Erica Smith

Online producer

Erica Smith is a journalist and digital media strategist and editor with a passion for using social media and online technology to tell stories, gather information and engage people. She is the online producer for St. Louis Public Radio’s talk shows, “St. Louis on the Air” and “Cityscape.” 

Smith previously led social media efforts at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She is the social media instructor at Media Now STL, a summer journalism camp for high school students; and works with college journalism students across the state. Smith has worked in graphic design at newspapers in Indiana, Washington and Missouri, and won several awards from the Society for News Design and the Society of Professional Journalists. She also has won “best tweeter” awards from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Riverfront Times. She likes typewriters, craft beer and cat memes; eats M&Ms in Roy G. Biv order; is a St. Louis Blues and Kansas City Royals fan; and often tweets about the weather.

Tavis Smiley 2014
Provided

This segment will be rebroadcast on Monday, January 18, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It was originally aired on February 5, 2015. You can also listen live.

There’s a disconnect between Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations today, and attitudes toward the man before he was killed in 1968, author Tavis Smiley says.

photo of David Robertson, Stephanie Berg and Jeanne Sinquefield
Courtesy of the St. Louis Symphony

How old do you have to be to compose music? A University of Missouri–Columbia program is proving that students of any age can do it.

The Creating Original Music Project, now in its 10th year, is a statewide composition festival that recognizes work from students, kindergarteners to high school seniors. This year, 70 students applied. Of the 18 winners, eight are from the St. Louis area.

At next weekend’s Go! marathon, Rae Mohrmann will run in her 100th marathon.

Mohrmann, of Ferguson, started running competitively when she was a 30-year-old mother. “I needed another goal,” she told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Thursday. But Mohrmann didn’t run in a marathon until she was 49. She’s now a 67-year-old grandmother, and has run marathons in all 50 states.

What are kids doing when school’s out for the summer? A new app will make finding summer camps, classes and activities easier for parents.

How do you talk to young children about Ferguson and what happened?

“Painting for Peace in Ferguson” tries to explain it through the story of artists and residents who created paintings on the boarded-up doors and windows of local businesses. Many businesses in Ferguson and on South Grand in St. Louis were boarded up in response to and to prevent thefts, vandalism and fires after a grand jury’s declined to indict former Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

In the days after the August shooting death of Michael Brown, the city of Ferguson was in turmoil. Schools closed. Many businesses closed. But at the city’s public library, director Scott Bonner’s motto was to just say yes.

To say actor LeVar Burton likes libraries would be an understatement. And it’s not just because he was the host of “Reading Rainbow” for 26 years.

“I love libraries. I think libraries are really underutilized national resources,” Burton told “St. Louis on the Air” producer Katie Cook on Tuesday. “Libraries ensure that all citizens in this country have access to the knowledge, the information. Libraries are sanctuaries. They’re like churches for me.”

State and federal income taxes are due April 15, making this the time to be asking those pressing tax questions.

Is it too early to plant carrots? What about tomatoes? And is there any use for those spiky sweetgum tree seeds?

Missouri Botanical Garden horticulturists June Hutson and Dana Rizzo were on-hand Monday to answer questions about spring gardening.

If you’re just getting started gardening, turn to the computer, Hutson said.

Interested in having a little food and wine with your opera? No problem.

The Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’ Opera Tastings pair music with food and wine samples.

“It’s an opportunity for people who maybe haven’t been in direct contact with opera singers to experience it for the first time in a very intimate and very sort of delicious setting,” conductor Ryan McAdams told “Cityscape” host Steve Potter on Friday. “I’m still glowing from the indecent amount of fun we had last night.”

Actor John Lithgow loves stories.

“Storytelling was a big part of my growing up. I’m sure that’s why I’m an actor,” Lithgow told “Cityscape” producer Alex Heuer. “Shakespeare had great stories, but all of us have great stories. If you sit down with anyone and ask them about their lives, they can bring you to tears or cripple you with laughter — we all have stories.”

That’s the secret to Lithgow’s one-man show “Stories by Heart,” which he brings to St. Louis on Saturday. In it, Lithgow tells stories about his life and shares stories by others.

Paula Poundstone
Provided

Comedian Paula Poundstone is just trying to figure things out.

Poundstone described her improv style as “accidental — same as almost everything about me.” Her comedy career started with an open mic night in 1979 in Boston. She spent time preparing for 5-minute sets, only to forget that preparation once she was on stage. Out of nervousness, she started talking to audience members and commenting on things in the room until she said she realized that was the real fun. That’s exactly what the audience can expect when Poundstone performs Saturday in St. Louis, she said.

Otzi was walking in the Alps, near where he lived, when he was shot and killed. The 5-foot-3-inch man had brown hair and brown eyes. He had several tattoos. He walked a lot in the mountains. But Otzi isn’t his real name — it’s a nickname. He’s also about 5,300 years old.

Commonly known as “the iceman,” Otzi is a “natural mummy.”

Since Missouri's state lawmakers are on spring break this week, "St. Louis on the Air" is checking in to see what they've accomplished so far, and what remains on the to-do list.

Four bills have been passed by both chambers and sent to the governor:

Michel Martin at microphone
August Jennewein / University of Missouri–St. Louis / St. Louis Public Radio

Seven months after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson drew national attention to racial disparities, St. Louis Public Radio is hosting a second community forum, Ferguson and Beyond: Continuing the Community Conversation.

A painting by disability rights activist Max Starkloff.
Starkloff Disability Institute

Max Starkloff was known for his work as a disability rights activist. But he also was a painter.

Later this month, several of Starkloff's paintings will be displayed at the Bruno David Gallery. Starkloff died in 2010.

James Cridland via Flickr

In the age of social media and shiny new technology, there often are questions about privacy.

“Nobody wants absolute privacy — that would require us to live like hermits and not see anybody,” Washington University law professor Neil Richards told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Thursday. “At the same time, we want to connect with people, but we also want to be able to do so on our own terms.”

Sometimes you need a person in the middle — an impartial mediator.

Community Mediation Services of St. Louis helps people talk about and resolve their differences.

Teachers are typically well informed. They know how and where to track down data, they brainstorm ideas and they work with people.

So when Brittany Packnett, Teach for America–St. Louis’ executive director, was named to the president’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, she was in for a few surprises.

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French was one of the most visible people in Ferguson, the city and related social media, last summer and fall after the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Since then, French has shifted his attention back to the 21st Ward and North Campus, an education-based community program that helps parents and students. But he’s also still active in Ferguson efforts.

Michel Martin
Doby Photography / NPR

The last time NPR’s Michel Martin was in St. Louis, tensions were high and wounds were fresh. Martin hosted a heated St. Louis Public Radio community forum in August.

Martin is returning to St. Louis and Ferguson on Monday, when she will again moderate a community forum.

While he said he hasn’t committed to running for governor in Missouri, St. Louisan Eric Greitens certainly sounds like a politician.

“I’m actively considering looking at running for governor in 2016,” he told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Monday. Greitens is a former Navy SEAL and combat veteran, a Rhodes Scholar, a boxing champion, a humanitarian leader and founded The Mission Continues, which helps veterans adjust to life at home.

Cornell University political science professor and author Suzanne Mettler talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on March 16, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Millions of students are enrolled in college, but graduation rates are uneven. Why? Author Suzanne Mettler says political squabbling is to blame.

Mettler, a political science professor at Cornell University, has written a book that lays out the problem and its solution: “Degrees of Inequality: The Demise of Opportunity in Higher Education and How to Restore the American Dream.”

What became a symbol of the unrest in Ferguson after the death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9 will become a "phoenix rising."

That's the hope of officials with the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis who are planning a $500,000 jobs center on the site of the burned-out QuikTrip at 9240 W. Florissant Ave. 

There’s new interest in an old favorite: fried chicken. It’s one of the ultimate comfort foods, and has become a popular dish at St. Louis’ old and new restaurants.

Old Standard Fried Chicken is one of those new restaurants, opening in October. As its name indicates, the restaurant specializes in fried chicken.

In a two-part series, the Nine Network is exploring St. Louis’ musical legacy.

Known as the Great Migration, 6 million African-Americans left their homes in the South after World War I and through 1970, moving north and west.

Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, a civil rights march in Selma, Ala., that ended when hundreds of demonstrators were attacked and beaten by police.

Two days after Bloody Sunday, Charles F. Vatterott Jr. funded, coordinated and participated in a St. Louis delegation of religious leaders and laypeople who traveled to Selma for a one-day peaceful protest.

Much has been made of what St. Louis could gain with a new NFL stadium, but what about the things it could lose?

The proposed plans for the stadium include demolishing two dozen buildings, including the St. Louis Stamping Co. buildings and the Cotton Belt Freight Depot. Both are part of the National Register of Historic Places, but that doesn’t provide protection — it denotes the building has historic significance.

Violence affects all of us. But for children, violence can be particularly difficult to cope with and understand.

Compounding the issue, there’s not a specific type or source of violence to address.

“It’s violence in the home; violence in the streets. It’s exposure to violence, the length of exposure, the amount of exposure, the pervasiveness of exposure,” Dr. Duru Sakhrani, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Mercy Children’s Hospital St. Louis, told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Wednesday.

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