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 State's Attorney's Office

(The text of a statement sent Friday, Dec. 22 to Tom Hall by the defense counsel for Keith Davis, Jr., the Columbia man whose recent conviction on second-degree murder charges is discussed in Wednesday's Midday show, is posted  at the bottom of this Web article)

Tom's NewsMaker guest today is the State’s Attorney for the City of Baltimore, Marilyn Mosby.  In the 2014 primary, she defeated her former boss, Greg Bernstein, by ten points, a decisive victory, before running unopposed in the general election.  She was swept into office by tapping into widespread dissatisfaction with increasing crime.  Mosby promised to reduce it. 

Two years into her term, her Office has a conviction rate of 79% in homicide cases.  The clearance rate of cases for the Baltimore Police department has also improved. 

But Baltimore struggles with an epidemic of violent crime that has reached record levels, and the police department has been rocked by internal corruption.     

How do we fix this?  State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby joins Tom, and takes your questions, for the hour.

To watch the conversation we streamed live on Facebook, click here

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Shaé McCoy of Coyophotos

Welcome to another edition of Living Questions, a monthly series we've been producing in collaboration with the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies  (ICJS), exploring the role of religion in the public sphere.  Today we'll meet three young African-American women with a decidedly spiritual agenda: bringing their conversations about faith, friendship and racial identity in a podcast called “For Collard Girls.” (Think collard greens and pastoral collars.)

Connecting with religious women of color, using touchstones of hip-hop culture, poetry, and biblical interpretation, their frank conversations about faith guide listeners along their spiritual paths. 

Joining Tom in the studio to talk about their project are podcasters Laura Kigweba James, the recently-appointed pastor at the Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church here in Baltimore;  Tamika Young Savage, a seminarian studying to obtain her Master of Divinity degree at United Lutheran Seminary in Pennsylvania, who is also a Vicar of Christ Lutheran Church in DC; and Maya Camille, aka Camilla the Killa, a Baltimore-based poet and spoken word artist whose writing addresses aspects of the spiritual in our lives; Maya also works with Baltimore's S.A.N.D. Gallery, an exhibition and event space whose name stands for "Sell Art, Not Drugs."

Photo by Richard Anderson

It's Thursday, so it's time for our weekly visit from theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins us today with a review of Lookingglass Alice, the new spin on the Lewis Carroll classic that's now on the boards at Baltimore's Center Stage.

In this modern re-telling (which is suitable for audiences age 6 and up), Alice is a young African-American woman (played by Markita Prescott), who falls through the Looking Glass and finds herself on a journey of self-discovery and fulfillment.  Along the way, she encounters the familiar and the fantastical, and comes face to face with the intimidating Red Queen (played by Patrice Covington), along with a surreal parade of oddities that challenge Alice to stand strong and speak her mind.

Lookingglass Alice, directed by Jeremy Cohen and with costumes by David Burdick, continues at Baltimore's Center Stage through Sunday, December 31st.   Ticket info: click here.

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From Hollywood to New York, a constant barrage of sexual harassment allegations against icons and wannabes alike in the news and entertainment industry continues unabated.  Two fixtures on New York public radio are among the latest to be accused of misconduct. 

On Wednesday, Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz, were placed on leave by New York Public Radio while the company investigates the claims made against them.  Mr. Lopate said that he wasn’t apprised of what the claims were or who made them.  He told the New York Times, quote, “I am sure any honest investigation will completely clear me.”

The actor Danny Masterson was written out of the Netflix series, The Ranchfollowing allegations of rape, and Dustin Hoffman was confronted by John Oliver at a screening Monday night at the 92nd Street Y in New York about published reports of his sexual misconduct.

How is all of this impacting the business and culture of Hollywood?  And will it change the power dynamic of fans, critics and movie idols? 

Joining us to talk about all of this -- and about some of the great new Oscar-contending films being released in the final weeks of 2017 -- are Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday, and Maryland Film Festival founder and director, Jed Dietz. As always, listeners are welcome to join the conversation as well.

Photo by Glenn Ricci

It's time for our weekly conversation with theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins Tom today with a review of Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, a post-apocalyptic fantasy in three acts by playwright Anne Washburn, being produced by Cohesion Theatre Company at "The Fallout Shelter" at Baltimore's United Evangelical Church.

The play asks a series of questions:  What happens to pop culture after the fall of human civilization? What about 7 years after the fall? Or even 75 years?

Mr. Burns runs those scenarios out over three time-shifting acts. When nuclear power plants across the country begin to “go up,” a group of survivors gather in the woods and begin to recount an episode of The Simpsons.  As Cohesion Theatre Company's program describes it, "casual storytelling evolves into theater, theater evolves into ritual, and one Simpsons episode evolves into a myth and legend for a post-apocalyptic world."

Cohesion Theatre Company's Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, directed by Lance Bankerd, continues at "The Fallout Shelter" at United Evangelical Church, located at 923 S. East Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224, until December 17th.  For ticket and location info, click here.

Photo courtesy CBS News

Our guest today is Heather Mizeur, the former Democratic primary gubernatorial candidate who has a new project called Soul Force Politics.   The project lives online at MizMaryland.org, and includes a  weekly podcast and a policy blog, and will eventually run women-empowerment workshops.

In her podcast conversations with guests like Melissa Etheridge, Gov. Larry Hogan, or film maker and actor Sonja Sohn, she makes the case that spirituality should not be divorced from our political discourse. And her new project explores the merging of what she calls inner wisdom and external actions, and how that union can animate political movements. 

Photo by Joan Marcus

It's Thursday, and that means it's time for our visit with theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins us each week with her review of one of the region's many thespian offerings. This week, she tells us about the new touring production of The Lion King, the Tony-Award-winning musical on stage at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre until December 10th.

A stage adaptation of Disney's Academy Award-winning 1994 animation, The Lion King tells the story of Simba, a young lion prince born into a royal pride of African lions. Simba idolizes his regal father, Mufasa, but resists the responsibilities of his status in the pride.  When his wicked uncle Scar seals his grip on power by taking his father’s life, Simba flees to neighboring lands, leaving the life he knew behind. Eventually, his responsibility to family comes calling on the adult prince, and Simba is persuaded to challenge his powerful uncle, bring goodness back to his ancestral home, and fulfill his destiny to be king.

Directed by Tony winner Julie Taymor, The Lion King is the highest grossing Broadway production of all time. The score by Elton John and Tim Rice features the songs “The Circle of Life,” “I Just Can't Wait to Be King,” “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel The Love Tonight.” The show has been seen by over 90 million people worldwide, with 24 productions happening around the globe.

The touring production of The Lion King stars Gerald Caesar as Simba, Mark Campbell as Scar, Gerald Ramsey as Mufasa, Buyi Zama as Rafiki, Nia Holloway as Nala, Greg Jackson as Zazu, Ben Lipitz as Pumbaa and Nick Cordileone as Timon.

The Lion King continues at the Hippodrome Theatre until Sunday, December 10th.  For ticket information and showtimes, click here.

Photos courtesy John Bullock, Zeke Cohen

Our guests this afternoon are two of the newest members of the Baltimore City Council. They join us on Midday to reflect on their service and the urgent affairs of the city, as they complete their first year in office. 

A few months ago, Tom spoke with freshman council members Shannon Snead, Leon Pinkett and Ryan Dorsey

Today, we welcome Dr. John T. Bullock, who represents the 9th Councilmanic District.  That includes West and Southwest Baltimore.  Before being elected to the council he was an assistant professor of political science at Towson University, and the executive director of the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance.  He and his wife are the parents of two sons, Thomas and George.  They live in Union Square…

Councilman Zeke Cohen joins us as well.  He represents the 1st District, which includes Canton, Fells Point, Greektown, and O’Donnell Heights.  He taught in local public schools as a member of Teach for America, and later went on to found The Intersection, which works on college readiness and leadership skills for high school students.  He lives in Canton, where he and his wife are expecting their first child, a daughter, in early December.

Like the entire 14-member council, Dr. Bullock and Mr. Cohen are Democrats.  They were elected in November 2016 along with six other candidates who were joining the council for the first time when they were sworn into office on December 8th of last year.  What are the issues that most animate them?  What are the issues that most animate you?  The councilmen spend some time addressing your calls and emails. 

Photo by Mike Roemer, Associated Press

On this edition of  Midday on Sports: the NFL limps from one PR disaster to another as they continue to  battle declining ratings; the Baltimore Ravens, having lost five of their last seven games, try to keep play-off dreams alive; and 'Bama feels the 'Burn after Saturday's loss in college football playoffs. 

To sort out these and other developments in the world of sports, Tom is joined by LaTasha Miles of Women Talk Football Too and the SHE-SPN Network, and Mark Hyman, c0-author of the book, Concussions and Our Kids: America's Leading Expert on How to Protect Young Athletes and Keep Sports Safe and an assistant teaching professor with George Washington University's sports management program

photo courtesy gbmc.org

It's another edition of the Midday Healthwatch, our monthly conversation with Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana WenShe’ll bring us up to date on the city’s continuing battle with the twin epidemics of violence and drug abuse.  We’ll also talk about health insurance.  Record numbers of Marylanders are signing up under the Affordable Care Act.  How the city’s B’more for Healthy Babies initiative is giving babies a healthy start.  And, despite record high temperatures today, it’s Code Blue season.  How are some of our most vulnerable citizens going to stay safe this winter? 

Photo courtesy Mean Girls Broadway

Our indefatigable theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, joins us with her review of  Mean Girls, writer-comedian Tina Fey's lively new musical theater adaptation of her hit 2004 movie, now getting its world premiere on the boards at The National Theatre in Washington, D.C., before heading to Broadway.

photo by Richard Anderson

It's Thursday, and that means our peripatetic theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, joins Tom in Studio A for our weekly look at the region's thespian offerings.  Today, Judy reviews Shakespeare in Love, the new stage version of the multi-Oscar winning 1998 film that's now on the boards at Baltimore Center Stage.  Adapted by Lee Hall from ​from Marc Norman's and Tom Stoppard’s original screenplay, Shakespeare in Love is a funny, bawdy back-story take on the famous Bard's creative muse, and on the complex relationship between art and love.

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Now, a look at how Marylanders are trying to make sure they have health insurance.  Open Enrollment through the Maryland Health Connection began on the first of November.  In previous years, the enrollment period has lasted 3 months.  This year, the enrollment period is only half that long.  It ends next month, on December 15th. 

With about a month to go, we thought it would be a good idea to check-in on how enrollment is going so far.  Tom's guest in Studio A is Dr. Howard Haft.  He’s the Interim Executive Director of the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange, which runs Maryland Health Connection.Gov, the website where people shop and sign-up for health and dental plans.

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Now, a conversation about the challenges posed by caregiving. 

Forty-two million Americans -- one in four adults -- is currently shouldering the enormous responsibility of caring for an aging relative.  Here in Maryland, more than 770,000 people have assumed the role of caregiver for their parents, grandparents, or family friends, either at home or elsewhere.

What toll is this taking on the caregivers?  Can they find the resources and services to cope with the emotional, physical, and financial stress of caregiving?  We asked two experts in the field to join us with some answers.

Amy Goyer is a specialist on Aging, Family and Caregiving at AARP in Washington.   She’s the author of “Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving,” in which she tells the story of her caring for her parents and her sister.  She joins Tom this afternoon on the line from NPR studios in New York.

Dorinda Adams is the Program Manager in the Office of Adult Services in the Maryland Department of Human Services.  She also helps direct the Maryland Caregivers Commission.  She joins Tom in Studio A.

AP Photo

In this edition of the Midday News Wrap, we focus on the status of the Republican plan to overhaul the tax code. The GOP-controlled House and Senate have hammered together separate plans that propose a $1.5 trillion tax cut, but with a different set of rates, different deductions and on a different timetable.  Democrats, and not just a few Republicans, reject both plans as tax windfalls for the rich that assault America's middle class and threaten the poor. 

To help us sort out some of the key parts and operating principles of the GOP tax plans, we turn to Marshall Steinbaum , Research Director and a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, an economic think tank based in New York.  Mr. Steinbaum joins Tom from NPR studios in Washington DC.  

Associated Press Photo

President Donald Trump is in the final stretch of his marathon, 12-day swing through Asia that has taken him to Japan, South Korea and China. He arrived in Vietnam Friday, and over the weekend  he travels to the Philippines for a regional security summit, before heading back to Washington Tuesday. 

The often-bombastic US president toned down his rhetoric against North Korea during his diplomatic tour, stating in Seoul, South Korea, that America was not seeking "conflict or confrontation."  Mr. Trump also presented a far softer side during his two days in China, the world's number-two economic power, where he arrived to much pomp and circumstance.  As President Xi asserts his power within China and around the world, is President Trump's new welcoming approach to Beijing a diplomatic masterstroke or something less ?   

Weston Konishi joins us in Studio A.  He’s a Senior Fellow at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation in Washington, D.C.   

Also joining the conversation is Matthew Pennington.   He reports from Washington on US-Asian affairs for the Associated Press, and formerly served as the AP’s correspondent in Southeast Asia, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  He joins us from the AP's Washington studios.

Photo courtesy Peabody Institute

Tom's guest today is celebrating a homecoming, of sorts.  Since receiving his artist diploma in conducting from The Peabody Institute eight years ago, conductor Joseph Young has appeared with orchestras throughout the US and around the world.   Now, he’s back in Baltimore, and back at Peabody, but he’s not a student this time.  He’s the newly appointed Director of Ensembles at the world renowned conservatory. 

He’s conducting one of those ensembles, the Peabody Chamber Orchestra, in a concert tomorrow night at Peabody's Griswold Hall at 8:00pm, in a program that will include music by Bach, Ravel and Haydn.  Click here for details about this free concert.  But right now, Joseph Young is Tom's guest in Studio A...

Photo courtesy Ira Forman

Today it's another edition of Living Questions, our monthly series on religion in the public sphere, produced in collaboration with the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies.

We focus today on the persistent problem of anti-Semitism.  Acts of bigotry and intolerance toward the Jewish community in the US are on the rise, with a particular spike after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, this summer.  There have been 60 more incidents in our region this year than occurred in 2016.  And we’re not talking about anonymous trolls on the internet.  These are physical incidents of bullying and vandalism, which often take place on school and college campuses. 

Tom's guest on today's Living Questions segment is Ira Forman, a distinguished visiting professor at Georgetown University and senior fellow at the University's Center for Jewish Civilization. Professor Forman, who has worked for more than forty years as a leading advocate for Jewish culture and community, is currently teaching a course in Contemporary Anti-Semitism.  Previously, he spent four years as the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.  Forman and most other Obama political appointees were asked to resign their positions this past January by the incoming Trump Administration; the Special Envoy post is still vacant.  What does that vacancy signal about current U.S. engagement in programs to combat anti-Semitism? What has the US Government traditionally done and what should it be doing at home and abroad to stop the curse of religious intolerance?  

Photo by Jim Preston

Theater critric J.Wynn Rousuck joins us in Studio A every Thursday with a review of one of the region's thespian offerings, and this week, she tells us about a new production of Origin of the Species now on stage at Strand Theater Company in Baltimore.

photo by Kenneth K. Lam - Baltimore Sun

We begin with a look at the Baltimore Police Department's trial board hearing that's considering, in the first of three administrative proceedings, whether disciplinary action should be taken against Officer Cesar Goodson, Jr., one of six officers indicted in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray in 2015.  He drove the van that transported Mr. Gray.  Goodson was acquitted of the charges, including one for second-degree "depraved heart" murder, brought against him by State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.  But last week and again today (Monday), he sat before a three-member panel engaged by the Police Department to determine whether or not his actions merit disciplinary action.

Of the six police officers originally charged in the Freddie Gray case, just three face trial board hearings: Goodson,  Lt. Brian Rice (tried and acquitted) and Sgt. Alicia White (charges dropped).  Trial boards for Rice and White are expected to begin, respectively, later this month and  sometime in December.  Officers Garrett Miller (charges dropped) and Edward Nero (tried and acquitted) chose to receive one-week suspensions rather than face the trial boards.  A sixth officer involved in the Freddie Gray case, William Porter (charges dropped), faces no discipline.

David Jaros is on the faculty of the University of Baltimore Law School.  Debbie Hines is an attorney in private practice in Washington.  They both paid very close attention to Officer Goodson’s criminal trial last year.  They join Tom in the studio to talk about what the trial board hearings say about the ability of the Baltimore Police department to police itself, and whether these disciplinary proceedings can restore community trust in the force.

Photo by ClintonBPhotography

It's Thursday, and that means theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom with her weekly review of one of the region's many thespian offerings.   Today, she talks about Everyman Theatre's new production of Intimate Apparel, a play that premiered in 2003 at Baltimore's Center Stage.  It's a contemporary work written in classic style by Lynn Nottage, the first female playwright to win two Pulitzers.  

Inspired by a true story, Intimate Apparel centers on Esther (played by Dawn Ursula), a self-employed African American seamstress in turn-of-the-century New York who is working hard - and saving her money - making beautiful undergarments for her well-to-do clientele.  But she dreams of a grander life, while nurturing her fondness for a Jewish fabric merchant (played by Drew Kopas). As an emotionally wrenching turn of events puts Esther’s dreams at risk, the play explores the tenacity of the human spirit against the powerful pressures of class, race and culture. 

The play is directed by Tazewell Thompson.

Intimate Apparel continues at Everyman Theatre through Sunday, November 19th.

Photo courtesy npr.org

On Monday, the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his longtime business associate, Richard Gates, have been indicted by a federal grand jury on 12 criminal counts that include conspiracy and money laundering.  Manafort and Gates surrendered themselves to FBI officials Monday. The indictment contends that Manafort earned more than $18 million dollars for consulting work for pro-Russian interests, that he hid his wealth in off-shore accounts, and that he spent it on a “lavish lifestyle.”  Manafort and Gates have pleaded not guilty to the charges, but it was also revealed Monday that former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, who was quietly arrested by the FBI last July, pleaded guilty October 5th to charges related to his efforts to arrange meetings between the Trump campaign and Russian government officials.  

Professor Byron Warnken, who teaches constitutional and criminal law at the University of Baltimore,  joins Tom on the line to examine what the indictments mean and what might follow, as Special Counsel Mueller continues his investigation into connections between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Photo courtesy wikimedia commons

And now a Monday edition of Midday at the Movies, our monthly look at what’s new and notable in Hollywood and throughout the film industry.  Tom's joined in Studio A by our movie maven regulars:  Ann Hornaday is the film critic for the Washington Post, and Jed Dietz is the founding director of the Maryland Film Festival

Today, they consider the sexual assault and rape allegations that have been leveled against legendary Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein by dozens of women over the past several months:  Has public awareness of Mr. Weinstein's behavior altered the power dynamic for other major Hollywood producers and directors, and has it changed the work climate for the actors and other artists who depend on their favor?   

Then, Ann and Jed spotlight some of the interesting new films on the circuit this fall, including the recent collaboration by Selma director Bradford Young and Grammy Award-winning rap artist Common: two short films: Letter to the Free and Black America Again -- which have been finding audiences around the country and which showcased this past weekend at the Washington West Film Festival.

photo by Stephen Spartana

We're delighted to welcome to Midday's Studio A the internationally acclaimed classical musician,   Manuel Barrueco.  A few years ago, Fanfare Magazine called the Cuban-born artist the world’s greatest living classical guitarist, and it’s hard to dispute that encomium.  Three decades' worth of recordings and performances around the globe are the gold standard for legions of aspiring guitar players; for the past 25 years, he has shared his artistry and musical erudition with many of them at the Peabody Institute here in Baltimore.

This weekend, Manuel Barrueco comes to Towson University to open the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society's 30th anniversary season, with a program titled The Spanish Guitar.  The performance begins Saturday evening, October 28th at 8 p.m. in Towson’s Kaplan Hall.  Manuel will perform pieces by Fernando Sor, Granados, and Falla.  For directions and ticketing info, click here.

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Despite relentless efforts by the Republican-led Congress to repeal, replace, kill or cripple Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land.  But President Trump recently issued executive orders targeting key elements of the program: in particular,  he halted the insurance-company subsidies that help reduce premiums for low income Americans.  Now, just days before the start of the 2018 Open Enrollment Season (November 1-December 15, 2017), a bi-partisan effort is underway in Congress to restore those subsidies, and shore up the nation's troubled insurance marketplace.  But it's not clear when, or if, the measure will come to a vote.

Tom examines what’s ahead for American health care with two astute observers of health care policy and politics:  Julie Rovner is Washington correspondent for Kaiser Health News, an independent, non profit news organization; she joins us from KHN studios in Washington, DC.; and Joseph Antos  is a health policy scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research center.  He joins us on the line from the AEI studio in Washington.

Photo by Rosiland Cauthen

It's Thursday, and time for our visit from Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins us each week with her reviews of thespian offerings from the region's many stages. This week, Judy reviews Yellowman, the award-winning 2002 work by playwright  Dael Orlandersmith, now running at Arena Players.

A finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize Yellowman is a multi-character play -- with just two multi-role actors -- that builds on the memories of an African American woman who dreams of life beyond the confines of her small Southern hometown --and the light-skinned man whose life is intertwined with hers, with an ultimately tragic outcome. 

The play is directed by Rosiland Cauthen, and stars George Oliver Buntin as Eugene Robert Gaines, and Rosey Young as Alma.

Photo courtesy Creative Commons

Baltimore is home to approximately 50,000 small businesses, more than half of which are minority owned.  What do those businesses need to sustain themselves and to grow?  What do entrepreneurs who dream of establishing their own companies need to get started?

A new report prepared by Johns Hopkins University's 21st Century Cities Initiative looks at financing small business in Baltimore.  Today, a conversation with the authors of that report, about how we can help small business flourish, and how we can attract more companies to plant roots in Charm City.

Tom's guests today are former Treasury Department official Mary Miller, now a senior fellow with The 21st Century Cities Initiative; the program's executive director, Ben Seigeland Meridian Management Group president, CEO and co- founder Stanley Tucker, who specializes in financing minority and women owned firms. 

They join us today to talk about bringing the bucks to Baltimore business... 

AP Photo

It's another edition of the Midday News Wrap, our Friday discussion of some of the week's top news stories with a panel of journalists and commentators.  Joining Tom Hall on this week's panel: reporter Jenna Johnson, who covered the 2016 Trump Campaign.  Now, she covers the White House for The Washington Post, and she joins Tom on the line from The Post's radio studio.  Also on the panel and with us in Studio A is Pastor Shannon Wright.  She is the Third  Vice-Chair of the Maryland Republican Party and the first Black woman ever elected to any party office in Maryland.  In 2016, she was a Republican candidate for president of the Baltimore City Council.  She is also the co-host of the Wright Way With Shannon and Mike morning show  and a panelist on Roland Martin on News One.

Photo courtesy Liz Simmons

Now, a little music to take us into the weekend.  Low Lily is a vocal and string trio from Vermont whose modern acoustic sound also taps the roots of folk and fiddle music.  They join Tom live in Studio A. 

Low Lily is:  Liz Simmons on guitar.  Flynn Cohen on guitar and mandolin.  And Lissa  Schneckenburger on fiddle.

They’ll be playing at Germano’s Piattini in Little Italy here in Baltimore on Friday night.  Use the link to get details.

Photo courtesy The Aspen Institute

In his biographies of Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs, the historian Walter Isaacson has been drawn to his subjects by their uncanny capacity to make connections across disciplines, combining technical expertise with an artist’s eye for beauty, line and grace.  In his latest opus, Isaacson chronicles perhaps history’s greatest creative genius: the 15th century Italian artist, scientist and inventor, Leonardo Da Vinci.  From The Mona Lisa to The Last Supper, DaVinci's iconic paintings revolutionized how artists observed the world, and in fields as disparate as geology, botany, anatomy and engineering, he made lasting contributions.  Walter Isaacson joins Tom on the line from New York City to talk about the nature of genius, and the rewards of insatiable curiosity.

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