Maryland Morning

One in four residents of Baltimore lives in a "food desert," a stretch of low-income neighborhood with extremely limited sources of fresh, wholesome food. Holly Freishtat, director of the city's Food Policy Initiative, and Robert Thomas, who heads the city-run Baltimore Public Markets Corporation, join Tom to describe what Baltimore is doing to fill these critical gaps, and improve food options for all city residents.

Adrees Latif/Reuters PBS Newshour

Hillary Clinton inched-out a razor thin victory in Iowa last week. Tomorrow night, we’ll see if Senator Bernie Sanders can parlay his New England connection into a victory in the New Hampshire Primary. And on Thursday night, the two contenders will meet in Milwaukee for their 7th debate of this primary season. It will be the first without former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who suspended his campaign after a meager showing in Iowa.

Tom's guest this morning is James Blue, who is the Senior Content and Special Projects Producer for the PBS Newshour. Blue, who lives in Baltimore, is producing the two-hour debate, which will be moderated by Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff. It will air on PBS and right here on WYPR, live from Milwaukee, at 9:00pm Thursday. WYPR will also carry NPR’s live coverage of the New Hampshire primary Tuesday beginning at 8:00pm.

Tom's next guest this morning is Diana Nyad. In 2013, she became the first person ever to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. She completed the 111-mile trek after four unsuccessful attempts. She was 64 years old. Her first-hand account of that record-breaking swim, Find a Way!, was published in October 2015 by Knopf/Doubleday. 

She will be at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore tomorrow night to speak on the Baltimore Speakers Series, hosted by Stevenson University. WYPR’s Sheilah Kast will host that event. 


Several times in Under the Skin, a bell goes off on one of the character’s cell phones. Whenever it does, the character closes her eyes and breathes deeply. What is this? It’s a “mindfulness” app, she explains to a fellow she’s just met. It rings at random times to remind her to be mindful.

Being mindful, aware, in the moment, is something that trips up these characters (beautifully played at Everyman Theatre by Megan Anderson and Keith L. Royal Smith). There are too many stumbling blocks in their past -- and one very big decision looming in their future.

Islamic Society of Baltimore

President Obama came to the Islamic Society of Baltimore’s Al-Rahmah Mosque in Catonsville, Maryland, this week with a message of religious tolerance and unity. It was the President’s first visit to an American mosque in the 7 years he’s been in the White House, and while some in his audience of Muslim community leaders, schoolchildren and invited guests might have been wondering why it took him so long, his nearly hour-long address to the gathering struck a positive chord.  Joining Tom in the studio this morning to discuss their reactions to the President’s remarks are two leaders of Baltimore’s thriving Muslim community who attended the event: Danette Zaghari-Mask, who teaches literature at the Catonsville mosque’s high school...and Imam Earl el-Amin, a Muslim leader and vice president of program development at the National Centers on Institutions and Alternatives, a social services organization.

Beasts Of No Nation

Maryland Morning's movie mavens -- Jed Dietz of the Maryland Film Festival and Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post --join Tom with their picks for likely winners on Oscars night, February 28th. They also weigh in on the lack of racial diversity in this year's Oscar nominations, and take a look ahead at some of the hottest new movies.

You've got five more chances to catch Phantom of the Opera at the Hippodrome Theater this weekend.  It closes Sunday night.  J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom Hall to share highlights of the ambitious new staging of Phantom, the longest-running production in Broadway history.  She and Tom also take a look ahead at upcoming shows in the Hippodrome's new season. 


Today we continue our series of conversations with people who have announced their intention to run for Mayor of Baltimore. As of February 3rd, 12 Democrats, 4 Republicans, 1 Green Party candidate, 2 Independents, and 4 Unaffiliated candidates have registered with the Board of Elections to be on the April 26th mayoral primary ballot.  Their deadline to file is today. Each Wednesday for the next several weeks, we’ll take some time here on Maryland Morning to speak with candidates about their visions for the city.

David Warnock joins Tom in the studio this morning to make the case for what sets him apart in this year’s crowded race for Charm City’s top job. He’s 58 years old, a Democrat, and a successful businessman. He is the founder of a private equity firm and co-founder of the Green Street Academy, a charter school in West Baltimore. Warnock is also the chairman of a charitable foundation that has funded a variety of educational and community-focused organizations, including The Center for Urban Families

Tom's guest is Rashod Ollison, the former Pop Music Critic for the Baltimore Sun. His new book is called Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues and Coming of Age Though Vinyl. It’s a memoir that chronicles how music helped him navigate the rough terrain of his childhood.

After his parents divorced when he was very young, he and his two sisters moved frequently with their mother as she held multiple jobs trying to provide for the family. As Rashod grew up, he struggled with adjusting to a barrage of new schools, as well as the realization that he was gay. He turned to music and literature for comfort, inspiration and hope. Rashod Ollison joins Tom on the phone from his home in Virginia Beach, VA. 

Ollison will be speaking about the book tomorrow night at 6:30 at the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped on Park Avenue at Franklin Street in Baltimore. It’s part of the Enoch Pratt Library’s Writers Live Series.

Twitter @HeberBrown

Baltimore is home to more than 600,000 people, and while there are many restaurants and grocery stores and food markets across this city, there are also places where poverty and geography and a history of racism have combined to create so-called “food deserts” – neighborhoods where it’s difficult for residents to find any fresh, wholesome food. Tom's first guest this morning is the Reverend Dr. Heber Brown

He’s the senior pastor at Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in North Baltimore. He decided to address the problem of food deserts by creating the Black Church Food Security Network. His work to bring food from local farmers to city neighborhoods by way of a network of churches has earned Heber Brown numerous accolades, including being named one of the 50 best and brightest people working to save the planet, by the online environmental journal, GRIST. And he's won kudos as well for his many other initiatives, including a residential solar project, an orchard program, and a freedom school that teaches youth about growing and cooking their own food.