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Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates who will be on the June 26 primary ballot here in Maryland. Early voting begins June 14th.

Tom’s guest for the hour, live in Studio A, is Ben Jealous, a Democratic candidate for Governor. Last May, when he stood in front of his cousin’s flower shop in Baltimore’s Ashburton neighborhood and jumped into the race, he was only the second Democrat to announce his candidacy. Now, he has plenty of company: There will be nine Democrats on the ballot in June. The winner will go up against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the general election next November.  We are live streaming this conversation on the WYPR Facebook page.  To watch, click here. 

Ben Jealous is perhaps best known as the former president and CEO of the NAACP. When he was appointed to that position in 2008, he was, at 35 years old, the youngest person ever to lead the NAACP. He was there for more than 5 years. When he left the NAACP in 2013, he joined Kapor Capital as a partner and investor. It’s a progressive investment firm based in Oakland, CA. He manages the firm’s Baltimore office. He is also a visiting professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He is a former community organizer and, early in his career, he was a journalist. He is 45 years old and the father of two. He lives in Anne Arundel Co.


A knowledge of history leads to a better understanding of the present and, perhaps, insight into the future. Our guests today understand the power in that. We talk with Phoebe Stein, executive director of Maryland Humanities to learn about Maryland History Day, a statewide competition for middle- and high-school students to bring a favorite history lesson to life. And we also meet David Armenti, director of education at the Maryland Historical Society, who tells us why it’s worth our time to remember Maryland Day, this Sunday, March 25.

For information on Maryland Day events around the state, check out this link.

Interested in being a judge for Maryland History Day? Visit this link.

Here's a Stoop story from Hannah Feldman, about her encounters of the 'Merlin' kind. You can hear her story and others at stoopstorytelling.com or on the Stoop podcast.


There are many ways to enjoy the great outdoors in Maryland … from mountains to ocean, and from forest to stream. Our guest today is dedicated to helping enthusiasts discover new adventures and learn more about the geography, flora and fauna that await. Biologist and naturalist Bryan MacKay walks us through his three new guidebooks: Cycle Maryland, Hike Maryland and Paddle Maryland. Whether you’re novice or seasoned, MacKay urges you to get out of the car and go into the wild.

Photo courtesy Michael Schwartz

Paula Poundstone is one of America’s most celebrated comedians.  For four decades, she’s blazed a unique trail in the world of standup, from improv clubs in Boston in the late 1970s to award-winning HBO comedy specials, and her 1992 gig as the first woman to emcee the White House Correspondents Dinner.

She’s been a regular on late-night TV, and her standout performances at the Comic Relief concerts in the mid-90s helped raise millions for the homeless. She’s done voice-over roles in animated kids movies, including Disney's Oscar-winning Inside Out, and, of course, public radio fans know her from her regular appearances on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.  And the self-narrated audiobook version of her 2017 best-seller, The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness, was just nominated by the Audio Publishers Association as a 2018 Audie Awards finalist for both Humor and Audiobook of the Year.

Paula Poundstone is appearing at a concert Friday night at Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium.  WYPR is a media partner for the sold-out event.  For additional event info, click here

Whether or not you got tickets to her show, Paula joins Tom today, on the line from NPR-West in Culver City, California, to talk politics, books, parenting, cats, comedy and whatever else they may stumble upon!

Photo copyright by Matthew Murphy

It's Thursday, and that means Midday's intrepid theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, is here with another of her weekly reviews of the region's thespian offerings. 

This week, Judy braved the elements to attend the opening of the new touring production of School of Rock, the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical that's now raising the rafters at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theater.

Based on the hit 2003 film, the musical follows Dewey Finn, a down-on-his-luck wannabe rock star who poses as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school to make ends meet. When he discovers that his fifth-graders harbor some extraordinary musical talents, he encourages them to form a rock group and take a shot at winning the Battle of the Bands competition.

Andrew Lloyd Weber, who has done more than his share to bring rock and romance to Broadway, has composed 14 new songs for School of Rock, and kept all the original songs from the movie.  Directed by Laurence Connor and choreographed by JoAnn M. Hunter, the talented cast includes Rob Coletti as Dewey Finn, Lexie Dorsett Sharp as Rosalie, and a band of young actor/musicians who help deliver the musical's youthful spirit and high-octane score. 

School of Rock continues at the Hippodrome until Sunday, March 25.

Photo Courtesy Johns Hopkins University Press

On today's show, environmental journalist Tom Pelton joins us live in Studio A. He’s been writing about the Chesapeake Bay and other environmental issues for more than two decades.  He is the Director of Communications for the Environmental Integrity Project, and the host of The Environment in Focus, which airs Wednesday mornings and evenings here on WYPR.  His new book is called The Chesapeake in Focus: Transforming the Natural World.

From Baltimore’s leaky sewer system to farms in Pennsylvania and even pollution from factories in the Midwest, the Bay and its ecosystem face serious challenges.  What will it take to meet them?


Patrick Daniels

Baltimore City College, the third oldest public school in the country, is also home to a venerable debate team. Alumnus Gil Sandler, class of ‘41, describes how the art of debate has changed since his time on the team.

Cassie Doyle-Hines

There’s a revolution afoot, and it’s being fueled by high school students across the country who are discovering the power of political engagement. Galvanized by the tragedy in Parkville, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead last month, students across the country have staged rallies and walkouts demanding stricter gun laws and an end to gun violence. Saturday, March 24, is a focus of much of the organizing--the ‘March for Our Lives’ in Washington DC. Hundreds of thousands of young people and families from all parts of the US are expected -- demanding their voices be heard.

We talk with Park School of Baltimore Freshman Liza Sheehy, senior class president Mahey Gheis and Rommel Loria director of civic engagement and service learning about what students in their school are doing to engage politically.

We also meet Ericka Alston Buck, founder of Kids Safe Zone, who will travel to the march in D.C. with a fleet of buses full of high school students, organized by Mayor Catherine Pugh. Finally, we speak with Michaela Hoenig, a senior at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, who has organized lodging for hundreds of students and families attending the March For Our Lives.

To sign up for FREE bus rides to the rally from Baltimore, visit this link: Baltimore and Beyond March for Our Lives Rally Tickets.

Cover art courtesy Viking Press

It’s coming up on 100 years since the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, was ratified by legislatures in the requisite three-fourths of US states.  The suffragist movement had begun 72 years earlier.  In the summer of 1920, in Nashville, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th amendment, just in time for the 1920 elections, in which 10 million women helped to sweep Warren Harding into office in a landslide victory. 

This year, as historically large numbers of American women are launching campaigns for election at all levels of government, Baltimore-based author and journalist Elaine Weiss has written a timely and compelling account of the final push in the long and hard-fought battle for women’s suffrage. Her new book is called The Woman’s Hour:  The Great Fight to Win the VoteShe joins Tom in Studio A.

Elaine Weiss will be talking about her new book at the Enoch Pratt Central Library here in Baltimore, as part of the library's Writers Live series.  That event, originally scheduled for tonight, has been rescheduled due to the severe weather, and will take place on Tuesday, April 3, at 6:30pm.  Follow the link for updated event details.

Courtesy of The Standard

Negin Farsad is a New York-based writer, director and social justice comedian. She’s the host of the podcast, Fake the Nation, a comedy round-table about politics on the Earwolf network, and the author of the book, How to Make White People Laugh, which has been nominated for a Thurber Prize for Humor. She co-directed and starred in the movie The Muslims Are Coming! -- which also stars Jon Stewart and Lewis Black.

On Thursday night at 7 pm, several short films that are part of a series called “The Secret Lives of Muslims” will be screened at Baltimore’s Creative Alliance, in an event sponsored by the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies. Negin Farsad is featured in one of those films. She’ll be on a panel to discuss the films at the Creative Alliance, and she’ll also do a stand-up comedy set. She joins Tom on the line from the studios at NPR in New York.


New cuts in federal income taxes would raise state taxes, unless the legislature takes action. We ask the vice chair of the Senate’s tax committee, Rich Madaleno, why the Senate voted to increase the standard deduction than every taxpayer can claim. 

Photo courtesy Al Redmer for Baltimore Co. Executive

Today, it’s another in our series of Conversations with the Candidates, in-depth interviews with contenders in key races leading up to the June 26th Maryland primary election.

Today, Tom's guest is Maryland Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer, Jr.  The Baltimore County native hopes to build on his two terms as the state’s chief insurance regulator and four terms as a Republican state delegate to win his party’s nomination in the June primary for Baltimore County Executive.  Redmer is one of two Republicans in that contest, which is spotlighting his moderate conservativism, his wide-ranging family business experience and his close ties with Governor Hogan.  Where does he stand on school construction, immigration and affordable housing? Can he be the first Republican since 1990 to win Baltimore County’s top job? Candidate Al Redmer takes Tom's questions, and yours.

Today's conversation, like all our Conversations with the Candidates, was streamed live on WYPR's Facebook page.

Live in Studio A: Trio Galilei

Mar 16, 2018

Ginger Hildebrand, Sue Richards and Carolyn Surrick are three highly respected musicians who play what many call “early” music.  They each play in various solo capacities, and when they play together as Trio Galilei , they play Irish and Scottish dance music, and music that goes way back to medieval times.

Today, the trio joins Tom in the studio to perform a little early music and (in honor of St. Patrick's Day tomorrow) a traditional Irish tune. With Carolyn on viola de gamba, Sue on Celtic harp, and Ginger on guitar, we hear "Lindsay's Keys," Grainne's Grace," and "O'Carolan's Draught."    

See the video of  Trio Galilei's Live-Streamed performance on the WYPR FB page.

Trio Galilei will be performing selected works of music at Christ Church in Easton, Maryland on Sunday, March 18th.   For more information check out the link below. 


Here’s a Stoop Story from Matt Hayat about finding his place in the deaf community.

You can hear his story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

Flour Power

Mar 16, 2018
Maryland Historical Society


On this edition of the Midday News Wrap: Tom speaks with Dayvon Love, Director of Public Policy at Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (LBS), about the comprehensive crime bill recently passed by the State Senate, over strong opposition from the Baltimore delegation.  The bill would introduce higher mandatory minimums for gun crimes and stringent sentencing for repeat offenders. 

Then, Tom is joined by John Fritze, Washington Bureau Chief for the Baltimore Sun, for a closer look at the race for Maryland's 6th congressional district, where the rising human toll of the opioid crisis looms over both constituents and candidates. 

Later, Will Englund, Foreign Assignment Editor at the Washington Post, veteran Moscow correspondent and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, talks with Tom about the Trump administration's reactions to the alleged Russian nerve-agent attack in Britain on a former Russian spy and his daughter, and the new sanctions the White House has imposed on Russia for recent acts of political cyber-warfare.

The opportunity to tell one’s story can be empowering. Especially for those who think they don’t have a voice … or believe that others aren’t interested in what they have to say. We meet Johns Hopkins film student Amelia Voos along with illustrator and educator Jonathan Scott Fuqua ... they’ve been working with 8th-grade students at Morrell Park Middle School, to teach them the skills of telling their personal stories through video. Their films will be screened March 22 at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. More info here.

Photo by Michael Brosilow

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins senior producer Rob Sivak with her review of a new production of Animal Farm, an adaptation of George Orwell's dystopian 1945 novella that's now running at Baltimore's Center Stage.

This popular adaptation of the novella, written in 1982 by Ian Wooldridge, is being co-produced in its new run at Center Stage with the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.  It re-imagines Orwell's anti-Stalinist allegory, in which the animals of Manor Farm rise up against their human masters and the tyranny of their forced labor, inspired by the revolutionary ideas that an old boar named Major shared with the animals before his death. They establish a new order based on Major's commandments of "Animalism," in which all humans are enemies, all animals are comrades, and all animals are equal.  But the revolutionary doctrines are soon twisted to empower a ruling clique led by a brutal, authoritarian boar named Napoleon. The citizens of Animal Farm begin to realize that some animals are more equal than others.

Directed at Center Stage by May Adrales, the eight-member "Animal Farm" cast includes Melvin Abston as Napoleon, Jonathan Gillard Daly as Benjamin, Tiffany Rachelle Stewart as Squealer, Brendan Titley as Snowball, and Stephanie Weeks as Major.  Playing multiple roles, the actors deploy unique animal-head armatures created by Costume Designer Izumi Inabi to portray the creatures of Manor Farm.

Animal Farm continues at Baltimore's Center Stage through Sunday, April 1st.  

Flickr Creative Commons

We begin today with an update on the results of  Tuesday’s special election in the 18th Congressional District in Pennsylvania.

Tom is joined on the line by An-Li Herring, politics and law reporter for WESA, Pittsburgh's NPR News Station. 

Now it's time for another edition of Smart Nutrition, our regular focus on healthy eating.    Here’s a question that has puzzled philosophers and poets for ages: Should a veggie burger go out of its way to taste like a beef burger, or should it embrace its veggie-ness? A new meat-free burger has taken imitation to a whole new level of flattery.

It’s called the Impossible Burger. It’s new. It’s only available in restaurants -- and not many restaurants, so far -- and it is so much like a beef hamburger that it actually bleeds when you bite into it. But it’s made from plants, not from cows. Midday’s Nutrition Diva Monica Reinagel is here to help us size up the Impossible Burger, and to talk about other items of interest in the ever-changing landscape of healthy eating. Monica is a licensed nutritionist and the author of six books who blogs at nutritionovereasy.com. She is also the creator of the weekly Nutrition Diva podcast, which has become one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts since it debuted in 2008.

Baltimore Police Department

A crisis hotline, mobile teams that travel to residents in distress - just some of the services provided by the nonprofit Baltimore Crisis Response, Inc.

Executive director Edgar Wiggins describes how BCRI helps city residents living with mental illness or substance abuse. And how they train police to recognize the symptoms of mental illness and de-escalate stressful situations.

The 24-hour crisis hotline number is 410-433-5175.

Bloomberg News

Tom's guests today are three innovators who are working at the frontiers of high technology -- a technology that could be moving us closer to the historic milestone futurists call the “Singularity,” when human cognition merges with machines. 

Whether it’s intelligent robotic systems for the battlefield, or biomechanical limbs that really touch and feel, or those Internet-based oracles -- think Siri, Echo and Alexa -- that are starting to run our smart homes, it’s easy to believe that the "future" is very nearly upon us.  But are we ready for it? Do we understand how these smart machines will change our lives? Do we know how to navigate safely through the complex -- and sometimes dangerous -- cyber landscape that suddenly surrounds us?

Tom's three guests will help us answer those questions.

Joining us in the studio is Tina Williams-Koroma. She’s a lawyer, entrepreneur, educator and the founder and president of TCecure, a Silver Spring, Maryland, company that provides cyber-security and network intelligence to public sector and commercial clients.

Also with us in the studio is Bob Armiger.  He is a robotics expert who leads the Biological Sciences and Engineering Group at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where his current projects include developing neuro-prosthetic limbs that can restore full sensory function to warfighter amputees.

And joining the conversation by phone is Harris Edge.  He’s the Acting Chief of the Autonomous Systems Division of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County, Maryland, and has been leading research on a variety of unmanned vehicles, drones and intelligent “limbed” machines designed to support military units, in and out of combat.

Rales Center for the Integration of Health and Education

Inadequate health care--or NO health care--can keep a pupil chronically out of school. The Rales Health Center and wellness programs inside KIPP Academies in Baltimore are in place to help combat that scenario.  The initiative is sponsored by the The Ruth and Norman Rales Center for the Integration of Health and Education and Johns Hopkins University Medical School. We hear about the impact it has on the classroom from teacher Carina Wells, and medical director Dr. Kate Connor explains why the effort has such a big impact in the KIPP community.

all photos by Wendel Patrick

Seattle’s Chinatown International District is a bustling, pan-Asian neighborhood of immigrants from China, Japan, Vietnam, and The Philippines.  It’s also a mix of generations, where Americanized children navigate a complex family dynamic with their non-English speaking elders.  Tradition is in a tug-of-war with modernity on the streets of Chinatown ID, where multi-generational family businesses stand side-by-side with the startups of young, artistic entrepreneurs. It all amounts to a beautiful, mutable monument to the American Dream.  This episode was produced in collaboration with KUOW and made possible by a generous grant from The National Endowment for the Arts.

We continue our series of Conversations with Candidates, which include those who currently hold public office.  Congressman John Sarbanes joins us for the hour today.  He has represented the third congressional district since 2007. 

The Congressman was successful in his efforts to reinstate EPA funding for the Bay Journal, but Congressional Democrats have been frustrated by inaction on DACA.  Representative Sarbanes has also been working on addressing the crisis of opioid addiction, and he serves as the Chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force.   The Baltimore native currently lives in Towson. 

We are streaming all of our Conversations with the Candidates on WYPR Facebook page.

Gunpowder Valley Conservancy

As spring approaches and the weather warms, it’s time to go outside and reconnect with nature.

Robert Cook, master gardener for the Baltimore City branch of the University of Maryland Extension shares tips on planning and planting year-round vegetable gardens. Info for the March 21st event on edible gardens here. More on soil testing here.

And Peggy Perry, of the nonprofit Gunpowder Valley Conservancy, tells us about volunteer efforts in Baltimore County to keep streams clear of trash and riverbeds strong. Info on the March 17th adopt-a-stream training here.

Photo courtesy: Flickr

On this edition of the Midday News Wrap:  President Trump imposed stiff tariffs yesterday, raising levies on imported steel by 25 percent and 10 percent on Aluminum. The EU responded in kind, rolling out a plan to impose their own tariffs on American made goods.

Internationally acclaimed classical guitarist, Lily Afshar performs some of her works live in Studio A.  Lily will be performing a program of music at UMBC's Linehan Hall on Saturday at 8pm in association with the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society.  

Rhoda Smith shares a story about pursuing her dream to attend college. You can hear other stories and the Stoop podcast here.

Tonight at 8pm, catch a live stoop show at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The theme is Intercambio: Stories about Inspiration and Exchange Across the Border.