Midday | WYPR



*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.


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.