Bridget Armstrong | WYPR

Bridget Armstrong

Producer, Midday

Bridget Armstrong is a producer for Midday hosted by Tom Hall. She joined the WYPR team as a producer of Maryland Morning in March 2016. Before coming to WYPR, she worked for SiriusXM and prior to that, at NPR.  While at NPR, Bridget worked on the 2014 Elections Desk and Tell Me More hosted by Michel Martin, where she produced discussions addressing race, gender and pop-culture.  A true lover of conversation, Bridget also hosted and produced a roundtable podcast. Bridget is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University, an Historically Black College.

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It’s the What Ya' Got Cookin'? Thanksgiving edition, a beloved tradition here on Midday, going all the way back to 2016. Midday’s resident foodies John Shields and Sascha Wolhandler join Tom with suggestions, tips and words of comfort for folks cooking the big meal. Plus, listeners calls and emails about their Thanksgiving traditions. 

John Shields is a chef, author and the host of Coastal Cooking and Chesapeake Bay Cooking on Maryland Public Television and PBS. He and his husband John Gilligan are the proprietors of Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Check out John's feature on Chesapeake Thanksgiving in Bay Weekly Magazine

The manhunt is still underway for an unidentified suspect who fatally shot Baltimore City homicide detective Sean Suiter last week. Police and state officials are now offering a $215,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the assailant. 

Judge Catherine Blake issued a decision in the decade-long lawsuit between Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the state. The lawsuit concerns diversity and Judge Blake ruled that neither party’s solutions were adequate to boost diversity within the HBCUs. Without a clear victor, many are wondering if it’s back to the drawing board for the case.

For those of us who may overindulge between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, it’s not always easy to stick to a workout routine or diet, especially if we’re traveling or going to parties at the office or in the neighborhood.  Just in time for Thanksgiving, we’ll talk about best practices for fending off those extra holiday pounds. 

Julia Ngo is a BodyPump Group Fitness instructor. She teaches at the Downtown Athletic Club; and at the Merritt Athletic Club in Canton. Sam Bassi is an exercise specialist and personal trainer at the DAC and elsewhere.  Tamarra Fleming Wimbish, aka Diva T, owns and operates a fitness studio called Diva T Fitness or DTF Studio & Rental Venue in Parkville. She’s a licensed  personal trainer and Zumba instructor. She also teaches Cranked Up Cardio, an aerobic dance program that uses Baltimore Club Music. 

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A student is suspended from the University of Tulsa for statements his husband made on Facebook; posters advertising “Straight Pride Week” ordered removed from bulletin boards at Youngstown State University. A law professor is asked to resign when she wears blackface to a Halloween party, to promote a conversation about race. Today on Midday, a conversation about free speech on college campuses. Are trigger warnings and safe spaces in higher education stifling intellectual thought and violating the first amendment or creating intellectually diverse and inclusive campuses? 

Centers for Disease Control

To date, more than 60 women have accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. The accusations range from indecent exposure to rape. A new piece in the New Yorker written by Ronan Farrow alleges that Weinstein hired private investigators to collect information on his accusers and the journalists who tried to expose him in an effort to suppress stories about his predatory behavior.  

In the days after the New York Times published the initial story on Weinstein detailing a few of the allegations, more people came forward with sexual assault allegations against other powerful men in Hollywood including producer James Toback and actor Kevin Spacey. At least 60 women have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault; a majority of those accusations came to light in 2014 and 2015. The trial in one of those cases ended in a mistrial earlier this year. 

Last week, CSX Transportation shocked the Hogan administration and local officials by withdrawing its support for an expansion of the Howard Street Tunnel. What does that decision mean for the city and for the Port of Baltimore? And, what does it mean for the current tunnel, which was built in the 1890s? It was the site of a large chemical fire after a 60 train-car pile-up, which did severe damage to underground infrastructure, 16 years ago.    

 Colin Campbell is a reporter for the Baltimore Sun who wrote about CSX's decision to tank the tunnel plans.  David Warnock is the co-founder of Camden Partners, a venture capital firm, and a former candidate for Mayor. They join Tom to talk about the Howard Street tunnel. 

Kamau High, managing editor of The Afro-American newspaper, joins Tom to talk about the local stories his newsroom is covering. There have been some changes in the leadership of the local chapter of the NAACP, and a racially-charged controversy erupted last week, when some students at local private schools dressed up as Freddie Gray for Halloween. 

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The Republicans have proposed a sweeping overhaul to the tax code. Some of the changes involve deductions that have been baked into the cake of the code for generations, and the impact on the deficit is huge.  The President called for the death penalty for the man accused of killing 8 and wounding 12 in New York.  An excerpt from former interim DNC chair Donna Brazile's book is complicating matters for the Democratic Party as they continue to strategize an opposition to the Trump Administration.

Eugene Scott reports on politics and identity for the Washington Post politics blog, The Fix. He joins Tom to discuss the news of the week. 

Baltimore City Office of the Mayor

  

Today a conversation with Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh. She assumed office 11 months ago, and has undertaken a number of new initiatives in the areas of violence reduction and economic development. Earlier this month, Baltimore submitted a bid along with several cities across the continent to become the home of Amazon's second headquarters. A couple of weeks ago, the mayor and Governor Larry Hogan announced the next phase of the “North Avenue Rising” project, a $27 million dollar effort to improve transit and pedestrian options along North Avenue. Now that the mayor has chosen the members of the Civilian Oversight Taskforce, we'll talk about the status of the Baltimore Police Department's consent decree with the Justice Department; and the mayor's plan to curb violence in the city as the city mourns its 296th homicide this year.  

We'll also talk about the mayor's plan to help the estimated 2,600 people experiencing homelessness in Baltimore. Some advocates for the homeless say that the city isn’t addressing homelessness in a meaningful way. Last week, the mayor said it might cost as much as $350 million to end homelessness in the city. 

photo courtesy BCPS

Today, a Midday Newsmaker interview with Dr. Sonja Santelises, the president and CEO of the Baltimore City Public Schools.  School has been back in session for two months; for many more months than that, the Kirwan Commission has debated ways to re-vamp the funding formula for schools statewide.  Their findings were to have been released by the end of the year.  Now, it appears that we won’t hear their ideas until well into next year.  We’ll find out what that means for our city’s kids.  Dr. Santelises joins Tom for the hour in Studio A, and takes your questions and comments.

The Diamondback

 

Last week, Sean Urbanski, a white former University of Maryland student, was charged with a hate crime in connection to the fatal stabbing of Lt. Richard Collins III, a black Bowie State University student. In May 2017, Lt. Collins was stabbed at a bus stop while visiting friends on the University of Maryland College Park campus. The entire incident was caught on camera. Prosecutors plan to seek life without parole if Urbanski is convicted; the trial is set to begin in January. At the time of the alleged murder, it was reported that Urbanski was the member of an online hate group that posted bigoted messages and memes called “Alt-Reich: Nation.” Authorities say further investigation into Urbanski’s cell phone and social media accounts uncovered evidence that suggested that the stabbing was indeed racially motivated.

Maryland Historical Society

Tom speaks painter David Brewster and Alexandra Deutsch, the Director of Collections and Interpretation at the Maryland Historical Society, about the Society's current exhibition. Structure and Perspective: David Brewster Explores Maryland’s Social Landscape portrays Maryland's "social landscape" by juxtaposing pieces from the Society’s collection with paintings by David Brewster, who hails from Baltimore County but currently lives in Vermont. The show takes up several issues that resonate in contemporary culture like race, gender, sexuality, and the politics of immigration. 

 

On Saturday, thousands of runners will hit the streets to participate in the Baltimore Running Festival. More than 24,000 runners from all 50 states and 30 nations are expected to descend on the Charm City to run our historic streets. That’s a lot of folks taking a lot of steps, and that leaves a lot of room for twisted ankles, swollen knees and sore backs.  

Dr. Miho Tanaka is an orthopedic surgeon and the Director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Before moving to Baltimore, she was the team physician for WNBA teams the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Surge. She also served as assistant team physician for the Baltimore Orioles and professional women’s basketball team, the NY Liberty.

She joins Tom to talk about ways to avoid injuries on race day and beyond.

Jacob Lawrence is one of the most important and renowned artists of the 20th Century. His paintings and prints offer rich portrayals of black life including his famed Migration Series which captured the mass migration of African Americans from the South to the North and Western US after the first World War, and his Toussaint L'Ouverture series about the famed leader of the Haitian Slave Revolt. 

Now, over 50 of Jacob Lawrence’s paintings and prints are on display at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture to celebrate what would have been Lawrence’s 100th birthday.  Charles Bethea, the chief curator and Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Lewis Museum, joins Tom to talk about the Maryland Collects: Jacob Lawrence exhibition.

Fern Chen/Baltimore Brew

Today, a conversation about the legacy of Christopher Columbus. Is it appropriate to celebrate the Italian explorer with statues, street names, and a federal holiday?

While many enjoyed the Columbus Day Parade in Little Italy yesterday that celebrates the explorer’s courage and determination; others point to Columbus' role in establishing trans-Atlantic slave trade; and to the atrocities he and others committed against the native people who were already living in the lands he so-called discovered. 

Most jurisdictions in the United States celebrate Columbus' landing in what is now the Bahamas on the second Monday in October. In Los Angeles, that won’t be the case much longer. LA County voted to begin celebrating Indigenous People’s Day in 2019. South Dakota began celebrating “Native American Day” in 1989. Native American organizers in Baltimore are working on a proposal that will change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. In August, a Columbus monument in Baltimore that's considered to be the oldest in the country was vandalized. There are calls for other Columbus statues, including the one in  Druid Hill Park, to be removed.

REUTERS/Chris Wattie

 

We begin with an update on the Las Vegas mass shooting that left 59 dead and more than 500 people injured. Almost immediately after the tragic shooting --which is being characterized as the largest mass shooting in recent U.S history-- Democrats and Republicans began the predictable debate about gun regulation in our country. Unfortunately it’s story we know all too well. Last year, following what is now the second largest mass shooting in recent history at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Democrats proposed extended background checks in private gun sales, and banning sales to suspected terrorists. Republicans proposed increased funding for a national background check database; and a judicial review process for people on a terror watch list when they attempted to purchase firearms. None of those bills passed. In 2012, after 20 children and six educators were fatally shot at Sandy Hook elementary in Newtown Connecticut, President Obama made an emotional appeal to Congress for tougher gun laws. Obama signed several executive orders relating to gun control, but neither of the two major pieces of gun legislation proposed at the time passed in the Senate. 

Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun

The Excel Academy, a high school on the west side of Baltimore, in Poppleton, has just under 100 students, many of whom have been working to overcome behavioral problems; some are dealing with homelessness or pregnancy. And there is another, heartbreaking problem that these students have had to cope with. Six of their classmates have been killed in street violence over the last year. Six kids, from one school.

To date, 263 people have been killed in Baltimore in 2017. Of those 263 people, 26 were children and young people who did not live long enough to celebrate their 21st birthdays. Most were teenagers. Two were babies. 

Today on Midday, a conversation about what the constant trauma of street violence does to the mental and emotional health of young people. Tom is joined by a panel of guests. 

Writer and poet Kondwani Fidel wrote about his experience growing up in Baltimore in a cover story for the City Paper titled How a young boy has been decaying in Baltimore since age 10: A Death Note.

penguin random house

Author and musician James McBride joins Tom to talk about his latest collection of stories Five Carat Soul. McBride won the National Book Award for his novel, The Good Lord Bird. He’s written an internationally acclaimed memoir, The Color of Water, and a novel about the Underground Railroad called Song Yet SungHis 2002 novel, Miracle at St. Anna was made into a hit movie by Spike Lee.

The stories in Five Carat Soul are tragic and hilarious. In one four-part story, we meet the members of the Five Carat Soul Bottom Bone Band -- Goat, Beanie, Bunny, Dex, Ray Ray and Butter. We meet many more unforgettable characters, including a toy broker on a quest to procure a most unique train with a complicated history; a Union Soldier who unexpectedly becomes an adoptive parent; the devil, and a lion named Harold.  

Courtesy Chris Van Hollen

US Senator Chris Van Hollen was elected to represent Maryland in the Senate last November after serving seven terms in Congress. He currently serves on the Budget, Banking, Agriculture and Appropriations Committees. The senator joins Tom in the studio to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing our nation, including the Graham-Cassidy healthcare proposal and a Medicare-for-all bill from Sen. Bernie Sanders; the big data breach at Equifax; mounting tensions on the Korean Peninsula; and the impact of the growing NFL protests. Sen. Van Hollen also fields questions from Midday listeners.

Maryland Humanities

Nigerian author and essayist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie joins Tom for the hour. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus is this year's One Maryland One Book selection. Sponsored by Maryland Humanities, students and literature lovers across the state are reading and discussing the book.

Chimamanda is the author of two other novels: Half of a Yellow Sun, and Americanah, which is being made into a film. She published a short story collection in 2009 called The Thing Around Your Neck, and her 2012 TED Talk  was published as a book, called We Should All be Feminists.  Her latest book is Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in 15 Suggestions.

Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group Archives

Should Colin Kaepernick be playing in the NFL this season? Does the fact that he’s not playing have to do with how well he plays, or his sideline protests against police misconduct? Is the movement to boycott the NFL in support of Kaepernick, catching on and impacting NFL ratings?   

If you haven’t been boycotting the games, what do you think of the Ravens first two outings this year? The defense is hot, and the offense is hot enough to win. How will their trip across the pond to play in London on Sunday affect their performance in the coming weeks? While the Ravens head to England, the Orioles are headed south, in the standings. What happened to the team that showed so much promise, so many times, this year?

AFP Photo/SCOTT OLSON

 

Protests in St. Louis continued last night following the acquittal of a white, former police officer, Jason Stockley, in the 2011 shooting death of black man, Anthony Lamar Smith. A recording device inside the former officer's vehicle captured Stockley saying he was “going to kill” Smith during a high speed pursuit. Prosecutors also accused Stockley of planting a gun inside of Smith's car after he was fatally wounded. Peaceful protestors marched through the city immediately after the verdict was announced, but by Friday evening, pockets of the protest erupted in violence.

HBO

 

In another edition of Living Questions, our monthly series on the role of religion in the public sphere, which we produce in collaboration with the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies, we take a look at depictions of religious faiths in movies and on television.

A lot has changed since Charlton Heston  starred as Moses in the 1956 film The Ten Commandments. Show’s like Greenleaf on OWN take us behind the scenes at a Black Mega Church; HBO’s The Young Pope imagines an insurgent named Lenny Belardo rising to the Pontificate. How do these, and a host of other TV shows and movies feed our perceptions and even skepticism around organized religion? How does a movie like Silence, which tells the story of 17th century Jesuit Priests in Japan, help us understand religion in a historical context? How are we to appreciate the complexities of various faith traditions if directors and writers take artistic liberties in their story-telling?  

JHU Press

  

Today, a conversation about Baltimore. People call it different things: Charm City or Mobtown, the City That Reads or the City That Bleeds, but whatever you call it, Baltimore holds an important place in the hearts of most of the folks who live here.  

Our town, like many American cities, is a place of contradictions. We are home to some of the best medical centers in the country, yet there is a 10 or 12 year difference in life expectancy from one neighborhood to another.  We have a vibrant creative community that helps us maintain a solid reputation as quirky and eclectic, and an inferiority complex that has us question our worth relative to places like Boston or Philadelphia.  Baltimore is smaller, more affordable and more intimate than New York, but our murder rate per 100,000 people is 10 times that of our northern counterpart.  Multi-million dollar homes in the Inner Harbor and Guilford are within walking distance of streets that have more boarded-up homes than occupied ones.  

Joe Flood/Flickr

Today, a conversation about the Trump administration's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or DACA.  Since Atty Gen. Jeff Sessions announced the end of DACA, serious questions have been raised regarding the impact of this decision on the young people who participated in the plan.

  

Tom is joined by Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the senior senator from Maryland. This morning, he led an interfaith meeting to respond to the violence in Charlottesville.  We’ll talk about President Trump’s pandering and bigoted response to that dark day, his decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and the prospects for tax reform.  

Senator Cardin is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We’ll also talk about the growing tensions with North Korea and the president’s recent comments about the prospects of a military conflict. 

Photo courtesy Andrea Carlson

Singer, songwriter, and guitarist  Andrea Carlson performs tracks from her latest album 'Love Can Be So Nice'  live in the Midday studio. Carlson is appearing at Germano’s Piattini this evening, and her performance is one of many that is included in the 3rd annual Madonnari Festival, a celebration of music, Italian food and art. Jennifer Chaparro, artist and winner of the International Chalk Festival, will also join us in studio to chat about the annual event where artist from Baltimore and all over the world will be canvasing the streets of Little Italy with chalk and chalk tempura art.  

Farrar, Straus, and Giroux,

With the Baltimore City Council, the Mayor, the Police Chief and the City States Attorney advocating for mandatory minimum sentences for gun possession, a conversation about incarceration, race, and criminal justice. African Americans are 6x more likely to imprisoned for drug charges, even though blacks and whites use drugs at similar rates. Overall, African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites? How did we get here? What laws and policy shaped our bias criminal justice system, and what role did African American political, law enforcement and religious leaders play in shaping that system? James Forman Jr. is a professor of law at the Yale Law School and the author of Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America.

Sheri Parks is an Associate Dean for Research, Interdisciplinary Scholarship and Programming at the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of MD College Park, where she is also an Associate Professor in the Department of American Studies. She’s the author of Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman. 

MikeRowe.com

(This program was originally broadcast on September 21, 2016)

Mike Rowe joins Midday host Tom Hall to talk about rolling up his sleeves and getting down to work in some of the hardest professions on Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs and later on Somebody’s Gotta Do It, which aired on CNN from 2014 until May 2016.

These days, in addition to hosting a podcast called The Way I Heard It, Mike has turned his focus to closing the skills gap by providing scholarships through the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, for people who want to learn a skill or trade that is in high demand. Mike says the desire to start the foundation came from meeting thousands of skilled workers who make good livings and are passionate about their careers. Many of the folks he shadowed did not have advanced degrees, a point that isn’t missed on Mike. He says as a society we put too much emphasis on obtaining a four-year degree as the only path to success and not enough on obtaining a skill set in a specific vocation that could lead to a successful career.

Mike also shares how he got his big break into showbiz when Tom Hall hired him for an opera in 1983.

Doug Mills/NY Times

(This program originally aired on May 17, 2017.) 

Our country is becoming increasingly diverse. People of color will outnumber non-Latino, white Americans in 30 years. Are our newsrooms representative of our increasingly diverse nation? It’s a question that news organizations are grappling with across the country. Last month, NPR’s Ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen published a report that said that in 2016, of the 350 employees in the NPR news division 75.4 percent were white. In the commentary Jensen wrote "There's simply no way around it: If the goal is to increase diversity in the newsroom, last year's was a disappointing showing” 

Last December, New York Times Public Editor Liz Spayd published a frank piece about the lack of diversity in their newsroom. Of course NPR and the New York Times are not alone. In 2014, minorities made up 22 percent of television journalists, 13 percent of radio journalists, and 13 percent of journalists at daily newspapers. That’s according to the Radio Television Digital News Association and the American Society of News Editors. People of color make up about 15% of the programming staff at WYPR.

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