On The Record | WYPR

On The Record

Weekdays, 9:30 to 10:00 am

Catch On the Record, hosted by Sheilah Kast, weekdays from 9:30 to 10:00 am, following NPR’s Morning Edition. We’ll discuss the issues that affect your life and bring you thoughtful and lively conversations with the people who shape those issues -- business people, public officials, scholars, artists, authors, and journalists who can take us inside the story. If you want to share a comment, question, or an idea for an interview you’d like to hear, email us at ontherecord@wypr.org.

Theme music created by Jon Ehrens.  Logo designed by Louis Umerlik.

Ways to Connect

Matt Sherberg / Flickr via Creative Commons

Credit cards, student loans, housing and car payments. Facing a mountain of debt is scary, and something that the local nonprofit Guidewell Financial Solutions believes you don't have to face alone. We meet Devon Hyde, of Guidewell, and Dr. Christine Callahan, a research assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. They’re the social workers behind a new counseling program that aims to address the links between financial and emotional health. We also meet a woman who climbed out from under $50,000 of debt.

Courtesy of Brien Haigley and Rich Polt


75 years ago, December 7, 1941, Americans were stunned by a Japanese aerial attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. More than 2,400 Americans were killed. The next day, December 8, the United States declared war on Japan, propelling America into World War II. We’ll hear from two men who lived through it - one a boy who lived near the naval station, one a young man in Baltimore. And we hear from the son of a World War II soldier who has made it his mission to keep survivors’ stories alive.

In 1989, the environmental activist Bill McKibben wrote a bestseller called “The End of Nature.” It painted an apocalyptic picture of the state of the planet. Nearly three decades later, we take a look at a book of essays by the generation that grew up after McKibben laid out his vision. “They’re the first generation that learned the mantra Reduce, Reuse, Recycle from Sesame Street. They’re the first generation to see really tangible evidence of changes in the environment from garbage islands floating to ice caps melting,” says Susan Cohen, co-editor of “Coming of Age at the End of Nature: A Generation Faces Living on a Changed Planet.” She joins us, along with two young writers who contributed essays to the book, James Orbesen and Emily Schosid


Today is Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s last as mayor of Baltimore City. We take a look back at her 7-year tenure with two reporters who have covered her for years. From one of the worst snowstorms in city history to the unrest of April 2015 and the violent crime that surged afterwards, we discuss how Rawlings-Blake fared. Her accomplishments, her failures and her personal style, which some critics came to see as a liability.  A report card on the mayor, with Baltimore Brew reporter Mark Reutter and former Baltimore Sun reporter Julie Scharper.

Today we hear story from Prescott Gaylord, told first in 2012, about growing up as a Scientologist and how this affected his relationship with his father. His story has been edited for brevity. 

Nearly a dozen cities across the country issue municipal identification cards. They’re meant for those who have trouble getting other forms of government-issued ID: Undocumented immigrants or the homeless, for example. But given how easy they are to obtain, how useful are such ID cards? It turns out that in some cities, banks, buses, and law enforcement accept municipal IDs. Could it happen in Baltimore? City Councilman Brandon Scott hopes so. He’s sponsoring legislation to create a municipal ID here.

The priest who would become Pope Francis impressed his Jesuit superiors in Argentina from early on, taking on more responsibilities, sure of himself - until it became apparent that he had divided the Jesuit community - and he was sent away to a kind of internal exile that lasted two years. Mark Shriver, nephew of President John F. Kennedy, head of an international lobby network for children, former Maryland state legislator, discusses his new biography of the 266th pope. It's titled, “Pilgrimage: My Search for the Real Pope Francis.”

Jacob Stewart/Flickr via Creative Commons

When you cannot sleep, the middle of the night can be a harrowing spot. Insomnia is all too familiar for many of us. Dr. Emerson Wickwire, director of the insomnia program at the University of Maryland Medical Center, joins us to talk about the causes of this maddening affliction and how best to summon the snooze.

Gage Skidmore and DBKing / Flickr via Creative Commons

Since Justice Antonin Scalia died last February, the Supreme Court has operated with only eight justices; President Obama nominated a replacement, and Senate Republicans refused to consider him. What’s been the impact of this lasting vacancy? We speak to University of Baltimore law professor Michael Meyerson about the future of the Supreme Court under President Trump, and how extreme political polarization has shaped Americans’ view of the Court. Plus, a preview of some upcoming cases, including one that involves the death penalty -- and one that could involve the Washington Redskins.

JIMMIE / Flickr via Creative Commons

Fall is here and the school year is well under way. But some parents don’t have to worry about packing a lunch or getting their kids to the bus stop on time. They are homeschoolers, and nationwide, they’re a growing demographic. In Maryland, there are about 27,000 homeschooled kids. What motivates parents to homeschool? Is homeschooling possible in households with working parents? What are the benefits, and the challenges? 

Time for the next installment in our weekly feature from the Stoop Storytelling Series! Bridget Cavaiola shares a story about nuns, a dead bird, and the value of neighbors. Her story has been edited for brevity. The full version is available here

PETER FAVELLE / Flickr via Creative Commons

Maryland has too many deer. They cause tens of thousands of car accidents every year and over-browsing by hungry deer damages native ecosystems. The state typically tries to keep the population down through hunting. But some animal-rights advocates believe wildlife managers should explore other methods. 

Time for the next installment in our weekly feature from the Stoop Storytelling Series. Today Congressman Elijah Cummings tells the story of the integration of Riverside Park Pool in south Baltimore, and how the experience affected him. His story has been edited for brevity. This story originally aired on On the Record on October 21, 2016.


Artist Joyce Scott, of Baltimore’s Sandtown neighborhood, crafts jewelry and sculptures that explore issues like racism, sexism, and war. Last month she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, also known as a genius grant. We hear her thoughts on politics as performance art and on what this award means to her. “The idea that I could be that girl from two blocks from where Freddie Gray started the end of his life, that I could receive and make art," she says, "That is a giant thing that I must be responsible for.” Original air date: October 21, 2016

The story of comedian Trevor Noah’s illegal birth, the haunted life of horror writer Shirley Jackson, a graphic novel with a deaf heroine. We’ve got books suitable for both the insatiable bibliophile and the reluctant reader in your life, perfect to read over the holidays, to give as gifts, or to share among friends. First up, Deborah Taylor of the Enoch Pratt Free Library and her view of the best books of 2016 for adults. Then Miriam DesHarnais, a research and instruction librarian at Towson University, with picks for young people. 

Courtesy of Holistic Life Foundation

A nonprofit called the Holistic Life Foundation has been bringing mindfulness, yoga, and meditation into Baltimore public schools for nearly 15 years. Suspensions and detentions appear to have dropped as a result, and some kids have really taken the practice to heart. We hear from the co-founder of the Holistic Life Foundation, a student who has since become a teacher in the program, and a researcher who studies school-based mindfulness programs. 

Last summer, Governor Larry Hogan canceled funding for Baltimore’s long-awaited east-west light rail system, the Red Line. Soon after, he announced the city would instead receive $135 million for a revamped transit system. It’s called BaltimoreLink; it has many components, one of which is a redesign of the entire bus system with 12 new high-frequency routes. That part is called CityLink. In the year since the announcement, the Maryland Transit Administration has released a draft of the bus plan and then revised it based on more than 1,000 suggestions from riders. The new bus system is slated to be completely underway by next summer. Paul Comfort, administrator of the Maryland Transit Administration, joins us to discuss BaltimoreLink.

Time for the next installment in our weekly feature from the Stoop Storytelling Series. Sometimes, when you follow your dreams, things don’t turn out the way you hoped. In high school, Jeff Eline learned this lesson the hard way. Tune in to hear why matching outfits, a missed key change, and a nosebleed doomed his high school band. You can listen to more stories, and learn about Stoop shows and The Stoop podcast, all at stoopstorytelling.com. You can also buy tickets there now for The Stoop Holiday Show at The Senator Theater on Dec. 6th. 

Today we discuss music and the mind with a man who is an expert in both. Dr. Richard Kogan is a psychiatrist as well as a world-renowned concert pianist. He is known for his presentations on the psychology of the great composers--presentations that are half lecture and half recital, with Dr. Kogan illustrating his points by playing passages of music. Dr. Kogan is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Weill-Cornell Medical Center in New York City, where he is Artistic Director of the Music and Medicine Program. He will be performing at Goucher College tomorrow, and with the BSO on Sunday. 

Courtesy of Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap

When Melissa Badeker stopped teaching elementary school, she didn’t know what to do with all of the material she had accumulated, supplies she purchased with her own money. Sensing this problem was widespread, Melissa created the Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap to collect and distribute free school supplies for educators, home school parents, and daycare operators. Melissa Badeker recently received an OSI-Baltimore community fellowship to support her idea.

steve p2008 / Flickr via Creative Commons

With commercial drones on the rise and the skies becoming more crowded, what are researchers doing to prevent mid-air collisions? That’s the focus of the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Young Engineer Award in Maryland; he’ll tell us about his research. 

Gage Skidmore/Flickr via Creative Commons

Donald Trump campaigned on promises to make it easier to drill for oil and burn coal. He pledged to leave only “tidbits” of the Environmental Protection Agency in place, and to pull the U.S. out of international climate treaties. “We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement," he said last May, "and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.” Today we hear from two University of Maryland experts: First, we talk with Robert Orr, head of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park. He’s also senior advisor to the United Nations on climate change. Then Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, joins us. 

Greg Scott / WBEZ

Tens of thousands of Marylanders - of all ages, in all parts of the state - have a drug problem. Every time they use, they’re in danger of overdosing. The number of deaths in Maryland related to heroin tripled between 2010 and 2015. Yesterday we heard a young woman’s story of heroin addiction and recovery using methadone. Today we hear from Dr. Kenneth Stoller, director of the Johns Hopkins Broadway Center for Addiction, which provides outpatient drug treatment services. He explains how medication-assisted treatment works and why increased access would be a public health benefit. Can medication-assisted treatment stop the opioid epidemic?

An epidemic of opioid deaths is reaching into every corner of Maryland, and every age group. We look at a tool to fight addiction - medically assisted treatment - and hear the story of a young woman who used methadone to put addiction behind her.

Now another installment in our weekly feature from the Stoop Storytelling Series! Today, on Veterans Day, Marine Corps veteran Rich Blake shares a 2010 story from the Iraq War and a moment that could have been his last. It has been edited for brevity. You can listen to more stories, and learn about Stoop shows and The Stoop podcast--all at stoopstorytelling.com

Fort Rucker/Flickr via Creative Commons

Herbert Rogers served in the Air Force for 8 years. He was at the Dover Air Force Base for five years and his barracks was right next to where the planes took off. Seven years later, Rogers noticed he kept asking people to repeat themselves. Now he wears hearing aids. Hearing damage is common among veterans. We speak to Herbert Rogers, as well as Glen Baquet, the head of audiology and speech for the VA Maryland Health Care System, and Julie Norin, director of audiology at the Hearing and Speech Agency, a nonprofit in Baltimore. 

Courtesy of Girl Problem Records

What it’s like to be a woman in the contemporary punk music scene? Producer Andrea Appleton speaks to two Baltimore musicians: Shawna Potter, frontwoman for the band War on Women, and Madi Shapiro, vocalist and guitarist for Wet Brain. Madi Shapiro also runs a feminist DIY music label based in Baltimore called "Girl Problem Records". On Friday, Girl Problem will release its third compilation, titled Justice. The record release show will feature War On Women, Rukut, No Way! and  two Baltimore hip hop acts, Toyomansi and Phizzals. The show will be at the 5th Dimension, 405 W. Franklin St. 

Courtesy of Humanim

Why take a vacant home apart brick by brick, rather than tearing it down? How can this approach create jobs without driving up costs? Details Deconstruction trains individuals coming out of prison or drug treatment in how to deconstruct rather than demolish buildings. Director Jeff Carroll tells us how deconstructing houses is a path to rebuilding lives--as well as salvaging valuable bricks and lumber.

nodigio/Flickr via Creative Commons

What does Donald Trump’s victory mean here in Maryland? Behind the Democrat vote totals in Maryland, what can we read into where Trump found support here? How did the presidential election affect down-ballot races? What was the effect of the state’s record-breaking early voter turnout? Todd Eberly, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at St. Mary’s College of Maryland joins us. And we speak with Maryland Public Television political reporter Charles Robinson

Baltimore is in the midst of the fifth annual Charm City Fringe Festival. As the name implies, this may be unlike any theatre you’ve seen. Events include a one-man performance of the epic war film Apocalypse Now, an absurdist game show, and a play called Piper Bidet: Bathroom Detective. The festival runs through Sunday at a variety of venues. Charm City Fringe Festival co-founder and president Zach Michel sets the stage for us. And Chad Short, a performer in a Fringe Festival play called Yo, You Be Trippin’ explains how the play, an unusual take on the history of LSD, came to be.