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WYPR Features

Joe Howard (3-22-19)

Mar 22, 2019

On December 2, 1968, in the Baltimore City Courthouse, Joseph Howard, the very first African-American ever to be elected to a 15-year-term as a judge serving on the Supreme Bench of Baltimore, was being sworn in. But before the afternoon was over, the newly appointed judge would have an experience that as a Judge he did not expect.

Alec MacGillis

Mar 22, 2019

Tom talks with Pro Publica investigative reporter Alec MacGillis.

In his early days as a young newspaper reporter, H. L. Mencken and his colleagues often embellished their stories, adding and perfecting details over beers at their favorite local pubs.

Tom Pelton

A flood of words have been written about the recently departed Harry Hughes, the governor of Maryland from 1979 to 1987. But not enough has been said about the truly historic nature of his decision, in 1983, to organize and launch a six-state partnership to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

He created the first regional environmental effort of its kind in the world.

Here’s a recording I made of Hughes in 2015 reflecting on what inspired him to make the Chesapeake Bay his legacy.

“It runs right down the center of Maryland, and it sort of characterizes Maryland, I think,” Hughes said in a call from his home in Denton, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. “It’s a marvelous natural resource.  And it’s very unusual. Among all the bays of the world, this is a very unique one. It was an easy decision, as far as I was concerned, that we out to do whatever we can to preserve it.”

Catherine shares the good and bad news she's discovered in her research on how retirees are faring. 

Curley: Uncomplicating Climate Change

Mar 19, 2019
Noel St. John

Environmental lawyer and author Michael Curley tells us a true story that teaches the simple facts about climate change. 

Vernal Pools

Mar 19, 2019

Ephemeral water bodies provide important seasonal habitat for many species, yet pending legislative changes could render them increasingly vulnerable. Learn more.  


Mar 19, 2019
Irvine Nature Center

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.

There's something about Australia...its ancient culture, its vast expanses, its rough terrain. The fact that it was a penal colony! On this edition of The Weekly Reader, book critic Marion Winik reviews Jane Harper's "The Lost Man" and Josephine Wilson's "Extinctions."

Some of California's most intriguing wines don't carry the name of the grape on their label. Exotic and imaginative red blends can offer value and interest. Click the link to purchase Cellar Notes recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

Baking Tips

Mar 19, 2019

Audio coming soon. 

The weather is just starting to warm up a bit, and our collective sap is starting to rise. If you feel like taking on a few little projects in the kitchen, it's a good time to start baking. Chef Jerry Pellegrino has some timely tips for our listeners.

On the afternoon of July 11, 1953, the Chairman of the Maryland Board of Movie Censors emerged from the viewing room, the fifth floor of the Equitable Building on Calvert Street, and made an announcement that shook the town: the Board would not allow the movie “The Moon Is Blue” to be shown. What happened next was historic.

The young Englishmen (and few Englishwomen) who first settled around The Chesapeake Bay had very little time to think about "that crazy little thing called love." Money, and a strong work ethic were some of the first qualities they sought in a potential mate, but there were some exceptions, and sometimes, romance ruled the day.


During the first five years, children are learning huge amounts of information every moment. A child’s experiences in the early years actually build the brain’s architecture. Listen here to see how you can help build the foundation for a lifetime.

March is Maryland Wine Month, a chance to celebrate the impressive progress our state has been making in its wine industry. Al features three favorites.  Click the link to purchase Cellar Notes recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

Tom Pelton

It’s a warm, spring afternoon in Baltimore. And in Druid Hill Park, on the east end of the park’s shimmering lake rises a 150-year-old, Moorish-style stone tower. It’s 30 feet tall, octagonal, with cloverleaf windows and a sweeping view of the rooftops and steeples of the city.

The tower stands at the top of a rolling hillside of grass that, every spring, is the scene of one of Baltimore’s most beautiful shows. Thousands of daffodils erupt into blossoms, creating waves of yellow that cascade down the green all the way to where trucks rumble past on the Jones Falls Expressway.

Today, the flowers are just green nubs trying to push their way up through the grass. But near the base of the hill, even the grass is having trouble fighting its way up into the light – because of what, at first glance, looks like a heavy, dirty snowfall.

It’s a blizzard of trash that has been thrown out of the windows of passing cars. Styrofoam cups and fast-food containers; liquor bottles and Monster energy drink cans; white grocery bags fluttering in the briars; even a broken fishing rod.

Local journalist and author Alec MacGillis has come here this Sunday afternoon to do something about it. It’s become an odd hobby of his: selecting a different trashed city corner every week or two and setting about to personally clean it all up.

Copeland: Honoring the Work of Victorine Quille Adams

Mar 12, 2019

Jacqueline Copeland, Executive Director of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, comments on the achievements of Victorine Quille Adams who was, among many other things, the first African-American woman elected to the Baltimore City Council. 


Mar 12, 2019
Irvine Nature Center

One of the more peculiar native animals in our listening area seems like it could have come from the inspired imagination of a Hollywood director.

Just 8 inches long, the spotted salamander is blueish-black with sunny yellow spots. On its underside, this amphibian is a blush shade of pink. Two feet, each with four toes, hang off either side of a snake-like body. And its snout is wide with a smile like a frog’s, with tiny bulging black eyes like a pug.

Clean Water Act

Mar 12, 2019
The National Aquarium

Protecting the Clean Water Act – The legislation that protects our waterways – and our drinking water – is under attack. Find out what you can do to help.

On this edition of The Weekly Reader podcast, our book critic Marion Winik reviews "The Falconer" by Dana Czapnik. Not only is this debut novel a stunner, it is also the first pick for the new Weekly Reader Book Club!


Mar 11, 2019

A few weeks ago our friendly neighborhood nutritionist Courtney Ferreira was on talking about healthy choices in eating. One thing she mentioned was cauliflower, which is apparently quite a little nutrition bomb.  And Al and Chef Jerry Pellegrino agree that cauliflower may have gotten something of a bum rap and being way too bland.

Medical clinical trials: what are they? How do you find them? What's important to keep in mind when participating in one? Hector tells us how they work. 

Sophonisba Anguissola

Mar 8, 2019

Walters Art Museum Executive Director Julia Marciari-Alexander discusses the work of women artists in Europe prior to the 1900s, and spotlights the work of Italian painter Sophonisba Anguissola, whose portrait of a young nobleman has hung in the Walters since its opening in 1934. Listeners are invited to view Sophonisba’s exquisite painting at The Walters Art Museum, where admission is always free.

Danny's (03-08-19)

Mar 8, 2019

Motorists driving north on Charles during March of 1989 were delighted to see, off to their right, high on the two story building at Biddle, a sign, “The Run Is On!” That sign appearing in late March every year was cheering: a favorite Baltimore dish was again available at Danny’s Restaurant—boneless shad and shad roe. But Danny’s is closed, there is no longer public notice that it’s shad season in Baltimore.

In 1951, Joseph E. Holmes, once known as "The Dinnertime Burglar" for robbing homes whilst families were dining, got a new nickname after he tunneled his way out of the Maryland Peniteniary.

Neil Hinchley/flickr

Somebody once said that paprika was the most mediocre of all spices. What??!! Well Al supposes that if paprika to you is nothing more than the red stuff on a deviled egg, well then fine. But Chef Jerry Pellegrino, warms us not sell this fabulous spice short!

Paprika is nothing more than ground up red peppers, reduced to a powder. This started in the ancient Americas, was brought back to Spain in the 1500's and then eventually spread throughout the world.  Hungary, India and China all have paprika in their cuisines.

Today many would argue that the best paprika still comes from Spain, where it is called "pimeton".  But world-wide, there are several types.

The Multifaceted Legacy of Ida B. Wells

Mar 7, 2019
Harford Community College Office of Student Life

Did you know that journalist, suffragist and anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells was also one of the founders of the NAACP? Harford Community College will host screenings of IDA B. WELLS: A PASSION FOR JUSTICE, which includes selections of Wells’ writing read by Toni Morrison.

The screenings complement figures of Wells and Mary Church, on loan from The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore. Sharoll Love, Student Diversity Specialist in Harford Community College Office of Student Life, tells us more.


Sonoma's Russian River Valley is home to some of the best chardonnays and pinot noirs in California.  Hartford Family Winery does it as well as anybody.  Click the link to purchase Cellar Notes recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

Tom Pelton

Last week, the new Democratic majority in the U.S. House held its first oversight hearing into what the Trump Administration has been doing to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Voice of clerk during hearing: “Please rise and raise your right hand so you may be sworn in….”

The administration hired a former coal industry lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler, to run EPA.  Among other cuts and rollbacks, Wheeler’s first act in office was to weaken pollution control rules for the management of coal ash dumps at power plants. These dumps are often unlined and leaking toxic metals including lead and arsenic into groundwater at more than 240 sites across the U.S., including in Maryland, according to utility company monitoring data.

This pollution poses a threat to streams, rivers, and drinking water supplies. But the loosening of rules is good news for Wheeler’s former clients in the coal business.  EPA predicts Wheeler’s regulatory change will save coal power plants about $30 million a year.

iStock/Steve Debenport

When it comes to knowing what preverbal babies want, parents sometimes wish the universe would give them a sign. One way of lessening the frustration may be using baby sign language. Research from the Mayo Clinic shows that babies who are exposed often and early to sign language can begin to use signs successfully by eight or nine months, right about the time children begin to know what they want.