The Signal
12:22 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

A Lego Armada, Zig Zag Wanderer, and Jacob Panic

Commodore Wilbert McKinley’s Lego ‘Teach-Fleet,’ Madison Smartt Bell’s ‘Zig Zag Wanderer,’ and Jacob Panic’s banjo ‘pop-grass’

After a long career as a naval architect, Wilbert McKinley, Jr., is starting over.  This time, he’s building an entire fleet by himself – out of Legos.  Commodore McKinley’s educational Teach Fleet is the story of a man who finally discovers what he’s meant to do.  He becomes a visionary artist and a mentor.  As it happens, he’s enjoying a second childhood along the way. Producer Aaron Henkin brings us the story. 

UPCOMING EVENT:  Commodore McKinley cordially invites listeners to join him at his TEACH FLEET Lego Show & STEM Expo.  It’s happening Friday, August 8, 12 to 8 p.m. and Saturday, August 9, 10 a.m. to5 pm. At Cecil College, North East Campus, in the PE Complex. McKinly will be tehere with his entire 150+ ship TEACH FLEET LEGO collection. Also on hand:  representatives from the Sea Grant Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Coast Guard and the Office of Naval Research. For more information email


 Madison Smartt Bell is best known as a novelist, but he has always written short fiction as well. Releasing a collection of seemingly unrelated short stories is no easy feat in the evolving world of publishing, but Bell has found a rather unique approach.

  The banjo has been on a long, strange musical trip since its first appearance in America.  The instrument was first fashioned by enslaved Africans during Colonial times, a musical descendent of their native kora.  From there, the banjo rang out through the hills and hollers of Appalachia, a mournful accompaniment to mountain balladeers.  Meanwhile, the strumming of the plectrum banjo found its way onto early jazz recordings.  Then along came the fast-picking Bluegrass style of Bill Monroe.  Recently, the banjo has been enjoying a warm embrace in the world of contemporary rock music, from Modest Mouse to Mumford & Sons.  Now, local singer / songwriter Jacob Panic is stretching the banjo’s boundaries one step further.

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