Midday | WYPR


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Last night vice presidential candidates Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine met in Farmville, VA for a 90-minute debate that had more than a few moments of interruptions from the candidates.  

So what did we learn? Did either Vice Presidential candidate move the needle for their respective campaigns? A. Adar Ayira is the Director of Programs for the More in the Middle Initiative with Associated Black Charities.  She also serves on the advisory board of Baltimore Racial Justice Action. Richard Cross is a former Capitol Hill staffer, and a speechwriter for Gov. Robert Ehrlich. He also volunteered as a speechwriter at the Republican National Convention this summer. They join Tom for Vice Presidential debate analysis. 


Tom is joined in the studio for the full hour by Delegate Kathy Szeliga.  She is the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who has served in Congress longer than any woman in history.  Del. Szeliga will go head-to-head with her chief rival for that senate seat in November: Representative Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, who has served Maryland’s 8th Congressional District since 2003. (To listen to Tom's pre-primary interview with Rep. Van Hollen on the March 2, 2016 Maryland Morning program​, click here.)   Del. Szeliga has represented Baltimore and Harford Counties in the Maryland House of Delegates' District 7 for five years, and is the minority whip.  Should she be Maryland’s next U.S. senator? A conversation with Del. Kathy Szeliga. 

This program is part of Tom Hall's Talking with the Candidates series that began early this year on Maryland Morning and continues now on Midday -- an ongoing effort to help inform you about the Maryland candidates running for local, state and national elective offices.  

Is Donald Trump's candidacy an aberration?   Not if you look at recent political history.  The Republican primary voters who helped Mr. Trump win the party's US presidential nomination have many antecedents in American and European politics.   Tom's guest today has written a book that traces the history of populism as a political movement, from Huey Long in Louisiana in the 1930s, through George Wallace’s run for President in 1968, through Donald Trump’s persistent candidacy -- which appears to have a base of support larger than almost anyone imagined when he began his run for the White House in the summer of 2015.

The author  suggests that the ground Trump is tilling became fertile during the financial crisis of 2008-2009, and that the populism of the left, with figures such as Bernie Sanders, grew out of this same soil.   The book is called The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics.  The author is John Judis, who lives in Silver Spring, and who joins Tom this afternoon in Studio A.

Coppin State University

There are approximately 107 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States. Many were established to educate African-Americans following the civil war and continued to prosper during an era when white institutions refused to admit black students. At one point, HBCUs were responsible for educating 80 percent of black college grads. When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed, it opened the doors for students of color to attend predominately white colleges and HBCU enrollment declined.  Now, many HBCUs are seeing a surge in enrollment and experts say the Black Lives Matter movement and increased attention to racial tension on predominately white campuses could be behind the enrollment trend.

Photo by Tim Prendergast

The gypsy-jazz band Hot Club of Baltimore joins Tom in the studio for a live session, playing a couple of tunes from the songbook of the legendary Django Reinhardt.  Hot Club Baltimore is a four-year-old local trio that includes Michael Joseph Harris and Sami Arefin on acoustic guitars and Eddie Hrybyk (pr. RYE-bik) on upright bass. They'll join a roster of 50+ top local bands, soloists and singers at this weekend's first-ever Baltimore JazzFest, a free event inspired by Baltimore JazzAlliance founder Barry Glassman and produced by current BJA President Ian Rashkin.  Baltimore JazzFest is happening Saturday, October 1st, from noon to 8:30pm at Druid Hill Park.  Rain or shine. Click here for more information.

On Wednesday, September 28th, Congress finally approved long-delayed funding to fight the Zika epidemic.  What will that one-point-one billion dollar measure mean for the battle against  the mosquito borne disease in MD?  Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen joins Tom Hall  for our monthly Healthwatch segment.  She’ll have an update on the status of local control efforts.

Other topics today include how the city plans to use a new 5-million dollar federal grant to help West Baltimore communities traumatized by the violence of the 2015 uprising.   And Dr. Wen notes the second HealthyBaltimore 2020 conversation planned for Thursday evening, from 6-8pm, at the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum. These townhall meetings are an opportunity for city residents to learn more about the city's new strategy for bringing more equitable health and wellness services to Baltimorians before the end of the decade. Check out the event site www.hb2020.com for details

Photo by ClintonB Photography

Veteran theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom with a review of Everyman Theatre's new production of "Wait Until Dark."  While most people might know that title from the Oscar-nominated 1967 film starring Audrey Hepburn as the blind protagonist, the tense thriller was originally a play -- Frederick Knott's 1966 Broadway hit, which also had a short-lived 1998 revival.  Then came Jeffrey Hatcher's 2013 adaptation of the Knott play, in which the story is given a new setting in 1944 Greenwich Village.  That's the version now on stage at Everyman, with Donald Hicken directing and Megan Anderson starring in the lead role as Susan. 

"Wait Until Dark" continues at Everyman Theatre through Sunday, October 9.   Click here for ticket information.

The November 8th general elections are less than 6 weeks away, and the campaigns for the White House, the U.S. Congress, and a long list of state and local elective offices are in high gear.

Americans who cast their ballots this November will have a choice of candidates not just from the traditional Democratic or Republican parties, but also from less mainstream “third” parties.

The Green Party of the United States calls itself an “eco-social” party with a progressive social justice and anti-corporate agenda. It’s evolved from the early Greens movement that first gained traction in the US back in the 1980s.

Dr. Margaret Flowers is the Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next January by Sen. Barbara Mikulski. That important seat is also being sought by Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen and Republican Delegate Kathy Szeliga.

Nnabu Eze is the Green Party candidate for Maryland's 3rd Congressional District, a seat held since 2007 by the incumbent Democrat, Representative John Sarbanes, who is also facing a challenge from Republican Mark Plaster. 

Dr. Flowers and Mr. Eze join Tom in the studio to talk about how they plan to represent Maryland in Congress.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

After months of trading jabs during interviews and on Twitter, presidential candidates Sec. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump went head-to-head for the first time on the debate stage. 

Liz Copeland is the Founder of the Urban Conservative Project, and a former Republican candidate for the Baltimore City Council. Dr. Kimberly Moffit is an associate professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. They both join Tom in the studio to discuss the debate highs and lows and what the candidates need to do going forward to sway voters. 

Beth Am Synagogue/Memorial Episcopal Church

Time now 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.

Tom's guests this afternoon are two young, dynamic clergy whose work in their congregations is informed by their commitment to social justice. They are not only spiritual leaders. They are also animating their largely white congregations around the issues that affect our majority African American city.

Daniel Cotzin Burg is the senior rabbi of Beth Am Synagogue in Reservoir Hill, just south of Druid Hill Park. The Rev. Grey Maggiano is the rector of Memorial Episcopal Church in the neighborhood that’s adjacent to Reservoir Hill to the south, Bolton Hill.

Tom Bullock WFAE

A Tale of Two Cities: In Charlotte, North Carolina, a third night of protests ended peacefully after violence erupted earlier this week following the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott by a city police officer.  Police are under growing pressure to release video of the incident.  Police in Tulsa Oklahoma have released videos in the shooting death of Terrence Crutcher; an officer there now faces manslaughter charges.  Reporters on the ground in Charlotte and Tulsa join Tom for an update.

 Immediately following this broadcast Rakeyia Scott, wife of Keith Lamont Scott, released cell phone video she took of the moments immediately before and after her husband was shot by the police. And, ahead of the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington this weekend, Dr. Joann Martin founder of the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum and self-described “Servant of the City” David Fakunle about how to accurately tell the story of the long and varied African-American experience.  Plus, a conversation with MacArthur Genius Grant winner Joyce J. Scott.

Tom Bullock WFAE

Yesterday, 1st degree manslaughter charges were filed against Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer Betty Shelby for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man named Terence Crutcher last week. Shelby, who is white, shot Crutcher after responding to a call about an abandoned vehicle blocking the road. Crutcher’s family says he was having car trouble and waiting for help. While Shelby contends that Crutcher refused to obey commands, video footage shows him walking away from officers with his hands up moments before he was shot in the chest. Tulsa World staff writer Corey Jones reports Shelby, 42, surrendered with an attorney at the Tulsa Jail about 1 a.m. She was booked into the jail at 1:11 a.m and posted $50,000 bond at 1:31 a.m.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, a third night of protests ended peacefully after violence erupted on Tuesday and Wednesday following the fatal shooting of an African American man Keith Lamont Scott by city police officer Brentley Vinson, who is also African-American. Police say Scott had a gun; his family believes he did not. Dashcam video of the incident has not been released to the public but the family, who saw it yesterday afternoon, and chief of police both agree, the video does not definitively show Mr. Scott holding or pointing a gun.  

Gwendolyn Glenn is a reporter for NPR member station WFAE in Charlotte. 

Corey Jones is a staff writer for the Tulsa World newspaper. They join Tom by phone  with updates from Tulsa and Charlotte.

Style Curated

Jewelry maker, sculptor and 2016 MacArthur Fellow Joyce J. Scott joins Midday host Tom Hall to discuss the award. Scott's handmade works range from elaborate neckpieces, to two-and three-dimensional figurative sculptures and installations. Much of her work focuses on the violence brought about by racism and sexism. 

Scott has won numerous awards for her work and many of her pieces are featured in prominent museums across the country including the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington opening this weekend.

A Baltimore native, Scott shares how growing up and living in the city has shaped her work and why she says "leaving her neighborhood would be running away from herself."

Dr. Joanne Martin

On Saturday, the National Museum of African American History and Culture opens its doors. The Smithsonian museum focuses exclusively on the history, life and culture of African-Americans. While many are anticipating the opening, the concept of sharing the the rich and diverse history of the African-American experience is not new. Dr. Joanne M. Martin has been sharing pieces of African-American history with the public for decades. In 1983, she and her late husband, Dr. Elmer Martin, founded the The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore. The museum features life-size wax figures that show historical and contemporary parts of African American history. 

David Fakunle is a storyteller and fellow with the Baltimore City Health Department and a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins school of Public Health. He studies the mental affects of racism, inequality and oppression on people of color. 

Dr. Martin and David Fakunle join Tom in the studio to discuss the opening of the new museum and their different approaches to sharing and documenting the African-American experience.


Walters Art Museum

Dr. Gary Vikan, who retired in 2013 as director of the Walters Art Museum here in Baltimore, has spent more than 40 years -- nearly 30 of them at the Walters -- overseeing prestigious collections of some of the world’s most precious art and artifacts.  Vikan  joins Tom this afternoon to talk about the memoir he’s written of those years, and about the challenges he often faced from the dark underworld of the global art trade. The book is called Sacred and Stolen: Confessions of a Museum Director.  

Veteran theater critic  J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio, as she does every Thursday here on Midday, to preview some of the exciting new plays and musicals that will be gracing stages in Baltimore and around the region during the 2016-2017 season. 

Here are links to the theaters Judy mentions in today's season preview:  Center Stage;  Le Mondo;  Strand Theater Company;  Chesapeake Shakespeare Company;  Everyman Theatre;  Iron Crow Theatre Hippodrome Theatre;  Single Carrot Theatre.


Ahead of his one man show Dirty Talk at the Modell Performing Arts Center, "dirtiest man on TV" Mike Rowe joins Midday host Tom Hall 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 by providing scholarships through the mikeroweWORKS Foundation for people who want to learn a skill or trade that is in high demand. 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 he shadowed did not have advanced degrees, a point that isn’t missed on Mike. He says as a society we put too much emphasis on obtaining a four-year degree as the only path to success and not enough on obtaining a skill set in a specific vocation that could lead to a successful career. 

Photo by Frank Lennon/Getty Images

She was a warrior for neighborhoods who stopped highways from piercing through lower Manhattan in the 1950s and 60s.  Jane Jacobs was a self-taught city planner whose activism and research helped change the course of American urban development, and redefine what it means for a city to be "great."

We’ll examine the roots and ramifications of Jacobs’ community-centered vision of urbanism with Robert Kanigel, author of “Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs.”  We’ll be joined by Ed Gunts, former architecture critic for the Baltimore Sun who now covers design and development for the online journals Baltimore Brew,  the Baltimore Fishbowl, and ArchitectsNewspaper.  The City Council gave final approval to the bond deal for Port Covington last night.  How will Jane Jacobs’ ideas about cities and the people who live in them inform our understanding of the many ways this massive project will impact the look -- and the life -- of our city?

Baltimore City Public Schools

Dr. Sonja Sontelises, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, joins Midday host Tom Hall to discuss her vision for the school system. 

Dr. Santelises is no stranger to city schools and the challenges within Baltimore's public schools. She was Chief Academic Officer for the system from 2010 to 2013. Prior to that, she served as Vice President for K-12 policy and practice at The Education Trust, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit focused on closing the achievement gap experienced disproportionately by low income families and families of color. 


If you’ve ever planted a flower garden, you know what’s required: planting, watering, maybe adding fertilizer and compost. And then there’s that never-ending task, weeding. But what if there were an easier way to create a beautiful, rewarding garden? There is, according to landscape designer Larry Weaner, author of "Garden Revolution: How our landscapes can be a source of environmental change." He argues that many traditional gardening practices are not just time-consuming: they’re counterproductive and harmful to the environment. When we plant species that aren’t suited to our local landscape, we set ourselves up for struggle, he says. Instead, the natural processes of native plant communities should guide us. Stop pulling weeds, retire the rototiller, and start a revolution . . . in your garden. Original air date: July 26, 2016.

  (Due to a technical issue, this podcast is missing the first 5 minutes of the show)

During the 2014-2015 school year, more than 70,000 students in Maryland were suspended or expelled from school. Some for serious offenses like fighting or bringing weapons to school, but others for cheating or disrupting class. Minority students are far more likely than whites to be suspended, and being suspended multiple times is more closely linked to dropping out than failing grades. More than six out of ten (62%) Maryland students suspended or expelled during the 2014-2015 school year were African American. Yet African American students were only 35% of enrollment in that same school year. White students made up 41 percent of enrollment and a quarter of suspensions.

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Under President Obama, drones have become this country’s weapon of choice in our fight against terrorism. Over half of the pilots now trained by the Air Force are drone pilots. Advocates say drones allow us to find and destroy our adversaries without endangering American lives. They can stay in the air for countless hours, tracking movement below, gathering information, and waiting for a good shot. But critics say drones too often kill civilians and function as a recruiting tool for terrorists. They also charge that drones operate outside the bounds of international law. How have drones changed the face of warfare? What are the ethical implications of this technology?

Thirty-five years ago, Baltimore’s inner-city neighborhoods were struggling. Manufacturing jobs that had sustained families were disappearing. The crack cocaine epidemic was intensifying the drug trade, pulling in younger users, more violent dealers. Housing projects that had offered stable homes were deteriorating. From this desperate setting a remarkable coach at one of the city’s oldest African-American high schools assembled an astonishing array of talent … and drilled them into what some say was the best high-school basketball team ever. In this hour we’ll learn about some of the characters who made it happen: Coach Bob Wade. The inimitable 5-foot-3 point guard Muggsy Bogues, and other players who became N-B-A stars. We’ll talk to Alejandro Danois, author of "The Boys of Dunbar". 

Wonder_Al / Flickr via Creative Commons

Tipping. It’s as American as that slice of apple pie on the menu. But in most states, employers pay their servers well below minimum wage. In Maryland, that means as little as 3 dollars and 63 cents an hour, with tips making up the rest. Tipped employees never know what they’ll earn, unlike the rest of us. Critics say that isn’t fair. They propose abolishing tipping. Restaurants in a few cities have begun to ban the practice in favor of higher pay...and higher prices. What would skipping the tip mean for workers, customers, and the restaurant industry? Are tips a perk of the job or an injustice? Our guests: Michael Saltsman, research director at the Employment Policies Institute, and Jay Zagorsky, economist and research scientist at The Ohio State University.

Maryland GovPics/Flickr via Creative Commons

The country’s newest and oldest civil-rights organizations are calling for a halt in opening new privately-managed charter schools. The NAACP compared expanding charter schools in poor communities to the sub-prime mortgage disaster, and expressed concerns that charters have increased school segregation rather than encouraging integration. Here in Maryland, charters are non-profits, authorized by local school boards. A third of Maryland’s pupils are African-American, but in charter schools here 4 out of 5 pupils are African American. Is that just because most of the state’s charters are located in Baltimore city? Do those who run charter schools represent public goals and values? We’ll talk to a reporter covering the national debate, a community activist and former charter school principal. 

Jon collier/Flickr via Creative Commons

The Spanish flu of 1918 led to more than 500,000 deaths in this country. What if a pandemic like that were to hit now? Intensive care units are already frequently strained to capacity. If there were a severe pandemic, there wouldn’t be enough resources to go around, like life-saving ventilators. Whose lives should be saved first? Should it be first come, first serve? Should children get priority? Should we remove a ventilator from an ailing patient if a healthier person has a better chance of surviving? Should we treat healthcare workers first? A team of Maryland doctors has asked the public to weigh in on these thorny ethical decisions. 

It’s been nearly a month since the U.S. Department of Justice released its report on the Baltimore Police Department. It chronicles years of unconstitutional and discriminatory policing, especially of African-Americans. The report also exposes inadequate training and staffing, and a lack of follow-up after citizens file complaints. Now the city must draft a consent decree detailing plans for reform. We’ll talk to a reporter who’s looked at the effect of federal intervention in police departments in other cities. And we’ll meet the organizers of a town hall, scheduled for tomorrow, who want to know what the public would like to see in its police. What will it take to fix the Baltimore Police Department?

Penn State/Flickr via Creative Commons

Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed. Plato, Socrates, Hippocrates. All of them had at least one thing in common. They fasted. It turns out these influential figures were on to something, at least when it comes to health. Some scientists say that regularly abstaining from food for even short periods of time may improve health, boost brain power, and fight diseases ranging from cancer to diabetes to Alzheimer’s. It could even extend lives. The catch is that you have to periodically put down your fork. Could you permanently say goodbye to breakfast if it meant you might live longer? What about skipping all your meals two days a week? We speak to Mark Mattson, chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging, and University of Maryland molecular geneticist Steve Mount, who has been a practitioner for the last 12 years. Original air date: May 18, 2016

Courtesy of Thread

How do you take students performing in the bottom 25 percent of their class to walking across the stage at college graduation? The Baltimore non-profit Thread seems to have the answer: follow each student for a decade, provide them with a team of supporters, and do whatever it takes to help kids succeed, from packing lunches to matching students with summer internships. Ninety-two percent of Thread students graduate from high school, and 90 percent are accepted to college. Sarah Hemminger, co-founder of Thread, tells us how Thread is scaling up its efforts. And we hear from a volunteer and from a member of Thread’s first cohort, now a board member with the organization. Original air date: April 13, 2016.

Kevin Galens/Flickr via Creative Commons

Capable of moving thirty million tons of international cargo valued at more than $50 billion dollars. First in the nation for handling autos and light trucks. One of just four East Coast ports able to accommodate the massive ships now passing through the expanded Panama Canal. The Port of Baltimore is an essential player in both global trade and Maryland’s economy. This hour, we catch up with James White, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration. Will larger ships coming to Baltimore bring more jobs to the city? What challenges lie ahead for the port? All this, plus we remember Helen Delich Bentley, congresswoman, reporter and longtime advocate of the port.