Midday | WYPR

Midday

Monday-Friday from noon-1:00, Tom Hall and his guests are talking about what’s on your mind, and what matters most to Marylanders:  the latest news, local and national politics, education and the environment, popular culture and the arts, sports and science, race and religion, movies and medicine.  We welcome your questions and comments. E-mail us at midday@wypr.org, tweet us: @middaytomhall, or call us at 410-662-8780.
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Meet the Midday team

Midday programs with Sheilah Kast as host ended on September 16, 2016

Archive prior to October 5, 2015

Photo courtesy New Press

Today, a Midday Newsmaker interview with  Georgetown University law professor and former federal prosecutor Paul Butler.  He’s written a book that is a clarion call for a complete change in the way we think about the problems of racial inequality and injustice.  

The book is Chokehold: Policing Black Men – A Renegade Prosecutor’s Radical Thoughts on How to Disrupt the System.  In it, Butler quotes the famous Langston Hughes poem, Harlem, in which Hughes asks, “What happens to a dream deferred?  Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?...Or does it explode?”

Butler argues for explosion in this provocative book, which questions assumptions long held by those on both the left and the right.  He also chronicles how the curse of White Supremacy has dictated in a fundamental way the political, judicial, and social norms in America; and he proposes some very controversial ideas, such as abolition of prisons. Throughout, Butler argues the case for radical reform persuasively, and with tremendous grace, erudition and scholarly authority. 

Professor Butler joins Tom from NPR studios in Washington, D.C. 

photo courtesy hessgunshow.com

Tom speaks with the artist and curator behind a provocative art exhibition called Gun Show.  The installation is currently at University of Maryland-Baltimore County's Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture in Catonsville.  David Hess is the artist, and Dr. Kathy O’Dell is the UMBC curator who's put together this thought-provoking installation, which examines the ubiquity of guns in American culture, and what that signifies about our values as a nation.   

Gunshow will be on display at UMBC until October 14th.  Dr. O’Dell will lead a gallery talk next Friday, October 6th and the following Wednesday, October  11th; both talks will begin at noon.  For more information click here.  

photo courtesy Pixabay

We’ve all heard of the campaigns in the US to legalize medical and recreational uses for marijuana -- the cannabis plant with potent therapeutic and hallucinogenic properties.  Less well-known is the campaign to legalize marijuana’s weaker cousin -- hemp -- an industrial crop that won’t get you high, but yields a high-quality fiber and oil that’s used to make thousands of products, from rope to soap. 

Hemp is grown commercially in about 40 countries around the world, including Canada, but not in the United States, where, since the 1970s, the federal government has classified hemp, like marijuana, as a dangerous drug.  But things are changing.  A resurgent interest in the economic potentials of this age-old crop has led the federal government and many states to take the first steps toward legalizing hemp production. Maryland has been slow to take those steps, but there are signs of change here , too, and we’re going to talk about that with three guests today who’ve taken a keen interest in hemp... 

Joining Tom in the studio is David Fraser-Hidalgo. He’s a Maryland State delegate - a Democrat who has represented District 15, including Montgomery County, since 2013.  He has also co-sponsored a series of hemp legalization bills over the past few years, including an unsuccessful measure introduced earlier this year during the 2017 General Assembly session. 

Also in the studio is Rona Kobell. She’s a writer for the Chesapeake Bay Journal, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, and the author of an Abell Foundation report published this past spring, called Hope for Hemp: A Misunderstood Plant Prepares for its Comeback.

And joining us on the line from public radio station WMRA in Harrisonburg, Virginia, is Glenn Rodes.  He’s a farmer from Rockingham County in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He is a partner in Riverhill Farms, and works with his parents, two brothers, and four nephews. The Mennonite family raises turkeys, operates a dairy, grows crops, feeds beef cattle, and does custom harvesting.  They also grow a bit of hemp.  Glenn Rodes is one of two farmers who’ve partnered with James Madison University on a hemp research project to explore ways to grow the industrial crop with existing farm equipment.

photo courtesy Red Branch Theatre Company

It's Thursday, and that means Midday's theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, once again joins Tom in the studio, this week with her review of a new musical production of The Bridges of Madison County, by the Red Branch Theatre Company in Columbia, Maryland.

Based on the best-selling 1992 novel by Robert James Waller (who died this past March at the age of 77), the musical adaptation describes a four-day romantic encounter between Francesca (played by Erin Granfield), a married but lonely Italian housewife in Iowa, and a traveling National Geographic photographer named Robert Kincaid (played by Ryan Burke). 

The sentimental storyline is enriched with a musical score by Tony Award®-winning composer Jason Robert Brown and book by Pulitzer Prize winning Marsha Norman.  The Red Branch Theatre Company production is directed by Clare Shaffer, with music direction by Paige Rammelkamp.

The Bridges of Madison County (which contains adult language and themes) continues at the Red Branch Theatre Company through Saturday, October 14.

Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun

The Excel Academy, a high school on the west side of Baltimore, in Poppleton, has just under 100 students, many of whom have been working to overcome behavioral problems; some are dealing with homelessness or pregnancy. And there is another, heartbreaking problem that these students have had to cope with. Six of their classmates have been killed in street violence over the last year. Six kids, from one school.

To date, 263 people have been killed in Baltimore in 2017. Of those 263 people, 26 were children and young people who did not live long enough to celebrate their 21st birthdays. Most were teenagers. Two were babies. 

Today on Midday, a conversation about what the constant trauma of street violence does to the mental and emotional health of young people. Tom is joined by a panel of guests. 

Writer and poet Kondwani Fidel wrote about his experience growing up in Baltimore in a cover story for the City Paper titled How a young boy has been decaying in Baltimore since age 10: A Death Note.

penguin random house

Author and musician James McBride joins Tom to talk about his latest collection of stories Five Carat Soul. McBride won the National Book Award for his novel, The Good Lord Bird. He’s written an internationally acclaimed memoir, The Color of Water, and a novel about the Underground Railroad called Song Yet SungHis 2002 novel, Miracle at St. Anna was made into a hit movie by Spike Lee.

The stories in Five Carat Soul are tragic and hilarious. In one four-part story, we meet the members of the Five Carat Soul Bottom Bone Band -- Goat, Beanie, Bunny, Dex, Ray Ray and Butter. We meet many more unforgettable characters, including a toy broker on a quest to procure a most unique train with a complicated history; a Union Soldier who unexpectedly becomes an adoptive parent; the devil, and a lion named Harold.  

Courtesy Chris Van Hollen

US Senator Chris Van Hollen was elected to represent Maryland in the Senate last November after serving seven terms in Congress. He currently serves on the Budget, Banking, Agriculture and Appropriations Committees. The senator joins Tom in the studio to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing our nation, including the Graham-Cassidy healthcare proposal and a Medicare-for-all bill from Sen. Bernie Sanders; the big data breach at Equifax; mounting tensions on the Korean Peninsula; and the impact of the growing NFL protests. Sen. Van Hollen also fields questions from Midday listeners.

flickr

Three million people are without power in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.  And the latest deadly earthquake in Mexico has left more than 280 dead as search and rescue efforts continue.

Many critics, both foreign and domestic, considered President Donald Trump’s debut address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York a different kind of natural disaster, this one of the diplomatic variety.  He threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and referred to Kim Jong-un as “Rocket Man,” a soubriquet the President appears to think is funny.   Kim Jung-Un, however, found the President's comments to be less than amusing, blasting Trump as a  "dotard," and a "frightened dog."

Kiirstn Pagan/Everyman Theatre

M Butterfly, the Tony Award-winning play is the current offering at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre, through Oct. 8. Everyman Theatre founder and Artistic Director Vincent Lancisi and Everyman Ensemble actor Bruce Randolph Nelson are in Studio A with Tom to talk about the production and to tell us about an extraordinary, chance meeting in France with Bernard Bouriscot,  the real diplomat at the heart of the M. Butterfly story.  

Maryland Humanities

Nigerian author and essayist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie joins Tom for the hour. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus is this year's One Maryland One Book selection. Sponsored by Maryland Humanities, students and literature lovers across the state are reading and discussing the book.

Chimamanda is the author of two other novels: Half of a Yellow Sun, and Americanah, which is being made into a film. She published a short story collection in 2009 called The Thing Around Your Neck, and her 2012 TED Talk  was published as a book, called We Should All be Feminists.  Her latest book is Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in 15 Suggestions.

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