Tom Hall | WYPR

Tom Hall

Host

Host, Midday  (M-F 12:00-1:00)

In the Bromo (3rd Friday of the month at 4:44)
What are You Reading? (4th Friday of the month, at 4:44) 

Tom Hall joined the WYPR staff as the Host of Choral Arts Classics in 2003.  After 10 years as the Culture Editor and then host of Maryland Morning, in September, 2016, Tom became the host of Midday, the highly rated news and public policy program that features interviews with elected officials, community leaders, and thought provoking authors, artists, researchers, journalists, and scholars from around the world. 

Tom is also the Host of In the Bromo and What Are You Reading? on WYPR.  In addition, he has served as the host of the Maryland Morning Screen Test, and the WYPR/MD Film Festival Spotlight Series.  In 2006, as the Music Director of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Tom received an Emmy Award for Christmas with Choral Arts, a special that aired on WMAR television, the ABC affiliate in Maryland, for 21 years.  He has been a guest co-host of Maryland Public Television’s Art Works, and in 2007, he was named “Best New Broadcast Journalist” by the Maryland Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2009, the Baltimore City Paper named him "Best Local Radio Personality." In 2016 and again in 2017, he was recognized as "Best Talk Show Host" in the Baltimore Magazine Reader's Poll. 

Tom is invited frequently to speak to professional and community organizations, including the Oregon Bach Festival, the American Choral Directors Association, Chorus America, the College Endowment Association, the Baltimore Broadcaster’s Coalition, The Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute, the Johns Hopkins Community Conversations Series, and the Creative Alliance.  He has moderated panels and given presentations at the Baltimore City Lit Festival, the Baltimore Book Festival, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum, the University of Maryland, the Enoch Pratt Library, and MICA. He has also moderated Mayoral Debates, panels at Light City in Baltimore, and at the Stevenson University Speakers Series.

He appears each year as the moderator of the Rosenberg-Blaustein Distinguished Artist Recital Series at Goucher College.  His publications include articles in the Baltimore Sun, Style Magazine, and Baltimore Magazine, as well as many scholarly music journals, and he is the co-author of The Bach Passions in Our Time:  Contending with the Legacy of Antisemitism, published on-line by the Institute for Islamic Christian and Jewish Studies.  Tom was appointed the Music Director Emeritus of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society in 2017.

Tom Hall lives in Baltimore, with his wife, Linell Smith.  Their daughter, Miranda, is a playwright.

Tom Pelton

May 25, 2018

Tom talks with Environment in Focus Host Tom Pelton.

Tom recommends: 

"Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser

"From the Bottom Up" by Chad Pregracke

Today, Tom speaks with Derek Thompson, a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about business and technology, and hosts the new podcast Crazy/Genius.  He is also the author of  Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in the Age of Distraction.   

In his book -- which happens to be a best-seller -- Thompson takes a scientific approach to understanding why certain things in our culture become "cool," at least for a while, and whether or not there are commonalities between them across creative and cultural disciplines.  Thompson examines the hidden psychological and market forces that make a song, a movie or a politician popular, and how those forces are constantly reshaping our cultural landscape.  

photo by Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun

Today we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates...

Here in Baltimore, the city’s top prosecutor is the Baltimore City State’s Attorney, an elective position that's often in the eye of the storm surrounding some very high profile criminal cases.  The incumbent State’s Attorney, Marilyn Mosby, attracted national attention with her decision to indict six officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray in 2015.  Mr. Gray died while in police custody.  None of the indicted officers were convicted of a crime.   

But while cases like those involving Freddie Gray get a lot of scrutiny, the State’s Attorney’s office prosecuted more than 41,000 cases in 2017.  The State’s Attorney oversees more than 400 people, including more than 200 lawyers, and the salary is the highest of any city employee.  It’s a big job, and there are two people challenging the incumbent for it in next month’s Democratic primary. 

Tom's guest for the hour today is one of those challengers. 

Ivan J. Bates is a veteran litigator, defense attorney and city prosecutor.  He earned his BA in journalism at Howard University in 1992 and got his Law Degree at William and Mary in 1995.  He was admitted to the Maryland bar that year and after clerking for Judge David B. Mitchell on the Circuit Court of Baltimore City, he served as an assistant state’s attorney in Baltimore, where he worked in the Juvenile Crime Division and later, the Homicide Division.  He started his own law practice in 2006.

Ivan Bates is 49 years old.  He and his wife, Dr. Lana Bates, live in Rampart Mews in South Baltimore with their daughters Brielle and London.

During his Midday appearance, Mr. Bates also addresses listeners' calls, emails and social media comments. 

This conversation was Live Streamed on the WYPR Facebook page, and you can view the video here.

Creative Commons

Today, Midday goes Back to the Garden.  

It’s been a pretty unusual spring, with the Eastern United States recording one of the coldest Marches in nearly two decades and an April that was also colder and wetter than normal. 

But here we are in May, with the Memorial Day Weekend on the horizon.  If you’re staying in town, sunshine is predicted at least for Saturday, and lots of us are raring to go in our gardens. 

Joining us with some tips on how to make those gardens grow: 

Carrie Engel, the greenhouse manager at Valley View Farms, the popular family-owned nursery in Cockeysville, Maryland.  She’s been a plant specialist at Valley View for most of nearly five decades.  She takes care of the annuals, tropicals and vegetables...

...and Denzel Mitchell, Jr. the former owner of Five Seeds Farm. Last month, he signed on as the farm manager at Strength to Love 2 Farm, a 1-½ acre workforce training farm in Baltimore's Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood.  They work with returning ex-offenders and serve as a Baltimore food resource with produce outlets around the city.  The farm is run by the faith-inspired non-profit group called Intersection of Change.  It's also a member of the Farm Alliance of Baltimore, a network of producers that’s working to increase the viability of urban farming and to improve access to city-grown foods...

We invite you to join the conversation with questions about your garden.

This segment was streamed live on WYPR's Facebook page.  You can check out the video here.

ClintonBPhotography

It's time again for our weekly visit from theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins Tom today with her review of the new production of The Book of Joseph, now on stage at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre.

The play is a stage adaptation by Seattle playwright Karen Hartman of a book by former Baltimore newpaper and TV journalist Richard Hollander.  After Hollander's parents were killed in a car accident in the mid-1980s, he discovered in their attic a briefcase filled with correspondence. The letters, all stamped with Third Reich swastikas, provided a unique record of the tragic fate of his Jewish relatives in German-occupied Poland during the Holocaust, and of his father's heroic efforts to save them.

The discovery of those letters led Hollander, eventually, to write a book, which he published in 2007, called “Every Day Lasts a Year: A Jewish Family’s Correspondence from Poland.”  The book inspired the play that world-premiered in Chicago in 2017, and has now come to the Everyman, with Noah Himmelstein directing the resident company cast.

The Book of Joseph continues at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre until Sunday, June 10. 

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates  who will be on the June 26th primary ballot here in Maryland.

Tom’s guest today is Valerie Ervin.  She is one of nine Democrats running for Governor this June.  The winner will go up against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the general election in November. 

Last week, the former Montgomery County Councilwoman announced that she would be taking the place of her former running mate, the late Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, as a Democratic candidate for Governor.  She is the second woman, and one of four African Americans running for Governor in the Democratic primary. 

Ervin’s career includes politics, education and labor advocacy.  She was the first African American woman to serve on the Montgomery County Council where she served two terms; she was only the 2nd African American woman to serve on the Montgomery County Board of Education. 

Her running mate is Marisol Johnson, former Baltimore County school board Vice Chair.  She is the first Latina to hold public office in Baltimore County. 

Valerie Ervin also took your questions, emails and tweets.  Like all of Midday’s Conversations with the Candidates, this program was streamed live on the WYPR FB page.  Check out the video here

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates, which includes those who already hold public office.

Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger is Tom's guest in Studio A, for the hour today.  He has represented Maryland’s 2nd congressional district since 2003.  That district includes parts of five jurisdictions: Baltimore City and Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Harford and Howard Counties.

Rep.  Ruppersberger serves on the House Appropriations Committee as well as the Subcommittee on Defense and the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations & Related Programs. He is a former ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. A number of institutions and organizations in his district are involved in cyber security issues.

Like all but one of the eight members of the Congressional delegation from Maryland, he is standing for re-election this year. He is being opposed in the primary by a political newcomer, Jake Pretot.

We livestreamed this conversation on WYPR's Facebook page.  If you missed it, check out the video here. 

Photo Courtesy Friends of Rushern Baker III

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates who will be on the June 26th primary ballot here in Maryland. 

Yesterday, former Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin entered the Democratic primary race for Maryland governor, following the sudden passing of Baltimore County Executive and gubernatorial candidate Kevin Kamenetz, with whom she'd been running as a candidate forLieutenant Governor. 

We begin the program with WYPR's Baltimore County politics reporter, John Leeand his analysis of the changing dynamics of the governor's race.  

Tom’s guest for the balance of the hour is Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, also a Democratic candidate for Maryland governor. 

Rushern Baker is one of three candidates in the race who is not a political outsider, and now, the only one currently serving as a county executive.  Baker entered politics in 1994, serving in the Maryland House of Delegates until 2003.  He lost his first two elections for Prince George's county executive, but in 2010, he beat incumbent Jack Johnson.  Soon after that election, federal prosecutors arrested Johnson on corruption charges.  Mr. Baker has been widely credited with improving the county’s image and ending its “pay to play” legacy.

Of the nine Democrats whose names will appear on Maryland's gubernatorial ballot on primary election day, seven are considered serious contenders.  Rushern Baker is widely thought to be one of the leading candidates in this crowded field, although none of the Democratic candidates have yet to poll better than incumbent Republican Governor Larry Hogan.

County Executive Baker is 59 years old.  He has been married for 31 years to Christa Beverly, a civil rights lawyer, who was diagnosed eight years ago with early-onset dementia.  Mr. Baker is her primary caregiver.  They live in Cheverly, and they are the parents of three grown children, Rushern IV, Aja, and Quinci. 

His running mate is Elizabeth Embry, a lawyer in the MD Attorney General’s office and a former candidate for Mayor of Baltimore. 

County Executive Baker also took your questions, emails and tweets.  Like all of Midday's Conversations with the Candidates, this program was streamed live on the WYPR FB page. Check out the video here.

Photo courtesy Donna Brazile

Tom's guest today is Donna Brazile.  A Democratic political operative for more than 40 years, Ms. Brazile encountered a firestorm of criticism last fall when she published her memoir of the 2016 election, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-Ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House.  Many of her fellow Democrats read the book as a bitter diatribe from a disgruntled member of the old guard.

But perhaps lost in the scrum of discord were Ms. Brazile’s alarming accounts of Russian interference in the electoral process.  Yesterday, the Republican Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee affirmed the conclusion of multiple intelligence agencies that the Russians did indeed act to support Donald Trump and discredit Hillary Clinton in the run-up to the US presidential election of 2016. 

Courtesy of Yale University Press

We begin the show today with an update on the resignation of Baltimore City Police Commissioner Daryl DeSousa. WYPR reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi attended Mayor Catherine Pugh’s press conference this morning. She joins Tom in Studio A.

Tom’s guest for most of the hour is David Linden. He’s a professor of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the former editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology. Linden writes books about our brains, and in his latest opus, he says the public is “inundated by a fire hose of neuro BS.”

He wrote the new book Think Tank with more than three dozen fellow neuroscientists. It’s a collection of essays about the brain and the biological roots of human experience. The essays address questions such as, “How are children’s brains different from those of adults?” “What can monkey brains teach us about advertising?” And “How do our brains process pain?”

David Linden and a few of the book’s contributors will hold a panel discussion about the book tomorrow, May 17, at 1pm at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Department of Neuroscience, and you can also catch Linden at Greedy Reads in Fells Point on June 4 at 7 pm.

We livestreamed today’s show on the WYPR Facebook page.  If you missed it, catch that video here. 

Photo by Bill Geenan

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom today with her review of the world premiere of Soul: The Stax Musical, now rattling the boards at Baltimore Center Stage.

The production is the directorial swansong of departing artistic director Kwame Kwei Armah, who's stepping down after seven years running the shows at Center Stage. (Check out his May 9 interview here on Midday).

With a book by Matthew Benjamin, choreography by Chase Brock, musical direction by Rahn Coleman and a multi-talented 21-member cast, Soul: the Stax Musical tells the story (with renditions of more than 30 songs) of Memphis-based Stax Records and the recording company's role in launching such legendary artists as Otis Redding, The Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, Booker T & The MG's, Rufus & Carla Thomas, David Porter, Wilson Pickett, Johnnie Taylor, and Eddie Floyd — singers whose iconic work during the 1960s and 70s laid the foundations for American Soul Music. Their story, and the rise and fall of Stax Records, play out against the backdrop of the evolving civil rights struggle and the growing power of R&B music -- still evident today -- to unite a divided nation.   

Soul: The Stax Musical continues at Baltimore's Center Stage through Sunday, June 10.   

Photo Courtesy Kevin Kamenetz for Maryland

Few events in recent MD history were as shocking or disruptive to the political landscape as the death of Kevin Kamenetz last week, from a heart attack. The 60 year old Baltimore County Executive was one of the leading contenders in the crowded field of hopefuls vying for the chance to run against incumbent Governor Larry Hogan in November.

With just a month until early voting starts in the primary, candidates are scrambling to assess the new and uncertain dynamics of the race. Will Valerie Ervin, Kamenetz’s running mate in the primary, choose to run herself, and if so, with whom? Will she run at the top of a newly formed ticket, or will she maintain her position in the Lieutenant Governor slot?

Kamenetz’s death also occasions many questions about the future of Baltimore County. Three Democrats and two Republicans are running in their respective primaries to face-off for the County’s top job in the fall. In the meantime, who will the County Council appoint to serve-out the remainder of Kevin Kamenetz’s term?

Today on Midday, Tom explores these and other questions with Pamela Wood, who covers Baltimore County government and politics for the Baltimore Sun; and Bryan Sears , government reporter for the Daily Record.

Hollander photo by Katherine Marmion/Everyman; Hartman photo by Lou Daprile

We turn now to a play that's based on a book by a former journalist whom many Baltimoreans of a certain age will recognize.   After Richard Hollander’s parents were killed in a car accident in the mid-1980s, he discovered in their attic a suitcase full of correspondence that gave him great insight into the fate of his Jewish relatives in German-occupied Poland during the Holocaust.  That discovery led him to write a book, with co-authors Christopher R. Browning and Nechama Tec, which he published in 2007, called “Every Day Lasts a Year: A Jewish Family’s Correspondence from Poland.”  That book, in turn, inspired a play that is currently on stage at the Everyman Theater.  It’s called The Book of Joseph.  It was adapted by Seattle-based playwright Karen Hartman, whose other recent works include Roz and Ray and Project Dawn. She joins us on the phone from Seattle.

Author Rich Hollander was a reporter for the long-defunct Baltimore News American newspaper and later for WBAL Television. He now runs Millbrook Communications, a sports marketing firm in Baltimore.  He joins Tom in Studio A.

AP Photos

Tom's guests today are two longtime politicians, one a Republican, the other a Democrat, who are now working together to try to fix the dysfunction in political Washington.

Former Republican Congresswoman Connie Morella represented Maryland’s 8th Congressional District from 1987 until 2003. President George W. Bush appointed her U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a position she held in Paris from 2003 until 2007. She was the first former member of Congress to be named ambassador to the OECD. Ambassador Morella currently serves on American University’s faculty in the Dept of Government and as an Ambassador in Residence at AU’s Women & Politics Institute.

Former Democratic Congressman Tim Roemer represented Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District from 1991 until 2003. From 2002 until 2004, he served on the 9/11 Commission. He was U.S. Ambassador to India during the Obama Administration, from 2009 until 2011. Ambassador Roemer is now a senior counselor at APCO Worldwide, a global consultancy.

Together, they co-chair the Re-Formers Caucus, which includes nearly 200 former governors, cabinet secretaries and members of Congress -- Republicans and Democrats, from all 50 states -- who have banded togethet to work on bi-partisan solutions to the dysfunction in Washington that, they say, threatens American democracy. They join Tom on the line from NPR studios in Washington, DC.

Photo Courtesy Baltimore Ceasefire 365

Over this past ceasefire weekend, the City saw 72 hours pass with two reported shootings, and one alleged case of first degree child abuse.  The event, which was intentionally scheduled to coincide with Mother’s Day, is the second ceasefire event with no homicides from gun violence. 

Tom is joined  in Studio A by Baltimore Ceasefire 365 Co-Founder, Erricka Bridgeford.   Erricka joined us this past February after the first Ceasefire event with zero homicides.   That ceasefire continued on for a record breaking 12 consecutive days without a murder in Baltimore City.

Public Domain Pictures

Before beginning today's Healthwatch conversation with Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, Tom talks with WYPR reporter Mary Rose Madden about the news that Baltimore Police Commissioner Daryl DeSousa has been charged by federal prosecutors with not filing tax returns for the years 2013, 2014 and 2015.  DeSousa has admitted to the facts filed in Federal Court yesterday, and he’s apologized.

Following today's Midday broadcast, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh announced she has suspended Mr. DeSousa with pay until the matter is "resolved." In the meantime, the police chief position will be filled by Deputy Commissioner Gary Tuggle, a former top-ranking Drug Enforcement Administration official tapped by De Sousa in March to oversee strategic and support services for the City.
____

Photo Courtesy Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Tonight and this weekend at the Meyerhoff, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is screening Steven Spielberg's classic 1981 adventure film, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, and performing  composer John Williams' popular score for it.  Weilding the baton will be BSO Pops conductor, Jack Everly, who joins Tom in the studio with a preview of the BSO's latest Movies with Orchestra event.

In a career spanning more than 50 years, composer John Williams has created a vast catalog of music for screen, stage, symphony and sport.  He's garnered 51 Academy Award nominations for his memorable film scores including the aforementioned Raiders as well as Jaws, Jurassic Park, Superman, Star Wars, three of the Harry Potter films and Schindler's List.  

For this weekend's  Movies with Orchestra ticket information, click on the link below: 

https://www.bsomusic.org/calendar/events/2017-2018-events/movie-with-orchestra-raiders-of-the-lost-ark/

Baltimore County Executive's Office

We begin the show today with reflections on the life and career of Kevin Kamenetz, a fixture on the Maryland political scene for more than two decades.

Mr. Kamenetz died early Thursday morning from a heart attack.

He began his career in public service as a prosecutor in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office. He was first elected to the Baltimore County Council in 1994. He served four terms, before being elected as the County Executive in 2010. He was considered a leading candidate in the crowded field of people running for the Democratic nomination for Governor. He is survived by his wife Jill, and their two teenage sons, Karson and Dylan. Our hearts ache for them. Kevin Kamenetz was 60 years old.

Joining Tom on the line to remember Mr. Kamenetz are Donald Mohler III, who was a close friend of Mr. Kamenetz and served as his chief of staff in the County Executive’s Office, Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, who served as Baltimore County Executive from 1994 to 2002, and Jim Smith, who preceded Kamenetz as Baltimore County Executive. He currently serves as the Chief of Strategic Alliances in the office of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh.

Courtesy of their campaigns

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates, in the run-up to Maryland's June 26th primary elections.

Maryland’s General Assembly District 41 has had more than its share of upheaval in recent years. Sen. Lisa Gladden represented the district for 14 years before retiring in February 2017 for health reasons. Del. Nathaniel Oaks was appointed to fill her seat, and four months later, he was indicted in federal court on nine counts of fraud and bribery. In November, prosecutors added obstruction of justice charges. Oaks denied the charges, remained in the Senate, and registered to run for re-election in the primary next month. In late March, Oaks changed his mind. He resigned from the legislature, pleaded guilty and attempted to remove his name from the primary ballot. Oaks will be sentenced on July 17. He faces 8-10 years in prison. Additional attempts to remove Oaks’s name from the ballot failed; his name will indeed appear on the ballot next to those of two other candidates.

Those two candidates are Tom’s guests today in Studio A.

Until last week, Jill P. Carter served as the Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement in Baltimore City. Before that, she served for three terms in the House of Delegates representing the 41st District. Carter is 53 years old. A graduate of Western High School, she was born and raised in the city. She lives in the Hunting Ridge neighborhood of District 41.

J.D. Merrill taught at his alma mater, City College High School from 2013 to 2016. He also served for two years as a special assistant to the chief of staff at City Schools headquarters on North Avenue. Merrill  is 27 years old. He and his wife, Grace O’Malley, live in the Wyndhurst neighborhood of District 41, one street over from where he was born and raised. This is the first time he has run for public office.

Courtesy of Baltimore Center Stage

Tom's guest today is the playwright, director and actor, Kwame Kwei Armah, OBE. He has been the artistic director of Baltimore Center Stage since 2011, but he will soon be moving on.  After his final show at Center Stage, which opens tomorrow night, he’s heading home to London, where he has taken the helm of the storied Young Vic Theatre.

During his tenure here in Baltimore, he produced three of the best-selling shows in the theater’s history. As a playwright, Mr. Kwei-Armah premiered several new works here in Charm City, and he made great strides in diversifying the Center Stage audience. He also oversaw a major, $28 million renovation of the theater’s Calvert Street home, and in his spare time, in 2012, Queen Elizabeth II made him an Officer of the British Empire for his service to drama.

His final production at Center Stage is Soul, the STAX Musical -- the world premiere of a work by playwright Matthew Benjamin that Mr. Kwei-Armah is directing. It tells the story of Memphis-based Stax Records, and chronicles the rise of artists like Otis Redding, The Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & The MG’s, Wilson Pickett and others—some of the great and early progenitors of Soul and R&B music. 

Midday's theater critic J Wynn Rousuck joins Kwame Kwei-Armah and Tom Hall in Studio A.  We streamed this conversation live on the WYPR Facebook page.  If you missed that,  click here to check out the video.

Photo by Britt Olsen-Ecker

Our theater critic J. Wynn  Rousuck joins Tom for another of her weekly reviews of the region's theater offerings. Today, she's spotlighting the world premiere of an adaptation of the J.M.Barrie classic, Peter Pan, ​now on stage at Baltimore's Single Carrot Theatre.

Billed officially as Peter Pan: Wendy, Peter. Peter, Wendy, the play is a modern re-imagining of Barrie's beloved 1904 stage fantasy (and 1911 novel) about identity, growing up and belonging.  It retains the original's iconic characters, from Peter Pan and Wendy and the Darling family dog Nana, to Captain Hook and Tiger Lily and the Lost Boys.  But playwright Joshua Conkel, working in collaboration with Baltimore’s LGBTQ+ residents and service organizations, has updated the Barrie original (as the Single Carrot program explains) "to include contemporary conversations about gender, sexuality, and performative identity, and to embrace queer culture."  The result is that Barrie's nostalgic Neverland is transformed "from a distant fantasy to a modern safe-haven for those who have been rejected and devalued, a stronghold against normalcy and a place where Peter and his Lost Boys can finally be themselves."

Tristan Powell directs Peter Pan at Single Carrot with a cast that features Tina Canady as Wendy/Peter, and Single Carrot Ensemble member Ben Kleymeyer as Peter/Wendy.

Peter Pan continues at Single Carrot Theatre through Sunday, May 20. 

Photo courtesy BCPS

Tom's guest today is the interim superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools, Verletta White.  Last month, the County School Board appointed Ms. White as the permanent superintendent, but that decision was overruled last week by the State School Superintendent, Karen Salmon.  Baltimore County is still reeling from the ethics scandal that led to a jail sentence for the previous superintendent.  What are the consequences of the continuing drama surrounding his successor on the state’s third largest school district?  Verletta White joins us today in Studio A to discuss the turmoil over her appointment, and the next steps in her bid to lead Baltimore County schools.

=======

Plus, there's some drama with the leadership of schools in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County, too.  We’ll have analysis of recent developments in both school systems as well as perspectives on Verletta White's situation, in the second half of the show today, from veteran Baltimore Sun education reporter Liz Bowie. 

Photo courtesy Baltimore City Public Schools

On today’s show, Tom is joined Dr. Sonja Santelises, the CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools.   As the City School Board considers the budget for the 2018-19 school year, we discuss some of the provisions within the proposal.  This budget does not call for any teacher layoffs, but does call for cuts to Charter Schools.  There is an increase in literacy coaching, and the overall budget has been developed to combat  shrinking enrollment, a persistent problem that speaks to the larger challenges of the city in attracting and keeping young families.

This conversation was streamed live on Facebook.  You can check out the video by clicking on the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/WYPR881FM/videos/10156434271953980/

 

Midday News Wrap 5.4.18

May 4, 2018
Photo Courtesy Carolyn Kaster AP Photo

Today, on the Midday News Wrap: An adult film star is suing the president of the United States.  The aforementioned president added the former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, to his ever-changing legal team. 

The president’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, remains in legal trouble, as a trouble-shooter for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush joins the list of Trump legal dramatis personae.  Emmet Flood is replacing Ty Cobb.   

A list of questions that Special Counsel Robert Mueller apparently has for President Trump was made public this week.   

The Boy Scouts are dropping the "Boy" part.  The committee for the Nobel Prize in Literature is dropping its effort to make an award this year.  Adidas is under pressure to drop Kanye West after he suggested slavery was a choice. 

Local schools have been in the news this week.  In Baltimore, City Council President Jack Young has questions about an enrollment task force that he says isn’t inclusive enough.

In Baltimore County, interim Superintendent Verletta White was appointed to her position permanently in a split decision by the County School Board, only to be thrown back into interim status by the Maryland Superintendent of Schools, Karen Salmon. 

Joining us from the studios of NPR in Washington, DC is NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe.

Tom is joined in Studio A by Andy Green, the Baltimore Sun Editorial Page Editor; and political scientist, and pollster Dr. Mileah Kromer.   Dr. Kromer is the director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, which conducts the widely followed Goucher Poll.

Today, a conversation about American exceptionalism when it comes to our cherished tradition of free speech.

Tom’s guest is the acclaimed legal scholar, Floyd Abrams, a distinguished constitutional lawyer who has litigated some of the most consequential 1st Amendment cases of our time, including the Pentagon Papers case and Citizen’s United. He is the author of the 2017 book, “The Soul of the First Amendment,” which is just out in paperback.

Floyd Abrams joins Tom on the line from New York, where he is  a senior partner in the law firm Cahill Gordon & Reindel.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

It's time for our regular Thursday visit with Midday's peripatetic theater critic,  J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins Tom in the studio today with her review of An American in Paristhe touring stage adaptation of the Gershwin-inspired 1951 film musical. The Tony Award-winning production premiered on Broadway in 2015, hit the road in 2016, and is just now making its local stop at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theater.

Like the classic Vincente Minnelli film -- which starred Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron and won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture -- this award-winning stage adaptation tells the story of an American World War II veteran and aspiring painter who lingers in the newly-liberated Paris of 1945 and falls in love with a young French woman.  Also like the film, the stage version weaves their complicated romance through a rich tapestry of George Gershwin's brilliant orchestral works -- including the titular An American in Paris, the Concerto in F and a Second Rhapsody/Cuban Overture medley -- and more than a dozen of the incomparable songs that George and his brother Ira Gershwin penned during the 1920s and 30s.  Show numbers include I Got Rhythm, S'Wonderful, But Not for Me, Stairway to Paradise, and They Can't take That Away.  And as in the Gene Kelly-choreographed film, a lot of that great music is set wonderfully to dance.

Sollers Point still courtesy Matt Porterfield

It's Midday at the Movies.

The 20th annual Maryland Film Festival kicks off tonight at the SNF Parkway Theater here in Baltimore.  More than 120 local and international filmmakers from around the world are gathered at the newly restored theater on Charles Street to screen their latest work, and to discuss the many facets of their art in panel discussions and workshops.  Between Wednesday May 2 and Sunday, May 6, audiences will be treated to a buffet of over 40 narrative films and documentaries, plus 10 series of short films. 

Today, a preview of the Maryland Film Festival, with its director and founder, Jed Dietz.

Tom also talks with a group of film artists with past and present links to the festival, including Baltimore director Matt Porterfield and actor Jim Belushi, the co-star of Porterfield's new film, Sollers Point, which is premiering at this year's festival

Filmmaker and Maryland Historical Society curator Joe Tropea also stops by the studio to discuss   Sickies Making Filmshis new documentary about the history of film censorship in America. And Tom talks by phone with filmmaker Erik Ljung (pron. "yung") in Los Angeles. His powerful documentary film, The Blood Is at the Doorstep, about a police killing of an unarmed black man in Milwaukee four years ago, has won kudos since its world premiere at the 2017 South-by-Southwest Festival in Austin. The film also screened at last year's Maryland Film Festival, and it returns for another run at the Parkway theater on the heels of the Festival next week.

Photo Courtesy AP News

It’s Midday Culture Connections with Dr Sheri Parks.  Today, we examine the mini-firestorms that have erupted over the past week surrounding journalist, a comedian and a rapper. 

Kanye West set the Twittersphere alight with a series of pro-Trump tweets that led more than a few people to question the rapper’s mental health, and even challenge his “Blackness.”

Today we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates, in the run up to Maryland’s June 26th primary elections.

Tom’s guest is Del. Pat McDonough. He is a Republican, and he has represented parts of Baltimore and Harford Counties in the Maryland Legislature for the past 15 years. He also represented District 7 as a conservative Democrat for one term, from 1979 until 1983. He has been a member of the Health and Government Operations Committee since 2003. In 2016, he ran for Congress in Maryland’s 2nd Congressional District and was defeated by incumbent Dutch Ruppersberger.

Besides his many years in Annapolis, McDonough was, until recently, host of a show on WCBM Radio. He is 74 years old. He was born in Baltimore. He attended City College and the University of Baltimore. McDonough and his family live in Middle River.

This interview, like all our previous Conversations with the Candidates, was streamed live on the WYPR Facebook page. To see that video, click here.

Diego Quintana Flickr Creative Commons

And now, a regular feature here on Midday: The Afro Check-In, where we sit down with our colleagues at the Baltimore Afro Newspaper to talk about some of the issues and stories they are covering.

Early voting in Mary’s primary election begins in less than 7 weeks. Several key state senate races, in West Baltimore’s 40th, 41st and 44th Districts are heating up. We’ll take a look at those.

And, the “N” word, used by a Mexican-American rapper. Is that OK?

And how about Kanye West? Given his apprarent Bromance with President Trump, The Afro and others are asking, “Is Kanye OK?”

Kamau High is the Managing Editor of the Afro. Sean Yoes is the Baltimore Editor and the Host of the podcast, Afro First Edition. They joined Tom in Studio A.

Pages