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?'

Melissa Gerr

Ever walk by the venerable Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood and wonder what exactly goes on inside? Peabody has been fine-tuning musicians from across the globe for more than 150 years.  Renowned cellist and instructor Amit Peled, along with his student Joseph Staten give us a window into what it’s like to teach and learn at one of the world’s finest music conservatories.

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.

Because music transcends language barriers and evokes emotion, it’s the tool one of this year’s ‘Open Society Institute Baltimore’ fellows intends has singled out: Amy Tenney plans to harness music’s therapeutic potential with her project, ‘Healing and Community Integration through Music for Refugees and Immigrants.’

Think again if you’ve been assuming curiosity is constant, like gravity. We talk to astrophysicist Mario Livio about his book, "Why: What Makes us Curious". Not only are some people more curious than others, and curious about different questions, but homo sapiens’ capacity for curiosity grew as its brain evolved. For all its variations, Livio deems curiosity an unstoppable drive. Original air date: July 11, 2017.

Creative Commons/Wikimedia

Nonprofits typically benefit from a flood of holiday donations … in dollars, gifts or time. We meet two women who take a more do-it-yourself approach to giving … by creating their own events to benefit those in need in Baltimore. Shannon Dixon will host her first  “Cookies and Hot Cocoa for the Homeless” event that will take place Sunday, on Christmas Eve from 6pm to 9pm. And Mary England is preparing for her second annual “Scarf Abandonment Project.” She talks about why promoting kindness is a worthy cause all year round.

Here's a Stoop Story from Taya Dunn Johnson about how being a rebellious fourth grader directly affected her Christmas that year -- a lesson that has stayed with her always. You can hear her story and others at stoopstorytelling.com.

University of Maryland Medical System

Asthma makes it difficult for thousands of Baltimoreans to breathe. Decrepit houses, trash and rodents can trigger asthma flare-ups. Would cleaning up poor housing cost less than frequent trips to the ER? A reporting partnership between Kaiser Health News and the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service looked deeply at where asthma flares up in Baltimore and what hospitals are doing about it.

We hear from Kaiser Health News’ senior correspondent Jay Hancock, and from one of the Capital News Service journalists who took part in that project--now a reporter for The Baltimore Sun--Talia Richardson.

Plus, the Breathmobile is run by the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. We speak to Dr. Mary Beth Bollinger, professor pediatrics, is the Breathmobile’s co-founder, and medical director.

More information at these links:

Kaiser Health News story - Hospitals Find Asthma Hot Spots More Profitable to Neglect Than Fix

Capital News Service package of asthma stories - Home Sick

A new report from the Environmental Integrity Project and the Abell Foundation documents stark difference in asthma hospitalization rates in rich versus poor neighborhoods in Baltimore, and reveals a dramatic drop in the far southern part of the city after a pair of nearby coal-fired power plants installed air pollution control devices in 2009. Asthma hospitalization rates in the zip codes for the Cherry Hill, Brooklyn, and Curtis Bay neighborhoods fell 57 percent between 2009 and 2013 – more than twice the drop citywide. 

Amit Peled

Dedication and hard work really can make childhood dreams come true. We meet international musician Amit Peled. He plays the cello once owned by Pablo Casals, the renowned musician who inspired him as a boy. The book, “A Cello Named Pablo,” tells the story, urging children to pursue their dreams. Then we visit Peled at his studio to learn what it’s like to teach and study at the world famous Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute. Information about the book release and free concert on Dec. 17, 2017 at An Die Musik can be found here.

Open Society Institute Baltimore

Living in a food desert -- where fresh, healthy food is not easily accessible -- is reality for one in four Baltimore City residents. We meet Eric Jackson, of the Black Yield Institute, who is working to combat what he calls ‘food apartheid.’  Jackson is a 2017 Open Society Institute Baltimore fellow; he’ll receive $60,000 over the next 18 months to create the ‘Building Black Land and Food Sovereignty Practice.’ Working in the Cherry Hill and Poppleton neighborhoods, Jackson intends to organize community-driven cooperative food ventures to create access to nutritious, affordable foods. We also meet Faith Cunningham, a resident of Cherry Hill, to learn what her grocery options really look like and why she's willing to travel to find healthier foods.

Deborah Roffman

The intense reckoning America is experiencing around sexual harassment didn’t come out of nowhere.  We talk with Deborah Roffman, author and human sexuality educator at the Park School of Baltimore, about eye-opening events in the past five years that changed attitudes about taking what you want versus getting permission. Roffman teaches boys and girls as young as 9--fourth graders--and says forming personal boundaries starts with building self-respect.

Vera Institute of Justice

As the Trump Administration bears down on immigration enforcement, what is the recourse of immigrants facing deportation, who are often without funds to enlist a lawyer’s help, or even the basic understanding of what that would mean? We hear from Annie Chen a program director from the Vera Institute of Justice about the SAFE Cities Network initiative. It’s a nationwide effort to bolster access to legal representation for immigrants and also provide education regarding legal rights. Also joining us is Tracy Brown, deputy director of Open Society Institute Baltimore that works with the local immigrant community. We also meet  Val Twanmoh, director of the Catholic Charities Esperanza Center, which will receive some of the SAFE Cities funding, and Heather Benno, managing attorney of immigration legal services at Esperanza Center.

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