Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Lara Hamdan

St. Louis on the Air Producer

Lara Hamdan joined St. Louis Public Radio as the news intern in 2017. A year later, she became a producer for “St. Louis on the Air.” A St. Louis native, Lara graduated with a degree in journalism from Webster University. She is a cat-mom to Sali and Sami, a lover of traveling, fluent in English and Arabic – and in eating falafel sandwiches and veggie burgers. She enjoys discovering new people and gems in the city throughout her work at St. Louis Public Radio.

Ways to Connect

This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” during the noon hour on Monday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

Cornerstone Chorale and Brass is a nonprofit organization that exists primarily to serve the mainline Christian churches. Through music, narration and drama, the choir focuses on social justice.

(L-R) Will Soll, Rachel Zolotov and Rabbi Brad Horwitz talked about showcasing Jewish arts and culture in St. Louis.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis has been home to a vibrant Jewish community for many decades. This weekend, an arts and culture festival will bring together various artists and musicians across the country to showcase Jewish talents, food and customs.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the upcoming festival, billed as “Sababa.” It’s a joint effort by the St. Louis Jewish Community Center (The J), St. Louis Jewish Federation and other local organizations. Joining the conversation were artist Rachel Zolotov and musician Will Soll, both of whom are participating in the event. Rabbi Brad Horwitz, director of Jewish Engagement & Adult Programs at The J, also joined the program.

Alyson Thompson (left) and Kathryn Stinson (right) give advice and stress the importance of avoiding physical and emotional burnout.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Burnout, or the physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress, is an issue many people face in their day-to-day lives. Among those commonly susceptible to it are teachers, social service workers, activists and first responders.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed ways in which people who are invested in emotionally draining work can avoid burnout and practice self-care. Joining the conversation were licensed professional counselor Kathryn Stinson and Alyson Thompson, co-founder of The 4A Project.

(L-R) Gabriela Ramirez-Arellano, Carol Lara and Ness Sandoval talk about the experience of running small businesses and the influence of Hispanic businesses in the region.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

While Missouri may not be the first state that comes to mind as home to a thriving Hispanic/Latino population, data shows that the demographic is growing rapidly and in turn directly impacting the economics of the region.

Over a span of five years, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the region has increased by 42 percent, according to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of St. Louis. Additionally, Missouri ranks sixth in the nation for its number of Hispanic residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the influence Hispanic business owners have on the region in light of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15) with Gabriela Ramirez-Arellano, business counselor at the HCC and co-host of the bilingual business podcast DmeToo.

Sandra Moore (left) and Joan Lipkin (right) helped organize various voter registration drives in St. Louis to boost voting participation.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Midterm elections are important. But Sandra Moore, managing director and chief impact officer at Advantage Capital, said what’s more important is “mobilizing folks to register and vote.”

“The vote is the most powerful individual thing we have to engage as citizens,” Moore explained. The former president of Urban Strategies joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Thursday to talk about a voter education and registration drive that seeks to energize women in north St. Louis and north St. Louis County for the Nov. 6 election.

Florissant teen and singer Kennedy Holmes is a strong contestant on the 15th season of NBC's The Voice – havung recieved approval by all four of the show's celebrity judges.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Within the local scene, Florissant resident Kennedy Holmes has performed at various venues, including the Muny and Busch Stadium. But the 13-year-old recently caught the attention of people across the country during her blind audition on NBC’s The Voice singing competition.

Holmes received a standing ovation and approval from the show’s four judges: Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson and Holmes’ idol, Jennifer Hudson. Her audition clip went viral, with nearly 5 million views on YouTube.

“[Performing on The Voice] is absolutely the biggest thing I’ve ever done,” Holmes told host Don Marsh on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Dawn Harper Nelson returns to St. Louis after retiring from her running career aind aims to connect to people through her speaking engagements.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

As a pre-teen, Dawn Harper Nelson dared to dream of being among the top runners competing in the Olympic Games.

“As a young kid, I knew that I did want to step outside of East St. Louis and see what I was made of, and compare myself to the rest of the world,” Harper Nelson told host Don Marsh on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air. In her Olympic career, she became a gold and silver medalist.

Conductor Philip Barnes (left) and composer Ēriks Ešenvalds talked about their musical collaboration for the St. Louis Chamber Chorus' "States of Being" season.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Chamber Chorus (SLCC) opens its 2018-2019 season, “States of Being,” with the world premiere of “On Friendship” by Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds. It was commissioned by the St. Louis Chamber Chorus with a gift from Nancy Kranzberg and Alison Ferring in honor of former SLCC member Alice Sherwood.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Ešenvalds joined host Don Marsh, alongside SLCC’s artistic director Philip Barnes, to talk about his work set to words from “The Prophet” by poet Khalil Gibran.

St. Louis Public Radio education reporter Ryan Delaney joined Friday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh went behind the headlines to talk with St. Louis Public Radio education reporter Ryan Delaney about charter schools in the St. Louis area.

The conversation is a follow up to last week’s segment on how charter schools in the area became successful. And while some thrive, others struggle.

Wesley Bell, who defeated the longtime St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch, addresses an exuberant crowd at La Mexicana in St. Ann on August 8, 2018.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the “Beyond the Ballot” project with St. Louis Public Radio reporter Ashley Lisenby and Harvest Public Media editor Erica Hunzinger.

The project is a collaborative effort among Missouri public radio stations KBIA, KCUR, KSMU and St. Louis Public Radio, and it explores Missouri voters’ aspirations for November's midterm elections.

Mark Sutherland and Thomas Richardson are two local Scots who were involved in organizing the upcoming St. Louis Scottish Games & Culture Festival.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The sound of bagpipes playing and the smell of haggis will fill the air in Chesterfield this weekend as the St. Louis Scottish Games & Culture Festival will convene for its 15th annual event.

Since the 1700s, Scots settled across the United States, and pockets of Scottish communities can be found in Missouri, such as the Ozarks. Thomas Richardson, communications director for the Scottish St. Andrew Society of Greater STL, estimates that around half a million people that claim Scottish heritage in their lineage reside in the state.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh spoke with two of them: Richardson and Mark Sutherland, a board member for the St. Louis Scottish Games. Both men have been involved in the organization of the event.

Julie Smith (left) and Marialice Curran (right) encourage adults to embrace social media and help children process what they are consuming.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

More parents and educators are pushing to involve children in media literacy discussions to encourage “humanizing the screen,” Marialice Curran, founder and executive director of the Digital Citizenship Institute, told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh.

On Friday’s program, Curran joined Julie Smith, media and communications instructor at Webster University, to discuss how adults can use social media and online information to help children better connect to the world, develop authentic relationships and model acceptable behavior.

Actors Sean MacLaughlin (left) and Michelle Aravena (right) portray characters Juan Perón and Eva Perón.
Eric Woolsey

Eva Perón, also known as Evita, was a first lady of Argentina and radio host adored by the “common man,” later becoming a cultural icon in her country. Controversial for using her power and fame to champion women’s and workers’ rights, she often broke norms.

She was the first woman in Argentina's history, for example, to appear in public on the campaign trail with her husband.

She was so loved by many that her body mysteriously went missing for 17 years after her death. The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’ current musical production, “Evita,” portrays her life on stage.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the play with Steve Woolf, Augustin Family Artistic Director of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and actor Pepe Nufrio, who plays the Che character in “Evita." 

(L-R) Engin Blackstone, Christie Huck and Stella Erondu are leaders of St. Louis area charter schools. They joined St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh to talk about the success of their schools in the region.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

For students in underserved school districts, charter schools can prove to be an important educational option. Some charter schools fail, but others thrive.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with leaders of three St. Louis charter schools about how they have sought to achieve success and what charter schools have to offer local communities.

George Christie talked about his life as the former leader of the notorious motorcycle club, Hells Angels.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

As a young boy in the ‘50s, George Christie remembers being in awe when he first saw a motorcyclist coming through town on a decorated Harley Davidson wearing a Levi vest with the sleeves cut off.

“That just stuck in my mind,” Christie described to St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Friday’s program, “… [Someone] talking to my father became so upset [at the motorcyclist] and I thought, ‘gee, this is a pretty powerful position [the motorcyclist] is in and he’s not even paying attention to anybody, he’s just minding his business.’”

Christie later went on to become a leader of the notorious Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and remained dedicated up until one day in 2011, when he left the gang after deciding that he would not partake in the many fights the gang was involved with.

St. Louis Public Radio contributor John Larson (left) talks to local poet Aaron Coleman about the use of poetry and Coleman's book "Threat Come Close."
John Larson | St. Louis Public Radio

Fulbright scholar and Cave Canem fellow Aaron Coleman writes, teaches and translates poetry. Fascinated with what words can do, he cites hip-hop as his “first love” that formed his passion for poetry.

“[Rap] was a great way to get invested in rhythm and sound and improvisation,” he said. “But it was really just the first step, I think, in starting to get more serious about the potential of poetry and letting it be something that lives fully on the page and then also fully in sound.”

Stacie Lents, Rachel Tibbetts and Christopher Limber talk about artistic approaches to rehabilitation for incarcerated women.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

A creative collaboration between a nationally known playwright and a group of women incarcerated in Vandalia, Missouri, is bringing new voices and stories to St. Louis theater-goers with the production “Run-On Sentence.”

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the initiative, which is a partnership between Prison Performing Arts and the award-winning SATE Ensemble.

The effort aims to move and entertain audiences and extend public awareness, particularly about the effects of incarceration and innovative, artistic approaches to rehabilitation.

On Wednesday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” international journalist and St. Louis native Daniel Estrin (at left) talked with host Don Marsh in front of a live audience at St. Louis Public Radio.
Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

Like other journalists based in Jerusalem and the region surrounding the ancient city, Daniel Estrin is often associated with one overarching, ongoing news headline: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He’s covered many of the latest developments within that continuing story during his time reporting in the Middle East. But there have been many other stories for him to tell over the course of that decade, too.

“Every day surprises me there,” the NPR correspondent and St. Louis native said Wednesday on St. Louis on the Air. “You meet so many different voices and so many different perspectives … and oftentimes you’ll hear, ‘The Israelis think this, the Palestinians think that.’ But actually there are so many different perspectives among Palestinians. There are so many different perspectives among Israelis. And that’s the kind of texture that I like to bring out in my reporting.”

Benjamin Ola Akande talked about his new task to bring Washington University's various research and projects in Africa under one umbrella.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

In April, Washington University appointed Nigerian-born Benjamin Ola Akande as senior adviser to the chancellor and director of the Africa initiative. He has been tasked with bringing the university’s various research and projects in Africa under one umbrella.

Anne Geraghty-Rathert talked about the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple on religious grounds.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

On June 4, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple on religious grounds.

For Friday’s Behind the Headlines, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh talked to Webster University legal studies professor Anne Geraghty-Rathert about the implications of that decision and what it may or may not mean for the rights of same-sex couples.

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