Tom Hall

Host - Maryland Morning, Choral Arts Classics, In The Bromo and What Are You Reading

Tom has been a dynamic force in Maryland since 1982, as a broadcaster, performer, lecturer, writer, and educator. Tom was named "Best Radio Personality" by the City Paper in 2009, and in 2006, he was named "Best New Journalist" by the Maryland chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.  Tom began his WYPR career as a co-host of Dupont-Columbia University award-winning Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast from 2006 - October 2015.  Also in 2006, he won an Emmy Award for his television broadcast of Christmas with Choral Arts on WMAR Television.  As the Music Director of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, he has collaborated with many of Maryland's leading arts organizations, including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, the Maryland Symphony, the Walters Art Museum, and the Baltimore Museum of Art. For many years, he appeared regularly as a guest conductor throughout the U.S and in Europe, and he has been invited frequently to speak to professional and community organizations in Maryland and throughout the United States.

Tom has published articles in the Baltimore Sun, Style Magazine, and many professional music journals; he has served as a panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts, and he has lectured and taught courses at the Peabody Conservatory, the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Baltimore, and Morgan State University. He is a former board member and former chair of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance. Tom lives in Baltimore with his wife, Linell Smith.

Sloane Brown//Baltimore Sun

The holidays will soon be upon us, and for many folks, that means a chance or two to dress up and enjoy a few parties, and some special meals with family and friends.  What’s the best way to approach the often daunting task of putting together that special outfit for those special occasions?   Maybe more than a few of us have a little fashion phobia when it comes to staying stylish, on a budget, in a world where the range of styles one sees out and about run a very large gamut.  Sloane Brown joins me in the studio.  Sloane keeps a keen eye out for what people are wearing to various events around town, and I thought it would be good to check-in with her for some advice on how to take the fear out fashion, as we gear up for the holidays.  Sloane is the Society and Style reporter for the Baltimore Sun, where she writes the columns called Scene and Heard and Glimpsed.  

W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

In the fall of 1996, Congress passed, by an overwhelming margin, the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage in the eyes of the federal government, as being between a man and a woman. DOMA, as it’s known, was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013, the same year that Maryland’s Civil Marriage Protection Act became law after voters here became the first in the nation to approve same sex marriage by referendum.

Tom's guest this morning is Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer who argued the landmark Supreme Court Case that overturned DOMA. She wrote a book about that experience, and she will be speaking about it tomorrow night at an event sponsored by the Public Justice Center. The book is called Then Comes Marriage: United States v Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA. Roberta Kaplan joins Tom on the line from New York.

LSU Press

Daniel Mark Epstein has written numerous plays, and acclaimed biographies of an eclectic group of historical figures that includes Aimee Semple McPherson, Nat King Cole, Bob Dylan, and Abraham Lincoln. He has also garnered prizes for his eight books of poetry, and this morning, he joins Tom in the studio to talk about his latest collection of new and selected poems, which includes work that spans nearly 50 years. It’s called Dawn to Twilight

Dan will be reading from his collection tonight at the Ivy Bookshop in North Baltimore. That event starts at 7:00. Dan will be reading at The Book Plate on Friday night at 6:00PM in Chestertown, Maryland. 

Dr. Pam Peeke is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and the author of several books, including her latest, The Hunger Fix. One of her best -selling books is called Fight Fat After Forty, where she talks about the relationship between fat and stress.

With Thanksgiving coming up next week, complete with the stress that often accompanies holidays Dr. Peeke talks through show the modern, high-stress lifestyle that can lead to overeating. 


The coordinated attacks by ISIS terrorists  in Paris Friday night, which killed scores of people and wounded hundreds, have triggered waves of shock, grief and anger around the world.  Investigators continue to hunt down those who helped plan the attacks, and politicians in many countries are calling for swift and strong retaliation against the so-called Islamic State. But terrorism experts say the response to attacks like those in Paris, Beirut, Nairobi and Mumbai should be cautious and measured.  Joining Tom on the phone is Dr. Gary LaFree.  He is a professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland, and director of START, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. START has just released a new report compiling data on recent terrorist attacks.

Krissy Venosdale // Flickr Creative Commons

We take a look at public education in Baltimore City, with Dr. David Stone. He is a longtime educator who served on the Baltimore City School Board from 2002 until 2004. He then resigned from the board to become Director of Charter Schools for Baltimore City Public Schools.  In 2008, Mayor Sheila Dixon reappointed him to the school board where he served until September of this year.  Stone was vice chairman of the school board for three years.  

Since 2007 he has also been assistant vice president for Special Education at Kennedy Krieger Institute here in Baltimore. Today, Tom and Dr. Stone are talking about public charter schools in Baltimore City, equity for all public school students and the lack of transparency of the Baltimore City Public Schools budget. 

This  Saturday, Nov. 21, members of Baltimore City's delegation to the Maryland House of Delegates will hold a public hearing on education.  Among the agenda items:  Public charter schools, public schools recommended  for closure and school police.   The meeting will be held at Morgan State University's Murphy Fine Arts Center from 10 am until 1 pm.  Click here for more information. 

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.

Center Stage

Theater Critic J. Wynn Rousuck has been to see the production of The Secret Garden, running now through November 29th at Center Stage. This morning she sits down with Tom to share her thoughts on an enchanting performance.

Flickr Creative Commons// BaltimoreHousing

In 2010, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake introduced, with great fanfare, a program called Vacants to Value, which is intended to eliminate blight, and encourage individual homeowners and developers to renovate unoccupied homes and revitalize distressed neighborhoods.  Next week, the city will host a Vacants to Value Summit at the Baltimore Convention Center, with tours of neighborhoods for potential investors, and workshops on  financing and buying city-owned properties.  A couple of days ago, the Abell Foundation published a report that is the first attempt to thoroughly assess the effectiveness of this program.  The author of that report is Joan Jacobson, who spent months evaluating the Vacants to Value initiative.  

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.