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Midday

Image courtesy Victory Fellowship

It’s time for another installment in our monthly series, Living Questions, in which we examine the role of religion in the public sphere.  We’re producing this series in partnership with the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies.

Today, we’re actually going to be talking about the role of religion in a not-quite-so-public sphere.  Tom's guests are two Lutheran pastors who bring their ministries to Maryland prisons, and a religious scholar who’s taught classes on the Hebrew Bible for Maryland inmates.

The Rev. Gerry Rickel is the Pastor at St. Dysmas, a Lutheran community in the Maryland prison system.  The Rev. Susan Beck is the pastor at The Shepherd of the Glen Lutheran Church in Glenwood.  She works with Gerry Rickel in his prison ministry. And joining Tom on the line from public radio station WAMU in Washington is Dr. Jerome Copulsky. He is a Scholar-in-Residence teaching religion at American University’s Department of Philosophy and Religion, and has taught classes on the Hebrew Bible at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup.

Hachette Book Group

Today, the final conversation in our series examining the legacy of President Barack Obama.  How have young people, gay people, women, veterans, workers and others fared during a presidential tenure that was marked by implacable partisanship?  Will any of Obama’s initiatives in health care, immigration and climate change survive an incoming administration whose party now controls both the executive and the legislative branches?

Tom puts those questions to two astute political observers:  Michael Days is the editor of the Philadelphia Daily News.  His new book is called Obama’s Legacy:  What He Accomplished as President;  and  Liz Copeland, the founder and President of the Urban Conservative Project.

Thursdays mean theater on Midday, so J. Wynn Rousuck is back with her weekly review of a local production. Today, she’s talking about The Call of the Wild , master storyteller Charlie Bethel’s new solo adaptation of Jack London’s classic 20th century novel, now in performance at Theatre Project in Baltimore.  An audience favorite and an experienced theater artist both on stage and off, Bethel brings new life to the classic American tale. 

Nina Subin

This week, we are taking a look back at the Presidency of Barack Obama. Tom is joined by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, a searing provocateur whose unstinting critique of the historic nature of Obama’s tenure includes what he considers to be the missed opportunities to advance the cause of racial equality. One of Dyson’s chief criticisms is the President’s reluctance to hold white people at least partially responsible for black suffering.  

In his latest book, Tears We Cannot Stop: A  Sermon to White America, Dyson argues that the responsibility lies not just with uninformed bigots, but with people who may consider themselves enlightened and fair-minded, but who can’t accept the truth of racial history.  Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is a sociology professor at Georgetown University. He is the author of 18 other books, including The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America.

Flickr/Creative Commons

Today, we continue our week-long look at the Obama years and consider the legacy of the 44th president as he leaves office.  Tom's guests in Studio A today are an historian and a journalist who have closely observed presidents for many years, and who can compare and contrast Mr. Obama's style and impact with some of his presidential predecessors. 

Historian Taylor Branch is perhaps best known for his landmark trilogy about the civil rights era, America in the King Years, the first volume of which, Parting the Waters, 1954-63, won Branch the Pulitzer Prize for history in 1989.  He is also the author of the 2009 memoir, The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President, which chronicles his eight-year project to gather a sitting president’s comprehensive oral history on tape.

Journalist Michael Fletcher also joins Tom in  Studio A. He is a senior writer at The Undefeated, ESPN’s online journal exploring the intersection of race, culture and sports.  Before joining The Undefeated, Fletcher was a national economics reporter for The Washington Post. Before that, he covered the Obama administration and the Bush White House including Iraq war policy, efforts to restructure Social Security, and presidential trips around the globe.

Fletcher spent 13 years as a reporter at The Baltimore Sun before joining The Washington Post  in 1996.

He is co-author, with Kevin Merida, of the 2007 biography, Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas. 

In the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump we’re discussing the legacy of President Barack Obama. Sheri Parks and E.R Shipp join Tom to review some of President Obama’s most poignant moments. How has the president used empathy to shape conversations around contentious issues like gun control, race, and policing?

Plus, an exploration of First Lady Michelle Obama's time in the White House.

Dr. Sheri Parks is an associate professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park and author of Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman.

E.R. Shipp is a Pulitzer Prize winning commentator, columnist for the Baltimore Sun and Associate Professor and Journalist in Residence in the School of Global Journalism and Communication at Morgan State University.

Globe Pequot

We begin today's show with an update on the Consent Decree, signed Thursday between Baltimore City and the U.S. Department of Justice,  from WYPR Metro Reporter Kenny Burns, who tells us what the agreement to reform the Baltimore Police Department actually requires and what it will mean for policing policies and practices going forward. 

photos courtesy DeRay Mckesson; Ezra Levin

In the weeks since President-elect Donald Trump’s electoral college victory, supporters of his Democratic rival for the White House, Hillary Clinton, have been wondering how they can leverage her historic, nearly 3-million vote plurality in the popular vote to resist the Trump Administration and the far-right agenda they believe Mr. Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress will pursue.  For many liberals and progressives in America, the election outcome is sparking new interest in grass-roots organizing and political activism. Today we’re going to explore the emerging anti-Trump movement with two activists who know a thing or two about harnessing citizen power: DeRay Mckesson, a Baltimore public school official who’s been one of the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement, and Ezra Levin, co-author of a new online ”field guide” for anti-Trump activism called Indivisible.  They also take your calls, emails and tweets during the segment.

Photo by Tom Lauer

Midday’s theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck returns for her weekly review of a local stage production. This week, she discusses the Vagabond Players’ new rendition of The Complete History of America (abridged), written by Adam Long, Reed Martin, and Austin Tichenor and directed by Howard Berkowitz. Starring Fred Fletcher-Jackson, Sean Kelly, and William B. Meister, The Complete History condenses 600 years of American history into 90 minutes of outrageous satire.

The Complete History of America (abridged) runs through February 5th at Vagabond Theatre in Fell’s Point. 

Seth Wenig/AP

(Today's show is abbreviated because President-elect Donald Trump's press conference ran past Midday's usual noon start time.)

Yesterday, CNN reported that U.S. intelligence officials showed President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama a document which claims, without proof, that Russian operatives have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.

Online news journal BuzzFeed is caught in a storm of controversy after it posted the previously unpublished 35-page dossier, a collection of reports compiled over a period of months by a respected private British intelligence service as "opposition research" for then-presidential candidate Donald Trump's American political rivals. The dossier, reportedly well-known for months to US investigative journalists and American intelligence agencies, contains unverified allegations about ties between Mr. Trump and Russia. It also contains salacious details of compromising activities in which Mr. Trump allegedly engaged, which Russian operatives purportedly could use to blackmail the U.S. President-elect. 

Flickr-Creative Commons

The 2017 Maryland General Assembly opens for business on Wednesday.  During their annual 90-day legislative session, more than 180 lawmakers from across the state, in the Senate and the House of Delegates, will be drilling down into hundreds of pieces of legislation on issues affecting Marylanders in all walks of life – from business, schools and the environment, to transportation and criminal justice.  They’ll be wrestling with complex tax and budget challenges.  And the 2017 session promises what most recent General Assemblies have provided: pitched partisan battles between the Democratically – controlled legislature and Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan.  Today on Midday, two intrepid State House reporters join Tom for a closer look at some of the key legislative issues before the General Assembly, and predict where Maryland lawmakers and the Governor are likely to clash, and where they might also find agreement.

Erin Cox is The Baltimore Sun's State House bureau chief.   Rachel Baye covers the legislature for us here at WYPR.  They'll be with us for the full hour, and we'll also take your calls, emails and tweets.

Templeton Press

Unemployment is at its lowest in nearly 10 years. However,  almost one in eight men is out of the labor force entirely, neither working nor even looking for work. So who are these men and what’s keeping them out of the job market?

Today, a conversation with Nicholas Eberstadt and Anirban Basu about the historically high number of men in their prime working years who are not in the workforce.

Nicholas Eberstadt holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). His latest book is Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis.

Anirbahn Basu is the Chairman and CEO of the Sage Policy Group, an economic consulting firm and host of the Morning Economic Report on WYPR. 

Today, members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences started voting on nominations for this year’s Academy Awards. Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post  and Jed Dietz of the Maryland Film Festival weigh-in on some of the late Oscar contenders.  Fences is a hit.  Silence is making a lot of noise, and Moonlight, which has already won several pre-Oscar awards, is re-opening in Baltimore at the Charles Theatre.

Mithun

Today, a conversation about State Center, the sprawling office complex in West Baltimore that stretches from Howard St. and Martin Luther King Blvd. in West Baltimore, across both sides of Eutaw St, and all the way north and west to Dolphin St. and Madison Ave.  State Center houses various state agencies. It was built more than 50 years ago, and people who work in and manage the buildings agree that they are in serious disrepair. They’ve agreed about that for a long time. Ten years ago, developers were asked by the administration of Gov. Bob Ehrlich to suggest a plan to upgrade and revitalize the state offices in a way that would also revitalize the surrounding West Baltimore neighborhoods. Gov. Ehrlich got the ball rolling and his successor, Gov. Martin O’Malley, kept it spinning, but it’s been rolling very slowly, and it has encountered more than a few bumps.  Twenty-six million dollars later -- after many public hearings and multiple approvals at various stages by various state agencies, the project is shovel-ready. The Hogan Administration, however, is apparently not ready. Why not?

Tom is joined in the studio today by Caroline Moore. She is CEO and founding partner of Ekistics LLC, the developer that has been working on the State Center project since 2006. John Kyle is here as well. He’s the President of the State Center Neighborhood Alliance, which represents the nine neighborhoods surrounding State Center and nearby institutions,  such as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the University of Maryland Medical Center. We’re also joined by Natalie Sherman, a reporter who covers real estate and economic development for the Baltimore Sun.  And Tom spoke earlier by phone with Doug Mayer, the Governor’s communications director, so you’ll also hear what the State has to say about the status of the project and the State’s apparent change of heart about proceeding with the plans.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Midday's theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck  joins Tom every Thursday with her reviews of local and regional stage productions. This week, it's the celebrated Fiasco Theater production that became a surprise hit in New York City: a minimalist re-invention of Stephen Sondheim's and James Lapine's classic Tony Award-winning musical-fantasy, Into the Woods, now on stage at the Kennedy Center.  

Into the Woods at the Kennedy Center runs through Sunday, January 8th.  Recommended for audiences ages 8 and up!

Photos courtesy Baltimore Sun; Johns Hopkins U

What’s the best way to turn around an under-performing school?  The Maryland State Board of Education appears ready to consider some strategies that are markedly different from past practices.  One of the ideas under consideration is the creation of a special district, or a series of special districts, that would include all of the schools with students who are not succeeding.  What does that mean for local control of schools?   How would that affect Governor Larry Hogan’s plan to expand vouchers for private schools, and what will the Trump Administration’s priorities be if his nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is confirmed?

Liz Bowie covers education for the Baltimore Sun.  Dr. David Steiner is the Executive Director of the Institute for Education Policy at Johns Hopkins University.  They join Tom for the full hour to talk about the changes ahead for Maryland schools, and they take your calls, emails and tweets.

Culture Connections with Dr. Sheri Parks

Jan 3, 2017
Photo courtesy Sheri Parks

Today, our monthly installment of Culture Connections with Dr. Sheri Parks. She's the Associate Dean for Research, Interdisciplinary Scholarship and Programming at the College of Arts and Humanities, and Associate Professor, Department of American Studies, at the University of Maryland/College Park.

So, it’s the new year.  How are you feeling?  Are you optimistic that brighter days lay ahead, or are you worried about where the world is going?  Does the election of Donald Trump mean that the country has embraced his notion that America used to be great, and needs to made great again?  Or does it mean that dissatisfaction with the status quo is so deep that we were willing to elect a Disrupter in Chief? 

And how closely tied is the fate of the country to your perception of what your own fate holds in store?  Are you optimistic about your own future?  The Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen 11,000 points in the last eight years.  Unemployment is the lowest it’s been in decades.  That’s fine, but survey after survey suggests that Americans think we’re not headed in the right direction.

Dr. Sheri Parks helps us sort it all out.  She's Tom's guest for the full hour, and she takes listeners' calls, emails and tweets.

Baltimore Link

Why doesn’t Baltimore have a first-rate public transit system? Why should a major US city have one subway line, rather than an entire subway system?  And why does that single subway line not connect with the light rail? Why does Baltimore have a Streetcar Museum, but no streetcars?

Access to public transit - or the lack of it - can seriously impact the prosperity of a city.  A study at Harvard identified poor transportation options as the number one obstacle for people trying to escape poverty.  In survey after survey, college kids’ biggest compliant about Baltimore is the lack of good public transit. The New Year brings with it a renewed optimism in the future of Baltimore’s public transit.

A group called Transit Choices is a coalition of businesses, community groups, and planners who are trying to coordinate a comprehensive overhaul of Baltimore’s transportation system.  Today, Jimmy Rouse of Transit Choices, and Klaus Philipsen, an urban planner and transportation expert, join Tom in the studio for a conversation about the future of Baltimore's public transit system.

*This conversation originally aired on September 21, 2016.

The "dirtiest man on TV" Mike Rowe joins Tom to talk about rolling up his sleeves and getting down to work in some of the hardest professions on Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs and later Somebody’s Gotta Do It which aired on CNN from 2014 until May 2016.

These days Mike has turned his focus to closing the skills gap in workforce. The mikeroweWORKS Foundation. Provides scholarships for people who want to learn a high demand skill or trade. Mike says the desire to start the foundation came from meeting thousands of skilled workers who make good livings and are passionate about their careers. Many of the folks Mike shadowed on Dirty Jobs did not have advanced college degrees, he talks about why he's encouraging people to obtain a skill set in a specific vocation and why college isn't always the key to success. 

JAZZY STUDIOS, JUSTIN TSUCALAS, RASHEED AZIZ

*This conversation originally aired on October 6, 2016.

Forty years ago, Baltimore was a major manufacturing center. One third of the city’s workforce was employed in factories both large and small. Today, just 5% of Charm City’s workforce earns a living making things. That decline has played out in cities across the country. 

US manufacturing employment peaked in 1979, and it’s been declining ever since, down to just 9% of the national workforce today. Baltimore's manufacturing base has suffered, just like everywhere else in the nation, from cheap labor overseas, surging imports, new technologies and a changing business climate.

Today we look at the evolving state of manufacturing in Baltimore through the lens of three innovators who’ve been working in various ways to foster a flowering of small business manufacturing and artisan craftwork, such as textiles and furniture-making.  Will Holman is the General Manager of Open Works, the $11.5-million “makerspace” that opened September 19th in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, near Greenmount Cemetery. He’s an architect by training, and also a furniture maker. Andy Cook is the founder of the "Made in Baltimore" campaign, a project of The Baltimore City Planning Department’s Office of Sustainability. "Made in Baltimore" is partnering with the Urban Manufacturing Alliance on a study to assess the State of Urban Manufacturing across the country. Baltimore will serve as one of the case study cities. Rasheed Aziz is here as well.  He launched the CityWide Youth Entrepreneurship Program in 2010 to work with teens in Baltimore's most distressed neighborhoods. They all join Tom in the studio.

Photo by Joan Marcus.

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom every Thursday with her reviews of local and regional stage productions. This week, her spotlight is on the touring company production of  A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, now in its final week at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore.

This romping musical tells the story of Monty Navarro, the cocky heir to a family fortune, who plots to eliminate all rivals for his inheritance, while he struggles to navigate his tangled romantic life and stay one step ahead of the law.  

The show stars John Rapson as the D’Ysquith heirs (eight of them in all!), Kevin Massey as Monty Navarro, Kristen Beth Williams as Sibella Hallward, Adrienne Eller as Phoebe D’Ysquith and Mary VanArsdel as Miss Shingle.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder won four 2014 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Direction of a Musical (Darko Tresnjak), Book of a Musical (Robert L. Freedman) and Costume Design of a Musical (Linda Cho).

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder continues at The Hippodrome Theatre through January 1, 2017. 

Photo courtesy Washington City Paper

Today, another edition of Healthwatch, our monthly series of conversations with Dr. Leana Wen, the Health Commissioner of Baltimore City.

This year, more than 300 people have been victims of homicides in Baltimore, but nearly that number died of opioid overdoses in just the first six months of 2016.  Congress has passed the 21st Century Cures Act, directing one billion dollars to target the national epidemic of opioid addiction and support new mental health research and treatment programs.  How will that affect local efforts to help people caught in the grips of drug dependency?  Dr. Wen -- the co-chair of a local group assembled to devise a comprehensive strategy, and a national leader in addressing this national dilemma -- discusses the outlook for curbing the opioid addiction epidemic.

Dr. Wen takes listener calls, tweets and emails during the conversation.

The segment concludes with Tom Hall's appreciation of some prominent Baltimoreans who passed on during 2016, whose contributions to the life of the city will be sorely missed. 

Photo by Kiirstn Pagan

Midday theater critic  J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom every Thursday with her reviews of local and regional stage productions.  This week, she's been to Everyman Theatre to see the Baltimore debut of the off-Broadway hit, playwright Colman Domingo's "Dot."

Domingo, whose other works include "Wild With Happy," and whose acting credits include a starring role in "Fear the Walking Dead," has written a touchingly comic play, set in the holiday season, about kinship, sanity, and the impact of Alzheimer's Disease on an African-American family in West Philadelphia.

Directed by Vincent M. Lancisi, "Dot" continues at Everyman Theatre through Sunday, January 8.

Paula Poundstone / Michael Schwartz

    Today, a conversation with one of America’s most celebrated comedians. Paula Poundstone has spent almost four decades blazing a unique trail in the world of standup, from improv clubs in Boston in the late 1970s to her 1992 gig as the first woman to emcee the White House Correspondents Dinner.  She’s been a regular on late night TV, won awards for her HBO comedy specials, and helped raised millions for the homeless with her standout performances at the Comic Relief concerts.  Many fans also know her from her regular appearances on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, her voice-over roles in animated kids movies, and her off-beat essays.  Paula Poundstone joins us live from Los Angeles; we’ll talk about her career as a comedian, actress and author, and we’ll get her singular take on everything from politics, to parenting and the secrets of human happiness.

FX

It’s been an exciting year for actors of color on the big and small screens, we spend some time talking about the television hits and misses of 2016. The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag and controversy sparked a larger conversation about the lack of diversity in film and critical recognition when not a single actor of color was nominated for an Academy Award in 2015 or 2016. 

Photo courtesy ICJS

Today, another installment in our monthly series, Living Questions, in which we examine the role of religion in the public sphere.  We’re producing this series in partnership with the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies.

Following the riots and uprising in April of 2015, the ICJS embarked on a two-part project they called Imagining Justice in Baltimore.  The first part consisted of three lectures delivered earlier this year by Religious scholars from outside Baltimore.  Dr. Robert Franklin, from Emory University in Atlanta offered the Christian perspective.  Dr. Marc Gopin of George Mason University offered the Jewish perspective, and Dr. Najeeba Syeed of the Claremont School of Theology in California considered the notion of justice from the Muslim perspective.

photo by Rob Sivak

The Midday studio is filled this hour with the iconic sounds of Helicon, the Celtic-inspired trio of Robin Bullock, Chris Norman and Ken Kolodner. Their Annual Winter Solstice Reunion Concerts are one of Baltimore’s most beloved holiday traditions. Tomorrow these three world-class musicians reunite for their 31st Winter Solstice concert at Goucher College, playing Scottish, Irish, Appalachian and other world music.  But today, in keeping with our own tradition here at WYPR, they’re live in our studio – along with members of the roots music group Charm City Junction, including Ken's son Brad Kolodner, Patrick McAvinue, Alex Lacquement and Sean McComiskey.  These world class musicians are sure to warm your heart on this chilly day.  So, settle back and get ready to enjoy some musical magic!

The 3:30 performance of the Winter Solstice Concert is sold out.  For ticket information for the 7:30 performance, click here.

Johns Hopkins University

Every scientific advancement comes with a slew of questions. Take autonomous cars, for example.   In an accident, whose lives should a driverless vehicle be programmed to protect?   Passengers in the car, or people on the street? The field of bioethics addresses the complicated ethical dilemmas that researchers and policy makers face in an ever-changing modern world.

Today, Tom is joined by Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, the director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. He stops by Midday from time to time to talk about how ethicists help us frame the questions we need to ask when we are confronted with new research possibilities, or new advances in science and technology.

photo by Richard Anderson

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio with her weekly review of local stage productions. Today, she shares her impressions of  Les Liaisons Dangereuses, directed by Hana S. Sharif at Baltimore's Center Stage. The classic tale of love and betrayal, set in pre-Revolutionary France, was written in 1985 by Christopher Hampton as an adaptation of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's 1782 epistolary novel. The production runs through Friday, December 23rd.

Today a conversation about homeless young people in Baltimore City. The Abell Foundation’s recent report “No Place to Call Home” found that there are 1,421 young people under the age of 25 who are homeless and without a parent or guardian to look after them. That figure is a lot higher than a previously accepted number based on the findings of a report conducted Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2011. Numbers in the Abell Foundation report were based on the findings of a Youth REACH MD study out of The Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

 There are only six homeless services providers that cater to the needs of youth. There are long wait lists to get into the programs and young people are often turned away.  So what’s being done to help these young people, and what are the barriers that keep them on the streets? 

Megan Lucy is a freelance journalist and the author of the Abell Foundation report. She joins from KUCI in Irvine, CA. 

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