If everything you know about Baltimore, Maryland only comes from watching Homicide: Life On The Street and The Wire (two of the greatest shows in television history, mind you), then you should definitely give a listen to the podcast Baltimore: The Rise Of Charm City, which will tell you so much more about Baltimore than you thought possible.
Created in January 2016 by freelance writer Stacia Brown after she received a $70,000 grant from The Association of Independents In Radio and produced with the assistance of Morgan University’s radio station WEAA 88.9 FM, Baltimore: The Rise Of Charm City, over the course of twelve half-hour-long episodes, covers the historic contributions made to Baltimore by the African-Americans who lived and worked there, contributions that still carry much influence to this day.
The first episode focuses on The Shake & Bake Family Fun Center, a skating rink/bowling alley developed in 1982 and run by former Baltimore Colts wide receiver Glenn “Shake & Bake” Doughty during a time when there were very few Black businesses, and in a neighborhood where very few people expected such an establishment to flourish. (The fact that the National Aquarium charges an admission fee of $24.95 for children and $34.95 for adults, whereas Shake & Bake only charges an admission fee of $1.00 per person on Wednesdays a.k.a. Family Night, might have something to do with its continued success, as well as the fondness that many Baltimore residents have when it comes to having someplace to go for fun and entertainment)
Another episode tells the story of The Baltimore Afro-American, the oldest family-owned, Black-owned newspaper in the country, which was founded in 1872 after three Sunday-school newsletters came together as the result of a merger. Some of the people who once worked as paperboys for The Baltimore Afro-American include former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume, Elijah Cummings (D- MD, 7th District), and Billy Murphy, attorney for the family of Freddie Gray.
The Oblate Sisters Of Providence, which was the first order of African-American nuns and has been around for 188 years, and who helped found St. Frances Academy, the oldest-operating school for African-American Catholic children in the country.
The history of Baltimore’s Muslim population, as well as the current relationship between Black Muslims and South Asian Muslims in the suburbs just outside of Baltimore.
The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum, which contains wax figures of prominent African-Americans throughout history, and was partly created for younger African-Americans, who were growing up after the days of “Say It Loud, I’m Black And I’m Proud,” to feel a greater sense of pride regarding their history and their heritage.
These topics and several more are discussed in exquisite detail through both meticulous research and intensive conversations with the residents of Baltimore as they share their thoughts, opinions, and memories with Stacia and her production crew (field producer Ali Post, station collaborator Marsha Jews, and sound editor/designer Mawish Raza). Every word and emotion that is expressed by the people who call Baltimore home carries so much weight in explaining the city’s rich history as well as its potentially richer future, more so if it continues (or in some cases, starts) to receive the support it needs from both its communities and its government.
Baltimore: The Rise Of Charm City recently concluded its first season and has been raising funds via Indiegogo in order to make it possible for there to be a Season 2, in which Stacia and her crew continue to explore and acknowledge all of the contributions that African-Americans have made and continue to make to the city of Baltimore.
The campaign ends this Sunday, so give Baltimore: The Rise Of Charm City a shot and decide for yourself whether what you hear is something that you want to hear more of.