Maryland Morning | WYPR

Maryland Morning


The Tony Award-winning musical production of The Bridges of Madison County is now playing at The Kennedy Center. 

The 1992 book of the same name spent three years on the New York Times best-seller list and was made into a movie in 1995 starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. Bridges tells the story of Iowa housewife Francesca Johnson and her whirlwind, forbidden romance with traveling photographer Robert Kincaid. Composer Jason Robert Brown won a Tony Award in 2014 for the musical’s original score.  Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in-studio to give her take on The Bridges of Madison County.


Baltimore‘s Promise is a consortium of civic leaders from government, philanthropy, business, education, and religious institutions who are trying to address the multiple challenges faced by many children in the city of Baltimore.

There is no shortage of well-meaning people and programs aimed at improving outcomes for kids. But what programs and strategies best meet the needs of a city where a quarter of children live below the poverty line?

Patrick McCarthy is co-chair of Baltimore’s Promise and CEO of The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Tomi Hiers is the Executive Director of Baltimore’s Promise. They both join Tom in-studio to discuss the best ways to improve the journey on what’s been coined the “cradle to career continuum.”

Wide Angle Youth Media

Every year, the Baltimore Speaks Out Program -- a project of the non-profit Wide Angle Youth Media -- teaches about 90 young people between the ages of 10 and 15 how to use digital media to tell their own stories and to engage with their communities. This year, the students have created a series of radio and video stories about food, culture and tradition in Baltimore, some of which we’ve been pleased to share with you on Maryland Morning. Here’s their latest radio report on the amazing ethnic diversity to be found in Belvedere Square, a popular Baltimore food market.


Kathleen Isaacs' new book, Excellent Books for Early and Eager Readers (published by The American Library Association), recommends books to parents and educators seeking intriguing, age-appropriate reading for children. Isaacs offers 300 book recommendations that are meant to challenge, but not overwhelm, children aged 4-10. The book offerings range in topics from non-fiction and short stories to picture books and mythology.

Baltimore City Council

The new fiscal year in Baltimore City begins today. After weeks of contention with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the City Council voted to approve the budget on June 20th. 

Council members, including the City Council president Jack Young and Helen Holton, who represents the 8th district and chairs the Budget and Appropriations Committee, threatened to shut down the city government by not approving the budget if $4.2 million for after-school programs was not restored in the budget. While the mayor eventually decided to put the money back, funding cuts had to made in areas of infrastructure, anti-litter programs and to the Enoch Pratt Library.

Brandon Scott, who represents the District 2 on the council, and Helen Holton join Tom in-studio to discuss the budget approval process and the city council’s collaboration with the mayor. 

Photo by David Gallagher, Creative Commons

July brings a wave of summer blockbuster releases from Hollywood and independent filmmakers, and area movie theaters are humming with big crowds taking in the explosive action, the romance, the intrigue, the silliness and the special effects – and of course, the popcorn and air conditioning.  But if all that showbiz spectacle doesn’t appeal, there’s a great alternative: a slew of new documentaries: true (or mostly true) stories compellingly told, whose subjects range from turn-of-the-century medical charlatans and competitive ticklers to visionary television producers and disgraced politicians. 

This morning, for our first-Friday-of-the-month Movie Mayhem segment, Tom’s joined in the studio by our favorite movie mavens: Ann Hornaday, film critic for the Washington Post, and Jed Dietz, founder and executive director of the Maryland Film Festival.  They talk about the many superb documentaries being released this summer: some at the recent American Film Institute’s AFI Docs Festival in DC, others that are in theaters now or coming soon.  They focus on a few of the best new docs:  Nuts (and director Penny Lane's 2013 doc, Our Nixon); Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You; Kate Plays Christine; Tickled; Life Animated; and Weiner. There's also a nod to Dheepan, the dramatic tale of a Sri Lankan immigrant struggling to survive in France, and winner of the Palme D'Or at last year's Cannes Film Festival.

Photo by Rob Sivak

This week, the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation has convened two groups of emerging arts leaders for workshops around the idea of combating bigotry. The Undoing Racism workshop explores how institutional racism has come to be firmly ensconced in American culture, and what it will take to get rid of it.

The workshop is presented by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. Trainers from the organization, which is based in New Orleans, travel around the country facilitating the workshop is various cities with the hope of dismantling the power systems that perpetuate race inequality. 

Kimberley Richards and Rachael Ibrahim, trainers from the People's Institute and A. Adar Ayira, a local artist and poet who is on the advisory board of Baltimore Racial Justice Action, all join Tom in-studio to discuss the impact of individual behavior on advancing or attenuating bigotry in institutions across the spectrum of American life, and ways in which racism can be undone.

Jessica Anya Blau

Just in time for the summer, Jessica Anya Blau is back with a new book The Trouble with Lexie. Lexie, the book’s protagonist, is a counselor at an elite private school in New England. Things get wild when her search for happiness lands her in some unexpected trouble. 

Jessica joins Tom in-studio to talk about The Trouble with Lexie, her writing process and seeing herself in her characters. 

Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies

It’s time for another installment of Living Questions, a monthly series of conversations in which we examine the role of religion in the public sphere. 

Dr. Christopher Leighton is retiring after more than 30 years as executive director of the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies, a nonprofit organization that promotes religious tolerance.  Dr. Leighton's successor at the helm of ICJS is Dr. Heather Miller Rubens.  A specialist in Roman Catholic affairs, she and Dr. Leighton join Tom in-studio to reflect on the group's legacy and its mission going forward. 

Then, the discussion turns to the dark challenge posed by religious extremism, one of the apparent motivating forces behind the Orlando mass shooting, the Paris attacks and other recent acts of terror. Dr. Homayra Ziad, an Islamic scholar at ICJS, and Dr. Benjamin Sax, the group's Jewish scholar, join Tom, Dr. Leighton and Dr. Rubens to discuss how people of faith should respond to acts of violence carried out in the name of God, and how communities of faith can work to counter emerging cultures of hate. 

Olney Theatre Center

If you didn’t know that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice wrote “Evita” four decades ago, you might think this musical about the role of celebrity in politics was brand new.

The idea of a celebrity running for office is the overriding theme of Olney Theatre Center’s re-imagined, eye-opening production of this musical look at the life of former Argentine first lady Eva Peron.

Unlike director Harold Prince’s original interpretation of the show as an examination of media manipulation, at Olney we see Evita manufacturing her own fame and using it to catapult her husband, Juan Peron, to the presidency.

A microphone on a stand becomes a major prop in director Will Davis’ inspired interpretation. Commandeer the mike, get into power, win over the people – as Evita does – and you can tell them just about anything.