On the Record | WYPR

On the Record

Baltimore’s tangled history, firmly in the shadow of Annapolis, has given it an inferiority complex. So says Johns Hopkins professor emeritus of political science Matthew Crenson, whose new book is: Baltimore: A Political History. We ask him why early town fathers didn’t have the power to keep pigs from wandering the streets, how investing in the first interstate railroad left the city too debt-burdened to pay for police and schools, and why he thinks Baltimore has tried to deal with race issues by not talking about them.

A book launch will be held tonight, August 8th, at 4 pm, at the Baltimore City Archives, 2615 Matthews St. 

We talk with award-winning journalist Mary Otto about her new book “Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America.” It chronicles the rise of cosmetic dentistry and the marketing of the coveted ‘Hollywood Smile,’ contrasted with decades of deficient access to oral healthcare for many Americans--a gap that still pervades and challenges the system. Otto’s book was spurred by the tragedy of Deamonte Driver in Prince George’s County, who died at age 12 from infection from an abscessed tooth. Otto will be speaking about her book and signing copies for sale at the Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry, an event co-sponsored with the Public Justice Center and Health Care for the Homeless. You can find out more about the event here, and you can purchase the book here. This is a rebroadcast of the original program from May 22, 2017.

Just Married!

Aug 7, 2017
Courtesy Jewish Museum of Maryland

A wedding ceremony may be the union of two souls, but the day represents so much more--encompassing families, cultures and communities. Tracie Guy-Decker, Jewish Museum of Maryland associate director talks about what we can read into dresses, documents, chuppas and cake-toppers -- some of what's featured in the new JMM exhibit, "Just Married! Wedding Stories from Jewish Maryland." This is a rebroadcast of the original program, which aired on June 22, 2017.

Courtesy NY Public Library collection

During decades of Jim Crow, African-American travelers couldn’t be sure what they’d face at a strange restaurant, a hotel, even a gas station. Would the door be slammed in their face, or worse? The Green Book, an annual listing of establishments welcoming black customers, started in the late ‘30s. We speak with Anne Bruder, a State Highway Administration historian who is researching Green Book businesses in Maryland. We also talk with Traci Wright of the Park School, who discusses the Green Book with students from several high schools on an annual Civil Rights trip and also with civil-rights icon Dr. Helena Hicks, who recalls using the guide when she traveled for her work. 

Anne Bruder will speak about her research Aug. 5 at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum. You can find more information on her talk here.

David Cook / Flickr via Creative Commons

From the shape of the nests birds build to the color of their feathers, technology is turning theories dating back to Darwin on their head. Biologist Jordan Price, of St Mary’s College of Maryland, has mapped the genes of both ancient and more recently derived bird species. He tells us why domed bird nests evolved into the widespread bowl shape, why the color of feathers might be more about camouflage than attraction, and what scientists got wrong when studying the differences between female and male birds. Original air date: May 17, 2017.

Living Design Lab

Here’s an unusual idea: using tiny houses to address the affordable housing crisis. Many of these homes are 200 square feet or less. Could they help house low-wage earners in Baltimore? Greg Cantori, CEO of Maryland Nonprofits, and Davin Hong, principle architect at the Living Design Lab, describe their vision. And Klaus Philipsen, urban planner and president of Archplan, Inc., shares his thoughts on the feasibility of this approach.

Drop the Gun

Jul 31, 2017

Just over halfway through this year, Baltimore has crossed a frightening threshold: more than 200 city residents have been murdered. What can be done to stop the violence? Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, discusses the obstacles posed by stolen guns and repeat offenders. And Erickka Bridgeford, one of the organizers of a 72-hour ceasefire this coming weekend, explains how she is making a pitch for peace.

Morgan Smith, sharing how the French New Wave film, Band of Outsiders, changed his course in life. You can find more stories like this, as well as information about live Stoop events, here.

From playing basketball in South Baltimore to churning out pints of cool mint chocolate chip and sweet honey graham. We speak with two of the founders of Taharka Brothers Ice Cream, Sean Smeeton and Carroll Skipwith, about the company’s start, its roots in the community, and the universal appeal of ice cream. 

Andrew O'Brien / Flickr via Creative Commons

Sunscreen, bug spray, shampoo, deodorant. When we wash personal care products like these off of our bodies, they go down the drain, pass through wastewater treatment plants, and end up in our rivers and oceans. Scientists have found numerous ill effects from these chemicals, including the feminization of fish. Environmental engineer Lee Blaney, associate professor at UMBC, joins us to talk about his research in local waterways.

Christopher Connelly / WYPR

Marylanders have more than a year before they’ll cast votes for governor, but already the field is crowded. Six Democrats have declared their candidacy, and at least that many are considering it. Do any of them have what it takes to unseat Maryland’s popular Republican governor? We chat with political scientists Todd Eberly of St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Mileah Kromer of Goucher about Larry Hogan’s prospects, the Trump Effect, and potential strategies the Democratic party might take.

Forgetting someone’s name, getting caught with spinach in your teeth. We all experience cringe worthy moments, but some people seem never to grow out of their awkward teenage years. Psychologist Ty Tashiro tells us why these mishaps happen and why some people are more awkward than others. His new book is Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome.

Teens who have lost someone they love may feel angry or overwhelmed, struggle to ask for help and withdraw from their friends. The nonprofit Roberta’s House aims to let young people know they are not alone in grief, and help them develop tools to work through their grief and rebuild their lives. We speak to Dorenzer Thomas, coordinator of youth and school-based services at Roberta’s House, volunteer Mary Dorsey, and three young people who tell us what they’ve gained from activities at Roberta’s House.

Actress Maria Broom sharing a story at the Stoop Storytelling event, “The Show Must Go On,” which took place at Everyman Theater in May. She shared some of the wisdom learned on set filming the HBO series,“The Corner,” here in Baltimore. You can find more stories like this, as well as information about live Stoop events, here.

Fluid Movement's Facebook page

Imagine a tour of Shakespeare’s greatest works, given by the Bard himself, except that he is a shark. Hard to wrap your mind around? Never fear: Fluid Movement, a performance-art group in Baltimore, will bring this wacky tale to life with singing, dancing, and costumes in “Sharkespeare - the water ballet”. It’s powered by goggles, face paint, and lots of sunscreen. Co-producer Rachel Kassman tells us about the group’s synchronized swimming talents.

Say goodbye to those iconic yellow boxes. The Baltimore Sun Media Group has announced it plans to close a recent acquisition, the Baltimore City Paper. City Paper first hit the presses in 1977. Over four decades, the local paper with an attitude has provided a forum for investigative reporters, writers, cartoonists, and oddballs alike. And every week, without fail, it has appeared on street corners throughout the city, for free. Current editor Brandon Soderberg and long-time City Paper writer Michael Anft join us to reflect on Baltimore’s beloved alt-weekly.

National Renewable Energy Lab / Flickr via Creative Commons

Two wind farms off the coast of Ocean City could be supplying electricity for tens of thousands of Maryland homes in a few years, now that Maryland regulators have OK’d a subsidy through a charge on utility customers’ bills. The projects are required to make big investments in steel fabrication and upgrading the former Sparrows Point shipyard. Advocates predict wind power will create thousands of jobs here, especially if Maryland moves faster than other east-coast states to build an offshore-wind industry. We’ll discuss the prospects with Paul Rich, director of project development for U.S. Wind, and Liz Burdock, executive director of the Business Network for Offshore Wind.

Historic St. Mary's City's Facebook page

Since the 1970s, archaeologists have sifted through the debris of St. Mary’s City, the capital of colonial Maryland. What have they learned from the bits of pottery and brick they’ve discovered? We ask Historic St. Mary’s City’s Chief Archeologist Travis Parno and ‘field school’ assistant Sarah McCoy. Then, Director of Research Henry Miller shares the mystery of three lead coffins discovered while excavating a chapel in 1990.

Ticket info for Tidewater Archaeology Weekend (July 29-30) is here.

Dennis Wong / Flickr via Creative Commons

Why do some smells repel us more than others … and why do some immediately trigger a memory? How does our sense of smell interact with other senses, like hearing and sight? Why does an older woman, if her sense of smell grows less acute, have a smaller social circle -- but the same is not true of older men? We talk about all that and more with Johan Lundstrom, a cognitive psychologist who does research at the Monell Chemical Sense Center in Philadelphia and the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.

Steve Walker shares a Stoop story about a broken drive shaft, a pretty girl, and a large chocolate milkshake. You can listen to more stories and learn about Stoop shows at stoopstorytelling.com.

One scoop or two? Cup or cone? You can’t go wrong with ice cream--whether it’s plain vanilla or an exotic mélange of candy and fudge. From the birth of the ice cream truck to the origin of the root beer float, we get a pop culture history of this delectable dessert from Amy Ettinger, author of the new book, "Sweet Spot: An Ice Cream Binge Across America".

Vital Signs 15 Housing & Community Development Maps / BNIA

Why is it important for each Baltimore neighborhood to understand the dozens of statistics that describe it and its people--where they live, how long it takes them to get work, how many of the homes around them are vacant? We ask Seema Iyer of the University of Baltimore, driving force behind the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance, how such data can predict where things are going, not just trace the past. And we ask consultant Alyce Myatt about GeoLoom, a new interactive map that tracks elements of art and culture in every corner of the city.

Whether you are lazing by the pool or passing time at the airport, summer is a great time to get lost in a good book. Deborah Taylor of the Enoch Pratt Free Library shares selections that appeal to adults--thrillers, memoirs, and more. And Jamie Watson of the Baltimore County Public Library has ideas for books to catch the interest of children, teens, and reluctant readers.

Think again if you’ve been assuming curiosity is constant, like gravity. We talk to astrophysicist Mario Livio about his new book, "Why: What Makes us Curious". Not only are some people more curious than others, and curious about different questions, but homo sapiens’ capacity for curiosity grew as its brain evolved. For all its variations, Livio deems curiosity an unstoppable drive.

Hamza Butt / Flickr via Creative Commons

Many families get sticker shock when they look at the cost of college - a number that doesn’t even take into account textbooks or trips home for the holidays. Money magazine senior writer Kim Clark walks us through why the cost of college keeps rising, as well as what to do when a financial aid package doesn’t measure up. Plus, a new ranking looks at which schools do the best job of moving low-income students into the middle class. Which colleges in Maryland made the list?

Now, a Stoop Story from former Baltimore City Councilman Joseph "Jody" Landers, about the constant commotion of growing up in Northeast Baltimore in a family of eight. You can find his story and others at Stoop Storytelling, as well as information about upcoming Stoop events and the show’s podcast.

Open Society Institute-Baltimore is supplying the city’s health department funds for another front in the fight against the opioid epidemic. The $200,000 grant is aimed at saving lives from overdose and reducing stigma around addiction. We speak to OSI director Diana Morris about what activities the grant will fund and how she'll measure the success of this investment.

The impact a crime has upon a victim can be pervasive -- the trauma can affect children, parents, other loved ones and friends. Comprehending the victim’s point of view and the depth of that widespread impact can be a powerful healing tool for both the perpetrator and the victim. We meet Wayne Brewton, convicted of murder at age 17 with a life sentence, and paroled after 38 years, who championed victim awareness efforts inside prison, and Mark Vernarelli, Director of Community Engagement in the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation, who witnessed the powerful effects of the efforts first hand.

For 90 years, The League for People with Disabilities has worked to foster independence for those living with physical, cognitive or neurological handicaps. Annually, more than 2-thousand individuals get resources, care and rehabilitation at its multiple facilities. We’ll speak with Peris Bennett, about his experiences as a participant in the League’s workforce development program and David Greenberg, the League's president and CEO. He offers insight behind the enthusiastic response to their monthly nightclub for people with disabilities, Club 1111.

When Union General Oliver Otis Howard was named right after the Civil War to head the Freedman’s Bureau, Howard was creating a new kind of government agency, one that would take an active role in solving the problems of freed slaves and poor whites in the former Confederacy. A dozen years later, with the Freedman’s Bureau disbanded, Howard went west. Aided by a bright young officer from Baltimore, Howard led the fight against Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Indians in Oregon. In this program, historian Daniel Sharfstein introduces us to those characters, and traces the arc of change in how the U.S. saw its governing role as he discusses his new book, "Thunder in the Mountains". Original air date: May 1, 20172

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