Rob Sivak | WYPR

Rob Sivak

Senior Producer, Midday

Rob Sivak is senior producer of Midday, with host Tom Hall.  Rob joined WYPR in 2015 as senior producer of Hall's previous show, Maryland Morning (which aired its final show on September 16th, 2016).  Before coming to the station, Rob enjoyed a 36-year career at the congressionally funded global broadcaster, Voice of America.  At VOA, he honed his skills as a news and feature reporter, producer, editor and program host.

After reporting stints at VOA's New York City, United Nations and Los Angeles bureaus, Rob spent two decades covering international food, farming and nutrition issues for VOA's 180-million worldwide listeners, and created and hosted several popular VOA science magazines.  At Midday, he continues to pursue his passion for radio and his abiding interests in science, health, technology and politics.

Rob grew up as an ex-pat "oil brat" on the Persian Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia, and studied and traveled widely in the Middle East, Europe and Africa.  He attended Hofstra University in New York and Boston University's School of Public Communications.  Rob and his wife, Caroline Barnes, live in Silver Spring, Maryland, where they've raised three daughters.

photo courtesy Comstock-Fasano

A little touch of Broadway comes to Baltimore tonight when the acclaimed New York cabaret team, Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano, return to Germano’s Piattini in Little Italy.  They’ll present a show called Downton Abbey Road: The Best of Britain  

Known for their imaginative interpretations of the American Songbook as well as more contemporary fare, Comstock and Fasano are award-winning artists who are regulars on the New York circuit, as well as in venues around the country.  Today, they join Tom in Studio A. We'll hear some recent recordings, and talk about their new show and their storied career as married musical partners.

Photo by A. Mains

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom for her weekly review of one of the region's thespian offerings.  

Today, she spotlights Fallout, the play by Laura King that's being staged by Baltimore's Vagabond Players as part of the Baltimore Playwrights Festival.  It's directed by Audra Mains Mullen, and stars Gareth Kelly as David and Ryan Gunning as Anna, two strangers with issues, who seek refuge from an unknown menace in a fallout shelter, a relic of the nuclear holocaust paranoia that raged during the Cold War.  In the tight confines of the shelter, Anna and David wrestle with their inner demons, even as they deal with their terror of what lurks outside.

The Vagabond Players' production of Fallout -- one of just two plays to be fully-staged in this year's Baltimore Playwrights Festival -- runs through Sunday, July 30.  Special Thursday show July 27, 8 pm; Friday and Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm.

The Vagabond Players is located at 806 South Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231.
Tickets can be purchased here.

Macmillan Publishers

Today, a conversation about criminal profiling and how it came to be standard procedure in police investigations.  Today, we take it for granted that when crimes occur, particularly serial crimes - think Ted Kaczyinski or David Berkowitz or Jeffrey Dahmer - that police will consult with experts who are able to provide a likely profile of these perpetrators so police can figure out who and where they are.

Photo courtesy WBUR

It's the Midday News Wrap, with guest host Nathan Sterner sitting in for Tom Hall.  Among the stories Nathan spotlights in this week's review: the drama of competing healthcare bills, the wrangling and chaos within the Republican Party, and the still-unfolding puzzle of possible Russian ties to President Trump's inner circle.

 Early in the week, Senate Republicans lacked the votes for their latest proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act.  By Tuesday, President Trump announced, “We’ll let Obamacare fail.”  The confusion deepened later in the week with proposals to Repeal without Replace and Repeal with Delayed Replace.

Also this week, there was the drip, drip of revelations about exactly who else was in the room in June of 2016 when Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chief at the time, attended a meeting where they were promised Russian government help for their campaign and some dirt about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.  Then on Thursday came the announcement that Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort have all agreed to appear before Senate committees next week to discuss Russia and the 2016 election.

Andy Green, Editorial Page editor of the Baltimore Sun, and Richard Cross, a longtime Republican communications staffer in both Annapolis and Capitol Hill, are here with background and analysis on the week's developments.

But first, Julie Rovner is on the line from DC to help us make sense of the week’s healthcare news.  Rovner is chief Washington correspondent for Kaiser Health News, where she is the Robin Toner Distinguished Fellow.  If her voice is familiar to you, that’s because Rovner was a health policy reporter for NPR for 16 years before joining KHN.  She is the author of the book “Health Care Politics and Policy A-Z,” now in its third edition.  

Public Domain

Roughly a fifth of the US population – and a third of the under-30 crowd – say they have become disaffected with traditional religious institutions and they’re telling pollsters that they don’t identify with any particular church or religious faith.

They‘re called "nones" -- as in "none of the above," but most say they still believe in God. So why are growing numbers of Americans turning away from the traditional church, synagogue, and mosque? And what are they looking for? Senior Producer Rob Sivak sits in for Tom Hall as host of today's edition of Living Questions, our monthly series examining the role of religion in the public sphere, produced in collaboration with The Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies.

Joining Rob in Studio A are the Reverend Joseph Wood, assistant rector at Baltimore's Emmanuel Episcopal Church;  Joshua Sherman, program associate at Repair the World at Jewish Volunteer Connection;  and Terrell Williams, associate organizer for Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD).  Alan Cooperman, Director of Religion Research at the Pew Research Center and the author of its 2012 report, Nones on the Rise, joins us on the line from Pew headquarters in Washington D.C.

Spotlighters Theatre / Shealyn Jae Photography

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Senior Producer Rob Sivak in the studio today with her review of the musical Spring Awakening, produced by the Spotlighters Theatre.   It tells the story of a group of 19th century German teenagers trying to discover more about one another and themselves, under the intense scrutiny and repressive control of the adults in their lives.

Seth Freeman

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in Studio A with her review of the six plays being presented this year at the annual Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF), now underway on the campus of Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.  The plays' settings range widely - from Amish Country to Nazi Germany - but their stories share common and emotionally  powerful  themes.

The Hill

This is a special edition of Midday as NPR prepares to air live coverage of the news conference in Paris with President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron. 

Trump is sure to face questions about Russia and its meddling in the 2016 Presidential election. He has been largely out of the public eye since the release of his eldest son’s now famous emails. The scope of Russia investigations in the House, the Senate, and with the special counsel continues to expand.

courtesy Keith Allison via Creative Commons

Cal Ripken and Lou Gehrig are forever linked in history as the two great “iron men” of baseball.  For decades, Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games-played seemed an insurmountable mark until Cal Ripken met it, and surpassed it by more than 500 games. 

By the time Ripken retired in 2001 the age of 40, he and Gehrig were the only two of 17,000 players in the major leagues who had played more than 2,000 games in a row. 

The history of their amazing achievement is chronicled in a new book The Streak: Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken, and Baseball's Most Historic Record by Baltimore sportswriter John Eisenberg, who fills his account with stories not only of Ripken and Gehrig, but of the other ironmen who endured injuries and the vagaries of managers to make their marks as tenacious, every-day players. 

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Today, all eyes are on Hamburg Germany, the site of the G-20 summit, where about three hours ago, Donald Trump met Vladimir Putin for the first time as President. The meeting takes place as North Korea continues its sword rattling, the Syrian conflict continues to displace and kill thousands, big policy differences between the US and other G-20 members in areas like climate change are once again laid bare, and new economic agreements that exclude the US are taking shape.

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