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Maryland Morning with host Tom Hall aired its final broadcast on September 16, 2016. Programs airing from 10/15 - 9/16/16 can be found below.  Tom is now hosting Midday which can be found here.

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Firstladiesman.com

Andrew Och is the author of a new book about America’s First Ladies,  “Unusual For Their Time: On the Road With America’s First Ladies: Volume I.” He joins WYPR’s Lisa Morgan to tell the stories behind the women behind the men in the White House.

Och is an award-winning TV producer who began traversing the United States in 2012 for the C-SPAN Series “First Ladies: Influence and Image,” which aired in aired 2013 and 2014. For the TV series and the book, Och journeyed across the United States to research every first lady.

As he puts it, “I have traveled to nearly every city, town, village, home, school, church, birthplace, cemetery, train station, farm, plantation, library, museum, general store, town center and cottage that relates to these women, these ladies. I wanted to find out what type of woman grows up to become married to a president of the United States. What I discovered was that many of our presidents married up. Most of these men would not have made it to the White House without the help, influence, and support of their wives. Nearly all of our presidents married a woman who was unusual for her time.”

Photo by Rob Sivak WYPR

The Baltimore Playwrights Festival is one of the older new-play festivals in America.  It has produced more than 300 plays since it began in 1982.  Joining Maryland Morning theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck in our studio to talk about the festival’s history, goals, and new directions as it begins its 35th season, are two of its leading lights: Michael Stricker, the festival’s new chair, and Kimberley Lynne, one of its co-chairs. 

Nina Subin

This conversation originally aired on May 9th, 2016. 

When attorney Bryan Stevenson graduated from Harvard Law School in 1985, he dedicated himself to helping poor and incarcerated people, many of whom were wrongly convicted and condemned to death. In 1989, he founded the Equal Rights Initiative in Montgomery, AL, and he has been a tireless advocate for death row inmates, prisoners with mental illness and children who have been prosecuted as adults. His work bringing to light the effects of race and poverty in the criminal justice system has earned him dozens of awards, including a MacArthur genius grant, the American Civil Liberties Union's National Medal of Liberty, and the 2000 Olaf Palme Prize in Sweden, one of the most prestigious awards for work in international human rights. Desmond Tutu called Stevenson “America’s young Nelson Mandela.” Stevenson is the author of a best-selling memoir called Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.

Joe Williams

You wouldn’t expect it from the title, but there’s a lot of violence in the play, Superior Donuts. The opening scene takes place the morning after this Chicago donut shop has been vandalized. And there’s a fight in the second act that almost has you ducking for cover. 

Playwright Tracy Letts started writing Superior Donuts right before his 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner, August: Osage County, had its first production.

He set out to write something very different from that sprawling Oklahoma family saga. And he did. In many respects, Superior Donuts is the superior play.

Baltimore Student Cast In New Nina Simone Bio Pic

May 30, 2016

This conversation originally aired on May 9th, 2016.

You may have heard about Nina, the new bio pic about the legendary singer and pianist Nina Simone. Chances are that you have also heard about the controversy surrounding the actress who was cast in the title role. Director Cynthia Mort chose Zoe Saldana, an actress whose appearance had to be substantially altered in order to make her complexion and facial features more closely resemble those of Nina Simone. What you may not know about the movie is that it also features a talented student from here in Baltimore. 

Vivie Eteme has been playing the piano since she was only 4 years old. When she was just 9, she was cast to play the role of the young Nina Simone in the controversial bio pic. Vivie Eteme -- now a 13 year-old 7th grader at the Park School -- joins Tom in the studio to talk about her extraordinary experience.

Kisha Brown, Baltimore City Police Department

The Civilian Review Board is an independent city agency tasked with investigating claims of police misconduct including abusive language, harassment, false arrest, and false imprisonment.  The CRB handles complaints for the Baltimore City Police Department, the Baltimore City School Police, the Baltimore City Sheriff's Office, the Baltimore Environmental Police, the Police Force of the Baltimore City Community College, and the Police Force of Morgan State University.

Although the board has been around since 1999, many people don't know it exists and  those who do have called it ineffective. 

Monica Lopez-Gonzalez

Dr. Mónica López-González is a Johns Hopkins University- and MICA-trained cognitive neuroscientist whose current work, as co-founder and scientific & artistic director of La Petite Noiseuse Productions, is focused on understanding the process of creative thinking.  It's a process she knows pretty well.  Outside the academic setting, she is also a photographer and a theater artist, and the writer/director of a trilogy of plays, the third of which is receiving its world premiere next weekend at the Theater Project.  It’s called Framed IllusionMonica Lopez Gonzalez joins Tom in Studio A to talk about her preoccupation with how the human mind seeks out -- and  processes -- new and useful ideas, and how she's worked that quest into her own art.

Graphic courtesy cnn.com

How will Monday's not-guilty verdict in the trial of Officer Edward Nero, combined with last year’s hung jury in the case of Officer William Porter, affect the State’s Attorney’s case against Ceasar Goodson, the police van driver whose trial is slated to begin early next month?   He’s the next Baltimore police officer to be tried in connection with Freddie Gray's death from injuries sustained while in police custody in April 2015. And what will be the impact of the newly-released Appeals Court ruling, which compels the indicted police officers to testify in each other’s trials? This morning, legal analysis from attorney Edward Smith and University of Baltimore law professor David Jaros, who join Tom in Studio A.

PBS

 

 The late poet Maya Angelou once wrote, “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ESPN’s new Web platform is inspired by this Maya Angelou quote. It’s called The Undefeated, and its stated aim is to explore "the intersection of sports, race and culture." 

Our guest is one of the seasoned writers who make up the largely African American staff of this new endeavor, the Baltimore-based journalist and author Michael Fletcher.  He  has worked as a reporter at the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post.  He also co-wrote a book about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. One thing he’s never done is be a sports reporter, but now, here he is, working for ESPN.  He joins Tom in Studio A to talk about The Undefeated, which launched May 17th. 

Sascha Wolhandler

Chef Sascha Wolhandler, owner of Sascha's 527 Restaurant & Catering,  is back for another installment in our What Ya Got Cookin' series. This morning, Sascha joins Tom in-studio to share summer picnic ideas and a few recipes, which we've posted below for your convenience.

Alex Proimos

A recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that medical errors in hospitals and healthcare facilities account for 250,000 deaths a year. That’s more than other notorious causes like respiratory disease and stroke. 

Researchers say medical errors are not counted by the Centers for Disease Control because of an oversight in the system hospitals use to record causes of death.

Medical errors include things like misdiagnosis, surgical mishaps and accidental prescription overdoses.

According to the study’s co-author Dr. Michael Daniel, miscommunication between doctors and patients lead to many fatal medical errors.

Dr. Daniel joins Tom in-studio to discuss the study’s findings and what can be done to address the issue. 

John Gehring

It's time now for another installment in our monthly series, Living Questions, in which we examine the role of religion in the public sphere. 

John Gehring is the Program Director at Faith in Public Life and author of The Francis Effect: A Radical Pope's Challenge to the American Catholic Church. Earlier this year, Pope Francis publicly disagreed with presidential candidate Donald Trump’s stance on immigration, calling Trump’s suggestion to “build walls,” to stop undocumented immigrants from entering the country, “not Christian.”  Gehring joins Tom to discuss the interactions this outspoken Catholic Pontiff has had with some of the US presidential candidates, and the prominent role faith is playing in this year’s race for the White House.  

Terry Hartley

Maryland Public Television is airing a three-part series called Maryland Vietnam War Stories. Executive Producer Ken Day and his team spoke to more than 100 veterans and others who were in Vietnam some 50 years ago. Some of the veterans interviewed have never shared their Vietnam stories with anyone. The series airs May 24-26th at 8:00pm, coming by interesting coincidence right on the heels of President Barack Obama's landmark 3-day visit to Vietnam, May 22-24th.  

Then, next month MPT is hosting a two-day event during Father’s Day weekend to welcome Vietnam Veterans from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and throughout the MPT viewing area.   "LZ Maryland" will include exhibits and performances to recognize and celebrate the service of members from all branches of the military in one of our country’s most controversial and divisive military interventions. 

 Ken Day joins Tom in-studio to talk about these big projects, and why Vietnam still looms so large in the national psyche.

Photo: Nick Griner

Maybe you heard about the Rembrandt that was discovered in a New Jersey basement. Or, maybe you remember the little painting that was purchased at a West Virginia flea market and turned out to be a Renoir – a Renoir that was stolen from the Baltimore Museum of Art.

So there’s precedent for the unwanted, the overlooked, the discarded – let’s face it, someone’s trash – turning out to be a masterpiece. In the case of Stephen Sachs’ play, “Bakersfield Mist,” there’s a very direct precedent. 

The Walters Art Museum

Julia Marciari-Alexander has been the director of The Walters Art Museum since 2013.  She has, in the opinions of many, enlivened the museum considerably, and she has imagined a host of new ways to engage people and connect them to this storied institution.  Several weeks ago, for example, you could go to the Walters for a whiskey tasting.  On Sunday (May 22), the Walters will attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the Longest Game of Telephone.  More than 1,300 people will form a gigantic line through the museum’s various galleries, and pass a message from one person to the next.

Julia Marciari-Alexander's message to Baltimore is clear:  she wants everyone, from all corners of our community, to feel welcome and to delight in all that the museum has to offer.  She joins Tom this morning, in Studio A, to talk about her vision for The Walters and its unique role during Baltimore's difficult passage.

Gary Young Photography

Award winning bass clarinetist Todd Marcus is teaming up with legendary clarinetist Don Byron for a one-night only show at Caton Castle in Baltimore. 

In addition to being one of the only prominent bass clarinetists on the modern jazz scene, Todd runs the Baltimore based non-profit Intersection of Change. The organization addresses poverty related issues in Sandtown-Winchester and runs an art program to provide children with positive outlets.

Todd Marcus joins Tom in-studio to discuss his musical career and involvement in the community.

Dementi Studio; Marvin Joseph—The Washington Post

It's been 13 months since the uprising, following the funeral of Freddie Gray, gripped the city.  Last October, Ben Jealous, the former head of the NAACP and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, issued a report outlining what it will take for Baltimore to eliminate the trust gap between police and communities of color.

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture has declared this the "Year of the Black Male". Their latest exhibit Question Bridge: Black Males is a video installation in which black men convey the complexity of the black experience by posing and answering provocative questions.

Charles Bethea is the Chief Curator at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum. Ben Jealous and Charles Bethea join Tom in-studio to talk about solutions for Baltimore, local and national politics and how concerns about police misconduct have become a top priority for voters across the country. 

Monica Reinagel

The popular reality TV show "The Biggest Loser," has been a hit because audiences love to see those dramatic transformations, as the show's overweight contestants shed as much as 100 pounds in just a few months for a shot at some serious prize money and celebrity.  It turns out, however, that those weight-loss victories have been short-lived. A widely reported new study found many of the "biggest losers" regained all or more of their excess weight within a few years of their TV triumphs.  Why?  In this month's Smart Nutrition segment,  Tom puts that question to Nutrition Diva, Monica Reinagel. She recently wrote about the Biggest Loser study for the Huffington Post, where she is a regular contributor  on diet and nutrition issues. Monica also covers the health beat in her blog, Nutrition Over Easy.

Goldman Environmental Prize

  

This morning, we take a look at the successful, multi-year campaign to prevent a massive incinerator from being built in the South Baltimore neighborhood of Curtis Bay, and the young woman who was one of the leaders of that fight.

Destiny Watford was 16 years old when she started organizing against the incinerator that would have been built in her neighborhood and near her school. Last month, Destiny, now 20 years old and a student at Towson University, was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her tireless campaign against the incinerator.

The Goldman is a privately-funded global prize awarded each year to one person on each continent--Destiny was the winner for North America. The prize comes with more than international prestige. It also comes with a cash award of $175,000 to support her ongoing work.

Destiny won the prize for her work with Free Your Voice, a grassroots, student organization formed to oppose construction of the incinerator in Curtis Bay, which, had it been built, reportedly would have been the largest incinerator in the nation.

Joining Destiny and Tom in the studio is Fern Shen, the founder, publisher and editor of the Baltimore Brew. She’s been writing about the incinerator project for the past six years.

MICA Website

Today is graduation day for students at MICA.  It will be the second commencement ceremony for Samuel Hoi, who was appointed president of the of the venerable Maryland Institute College of Art in 2014. This morning, Mr. Hoi, known to his friends as "Sammy," joins Tom to talk about how the training of creative artists encompasses much more than lessons in painting and sculpture, and how the role of artists in society, and in the city, continues to evolve in Baltimore’s post-uprising period.  The conversation also turns to how MICA itself is launching new programs to support a vibrant and sustainable artist community. 

Josh Loock

I hope that when the world ends, we’re surrounded by friends and take some joy in companionship. Maybe there will even be some songs, a bit of dancing and a toast or two at a place called the Apocalypse Café.

That’s what goes on in BrouHaHa, the ensemble-created work by Washington’s Happenstance Theater, now at the Theatre Project.

Happenstance subtitles BrouHaHa: “A clownesque escapade.” A clown piece about the apocalypse may sound like a contradiction in terms. But there’s something surprisingly comforting – and charming -- about BrouHaHa

Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun

For our regular Healthwatch series Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore’s Health Commissioner, joins us in-studio to discuss issues affecting the health and well-being of Charm City residents. 

This month she joins Tom to discuss the Vision for Baltimore program that provides free on-site vision testing and prescription eyeglasses to all city school students from elementary to middle school. Dr. Wen also shares the city's plan to prepare for a potential rise in Zika virus rates this summer.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

This week (May 11-14) at the Baltimore Convention Center, the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) has brought together more than two thousand researchers and specialists from around the world to discuss the latest findings on the causes and treatment of autism. The brain development disorder affects as many as 2% of the children born in the United States every year.

Dr. Daniele Fallin is a leader in autism research and treatment at the Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health here in Baltimore.  She heads the school’s Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities.  She and a team of researchers presented a new study at this week’s meeting that's raised eyebrows:  it discovered that excess amounts of an essential dietary supplement for pregnant women  – folic acid -- might increase the risk of autism.  To discuss her findings and other research being presented at this week’s conference, Dr. Fallin sat down with Maryland Morning senior producer Rob Sivak.

www.toledoblade.com

A new jazz opera about the life and career of boxing legend Joe Louis called Shadowboxer is being workshopped at the Center Stage Play Lab

Joe Louis held the title of heavy weight champion of the world from 1937-1949. When he defeated German boxer Max Schmeling in 1938, it was a symbolic win for America against the growing tide of Fascism and a monumental win for African-Americans during a time when black people were still considered to be second class citizens.

Carolyn Black-Sotir, producer and assistant director of Shadowboxer, says “Joe Louis was the first black sports figure to be embraced by all of America, both blacks and whites.”

Carolyn Black-Sotir and Samuel McKelton – who sings the role of Joe Louis’ manager, Julian Black—join Tom in-studio to discuss Shadowboxer.

graphic by cnn.com

Pre-trial motions in the case of Baltimore Police Officer Edward Nero took place Tuesday.  His trial was scheduled to begin Wednesday (May 11), but city prosecutors asked for a one-day delay because a power outage at their offices last Saturday slowed their preparations for the case.  Nero is the second of six police officers to be tried in the case involving the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, the young black man who died from injuries he sustained while in police custody 13 months ago.  Officer Nero will not have a jury trial.  Rather, he has asked Judge Barry Williams to make a ruling after hearing the evidence in his case.  In March, the Court of Appeals ruled that another indicted police officer, William Porter, will be compelled to testify in the trials of the other five officers.  Porter’s own trial ended in a hung jury, and he will be re-tried at a later date. 

To get us up to date on all of this, we turn once again to our legal eagles, Edward Smith and David Jaros.  Edward Smith is an attorney in private practice.  He has served in the office of the State’s Attorney, and he has argued cases in front of the Supreme Court. David Jaros is an associate professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, whose scholarly focus is on Criminal Law.  They join Tom in the studio.

Rob Sivak/WYPR

Baltimore is a city known for many things, but one of its greatest assets may be its artistic community. A driving engine of that community is MICA, the Maryland Institute College of Art. Founded in 1826, it’s the oldest art and design college in the country. But old as it is, the world-renowned school is all about innovation.  The latest evidence of that is the new program called MICApreneurship. Launched last September, it aims to promote and seed student business enterprises that incorporate artistic and design elements.  And it’s doing so through its new annual UP/Start Venture Competition, a “Shark-Tank”-like contest, the first of which was held on April 28th. MICA student- and alumni-applicants pitched their business plans to a panel of judges, vying for a piece of a $100,000 pool of foundation-supported development grants.

Joining co-host Nathan Sterner in the Maryland Morning studio this morning are members of three of the four winning teams of MICA's  first UP/Start Venture Competition...

Sarah Joy Miller

This weekend the Lyric Opera of Baltimore is presenting a production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet that infuses the music of French composer Charles Gounod. 

Sarah Joy Miller, who sings the role of Juliet, got her big break as the star of the an opera about model Anna Nicole Smith.  She joins Tom to discuss what it's like to transition from the contemporary role of Anna Nicole Smith to Juliet in the Shakespeare classic. 

Nina Subin

    

When attorney Bryan Stevenson graduated from Harvard Law School in 1985, he dedicated himself to helping poor and incarcerated people, many of whom were wrongly convicted and condemned to death. In 1989, he founded the Equal Rights Initiative in Montgomery, AL, and he has been a tireless advocate for death row inmates, prisoners with mental illness and children who have been prosecuted as adults.

His work bringing to light the effects of race and poverty in the criminal justice system has earned him dozens of awards, including a MacArthur genius grant, the American Civil Liberties Union's National Medal of Liberty, and the 2000 Olaf Palme Prize in Sweden, one of the most prestigious awards for work in international human rights.

Desmond Tutu called Stevenson “America’s young Nelson Mandela.” Stevenson is the author of a best-selling memoir called Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.

This Wednesday evening, May 11th, he’ll be speaking here in Baltimore at the Joseph Myerhoff Symphony Hall at an event celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Public Justice Center, which works to fight the causes of injustice, poverty and discrimination.

Bryan Stevenson joins Tom this morning on the phone from his office in Montgomery, Alabama.

C. Stanley Photography

Arena Stage in Washington is now featuring the Pulitzer-prize winning play, Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar. The play is set during a dinner party held by Amir, a successful son of South Asian immigrants. Dinner conversations spark Amir to question his career, culture, and identity.  Here's theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck's  review:

At first glance, it looks like the hippest, most sophisticated, intimate dinner party. Two young New York couples: The hosts are a Pakistani-American corporate lawyer and his white, artist wife; the guests are a Jewish curator at a prominent museum and his wife, an African-American corporate lawyer.

This small social gathering could be a picture of America at its best... 

You may have heard about Nina, the new bio pic about the legendary singer and pianist Nina Simone. Chances are that you have also heard about the controversy surrounding the actress who was cast in the title role. Director Cynthia Mort chose Zoe Saldana, an actress whose appearance had to be substantially altered in order to make her complexion and facial features more closely resemble those of Nina Simone. What you may not know about the movie is that it also features a talented student from here in Baltimore. Vivie Eteme has been playing the piano since she was only 4 years old. When she was just 9, she was cast to play the role of the young Nina Simone in the controversial bio pic. Vivie Eteme -- now a 13 year-old 7th grader at the Park School -- joins Tom in the studio to talk about her extraordinary experience.

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