Andrea Appleton | WYPR

Andrea Appleton

Producer, On The Record

Andrea Appleton is a producer for On The Record. She comes to WYPR with years of experience as a freelance journalist filing stories for newspapers, magazines, and public radio. She has reported on topics ranging from bull riding to bionic fish, with an emphasis on science.  She is also former senior editor of the Baltimore City Paper, and a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism.

She and her husband live in Baltimore with their two young sons.

Garrett Heights Elementary/ Middle School

The Baltimore City school system is highly segregated. In a city that’s 63 percent black, the average school is 84 percent black. Garrett Heights Elementary Middle School in Northeast Baltimore is therefore not unusual. Around 90 percent of its students are black, though the surrounding neighborhood is more than a third white. Many of those families choose to send their children to other schools. But last year the school launched a pilot program that may begin to change that.

Living Design Lab

Here’s an unusual idea: using tiny houses to address the affordable housing crisis. Many of these homes are 200 square feet or less. Could they help house low-wage earners in Baltimore? Greg Cantori, CEO of Maryland Nonprofits, and Davin Hong, principle architect at the Living Design Lab, describe their vision. And Klaus Philipsen, urban planner and president of Archplan, Inc., shares his thoughts on the feasibility of this approach.

Andrew O'Brien / Flickr via Creative Commons

Sunscreen, bug spray, shampoo, deodorant. When we wash personal care products like these off of our bodies, they go down the drain, pass through wastewater treatment plants, and end up in our rivers and oceans. Scientists have found numerous ill effects from these chemicals, including the feminization of fish. Environmental engineer Lee Blaney, associate professor at UMBC, joins us to talk about his research in local waterways.

Christopher Connelly / WYPR

Marylanders have more than a year before they’ll cast votes for governor, but already the field is crowded. Six Democrats have declared their candidacy, and at least that many are considering it. Do any of them have what it takes to unseat Maryland’s popular Republican governor? We chat with political scientists Todd Eberly of St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Mileah Kromer of Goucher about Larry Hogan’s prospects, the Trump Effect, and potential strategies the Democratic party might take.

Andrea Appleton

When you think of forests in Baltimore City, you probably think of public parks. But 20 percent of the city’s tree cover lies in forest patches outside of parks, on land that can be bought, sold, and developed.

And that has landed the residents of Glenham-Belhar in a desperate fight to preserve their neighborhood forest.

Say goodbye to those iconic yellow boxes. The Baltimore Sun Media Group has announced it plans to close a recent acquisition, the Baltimore City Paper. City Paper first hit the presses in 1977. Over four decades, the local paper with an attitude has provided a forum for investigative reporters, writers, cartoonists, and oddballs alike. And every week, without fail, it has appeared on street corners throughout the city, for free. Current editor Brandon Soderberg and long-time City Paper writer Michael Anft join us to reflect on Baltimore’s beloved alt-weekly.

Earlier this month, Baltimore City Schools laid off 115 people to help plug a looming budget gap. But at the same time the school system was trying to fill 200 vacancies.

And that has left teachers and their representatives in layoff limbo.

"It’s just a mystery to me why you can’t find a place for these people," fumed Marietta English, president of the Baltimore Teacher’s Union.

frankieleon/Flickr via Creative Commons

Every day doctors write more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In some of those cases, addiction follows. As a result, deaths from prescription opioids have more than quadrupled since 1999. Travis Rieder is a bioethicist at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute for Bioethics, and he personally experienced a dependence on opioids. He wrote about it in the January issue of the journal “Health Affairs,” and a portion of that article was excerpted in the Washington Post. Original air date: January 24, 2017.

Our criminal justice system is the largest and most expensive in the world. Critics have zeroed in on the disproportionate impact of mass incarceration on African-Americans. But many African-Americans supported the war on crime that began in the 1970s. Why? We speak to Yale law professor James Forman Jr., about his book “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America”.

LAWRENCE OP / FLICKR VIA CREATIVE COMMONS

Small-muscle athletes. In the medical field, that’s the term for musicians. Musicians are prone to a range of injuries. It’s a pitfall of the profession. But unlike their large-muscle counterparts, musicians don’t get much pro-active attention when it comes to pain. As Dr. Raymond Wittstadt, attending hand surgeon at the Curtis National Hand Center at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital puts it, “I mean even at the high school level, most sports teams will have a trainer on the sidelines. There’s nobody in the wings of the BSO saying we practiced too long today, or we repeated that passage too many times.” Wittstadt has held a monthly musicians’ clinic at the center for more than 15 years.

Roaches, rats, bed-bugs, and other people-loving pests have been with us for centuries. And despite our best efforts, they persist. That’s particularly true in cities, especially in neighborhoods with a history of disinvestment. Pests are living symbols of our long battle with inequality. We hear from UMBC professor Dawn Biehler, author of "Pests in the City: Flies, Bedbugs, Cockroaches, and Rats".

via Wikimedia Commons

President Trump’s goals for reshaping the U.S. are starting to come into focus. His plans may be altered by the Republican Congress. But it’s not too soon to start assessing what the Trump economic agenda might mean for Maryland. We hear from Darius Irani, vice president of Innovation and Applied Research at Towson University and chief economist for the Regional Economic Studies Institute (RESI), and Anirban Basu, president and CEO of The Sage Policy group.

“A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.” That’s a quotation from the famous photographer Diane Arbus, who died in 1971. Does the sentiment hold true in the age of the Internet? Do photographs still have the power to captivate? Today we talk to Baltimore artist and writer Mark Alice Durant, who has just published “27 Contexts: An Anecdotal History in Photography.” The book is part memoir and part meditation on the role of photography in our lives.

Janet Stephens is obsessed with the hairstyles of ancient Rome. Here's her story about how that happened. You can listen to more stories, and learn about Stoop shows and The Stoop podcast, all at stoopstorytelling.com

RX: Laughter

Mar 17, 2017
Poi Photography/Flickr via Creative Commons

Laughter is the best medicine. It turns out there’s science to back up that old adage. Research has shown that a good belly laugh on a regular basis is as effective at lowering blood pressure as medication. Dr. Michael Miller directs the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He’s also the author of “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.” And his prescription doesn’t require a trip to the pharmacy. “We’re looking at about 5 to 15 minutes of laughter that either brings tears to your eyes or after the laughter episode is finished, you feel relaxed,” he says.

Larry C. Price/Undark Magazine

For a long time we’ve heard about the problems our love of cheap clothing causes around the world: problems like lax environmental and safety regulations, and child labor. Today we’re going to zero in on an industry you may not have heard as much about: leather. A riveting four-part visual tour of textile and tannery industries around the globe recently appeared in the online magazine Undark. We plan to focus on the tannery portion. Freelance journalists Debbie and Larry Price produced the series, with the support of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Both are former Baltimore Sun staffers and both join us from a studio near their home in Dayton, Ohio.

Cancer treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation can be harrowing, and the cancer often returns. But a new treatment has come into use: it harnesses the body’s own immune system to destroy cancer. So far, immunotherapy doesn’t work in most patients. But when it does, the results can seem miraculous. Cancer survivor Stephanie Joho had run out of treatment options when she discovered immunotherapy. She recalls a moment soon after she started treatment: “I sat at the dinner table and I remember crying. Because I looked at my parents and I said, ‘I’m hungry.’ I didn’t remember what that felt like. I hadn’t felt hunger in probably over a year.” She and Dr. Drew Pardoll, director of the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins, join us.

Today we continue our coverage of the $130 million dollar budget gap facing Baltimore City Schools. How does state funding for the schools work? Are the formulas that guide that funding adequate? Bebe Verdery, director of the ACLU of Maryland’s Education Reform Project, says that while factors like rising costs and falling enrollment are partly to blame for the massive budget shortfall, the real culprit is the funding formula itself.

Unless something changes, this coming fiscal year Baltimore City’s public schools will operate with their funds cut to close a $130 million budget gap, the largest in years. Schools CEO Sonja Santelises says more than a thousand people will be laid off. What would a cut of this magnitude mean for students? Today we hear from the principal of an elementary and middle school in Northeast Baltimore that stands to lose more than 20 percent of its funding. Dr. Patricia Drummond, principal of Hamilton Elementary Middle School in Northeast Baltimore, says, “When I saw my budget, I cried. I know how far we have come since I’ve been at Hamilton. And I just didn’t see a way that we can do that next year.” 

Dan Pancamo/Flickr via Creative Commons

Spring seems to have arrived, after a winter that nearly wasn’t. The odd weather this season has a lot of us thinking about climate change. Today we focus on how climate change is altering seasonal events in the natural world: things like migration, hibernation, and pollination. The study of the timing of biological events like these is called phenology. And, as UMBC ecologist Colin Studds says, in nature, timing is everything. “If you think about the unrolling of leaves and blooming of flowers as the setting on the table," he says, "a lot of things depend on just that perfect timing: the insects that eat the leaves, the birds that eat the insects.” 

In this story from 2014, former Baltimore Sun reporter and sports columnist Joe Challmes shares a story of high anxiety at the racetrack. He died two years ago. This story has been edited for brevity. 

fdecomite/Flickr via Creative Commons

Math anxiety. It’s common enough to merit a robust Wikipedia entry and countless journal articles. Culturally, it’s so much more acceptable to admit you’re lousy at math than, say, reading. American students consistently rank behind their peers in other nations when it comes to mathematics. Where does math anxiety come from? And how can we learn to see the beauty in math? Manil Suri​--novelist, contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and UMBC math professor--joins us to share his thoughts. 

Barney Frank

President Trump is intent on eliminating what he calls “job-killing regulation.” One of the president’s primary targets is the law known as Dodd-Frank, or The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, passed by Congress in 2010 in response to the financial crash two years earlier. President Trump has promised to  “do a big number on Dodd-Frank.” Democrats in the General Assembly say they’re worried about the impact in Maryland of cutting back financial regulation. They’ve introduced bills to set up a watchdog commission to monitor the effect and recommend state action. They’re holding hearings on that legislation today, and they’ve invited one of the authors and namesakes of the law, former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, to testify. Barney Frank joins us. 

This week we hear a story from Mimi Dietrich about a chance meeting between a group of quilters and a rock band. You can listen to more stories, and learn about Stoop shows and The Stoop podcast, here.

Maryland GovPics/Flickr via Creative Commons

Maryland’s oyster sanctuaries could shrink by eleven percent if a draft plan from state natural resource officials goes into effect. The Bay’s oyster population is already a tiny fraction of what it once was. What would these changes mean? Tim Wheeler of the Bay Journal joins us to talk about what’s at stake for the Bay’s famous bivalves as well as for the watermen who depend on them.

Courtesy of the World Relief Facebook page

The president’s executive orders on immigration have expanded the rules for considering an undocumented immigrant a priority for deportation. What effect is that having in Maryland? Valerie Twanmoh, head of Catholic Charities' Esperanza Center, an immigrant resource center in Baltimore, joins us. Then we turn to Emily Gray, senior vice president for U.S. ministries for World Relief, a refugee resettlement agency. World Relief is laying off 140 staff and closing five offices, including one in Glen Burnie, as a result of the president’s executive order reducing the number of refugees allowed into the country.

After a long wait, medical marijuana could start being prescribed in Maryland this year. Patients awaiting the drug welcome the roll-out, but it will present a thorny problem for employers. Under federal law, marijuana remains illegal. So what does medical marijuana mean for workplace drug-testing? We hear from Dr. Ryan Vandrey, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who studies marijuana. He explains the science of drug-testing, and the pitfalls. Then Maryland employment lawyer Julie Janofsky joins us to discuss the legal ins and outs of workplace drug-testing now that medical marijuana has been legalized.

Baltimore’s public markets are an enduring feature. The city had some of the earliest public markets in the United States. After visiting Lexington Market, Ralph Waldo Emerson dubbed it “the gastronomic capital of the world.” But in modern times the city’s markets have struggled with vacancies; and in some, the fare tends toward the fast and fried. Renovations are planned for several of the markets, but the city was dealt a setback last week when the developer charged with renovating Cross Street Market on South Charles Street backed out of the deal after years of negotiations. What does the future hold for Baltimore’s storied public markets? Robert Thomas, executive director of the Baltimore Public Markets Corporation, the non-profit organization that administers the markets, joins us. And Baltimore Business Journal reporter Melody Simmons, who has covered recent developments at both Cross Street and Lexington Markets, also joins us. 

Slowly but surely, President Trump’s cabinet picks are coming to a vote, despite fierce opposition by Democrats in some cases. One of those cases is the nomination of Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Early this month Democrats on the Senate committee charged with vetting his nomination boycotted. Republicans suspended committee rules and moved the confirmation on to the full Senate. A vote is likely to come this week. What would Scott Pruitt’s nomination mean for Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay? We hear from Republican Congressman Andy Harris, who represents Maryland’s 1st congressional district, and Eric Schaeffer, executive director of the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project. He served as director of the EPA’s Office of Civil Enforcement from 1997 to 2002. 

Farrah Arnold/Courtesy the International Rescue Committee

The last week and a half has been a rollercoaster for refugees, and the organizations that work with them. First there was President Trump’s executive order on immigration. It immediately suspended entry into the U.S. of people from seven countries, all majority Muslim, for 90 days. The ban also suspended entry of all new refugees for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely. Then, last Friday, a federal District Court judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order blocking key elements of the order. Some refugees and other immigrants resumed traveling. The Trump Administration appealed. The federal court of appeals for the western U.S. is set to hear arguments this afternoon

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