Nathan Sterner | WYPR

Nathan Sterner

Local Host, Morning Edition

"If radio were a two-way visual medium," Nathan would see WYPR listeners every weekday between 5am and 3pm. Weekday mornings, Nathan serves up the latest Maryland news and weather (interspersed with the occasional snarky comment).  Nathan also does continuity breaks through the midday, edits Sheilah Kast's "On The Record," infrequently fills in for Tom Hall on "Midday," and does all sorts of fundraising stuff. When not at WYPR, Nathan teaches a class on audio documentary at Towson University, and spends spare time running around Baltimore's streets and hiking around Maryland's natural areas. Before coming to WYPR, 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. Originally from rural Pennsylvania, Nathan has called Charm City home since 2005.

Resolutions were a big part of the Baltimore City Council's agenda when it met Monday night. WYPR City Hall Reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi was at the meeting, and gave Nathan Sterner the details.

A Battle Royale is playing out over a proposed Royal Farms store and gas station in Towson. Opponents claim it’s an example of developers running roughshod in Baltimore County. 

Dominique Maria Bonessi

With just a few weeks before budget hearings at Baltimore City Hall, police officials appeared a public safety meeting Tuesday chaired by Councilman Brandon Scott, to talk about fighting violence in the city. WYPR's Dominique Maria Bonessi was there, and spoke with Nathan Sterner about what happened.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Baltimore has recorded 101 homicides this year; at the same time last year, the city had only seen 77. Last night, the City Council debated several measures dealing with public safety and the city's Police Department. WYPR City Hall Reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi gave Nathan Sterner this update.

On Thursday night, four Democratic members of Maryland's congressional delegation heard from their constituents. Senator Chris Van Hollen as well as Congressmen John Sarbanes, Dutch Ruppersberger, and Elijah Cummings took questions at a town hall meeting at the Baltimore War Memorial. 

Baltimore County's school board bemoaned the loss of Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night. Dance abruptly resigned earlier that day. WYPR's Jonna McKone covered the meeting, and told Nathan Sterner some of what happened.

photo courtesy Boston Globe

In this seventh week of the Trump Administration, Republicans in the House, the Senate and the White House continued to wrangle loudly over a health care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. 

President Trump’s second try at an executive order temporarily banning travel from six Muslim majority countries and halting all refugee admissions was blocked, again, by federal court rulings in Hawaii and Maryland -- rulings the White House says it will appeal. 

Mr. Trump also unveiled his first proposed federal budget, calling for huge increases in defense spending and deep cuts across a wide swath of social programs and federal agencies, including the EPA and the State, Labor and Agriculture Departments.

And in Maryland’s General Assembly, amid partisan battles over paid sick leave and bail reform measures, the House of Delegates passed a revised version of Governor Hogan’s 43.5 billion-dollar state budget proposal, and sent it on to the Senate.

Joining guest host Nathan Sterner to sort out the week’s developments are three keen observers: Amy Goldstein, a national reporter for the Washington Post with a focus on health care policy, on the line from the Post’s newsroom in Washington, DC;  Michael Dresser, State House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, on the line from Annapolis; and, in the studio, Richard Cross, a former press secretary and speech writer for Maryland Governor Robert Erlich and now a conservative columnist and blogger at rjc-crosspurposes.blogspot.com.  

John Lee / WYPR

Last week Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said she would update plans to shrink the city school’s $130 million budget shortfall. Monday, she and city officials unveiled that plan.

Clarke optimistic about minimum wage bill

Feb 7, 2017
P. Kenneth Burns

Baltimore Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said Monday that the city is in a good position to raise the minimum wage to $15 in five years.

“We’re in about the best position we can be in,” Clarke said.  “Sure, we’re coming from a setback, but we’ve surged; we’ve grown [economically] as twice the rate of the state itself.”

Creative Commons

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.

Today, the latest on the fast-spreading Zika virus.  Once just a Latin American health problem, the mosquito-borne disease has become a global health emergency, with dozens of cases reported across the US, several in DC and Virginia, and on February 11th, the first reported case in Maryland. Baltimore City Health Commisioner Dr. Leana Wen sits down with Nathan Sterner to tell us what’s known about the Zika virus, and what steps the city is taking to raise public awareness of this emerging public health threat.

Then, a rollicking studio session with Juanito Pascual and his New Flamenco Trio, giving a taste of what they’ll be sharing tonight at the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick.

And just in time for the romantic weekend, our regular foodie and restaurant owner Sascha Wolhandler stops by with some delectable dessert ideas for Valentine’s Day.

Gabriele Febbo

Today, the latest on the fast-spreading Zika virus.  Once just a Latin American health problem, the mosquito-borne disease has become a global health emergency, with dozens of cases reported across the US, including several in DC and Virginia and on Thursday, the first reported case in Maryland. Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen sits down with Nathan Sterner to tell us what’s known about the Zika virus, and what steps the city is taking to counter this emerging public health threat.

Nathan Sterner / WYPR

Schools in Central Maryland remain closed today.

Schools on the Upper Shore plan to open, but later than usual:

TWO HOUR DELAY: Caroline County schools and Kent County schools

90 MINUTE DELAY: Queen Anne's County schools and Talbot County schools

Nathan Sterner / WYPR

Last night's snowfall has left this morning's roads icy; officials urge you to be careful on untreated roads, bridges, and overpasses -- and to drive more slowly and carefully than usual.

Some schools are changing their schedules:

In 2010 Baltimore unveiled Vacants to Value, an effort to rehab abandoned properties and eliminate blight across the city. But, while officials have boasted that more than 1,500 houses have been renovated and occupied through the program, a recent investigation found that the real number is closer to just 900 homes.

European Commission DG ECHO / Flickr via Creative Commons

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, along with governors in more than half of US states, is asking for the resettlement of Syrian refugees to cease until the federal government addresses concerns about potential terrorist threats. We discuss the screening process for refugees with Ruben Chandrasekar, the executive director of Baltimore's arm of the International Rescue Committee.

José Eduardo Deboni // Flickr Creative Commons

In April of next year, Maryland Morning will celebrate its 10th anniversary here on WYPR. Sheilah Kast, Nathan Sterner and Tom Hall launched the show on April 21, 2006. The theme music of the show for the first few months was composed by Thomas Newman, an acclaimed film composer. It's a piece called Lunch with the King from the 1999 movie, American Beauty. It’s not unusual for shows to use pre-existing music as their themes, but we always knew that at some point, we would want our very own musical identity, composed just for us. In August of 2006, Jack Heyrman, who owns a music production company in Baltimore called Clean Cuts, made a very generous offer to do just that. The composers at Clean Cuts, who create music for commericals, video games, TV shows, movies, and other purposes, were kind enough to offer us several theme songs as possibilities.

Now, as we approach our 10th birthday, we’ve decided to change our theme music, and we’d like to ask your help in choosing a worthy successor to Chris’ great music. Once again, Jack Heyrman was kind enough to help us out. He put us in touch with Rich Isaac, the Creative Director of Original Music at Clean Cuts, who in turn, reached out to the Clean Cuts composing staff. That group includes Chris Kennedy, along with Austin Coughlin and Louis Weeks. They've written five samples of music that can be developed into our new theme song.  On today's show, Rich Isaac joins Tom and our own Nathan Sterner to shed some light on the process that composers at companies like Clean Cuts go through to create musical identities for shows like ours. And we'll play the tunes Clean Cuts composed for us, then ask which one you think should be the new Maryland Morning theme.

Controlling Maryland's Deer Population

Nov 9, 2015
Nathan Sterner

Love is in the air, especially if you’re a deer. It’s deer breeding season: a time of year that deer-related accidents on the state’s roads skyrocket.

Nathan takes a look at the state’s deer population and the variety of methods being used to control it. He talks with George Timko, Assistant Deer Project Leader with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.  More information about non-lethal deer-control programs in the region is available from Wildlife Rescue, Inc.

On November 5th, 1605, a group of radicals placed explosives beneath the House of Lords in London in order to kill the British king, James I.  Their scheme, which came to be known as the Gunpowder Plot, failed because the bombs never went off. The man tasked with guarding the explosives, Guy Fawkes, was arrested, and Londoners celebrated the survival of their king by lighting bonfires throughout the city.

Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated to this day with ceremonial bonfires and the ritual burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes.  WYPR's Nathan Sterner tells us about his family's unusual observance of this centuries-old holiday.  

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz says the Baltimore region has the fifth worst traffic congestion in the nation.  On Thursday, Kamenetz told state officials that a comprehensive transit system needs to be developed.  WYPR's John Lee gives Nathan Sterner a closer look at what Kamenetz had to say.

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