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: @MiddayWYPR, 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

On today’s edition of Healthwatch, with Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen:

Behavioral Health System Baltimore and the Baltimore City Health Department have announced plans to open the city’s first Stabilization Center, with $3.6 million in funds from the State Legislature. 

Cuts by the Trump Administration to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative threatens the  progress made locally and nationally in reducing the number of unwanted teen pregnancies.  We speak with Healthy Teen Network President, Pat Paluzzi, DrPH, about the impact these cuts will have on her clients. 

Finally, senior citizens in Baltimore fall more often than seniors elsewhere.  Roughly 5,000 visits to emergency rooms last year were because of people taking a tumble.  What can be done to keep older folks on their feet?

Dr. Wen answers our questions for the hour, and takes your calls, emails and tweets about your public health concerns.

Cover art courtesy Apollo Press

Today, a conversation about the power of history.

The struggle for civil rights that we’ve remembered in the life and death of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  and other leaders of the movement a half-century ago is a struggle that continues today.  But how much do we really know about what happened in Montgomery and Selma and Memphis back in the 1950s and 60s, and about how to connect Dr. King’s work with today’s Black Lives Matter movement? 

We don’t know enough, says Baltimore author and youth advocate Kevin Shird, who joins Midday senior producer and guest host Rob Sivak  this hour to talk about his new book, The Colored Waiting Room:  Empowering the Original and the New Civil Rights Movementsthe author's effort to make America’s civil rights history come alive in the context of today’s fraught racial landscape.

Mr. Shird gained a new appreciation for the power of history after he struck up a friendship two years ago with 84 year-old Nelson Malden of Montgomery, Alabama.  Malden is an African American who’d been an eyewitness to the historic civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 60s that played out in Montgomery and elsewhere, and who was, for more than six years, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s barber.

Mr. Shird found in Nelson Malden a willing mentor and history guide, someone who could satisfy his yearning to know more about the American civil rights struggle than what he’d learned in school.

In his new book, Kevin Shird describes his friendship with Nelson Malden, and the pilgrimages he made to the American South and to Malden’s Montgomery home.  It's a personal narrative that tells the story of the civil rights struggle through Nelson Malden’s shared experience, and draws lessons from it for today’s new movement for racial justice.

Associated Press photo

Regular Midday listeners know that every couple of Mondays, we check  in with The Afro-American Newspaper, the venerable news operation just down the road from WYPR.  Today, The Afro’s  managing editor, Kamau High, joins guest host Rob Sivak to spotlight some of the stories the paper is covering this week. 

Those stories include the second of a two-part series by Morgan State U. professor and Pulitzer Prize winning columnist E.R. Shipp, looking at The Black Press and the Baltimore '68 Riots

Another retrospective on that troubled time, and on something good that came out of it, is J. K. Schmid's exclusive feature for The Afro on the city's legendary "Goon Squad," an organization of a dozen-plus ministers, professors, and even a judge, that campaigned for Baltimore causes for decades. Some of the few surviving members share their memories  with Schmid, and we're reminded that they launched a food bank during the riots that eventually morphed into the Maryland Food Bank. Goon Squad members were also involved in the creation of Baltimorians United for Leadership Development, or BUILD, still one of the city's most important centers of community activism. The Afro's Baltimore Editor Sean Yoes also reports on the Civilian Review Board's conclusion that Kevin Davis, Jr. was wrongfully arrested on a murder charge by Baltimore police back in 2015. The CRB is urging disciplinary action against the arresting officers.

Others stories spotlighted in the current issue of The Afro:  the road ahead for the newly elected chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, Darryl Barnes; and how the Maryland General Assembly's busy final days led to new opportunities for minority licenses to grow and market medical marijuana.

Photo Courtesy Jim Shea for Maryland

On this latest installment of our series of Conversations with the Candidates, Tom's guest is Jim Shea, a Democrat who's running to be his party's nominee for Maryland Governor.  Shea is one of nine Democrats who'll be on the gubernatorial ballot for the June 26th primary.  The winner will face Republican Governor Larry Hogan in the November general election.  

Shea announced his candidacy last summer, and has chosen Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott as his Lt. Governor running mate.  

Mr. Shea is 65 years old.  He grew up in Towson and he currently lives in Owings Mills.  He is a father of four children and the grandfather of two.  He has been married to his wife Barbara for 39 years.

Smythe Richbourg/Creative Commons

Today, a look at what was accomplished by our legislators in Annapolis during the 2018 MD General Assembly, which ended on Monday night.

Governor Hogan has signed more than a hundred bills into law since then, and he’s let several become law without his signature.  More than 3,100 bills were introduced this year, a record number. 

Tom talks with two Republicans and two Democrats this afternoon to get their impressions of what the Governor has said is the most productive session of his tenure. 

Two of our guests represent Baltimore City.  Two represent Baltimore and Harford Counties. 

Photo by Joe Williams

It's Thursday, and that means we welcome to the studio Midday's far-ranging theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, back from our western frontier and an evening at Frederick's Maryland Ensemble Theater, which is currently staging a new production of playwright Gina Gionfriddo's feminist comedy, Rapture, Blister, Burn -- a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

MET's program describes it as "an intensely smart, immensely funny play that asks the question, 'What makes us happy in life?' After graduate school, Catherine and Gwen chose polar opposite paths. Catherine built a career as a rock star academic, while Gwen built a home with her husband and children. Decades later each woman covets the other’s life, commencing a dangerous game of musical chairs."

Playwright Gionfriddo, in her program notes for Playwrights Horizons' 2012 world premiere of Rapture, Blister, Burn in New York, wrote, "I don't want to say too much about what happens in this play, but age and generation loom large. My play, Becky Shaw, feels to me a play about years 30-35; it's still possible to launch a career or start a family, but you need to hurry up. Rapture, Blister, Burn feels like a play about years 40-45. Big, unfulfilled dreams are still possible, but they're statistically less likely. If you're going to take a big leap and remake yourself, you have to do it now."

The production at MET is directed by Suzanne Beale, and the cast includes Gené Fouché, Carol Randolph, Madeline Reinhold, Laura Stark, and Ron Ward.

Rapture, Blister, Burn continues at Maryland Ensemble Theatre in Frederick through April 29.

Photo by Geoffrey Wahl, Christopher Dravis - NCI-Salk Institute

Today, a conversation about new breakthroughs in cancer research.  Nearly 1.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S every year, and nearly 600,000 of those people die from the disease.  Those who survive often face difficult surgeries, and long rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or costly immunotherapy.    

Cancer is one of the world’s leading killers because it’s usually discovered too late, after tumors have grown and spread to other parts of the body.  If detected early enough, most cancers would be survivable.  But until recently, there have been no reliable early-screening methods for the most aggressive forms of cancer. 

Now, a team of physicians at Johns Hopkins has devised a new kind of blood test that can screen for 8 different kinds of cancer.  Taken together, those eight cancers account for more than 60 percent of cancer deaths in the United States each year. 

That team is led by one of Tom's guests today, Dr. Bert Vogelstein.   He is the Clayton Professor of Oncology and Pathology, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at The Johns Hopkins Medical School and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center here in Baltimore.  He’s a pioneer in the field of cancer genomics.  His research papers have reportedly been cited more often than those of any other scientist, in any discipline.

And joining us on the line from the studios of Kaiser Health News in Washington is Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal.  She’s a former emergency room physician. She spent 22 years covering health issues for the New York Times.  She was appointed the editor and chief of Kaiser Health News in 2016.  She’s also the author of American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back, which was published exactly one year ago today.  (Dr. Rosenthal spoke with Tom Hall about her book and the issues it explores on the Aug. 9, 2017 Midday. She  was interviewed earlier in the year by Terri Gross on WHYY's Fresh Air. )

Drs. Vogelstein and Rosenthal will be co-panelists again at the Maryland Science Center starting at 7pm on Tuesday, April 24th, in a talk entitled Truths, Myths and Breakthroughs in Medical and Cancer Research, part of this year’s Great Talk series.  Follow the link for program and ticket information.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: An Appreciation

Apr 11, 2018
Photo Courtesy Sahisotry.org.za

Today, a reflection on the work and legacy of the late Winnie Madikezela-Mandela, a fierce advocate for social justice who was considered by many South Africans to be the mother of their nation.  

She is widely revered in South Africa and around the African continent for her relentless fight against the South African apartheid system which, for nearly 50 years, subjected the native Black population to violence, intimidation and segregation.

Winnie Madikizela Mandela died last Monday at the age of 81. 

Dr. Emira Woods joins us in Studio A.  Dr. Woods is a  scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, and a member of the International Working Group for Africans Rising, a network of African social justice movements. 

Joining us from Boston is Dr. Xolela Mangcu.  He’s a Professor of Sociology at the University of Cape Town, and  the author and co-author of nine books, including a biography of the late anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko.

On today's program, a conversation about housing in Baltimore, through the lens of gentrification and social justice.

While perhaps more than 16,000 houses in Baltimore are vacant and many neighborhoods have to contend with persistent blight, other areas are booming.  Station North and Greenmount West, on the North Avenue corridor, for example, have seen sustained commercial and residential development over the last decade, with investment from private developers, the city and the state. But who benefits from this kind of development?  Some of the neighborhoods that are part of the Baltimore Renaissance have attracted a population of transplants that are young, college educated and mostly white.  

But does our city also have investment that is creating opportunities for Baltimore’s low income minority population?  Can we have economic growth and equality? 

Tom is joined in Studio A by, Dr. Seema Iyer who oversees the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance at the Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore; Dr. Lawrence Brown, Associate Professor in the School of Community Health and Policy at Morgan State University and a long-time advocate for racial equality in Baltimore.

And, Cultural Anthropologist and activist, Sabiyha Prince,  author of the book  African Americans and Gentrification in Washington, DC: Race, Class and Social Justice in the Nation’s Capital.

image courtesy hackaday.com

(This story originally aired on April 5, 2017) 

Today, an archive edition of Midday on Ethics.  A year ago, HBO and Oprah Winfrey brought the story of Henrietta Lacks to television. The film, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” based on the book of the same name by Rebecca Skloot, is still available for streaming on the HBO website.

You may already be somewhat familiar with the story of Henrietta Lacks, who lived in southeastern Baltimore County in the early 1950s, in Turner Station.   She had cancer, and in 1951, doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital did a biopsy to diagnose her disease and to determine her course of treatment.  She died 8 months later.  But her cells -- a rare "immortal" line that could be reproduced endlessly -- have lived on.  She may have consented to the biopsy.  But without her consent, and without the knowledge of her family, cells taken during that procedure were used, for decades, in medical research around the world.  In fact the HeLa cell line – H-E for Henrietta and L-A for Lacks -- revolutionized medical research, and, by some accounts, has resulted in billions of dollars’ worth of medical breakthroughs.  None of the proceeds, however, ever went to Ms. Lacks or to her descendants.

So, could the same thing happen today?  What follows is a conversation about Informed Consent. How much have standards changed in the 65 years since Henrietta Lacks was a cancer patient at Hopkins? And what are today’s standards for Informed Consent?

Dr. Jeffrey Kahn is the director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.  He stops by Midday from time to time to talk about how ethicists help us frame the complex questions that surround stories like the extraordinary case of Henrietta Lacks.

Because this is an archive edition of Midday, we’re not able to take any new calls or emails.   We first aired this show in April of last year, just before the Henrietta Lacks film debuted on HBO. 

Smythe Richbourg/Creative Commons

It’s the Midday News Wrap. The Maryland General Assembly wraps up its 2018 session on Monday at midnight. So far, more than 3,100 bills have been introduced in this session. Today, a tally of what legislation has passed, and what is likely to pass -- or fail -- between now and “sine die.”

First, Tom takes a look at one of the most controversial bills of the session: Senate Bill 122, the Comprehensive Crime Bill of 2018. It calls for increasing penalties for certain crimes, including mandating penalties for crimes involving a firearm. It would also fund the anti-crime initiative, Safe Streets, and establish a task force to study statutes related to gangs.

Joshua Harris and Rev. Kobi Little join Tom in studio to explain why the NAACP (and other groups) oppose the bill.  Harris is director of communications for the NAACP Maryland State Conference. He’s also a former mayoral candidate in Baltimore City.  Little is the Maryland NAACP’s director of political action.

Later in the News Wrap, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record joins Tom on the line from the State House with the latest news about several other bills on this, the second to last official day of the session.

Photo Courtesy Morgan State University Opera

Tom is joined in Studio A by, internationally acclaimed classical soprano, Marquita Lister and the conductor and keyboard virtuoso Lester Green.  They are Artistic Director and Music Director, respectively, for the production of Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadows, which opens at Morgan State University on Tuesday,  April 10th. 

The Opera and its libretto were written by the composer, Steven M. Allen.  It is suffused with Dunbar’s verse and correspondence between Dunbar and Moore, both of whom are recognized as luminaries of American literature.

Image from Creative Commons

It’s Midday at the Movies, our monthly focus on new films and film-industry trends, with our regular movie afficionadoes, Jed Dietz, founding director of the Maryland Film Festival, and Ann Hornaday, film critic for the Washington Post.  They join Tom to consider how new filmmaking and distribution technologies are changing the definition of "a movie." 

In her piece in the Washington Post last week, Ann Hornaday notes the decision by Cannes Film Festival organizers to exclude from this year's awards competition all non-theatrically-released films -- such as those from streaming-service giants Amazon and Netflix -- unless they’re released in French theaters for a month before they become available on-line.  Is a movie still a movie, if you can watch it on your phone?  Is the experience of seeing a movie in a public theater any better than watching it on the big screen in your livingroom?  Today, the movie mavens weigh in on those questions, and spotlight some notable new films opening at Baltimore theaters.

Shealyn Jae Photography

It's Thursday, and our peripatetic theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, is back with her weekly review of one of the Baltimore region's thespian offerings.  Today, she spotlights the new production of Cecelia Raker's play, La Llorona, now on stage at Baltimore's Cohesion Theatre Company.

La Llorona plays off a popular Southwestern legend about the loudly lamenting ghost of a woman who, scorned in love, took the lives of her children and then her own, and was then turned away at the Gates of Heaven.  When a group of young women get thrown together on a school project about La Llorona, the "legend" becomes a real and frightening presence in their lives.  But are La Llorona's shifting stories and irreverent advice meant to steer the young women away from her tragic fate, or entice them to share it? 

La Llorona is directed at Cohesion Theatre Company by Susan Stroupe, and features Mani Yangilmau in the title role, Emily Sucher as Rachel, Natanya Washer as Maria, and Mia Ybarra as Molly.   La Llorona is being produced in repertory with The Orphan Sea, a play by Caridad Svich that is also being directed by Susan Stroupe.

La Llorona -- which contains language, themes, & situations suitable for mature audiences  -- continues at Cohesion Theatre Company until Saturday, April 14th.  For ticket and seating info, click here.

Photo courtesy Flickr

Today, we mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with a reflection on his legacy, and a discussion about the state of Civil Rights in America today.  Fifty years on, what has changed for people of color and economically underserved populations in our country?

Tom is joined in Studio A by, Rev. Dr. Heber Brown, Senior Pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church and founder of Orita's Cross Freedom School; and Rev. Dr. C Anthony Hunt, Senior Pastor of Epworth United Methodist Chapel and King scholar.

Joining us from NPR studios in DC is Myesha Braden, Director for the Criminal Justice Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Tom speaks with Congressman Elijah Cummings, who represents the 7th District here in MD, about his annual job fair, and the fight against opioid addiction in Maryland and around the nation. The Congressman recently penned an Op-ed with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, which called on Congress to pass a comprehensive legislation on this issue.

Rep. Cummings  is the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. 

Photo courtesy PodOMatic

It’s Midday Culture Connection, with our regular guest, Dr. Sheri Parks of the University of Maryland.  Today, a conversation about the Neo Soul movement

In the 1980s and the early 90s, musical artists like Erykah Badu, Lauren Hill, India Arie and others came to define a musical genre.  

But Neo Soul has evolved into something much more than music.  Today, the term Neo Soul suggests a lifestyle that's premised on spirituality, self-care, and diet, and that favors beauty-care products made with natural ingredients.

Dr. Sheri Parks is on the faculty of the University of Maryland College Park, and the author of Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman

Joining Sheri and Tom in Studio A is the singer, producer, holistic-wellness practitioner and arts activist, Navasha Daya. We hear also from Jamyla Bennu, the co-founder and creator with her husband Pierre of Oyin HandmadeTheir Baltimore-based company markets an Africa-inspired line of natural beauty and hair-and-skin care products that embody many aspects of the Neo Soul lifstyle.  Bennu's conversation with Tom was recorded earlier.

Photo Credit Baltimore Sun

On our latest installment of Midday with the Afro, a rally was held in Baltimore support of Stephon Clark, the young man who died at the hands of police in Sacramento, CA. 

The bills concerning black ownership of medical marijuana licenses are coming down to the wire. 

Also, Nathaniel Oakes, the Senator from the 41st district is out of office, but he is on the ballot in the June Primary.  And there has been a leadership change in the MD Legislative Black Caucus..

Kamau High is Managing Editor of The Afro American Newspapers.  He joins Tom live in Studio A. 

The AFRO’s Second Annual High Tea is Saturday April 21st, 2018.  This year’s theme is “We Too Support #METOO”, and a portion of proceeds from this event will benefit The House of Ruth.  For tickets and info, click the link below: 

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-afro-american-newspapers-second-annual-high-tea-tickets-43717333722

photo courtesy Friends of Johnny O

Today, another installment in our series of Conversations with the Candidates.  Joining Tom in Studio A is former Maryland House Delegate and public school teacher John Olszewski, Jr.  Known as “Johnny O,” he represented the County’s 6th district for two terms in the Maryland General Assembly, and spent nine years teaching in several Baltimore County public schools. In June of 2017, he took leave from his position with a local software company to launch himself back into politics. Olszewski is one of four Democrats vying to be their party's primary pick for the office of Baltimore County Executive.  Maryland primary elections will be held on June 26th.

Today, Tom's guest is Krish Vignarajah, a Democratic candidate for Governor -- as we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates who will be on the June 26th primary ballot here in MD.  She is one of nine Democrats on the ballot in June. The winner will go up against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the general election in November. 

Several candidates have chosen women as their Lt. Governor running mates, but Ms. Vignarajah is the only woman running for the top job. Her running mate is Sharon Blake, the former head of the Baltimore Teacher’s Union.

Krish Vignarajah served as Policy Director to First Lady Michelle Obama. She was also a senior advisor at the State Department for Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Before working in the Obama administration, she was a consultant at McKinsey & Company. She is a Yale and Oxford educated lawyer who practiced law in Washington, DC. She clerked for Chief Judge Michael Boudin on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and she taught as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. She is 38 years old. She and her husband, Collin O’Mara, who is the President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, live in Gaithersburg with their baby daughter.

We streamed this conversation live on WYPR's Facebook page. Want to watch that video? Click here.

Creative Commons

Today, a preview of a powerful new film about the last three years in the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights leader who was assassinated 50 years ago next week, on April 4, 1968.

The renowned historian Taylor Branch is an executive producer of the HBO documentary, King in the Wilderness, a compendium of reflections by King’s closest friends, interwoven with archival footage, about a period that was one of the most tumultuous in American history, and one of the most personally challenging and difficult for the iconic civil rights leader, as he struggled to confront racism, poverty and militarism, and the increasing danger to his own life. 

Taylor Branch joins Tom in Studio A to talk about the film, and the new insights it provides on its its tragic subject.

King in the Wilderness will be screened tonight at 7pm the Parkway Theater.   The film airs Monday April 2nd at 8pm on HBO.

Photo by Stan Barouh

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us with her weekly review of one of the region's many thespian offerings.  Today, it's Aubergine, the new play by Julia Cho that's on stage at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre

Aubergine is a story about the complexity of family relationships and the emotional power of food.  The play centers on a Korean family that's struggling to bridge generational and cultural divides, and the foods and culinary traditions that help the family members find each other across those divides.

Produced in association with Olney Theatre Center and directed by Everyman's founding artistic director, Vincent Lancisi, Aubergine features Tony Nam (as Ray); Glenn Kubota (Ray's father); Song Kim (Ray's uncle); Jefferson Russell (Lucien); Eunice Bae (Cornelia); and Megan Anderson (Diane/hospital worker).

Aubergine continues at Everyman Theatre through Sunday, April 15th. 

Photo courtesy Mary Frances Berry

Today on the show, a conversation with Dr. Mary Frances Berry.  She is a scholar, an author and activist whose new book chronicles the history of American protest and resistance movements, from the Roosevelt administration through the Obama years.

From the Vietnam War, to the end of Apartheid in South Africa, to her long tenure on the US Civil Rights Commission that the spanned several administrations, Dr. Berry brings deep experience and erudition to this fascinating book.  It’s called History Teaches Us to Resist: How Progressive Movements Have Succeeded in Challenging Times.  

photo courtesy Hood College

A special Midday broadcast today, live from Hodson Auditorium on the campus of Hood College, in historic Frederick, Maryland.

Our topic today: Frederick at the Crossroads.

Founded in 1748, Frederick has seen its share of American history.  It was founded at the crossroads of a major north-south Native American trail and the east-west route from the Chesapeake Bay across the Appalachian Mountains to the Ohio River Valley.  Frederick County is home to Ft. Detrick and a branch of the National Cancer Institute. The Catoctin Mountain Park, and the presidential retreat, Camp David, are here.

It is quaint.  And beautiful, as anyone who has been in downtown Frederick can tell you. But while it may be old, it is anything but standing still.  In fact, the city and the county are among the fastest growing parts of Maryland. The population of Frederick City, with its 70,000 residents, has grown 32 percent since 2000 and a whopping 73% since 1990.  And with growth like that, Frederick finds itself at a crossroads once again. How does it honor its past, while being thrust into the future by incredibly rapid growth?  How does it remain charming, despite the pressures to become a bedroom community of Rockville and, by extension, Bethesda and Washington, DC?

Photo Courtesy Brian Frosh

We continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates, which includes those who already hold public office.   Maryland’s Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh joins us live in Studio A. He is unopposed in the primary in June.  He’ll be running against Republican Craig Wolf in November.  Mr. Frosh was elected to the AG’s office in 2014, after serving 10 years in the MD Senate.

He lives in Somerset with his wife Marcy.  They have two daughters. 

Today's conversation, like all our Conversations with the Candidates, was streamed live on WYPR's Facebook page.

This weekend, the epidemic of gun related violence, particularly mass shooting in schools, has once again focused our nation on the issue of gun control. 

Some 200,000 people converged on Washington DC for the “March for Our Lives.”  800-plus sibling marches took place in cities around the world, including here in Baltimore. 

Students of all ages and races took to the podium Saturday with impassioned appeals to elected officials to act on the issue of gun control, and for the wider citizenry to assert their power at the ballot box this November.  

Thirteen year-old Asiane Phillips joins Tom in Studio A this afternoon.  The 7th grader at Hampstead Hill Academy, a Baltimore public school, is a student activist who organized a recent walkout at her school in response to gun violence.  Asiane also created a list of demands for changes to legislation and school policy aimed at reducing gun violence and improving school safety, and she's been engaging in dialogues with school administrators and community leaders.   

benjealous.com

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates who will be on the June 26 primary ballot here in Maryland. Early voting begins June 14th.

Tom’s guest for the hour, live in Studio A, is Ben Jealous, a Democratic candidate for Governor. Last May, when he stood in front of his cousin’s flower shop in Baltimore’s Ashburton neighborhood and jumped into the race, he was only the second Democrat to announce his candidacy. Now, he has plenty of company: There will be nine Democrats on the ballot in June. The winner will go up against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the general election next November.  

Ben Jealous is perhaps best known as the former president and CEO of the NAACP. When he was appointed to that position in 2008, he was, at 35 years old, the youngest person ever to lead the NAACP. He was there for more than 5 years. When he left the NAACP in 2013, he joined Kapor Capital as a partner and investor. It’s a progressive investment firm based in Oakland, CA. He manages the firm’s Baltimore office. He is also a visiting professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He is a former community organizer and, early in his career, he was a journalist. He is 45 years old and the father of two. He lives in Anne Arundel Co.

Today's conversation, like all our Conversations with the Candidates, was streamed live on WYPR's Facebook page.

Photo courtesy Michael Schwartz

Paula Poundstone is one of America’s most celebrated comedians.  For four decades, she’s blazed a unique trail in the world of standup, from improv clubs in Boston in the late 1970s to award-winning HBO comedy specials, and her 1992 gig as the first woman to emcee the White House Correspondents Dinner.

She’s been a regular on late-night TV, and her standout performances at the Comic Relief concerts in the mid-90s helped raise millions for the homeless. She’s done voice-over roles in animated kids movies, including Disney's Oscar-winning Inside Out, and, of course, public radio fans know her from her regular appearances on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.  And the self-narrated audiobook version of her 2017 best-seller, The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness, was just nominated by the Audio Publishers Association as a 2018 Audie Awards finalist for both Humor and Audiobook of the Year.

Paula Poundstone is appearing at a concert Friday night at Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium.  WYPR is a media partner for the sold-out event.  For additional event info, click here

Whether or not you got tickets to her show, Paula joins Tom today, on the line from NPR-West in Culver City, California, to talk politics, books, parenting, cats, comedy and whatever else they may stumble upon!

Photo copyright by Matthew Murphy

It's Thursday, and that means Midday's intrepid theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, is here with another of her weekly reviews of the region's thespian offerings. 

This week, Judy braved the elements to attend the opening of the new touring production of School of Rock, the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical that's now raising the rafters at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theater.

Based on the hit 2003 film, the musical follows Dewey Finn, a down-on-his-luck wannabe rock star who poses as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school to make ends meet. When he discovers that his fifth-graders harbor some extraordinary musical talents, he encourages them to form a rock group and take a shot at winning the Battle of the Bands competition.

Andrew Lloyd Weber, who has done more than his share to bring rock and romance to Broadway, has composed 14 new songs for School of Rock, and kept all the original songs from the movie.  Directed by Laurence Connor and choreographed by JoAnn M. Hunter, the talented cast includes Rob Coletti as Dewey Finn, Lexie Dorsett Sharp as Rosalie, and a band of young actor/musicians who help deliver the musical's youthful spirit and high-octane score. 

School of Rock continues at the Hippodrome until Sunday, March 25.

Photo Courtesy Johns Hopkins University Press

On today's show, environmental journalist Tom Pelton joins us live in Studio A. He’s been writing about the Chesapeake Bay and other environmental issues for more than two decades.  He is the Director of Communications for the Environmental Integrity Project, and the host of The Environment in Focus, which airs Wednesday mornings and evenings here on WYPR.  His new book is called The Chesapeake in Focus: Transforming the Natural World.

From Baltimore’s leaky sewer system to farms in Pennsylvania and even pollution from factories in the Midwest, the Bay and its ecosystem face serious challenges.  What will it take to meet them?

 

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