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WYPR Features

Tom Pelton


In these times of the coronavirus, the public health strategy of “social distancing” is hard on people because humans are, by their nature, a social species.

Zach Frailey via Flickr

For as long as men and women have run, swam and jumped and balls have been thrown, there’s been a joy among many to cast scorn on the social significance of sports. 

To a certain set, it’s a badge of honor to look down their collective noses at the silly frivolities of people in garish costumes doing things that bring no value to society at large and collect excessive salaries doing them.



When it comes to incredible native animal species, Maryland has an embarrassment of riches. We have over 100 species of native mammals that grace our forests, meadows, wetlands, and waterways. And while I love ALL of our state’s native mammals, there is one that sets my heart a-flutter. It’s an animal that I have seen only a handful of times in my travels, but each time I see it I’m struck by its appearance. It’s just so…so…CUTE. This mammal has two big, brilliant black eyes set in its tiny, furry little face. It has a delicate pink nose and incredibly soft fur. In fact, when I look at pictures of this animal standing upright on its hind legs, I’m struck by an almost magnetic urge to give it a belly rub.

And that’s when I have to take a step back and remind myself of something really important: this animal is a tiny killing machine, and my hands shouldn’t be anywhere near its belly. This animal – so cute, so fluffy, and so completely psychotic – is the stoat, also known as an ermine or a short-tailed weasel.


The back bone of many a Rioja, Tempranillo is a fabulous grape that also plays a prominent role elsewhere in Spain.

Mike Mozart via Flickr

Food insecurity is rampant in Baltimore, with nearly a quarter of the city's residents struggling to acquire healthy, affordable food. On this month's episode of Future City, we discuss why food insecurity persists in one of the wealthiest states in the country, and how local urban farmers, religious leaders, and advocates are fighting for food justice in the city. 

Wikimedia Commons


Kavin Senapathy is a freelance journalist who was drawn to the field of science blogging nine years ago. It was just after her first child was born and she found herself obsessed with and terrified about her daughter’s health.






We want to wish everybody a happy Saint Patrick's Day, in some respects the last hurrah of winter and the first salute to the coming spring. Here in the states we have a few traditional accompaniments, such as corned beef and cabbage, soda bread, and lots and lots of Guiness. Chef Jerry Pellegrino has collected a number of recipes straight for the Auld Sod itself.

Doug Kerr via Flickr

By any reckoning, the 2020 Orioles season is going to be a long, tough slog. 

The Birds enter the campaign staring down the barrel of another 100-loss year to match or even exceed the losing of the last two years.

Today’s women are better educated and enjoy career opportunities that were unimaginable 50 years ago. Yet the gender pay gap in the U.S. remains persistent with women earning 85 percent of what men earned in 2018, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.

Catherine Collinson, president of nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, tells us how the gender pay gap plays into women’s retirement readiness.

Eleanor Hughes

Mar 13, 2020

This month on Open Access, Julia Marciari-Alexander speaks with Eleanor Hughes, Deputy Director of Art & Program, about the upcoming exhibitions Majolica Mania and Betty Cooke: The Circle and the Line, and how they connect to Women’s History Month and the larger goal at the museum of revealing the under-recognized contributions of women to the art world.

Exploring Maryland History Through Original Theatre

Mar 12, 2020
Baltimore School for the Arts

How are teenagers bringing history to life through theatre? Norah Worthington, Historical Partnership Director and Resident Costumer at Baltimore School for the Arts, tells us more.

With spring just days away, it's not to early to start thinking about renewing one of the season's most succulent dishes, roast leg of lamb.  You can go two ways with this roast, either bone-in or boneless.  As it turns out, both Chef Jerry Pellegrino and I prefer the flexability of the boneless cut, although there is a time and place for a big old bone-in leg of lamb.

Organic Wine

Mar 11, 2020

The interest in organic wine is way up, so here are a trio of can't miss choices.     

"Jacob Gruber"

Mar 11, 2020
Mike Goad / Flickr/Creative Commons

Before he would be forever associated with the 1857 Dred Scott Supreme Court decision, Roger B. Taney defended outspoken Hagerstown abolitionist Jacob Gruber.

Tom Pelton

Maryland faces a critical decision point in its decades-long effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

The poultry industry on the Eastern Shore produces about 300 million chickens a year. But the byproduct is about a half billion pounds more manure than can be absorbed by crops when farmers spread the litter as fertilizer for their corn and soybeans. That leads to runoff of phosphorus pollution into rivers, streams and the Bay.

In about two years, pollution control regulations imposed by Governor Larry Hogan’s administration will restrict manure application on about 160,000 acres of farms on the Eastern Shore that are already overloaded with phosphorus. But state officials do not know what to do with all the extra tons manure that farmers will no longer be able to spread under the new rules.

Lisa Morgan

On this edition of The Weekly Reader, we preview Douglas Stuart's debut novel Shuggie Bain, a profoundly affecting story about growing up amidst the poverty, violence, and alcoholism in a crumbling Glasgow housing scheme in the 1980s.

There is nothing better than the sound of a group of children sharing a belly laugh. And that’s just what I heard a few ago while I was out on one of my weekly property walks at Irvine Nature Center. As I rounded the corner around a small grove of trees to our wetlands I saw a group of students and one of our naturalists standing on the bank of one of our ponds, staring intently at the surface of the water. What happened next was temporarily confusing: one student pointed at the surface of the water and the entire group roared with laughter. I didn’t want to intrude, but when I saw that same naturalist later I had to ask: what on earth was so funny out at the pond?! Her answer surprised me. . .turtle farts.

Ware: Remembering The Waitress

Mar 10, 2020
Photo provided by Ware

The Waitress grew up in a postcard North Baltimore colonial, three kids and a dog, picture perfect, and lonely. She watched her parents pour their first drink before sundown every afternoon, her mother in pearls and a fresh dress, her dad exchanging his briefcase for “something cold” as he crossed the threshold. Even as a little girl she knew the names on the bottles, how the seasons affected what was served, how to pass the hors d'oeuvres, and when to swallow her feelings. There was something dark under the family’s brittle surface that trained her to smile no matter what, and she internalized that her experiences were less important than her parents’ tangle of anger and regret. 

Arturo Donate via Flickr

"What if they had a sporting event and no one showed up?" sounds like the setup to a hackneyed joke.

Yet, if the events of the past couple of weeks are an indicator, that premise may come to pass.


Mar 9, 2020

On today’s episode we're talking about vaping and associated health risks.

Katharina Grosse

Mar 6, 2020
Mitro Hood


German artist Katharina Grosse talks with BMA Director Christopher Bedford about her gallery enveloping fabric and paint installation—her first in a U.S. museum—and describes the immersive experience awaiting visitors. Katharina Grosse: Is It You? is on view at the BMA through June 28, 2020.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (l); Graydon House (r)

On this episode of The Weekly Reader, our book critic Marion Winik reviews two new novels that look at the dark side of the tech boom: Anna Wiener's Uncanny Valley and Megan Angelo's Followers.

The Humanities In Maryland: A Reflection

Mar 5, 2020
Dennis Drenner


"...the humanities—literature, history, archaeology, theology, philosophy, art history, and ethics—offer a lens through which to more deeply and clearly understand ourselves and the world around us." In a special Humanities Connection segment, Phoebe Stein offers a sort of love letter to championing the humanities. 

Healing From Brain Injury

Mar 4, 2020
Photo provided by family


Mar 4, 2020

The ancient French region of Languedoc is home to some of the best bargains around.

Wikimedia Commons

It’s a watershed moment in American politics. Climate change and the environment, for the first time, have risen to become among the top issues in a Presidential election. President Trump is campaigning against the whole idea of environmental regulations and has falsely labelled climate change a “hoax.”

In stark contrast, all of his Democratic challengers are pledging unprecedented action to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

Here’s Senator Bernie Sanders: “What the scientists are telling us is – in fact – they have under-estimated the severity and speed in which climate change is damaging not only our country, but the entire world.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden said: “I think it is the existential threat to humanity. It’s the number one issue.”

Mayor Mike Bloomberg made this statement: “Climate change is not a science problem – it is a political problem.”

And Senator Elizabeth Warren proclaimed: “I support the Green New Deal.  We have got to make change. We’ve got to make big change. And we’ve got to do it fast – we’re running out of time.”

But what’s fascinating about the Democratic candidates is that all of them – while promising action on the climate – have completely abandoned the main policy vehicle for combating global warming that Democrats, and even a few Republicans, championed until a few years ago.

That was the imposition of a carbon tax – or a Wall Street friendly “cap and trade” system – to gradually increase the price of oil, gas, coal and other fossil fuels to create economic incentives, in the free market system, for cleaner energy.


Mar 3, 2020

Last fall I was lucky enough to sit-in on one of our nature center’s popular falconry classes. During the class, the instructor talked about the different kinds of birds that are commonly used by falconers. As she rattled off the list: red tailed hawks, red shouldered hawks, kestrels, and merlins one of the class participants stopped her and said, “Merlin? Like the wizard?”

As much as I would like to imagine a mythical Arthurian figured perched on the glove of one of our naturalists, the merlin is in fact a small bird of prey in the falcon family. And while they may not technically have any magical powers, their power and adaptability are incredible to behold.

Last year when I went to northern Italy, I took a cooking class that taught us how to make fresh pasta by hand. The process is simple to learn, but mastering it is another question. As it happens Chef Jerry Pellegrino received wonderful book  from our friend Cynthia Clover that shines a light on the complexities of a simple dish.

Today on the show we're discussing an important, but underutilized tax credit known as the Saver’s Credit. Many Americans miss out on it simply because they’re unaware it exists. Catherine Collinson, president of nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, helps us understand the Saver’s Credit and its benefits for everyday Americans.

Voting On The Aquarium

Feb 28, 2020

On the evening of November 2, 1976, Baltimoreans were glued to their TV and radios—following the election results of Question 3 on the ballot—whether or not the city should build and operate what would be known as the National Aquarium in the Inner Harbor. It was a controversial idea from the outset, with City Councilman Emerson Julian calling the proposed aquarium, derisively, “nothing but a fish tank.” This is the story of how that so-called “fish tank” became one of the most visited tourist attraction in the world.