Nathan Sterner | WYPR

Nathan Sterner

Local Host, Morning Edition Director/Co-Host, Maryland Morning

You can hear Nathan from 5:18 am to 3 pm on weekdays, giving you news headlines, weather, and interviews. Nathan can be heard on the locally produced Maryland Morning and he also co-hosts WYPR's Friday morning Spotlight on Station North.Before coming to WYPR in September of 2005, Nathan spent 8 years at WAMU in Washington -- working every job from part-time receptionist to on-air host, gaining experience in promotions, fundraising, audience analysis, and program production.  Nathan has also served as a fundraising consultant, and helped dozens of public radio stations nationwide with their on-air fundraisers.Nathan originally hails from rural Pennsylvania, but has lived in Baltimore since 2005.

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The debate over the future of hydraulic fracturing in Maryland is heating up, with growing numbers of towns and counties across the state voting to ban the controversial natural gas-drilling method, also known as “fracking.” In January, state lawmakers will have to decide if they want to impose a permanent ban on fracking, or allow it to proceed when the moratorium ends next October. But with a changing political and economic landscape, dueling studies of fracking’s impact on the environment and new state drilling regulations, it is not clear how this long-running debate will be resolved. 

Drew Cobbs, the Executive Director of the Maryland Petroleum Council, and Mitch Jones, an anti-fracking activist and a senior policy advocate at Food and Water Watch, join guest host Nathan Sterner to explore the risks and benefits and the uncertain road ahead for fracking in Maryland. 

Photo courtesy Yudhijit Bhattacharjee

Before Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning earned notoriety for their theft of US government secrets, there was Brian Patrick Regan.  This hour,  guest host Nathan Sterner delves into the bizarre story of this little-known American spy.  In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Regan used his position in a US intelligence agency to steal huge amounts of secret government data, and tried to sell it off to foreign governments.

He was brought down, in part, because of his dyslexia.

A new book on the case is called “The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI's Hunt for America's Stolen Secrets.” Nathan talks with author Yudhijit Bhattacharjee in the first part of the hour.

Courtesy of Space Telescope Science Institute

If you’ve ever looked up at the night sky and felt dwarfed by the magnitude of the universe, prepare to feel even more insignificant. When astronomers analyzed deep space images gathered by NASA’s Hubble Telescope in the mid-1990s, they estimated that the observable universe contained about 200 billion galaxies. It turns out they were off by a bit. Well, more than a bit. New models reveal that the previous estimate is at least 10 times too low. There are closer to 2 trillion galaxies in the universe. So, what does this mean? How do scientists know this information? And, why, with 10 times more galaxies, are there still patches of darkness in the night sky? Joel Green, a project scientist in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute, joins us to answer these celestial questions.

We begin with a conversation about the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. There are some who believe that if this type of gas drilling were allowed in Western Maryland, it could generate up to 3,000 jobs and at least $5 million in annual tax revenues. But many have concerns about the impact on the environment and public health. We’ll hear from Dr. David Vanko, the former head of the Maryland Fracking Commission, and co-host Nathan Sterner talks to Dr. Brian Schwartz, a researcher from Johns Hopkins, and Senator Bobby Zirkin, who proposed banning fracking.

Then, Alan Walden, the Republican candidate for Mayor of Baltimore, joins Tom to talk about his vision for the future of Charm City. And theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck has a review of the new show at Ford’s Theater in Washington, Come From Away. The musical tells the true story of the 7000 airline passengers whose planes were diverted to the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, immediately after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and how the tiny community’s embrace of these stranded strangers became an inspirational counterpoint to the horrors that brought them together. 

Today, a look at the controversial issue of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. It’s a method of getting at natural gas that involves injecting millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals into the ground at high pressures to fracture the underlying rock and release the gas.

Fracking has expanded rapidly across the US in the past decade, mostly in western states. There are also thousands of fracking operations in the East, especially in the area known as the Marcellus Shale… a gas-rich rock formation that runs beneath parts of New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland’s two western-most counties.

A Maryland commission-- chaired by Dr. David Vanko, dean of the Fisher School of Science and Marthematics at Towson Universty -- was created in 2011 to study the environmental and health impacts of fracking, as well as its potential economic benefits. Four years and 34 public hearings later, that commission recommended that fracking be allowed to proceed under strict regulations.  But the General Assembly intervened and imposed a two-year moratorium on fracking that expires in October 2017.  

While Maryland’s Department of the Environment may see fracking as a reasonably safe enterprise, public doubts have been fueled by a steady stream of troubling scientific research.  Dr. Brian Schwartz, a professor in the Johns Hopkins-Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Health, has co-authored a series of four papers over the past year that suggest fracking operations could be the culprit in a wide range of health problems.  Dr. Schwartz joins Maryland Morning co-host Nathan Sterner in the studio to discuss those findings.  Joining the conversation by phone is State Senator Bobby Zirkin, who first proposed a permanent ban on fracking back in 2014, and plans to do so again in Annapolis next year.

P. Kenneth Burns

Baltimore City is one step closer to raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour.  But it’s not clear if there will be enough votes next week to make it final.  City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke’s proposal squeaked by in a preliminary vote Monday.

But that vote, 7-4 with three abstentions, was one short of the number needed for final passage.

Aqua.org

 

Big change is coming to the National Aquarium's 25-year old dolphin exhibit.  Last month, Aquarium CEO and marine conservationist John Racanelli announced that the institution will move its small population of dolphins to a marine sanctuary somewhere in the Florida/Caribbean area by the year 2020. The decision comes five years after the Aquarium ended its traditional dolphin shows, and follows protests at the Inner Harbor facility by activists calling for more humane treatment of dolphins. The proposed sanctuary has been applauded by many animal welfare groups.  Dr. Heather Rally, a wildlife veterinarian with the research and conservation arm of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), calls the transfer of the dolphins to a non-breeding marine sanctuary "a monumental move."

The dandy charger, the velocipede, the draisine -- all names for the first versions of the bicycle, which sprung to life in the early 19th century. Bicycles played a role in shaping attitudes about fashion, exercise, and child-rearing. Faced with cobblestones and potholes, early adopters in America petitioned the government to improve road conditions. Before setting their sights on flight, the Wright brothers repaired and manufactured bicycles. They even used bikes to test out early propeller designs. Riding a bike is not just a childhood milestone, it’s a hobby, a sport, and way to circumvent congested commutes. We speak to Margaret Guroff, author of “The Mechanical Horse: How the Bicycle Reshaped American Life."

Rob Sivak/WYPR

Baltimore is a city known for many things, but one of its greatest assets may be its artistic community. A driving engine of that community is MICA, the Maryland Institute College of Art. Founded in 1826, it’s the oldest art and design college in the country. But old as it is, the world-renowned school is all about innovation.  The latest evidence of that is the new program called MICApreneurship. Launched last September, it aims to promote and seed student business enterprises that incorporate artistic and design elements.  And it’s doing so through its new annual UP/Start Venture Competition, a “Shark-Tank”-like contest, the first of which was held on April 28th. MICA student- and alumni-applicants pitched their business plans to a panel of judges, vying for a piece of a $100,000 pool of foundation-supported development grants.

Joining co-host Nathan Sterner in the Maryland Morning studio this morning are members of three of the four winning teams of MICA's  first UP/Start Venture Competition...

Have you had a cup of coffee today? A piece of fruit? You can thank a bee. In fact, most of the plants that provide our food require pollinators. That’s also true of most of the flowers we enjoy. Yet many bees, butterflies, and other pollinator species are in decline. Pesticide use and habitat loss are among the reasons. So what can the average Marylander do? Garden with pollinators in mind! Master gardener Patricia Foster, executive director of the Cylburn Arboretum Association, and Vincent Vizachero, manager for Herring Run Nursery, a non-profit nursery that specializes in native plants, are here to give advice and take your questions.

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