Maryland Morning Podcast

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For the first day of school this year we’re revisiting a story on how Baltimore City public school students get to school. The yellow bus has long been an icon of public school systems, but in many big cities, tens of thousands of students make their way to and from school without the yellow bus. They navigate public transit. More school systems are switching from the yellow bus to public transit services, but getting those kids to school on time can be difficult, especially because middle and high school students can apply to attend any school in the city regardless of how close it is to where they live.

Also, David Linden is a neuroscientist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and the former editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology. His first book, The Accidental Mind, explored how our brains evolved over time to make us capable of things like romantic love and belief in God. In a book called The Compass of Pleasure, he argues that we are hard-wired to seek pleasure in a variety of forms. In both of those books, he writes about the inextricable link between our minds and our hearts. Then, We head to Loch Raven Reservoir, just north of Baltimore City, to revisit Nathan’s conversation with photographer David Simpson. We’ll hear about Simpson’s book The Swan at Loch Raven, and the story of how David encountered the majestic bird at the center of the book. 

Ta-Nehisi Coates is getting lots of attention for his new memoir, written as a letter to his son.  We take another listen to our talk  with Coates and his father, Paul, when Ta-Nehisi had just written his first memoir about raising children, and growing up on Baltimore’s mean streets: "coming up I didn't feel that I was particularly disadvantage or that anything was wrong; I still don't."

Then –Margo Christie was 16 when she began working as a stripper on Baltimore’s Block. Her time there inspired her novel, These Days. She talked about it with Tom Hall.

Our third recollection comes from Baltimore businessman and philanthropist LeRoy Hoffberger.  He called his memoir, Measure of a Life.  

Millions invested in the Sandtown neighborhood did not reverse the toll of illegal drugs and vanishing jobs. A week after Freddie Gray’s funeral, we asked a journalist and a pastor who was born in Sandtown and lives there still, what investments have worked, what have not, and where they see hope now. 

Then – From “Out of the Blocks” --the documentary series from The Signal’s Aaron Henkin and electronic musician Wendel Patrick-- We’ll hear part of their visit to Penn North, recorded two days after the riot. 

And That same day schools reopened, and we visited a high school in northeast Baltimore to learn how they were processing the unrest.

Plus: Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck talks with Tom Hall about the world premiere musical “Dear Evan Hansen” -- causing a stir at Washington’s Arena Stage.

92YTribeca // Flickr Creative Commons

Baltimore City public schools filled some key vacancies this week. We look at the hiring left to do, how Frederick Douglass High near Mondawmin Mall is moving forward, and at plans to support teachers after this challenging summer.

Then, a former immigrant-rights organizer in Seattle, the son of Indian parents, Hari Kondabolu is a very hot standup comic. He’s bringing his barbs about race and ethnicity to the Creative Alliance next week, and joins Tom Hall for a preview.

Plus, is Baltimore overrun with stray cats? Nathan speaks to Jennifer Brause of the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter about giving homes to adoptable stray cats while preventing the births of thousands of feral ones.

Keith Allison // Flickr Creative Commons

As federal agencies deploy more resources and manpower on the streets of Baltimore, we talk to two leaders of the federal crime fight here: The U. S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, and agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives’ field office, Bill McMullan.

Then, for decades, men have dominated the stage when it comes to Shakespeare’s plays. But the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory has turned that old notion on its head with an all-female production of Henry IV, Part One. J Wynn Rousuck brings us her review.

And: four years ago today Johns Hopkins honor student Nathan Krasnopoler died after months in a coma. He’d be struck on his bicycle by an 83-year-old motorist. Today his teaches a safety class to older drivers.

Fern Shen/Baltimore Brew

You can’t really be successful these days in business, in school or any other activity – without access to high-speed internet. In the counties around Baltimore fibre-optic networks deliver that high-speed access; in the city, it mostly doesn’t exist. Why not, and what’s the best way to fix the problem?

Then, our movie regulars, Jed Dietz of the Maryland Film Festival and Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post, give Tom Hall their picks of some off-the-radar summer films you don’t want to miss.

Plus, a pop-up shop highlighting locally-manufactured products springs to life on North Avenue. We learn what it’s about from the owner of a screen-print textile business and the owner of a sewing company.

Washington Area Spark // Flickr Creative Commons

Fifty years ago this week President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law: "Today is a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that’s ever been won on any battle field," he said.

This morning historian Taylor Branch and legal scholar F. Michael Higginbotham join Tom Hall for a discussion about that most fundamental dimension of democracy: voting.  They’ll talk about the resonance of this landmark legislation a half century on and the status of voting rights as the 2016 presidential race picks up steam.  

An Arizona Road sign
Thomas Hawk // Flickr Creative Commons

The pro’s and cons of the move in Frederick County to repeal its 3-year-old “English-only” ordinance. Some contend it sends the wrong message to immigrants, defenders argue it helps keeps Frederick from becoming a sanctuary for the undocumented.

Then – In the ‘90s Sociologist Patricia Fernandez-Kelly was studying the effects of the disappearance of industrial jobs.  She immersed herself in the lives of several families in West Baltimore, and tells us what she learned.

Plus: Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck reviews the latest from the ‘Baltimore Playwrights Festival’ -- about a divorced middle-aged mother who joins a support group called "Single Women Actively Seeking Sex." 

And – Local novelist and poet Madeleine Mysko gives us a beach read that unfolds in a beach community in New Jersey, Stone Harbor Bound.   

Blink Ofanaye // Flickr Creative Commons

The City's Detention Center is set to close, according to Governor Hogan who announced the decision yesterday. We’ll talk about what the closure means for criminal justice reform in the state and for those housed in the jail.

Then, we’ll talk about the rich history of the bluegrass genre here in Baltimore, a city that’s music was influenced by an influx of Appalachians during World Two, as chronicled in a new book by Tim Newby, who’s also brought along a few tunes.

Plus, longtime Baltimore DJ, Matt Davis, is leaving WBAL’s 98 Rock to become a full time hypnotist. We talk to him about his career in radio and moving-on to his peculiar new gig as a hypnotist.

Flickr Creative Commons // Tom Woodward

Interim Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis joins us to discuss the relentless surge in shootings. Mayor Rawlings-Blake told WYPR the city is making progress. We’ll ask the interim commissioner about the war room and other crime-fighting tools, and building trust with the community.

Then, after every mass shooting comes a national debate about guns. We hear from a philosopher who argues the gun lobby makes us less safe and less free.

And, the ‘Environment in Focus’ with Tom Pelton.

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