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.

Chef Sascha Wolhandler is back with recipes that will inspire you to get creative with squash,  just in time for Thanksgiving.

French authorities say a United Nations-sponsored climate conference will convene as planned in a Paris suburb on November 30, despite last week's deadly terrorist attacks. Delegates from more than 160 countries will be gathering for the 12-day round of talks, whose goal is to reach a new international accord on reducing emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases.

To find out what's at stake in the Paris climate talks, Maryland Morning senior producer Rob Sivak talks with Bill McKibben, an environmental activist, journalist and author of many books, including “The End of Nature,” the 1989 classic  about our global environmental crisis. He is also the co-founder of, an international network that combats global warming through grassroots political action.  McKibben has been an outspoken critic of the oil and gas industry. In our interview, McKibben calls Exxon-Mobil's alleged support for climate-change denial groups -- despite decades of climate change-confirming research by its own scientists -- "probably the greatest corporate scandal of all time." Exxon-Mobil officials take a different view on their company's website.

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.

Mary Rose Madden/WYPR

WYPR’s Mary Rose Madden has been examining the Baltimore Police Department’s relationship with the city’s predominantly black population in her special series called On the Watch: Fixing the Fractured Relationship Between Baltimore's Police and Its Communities. The series began in June and will continue over the next several months.  Mary Rose travels with beat cops and patrol officers and roams the city’s neighborhoods, talking with the citizens the police are sworn to protect.  Mary Rose Madden joins Tom to talk about what she’s learned so far.  

Big Brothers Big Sisters

Right after violence spread through our city in April, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake saw an increase of nearly 3,000% in the number of people expressing an interest in becoming a mentor to a local young person.  But the surge in applications did not result in many more mentors actually connecting with kids and changing their lives.  In fact, only a handful of the thousands of men who inquired about becoming a mentor actually followed through on their interests.  We'll hear from a male mentor and his young mentee on the value of their relationship, and Tom talks with Terry Hickey, president and CEO of BBBSGC, about the positive role male mentors play in the lives of the region's young people. 

Amy Davis

Tom begins today with a look at the challenges facing immigrant students at Patterson High School in East Baltimore, where one third of the student body is foreign-born. Many of them have fled war, urban violence and oppression.

Tom is joined by journalist Liz Bowie, who profiles some of these remarkable young people in her Baltimore Sun series called Unsettled Journeys, and Margot Harris, who works with the immigrant students as head of the English for Speakers of Other Languages program at Patterson.

Pedro Ribeiro Simões // Flickr Creative Commons

Sunday was the first day of the 3-month Fall Open Enrollment period for the estimated 300,000 Marylanders who still have no health insurance. Despite a disastrous online debut in 2013, The Maryland Health Benefits Exchange functioned well during the Spring 2015 enrollment period. And the exchange’s executive director, Carolyn Quattrocki, told Maryland Morning producer Rob Sivak Friday that the agency has already begun fixing many of the problems identified by the auditors.

While Maryland gears up to enroll tens of thousands more people into health insurance plans, there are many individuals, in Baltimore and all across the state, who can’t afford private health insurance. They’re the poorest of the poor: the homeless. Providing health coverage and medical care to this underserved and often hard-to-reach population is the mission of Tom's guest this morning. Kevin Lindamood is president and CEO of Health Care for the Homeless, a national network of non profit organizations that’s been doing this work since 1985.

Center Stage

Center Stage is about to undergo a physical transformation. Later this week, the theater will announce specifics about its plan to renovate its Calvert Street home. Many theater fans will tell you that the transformation at Center Stage began in 2011, when Kwame Kwei Armah was appointed the theater’s Artistic Director. His initiatives like the My America Project, and Third Spaces; the Raisin Cycle or his original musical based on the life of Bob Marley are examples of how he has tried to expand the boundaries of what a theater company can be; how it connects to our community, and how it fits into the world at large.

Before the construction begins on the building, Tom thought it would be good to check in with Kwame Kwei Armah, and get a sense of what he’s looking to do as Center Stage enters this new era in its storied history.

Howard County Conservancy

We begin today with a look at the Howard County Conservancy, a 200-acre tract of rolling hills, forest, meadow and streams called Mt. Pleasant Farm, at Woodstock, about a half-hour’s drive west of Baltimore. The Conservancy -- which marked its 25th anniversary last Sunday, introduces young people and adults to environmental stewardship and conservation.

To tell us more about the Conservancy, Tom is joined in the studio by its executive director, Meg Boyd, and by Ann Strozyk, an award-winning environmental educator in the Howard County school system who is based at the Conservancy. On Friday night at 7:00, there’s a Flashlight Hike to check out the nocturnal life at the Conservancy, just in time for Halloween.


Last June, Pope Francis published an extraordinary encyclical on the environment.  For the first time, the leader of the Catholic Church stated that climate change is real, that it’s being caused mainly by human activity, and that it poses a particular threat to the world’s poor.

Like the Pope's call to the faithful to take actions to heal the Earth, followers of Islam and Judaism are also drawing on their religious traditions to confront the challenges of climate change.

We learn of two such faith-driven initiatives as Tom talks with Kori Majeed, the founder of the Web-based environmental group, GreenRamadan, and with Rabbi Arthur Waskow of The Shalom Center in Philadelphia, co-author of a Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis that's been endorsed by more than 400 rabbis since its publication last June.