Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Evie Hemphill

St. Louis on the Air Producer

Evie Hemphill joined the St. Louis on the Air team in February 2018. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English literature in 2005, she started her career as a reporter for the Westminster Window in Colorado. Several years later she went on to pursue graduate work in creative writing at the University of Wyoming and moved to St. Louis upon earning an MFA in the spring of 2010. She worked as writer and editor for Washington University Libraries until 2014 and then spent several more years in public relations for the University of Missouri–St. Louis before making the shift to St. Louis Public Radio.

When she’s not helping to produce the talk show, Evie can typically be found navigating the city sans car, volunteering for St. Louis BWorks or trying to get the majority of the dance steps correct as a member of the Thunder & Lightning Cloggers of Southern Illinois. She’s married to Joe, cat-mom to Dash and rather obsessive about doubt, certitude and the places where refuge and risk intersect.

"St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh spoke with the former FBI director, who is pictured here during a 2016 event at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
FBI | Flickr

James Comey expressed both concern and hope about the state of U.S. institutions and the rule of law during a St. Louis Public Radio interview on Wednesday.

“I think we’re in two different places,” the former FBI director told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh. “We’re in a place where the president of the United States relentlessly attacks the rule of law and the institutions of justice, so that’s terrible. But the second place that we’re in is that Americans have awakened to the importance of the rule of law and the danger of its erosion, and that’s a very, very important sort of antibody response. And it’s a source for optimism.”

Fiction writer Michael Nye (at left), Left Bank Books co-owner Kris Kleindienst (center) and Kathleen Finneran, a senior writer in residence at Washington University, are among those involved in this weekend’s festival.
Erica Ott & St. Louis Public Radio

Kris Kleindienst need only glance out toward the entrance to her bookstore at the corner of Euclid and McPherson avenues for some solid reminders of St. Louis’ literary legacy. The busts of four canonical writers adorn the intersection – T.S. Eliot, Tennessee Williams, Kate Chopin and William Burroughs, all of whom spent formative years in the city.

But Kleindienst is just as enthusiastic about St. Louis’ contemporary writing community as she is about the region’s historical claims to writerly fame.

“We’re a great literary town, and that – in my 44 years of bookselling – has really just become clearer and clearer to me,” the Left Bank Books co-owner said on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air during a discussion ahead of Bookfest St. Louis.

Kim Gardner began serving as the city’s top prosecutor in January 2017.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

 

Updated at 2:46 p.m. Saturday with clarification — St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim  Gardner has been on the job for a little over a year and a half now, and her office has been the subject of some controversy and criticism over the course of that relatively short time period.

Earlier this week, Gardner was the focus of an in-depth piece in the Riverfront Times. On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, she joined host Don Marsh for a conversation in light of the recent news coverage, and Marsh started by asking the prosecutor what she thought about the recent description of her office as a “chaotic” one.

“In any transition period when you are a new elected official, taking over an office can be difficult, and transition is difficult and hard for people,” Gardner responded. “So, of course, as [with] any prior prosecutor, there’s going to be transition. People will leave. And some people may say it’s chaos, but I say that’s change.”

The St. Louis-based literary magazine’s latest issue, which runs about 200 pages and includes some focus on immigration, features cover art by Tran Nguyen.
Boulevard

For nearly 35 years now, Boulevard magazine has been publishing works of fiction, poetry and nonfiction by both luminaries and emerging writers. Its hot-off-the-press 100th issue continues that tradition, offering readers a vibrant mix of contemporary literature penned by a wide range of writers.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the St. Louis-based literary magazine’s evolution and legacy since its founding in 1984.

Joining him for the discussion were the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Jessica Rogen, as well as celebrated writers Joyce Carol Oates and Carl Phillips.

In the wake of Ferguson unrest, longtime St. Louisan Henry Biggs felt a pull to do something about the issues facing the St. Louis region.  He chose to swim.
Swimming to Ferguson

University City resident Henry Biggs remembers hearing “a lot of talk” about bridging St. Louis’ racial divides and disparities in the months that followed Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson four years ago.

“But I didn’t really see many people saying, ‘OK, well, what’s the thing that I could do?’” Biggs recalled this week on St. Louis on the Air.

For Biggs – a longtime St. Louisan, scholar and athlete – that one thing ended up involving a whole lot of swimming. He decided to swim the entire 28 miles of water surrounding Manhattan in New York City, and he asked people to pledge a dollar per mile to support “things that would make the Ferguson area better.”

Brian Cohen (at left), the founder of LouFest, and St. Louis Public Radio’s Holly Edgell discussed the cancelation of this weekend’s festival.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Like so many St. Louisans this week, LouFest founder Brian Cohen was surprised and saddened to learn that the major St. Louis music festival set for this weekend had been canceled.

“It’s a sad day for sure, for a lot of people,” he told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh. “I didn’t necessarily see it going down this way – it certainly was a shock to me, and we’ll just have to see if we can find some answers as to why it all happened this way.”

Cohen, who in 2016 sold his stake in the company that organizes the festival, didn’t speculate about possible financial mismanagement or poor decisions that may have led to this year’s issues. But he acknowledged that the music industry is a difficult one where it’s easy to run into trouble.

On Friday evening, the Archdiocese of St. Louis is holding a Mass of Reparation at the Cathedral Basilica for victims of sexual abuse.
Brian Plunkett | Flickr

The word “outrage” doesn’t quite capture how Catholics in St. Louis have been reacting to a recent report revealing that nearly 1,000 young people were sexually abused by hundreds of priests in Pennsylvania over a 70-year period.

“I think everyone is just really grieving … there’s so much anger and some hostility even,” said Sandra Price, executive director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. “The reports that were outlined in the grand-jury report in Pennsylvania [were] grisly, detailed reports of abuse – that’s what sexual abuse is. And that the public has seen what sexual abuse really looks like, it’s traumatic – there’s just no words.”

Price, along with colleague Carol Brescia, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh for a conversation leading up to Friday’s planned Mass of Reparation. The segment also included comments from Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley and from David Clohessy, founder of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP.

John Baugh began studying linguistics when he was researching the topic of housing discrimination in California.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

From New York to Los Angeles, people everywhere develop speech patterns unique to their region; however, these varied dialects are discriminated against at times. While this phenomenon is nothing new, two recent films explore the cultural responses to dialects with a racial perspective: Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” and Boots Riley’s “Sorry to Bother You.”

“From a linguistic point of view, the dialect that’s distinctive to slave descendants in the United States is the result of racial isolation and also the fact that slavery was legal in the South, so the black dialect has been strongly influenced by white Southern speech,” John Baugh said on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air. “And then once blacks migrated to other parts of the country, they were still racially isolated in Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia, so the distinctive character of the dialect prevailed.”

Anne Bogel (at left) of the “What Should I Read Next” podcast and Holland Saltsman, owner of the Novel Neighbor in Webster Groves, both enjoy connecting good books to the right readers.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

When it comes to reading, one person’s great book can be another person’s dull tome.

“As devoted readers know, reading is nothing if not personal … my favorite could bore you to tears, your favorite could put me to sleep,” Anne Bogel told host Don Marsh on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Bogel, the person behind the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog and the podcast What Should I Read Next, joined the talk show along with Holland Saltsman, owner of the Novel Neighbor in Webster Groves. Both women offered a variety of suggestions for choosing what to read next as well as some specific book recommendations to listeners.

Longtime executive producer Mary Edwards is retiring Friday after more than four decades with St. Louis Public Radio.
August Jennewein | UMSL

Over the past 44 years, the radio and news industries have gone through many changes. Two things that haven’t changed during that time are Mary Edwards’ dedication and passion for her work at St. Louis Public Radio.

Edwards, who came to the station in 1974 after earning her bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame last year. She started as a music assistant and held positions including music director, program director, production manager and operations manager.

Edwards’ most impactful work at St. Louis Public Radio began on September 3, 1996, with the launch of St. Louis on the Air, the station’s flagship and premier local program. Friday’s show marked her final broadcast as she put in her last day of full-time work and embarked on a well-deserved retirement.

The latest episode brings the voices of the descendants of J.D. and Ethel Shelley to listeners as they share the story of their family’s place in American history.
The Copeland Collection

There’s no shortage of people who remember the 1948 U.S. Supreme Court decision Shelley v. Kraemer and can talk about how it changed housing practices across the nation – plenty of historians and legal experts, for instance. But when the producers of St. Louis Public Radio’s We Live Here podcast decided to take another look at the pivotal case, they opted for different voices: those of the Shelleys’ descendants.

“There’s a certain kind of human truth that can only really be found by talking with family members who have this story that’s passed down generation to generation,” co-host/producer Tim Lloyd said Thursday on St. Louis on the Air. “It was a great episode for us – we really enjoyed putting it together.”

Matt Grawitch (at left), director of strategic research for SLU’s School for Professional Studies, and Dena Bubrick-Tranen, a therapist with Middle Way Counseling and Consulting, offered insights on dealing with difficult work environments.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Ever felt stuck in a problematic job situation? You’re not alone.

The #MeToo movement has led to increased awareness and empowerment around issues of sexual harassment and assault in all sorts of industries. But other forms of mistreatment can crop up in the workplace as well, and employees sometimes feel trapped in difficult environments.

“People do need their jobs, and the more toxic the environment, the harder it can be to leave,” local therapist Dena Bubrick-Tranen said on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Several years ago, when Aretha Franklin (at left) was planning her birthday party in New York City, she gave Denise Thimes a call and asked the St. Louisan to sing for her.
Courtesy of Denise Thimes

Denise Thimes was still a young girl when she first interacted with Aretha Franklin in St. Louis during the late ’60s. But even then the Queen of Soul made a big impression on Thimes, who is now an accomplished vocalist herself.

“I emulated her a lot and never had a chance to, as a little girl, sing for her – which is what I wanted to do when she would come to our home,” Thimes told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh. “But to have done her birthday party [a few years ago] and to stand there and watch her watch me sing – Don, I had to fight back the tears the whole time.”

After enduring two cesarean sections and other challenges as a teen mom herself, Ferguson resident Tru Kellman started Jamaa Birth Village in 2015 to provide a community-driven solution to a national health issue.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

“Considerable” is the word that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses to describe the racial disparities that currently surround pregnancy-related mortality rates in the U.S. With African-American women roughly three times more likely to die in childbirth than their white peers, “startling” might be another fitting descriptor.

And the difference “all boils down to systematic racism in varying degrees,” according to Tru Kellman, executive director of Jamaa Birth Village, a nonprofit pregnancy resource center that has served more than 300 women over the past three years.

A new Belleville News-Democrat investigation challenges common perceptions about how safe MetroLink is.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Early Tuesday morning, the Belleville News-Democrat published an in-depth investigation into just how safe the St. Louis region’s MetroLink light-rail system is, ultimately concluding that it “isn’t as dangerous as you think” and that crime rates have declined.

Hours later, a man was shot and killed at the South Grand Boulevard Metro station during an argument between two other people. He was an innocent bystander waiting for a bus.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh led an on-air discussion prompted by this juxtaposition.

The Delmar Loop in 2017
Flickr/TedEngler

Rachelle L’Ecuyer grew up right near the Delmar Loop, so becoming its first-ever executive director earlier this month felt a lot like coming home. Still, she’s been looking at the area with fresh eyes.

“I was walking down Delmar yesterday, and I was taking a picture of the Tivoli sign, and two young men walked up to me and I said, ‘I love it!’” she said on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air. “And they looked at me and I said [again], ‘I love it.’ And I pointed from bottom to top, and they said, ‘Oh, I love it: The Tivoli spelled backwards is ‘I love it.’ And we ended up having a pretty long conversation about the Loop.”

Melody Walker, St. Louis Public Radio’s economic development reporter, offered analysis of the ongoing airport-privatization effort on Monday’s talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

With the potential privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport still “up in the air,” as host Don Marsh put it on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Melody Walker joined the show to offer analysis of the latest developments.

“Privatization is one of the most polarizing words I think we’ve had in quite a while here in St. Louis, and it’s a little bit of a misnomer,” said Walker, who is the station’s economic development reporter. “I think when people hear ‘privatization,’ we think, ‘We’re going to sell the airport off to some private company.’ Well, that’s not what’s happening.”

Aaron Addison is the director of data services at Washington University.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The digital age has ushered in many advancements and fresh possibilities – and also new concerns. One of those has to do with the need to protect vital scientific and public data resources from disappearing or even being intentionally suppressed.

While many libraries in the U.S. have long served as repositories in an effort to back up and preserve government information, that work has new urgency under a presidential administration that has expunged certain information related to topics such as climate change.

“These things [removing data] have gone on for a long time,” Washington University’s Aaron Addison said on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, offering the missing Cook County, Illinois, data from the 1960 U.S. Census as one example. “[But] here we have a case where it’s not happening in a vacuum – it’s in concert with all these other decisions that the administration is making. And so it adds, certainly, to the concern.”

Geoffrey Soyiantet, Sally Gacheru and Gracemary Nganga compare their Kenyan beed bracelets. Several teens from the St. Louis area are now in their home country of Kenya for about two weeks through Soyiantet's Vitendo4Africa organization.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Aug. 20 with follow-up conversation: On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh spoke with St. Louis Public Radio education reporter Ryan Delaney upon his return from travels in Africa, where he caught up with some fellow St. Louisans.

Listen to their conversation:

Protestors against dark money make their presence known in Washington.
Dark Money, a PBS Distribution release

With a growing lack of transparency clouding money’s influence on politics around the United States, a new film digs into the issue by zooming in on one state in particular: Montana.

Why Montana? The choice of setting came down to three factors: the presence of whistleblowers, diligent enforcers of campaign-finance law and a watchdog press.

“We could actually tell the story there,” the documentary’s director, Kimberly Reed, said Friday on St. Louis on the Air.

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