Maryland Morning Podcast

It took thirteen months for video to surface of Laquan McDonald, a 17 year old black teenager, being gunned down by a policeman in Chicago.  Why did it take so long, and how will authorities in Chicago be held accountable?   McDonald's killing is putting into sharp focus issues of transparency in city police departments.  The fact that he was reportedly high on PCP when he was shot 16 times also raises new questions about how police handle suspects on drugs, and about the continuing human costs of the war on drugs. We talk with a Chicago journalist and a former Maryland cop.

And with film awards season upon us and a slew of holiday movies being released, we check in with our movie know-it-alls, Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post and Jed Dietz of the Maryland Film Festival.

Then, we share with you a sample of the music that will soon become the new Maryland Morning theme song.

Kevin Rector

The city of Baltimore has established a commission to decide what to do with four confederate monuments.  I’ll speak with the chair of that commission, Aaron Bryant, and Dr. Kaye Wise Whitehead, an African American Scholar and author.  

Peter Bruun is an artist whose focus is often on using art to tell the stories of marginalized communities.  His latest project tells a very personal story.  His daughter, Elisif, died of a heroin overdose.  We’ll learn about how that tragedy became the inspiration for The New Day Campaign. 

Plus, a visit to the Walters Art Museum to check out its exhibition of Islamic Art, Tom Pelton puts the Environment in Focus, and a conversation with the producers of a series that features adults reading from their middle school diaries.  Guess what?  Eighth grade was even worse than you remember.  Get ready to cringe.

 The trial of William Porter – one of six Baltimore police officers charged in connection with the death last April of Freddie Gray – begins today.  A Baltimore attorney and University of Baltimore law professor review the legal issues behind the trial, and preview the defense and prosecution strategies likely to shape the proceedings.

Then, Living Questions, our monthly series on the role of religion in the public sphere:  a conversation with two pastors -- an Episcopal Priest and a Lutheran Minister -- whose North Baltimore congregations decided to merge into one religious community. 

And Tom drops by the Peabody Library to talk with curator Gabrielle Dean about a new exhibit on the acclaimed Maryland novelist  and educator, John Barth.  Theater critic J Wynn Rousuck closes out today's show with a review of “X's and O's,”  the new play at Center Stage about football's destructive violence.


We begin with a look back at a recent visit we paid to the Gilmor Homes public housing project in Sandtown-Winchester, the late Freddie Gray's neighborhood and one of Baltimore’s most disadvantaged communities. In late September, after women residents at the Gilmor Homes alleged that maintenance workers were demanding sex in return for doing routine repairs in their apartments, Maryland Morning host Tom Hall and producer Jonna McKone went to the Gilmor Homes to meet Perry Hopkins, an organizer with Communities United, a group that advocates on behalf of the residents.  In October, he took Tom and Jonna to visit Tyesha Harrell, who showed them around her apartment, which was in an appalling and dangerous state of disrepair.  After the Gilmor Homes visits, Tom spoke with Eva Rosen, a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s Poverty and Inequality Research Lab, and with Perry Hopkins, the community organizer who'd led our tour earlier this fall. 

Next, we revisit our profile of the pioneering Annapolis radio station that broadcast music for an African-American audience for 50 years, from 1947 to 1997.  Ephemera and objects from the trend-setting but now-defunct AM station, known by its call letters, WANN, are on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History's new permanent exhibit called American Enterprise.

And we reprise producer Jonna McKone's visit to an expungement clinic in northwest Baltimore with Danielle, a Baltimore resident who was charged with a crime but never tried or convicted for it. Danielle is one of tens of thousands of Marylanders hoping to take advantage of new Maryland laws that allow charges for certain less serious crimes, and crimes that are no longer criminalized, to be expunged, or shielded from public view.  It can be a life-changing fix: carrying a criminal arrest record can adversely affect nearly every aspect of a person’s life:  employment and housing and even the right to vote.

We start today with a look at the continuing HIV/AIDS crisis in Baltimore.  The total number of new cases in the city is declining, but transmission rates among young gay black men and transgender individuals are on the rise.  Can the city bring those numbers down?  We’ll ask Dr. Patrick Chaulk of the Baltimore Health Department for an update on the city’s ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS.

Then, we’ll meet the talented local string band, Charm City Junction, who’ll be playing at a CD-release concert in North Baltimore Friday night. The quartet joins us to play some of the Irish and bluegrass tunes on their new CD, and talk about their distinctive musical style.

Plus:  a conversation with Judy Collins, one of the great ladies of American popular music, who performs at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall Sunday. She talks with Tom about her long career and her engaging new CD, Strangers Again, a collection of duets with some of the best male singers in the business.

 We start today with a conversation with a local Syrian Imam about how the Muslim community is reacting to the heated public debate over recent terror attacks and the surge of refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war.

Then, we’ll talk about the legal and political challenges those Syrian refugees face as they seek safe havens in Europe and the United States, with Ruben Chandrasekar of the International Rescue Committee and David Rocah of the ACLU.

Next, theater critic J Wynn Rousuck has a review of Middletown, a play about a small town and the friendship between a longtime resident and a new arrival.

And -- and just in time for Thanksgiving -- our regular foodie and restaurant owner Sascha Woldhandler joins us to share her scrumptious squash recipes, from butternut squash soup to squash lasagna.

First, a look at the upcoming United Nations-sponsored Conference on Climate Change. Parties hope to leave Paris next month with a new agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Senior producer Rob Sivak talks with Bill McKibben, a leading environmental activist and author of The End Of Nature, about what’s at stake for the U.S and the more than 160 other countries attending.

Then, more than 30 neighborhood churches have been working to shape the future of Sandtown-Winchester, especially in the wake of the Freddie Gray unrest in April 2015. In a conversation we first aired last summer, Tom Hall speaks with pastors of two of those churches: Amelia Harris of Newborn Community of Faith Church, and Lewis Wilson of New Song Community Church.

Plus, the seasonal holidays will soon be upon us, and for many folks that means a chance to dress up for the festivities.  Sloane Brown, the Society and Style reporter for the Baltimore Sun, offers her thoughts on the sometimes daunting challenge of looking your best during the holidays. 

W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.



Before the Supreme Court’s historic decision last summer that said states could no longer ban same-sex marriage, there was Edie Windsor, a woman in her eighties; her longtime female partner; and her real estate taxes.  Roberta Kaplan is the lawyer who took Edie Windsor’s case to the Supreme Court, and when she won, the Defense of Marriage Act was no more. Roberta Kaplan takes us behind the scenes of that historic case.

Then, poet Daniel Mark Epstein talks with Tom about some of the milestones in a writing career that's spanned nearly half a century, and discusses  his latest book, Dawn to Twilight.

Plus, the holidays are upon us, with the joys and rich foods and stress that they entail.  This morning, the connection between stress and fat with Dr. Pam Peeke of the University of Maryland Medical School.


We begin with Dr. Gary LaFree, a terrorism expert from the University of MD.  We’ll find out how the latest data on terrorism may inform the world’s response to ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for the deadly November 13th attacks in Paris.

Next, the status of Charm City Schools.  What’s the best way to make them more equitable for all students?  What's new in the conflict surrounding public charter schools?   We'll ask longtime educator and former Baltimore City School Board member Dr. David Stone.

Then, we ask you to help us pick a new theme song.  We’ll give you five samples to choose from, and we’ll talk to the Creative Director of Original Music at Clean Cuts Music about the art of matching music to Maryland Morning.

And our theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, has a review of The Secret Garden at Baltimore’s Center Stage.

The Vacants to Value program, introduced in Baltimore with great fanfare five years ago, is intended to put committed homeowners into some of the city’s 16,000 empty homes.   How well has the program been working?  Tom gets some answers from Joan Jacobson.  She’s the author of a new Abell Foundation report that evaluates which of the program’s goals are being met, and which are missing the mark.         

Next, WYPR’s Mary Rose Madden joins Tom to discuss her continuing series, On the Watch.  The series brings us the voices (and images) of the Baltimore police and members of the city's African American community, and examines the struggle to improve their troubled relationship. 

Then, with the need for male mentors greater than ever,  the president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake talks with Tom about how men can make a powerful, positive difference in the lives of the region's young people.