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Maryland Morning

In his book, Brown is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority, Steve Phillips explains how dramatically the racial and ethnic makeup of the U.S. population has changed over the past 50 years. He argues that this change has given the progressive movement in America a historic opportunity to reshape the political landscape.

Phillips is the co-founder of a social justice organization called PowerPac, which has mobilized voters in support of political candidates like Barack Obama, Cory Booker, and the Attorney General of California, Kamala Harris. With the political campaign season in full swing across the nation, candidates of the major parties are hard at work appealing to a wide range of constituencies in their political bases, from Tea Party conservatives and Evangelicals on the right, to progressives and people of color on the left. Steve Phillips joins Tom on the line from his home in San Francisco to discuss the possibilities of a new left coalition of progressives and minorities.

MICA website

Samuel Hoi was appointed president of the of the venerable Maryland Institute College of Art in 2014. Mr. Hoi, known to his friends as "Sammy," joins Tom to talk about how the training of creative artists encompasses much more than lessons in painting and sculpture, and how the role of artists in society, and in the city, continues to evolve in Baltimore’s post-uprising period.

The conversation also turns to how MICA itself is launching new programs to support a vibrant and sustainable artist community.

photo by Tina Revazi Studio Theater

Every Monday on Maryland Morning, our theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio to share her thoughts on some of the best (and sometimes not the best) stage productions in Baltimore and throughout the Maryland region. This morning, she arrives with her knit hand puppet Chaussette ​(photo below) to tell us about a remarkable new production of the 2015 Broadway hit and multiple Tony-nominee, Hand to God, now playing an extended run at Washington, D.C.'s Studio Theatre until October 2.

 Set in a church basement in a Texas backwater town, it takes us into the world of a Christian puppet ministry, where one puppet becomes the very black sheep of this hapless flock.  The puppet's demonic energies trigger a torrent of angry and lustful epiphanies among the town's denizens, in what Studio Theater calls "a ruthless comedy about sex, sinners and sock puppets."

Jen Rynda, Baltimore Sun Media Group

On July 31st, devastating flash floods, triggered by unusually torrential rains, rampaged through Ellicott City, leaving two people dead and over 200 buildings damaged or destroyed in this 244-year-old river town. On Thursday, August 18th, many residents were allowed for the first time to return briefly to their homes and businesses along historic Main Street. Residents will have until Monday to clean up and retrieve their belongings. Then the street will be closed to the public as work crews begin an intensive, 3-month program of cleanup, repair and rebuilding. 

Sports Illustrated

Culture critic Sheri Parks joins Tom in the studio to talk about the role race is playing at the Olympics. Black athletes have had prominent story lines at this year’s games including Simone Biles’ record-tying four gold medals in gymnastics and Simone Manuel’s precedent-breaking gold and silver medals in swimming. How will their wins change the narrative around sports and race?

Plus, they discuss Comedy Central's cancellation of Larry Wilmore's short-lived late-night TV show, and the challenge he faced conducting conversations about race as satirical entertainment.

photo courtesy Old Line Spirits

Since 2011, more than a dozen new distilleries have opened or are set to open across Maryland. Baltimore magazine last year described it as “a spirit-making tsunami.”  Here in Baltimore, four craft distilleries have fired up whiskey stills in recent years.  If this trend continues, Maryland could return to its pre-Prohibition status as the country’s 3rd biggest spirit-maker after Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

Tom's guests in the studio this morning are two guys who are making a run at this booming booze market.  Mark McLaughlin and Arch Watkins are friends who met while serving as flight officers in the Navy.  They founded the Old Line Spirits distillery in 2014.  While they utilize other facilities to prepare their special blend of American whiskey, they’re putting the finishing touches on their refurbished distillery in Highlandtown, and plan to have it up and running before the end of the year. 

Creative Commons

On the evening of Monday, August 1st,  the Baltimore City Council voted to send back to committee a bill that would mandate raising the minimum wage to $15 in 2022. 

To help us dissect  how the City Council came to its decision, and what this might mean moving forward, Tom is joined in Studio A by Luke Broadwater, who covers City Hall for the Baltimore Sun, and Kenneth Burns, the Metro Reporter here at WYPR.

Sagamore Development

This morning, a conversation about one of the most complicated and controversial issues facing Baltimore today: the $5.5 billion dollar proposal to develop Port Covington in South Baltimore.  Sagamore Development, the development arm of Kevin Plank and Under Armor, has proposed to build what amounts to a city within a city on Baltimore’s Southern Shore.  It’s a project that is slated to unfold over decades, and it has the potential to transform the city’s economy and its international profile.  Critics, however, are wary.  They fear that it will further segregate the city, and that local leaders are missing an opportunity to create not only jobs, but affordable housing, and a road out of poverty for many residents.  Joining Tom in studio to walk-us through the latest in the on-going Sagamore Saga are Natalie Sherman of the Baltimore Sun and Melody Simmons of the Baltimore Business Journal.

Monica Reinagel

Nutrition Diva Monica Reinagel joins Tom in the studio for this month’s Smart Nutrition segment. With more Americans worried about the health effects of a meat-rich diet and the treatment of animals by the meat production industry, more people are turning to meat and dairy substitutes like veggie burgers, vegan cheese and other soy- , wheat- and vegetable-based products. How good do they taste?  And are these meat alternatives more healthful and nutritious in the long run? 

 Monica Reinagel is a licensed nutritionist who blogs at Quick and     

photo courtesy Baltimore Sun

Carla Hayden, who has led Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library for nearly a quarter-century, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 13 as President Obama's pick to be the 14th Librarian of Congress.  When she is sworn in, Ms. Hayden will be the first woman, the first African-American - and only the third professional librarian - to hold the esteemed position, whose mission is to curate and champion the nation's literary treasures.

In her first interview since being confirmed as the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden joins Tom in the studio to reflect on her long career heading Baltimore's public library system, and to describe the digital conversion and public awareness projects she hopes to tackle first in her new job at the Library of Congress.