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WYPR Features

Steven Brown via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

With Thanksgiving just ahead next week, it seems to be a great time to ponder one of the mainstays of the great feast. Whether you have a turkey or not, I'm willing to bet you will have some kind of potatoes on the table.

And as a public service Chef Jerry Pellegrino would like to do a potato round-up and pass on some good information.

The world of potatoes is divided into the waxy and floury. Let's look closer.

Riverhead (l); Ecco (r)

On this edition of The Weekly Reader, we review two new novels that manage to capture the current cultural zeitgeist: Memorial by Bryan Washington, and Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam.

Steve via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

All around the sports landscape, champagne corks are being popped and backs are being patted with the news that a woman has been welcomed into the ranks of management.

Kim Ng’s hiring as general manager of the Miami Marlins this past week has set off applause and acclamations, not only in baseball, but all over the world of professional sports.


The Reports: Week of November 16th 2020

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

After a presidential campaign that gave historic prominence to climate change and a debate over the future of the oil industry, Democrat Joe Biden’s victory – even in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the oil industry – could have been a cause for jubilation by environmentalists.

But hold the champagne. Green dreams about the Biden Administration have been sobered by the reality that Republicans appear likely to retain control of the U.S. Senate – pending special elections in Georgia on January 5.  A continued Republican majority would likely block any sweeping climate legislation along the lines of the Green New Deal, which seeks to create millions of jobs through investments in clean energy.

“The fact that Mitch McConnell (the Senate Majority Leader) is there now and could possibly be there next year clearly will make it more difficult to pass important initiatives,” said U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, a Democrat. “That said, No. 1, we hope to win the two Georgia Senate Seats.  Number 2, I know that a President Biden is going to work hard to push through this climate agenda in Congress, no matter what.”  


Number, Please!

Nov 13, 2020

Gil recalls a time in Baltimore before 10 digit phone numbers, when "Idlewild" and "Tuxedo" helped the telephone operator find who you were looking for.

Aging Wine

Nov 11, 2020
Govorkov via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Hugh has developed strong opinions about aging wine after going through a tasting of aged First Growth Bordeaux. Most of the wines were far over the hill and left him wondering how they would have been at 30 years old rather than 50. His conclusion is that many collectors hold on to their wines far too long and miss the moment of maximum enjoyability.

A Labor of Love

Nov 11, 2020

When will we invest in the most important labor thier is -- parenting?

 (Photo credit: iStock/Martin Prescott)

Festival Of Trees

Nov 11, 2020
Provided by Kennedy Krieger Institute

Kennedy Krieger’s iconic Festival of Trees event could have been sidelined because of COVID. But, especially this year, families need uplifting entertainment to enjoy together Thanksgiving weekend. Listen to the inspiring commitment of those whose support will make this year’s virtual event a reality. 

"Maryland Wits and Baltimore Bards"

Nov 10, 2020
Flickr/Creative Commons

From the beginning, the state of Maryland, and Baltimore, in particular, has had a passionate relationship with its writers. Here, we celebrate some of the best.

One World (l); Ohio State University Press (r)

On this edition of The Weekly Reader, we review two new books that provide windows into the real lives of two very different women: Golem Girl by Riva Lehrer and Like Love by Michele Morano.

Ian Turk via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Even though I am not a vegetarian, I do appreciate the concept. Thus, nearly every week we try to have a vegetarian meal with no meat proteins. This time of the year, in mid-autumn, there are scores of vegetables available for us to work into our daily meals. And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino will tell you, the secret to enjoying vegetarian meals is to make them as tasty and satisfying as possible.

Rob Poetsch via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The diamond of a baseball stadium is a remarkably competitive place, even in the cold of winter, when there are only echoes of games gone by.

And it’s not just the playing field where competitive fires are stoked. Even in what should be friendly confines, the clubhouses can be repositories for angst and strife.

Then, there’s the press box. The race between reporters for stories about the contests and the people who play them is often as brutal as the contests and the competitors themselves.


2021 Open Enrollment

Nov 9, 2020

In the first half of 2020, 43.4 percent of U.S. adults ages 19 to 64 were inadequately insured, according to the Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey. Joining me is Mihaela Vincze, the Program Specialist for nonprofit Transamerica Center for Health Studies, here to discuss Open Enrollment season amid this public health crisis.  


What exactly is “Open Enrollment”?

The Reports: Week of November 9th 2020

Tulkoff's 2020-11-06

Nov 6, 2020

On a morning in 1932, a woman customer walks into Tulkoff fruit and vegetable store at 1018 East Lombard Street. She could not know it and neither can Harry Tulkoff, the stores' woebegone owner, but she would soon open a spectacular chapter in the history of Baltimore and the world.

Maryland Whites

Nov 4, 2020
Jan Helebrant via Flickr (Public Domain)

We've paid a lot of attention to Maryland's vine reds, but these whites shine.

Tom Pelton

Charlie Reeves grew up in public housing in South Philadelphia near the oldest and largest oil refinery on the East Coast.

“I grew up in the projects called the Tasker Homes,” said Reeves, 62, a community activist in Philadelphia’s Tasker-Morris neighborhood. “So I remember the Sunoco refinery from a young age.  We have a high school right around the corner from it, and an elementary school directly across the highway  from it.  There was a bridge there, and we used to go across that bridge onto the refinery grounds. We’d play over there, just have fun. We were young. We didn’t know.”

What they didn’t know was that – during more than a century of operation -- the Point Breeze Refinery, which was later called the Sunoco refinery and then Philadelphia Energy Solutions – spilled so much gasoline and other petroleum products onto the ground that a plume of cancer-causing benzene had contaminated the soil and groundwater, according to EPA records. From that tainted soil, and from leaky storage tanks, benzene fumes wafted into the air.



Nov 3, 2020
Marshall via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

We hear a lot about heirloom varieties and heritage breeds, but there is another category of food that harkens back to the good old days. Although we don't see ingredients such as buttermilk, apple butter and lard very often, they still are out there. And so is molasses, that historic concoction that helped create America. Chef Jerry Pellegrino will tell you even though we don't always have it on hand, it is still a very useful ingredient.


Simon and Schuster (l); Little Brown (r)

American identity is often complex, and sometimes, hyphenated. On this edition of The Weekly Reader, we review Chinese-American author Susie Yang's White Ivy and Pakistani-American playwright Ayad Akhtar's Homeland Elegies.

The Sands of Time

Nov 3, 2020


  For over 10,000 years parents have been carrying on when times are tough. Let's look to them for encouragement during these difficult days.  (Photo credit: iStock/kali9)

Michael Patterson via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Over a 12 year career, Bobby Orr provided a platform for defenseman play that is the gold standard in hockey. The photo of Orr flying through the air in front of the net after scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal in Game 4 of the 1970 Finals for the Boston Bruins is a piece of sports lore.

The Reports: Week of November 2nd 2020

Medicare Open Enrollment

Nov 2, 2020

Roughly 20 percent of the American population was enrolled in Medicare in 2020, according to AARP. Mihaela Vincze, from nonprofit Transamerica Center for Health Studies, is joining me to discuss the open enrollment period for Medicare, the federal health insurance program designed for those 65 and older.

On an evening in 1935, in the living room of a house in Baltimore, a husband and wife are sitting at a small table, facing each other. On the table there is a flat, two-foot square of cardboard. The woman leans over close to the board, and whispers,” Mother, can you hear me?” The woman is talking to the Ouija Board. In its time, it was the way Baltimoreans talked to the dead…Really? Really!

Marty Bernard / Flickr/Creative Commons

Legend and lore about the ghosts and ghouls said to haunt the rolling hills and lonely valleys of Western Maryland.

Next Tuesday is Election day. And for the first time ever, environmental issues --and specifically climate change --are center stage in the public debate during the decisive final phase of a presidential contest.

President Trump has been leading rallies across Pennsylvania – a swing state that was the birthplace of the U.S. oil industry – slamming former Vice President Joe Biden for allegedly wanting to abolish the oil industry.

Trump’s claims are based on an exchange he had with Biden over fossil fuels and global warming near the end of the final presidential debate last week.  


Random House

On this edition of The Weekly Reader, our book critic Marion Winik reviews three books by one of her favorite authors, Curtis Sittenfeld: Rodham, Eligible, and American Wife


  Halloween will look pretty different this year. But Halloween during COVID can still be fun while also being safe. (Photo credit: iStock/svetikd)

"The Bottom Is Falling Out": Affordable Housing And COVID-19

Oct 28, 2020
Eli Pousson / Baltimore Heritage via Flickr (Public Domain)

The affordable housing crisis has wreaked havoc on Baltimoreans for decades, and the economic fallout from the coronavirus has only exacerbated the problem. On this month's episode of Future City we're exploring how COVID-19 is affecting housing in Baltimore and beyond. We discuss the disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx Baltimoreans, including the ways that some immigrants have been left out from receiving stimulus benefits. We also hear about the challenges to building affordable housing nationally and discuss the steps housing advocates want the local, state and federal governments to take to protect renters, including ending evictions and canceling rent payments.