Aaron Henkin | WYPR

Aaron Henkin

Producer of "Out of the Blocks" and Director of New Local Programming

Aaron creates and produces original radio programs for WYPR. His current project is the neighborhood documentary series, Out of the Blocks.  His past work includes the long-running weekly cultural program, The Signal, and the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings series, Tapestry of the Times.  Aaron's stories have aired nationally on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, PRI’s Studio 360, & The World.

Ways to Connect

Today, guest host Aaron Henkin (producer of WYPR's Out of the Blocks series) spends the hour examining how well the Baltimore City Public School System's "school choice" program is working, twelve years after its launch.

The program was created to give all students (and their parents) a chance to participate in the selection of the middle schools and high schools they wish to attend. 

The annual high-school choice program starts each fall, it goes on through each spring, and it gives late middle-schoolers an opportunity to identify their top five preferred high schools.  Kids make these selections based on a range of criteria:  they look at student population, gender mix, sports programs and, special academic offerings like advanced placement courses and college-credit curricular tracks.

2100 Edmondson

Jan 4, 2017
all images by Wendel Patrick

The corner diner, Soul Source, is the hub of the 2100 block  of Edmondson Avenue. The manager, Joyce, has been serving breakfast to the locals for 30 years. Her restaurant looks out onto a West Baltimore block scarred by gunshots and stabbings. But the block is more than its scars. It’s a block where a Pentecostal pastor keeps her faith in the face of suffering, where a reformed drug dealer works as a kitchen appliance repairman, and where a political reporter from Kashmir has found sanctuary working behind the counter at a sandwich shop. It’s a block where a former Nigerian soccer star operates an auto repair shop. In his car lot, he lets a homeless man sleep in a van. Next door is an army veteran who issued air-strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan. And across the street is a tire repairman who’s trying to beat a 30-year heroin addiction. Crystal, who works in the kitchen at Soul Source, sums it up like this: It’s not always peaches and cream, but this is a place that you know is always going to be real.  

Out of the Blocks Podcast - 600 Deepdene Rd

Oct 3, 2016
all photos by Wendel Patrick

The 2016 season finale episode of Out of the Blocks takes a twist, as we travel to the 600 block of Deepdene Road in North Baltimore’s Tuxedo Park neighborhood.  The sounds of city traffic give way to the natural harmony of cicadas, birds, and frogs on this tree-lined residential block, nestled up against the city’s Stony Run Trail.

600 Deepdene Rd

Sep 18, 2016
all photos by Wendel Patrick

The 2016 season finale episode of Out of the Blocks takes a twist, as we travel to the 600 block of Deepdene Road in North Baltimore’s Tuxedo Park neighborhood.  The sounds of city traffic give way to the natural harmony of cicadas, birds, and frogs on this tree-lined residential block, nestled up against the city’s Stony Run Trail.  The stories here are a study of families in all their varieties: families with same-sex parents, interracial parents, single parents, and adoptive parents, as well as empty-nesters, divorcees, and newlyweds.  The twist?  For the Out of the Blocks producers, this episode is personal.  Wendel Patrick used to live here, and Aaron Henkin lives here now.

all photos by Wendel Patrick

The 2100 block of Monument Street is anchored by the Baltimore’s Northeast Market, a honeycomb of vendors selling fish, meat, fried chicken, barbeque, bulgogi, deli sandwiches, and baked goods.

The commerce spills onto the surrounding sidewalks, where open-air peddlers hawk sunglasses and socks, CDs & DVDs, umbrellas and pepper spray.  Unemployed entrepreneurs polish headlights, sell loose cigarettes, and do whatever else they can to make ends meet.  It all happens in the shadow of the looming Johns Hopkins Medical Campus, an institution at pains to restore relations with the neighborhood in the wake of longstanding ill will.

2100 E Monument

Jul 1, 2016
all photos by Wendel Patrick

The 2100 block of Monument Street is anchored by the Baltimore’s Northeast Market, a honeycomb of vendors selling fish, meat, fried chicken, barbeque, bulgogi, deli sandwiches, and baked goods.  The commerce spills onto the surrounding sidewalks, where open-air peddlers hawk sunglasses and socks, CDs & DVDs, umbrellas and pepper spray.  Unemployed entrepreneurs polish headlights, sell loose cigarettes, and do whatever else they can to make ends meet.  It all happens in the shadow of the looming Johns Hopkins Medical Campus, an institution at pains to restore relations with the neighborhood in the wake of longstanding ill will.

All photos by Wendel Patrick

Church bells ring in a duet with the clanging Light Rail, city buses rattle and hiss, and loud sidewalk conversations compete with the din.  These are the sounds that reverberate through a block peppered with Bengali body oil shops, barbershops and salons, a magic candle store, and the shoe-repair shop of a Russian cobbler.  A vanguard of artists populates a five-story building on the block, a honeycomb of musicians, painters, fashion designers, and jewelers.  As a sum of its parts, 200 West Saratoga is an ecstatic cacophony of optimism, ambition, anxiety, and resilience.

200 W Saratoga

May 13, 2016
All photos by Wendel Patrick

The 200 block of West Saratoga Street is nestled in the frenetic bustle of downtown Baltimore.  Church bells ring in a duet with the clanging Light Rail, city buses rattle and hiss, and loud sidewalk conversations compete with the din.  These are the sounds that reverberate through a block peppered with Bengali body oil shops, barbershops and salons, a magic candle store, and the shoe-repair shop of a Russian cobbler.  A vanguard of artists populates a five-story building on the block, a honeycomb of musicians, painters, fashion designers, and jewelers.  As a sum of its parts, 200 West Saratoga is an ecstatic cacophony of optimism, ambition, anxiety, and resilience.

Derek Blanks/For The Washington Post

Here’s a hypothetical for you . . . You’re walking down the street and you see a woman standing there, crying. What do you do? Ask her if she’s OK? Try to comfort her? Now, what if that person standing there, crying, is a man? Is your reaction the same? Our guest this hour is a guy who cries. He cries without shame, in public, and when it happens, he’ll look you in the eye, and you’ll look away before he does. Andrew Reiner is a Towson University professor. He teaches a class on masculinity - and he wrote an article for The Washington Post titled, “The Tracks of My Tears: One man’s quest to have male crying be socially acceptable.” It made him a lightning rod for some vitriolic backlash, but he welcomes the debate. A conversation about men and emotional honesty.

Andrew Copeland / Maryland Historical Society

Crowdsourcing is a new term but it’s not a new idea. In the 19th century, thousands of volunteers submitted entries to the Oxford English Dictionary, for instance. But if you’ve ever used Wikipedia, you know the internet has made crowdsourcing possible on a much larger scale. Historians are among those taking advantage of the internet’s broad reach. How is our increased connectivity changing the way we tell stories about the past? We’ll talk with Denise Meringolo, a historian at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and Joe Tropea, digital projects coordinator at the Maryland Historical Society, about how they’re collecting and archiving materials from the Baltimore Uprising of 2015.

all photos by Wendel Patrick

The 6300 block of Reisterstown Road is tucked just inside the Northwest Baltimore city limit.

Orthodox Jews from Russia and Iran operate kosher eateries, and NepaliHindus run carry-outs and gas stations. Add to the mix a public library branch, a used-car dealership, and a home-security expert who specializes in cracking safes, and you get an idiosyncratic cast of characters who all manage to share a stage in the theater of city life.

6300 Reisterstown Road

Mar 14, 2016
all photos by Wendel Patrick

The 6300 block of Reisterstown Road is tucked just inside the Northwest Baltimore city limit.  Orthodox Jews from Russia and Iran operate kosher eateries, and Nepali Hindus run carry-outs and gas stations. Add to the mix a public library branch, a used-car dealership, and a home-security expert who specializes in cracking safes, and you get an idiosyncratic cast of characters who all manage to share a stage in the theater of city life. 

Out of the Blocks Podcast - 4700 Eastern Avenue

Dec 22, 2015
Wendel Patrick

4700 Eastern Avenue is in Southeast Baltimore's Highlandtown neighborhood. Over the past fifty years, the story of the American Dream has been written and rewritten in this community, as two distinct waves of immigrants have taken their turns settling in and opening up shop.

4700 Eastern Avenue

Dec 18, 2015
Wendel Patrick

4700 Eastern Avenue is in Southeast Baltimore's Highlandtown neighborhood.  Over the past fifty years, the story of the American Dream has been written and rewritten in this community, as two distinct waves of immigrants have taken their turns settling in and opening up shop.  In the 1960's & 70's, Greek immigrants arrived in droves, and the neighborhood came to be known as Greektown.  More recently, Latino immigrants have followed in those footsteps, establishing a strong local presence of their own.  Today, this block is a cultural checkerboard, as the names of the restaurants attest:  Acropolis, El Merengue, Zorbas, Papuseria Mama Tana, and Greektown Grill.  The voices on this block have foreign accents, but their stories are quintessentially American.

Wendel Patrick

The 4700 block of Liberty Heights Avenue is a portrait of survival and adaptability. It's a self-governed, informal economy where the currency is respect.  Space is shared by merchants, churches, longtime residents, and drug dealers. Immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, West Africa, and Korea have set up shops alongside a dwindling number of African American-owned businesses.  Trust is earned here, not given lightly.

Student Activism, Race & Free Speech

Nov 18, 2015
Nick Schnelle/Columbia Daily Tribune via AP

The University of Missouri, Yale University, University of South Carolina, Occidental College, University of Kansas, Claremont McKenna College. The list goes on. College students across the country are leading protests and demonstrations to call attention to the issue of racial tolerance, diversity, and in some cases, the resignation of professors and high-ranking administrators. In this hour of Midday we'll view this topic through national and local lenses, and hear the points of view of academic reporters, students, a college administrator and a free speech advocate. 

Our guests: Scott Jaschik,editor and one of the founders of Inside Higher Ed; Julia Joseph, a sophomore and student journalist at Loyola University; Lisa Gray, assistant director of Student Life for Cultural and Spiritual Diversity at UMBC; Tyana Warren, a junior at Johns Hopkins University; and Robert Shibley, the executive director of Foundation of Individual Rights in Education. 

A 79-page analysis of the performance of the Baltimore Police Department during April's unrest was released yesterday. the report was compiled by a Washington, DC-based law enforcement think take. The report is available here.

In this hour, a look at the report's findings and recommendations. Plus, how does the BPD's handling of protests and rioting compare to other that of cities?

What impact does your childhood have on your health as an adult? For those who experienced abuse or neglect, trauma can push their brain’s fight-or-flight response into overdrive, leading to both mental and physical illnesses in adulthood. In Donna Jackson Nakazawa's new book, "Childhood Disrupted," she breaks down the research on "adverse childhood experiences" and their effect on health outcomes.

Smart Streets and Urban Transformation

Nov 10, 2015

  “An urban transformation is underway, and smart streets are at the heart of it.” These are the words of Samuel Schwartz, a man who spent two decades as New York City’s traffic commissioner and managed to walk away from the experience an optimist. He’s just written a book titled, “Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars,” and he joins us this hour with a look back at how city streets were taken over by cars… and how those streets are beginning to get reclaimed by pedestrians and bicyclists. Also joining us this hour: urban planner and architect Klaus Philipsen, for a look at transportation possibilities and problems here in Maryland. Our state just got a grade of D on its transportation report card and the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance's Brian O'Malley tells us why. 

Urbanite returns with a special issue on Baltimore's uprising, "Truth, Reconciliation, and Baltimore". Print issues hit the streets today, and the digital version is available here. We'll hear from Tracy Ward, the magazine's publisher; Lionel Foster, a former staff writer and editor of the special issue; and former editor Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson.

Wendel Patrick

Tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 PM here on WYPR, producer Aaron Henkin and musician Wendel Patrick will unveil their season-opening installment of Out of the Blocks. Out of The Blocks gives listeners an intimate look into the lives of people who live and work on one specific block in Baltimore.  In the past, they’ve taken us to Greenmount Avenue in Waverly, to Patapsco Avenue in South Baltimore, and right after the unrest in April, they took us to The Penn North intersection that was the epicenter of the violence.  Tomorrow, they’ll introduce us to folks in the 4700 block of Liberty Heights Avenue, in Northwest Baltimore, and this morning, Aaron Henkin and Wendel Patrick join with a seasion preview. 

 

4700 Liberty Heights Avenue

Oct 19, 2015
Wendel Patrick

The 4700 block of Liberty Heights Avenue is a portrait of survival and adaptability.  It's a self-governed, informal economy where the currency is respect.  Space is shared by merchants, churches, longtime residents, and drug dealers.  Immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, West Africa, and Korea have set up shops alongside a dwindling number of African American-owned businesses.  Trust is earned here, not given lightly.

Midday Friday

Sep 4, 2015
Gwendolyn Glenn

Ex-Police Commissioner, Anthony Batts, broke his silence this week at a panel discussion at Mount Saint Mary's in Emmitsburg. Colin Campbell of the Baltimore Sun joins us to discuss the controversy surrounding Batts' assertion that officers "took a knee" after the unrest in April. Also, we hear about the start of the school year from Amanda Rice, principal of Waverly Elementary/Middle School, and Sun reporter Erica Green. Then, a preview of Everyman Theater’s upcoming season and our weekly business report from Joanna Sullivan of the Baltimore Business Journal. Aaron Henkin guests host this edition of Midday Friday.

A talk with Dan Fesperman about his drone-warfare novel, Unmanned; Gandharva Raja discusses his novel, August 29:  How Kabir H Jain Became a Deity; and Danuta Hinc talks about her novel, To Kill the Other

A visit with the artists behind the glass mosaic at the AVAM, Lizzie Skurnick previews her book, That Should Be a Word, and A conversation with poet and neurosurgeon Michael Salcman, editor of the anthology, Poetry in Medicine

Wendell Patrick

As we listen back this morning to some of our interviews after the death of Freddie Gray, we also want to revisit how WYPR’s The Signal covered the issues days after the riot on April 27.  We hear part of the “Out of the Blocks” series produced by WYPR’s Aaron Henkin with electronic musician Wendel Patrick and talk about how Aaron produces the series, collecting the stories of a single block and stitching them together to craft Out Of The Blocks.

Fans attempt to explain the sci-fi universe of Doctor Who, we meet Mobtown Doulas Carla Paisley and Emily Leffler-Schulman, and transcontinental touring musicians (with day jobs) Elias Schutzman and Lazlo Lee

Author Jonathon Scott Fuqua takes us inside his book, The Secrets of the Greaser Hotel; a look at the photo book, Bodine’s Industry: The Dignity of Work; and we talk Girl Problem Records founder Madi Shapiro and fellow musicians Jane Vincent and Sienna Cureton-Mahoney about carving out a space for female-powered punk rock.

Out of the Blocks Podcast - 400 E Patapsco

Aug 1, 2015

On the 400 block of E Patapsco Avenue, you'll meet octogenarian pigeon racers, evangelizing barbers, philosophical convenience-store clerks, reformed and not-so-reformed drug dealers, aspiring hip hop musicians, and more.

all photos by Dan Goodrich

At midnight on Thursday, July 30th, 2015, the final amps and drum kits were reluctantly lugged out of Station North's longtime music rehearsal space, The Hour Haus.  After 25 years as a music practice facility and performance venue, the building is being converted to office space.  Audio producer Adam Droneburg and photographer Dan Goodrich spent the past few months chronicling the end of the Hour Haus era, collecting interviews and portraits of the building's final musical residents.

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