Joseph Leahy

Reporter and afternoon newscaster

Joseph Leahy began his career in broadcast journalism at St. Louis Public Radio in 2011. He moved to Delaware in 2012 to help launch the state’s first NPR station, 91.1 FM WDDE, as a general assignment reporter, afternoon newscaster and host. Leahy returned to Missouri in 2013 to anchor St. Louis Public Radio’s local newscasts during NPR’s All Thing’s Considered and produce news on local and regional issues. His education includes a master’s degree in print and multimedia journalism from Emerson College in Boston and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Missouri. He graduated high school at Highland Hall Waldorf School in Northridge, California and grew up migrating almost annually with his family between rural Missouri and sprawling Los Angeles. He was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1982. 

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

An animal rights group is suing the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission (MTC), arguing that it has failed to regulate horse-drawn carriages in St. Louis and St. Louis County.

The St. Louis Animal Rights Team (START) filed a petition this month in St. Louis City Circuit Court. It maintains that the MTC must use its authority to ensure public safety and the well-being of the animals, said attorney Jessica Blome.

St. Louis City Hall
Richie Diesterheft | Flickr

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay has directed the city’s Affordable Housing Commission to set aside an additional $1 million for its Home Repair Program.

The commission has already authorized more than $2.4 million from its Housing Trust Fund  to assist nearly 900 income-qualified applicants to  keep their aging homes safe and livable. 

According to a statement from the mayor’s office, the additional allotment will be prioritized for nearly 1,900 homeowners to finish needed work.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

At the end the year, Tower Grove Park in south St. Louis will replace its director for only the fifth time in its 146 year history.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Joseph Leahy recently took a tour of the park with outgoing Director John Karel as he prepares to turn over his stewardship and place of residence after nearly three decades.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

Getting The Job

LEAHY: How did you come to be the director of Tower Grove Park?

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

A coalition that has played a large role in organizing protests since the police killing of Michael Brown is asking the St. Louis County Prosecutor for 48-hour advance notice before announcing whether Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson will be charged.

The request is part of the Don't Shoot Coalition's response plan for widespread street demonstrations that are expected when the decision by a grand jury is released. County Prosecutor Bob McCullough has said the decision would be announced later this month.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

If you go out looking for the 13th floor of a tall building in St. Louis, you may have a hard time finding it.

An informal survey by St. Louis Public Radio of 68 skyscrapers in the St. Louis area finds about 41 percent skip over 13 in counting their floors. Not surprisingly, most of them are hotels or residential properties where people pay to stay.

“A lot of clients do not like to have a 13th floor. They think that it is bad luck,” said Catalina Freixas, an architect and assistant professor of architecture at Washington University.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis will no longer require job candidates to disclose previous felony convictions on their applications.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay announced the shift in hiring policy during a press conference at City Hall Tuesday.

“We’re really not changing our approach to who we hire. It’s just how we do it,” he said.

The change means potential employees will not have to check a box on their applications if they have a felony conviction.

Protest at Shaw and Klemm 10-8-14 re Vonderrit Myers
Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis circuit attorney is pledging a thorough and transparent investigation into the shooting death of 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers. Myers was shot and killed Wednesday night in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis by an off-duty police officer.

9/30/14
Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

The anti-violence initiative Stop the Killing has been wildly popular among street demonstrations in Ferguson since the death of Michael Brown at the hands of a Ferguson police officer on August 9.

The campaign’s simple message with a design of purple hands held aloft, hearts on each palm, has seemed almost tailor-made to fit the protests of Ferguson's most popular chant “hands up, don’t shoot!” The chant stems from witness accounts that Brown’s hands were up when he was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson last month. 

Members of the ATU Latino Caucus joined local 788 and members of other local unions in a protest outside Metro headquarters on Friday, September 26, 2014.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

Members of St. Louis’ local transit union demonstrated outside Metro headquarters Friday morning, in a protest dubbed a “Rally for Respect.”

Local workers were joined by members of other branches of the Amalgamated Transit Union, as well as members of other local unions to form a crowd of about one a hundred.

The group circled the Metro building for about an hour, chanting phrases such as “workers, riders, side-by-side,” and carrying signs that read “They called us an Oreo.”

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Under Secretary for Policy Peter Rogoff praised St. Louis' "vision" on Friday after the city received a $10.3 million federal grant for a new MetroLink station.

The planned light-rail station at Boyle Avenue and Sarah Street is a key part of the master plan for the Cortex innovation hub in St. Louis' Central West End. Rogoff said it will make it easier for workers to get to and from the developing high-tech area of midtown.

Courtesy of Citizens for Modern Transit

Metro Transit has secured most of the funding it needs to build a new MetroLink station in the Cortex innovation district.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is granting $10.3 million from its Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, program.

“This is the lion’s share of the funding,” said Metro Transit President and CEO John Nations. The federal grant covers nearly all of the project’s nearly $13 million cost.

Joseph Leahy

(Updated at 12:40 p.m. Friday, August 29)

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III and Police Chief Thomas Jackson have issued a joint statement in response to the lawsuit filed Thursday:

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

After more than a week of nightly violence in Ferguson, increased restraint by protestors and police paid off Tuesday night. Though police arrested 47 people and peppered sprayed one man, the night’s demonstrations ended without the use of tear gas, rubber bullets or gunfire.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

At Wellspring Church on South Florissant Road, about 100 parishioners prayed and sang for the first time since riots and looting erupted over the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer.

The aftermath of Brown's death was on the forefront of everyone's mind.

“There are those who feel like tearing something up and tearing something down,” said Pastor Willis Johnson who commended those who have taken to the streets to demand justice for Brown.

Missouri History Museum

World War I collared the spread of German culture and language across the globe. Though far from the front lines, St. Louis’s vibrant German community was no exception. 

A hundred years ago, the growth of the city had largely been driven by thousands of Germanic immigrants who built and controlled large swaths of government, industry, education, and religion. The Great War tested and ultimately transformed that influence in many ways that linger today.

(via Flickr/KOMUnews)

Missourians decisively rejected a sales tax increase earmarked for transportation projects, making for a striking defeat for a well-financed campaign from proponents and a victory for an ideologically diverse opposition coalition. 

The tax – commonly known as “Amendment 7” or the “transportation tax” – would have raised Missouri’s sales tax by 0.75 percent for 10 years. It would have also barred Missouri's policymakers from instituting tolls or raising the state’s gas tax during that same time period.

Lee Falk and The Phantom
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Three new stars are joining the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

Adding to the 140 famous St. Louisans already installed on Delmar Blvd. in the Loop will be 19th-century U.S. Sen. Thomas Hart Benton, a champion of manifest destiny; former Cardinal and longtime broadcaster Tim McCarver; as well as Lee Falk, who’s famous for his contributions to comics and theater.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ Health Department Director Pam Walker issued new guidelines Tuesday regulating the treatment of horses used to pull carriages for Brookdale Farms and St. Louis Carriage Co., the two businesses that offer rides in the city.

The guidelines forbid horses from working when the heat index reaches 100 degrees, and limits horses from working more than eight hours a day, and five days per week. They also set standards for stable ventilation, and cleanliness.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

The American Legion is looking for St. Louis-area veterans who need help getting medical services from the VA Health Care System.

The Legion has sent members from its “System Worth Saving Task Force” in Washington, D.C., to relay concerns directly from St. Louis-area veterans.

The three-person task force is meeting with the director of the local VA system today to bring up problems raised by veterans at a town hall-style meeting that it hosted Monday night, said Verna Jones, director of the Legion's Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Division in Washington.

Wikimedia Commons

The Show-Me State is designating the jumping jack as its official exercise in honor of the U.S. Army's second highest-ranked general.

Gen. John Pershing, who was from Laclede, Missouri, is credited with inventing the exercise while training cadets at West Point before WWI.

Gov. Jay Nixon signed Senate Bill 669 bill Thursday, which was sponsored by State Rep. Pat Conway of St. Joseph.

University of Missouri System

The University of Missouri is expanding an early alert system that tracks academic performance to all four of its campuses this fall.

The system, developed by the company Starfish Retention Solutions, is designed to improve retention and graduation rates by better connecting students, faculty and staff.  

The expansion follows the success of a pilot program at the university's Columbia campus that gives advisors real-time grading information on students and tracks performance trends among classes and subjects. 

Flooding near Clarksville in 2008
St. Louis Beacon file photo

The National Weather Service is forecasting major flooding along stretches of the Mississippi River north of St. Louis early next week. A map on its site is regularly updated with river stages.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

Final plans for Fair St. Louis are taking shape as the event moves to Forest Park this weekend for the first time in its 34-year history.

The park has been a busy scene this week as work crews prepare stages, concession stands, canopy tents, and generators for the event that organizers expect to draw 35,000 to 50,000 visitors each day. The weekend’s July Fourth celebrations will include a parade, 20 free concerts, nightly fireworks displays and other entertainment.

breahn / Flickr

Missouri spends a greater share of its academic research money on biosciences than any other state in the nation, according to the latest study from Battelle and the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

The study finds that, in 2012, the state’s research universities devoted 85 percent, or about $895 million dollars, to academic bioscience research, compared with 61 percent for the national average.

One of the credit card meters tested in the Central West End during the trial phase of choosing new meter venders for St. Louis.
Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Treasurer’s Office announced last week it has selected the Boston-based consulting group Desman Associates to examine all aspects of the city’s parking division. According to Treasurer Tishaura Jones, the study is meant to be the basis for overhauling the system, which the office has overseen since 1951, but in recent years been bogged down by inefficiency, misconduct and outdated technology.

UFCW Local 655

Union workers at area Schnucks, Dierbergs, and Shop'n Save ratified a three-year contract with the supermarkets late Wednesday night. Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 voted 1,641 to 662 to approve the contract at the Family Arena in St. Charles following a meeting of employees from the three companies.

The contract, which covers roughly 9,000 members working at 104 stores and pharmacies in the area, allows for a $0.60 wage increase over the life of the contract and includes no overall reduction in benefits.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

Dozens of Korean protestors demonstrated in Forest Park Sunday, wearing black to mourn the victims of last month's ferry disaster in South Korea, which killed more than 300 students and others.

They also called for an investigation into the  South Korean government's mishandled rescue attempts. Their anger and frustration, which has been growing among the Korean communities worldwide, came shortly before South Korea's president announced she will disband the country's Coast Guard over its response to the tragedy.

Missouri’s U.S. Senators are seeking answers from the Department of Veterans Affairs  about reports of lax mental health services in St. Louis’s VA hospital system.

The inquiry stems from allegations by the system’s former Chief of Psychiatry, Dr. Jose Mathews, regarding an “artificial backlog” of patient care created by staff who treat veterans for only a fraction of the workday.

According to the Associated Press, Mathews claims in a federal whistleblower complaint filed last year that he was demoted after his efforts to make employees work harder and more efficiently.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

Grand Master chess players from across the country have assembled in St. Louis’ Central West End for the 2014 U.S. Chess Championship.

Round 1 of the two-week tournament kicked off Thursday afternoon at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.

A local favorite to follow this year is Grand Master Ray Robson, 19, who is a member of Webster University's chess team that won the 2013 national collegiate chess championship, said CCSCSL Executive Director Tony Rich.  

Wikimedia Commons

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri could play a crucial role in approving the controversial Keystone XL pipeline this week.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated a vote could be held in the next few days to authorize the pipeline that would carry Canadian crude oil through the U.S. to the Gulf Coast.

McCaskill is one of the few Senate Democrats in favor of the project. During a conference call with reporters Wednesday, she argued the oil will be flowing regardless of the pipeline’s approval.   

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