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This week is all about strawberries and whiskey! Strawberry season is here - Chef Cindy " Tony discuss how to prepare this local treat. The second segment is all about whiskey - a primer of sorts.

Public Domain Pictures

Before beginning today's Healthwatch conversation with Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, Tom talks with WYPR reporter Mary Rose Madden about the news that Baltimore Police Commissioner Daryl DeSousa has been charged by federal prosecutors with not filing tax returns for the years 2013, 2014 and 2015.  DeSousa has admitted to the facts filed in Federal Court yesterday, and he’s apologized.

Following today's Midday broadcast, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh announced she has suspended Mr. DeSousa with pay until the matter is "resolved." In the meantime, the police chief position will be filled by Deputy Commissioner Gary Tuggle, a former top-ranking Drug Enforcement Administration official tapped by De Sousa in March to oversee strategic and support services for the City.
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As Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz is laid to rest this afternoon, we’ll begin today with a conversation about heart disease.  Mr. Kamenetz’s sudden passing has left a lot of people wondering, “How can a man, who was only 60 years old, not overweight, a healthy eater, and a person who exercised regularly, die of a heart attack?”

Dr. Leana Wen, the Health Commissioner of Baltimore City reminds us of what we can do to prevent heart disease.  She joins Tom on this edition of the Midday Healthwatch, our regular conversations with Dr. Wen about important public health issues affecting the well-being of all Baltimorians.  

Baltimore Rock Opera Society

The Baltimore Rock Opera Society, or BROS, is fueled by the passion and dedication of a small army of volunteers who swear by ‘big and loud’ when it comes to theater. The newest show, ‘Incredibly Dead,’ is a gore-infused B-horror romp filled with surprising twists and turns. We get a preview from co-director Sarah Doccolo and executive director Aran Keating. More info at the BROS site.

John Marra, a member of the Baltimore Rock Opera Society artistic council, tells a Stoop Story about the magic of community theater and the importance of believing in yourself, always. You can hear his story and others at stoopstorytelling.com.

Photo Courtesy Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Tonight and this weekend at the Meyerhoff, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is screening Steven Spielberg's classic 1981 adventure film, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, and performing  composer John Williams' popular score for it.  Weilding the baton will be BSO Pops conductor, Jack Everly, who joins Tom in the studio with a preview of the BSO's latest Movies with Orchestra event.

In a career spanning more than 50 years, composer John Williams has created a vast catalog of music for screen, stage, symphony and sport.  He's garnered 51 Academy Award nominations for his memorable film scores including the aforementioned Raiders as well as Jaws, Jurassic Park, Superman, Star Wars, three of the Harry Potter films and Schindler's List.  

For this weekend's  Movies with Orchestra ticket information, click on the link below: 

https://www.bsomusic.org/calendar/events/2017-2018-events/movie-with-orchestra-raiders-of-the-lost-ark/

Oriole Cafeterias

May 11, 2018

It is 1960 and you are dining on a starched white linen table cloth with gleaming silverware, enjoying a choice of five appetizers, eight entrees, eleven vegetables, a dozen salads, seven  desserts. From the balcony comes the soft slow dinner music of Jack Lederer’s orchestra. You might think you are dining in one of Baltimore’s most expensive restaurants, but you are dining in a most modesty-priced Oriole cafeteria.  All six Oriole cafeterias closed by 1975 because management said, “the dining community preferred hamburgers and colas and eat and run.” Oriole cafeterias took pride in offering plenty of choice and their customers made one:  fast food over slow music.

Baltimore County Executive's Office

We begin the show today with reflections on the life and career of Kevin Kamenetz, a fixture on the Maryland political scene for more than two decades.

Mr. Kamenetz died early Thursday morning from a heart attack.

He began his career in public service as a prosecutor in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office. He was first elected to the Baltimore County Council in 1994. He served four terms, before being elected as the County Executive in 2010. He was considered a leading candidate in the crowded field of people running for the Democratic nomination for Governor. He is survived by his wife Jill, and their two teenage sons, Karson and Dylan. Our hearts ache for them. Kevin Kamenetz was 60 years old.

Joining Tom on the line to remember Mr. Kamenetz are Donald Mohler III, who was a close friend of Mr. Kamenetz and served as his chief of staff in the County Executive’s Office, Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, who served as Baltimore County Executive from 1994 to 2002, and Jim Smith, who preceded Kamenetz as Baltimore County Executive. He currently serves as the Chief of Strategic Alliances in the office of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh.

Courtesy of their campaigns

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates, in the run-up to Maryland's June 26th primary elections.

Maryland’s General Assembly District 41 has had more than its share of upheaval in recent years. Sen. Lisa Gladden represented the district for 14 years before retiring in February 2017 for health reasons. Del. Nathaniel Oaks was appointed to fill her seat, and four months later, he was indicted in federal court on nine counts of fraud and bribery. In November, prosecutors added obstruction of justice charges. Oaks denied the charges, remained in the Senate, and registered to run for re-election in the primary next month. In late March, Oaks changed his mind. He resigned from the legislature, pleaded guilty and attempted to remove his name from the primary ballot. Oaks will be sentenced on July 17. He faces 8-10 years in prison. Additional attempts to remove Oaks’s name from the ballot failed; his name will indeed appear on the ballot next to those of two other candidates.

Those two candidates are Tom’s guests today in Studio A.

Until last week, Jill P. Carter served as the Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement in Baltimore City. Before that, she served for three terms in the House of Delegates representing the 41st District. Carter is 53 years old. A graduate of Western High School, she was born and raised in the city. She lives in the Hunting Ridge neighborhood of District 41.

J.D. Merrill taught at his alma mater, City College High School from 2013 to 2016. He also served for two years as a special assistant to the chief of staff at City Schools headquarters on North Avenue. Merrill  is 27 years old. He and his wife, Grace O’Malley, live in the Wyndhurst neighborhood of District 41, one street over from where he was born and raised. This is the first time he has run for public office.

Melissa Gerr

Women are the fastest-growing group of veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. And about half the country’s two million female veterans are of childbearing age. We meet Dr. Catherine Staropoli, medical director of women’s health at the VA and Zelda McCormick, a nurse and the program manager for the Women’s Clinic. They tailor the care veterans receive at the women’s clinic inside the Baltimore VA medical center.

We also visit a baby shower honoring new and expecting veteran moms.

Courtesy of Baltimore Center Stage

Tom's guest today is the playwright, director and actor, Kwame Kwei Armah, OBE. He has been the artistic director of Baltimore Center Stage since 2011, but he will soon be moving on.  After his final show at Center Stage, which opens tomorrow night, he’s heading home to London, where he has taken the helm of the storied Young Vic Theatre.

During his tenure here in Baltimore, he produced three of the best-selling shows in the theater’s history. As a playwright, Mr. Kwei-Armah premiered several new works here in Charm City, and he made great strides in diversifying the Center Stage audience. He also oversaw a major, $28 million renovation of the theater’s Calvert Street home, and in his spare time, in 2012, Queen Elizabeth II made him an Officer of the British Empire for his service to drama.

His final production at Center Stage is Soul, the STAX Musical -- the world premiere of a work by playwright Matthew Benjamin that Mr. Kwei-Armah is directing. It tells the story of Memphis-based Stax Records, and chronicles the rise of artists like Otis Redding, The Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & The MG’s, Wilson Pickett and others—some of the great and early progenitors of Soul and R&B music. 

Midday's theater critic J Wynn Rousuck joins Kwame Kwei-Armah and Tom Hall in Studio A.  We streamed this conversation live on the WYPR Facebook page.  If you missed that,  click here to check out the video.

Photo by Britt Olsen-Ecker

Our theater critic J. Wynn  Rousuck joins Tom for another of her weekly reviews of the region's theater offerings. Today, she's spotlighting the world premiere of an adaptation of the J.M.Barrie classic, Peter Pan, ​now on stage at Baltimore's Single Carrot Theatre.

Billed officially as Peter Pan: Wendy, Peter. Peter, Wendy, the play is a modern re-imagining of Barrie's beloved 1904 stage fantasy (and 1911 novel) about identity, growing up and belonging.  It retains the original's iconic characters, from Peter Pan and Wendy and the Darling family dog Nana, to Captain Hook and Tiger Lily and the Lost Boys.  But playwright Joshua Conkel, working in collaboration with Baltimore’s LGBTQ+ residents and service organizations, has updated the Barrie original (as the Single Carrot program explains) "to include contemporary conversations about gender, sexuality, and performative identity, and to embrace queer culture."  The result is that Barrie's nostalgic Neverland is transformed "from a distant fantasy to a modern safe-haven for those who have been rejected and devalued, a stronghold against normalcy and a place where Peter and his Lost Boys can finally be themselves."

Tristan Powell directs Peter Pan at Single Carrot with a cast that features Tina Canady as Wendy/Peter, and Single Carrot Ensemble member Ben Kleymeyer as Peter/Wendy.

Peter Pan continues at Single Carrot Theatre through Sunday, May 20. 

The White House Youtube Channel

What’s next, now that President Trump has pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear deal his predecessor negotiated with Iran? Maryland’s U.S. Senator Ben Cardin says Iran has complied with the deal, and quitting it does not make the world safer. He says Congress must ready to act if Iran supports terrorists or gets close to nuclear weapons. And Skip Auld, who served in the Peace Corps in Iran 45 years ago, worries it could be a step toward war. 

Photo courtesy BCPS

Tom's guest today is the interim superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools, Verletta White.  Last month, the County School Board appointed Ms. White as the permanent superintendent, but that decision was overruled last week by the State School Superintendent, Karen Salmon.  Baltimore County is still reeling from the ethics scandal that led to a jail sentence for the previous superintendent.  What are the consequences of the continuing drama surrounding his successor on the state’s third largest school district?  Verletta White joins us today in Studio A to discuss the turmoil over her appointment, and the next steps in her bid to lead Baltimore County schools.

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Plus, there's some drama with the leadership of schools in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County, too.  We’ll have analysis of recent developments in both school systems as well as perspectives on Verletta White's situation, in the second half of the show today, from veteran Baltimore Sun education reporter Liz Bowie. 

One of out four Baltimore residents lives in a neighborhood without a grocery store. Why is it so hard hard for some city residents to access to affordable and nutritious food?

Eric Jackson, of the Black Yield Institute, and Madeline Hardy, a senior at Goucher College, explore the issues of food justice in their documentary “Baltimore’s Strange Fruit”. Jackson points to the generational disenfranchisement of African Americans, who were shut out of benefiting from the agricultural economy. 

On Thursday there’s screening of “Baltimore’s Strange Fruit” at the Baltimore Free Farm. Next week, there is a screening on Wednesday at Charm City Farms in Greenmount East and on Thursday, at Cherry Hill Urban Garden.

all photos by Wendel Patrick

The owner of a falafel stand gives a lesson in gratitude, a minimalist overcomes cerebral palsy by sheer force of will, a female boss takes the helm at a men’s barbershop, an apparel entrepreneur reflects on a family tragedy with a silver lining, and a friendly neighborhood barista whips up chai lattes and plays experimental doom metal.

Photo courtesy Baltimore City Public Schools

On today’s show, Tom is joined Dr. Sonja Santelises, the CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools.   As the City School Board considers the budget for the 2018-19 school year, we discuss some of the provisions within the proposal.  This budget does not call for any teacher layoffs, but does call for cuts to Charter Schools.  There is an increase in literacy coaching, and the overall budget has been developed to combat  shrinking enrollment, a persistent problem that speaks to the larger challenges of the city in attracting and keeping young families.

This conversation was streamed live on Facebook.  You can check out the video by clicking on the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/WYPR881FM/videos/10156434271953980/

 

Augustine Herrman / Library of Congress Geography and Map Division

A show today about the Chesapeake. First, a book, called--“A Biography of a Map in Motion.” It’s the backstory of a map by 17th-century trader, diplomat, and immigrant Augustine Herrman. Towson history professor Christian Koot says Herrman’s map was a godsend for merchants who traveled from Delaware to Virginia, and for Lord Baltimore, who wanted to show off the growth of his colony.

Then, fast-forward four centuries: Karl Blankenship, editor of the Bay Journal, on why the record growth of underwater grasses is a good sign for the Bay’s health. Read more from Karl here.

Squash Valley Produce/flickr

As the long winter weather finally break, Tony and Chef Cindy take time to celebrate spring and all the exciting products that come along with the season. They invite two local chefs, Chris Amendola of Foraged and Steve Monnier of Chez Hugo Bisto, to share what they are looking forward to as the new season blooms.

Midday News Wrap 5.4.18

May 4, 2018
Photo Courtesy Carolyn Kaster AP Photo

Today, on the Midday News Wrap: An adult film star is suing the president of the United States.  The aforementioned president added the former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, to his ever-changing legal team. 

The president’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, remains in legal trouble, as a trouble-shooter for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush joins the list of Trump legal dramatis personae.  Emmet Flood is replacing Ty Cobb.   

A list of questions that Special Counsel Robert Mueller apparently has for President Trump was made public this week.   

The Boy Scouts are dropping the "Boy" part.  The committee for the Nobel Prize in Literature is dropping its effort to make an award this year.  Adidas is under pressure to drop Kanye West after he suggested slavery was a choice. 

Local schools have been in the news this week.  In Baltimore, City Council President Jack Young has questions about an enrollment task force that he says isn’t inclusive enough.

In Baltimore County, interim Superintendent Verletta White was appointed to her position permanently in a split decision by the County School Board, only to be thrown back into interim status by the Maryland Superintendent of Schools, Karen Salmon. 

Joining us from the studios of NPR in Washington, DC is NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe.

Tom is joined in Studio A by Andy Green, the Baltimore Sun Editorial Page Editor; and political scientist, and pollster Dr. Mileah Kromer.   Dr. Kromer is the director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, which conducts the widely followed Goucher Poll.

Here is a Stoop story from Mary Beth Lennon, describing what it means to be the child of an Irish immigrant mother. Her story has been edited for length. You can hear her story and others at stoopstorytelling.com.

Laura Elizabeth Pohl

There’s new hope, since the heads of North and South Korea met a week ago. But for thousands of Koreans, reuniting and even communicating with family has been complicated--most often, impossible--since Korean War hostilities stopped in 1953.

Photographer and filmmaker Laura Elizabeth Pohl tells us about her traveling photo exhibit ‘A Long Separation,’ which delves, from a very personal perspective, into how that war not only divided a nation, it divided families. 

The Daily Beast ranked Baltimore third in the country for 2016’s hottest destinations, and GoBankingRates.com ranked it eighth for most affordable cities for summer getaways. The 2015 Tourism Development Annual Report revealed visitor spending to have increased by 6.1%, marking the fifth straight year of growth for Maryland. Joining us today for Why Baltimore is Debbie Gosselin, Owner of Watermark Journeys—a local water tour and charter company.

Today, a conversation about American exceptionalism when it comes to our cherished tradition of free speech.

Tom’s guest is the acclaimed legal scholar, Floyd Abrams, a distinguished constitutional lawyer who has litigated some of the most consequential 1st Amendment cases of our time, including the Pentagon Papers case and Citizen’s United. He is the author of the 2017 book, “The Soul of the First Amendment,” which is just out in paperback.

Floyd Abrams joins Tom on the line from New York, where he is  a senior partner in the law firm Cahill Gordon & Reindel.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

It's time for our regular Thursday visit with Midday's peripatetic theater critic,  J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins Tom in the studio today with her review of An American in Paristhe touring stage adaptation of the Gershwin-inspired 1951 film musical. The Tony Award-winning production premiered on Broadway in 2015, hit the road in 2016, and is just now making its local stop at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theater.

Like the classic Vincente Minnelli film -- which starred Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron and won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture -- this award-winning stage adaptation tells the story of an American World War II veteran and aspiring painter who lingers in the newly-liberated Paris of 1945 and falls in love with a young French woman.  Also like the film, the stage version weaves their complicated romance through a rich tapestry of George Gershwin's brilliant orchestral works -- including the titular An American in Paris, the Concerto in F and a Second Rhapsody/Cuban Overture medley -- and more than a dozen of the incomparable songs that George and his brother Ira Gershwin penned during the 1920s and 30s.  Show numbers include I Got Rhythm, S'Wonderful, But Not for Me, Stairway to Paradise, and They Can't take That Away.  And as in the Gene Kelly-choreographed film, a lot of that great music is set wonderfully to dance.

Joe Tropea/Hit and Stay

Fifty years ago nine Catholic activists catapulted the small suburb of Catonsville, Maryland into the national spotlight. They burst into a Selective Service office, seized draft records and torched them with napalm, to protest the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. We meet Willa Bickham and Brendan Walsh, founders of Viva House and also were ‘support activists’ who assisted the Nine to discuss the tie between their faith and their activism. Then curator and filmmaker Joe Tropea tells us about the Maryland Historical Society’s exhibit ‘Activism and Art: The Catonsville Nine, Fifty Years Later.'

For more Catonsville Nine 50th anniversary events, visit this link.

Sollers Point still courtesy Matt Porterfield

It's Midday at the Movies.

The 20th annual Maryland Film Festival kicks off tonight at the SNF Parkway Theater here in Baltimore.  More than 120 local and international filmmakers from around the world are gathered at the newly restored theater on Charles Street to screen their latest work, and to discuss the many facets of their art in panel discussions and workshops.  Between Wednesday May 2 and Sunday, May 6, audiences will be treated to a buffet of over 40 narrative films and documentaries, plus 10 series of short films. 

Today, a preview of the Maryland Film Festival, with its director and founder, Jed Dietz.

Tom also talks with a group of film artists with past and present links to the festival, including Baltimore director Matt Porterfield and actor Jim Belushi, the co-star of Porterfield's new film, Sollers Point, which is premiering at this year's festival

Filmmaker and Maryland Historical Society curator Joe Tropea also stops by the studio to discuss   Sickies Making Filmshis new documentary about the history of film censorship in America. And Tom talks by phone with filmmaker Erik Ljung (pron. "yung") in Los Angeles. His powerful documentary film, The Blood Is at the Doorstep, about a police killing of an unarmed black man in Milwaukee four years ago, has won kudos since its world premiere at the 2017 South-by-Southwest Festival in Austin. The film also screened at last year's Maryland Film Festival, and it returns for another run at the Parkway theater on the heels of the Festival next week.

A spunky African-American teenager adopted into a Jewish family in Baltimore trying to sort out her identify. That’s the nub of the new young-adult novel "The Length of a String". We ask author Elissa Brent Weissman what inspired the story … and whether she’s the right person to tell it. She’ll be speaking and signing books Sunday at 2 pm at Afters Cafe, 1001 South Charles Street in Baltimore.  

Then, a very different novel by a local author: Michael Downs’ "The Strange and True Tale of Horace Wells" -- fiction filling in the story of the 19th-century dentist who first used laughing gas to numb the pain of surgery. He’ll be speaking about it next Thursday, May 10, at the Ivy Bookstore on Falls Road.

Photo Courtesy AP News

It’s Midday Culture Connections with Dr Sheri Parks.  Today, we examine the mini-firestorms that have erupted over the past week surrounding journalist, a comedian and a rapper. 

Kanye West set the Twittersphere alight with a series of pro-Trump tweets that led more than a few people to question the rapper’s mental health, and even challenge his “Blackness.”

What does it take to start over in a new country? Filmmaker Alexandra Shiva explores the obstacles and triumphs of four Syrian families as they rebuild their lives in Baltimore. Her new documentary is titled, ‘This is Home’. You can see the film at the Maryland Film Festival on Saturday and Sunday at the MICA Brown Center. More info here.

And Ruben Chandrasekar, head of the local offices of the International Rescue Committee, describes how the IRC supports refugees during this transition.

Today we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates, in the run up to Maryland’s June 26th primary elections.

Tom’s guest is Del. Pat McDonough. He is a Republican, and he has represented parts of Baltimore and Harford Counties in the Maryland Legislature for the past 15 years. He also represented District 7 as a conservative Democrat for one term, from 1979 until 1983. He has been a member of the Health and Government Operations Committee since 2003. In 2016, he ran for Congress in Maryland’s 2nd Congressional District and was defeated by incumbent Dutch Ruppersberger.

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