4/24 New Podcasts/Blog

Surf on over to our new website for the latest podcasts and blogs.

We’ve got an interview with Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Dr. Andres Alonso here.

We talked with BCPSS students about violence in their schools; hear it here.

And this morning Marc talked with Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz about how much the Iraq War is really costing; go here to listen to that.

Also, a new blog post from Marc on the issue of violence in America is located here.

Enjoy.  Come visit us at our new website!

4/21 New Blog

New blog post from Marc at the Center for Emerging Media blog.

4/21 from Marc

4/21 Goodbye WordPress!

Well, friends, it is time for CEM and Marc Steiner to move on from WordPress.com.  We’ve enjoyed our time blogging on this site, but we just launched a brand new website and we’re going to blog over there for now on.  We’re going to keep this site up for archival purposes, but all new blogging will be going on at our brand new website, www.centerforemergingmedia.com.

The new blog is located here:


Not only are we blogging at this new site, but there is also an interactive forum for all our listeners to have an opportunity to discuss any topic under the sun with each other.  So sign up, create a profile, and start chatting with us and fellow listeners.  The forum is located here:


And of course, you can listen to all your favorite CEM programs, past and present, here:



Come visit us in our new home and let us know what you think!


4/18/08 from Marc

Random Thoughts..

First, where is everybody? It seems that very few of you have questions or comments for Mayor Sheila Dixon. So, is that disinterest in city politics, or more who could care what she says, or this kind of stuff is just ho hum? Well, we will be in her office at 4:30 on Monday. Hope to have it up on our site when we get back from City Hall.

Next, we will be focusing some of our work on school violence, talking to the CEO, teachers and students. So, if you have thoughts on it, send them in. If you are a schoolteacher or student maybe you can be part of the interview. Comment here or email justinlevy2@gmail.com.

Your responses to WYPR Board

Someone asked if Martin O’Malley ever voiced his support. I heard he did from a third party. I also received calls from many elected officials outraged by what happened, including Senator Ben Cardin, Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, Congressmen John Sarbanes, Wayne Gilchrest and Elijah Cummings, Delegate Jon Cardin, State Senator Jamie Raskin and many others. I heard there was a lot of outrage from many within the Baltimore Metropolitan delegation.

I wake angry and frustrated many days thinking about what happened. Usually, once I say good morning to my little one, walk my dog Charley, and have coffee with Valerie, I am over it.

We keep up the good fight with them where it needs keeping up, but we are moving on. We have so many stories we want to do, interviews we are waiting to produce, town meetings to organize, and a new public media we’re working to create to worry about their board and management too much. They are a distraction.

Presidential Election

I have been thinking a lot about Obama’s comments and the continuing ad nauseum conversation about what he said. How much can we talk about it, over and over and over. The other day when I was in Hagerstown for our Maryland Humanities Council performance of Martin, Malcolm and Marc, we were in a hotel bar. Fox was on. It is amazing to me that all the discredited political professionals, like Dick Morris and angry caustic commentators of new like Geraldine Ferraro kept going on and on saying so little of any substance. Is there no other news to be covered by our major media than what Obama said at his fundraiser? Their choice of commentators tells us everything about what they are attempting to make important in this election. Their base of thought is so limited, yet has the broad power to define the discussion. We can end that with new media and new conversations.

American elections have always been contentious. I have been reading the book 1800 about the election that swirled around Adams and Jefferson and others. If you just look at that election along with the elections of 1860, 1912, 1928 and 1960, you can see that the venal and the vicious has always been at the forefront. It is bare knuckled. Part of the bare knuckles of 1800 and 1860 and 1912, besides the vicious personal attacks, was actual deep policy differences. Candidates were unafraid of speaking to their visions of America, and they had them.

So, I could put up with all viscera, silliness, nastiness and meanness if candidates would just declare their visions honestly and with the passion of conviction.

I believe what Obama said about what motivates people’s distrust is true, and what McCain said to Michigan workers about their jobs not returning was real and true. They were both eviscerated and trashed for being straight.

Instead of backpedaling, candidates, tell us the reality as you see it and what you think we as a nation need to do.

That would be refreshing.


I gotta go, my 10 (almost 11 year old) only has a few more days till she is gone and back to school, so we got some Daddy/Daughter time that is calling.

Have a wonderful weekend.


Students – Your Thoughts on School Violence?

We’re planning a series of interviews and discussions about violence in Baltimore schools beginning next week.  We’d like to invite everyone to share their thoughts and experiences on the topic, especially those involved in the school system as students, teachers, administrators, parents, and other school workers.  We’d love to hear from as many students as possible, and set up interviews with interested students, so please pass this request along to any friends or family you have attending school in Baltimore.  You can comment here, or if you’d like to reach us directly but not publicly, email justinlevy2@gmail.com.

4/17 from Marc, on WYPR BOD meeting

I heard from a number of people what occurred at the WYPR Board of Director’s meeting.

I suppose some of you heard what happened to Kay Dellinger when she left the meeting. She was among the last to leave, and encountered WYPR GM Tony Brandon in the parking lot talking to one of the police officers sent to guard the board from its listeners. They were talking about whether the building was empty.

As Kay passed Tony Brandon she said to him, referring to the board, “You are a bunch of cowards.”

Tony replied :”F**k you, Get a life…”

So, elite, well-mannered, calm, cool, collected, tough-minded business mogul tells a woman who is his elder to F**K herself. It shows you what kind of man he really is.
Tony has misled the board, and most of the board has bought his claims, hook, line, and sinker. The board has never asked to talk with me. The board never asked to talk with Ray Blank, the consultant who worked with Tony and me over four years to manage our station

WYPR has attempted to mislead the public with its ever-changing excuses for why it fired me.

At the meeting, board chair Barbara Bozzuto said that I was fired because of philosophical differences. Previously, they claimed that my show was replaced because it focused too narrowly on Baltimore and they wanted a “statewide” show (easily disproved by looking at the list of topics the show addressed and by the fact that they had no “statewide” show lined up to replace me). Then they claimed that there were “personnel” reasons for firing me, but they have never provided any specifics to me, nor to the public, despite my public waiver of any claim of confidentiality. The falsity of their claim is demonstrated by the fact that they offered me $50,000 to keep quiet (which I would not accept) — not the sort of offer an employer makes to an employee who has done something wrong. Then they claimed they dropped me because ratings were down. But Chris Kaltenbach of the Sun showed that the numbers didn’t support their claim. Moreover, the station had cut back on promoting the show. Most importantly, public radio isn’t supposed to be driven by ratings.

Now, it is “philosophical reasons.” At least they’re getting closer to the truth.

Yes, there were philosophical differences — I believed in putting the public in public radio, they did not.. That in combination with Tony Brandon’s ego and determination not to manage the station as a team (but on his own, something he made clear at the first board meeting back in 2002) led to them ousting me as Vice President in the summer of 2005. There were philosophical reasons then, but since 2005 we have hardly said a word of importance to one another. They won control of the station, and we lost, and I decided to produce my show and serve the community as best I could.

Bozzuto said they were moving beyond my “narrow audience base”. Narrow audience base? When they canceled the show, fired me, or as NPR’s Andre Codrescu put it, “carried out a palace coup,” the support for our show and for our public radio was broader than most other public radio shows. Conservatives like Bob Ehrlich and Richard Vatz, leaders of the Jewish and Arab American communities, heads of universities, inner city activists and Hunt Valley dwellers, artists, doctors, lawyers, social workers, teachers, black, white, Asian — that “narrow audience base” for our noon show — have expressed their support of me.

If there were philosophical differences that erupted in the last three years, they revolved around what we did on the air. Some of them took umbrage that I had the temerity to raise questions about their powerful corporate friends and investments, that we did too many “urban” shows, that we brought voices on that did not sound like them. I was given grief about “Just Words,” the very series that won my producer Jessica Phillips and me a Peabody. The voices of the working poor wasn’t considered real journalism.

Well I am sorry, I thought I was finished with this, but maybe I am not. It gets so frustrating at times.

I really appreciate the almost 1,100 people who have now signed the petition to bring back my show, as well as those of you who have stood outside the station, who have written letters to WYPR’s management, made public and private statements, stood by us, taken a stand on public radio and personally supported me and Valerie through all of this.

When people ask would I go back, of course I would love to go back. I loved what I did. As Valerie often says, I lived and breathed my work. Could I do it in that atmosphere, with that leadership in place, after all that has been done? No, I could not.

When you ask what to do, I say keep the pressure on to make public really the public’s radio. It does belong to us.

This week we will be launching our website to bring you great stories and interviews every week. Our site will be a place for unheard voices. I am excited about what we are building with your support.

Keep in touch-


4/16/08 Andrei Codrescu Podcast!

Andrei Codrescu left Romania as a teenager, made his way to the United States via Italy, and after spending time in many parts of the country including Detroit and New York City, eventually settled in New Orleans.  He teaches English at LSU in Baton Rouge and has been providing commentary for NPR’s All Things Considered since 1983.  In “After the Deluge: A Letter to America” he writes, “…it’s okay to be alive and you don’t have to work like a dog without any joy in this lifetime.”  Still, he must work pretty hard because he’s published a huge stack of poetry, fiction, and essays over the last four decades.

CLICK HERE to listen to a podcast of Marc Steiner’s interview with Andrei Codrescu last Friday. Running time is 49:13. Topics sprawl from Andre’s writing, to New Orleans, chess, mysticism, the Holocaust, and more.  Click here to read the transcript of the interview.

Click here to go to Andrei’s website and click here for an archive of his stories from All Things Considered.

This is a video of part of Andrei and Marc’s conversation, as the topic turned to communism.  It contains footage that is not included in the podcast!

4/15 from Marc

School Violence

Any of you who saw the tape of a student beating art teacher Jolita Berry were rightly horrified. Any of you who work in our schools understands what led to this and knows that disrespect for teachers and the threat of violence felt by students and teachers is a common occurrence in our schools.

It cannot be tolerated.

First, the school administration must stand by its teachers. Students who physically attack and assault teachers must be arrested. There has to be zero tolerance for those who perpetrate violence against their peers and their teachers. It cannot be tolerated. You cannot teach or learn in atmospheres of violence.

That is short term. That is a necessary immediate response. Long term, it takes an administrative and pedagogic strategy to end violence and disruption in our schools.

Does it make any sense to suspend students back to the street corner? Does it make sense to kick them out of school into the hands of communities and families that bred and feed that behavior in the first place? I don’t think so.

About fifteen years ago, Lombard Middle School had a very successful in-school suspension program. I am not sure, beyond funding issues, why that program was dismantled. It must be resurrected throughout every school in the city.

Suspended students should be required to come to school attending special classes taught by volunteer staff members, counselors and social workers and ex-felons from the community. It might require special partnerships with local schools of social work, universities and our medical community. It would mean changing the rules to allow trained ex-offenders and community members to work with our most troubled young people.

The goal would be to successfully reintegrate these children into the mainstream student body.

I think Dr. Andres Alonso is right to call on 500 volunteers from the community to enter our most troubled schools. It will be an incredibly powerful message and a step in the right direction.

Long term policy needs to complement that to address the problem of violence and disruption in our schools. If not teachers may walk out. The best students and teachers will leave the system.

We can make it work.


This is just a modest proposal as a reflection on the closing the legislative session in Annapolis.   I have been thinking about how you create equity in our state and protect our land, environment and the Chesapeake Bay that we all love so much.

Let me offer some thoughts that would be a terrifying anathema to most people in the legislature and maybe a portion of our citizenry, as well.

Many of us worry about the increased development of our open spaces, the removal of the poor for housing for the wealthy, and the nature of much of that development.   What can you really do about it?

A man who I have known for 25 years, former state senator Gerald Winegrad, who was the original environmental warrior in the state legislature, suggested that all planning and zoning be taken away from local jurisdictions and given to the state Board of Public Works.   He says it is the only way to control development, save our forests and manage our agricultural lands.   When he said this on my show last year, I really had to stop and think about the consequences of this proposal.    I understand the frustration at watching our natural environment be devastated and our waterways becoming polluted beyond repair that led to this radical proposal.

The loss of local control is anathema to Americans.   Local control is a philosophical and pragmatic sentiment since the Declaration of Independence.   As unwieldy as it might be,  it really is the core of the American spirit.

So, in that spirit and pondering the proposal of that great patriot (he is a Navy JAG officer Lt. Commander I think) and environmentalist, Gerald Winegrad, let me offer an alternative.

If Maryland had one state wide property tax we could numb the power of developers in our local jurisdictions.   Counties and Baltimore City’s zoning and planning agencies are susceptible to the power of developers.    Development means property tax dollars in local coffers.   County and Baltimore City roads, schools and social service agencies are only as strong and funded as property tax revenues allow.   If there was a statewide property tax divided evenly between our jurisdictions then they could plan without pressure from outside development and capital power.    Then we could have local control that makes decisions that benefit the environment and citizens of localities.  It would create real local power.

If at the same time we equalized state funding for education it would add to local power and control.   If the state spent the same per pupil statewide each jurisdiction would be free to add as much as they want to their schools beyond that state number.    Counties and Baltimore City could be managed by elected boards, elected/appointed boards, appointed boards or no board at all.   They could create their own pedagogical policies.

Are we not one nation, are we not one state, and are we not one people?   Why should the vagaries of poverty or wealth of one jurisdiction over the other determine the well being and future of us all!

It seems to me that these ideas are the marriage of the best social democratic principles with our age old traditions of local control.

Your thoughts?


4/11/08 Andrei Codrescu is in town

We started the morning off today with a visit from Andrei Codrescu, writer of many formats and NPR commentator.  He’s in Baltimore for a reading and talk tonight at CCBC Essex as part of their Creative Writing Forum.  Click here for all of the info on tonight’s event.  Marc and Andrei sat down and spoke for an hour or so.  We’ll be bringing you a podcast of their conversation at the beginning of next week.  Also stay tuned for the launch of the new CEM website, expected for next week, as well.  We’re working on a piece that goes behind the scenes of the new documentary Body of War which will premier on the new site.  Hope everyone has a good weekend and enjoys the spring weather!


4/09/08 from Vietnam, to Annapolis, to the movies

This has been an interesting week.    First, the Peabody Award comes for our work on the series we produced called Just Words.   It was funded by the Open Society Institute and aired on WYPR for a little over a year.    We submitted the work for the prestigious Peabody but had no expectations of winning one.  It is a little overwhelming to be in the company of Steve Colbert, Planet Earth, Sixty Minutes, and other incredibly important national shows (including Project Runway, which I watch at my 11 year old daughter’s behest).  It is quite an honor.    

From 2005 to 2007 dozens of NPR stations around the country aired our six part documentary series, Shared Weight.   I don’t know how many of you heard them (all six will be up on our new website for you to hear and podcast).    They are six stand-alone hours produced with and about Vietnam veterans from both sides of the conflict.  We spent six weeks in Vietnam recording and three veterans of that war went with us.   

At any rate, we planned to return to Vietnam sometime in June or July to finish one of our stories.   The first hour in our series was the story of Vietnam Veteran Homer Steedley and North Vietnamese soldier Hong Ngoc Dam.   Homer killed Dam on his first day in Nam.    They met coming around a bend in the road.   There they were alone face to face.  Homer got his gun our first.  Dam died.   Homer took the documents off his body.   He kept them in his mother’s attic.  For over thirty five years the image of that young man’s face and the documents he kept haunted him.   He had to find Dam’s family to give them back that piece of him, of their son, husband and brother.   We found the family.    That first hour was called Wandering Souls because Vietnamese Buddhists believe that souls of the dead wander if their bodies or something of theirs is not returned home.    Dam was one of 350,000 Vietnamese MIAs.  

Now, Homer is going back to Vietnam for the first time since the war.    He wants to meet Dam’s family and together they will journey to Kontum to find Dam’s body.   We want to be there to finish this story of healing.  

Well, we found out this week the trip is moved up to May.   So, producer Jessica Phillips and I will be journeying to Vietnam.   Hopefully, we will be sending back stories to you, with any luck with sound and pictures.

When we get back, we will head out in early June to the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  They want to hear, and we want to tell, the story of what happened at WYPR.   We want to tell the story of this community’s efforts to keep the public in public radio and to build and keep our sense of community.   There will be thousands of people there who are dedicated to keeping alive and creating community non-corporate-controlled media.   We will let you know what we find.

Then I am off for a week to the Pueblo Indian reservation in New Mexico to teach radio to a national gathering of Native American high school students.   It is a camp called Native Visions started by the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health.  It is not my first time there over the last fifteen years, but I love teaching at the place.   Hopefully, more stories for me to share.



OK, Annapolis is done.   The session is over.   So, what really happened?  

The biggest crime was the Constellation Energy deal being ratified by a bullied State Senate and House of Delegates.   It was 1999 deregulation redux.   I know, I know, the reregulation debate can still occur.    The Public Service Commission was not granted subpoena power.  This is the single most important failure of that deal and legislation.   Read Sun Business Columnist Jay Hancock’s column today.   We still do not know why energy cost so much after the 2005 auctions or what goes on at the auctions.   The control of the grid and wholesale electric market is opaque, at best, at the state, regional and national level.   It is controlled by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is controlled by the federal government, which, as we found at the beginning of the Bush/Cheney administration, is controlled by big oil and coal.   Remember Vice President Cheney’s Energy Task Force in 2001 that would not release its report and never did.   Do you remember that it was made up of all his friends in oil and coal and their ancillary industries? 

What we needed was a bill that put teeth in the PSC, that changed laws to allow full disclosure of deal making in that industry and encourage our elected Congressional representatives to demand reform at the national level. 

We can have openness, honesty, and a strong energy future with Constellation or anyone else.  These ideas are not mutually exclusive.



OK, enough blah blah … what I want to know is when will these clouds go away?   I want sunshine. 

We saw the film Stop Loss the other day at Hunt Valley.   It was a powerful movie about the back door draft affecting the lives of so many American soldiers.  It was by directed by Kimberly Pierce, whose previous film was Boys Don’t Cry.   We went to a 5 PM show.  We were the only two people sitting in the theater.   I know Mondays at five may be a slow movie time but I think Americans don’t want to hear about this war.   So few of us know people who serve, who died there or who were wounded in battle.   What about you, do you know anyone who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan?  After we saw the film I was thinking about my student’s brother who died in Iraq and another woman I know whose son was killed in Iraq.  This war makes me angry.

We also saw John Sayles’ Honeydripper at the Charles.    What superb acting, wonderful script, great music and uplifting.   God, it felt good to walk out of a movie smiling. 

And Thursday night, it is the Stones in Scorsese’s Shine a Light at The Senator.  I can’t wait.   Talk about feeling good.  I am afraid to tell you all that I saw my first Stones concert in the spring of ‘64 in Albany, New York.   I have been hooked ever since.  I was always more of Stones man than a Beatle boy.   Though I loved post 65 Beatles.   OK, too much information.

See you at the movies.