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 HBO.com

It's Midday at the Movies, our monthly conversation about new flicks and new trends in the film industry. Tom's guests today are Maryland Film Festival founder and director Jed Dietz, and Baltimore Magazine's managing editor and film critic Max Weiss, who also writes about culture at Vulture.com, the entertainment website of New York Magazine.

The last four months of the year are typically when movie  studios give us their best shot, with an eye on the year-end deadline for the awards season.

So what happened this year?  This summer's movie season included more flops than an Olympic track meet.  Can the film industry bounce back from one of its worst summers in 25 years? 

Tom and his guests discuss how a new crop of films, in theaters as well as on streaming Internet services, could help turn things around.  They'll  be talking about the new HBO series from director David Simon and George Pelacanos called "The Deuce",  which premiers Sunday September 10th,  and about the new movies coming to local theaters, including Ingrid Goes West, Logan Lucky, Okja, and Beach Rats, among others.

photo courtesy Hippodrome Theatre

It's Thursday, and that means our theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio with her weekly report on the region's thespian landscape.  

This week, Judy looks ahead to the 2017-2018 season and spotlights some of the local and touring productions slated to grace the region's stages in the coming months, including two notable musicals coming to the Hippodrome:  Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's sequel to his Phantom of the Opera, called Love Never Dies, and The School of Rock.  

Courtesy Harper Collins Publisher

(This program was originally aired on June 5, 2017)

With more than 6,000 hours of shows logged during an influential career that spanned more than 30 years, David Letterman’s impact on the landscape of late-night is unquestioned.    On today's Midday, a closer look at the life and work of the trend-setting funny man, through the eyes of a writer-journalist who's spent the past three years sizing up the Letterman legacy.

Photo by George David Sanchez

(This program originally aired on April 25, 2017)  

Today, it’s Midday on Mid Life.  Mid Life can be a dizzying hash of juggling jobs, keeping a marriage vibrant, tending to children as they enter adulthood, and caring for parents as they enter their twilight years.  No wonder the term “midlife” so often has the word “crisis” attached to it like a tentacle.     

But our 40s, 50s and 60s can also be a time when we come into our own, forge new relationships, and discover fresh things about the world and ourselves. 

In her most recent book, Life Reimagined: The Science, Art and Opportunity of Midlifeformer NPR correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty takes a clear-eyed look at the challenges and joys of being old enough to know better, and young enough to enjoy the new things that life might have to offer. 

(Barbara Bradley Hagerty talked about her book April 26th at the Towson Unitarian Universalist Church on Dulaney Valley Road in Lutherville, Maryland.  Her talk was sponsored by Well for the Journey, a spiritual wellness center offering classes and workshops in Towson.)

Midday News Wrap 8.18.17

Aug 18, 2017
Photo courtesy Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun

It's the Midday News Wrap, our review of the week's top news stories, with a rotating panel of journalists and commentators.

Protesting the planned removal of a Confederate monument was the pretext for a Unite the Right rally by armed neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klansmen in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend.  Dozens were injured in the ensuing melee with counter protesters, and a young woman named Heather Heyer was killed when a white nationalist drove his car into the crowd.  

President Trump angered critics and supporters alike with his shifting analyses of the violence in Charlottesville, his refusal to unequivocally denounce the white supremacist groups by name, and his insistence that counter-protesters share equal blame for the weekend violence. 

In the days that followed, Confederate-themed monuments became rallying points for anti-racism protests and criticism in many US cities, resulting in the removal of monuments here in Baltimore and North Carolina, with other states, including Florida and Kentucky, pledging to remove their monuments as well.  

To help parse these and other news stories, Tom is joined by Dr. Ray Winbush, Research Professor and Director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University and Ayesha Rascoe, White House correspondent for the Reuters news agency.  

Photo courtesy National Radio Astronomy Observatory

Jim O'Leary, the lead space science and astronomy specialist at the Maryland Science Center, speaks with Tom about the partial solar eclipse that will be visible here in Maryland on Monday afternoon.  Although Maryland is not in the path of totality, if weather conditions are right, we will  experience a hearty partial solar eclipse -- a celestial phenomenon only slightly less remarkable than totality. 

Symphony Number One, Live in Studio

Aug 18, 2017
Photo courtesy Jordanrsmith.com

Conductor Jordan Randall Smith joins Tom in the Midday studio, along with two members of his 20-piece chamber orchestra,  Symphony Number One: clarinetist Scott Johnson and bassoonist Mateen Milan.  

Smith founded the classical ensemble two years ago and already they've released two albums and given world premiere performances of more thana dozen works.

The two SNO musicians perform live in the Midday studio and Smith, Johnson and Milan discuss the finer points of working in a small classical orchestra.

Playlist:

Beethoven, Duo No. 1 for Clarinet and Bassoon 

Scott Joplin, The Entertainer 

For more information on all upcoming concerts please visit symphonynumber.one/eve.  

Courtesy of Rollin Hu

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh moved quickly and quietly early Wednesday morning to have the city's four Confederate monuments removed from their pedestals, in response to the weekend violence in Charlottesville and concerns that conflicts over the statues could threaten public safety.  

Tom speaks with filmmaker and arts curator Elissa Blount Moorhead about the mayor's decision. Moorhead is a filmmaker and partner at TNEG Films. She is also an Incubator Fellow at the Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund in Film & Media at Johns Hopkins.  She recently directed a short film for Jay Z called 4:44.

In September of 2015, then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake appointed Moorhead and several other people to a commission to make recommendations about what to do with the four monuments. In August 2016, the commission recommended the city remove two of Baltimore's confederate statues— the Roger B. Taney Monument on Mount Vernon Place and the Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson Monument in the Wyman Park Dell. The commission recommended the placement of contextual signage at the two other monuments: the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Mount Royal Avenue and the Confederate Women's Monument on West University Parkway.

Courtesy of Raqui Minwell

Welcome to another edition of What Ya Got Cookin? -- Midday's bi-monthly tribute to the wonders of good food, good cooks, and good eating.  Today the topic is soul food and southern cooking.  

As always, Tom is joined by Midday’s resident foodies, John Shields and Sascha Wolhandler

John is a chef, author and the owner of Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art. He’s also the host of Coastal Cooking and Chesapeake Bay Cooking on Maryland Public Television and PBS. Sascha and her husband Steve Susser recently retired from their long career running Sascha’s 527 Cafe in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood of Charm City

Our special guest today is Chef David Thomas, a career food professional with more than 25 years in the restaurant and food service trade. Previously the chef and owner of The Herb & Soul Café, Thomas has now partnered with the media company, Real News Network, on a new restaurant in downtown Baltimore called Ida B’s Table.

Courtesy of Joshua McKerrow

Today, Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom with her review of  Alice and the Book of Wonderland, a new rendition of the classic being produced on stage by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company, in Annapolis, Maryland. Sally Boyett and Donald Hicken adapted Lewis Carroll's whimsical children's novel and gave it a modern twist. Boyett directs the action, which involves a series of absurd Carrollian vignettes that draws the curious young Alice deeper into Wonderland's surreal mysteries.

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