Melissa Gerr | WYPR

Melissa Gerr

Producer

Melissa Gerr is a producer for On the Record.  She started in public media at Twin Cities Public Television in St. Paul, Minn., where she is from, and then worked as a field producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland. She made the jump to audio-lover in Baltimore as a digital media editor at Mid-Atlantic Media and Laureate Education, Inc. and as a field producer for "Out of the Blocks."  Her beat is typically the off-beat with an emphasis on science, culture and things that make you say, 'Wait, what?'

Goodreads

In the first few pages of Sunburnwe learn that its main character has walked out on her family--just left her husband and young daughter on a Delaware beach, and hitchhiked west. As the tale unfolds, we’re treated to the tropes of film noir--slick dialogue as the protagonists circle each other in a mix of distrust and desperate infatuation. We talk to Laura Lippman about the inspirations behind her latest mystery.

Faidley Seafood, located in Baltimore's Lexington Market since 1886, is nationally known for its crab cakes. Meet the cast of characters who hand produce hundreds of them daily for locals and tourists; learn what not to do while shucking oysters and finally, get the definitive answer to that burning question: what really is the difference between jumbo lump vs. back fin?

Creative Commons/Wikimedia

Hemp literally shares roots with the same plant that produces marijuana--they’re both cannabis. But as marijuana laws loosen in most states, the laws surrounding hemp production--including in Maryland--remain rigid. Environmental reporter Rona Kobell explains industrial uses for hemp, and how it could provide farmers with a potentially profitable choice in their crop rotation. And we meet Anna Chaney, a hopeful hemp farmer who talks about how growing it can benefit the soil.

Jason Shellenhamer

Two archeologists and scores of volunteers have been probing, digging, sifting and cataloging to unearth the mysteries hidden under a park in the city’s northeast corner. A big manor house no one knew about, and more. How does it all connect to the power families of old Baltimore? We hear about it from Jason Shellenhamer and Lisa Kraus, who direct the Herring Run Archeology Project. They entice their neighbors to get their hands dirty alongside them, digging up stories that reveal the past. Shellenhamer and Kraus give a talk on the project at the Engineers Club of Baltimore on Sun., Feb. 18 at 2pm. More info here.

Baltimore Police Department

For two-and-a-half weeks, testimony in the federal courtroom shocked some and confirmed the fears of others: witness after witness described an elite unit of the Baltimore police gone rogue, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, drugs, guns and luxury accessories while pretending the seizures were legitimate law enforcement. The trial ended last night with Detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor convicted of fraud, robbery and racketeering. WYPR reporter Mary Rose Madden covered the trial, and she’s here in studio.

Baltimore Chinese School

We’re four days away from the new year -- Lunar New Year. The Year of the Dog starts Friday, February 16. We talk with Colleen Oyler of the Walters Art Museum to hear what’s on offer at its celebration of the Lunar New Year this weekend--dances, music and art making and how it connects to the Walters’ famed collection of Asian art. And we ask Professor Wei Sun, principal and co-founder of the Baltimore Chinese School, what he’d like visitors to know about Lunar New Year.

thebaltimorebeat.com

In our monthly pulse-check with the alternative weekly Baltimore Beat, managing editor Brandon Soderberg shares his experience reporting from the robbery-extortion-and fraud trial of two former members of the Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task Force. Soderberg said it’s affected him more than any trial he’s covered.  And, the Beat has labeled this week its annual sex issue. Editor-in-chief Lisa Snowden-McCray takes us on a visit to the legendary Millstream Inn Gentlemen’s Club. Read the whole issue and more at baltimorebeat.com .

Will Kirk/Homewood Photography

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Until he escaped Maryland--and slavery--at age 20, where did he live? Who did he rub shoulders with? Where did he work? Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Distinguished professor Lawrence Jackson and his students have created an interactive map of the time Douglass spent in Maryland. Jackson tells why exploring the physical environment helps us better understand Douglass’s growth as a black leader, starting as a product of his community.

That was a Stoop Story from Melani Douglass, great, great grandaughter of Frederick Douglass and founder of the nomadic Family Arts Museum. She told of a holiday party that turned ugly ... and setting the record straight with a racist guest. Particularly meaningful as we commemorate the 200th anniversary of Douglass’ birth this month. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com--as well as the Stoop podcast.

Ever walk by the venerable Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood and wonder what exactly goes on inside? 

Melissa Gerr / WYPR

One of the most powerful forms of healing is peer support -- receiving advice and encouragement from someone who truly understands what you’ve been through because they’ve been through it, too. Our guests today live by that philosophy. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Society, or LEGS, says it provides "resources and emotional peer support for gentlemen who are diversely abled." LEGS co-founder Calvin Mitchell explains the distinction. We also hear from members Bong Delrosario and Derrick Waters.  

Driven by dares, rumors or just plain curiosity, this podcast is about poking around the city, opening doors and finding out who, or what, lies behind them.

Amazon

What do very old people know about being happy that most of us don’t? Can we put their approach into use in our own lives? New York Times journalist John Leland spent a year with six elders and put what he learned in his new book, Happiness Is a Choice You Make -- Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old.

Each day in the U.S. more than 86,000 older adults fall. That’s about one per second, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for the elderly.

We talk with Dr. Kelly Westlake and Dr. Mark Rogers, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who are working to help seniors react faster and stay safer if they take a tumble through innovative balance training.

To participate in the study visit this link or contact Kathleen Simpson at 410-605-7179 or by email at Kathleen.Simpson@va.gov

 

Courtesy United Way website

We’ve been reporting on the United Way of Central Maryland’s statewide analysis that revealed a staggering statistic: one out of three households in Maryland has income above the federal poverty level … but not enough to cover basic necessities like food and housing. The acronym is ALICE: Assets limited, Income constrained, Employed. Last spring we interviewed two mothers who are ALICES … and wanted to check in with them again. In our conversation, Heather Housand talks candidly about trying to get ahead, and Victoria Cox explained how she’s navigated a job loss and several other obstacles over the past year.

Ivy Bookshop

We talk taxes with Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and author David Cay Johnston, who will be at the Pratt Tuesday, Jan 23, to discuss his new book: “It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America.” Johnston explains how he forsees the new tax law affecting the economy.

Baltimore Speakers Series

Robin Wright has built her expertise in foreign affairs from the ground up. She reported from more than 140 countries on six continents for the Washington Post, the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine and other publications. Next month she’s off again to Moscow and the Middle East. Ahead of her appearance at the Baltimore Speakers Series, we asked what she expects could unfold next in North Korea and Iran. 

Baltimore Police Dept.

Even before Mayor Pugh presented her new police commissioner to the press, Darryl DeSousa said, he had put into action his plan to curtail violence with waves of police on the street. We asked Councilman Brandon Scott and Councilman Ryan Dorsey, chair and vice of of the city council’s public-safety committee, how will that work? And executive director Ray Kelly gives us the view from the No Boundaries Coalition.

Jeff Djevdet/Flickr Creative Commons

Jobless levels have been dropping but long-term unemployment--out of work 6 months or more--is stubborn. We meet Judi Amey and Mark Kreiner, two educated, experienced jobseekers who discuss the frustrations of today’s impersonal job search, how age plays into it and the discouragement of being underemployed. And we hear from career counselor and coach, Janet Glover-Kerkvliet  who explains that sometimes taking a survival job can be a humbling but necessary step in the long term job search. You can connect with her regular group meeting here.

Village Learning Place

Baltimore is known for its neighborhoods lined with block after block of neatly nestling row homes. It turns out the narrow, huddled houses are found in just a handful of American Cities … but the roots of the row home are steeped in politics across the Atlantic. Charles Duff, president of the public-interest design firm Jubilee Baltimore, has looked deeply into this iconic architecture. He walks us through how and why it got here. You can see and hear his lecture at Village Learning Place on Thursday, Jan.18 -- details are here.

WBJC classical music host Judith Krummeck tells a Stoop Story about her life in more than a dozen houses, across multiple continents. It taught her that home ... is where you make it. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com.

Baltimore City Health Dept.

343 people were killed in Baltimore last year, most of them, shot. In the wake of record homicides, two individuals are among those working on the street level to stop the killings. Erricka Bridgeford of Baltimore Ceasefire shares how she remains persistent and hopeful in the face of tragedy. And James ‘J.T.’ Timpson, Safe Streets community liaison officer, discusses the future of that effort, and what he thinks is behind the staggering number of homicides Baltimore saw in 2017.

msa.maryland.gov

We talk with Baltimore Sun Opinion editor Andy Green and Barry Rascovar, columnist for Political Maryland, to discuss  the wide range of problems and aspirations Maryland lawmakers are bringing to the legislative session that starts Wednesday. Both agree that the election year will shape every issue into a contest for political advantage between the Democratic majority and the Republican governor ... from working to subdue the dire homicides in Baltimore and the escalating overdose deaths statewide, to jumping  hurdles thrown down by the Trump administration, like the new federal tax law that could shake up Maryland’s revenues and undermine health insurance. 

Centers for Disease Control

We’ve heard it over and over: get your flu shot. If you’re older than six months, get your shot. The flu can be more than uncomfortable -- it can be fatal. What goes into the shot that inoculates against the virus? And why do we need a new one each year? Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, Professor and Director at the Center for Vaccine Development of the University of Maryland Medical School, tells us why the influenza virus is a master of mutation, modifying its proteins as it replicates from season to season. To find information on how to protect yourself against influenza, visit this site. For information on where to find flu shots in Baltimore County, go here and in Baltimore City, go here.

thebaltimorebeat.com

The Baltimore Beat  editors return for a regular pulse check. Deputy editor Maura Callahan tells us why arts coverage deserves the same care and attention as news coverage, and The Beat’s editor-in-chief, Lisa Snowden-McCray, talks about the cover story: New Year’s resolutions for Baltimore City--not from people in power, but from artists, professors, activists and The Beat’s own team. Priorities surface about police, public transit and arts funding.

OSI-Baltimore

Alex Long, an Open Society Institute Baltimore Community Fellow, talks about his “McElderry Youth Redemption Boxing Program” where kids learn to meditate, have fun, and blow off steam. He believes the discipline of boxing teaches much more than physical skill.

Creative problem solving is a valuable skill to have in work and in life. Open Society Institute fellow Jackie Bello is dedicated to that concept. She talks about her program, “Bet on Baltimore,” where she teaches young people to think like designers to solve problems.

Chris Wilson, social justice advocate and entrepreneur, shares a Stoop Story about how his traumatic childhood and a life sentence led him to turn his life around and ultimately, help others.

Melissa Gerr / WYPR radio/Baltimore

Beyond the cacophony of bass drums, cymbals and snares, we hear about why participation in The Christian Warriors, a marching band in West Baltimore, means so much more than making music together. We meet the band’s assistant director, James Parker, who played in the drumline as a young teen. Founder and director Reverend Ernest King tells us about the legacy of dedication and community support that has held it all together. Watch a video of their rehearsal here. Original air date: Sept 15, 2017.

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