Whether it’s curbing climate-wrecking carbon emissions, cleaning up toxic industrial wastes or reducing the pollution of our lakes and streams, being good stewards of the environment is an expensive proposition.

Tom is joined by Michael Curley, a lawyer, environmental finance expert and a Visiting Scholar at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington DC.  He’s served as senior financial advisor to both the US Environmental Protection Agency and the World Resources Institute.  He also contributes monthly essays about the environment to WYPR.

In his latest book, Paying for Tomorrow: Maintaining Our Quality of Life, Curley addresses some important questions facing our modern society, including: Who should foot the bill for environmental protections and fixes when their costs can run into the billions of dollars.  And how do we finance these burdensome, but essential responsibilities fairly, and efficiently?

Cara Ober on BmoreArt's Sixth Print Issue

Nov 15, 2018
Photography by Justin Tsucalas

BmoreArt publisher and editor Cara Ober joins Tom to discuss  the forthcoming release of the print journal's sixth issue. Founded in 2007, BmoreArt is a collaborative art publication that reflects art and culture in and around Baltimore. The new issue explores the theme of "Home" through a series of home-based artist profiles, and essays and features offering unique perspectives on the power of place.

A launch party for the new issue, originally planned for this Thursday night, has been rescheduled due to the wintry weather in Baltimore. The new date is Thursday, November 29th, from 7-9 pm, at the same Union Craft Brewing location.  Check here for more info on tickets and directions.

This conversation was live-streamed on WYPR's Facebook page.  It is the second of three segments in today's stream.  You can watch the video here, running from 32:20 to 40:00. 

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom with her weekly review of a theatrical production in the region. What's on her agenda today? Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!   National Theatre in Washington, DC, has staged the pre-Broadway world premiere of Beetlejuice, a new musical adaptation of filmmaker Tim Burton's 1988 cult classic.

The new musical -- with music and lyrics by Eddie Perfect and Book by Scott Brown and Anthony King -- takes a new tack on the movie plot: it tells the story of Lydia Deetz (played by Sophia Ann Caruso), an unusual teenager obsessed with the whole “'being dead' thing.” Luckily for Lydia, her family's new home is haunted by a recently deceased couple (played by Kerry Butler and Rob McClure) and a degenerate demon-for-hire named Beetlejuice (played by Tony Award nominee Alex Brightman). When Lydia calls on the twisted ghost to scare away her insufferable parents (played by Adam Dannheiser and Leslie Kritzer), Beetlejuice comes up with the perfect plan, involving an exorcism, arranged marriages and one very frightened Girl Scout.

Beetlejuice, directed by Alex Timbers, continues at National Theatre in Washington, DC, through Sunday November 18. Get ticket information here.

This conversation was live-streamed on WYPR's Facebook page.  It is the third of three segments in today's stream.  You can watch the video here, running from the 40:00 mark to the end of the stream. 

The Harvard Crimson/Brendan J. Chapuis

On today's show, we're discussing the role of race and class in college admissions. In a federal court case in Boston, Harvard University has been sued by a group of Asian-American students who were denied admission to the elite institution. They allege that Harvard discriminates against Asian applicants and holds them to higher standards.


Word nerds: You’re in luck. With whom is Tom speaking today? Emmy Favilla, the senior commerce editor and former global copy chief at BuzzFeed. As such, she created the BuzzFeed Style Guide which she later developed into a book called A World Without "Whom": The Essential Guide to Language in the BuzzFeed Age.

It is hilarious. It is instructive. It pays homage to the serial comma as the “cilantro of punctuation marks.” It offers a love sonnet to the em-dash. And perhaps most of all, this book is a high-five to popular usage and an ever-so-kindly issued rebuke to every English teacher we’ve ever had.

Exploring the Legacy of WWI

Nov 12, 2018
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

On this Veteran’s Day, Midday is exploring how World War I radically altered not only political boundaries, but also our concepts of war and peace.  The bloody conflict that ended 100 years ago yesterday was originally called "The Great War." At the time, it was considered "The War to End All Wars." Many world leaders gathered in Paris over the weekend to commemorate the centennial of Armistice Day, and ponder its lessons.

A Lifelong Quest for Peace and Social Justice

Nov 12, 2018
Photo by Jim Forest / Flickr

Today, Tom is joined in Studio A by Brendan Walsh and Willa Bickham. They are the founders of Viva House, a Catholic Worker House.  They’ve been helping some of Baltimore‘s most needy people for more than 50 years, and they have been part of a faith-driven peace movement whose roots trace back to the horrors of World War One.

Today's conversation was the second part of a three-segment show we live-streamed continuously on Facebook.  You can watch the video here; this segment begins at 17:30 into the stream. 

United Way of Central Maryland

The United Way of Central Maryland recently released a report on poverty in the state.  They took a close look at what’s called the “ALICE” population — an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed — a group that many people call "the working poor.” The report found more than one-third of Marylanders can’t afford basic necessities.

Franklyn Baker, the President and CEO of the United Way of Central Maryland, joins us to discuss the report and how the struggles of the working poor impact the economic, social and cultural fiber of our communities. 

Today's conversation was the third part of a three-segment show we live-streamed continuously on Facebook.  You can watch the video here; this segment begins at 40:45 into the stream. 

A Birthday Poem

Nov 9, 2018

On today's show, Tom Hall takes a moment to pay tribute to his daughter, on a special occasion:

"And now, I have a favor to ask: I beg your indulgence to read a poem for my daughter, whose 30th birthday is today.  Her name is Miranda Rose Hall.  She’s a playwright.  She is named after her maternal and paternal great-grandmothers.  Miranda’s great grandfather was the poet, Ogden Nash.  Every year on his wife’s birthday, Mr. Nash wrote a poem to celebrate that occasion.  Mrs. Nash’s name was Frances, but on her 30th birthday, Mr. Nash called her “Miranda,” and that’s the name my wife and I chose for our daughter, thirty years ago today. 

The poem is called 'A Lady Who Thinks She is Thirty.'

Midday News Wrap 11.9.2018

Nov 9, 2018
Wikimedia Commons

Today on the Midday News Wrap, we discuss, the resignaationof AG Jeff Sessions, the future of Special Councel Muellers' Russia probe, and the latest on election recount efforts underway in multiple states.  

Tom is joined by, Lisa Desjardins, a correspondent from the PBS Newshour.  And, David Smith, the Washington DC Bureau Chief for The Guardian is on the line from NPR DC.  


Marion Winik is an author, literary critic, and humorist. She's former commentator on All Things Considered and currently a co-host on The Weekly Reader on WYPR. Winik has written 10 books which includes her latest publication "The Baltimore Book of the Dead." 

Photo by Bill Geenan

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us again with her weekly review of one of the region's theatrical offerings.  Today, she spotlights the new production of King of the Yees at Baltimore's Center Stage.

In Lauren Yee's semi-autobiographical dramedy, the award-winning playwright explores ethnic identities and family relationships.  When her father, Larry -- a man of great stature in their Chinese American community -- suddenly goes missing, Lauren embarks on a surrealistic voyage to find him, save his story, and chronicle a rapidly disappearing segment of Chinese-American culture.

Desdemona Chiang directs the production at Center Stage, with a cast that includes Khanh Doan as Lauren Yee, Stan Egi as Larry Yee, Joe Ngo as Actor 1/Ensemble, Celeste Den as Actor 2/Ensemble, and Tony Aidan Vo as Actor 3/Ensemble.

King of the Yees continues at Baltimore's Center Stage thru Sunday, November 18th.  Ticket info here

Unpacking the 2018 Mid-Term Election

Nov 8, 2018
AP/Patrick Semansky and AP/Jose Luis Magana

Today, analysis of the 2018 mid-term election. With voter turnout up, what message are voters sending to leaders in Annapolis and Washington?  Joining us are Andy Green, Editorial Page Editor of The Baltimore Sunand Jayne Miller, who leads the investigative reporting team at WBAL TV. Watch the Facebook livestream of today's show here.  



Tom Hall and Mileah Kromer, the director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, discuss Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous' strategy to get a million votes and how economic issues played a role in voters' decision to support Jealous or incumbent Republican Governor Larry Hogan. 

Tom spoke with Mileah earlier this evening.

Rachel Baye

WYPR reporter Rachel Baye gives Tom Hall a rundown of voting problems around Maryland, including issues with accessibility, polls that opened late, long waits, and power outages. 

Tom spoke with Rachel earlier this evening. 



WYPR reporter Karen Hosler joins Tom to discuss the future of Maryland’s Congressional districts. Democrats have controlled the state's electoral map for the last 50 years, but if Republican Governor Larry Hogan is re-elected his administration may be responsible for outlining new Congressional districts.

Tom spoke with Karen earlier this evening. 


Tom Hall checks in with WYPR reporter John Lee, who is with the John Olszewski Jr. campaign tonight, about what the race for Baltimore County Executive means for the state of Maryland. A win for Olszewski could indicate that a blue wave is real, while a victory for Al Redmer, Jr. would signify a Republican stronghold. 

Tom spoke with John earlier this evening.

Tom's guest for the hour is James Patterson, the phenomenally prolific American author who has written more than 200 books for adults, young adults and children.  One of his latest thrillers is a best-seller published last summer that he co-wrote with former President Bill Clinton titled The President Is Missing.

James Patterson is a passionate literary activist who promotes reading by people of all ages, and a philanthropist who has backed his activism with millions of dollars in grants and scholarships to support reading programs in schools, universities and libraries across the country. A few years ago he launched ReadKiddoRead, an online platform to promote reading by young people. Kid Stew, a public television series he created to encourage kids to read and explore creative outlets, will be rolling into its second season in May 2019.  Maryland Public Television will air a Kid Stew Marathon of its first season this Saturday morning, from 6:30-8:30am.

Noti Voces

On today's Midday Culture Connections, Dr. Sheri Parks joins us for a conversation about anti-immigration politics in America.

We start by discussing a caravan of several thousand migrants that left Honduras through Guatamela and Mexico toward the US border on Oct. 12. The group has quickly become the target of verbal attacks from President Donald Trump, who has described the Central American caravan as an impending invasion, and stoked anti-immigrant sentiment in the days leading up to the 2018 US midterm elections. 

Today, we examine the history of racial hysteria and anti-immigration rhetoric and how xenophobia is used as a political weapon during times of social change and economic uncertainty. 

Dr. Sheri Parks is Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). She is the author of Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman.  Dr. Parks is a regular contributor to the program, joining us monthly on Midday Culture Connections.   

Baltimore Ceasefire

From last Friday, November 2nd to Sunday the 4th, Baltimore Ceasefire held its fourth ceasefire weekend of 2018. Each quarter, the group calls for 72 hours without murder and plans events to celebrate life in Baltimore. 

Over the weekend, Baltimore police reported two non-fatal shootings and one homicide in the city. 

Letrice Gant, one of the co-founders of Baltimore Ceasefire 365, joins Tom in Studio A to discuss this weekend's ceasefire events.  

The next ceasefire weekend will take place Feb. 1 - 3, 2019.