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Courtesy Donte Small

The Goucher College Prison Education Partnership gives about 100 Maryland inmates access to college courses and professors and the opportunity to work toward a degree. We talk with director Amy Roza to hear about the effect it has on lives even beyond the prison walls. We also meet Donte Small, the first alumnus of the prison education partnership to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Here's Sylvia Parks, at an all-audience Stoop event at the Wind Up Space, with the theme: “My Secret Weapon: Talents, Flairs, and Skills No One Knows About.” Feel free to sing along if you’d like! You can hear this and other Stoop stories at stoopstorytelling.com.

Today, Tom speaks with Derek Thompson, a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about business and technology, and hosts the new podcast Crazy/Genius.  He is also the author of  Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in the Age of Distraction.   

In his book -- which happens to be a best-seller -- Thompson takes a scientific approach to understanding why certain things in our culture become "cool," at least for a while, and whether or not there are commonalities between them across creative and cultural disciplines.  Thompson examines the hidden psychological and market forces that make a song, a movie or a politician popular, and how those forces are constantly reshaping our cultural landscape.  

Cass Elliot

May 25, 2018

Crowds were lined up on both sides three deep along Holiday Street leading to City Hall, on the afternoon of August 15, 1971, cheering, “We love you, Cass.” The Cass was Cass Elliott, The Momma Cass who popularized such hits as “Make your Own Kind of Music.” She was actually Ellen Naomi Cohen, grew up in Baltimore, attended Forest Park High School and dropped out two weeks before she was to graduate. She went to New York to try her luck as a pop vocalist. Her luck was very good. But Baltimore never took to her, and this welcoming parade was the City’s attempt to make up for that indiscretion. As does this story…  

photo by Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun

Today we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates...

Here in Baltimore, the city’s top prosecutor is the Baltimore City State’s Attorney, an elective position that's often in the eye of the storm surrounding some very high profile criminal cases.  The incumbent State’s Attorney, Marilyn Mosby, attracted national attention with her decision to indict six officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray in 2015.  Mr. Gray died while in police custody.  None of the indicted officers were convicted of a crime.   

But while cases like those involving Freddie Gray get a lot of scrutiny, the State’s Attorney’s office prosecuted more than 41,000 cases in 2017.  The State’s Attorney oversees more than 400 people, including more than 200 lawyers, and the salary is the highest of any city employee.  It’s a big job, and there are two people challenging the incumbent for it in next month’s Democratic primary. 

Tom's guest for the hour today is one of those challengers. 

Ivan J. Bates is a veteran litigator, defense attorney and city prosecutor.  He earned his BA in journalism at Howard University in 1992 and got his Law Degree at William and Mary in 1995.  He was admitted to the Maryland bar that year and after clerking for Judge David B. Mitchell on the Circuit Court of Baltimore City, he served as an assistant state’s attorney in Baltimore, where he worked in the Juvenile Crime Division and later, the Homicide Division.  He started his own law practice in 2006.

In the spirit of Memorial Day, we meet writer, educator and veteran marine Dario DiBattista, who shares his thoughts about military service and his experience writing and teaching writing to war veterans as a form of post-trauma therapy at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Then we visit the Freedom Hills Therapeutic Riding program in Cecil County, and participant Don Koss, a Vietnam vet, to learn how just being near horses can have a calming effect.

Creative Commons

Today, Midday goes Back to the Garden.  

It’s been a pretty unusual spring, with the Eastern United States recording one of the coldest Marches in nearly two decades and an April that was also colder and wetter than normal. 

But here we are in May, with the Memorial Day Weekend on the horizon.  If you’re staying in town, sunshine is predicted at least for Saturday, and lots of us are raring to go in our gardens. 

Joining us with some tips on how to make those gardens grow: 

Carrie Engel, the greenhouse manager at Valley View Farms, the popular family-owned nursery in Cockeysville, Maryland.  She’s been a plant specialist at Valley View for most of nearly five decades.  She takes care of the annuals, tropicals and vegetables...

...and Denzel Mitchell, Jr. the former owner of Five Seeds Farm. Last month, he signed on as the farm manager at Strength to Love 2 Farm, a 1-½ acre workforce training farm in Baltimore's Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood.  They work with returning ex-offenders and serve as a Baltimore food resource with produce outlets around the city.  The farm is run by the faith-inspired non-profit group called Intersection of Change.  It's also a member of the Farm Alliance of Baltimore, a network of producers that’s working to increase the viability of urban farming and to improve access to city-grown foods...

We invite you to join the conversation with questions about your garden.

This segment was streamed live on WYPR's Facebook page.  You can check out the video here.

ClintonBPhotography

It's time again for our weekly visit from theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins Tom today with her review of the new production of The Book of Joseph, now on stage at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre.

The play is a stage adaptation by Seattle playwright Karen Hartman of a book by former Baltimore newpaper and TV journalist Richard Hollander.  After Hollander's parents were killed in a car accident in the mid-1980s, he discovered in their attic a briefcase filled with correspondence. The letters, all stamped with Third Reich swastikas, provided a unique record of the tragic fate of his Jewish relatives in German-occupied Poland during the Holocaust, and of his father's heroic efforts to save them.

The discovery of those letters led Hollander, eventually, to write a book, which he published in 2007, called “Every Day Lasts a Year: A Jewish Family’s Correspondence from Poland.”  The book inspired the play that world-premiered in Chicago in 2017, and has now come to the Everyman, with Noah Himmelstein directing the resident company cast.

The Book of Joseph continues at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre until Sunday, June 10. 

A devastating side effect of radiation and chemotherapy can be-- infertility. A new state mandate now requires insurers to cover fertility preservation for cancer patients before they begin treatment. We speak to Brock Yetso, who heads the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, and Sam Horn, who survived breast cancer. She says this coverage can bring peace of mind. And fertility specialist Dr. Mindy Christianson explains how the technology of safeguarding fertility has advanced.

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

Tom’s guest today is Valerie Ervin.  She is one of nine Democrats running for Governor this June.  The winner will go up against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the general election in November. 

Last week, the former Montgomery County Councilwoman announced that she would be taking the place of her former running mate, the late Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, as a Democratic candidate for Governor.  She is the second woman, and one of four African Americans running for Governor in the Democratic primary. 

Ervin’s career includes politics, education and labor advocacy.  She was the first African American woman to serve on the Montgomery County Council where she served two terms; she was only the 2nd African American woman to serve on the Montgomery County Board of Education. 

Her running mate is Marisol Johnson, former Baltimore County school board Vice Chair.  She is the first Latina to hold public office in Baltimore County. 

Valerie Ervin also took your questions, emails and tweets.  Like all of Midday’s Conversations with the Candidates, this program was streamed live on the WYPR FB page.  Check out the video here

Courtesy Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

We're looking at the 50th anniversary of another of 1968’s tragedies: the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in early June, as he campaigned for president. We’ll talk to his eldest daughter, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former lieutenant governor of Maryland about what kind of father he was, what issues he was campaigning on and why she thinks he was able to reach across class and race boundaries in a way that many Democrats today find a challenge.

The link to the Indianapolis speech can be found here.

The link to Cleveland City Club speech can be found here.

Ever build one of those snap-together model kits when you were a kid? Think of this episode as a sort of snap-together podcast kit. It includes a demo of a fully mixed and produced Out of the Blocks audio feature, followed by the original interview it was cut from, the accompanying musical score, and lots of bonus interviewing tips.  This episode is a fun tool for anyone who’s interested in learning about podcast production techniques. Listen along, then take apart this episode to build your own version! 

Special thanks to our interviewee, Nate Couser, of The Artist Exchange Radio Show, and check out this story-making toolkit at The Peale Center.

10 Things

May 21, 2018
John Mayer/flickr

Tony and Chef Wolf share 10 things you need to know how to prepare, and the 10 things to know about wine terminology. 

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates, which includes those who already hold public office.

Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger is Tom's guest in Studio A, for the hour today.  He has represented Maryland’s 2nd congressional district since 2003.  That district includes parts of five jurisdictions: Baltimore City and Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Harford and Howard Counties.

Rep.  Ruppersberger serves on the House Appropriations Committee as well as the Subcommittee on Defense and the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations & Related Programs. He is a former ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. A number of institutions and organizations in his district are involved in cyber security issues.

Like all but one of the eight members of the Congressional delegation from Maryland, he is standing for re-election this year. He is being opposed in the primary by a political newcomer, Jake Pretot.

We livestreamed this conversation on WYPR's Facebook page.  If you missed it, check out the video here. 

Jinjian Liang / Flickr via Creative Commons

Maryland’s seafood industry depends on several hundred guest workers--most from Mexico--working half the year on the Eastern Shore to pick crabs. This year, few of those workers came: the seafood processing companies could not get enough H-2B visas.

We ask Congressman Andy Harris, who represents the Shore: Are more visas on the way? Then, Bill Seiling, director of the nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Seafood Industries Association explains how long Maryland's seafood industry has relied on foreign labor. And Jack Brooks, co-owner of a seafood company in Cambridge, argues the shortage of foreign workers affects the security of American jobs.

Friends of Rushern Baker III

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

Yesterday, former Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin entered the Democratic primary race for Maryland governor, following the sudden passing of Baltimore County Executive and gubernatorial candidate Kevin Kamenetz, with whom she'd been running as a candidate forLieutenant Governor. 

We begin the program with WYPR's Baltimore County politics reporter, John Leeand his analysis of the changing dynamics of the governor's race.  

Tom’s guest for the balance of the hour is Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, also a Democratic candidate for Maryland governor. 

Rushern Baker is one of three candidates in the race who is not a political outsider, and now, the only one currently serving as a county executive.  Baker entered politics in 1994, serving in the Maryland House of Delegates until 2003.  He lost his first two elections for Prince George's county executive, but in 2010, he beat incumbent Jack Johnson.  Soon after that election, federal prosecutors arrested Johnson on corruption charges.  Mr. Baker has been widely credited with improving the county’s image and ending its “pay to play” legacy.

Here's a Stoop Story from WBAL news anchor Jason Newton about his love for his job and his city.

You can hear more stories, as well as the Stoop podcast, stoopstorytelling.com. The next live Stoop event is May 30th at the Creative Alliance

The Baltimore Museum of Industry

Paid or unpaid, a new career or the family profession--Americans spend most of their days working. A new exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Industry asks visitors to share thoughts and feelings about what work means in their lives.

We hear from Gillian Waldo, a graduating senior from Hopkins, who helped curate the exhibit. And from Beth Maloney, director of interpretation at the museum, who led students through this process.

The Baltimore Museum on Industry will be celebrating the 10th year of its farmers' market on Saturday with live music, kids activities, and free admission to the museum. More information here.

Odds Maker

May 18, 2018

On the afternoon of October 22, 1933 something unusual was going on at the Pimlico Race track. It was a Sunday, not a racing day, and not a horse in sight, yet more than 7,000 fans had filled the stands. The crowd was there to see a ghost race, run by ghost horses. And the very first trial of the TOTALISATOR, later to be known as the Tote Board. The Tote Board modernized the way odds were displayed at the track between races, replacing manual displays with electronic displays, and because of it, the bettor was thought by many to have more of a chance at winning. Asked about that point of view, one of the officials said, ”Absolutely not” and gave a surprising explanation!

Photo courtesy Donna Brazile

Tom's guest today is Donna Brazile.  A Democratic political operative for more than 40 years, Ms. Brazile encountered a firestorm of criticism last fall when she published her memoir of the 2016 election, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-Ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House.  Many of her fellow Democrats read the book as a bitter diatribe from a disgruntled member of the old guard.

But perhaps lost in the scrum of discord were Ms. Brazile’s alarming accounts of Russian interference in the electoral process.  Yesterday, the Republican Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee affirmed the conclusion of multiple intelligence agencies that the Russians did indeed act to support Donald Trump and discredit Hillary Clinton in the run-up to the US presidential election of 2016. 

Maryland Business Roundtable for Education

Youngsters from families where money is tight and education and job opportunities may have been limited often don’t see themselves as headed for college or a career. Enter: Next Generation Scholars, a state effort to tell pupils about college and get them on track.

We meet Nona Carroll, chief strategist for the nonprofit Maryland Business Roundtable for Education, which is working in five counties, and Aundra Anderson, coordinating Next Generation Scholars in Kent County.

Courtesy of Yale University Press

We begin the show today with an update on the resignation of Baltimore City Police Commissioner Daryl DeSousa. WYPR reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi attended Mayor Catherine Pugh’s press conference this morning. She joins Tom in Studio A.

Tom’s guest for most of the hour is David Linden. He’s a professor of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the former editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology. Linden writes books about our brains, and in his latest opus, he says the public is “inundated by a fire hose of neuro BS.”

He wrote the new book Think Tank with more than three dozen fellow neuroscientists. It’s a collection of essays about the brain and the biological roots of human experience. The essays address questions such as, “How are children’s brains different from those of adults?” “What can monkey brains teach us about advertising?” And “How do our brains process pain?”

David Linden and a few of the book’s contributors will hold a panel discussion about the book tomorrow, May 17, at 1pm at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Department of Neuroscience, and you can also catch Linden at Greedy Reads in Fells Point on June 4 at 7 pm.

We livestreamed today’s show on the WYPR Facebook page.  If you missed it, catch that video here. 

Photo by Bill Geenan

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom today with her review of the world premiere of Soul: The Stax Musical, now rattling the boards at Baltimore Center Stage.

The production is the directorial swansong of departing artistic director Kwame Kwei Armah, who's stepping down after seven years running the shows at Center Stage. (Check out his May 9 interview here on Midday).

With a book by Matthew Benjamin, choreography by Chase Brock, musical direction by Rahn Coleman and a multi-talented 21-member cast, Soul: the Stax Musical tells the story (with renditions of more than 30 songs) of Memphis-based Stax Records and the recording company's role in launching such legendary artists as Otis Redding, The Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, Booker T & The MG's, Rufus & Carla Thomas, David Porter, Wilson Pickett, Johnnie Taylor, and Eddie Floyd — singers whose iconic work during the 1960s and 70s laid the foundations for American Soul Music. Their story, and the rise and fall of Stax Records, play out against the backdrop of the evolving civil rights struggle and the growing power of R&B music -- still evident today -- to unite a divided nation.   

Soul: The Stax Musical continues at Baltimore's Center Stage through Sunday, June 10.   

Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods

Baltimore City has lost 10,000 people or more since 2015. Meanwhile, the state’s population is growing. Why are people leaving the city, and what can be done to stop the drain? We talk to sociologist Karl Alexander about how adapting schools to parents’ goals might keep middle-class families in the city. And University of Baltimore professor Seema Iyer, head of the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance, talks about what neighbors can do to hold on to their communities.

Photo Courtesy Kevin Kamenetz for Maryland

Few events in recent MD history were as shocking or disruptive to the political landscape as the death of Kevin Kamenetz last week, from a heart attack. The 60 year old Baltimore County Executive was one of the leading contenders in the crowded field of hopefuls vying for the chance to run against incumbent Governor Larry Hogan in November.

With just a month until early voting starts in the primary, candidates are scrambling to assess the new and uncertain dynamics of the race. Will Valerie Ervin, Kamenetz’s running mate in the primary, choose to run herself, and if so, with whom? Will she run at the top of a newly formed ticket, or will she maintain her position in the Lieutenant Governor slot?

Kamenetz’s death also occasions many questions about the future of Baltimore County. Three Democrats and two Republicans are running in their respective primaries to face-off for the County’s top job in the fall. In the meantime, who will the County Council appoint to serve-out the remainder of Kevin Kamenetz’s term?

Today on Midday, Tom explores these and other questions with Pamela Wood, who covers Baltimore County government and politics for the Baltimore Sun; and Bryan Sears , government reporter for the Daily Record.

Hollander photo by Katherine Marmion/Everyman; Hartman photo by Lou Daprile

We turn now to a play that's based on a book by a former journalist whom many Baltimoreans of a certain age will recognize.   After Richard Hollander’s parents were killed in a car accident in the mid-1980s, he discovered in their attic a suitcase full of correspondence that gave him great insight into the fate of his Jewish relatives in German-occupied Poland during the Holocaust.  That discovery led him to write a book, with co-authors Christopher R. Browning and Nechama Tec, which he published in 2007, called “Every Day Lasts a Year: A Jewish Family’s Correspondence from Poland.”  That book, in turn, inspired a play that is currently on stage at the Everyman Theater.  It’s called The Book of Joseph.  It was adapted by Seattle-based playwright Karen Hartman, whose other recent works include Roz and Ray and Project Dawn. She joins us on the phone from Seattle.

Author Rich Hollander was a reporter for the long-defunct Baltimore News American newspaper and later for WBAL Television. He now runs Millbrook Communications, a sports marketing firm in Baltimore.  He joins Tom in Studio A.

Goodreads

Laura Lippman’s latest mystery is called Sunburn -- but it’s not sunny; it’s noir. In the tradition of James M. Cain --The Postman Always Rings Twice -- Lippman brings us lovers who don’t trust each other, each hiding secrets that spin into more violent mystery. Original airdate 2/20/18

AP Photos

Tom's guests today are two longtime politicians, one a Republican, the other a Democrat, who are now working together to try to fix the dysfunction in political Washington.

Former Republican Congresswoman Connie Morella represented Maryland’s 8th Congressional District from 1987 until 2003. President George W. Bush appointed her U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a position she held in Paris from 2003 until 2007. She was the first former member of Congress to be named ambassador to the OECD. Ambassador Morella currently serves on American University’s faculty in the Dept of Government and as an Ambassador in Residence at AU’s Women & Politics Institute.

Former Democratic Congressman Tim Roemer represented Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District from 1991 until 2003. From 2002 until 2004, he served on the 9/11 Commission. He was U.S. Ambassador to India during the Obama Administration, from 2009 until 2011. Ambassador Roemer is now a senior counselor at APCO Worldwide, a global consultancy.

Together, they co-chair the Re-Formers Caucus, which includes nearly 200 former governors, cabinet secretaries and members of Congress -- Republicans and Democrats, from all 50 states -- who have banded togethet to work on bi-partisan solutions to the dysfunction in Washington that, they say, threatens American democracy. They join Tom on the line from NPR studios in Washington, DC.

Melissa Gerr

Warming weather is a great excuse to get outside. The Natural History Society of Maryland offers hands-on opportunities for lay people and experts to observe nature’s wonders --shoulder-to-shoulder -- out in the field. We meet educator and master gardener Judy Fulton, who hosts bi-monthly workshops that focus on identification of native and non-native plants and invasives. And naturalist and entomologist Nick Spero tells us about ‘fossil-hunting meet ups,’ opportunities to raise moths and butterflies at home and the many resources available to the public. NHSM is hosting their fundraising gala Cabinet of Curiosities on May 19. For information about all of the programs, visit the NHSM site here.

Photo Courtesy Baltimore Ceasefire 365

Over this past ceasefire weekend, the City saw 72 hours pass with two reported shootings, and one alleged case of first degree child abuse.  The event, which was intentionally scheduled to coincide with Mother’s Day, is the second ceasefire event with no homicides from gun violence. 

Tom is joined  in Studio A by Baltimore Ceasefire 365 Co-Founder, Erricka Bridgeford.   Erricka joined us this past February after the first Ceasefire event with zero homicides.   That ceasefire continued on for a record breaking 12 consecutive days without a murder in Baltimore City.

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