On the Record | WYPR

On the Record

Creative Commons Mike MacKenzie www.vpnsrus.com

Maybe tech devices aren't actually conspiring to control our lives … but they clearly are developing capabilities that will more and more shape our experience. 

Amy Webb, who has her finger on the pulse of what’s coming, says it won’t be long before we’ll all have to choose if we’re an Apple home, a Google home, or an Amazon home. She also talks with us about the impending death of the smartphone, and paints a picture of what’s next.

Webb founded the ‘Future Today Institute,’ which researches and analyzes emerging technologies. 

Philippe Put / Flickr via Creative Commons

Research on autism can take years to trickle down to people affected. An annual conference later this week aims to bring new findings directly to an audience of families, health care providers, and educators.

Rebecca Landa, founder of the Kennedy Krieger Institute's Center for Autism and Related Disorders, gives a preview of her talk on early intervention. She says coaxing pre-verbal communication in toddlers, like gesturing at objects, is an important place to start. Registration information for the conference is here

And Rebecca Rienzi, executive director, and Thomas Whalen, who’s on the autism spectrum, describes the work of the nonprofit Pathfinders for Autism. Thomas will be speaking at the Annual Autism Conference on Friday.

Matt Wade / Flickr via Creative Commons

The Supreme Court is now in session. The high court began its new term this week with just eight justices on the bench. How does the empty seat influence which cases the court decides to hear, and how the justices rule?

University of Baltimore law professor Michael Meyerson steps us through some of the arguments over criminal law the high court will hear this term--including a case that could upend the long-standing interpretation of the Fifth Amendment.

And we discuss the contentious nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh and its potential impact on how the public perceives the court.

Vivian Marie Doering

Get to know Baltimore and its history this weekend. Doors Open Baltimore is offering open-house events at 60 sites across the city, from Lord Baltimore Hotel to 18th century homes in Fells Point. We speak to organizers Victoria Kraushar-Plantholt and David Ditman about exploring the city. The events are free and organized by the American Institute of Architects Baltimore Chapter and the Baltimore Architecture Foundation.


Click here to plan your visit and check out participating sites. Register here for guided tours.

In years past, Baltimore’s Chinatown was a bustling area, home to restaurants, shops, and cultural parades. Today, only a handful of Asian-owned businesses remain. We talk with Katherine Chin, a longtime community leader and Stephanie Hsu, an organizer with the Chinatown Collective, two women who are leading a revival of the area, hoping to unite Asian American identity in the city.

View pictures of the recent Charm City Night Market event here, and see historic photos of Baltimore's Chinatown here.

Larry Canner/JHU

About two million people in the U.S. have lost an arm, a hand, a leg or other limb. Many opt to use a prosthesis -- a fabricated upper or lower limb. Luke Osborn, a graduate student in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University, tells us about an electronic skin that can create the sensation of touch for the user of an upper-limb prosthesis. And George Levay, a research participant who lost his arms to meningitis, describes what it was like using the electronic skin on his prosthetic hand. Original airdate: 8.11.18

Acme Corporation/Single Carrot Theatre

Is ‘truth’ always about the facts? Or is it constructed simply by where we choose to place our focus? “Putin On Ice (That Isn’t the Real Title of this Show),” delves into that question with a lot of fantasy, a load of humor and a bit of candor. It’s co-produced by the Acme Corporation and Single Carrot Theatre. We meet playwright Lola B. Pierson and director Yury Urnov to get some insight on the play.

For information on tickets, visit this link.

Sean Beier tells the story of meeting his intimidating Russian father in law for the first time ... and why every man should own a watch. You can hear his story and others at Stoopstorytelling.com or on the Stoop Podcast.

Joan Gaither

Warm, cozy--and able to tell a story. Artist and Baltimore native Joan Gaither uses quilts to preserve and document American history. Her quilts are covered with beads, buttons, photos, and fabrics of all colors. Gaither describes putting her heart, soul, and identity into her quilts. Listen to our full conversation from December.

Then: the comedy stage has not always welcomed women and gender minorities. But for stand-up comic Violet Gray the stage is a second home. She says comedy gives her the chance to humanize her experience as a trans woman and break down stereotypes. Listen to our full conversation from May

The Concert Truck

Classical pianist Susan Zhang is one of the masterminds behind “The Concert Truck,” a mobile concert hall that brings music to the people, with free concerts at public places. Then whether it’s gathering dust in a drawer or worn every day, nearly everyone owns jewelry. We speak to Shane Prada, the director of the Baltimore Jewelry Center, which offers classes in metal work, enameling, and more. And artist Mary Fissel tells us how jewelry making is like problem solving.

Information for The Concert Truck performances can be found here and class schedules at Baltimore Jewelry Center and exhibit information can be found here.

@makestudiobmore / Make Studio's Instagram account

As WYPR asks for listener support during Pledge Week, On the Record is listening back to interesting conversations with local artists, so you can see your pledge dollars at work.

Artists who face challenges find a welcoming space at Make Studio in Hampden - we meet art therapist Cathy Goucher, who co-founded Make Studio, and artist, Erika Clark.

Listen to our full conversation from February 2018.

Laura Elizabeth Pohl

Hostilities on the Korean peninsula were suspended 65 years ago, but the war never formally ended. Thousands of North and South Koreans cannot reunite or even communicate with family. Photographer and filmmaker Laura Elizabeth Pohl delves into the trauma in her traveling photo exhibit A Long Separation. Then, photographer Helen Glazer found inspiration in stark snow-covered tundra. She toured as part the ‘Antarctic Artists and Writers’ program of the National Science Foundation. 

This is a special Fall Pledge combination rebroadcast, links to full interviews can be found here, for Pohl and here, for Glazer.

Helen Glazer's instagram images can be found here.

Here’s a Stoop Story from Elliot Wagenheim about finding the motivation to get up off the recliner. You can hear his story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

The shuttering of saloons, the death of distilleries. For 13 years, Prohibition was the law of the land--banning the manufacture, sale, and distribution of “intoxicating liquors.” But Maryland’s approach to enforcement was “hands off.”

Historian Michael T. Walsh details local resistance in his book, “Baltimore Prohibition: Wet and Dry in the Free State.”

He will be speaking tomorrow at B.C. Brewery from 1-3 PM, at 10950 Gilroy Road in Hunt Valley.


Later this month, authors, poets, and readers will gather at the Inner Harbor for the 23rd annual Baltimore Book Festival. Director of the City Lit Project Carla DuPree tells us about the talented writers from near and far who will attend. And Marion Winik, host of WYPR’s Weekly Reader podcast, previews her new book, “The Baltimore Book of the Dead” Plus, author and screenwriter Evan Balkan takes us inside his new young adult novel, “Spitfire,” set in 1950s Highlandtown.

The link to Gil Sandler's story, referred to in Balkan's interview can be found here.

For millions of Americans, higher education just doesn’t work. Of all those who start college each fall, barely more than half graduate with a degree or certificate in six years. And many leave campus saddled with huge debts.

African-Americans living free in Baltimore before the Civil War were constantly testing whether the law and courts saw them as citizens, with rights to be respected.

In a new book, "Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America," Johns Hopkins Professor Martha Jones argues the free blacks of Baltimore shaped the idea of birthright citizenship that made it into the U.S. constitution, and that their struggle still carries meaning for today’s immigrants. This interview originally aired on July 26, 2018.

Martha Jones will be speaking about her book at a panel discussion, next Wednesday, September 26th at the Maryland Historical Society. 

Health Care for the Homeless

For many families, September means back-to-school activities: shopping for notebooks and pens, new clothes, and reuniting with friends after summer break. But for thousands of students--and their parents--experiencing homelessness ... ‘back to school’ means stress and the frustration of navigating enrollment and attendance without the security of a place to call home. We talk with Baltimore City Public Schools homeless-student liaison Allen Blackwell and with Danielle DeShields, a formerly homeless mother of three, and with Healthcare for the Homeless social worker Debbie Wilcox. Visit this link for more information on Health Care for the Homeless.

Here’s a Stoop Story from John Couzee about a snowboarding trip that turned into a medical emergency. You can hear his story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

Ticket information for this season of Stoop shows is here.

More than a century after Fort McHenry repulsed the British bombardment of 1814, it took on a new life as the largest army receiving hospital of the first World War. Thousands of wounded American soldiers and sailors were treated and medical advances were made, especially in facial surgery.

National Park Service Curator Gregory Weidman says the fort hospital aimed to heal the whole person. It offered physical therapy and training in job skills and set up a baseball team and a weekly newspaper.

Gregory Weidman will speak about General Hospital 2 at noon and again at 3 pm tomorrow and Sunday. The park is also hosting many daytime family and children’s events to celebrate the 204th anniversary of the defense of Baltimore. Kids can ‘enlist’ as a soldier in the War of 1812, practice military drills, try on 1814-style uniforms and visit army barracks. 

Psychics, ouiji boards, nightmares - The Noir and Bizarre, a WYPR original podcast, isn’t afraid to get spooky. Producer Katie Marquette delves into questions about human existence and explores the strange stories we tell ourselves about death.

From Meryl the Mummy--on display at the Walters Art Museum--to Edgar Allan Poe’s grave, Marquette explores Baltimore history with the mysterious in mind.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

One hundred years ago, the Spanish flu marched across the globe, leaving between 50 and 100 million people dead in its wake. An exhibit The 1918 Flu Epidemic and Baltimore: 100 Years Later, at the Frieda O. Weise Gallery on the University of Maryland Baltimore campus, chronicles what was going on in the city. Professor Wilbur Chen, a vaccine development specialist, tells us how the flu spreads, and how to prevent it. And Tara Wink, UMB librarian and archivist, offers takeaways from what she learned in compiling the exhibit. The opening for the exhibit is Thursday, Sept. 13 at 10:30am, RSVP here. The exhibit is in conjunction with "Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World," at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

As politicians fret these days about how to win female voters, and record numbers of women put themselves forth as candidates, it’s worth remembering that a century ago the big dispute was whether women should even have the right to vote. Suffragists persuaded some states to open the ballot to women, but by 1918 had turned their effort into amending the FEDERAL constitution, to cover the whole country.

Elaine Weiss has written "The Woman’s Hour," a fast-moving chronicle of the struggle among women’s advocates, corporate lobbyists and white supremacists.

Ivy Bookshop

We often think of racism as operating solely on a visual level - judgments based on skin color or facial features. But what about sounds? What judgments of intelligence, education, and personality lie behind ideas about sounding ‘white’ or ‘black’? Jennifer Lynn Stoever is Associate Professor of English at Binghamton University in New York, and Editor-in-Chief of the blog, “Sounding Out!”. She's talks with us about her book, “The Sonic Color Line: Race and the Cultural Politics of Listening." Original air date 2/26/18.

Here is a Stoop Story from Jacquelyn Miller Byrne about her thirst for stories. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast. The Stoop is celebrating their 13th season. Event information here.

National Association of Black Storytellers

Stories are powerful. They transport you to another land or time. They raise questions about human nature. They can also be a tool to teach lessons that have been passed down for generations.

As the National Folk Festival kicks off in Salisbury, we speak to the co-founder of the National Association of Black Storytellers, Mama Linda Goss, and Dr. David Fakunle, her apprentice. They share favorite stories, and describe why the oral tradition is important.

They will be performing on Sunday at 2 pm at the Avery Hall Maryland Traditions Stage. Event details here. Learn more about Dr. David Fakunle's organization 'Discover Me, Recover Me' here.


For fourteen years the nonprofit Thread has identified Baltimore students facing academic and personal challenges and created a tapestry of support around each -- powered by hundreds of volunteers who stay by their side for years. Many Thread students have spent their lives being told they’re underperformers or not worthwhile. The commitment of consistent and unconditional acceptance can turn lives around. We meet longtime volunteer Toni Pollin and Thread co-founder and CEO, Sarah Hemminger.

For more information about Thread, visit this link.

Ferguson, Charleston, Baton Rouge--DeRay Mckesson has been on the ground: protesting police violence, marching against racism, organizing the next generation of activists. His just-published memoir is: “On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope.”

Mckesson weaves together reflections on growing up in Baltimore and Catonsville, with lessons learned as an activist at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement. He tells us about his complicated relationship with his mother, who left when he was three, and shares his data-driven thoughts on police reform.

DeRay Mckesson will be in Baltimore to speak about his book on October 4th, at the Baltimore Soundstage


About two dozen sixth-graders from West Baltimore will be diving into an intense agenda, joining 80 current UMB CURE Scholars who are in seventh through ninth grades. Two afternoons a week plus Saturday mornings they’ll focus on building the strong math and science skills they’ll need for careers in medicine or science. Each young scholar is backed by five mentors--students in UMB’s professional schools. Robin Saunders, who leads the CURE Scholars program, says Saturday afternoons are for field trips, lab visits and getting to know specialists in medicine.

Ann Froschauer / US Fish and Wildlife Service

Bats get a bad rap, but they play a pivotal role in nature---they devour insects and their furry bodies can spread pollen. Bats make up one fourth of all mammal species. Maryland Department of Natural Resources ecologist Daniel Feller tells us about the devastation caused by the fungal disease White Nose Syndrome, which has killed millions of bats in North America. How is this disease spread?

Read more about White Nose Syndrome here:

DNR Bats and Diseases page

Maryland's Bat Caves

And Dr. Kirsten Bohn, researcher at Johns Hopkins’ “Bat Communication Lab,” decodes the sounds bats make. Original air date: 4/3/18