Sheilah Kast

Host, Midday

Sheilah Kast is the host of Midday, Monday-Friday 12-1 pm.  Originally, she hosted WYPR's  Dupont-Columbia University award-winning Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast from 2006 - October 2015.  She began her career at The Washington Star, where she covered the Maryland and Virginia legislatures, utilities, energy and taxes, as well as financial and banking regulation.  She learned the craft of broadcasting at ABC News; as a Washington correspondent for fifteen years, she covered the White House, Congress, and the 1991 Moscow coup that signaled the end of the Soviet empire.  Sheilah has been a substitute host on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday and The Diane Rehm Show.  She has launched and hosted two weekly interview shows on public TV, one about business and one about challenges facing older people.

Ways to Connect

U.S. Department of Defense

The top-level jobs Leon Panetta has held in government comprise a ridiculously long list. Most recently, from 2011 to early 2013, he was secretary of defense. That followed two years as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In the mid-90s he was President Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff, following a stint as director of Clinton’s Office of Management and Budget, which was logical, because Panetta, who had represented Monterey, California in Congress for 8 terms, chaired the House Budget committee for four years.

Rather than guessing what part of all that experience will show through when Leon Panetta kicks off the Baltimore Speaker Series tomorrow night, Sheilah asks him. Leon Panetta is joined Sheilah on the phone last week.

Maryland County Executives Copy Each Other

Oct 2, 2015
Baltimore County Government


Just shy of half of Maryland’s population is packed into its three biggest counties – Montgomery, Prince Georges, and Baltimore Counties. Now the chief executives of those jurisdictions have decided they’re pretty smart about some aspects of government, and could get smarter by copying each other. ‘Smarter’ translates into more cost-effective, and less pressure to raise taxes or fees.

So right now, as we’re starting this show, Baltimore County’s executive and a few handful of his top staffers are sitting down in Rockville with the Montgomery County executive and top staffers to talk information technology, and how to do it smarter. Sheilah sat down with Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz yesterday.

Andrew Bardwell // Flickr Creative Commons

About a third of all Americans have a criminal record; less than 5 percent for violent crimes. Those of us who don’t have records are probably aware of some of the consequences, like fines, probation, jail time and parole. We may not be aware of collateral consequences that affect employment, public assistance, housing and voting rights. For example, ex-felons earn about 40 percent less annually than non- felons.

Several new laws take effect tomorrow that could allow Marylanders with criminal records to expunge or shield from public view certain parts of them. One of the new laws would also allow actions that are no longer crimes, like possession of small amounts of marijuana, to be removed from peoples’ records.

With Sheilah to talk more about the new laws is Caryn Aslan, Senior Policy Advocate at the non-profit Job Opportunities Task Force. She’s spent years lobbying in Annapolis to adopt laws to make it possible for people with a record to remove those marks. Joining them is Danielle. She’s 37, has 7 children and a criminal record for an arrest that resulted in no trial and no conviction. The offense occurred during a domestic violence dispute in 2002. 

Michael Newman // Flickr Creative Commons

The Open Society Institute-Baltimore and the Pratt Library are inviting the public to a discussion tomorrow evening about bias in how the media covers communities of Baltimore, reminding us again that public radio brings something different to the table. The way public radio covered the riot and uprising in Baltimore this spring is not the way cable TV covered it. But, let’s be realistic: society is probably shaped more by commercial media than non-profit media in the way it frames race, crime, poverty and inequality. The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics says the duty of journalists is to “seek truth and provide a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.” When it comes to reporting on issues of race, have the media met that standard? To what extent are media unaware of their own bias?

Journalist Stacey Patton is one of the panelists who will be addressing those questions tomorrow at the Pratt. She’s a former reporter for the Baltimore Sun, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. She is now a columnist, writing about race for Dame Magazine, which describes itself as “For Women Who Know Better.” She’s also working on two books for Beacon Press. Sheilah reached her Friday, when she called from Atlanta, where she was moderating a panel for the centennial celebration of the ‘Association for the Life and Study of African American History.’


  About one of every six public school students in Baltimore attends a charter school, but tensions between the charters and the school district are high. The ongoing dispute over what share of public school money should go to charters led five operators of charters to file suit against city schools three weeks ago. This week Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake asked former Mayor Kurt Schmoke to facilitate discussions between the two sides and schools CEO Gregory Thornton withdrew his latest funding plan for charters.

Bobbi MacDonald, Executive Director of City Neighbors Foundation joins Sheilah to talk about the concerns of charter schools. City Neighbors Foundation operates three independent charter schools in Northeast Baltimore and is one of the five Charter School operators filing a lawsuit against the school system.

jiadoldol // Flickr Creative Commons

Now we’re going to discuss superconducting magnetic levitation, commonly called “maglev.”  This is the technology that might move you from downtown Baltimore to BWI in 5 minutes. And on to downtown Washington in another 10 minutes. On trains that move faster than 300 miles an hour not with wheels rolling on steel tracks, but cars that would float—or, levitate - inside concrete pathways.  

If it sounds like science fiction, maybe that's part of its appeal. When The North East Maglev project threw itself a party this week to celebrate opening its Baltimore office, city and state leaders seemed almost starry-eyed in their support.  Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, who is on the project's advisory board, said: "I love big. I love blowing people’s minds. Let's build this thing!”

But, as futuristic as it seems, maglev has been trying to get started in Maryland for more a couple of decades. A previous proposal hit legislative snags a dozen years ago, and there's always been a big price tag. Now It's estimated building the first leg of a northeast system--the line from Baltimore to DC--would cost $12 billion.

Lisa Vega at Clarion HMH Books & Sebastian Skrobol

Ronald Smith, who lives in Baltimore, had a career of a couple of decades writing ad copy. His book writing, his fiction, was off to the side until he found himself rediscovering books he’d loved as a child.

He’s just published his first book, called Hoodoo, and Ronald Smith is with Sheilah in the studio to talk about it. He’ll be speaking about it this weekend at the Baltimore Book Festival, Friday afternoon at 1:30, at the Enoch Pratt Free Library Children's Stage. Two weeks later, Friday Oct. 9, he’ll speak at KidLitCon on the “Middle Grade Horror” panel at the Hyatt Place in Baltimore.

Imagen Evangelicas via flickr Creative Commons

For the first five years he worked on the Howard County police force, Detective Josh Mouton said he wasn't looking for situations in which women had been forced into the sex trade against their will. But now Howard County Police have tougher state laws to work with, in particular,  a 2013 law that lets the state seize assets of someone convicted of trafficking.

Joining Sheilah to discuss Howard County's tough approach against human trafficking is County Executive Allan Kittleman, who finalized the order to create a fund to provide services to human trafficking victims, and Denene Yates, Executive Director of Safe House of Hope, a non-profit based in Howard County that provides education, training and support to victims of human trafficking.

It’s been just a week since Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake stunned the city by taking herself out of contention for re-election, five and a half years after she became mayor when an ethics scandal ago swept her predecessor Sheila Dixon out of office. She joins Sheilah in the studio to discuss her goals during her last 15 months in office.

Jonna McKone

An unusual public high school opened this fall in Baltimore, in which students can graduate with an associate’s degree, two years of college, at the same time they earn a high-school diploma, all without paying tuition. The Baltimore City public schools entered into a contract with Bard College, a small liberal arts college in upstate New York, which already operates “early colleges” in four other cities.

This week, producer Jonna McKone and Sheilah Kast visited the newest Bard High School Early College. It’s in the Middle East neighborhood of Baltimore. After class they sat down with Francesca Gamber, head of the Bard early college in Baltimore and with Tyler Williams, a third-year high school student and first-year college student, at the new Bard High School Early College. They also heard from professor Patrick Oray and from students in his Great Books seminar.