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.

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Host Don Marsh (left) and author Jon Meacham talked about Meacham's latest book, "Soul of America" at the St. Louis Public Library on May 25.
Kara Smith/St. Louis County Library

“American history is defined by the phrase ‘and yet …,’” author and historian Jon Meacham told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh May 25, before an audience of 900 people at the St. Louis County Library.

“We promised equality to all, and yet, we didn’t extend it to all,” Meacham said, citing other examples of former presidential actions that they later contradicted. His latest book, “The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels,” compares and contrasts today’s political climate to historical events.

Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

“Bitten by radioactive bagpipes” 10 years ago, the Wee Heavies are a local, mostly a cappella group dedicated to performing Celtic music. Band members Jay Harkey, Peter Merideth, Steve Neale and Aaron Schiltz joined St. Louis Public Radio contributor Charlie McDonald for a conversation on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Tonight, Eric Greitens will step down as Missouri governor, with Lt. Gov. Mike Parson replacing him. In exchange for his resignation, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner agreed to drop Greitens’ tampering charges.

(L to R) Legal experts Bill Freivogel, Michael Wolff and Mark Smith discussed the legal implications of Gov. Greitens' resignation.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the political and legal fallout surrounding Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' resignation.

Joining him was St. Louis Public Radio statehouse reporter Marshall Griffin and several legal experts.

Along with the Greitens saga, the legal panel also touched on several other current issues pertaining to the law.

On the panel:

Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The modern two-party system has dominated U.S. politics for decades – but it’s also led to deep-seated divisions among American voters. Mickey Edwards, former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma, said political parties are “undemocratic,” citing the American Founding Fathers’ warnings about the rupture political parties can cause among U.S. citizens.

“George Washington’s farewell address said, ‘don’t create political parties.’ He begged us not to create political parties. The founder James Madison said that; James Monroe said that, and we did it – and now we’re paying the price for it,” Edwards said.

Edwards, vice president of the Aspen Institute, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Tuesday for a conversation on the structure and function of political parties and party leadership. Also joining the discussion were St. Louis 8th Ward alderwoman Annie Rice and Wally Siewert, director of civic engagement at FOCUS St. Louis.

John Ellis of Belleville is profiled in WBEZ's report on  inadequate housing options for prisoners with disabilities in Illinois.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

A report by Chicago public radio station WBEZ recently revealed how the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) keeps prisoners with disabilities in prison beyond their release date.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with WBEZ criminal justice reporter Shannon Heffernan about how the state of Illinois regularly keeps prisoners with disabilities because of inadequate options for housing.

Provided | St. Louis Science Center

This Memorial Day weekend, the St. Louis Science Center's Omnimax theater will be screening a film that gives audience members a close-up look at one of the most important weapons in America’s military arsenal – nuclear powered aircraft carriers.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with writer, director and producer Mark Krenzien about the IMAX film “Aircraft Carrier: Guardian of the Seas,” which takes place on the heavily restricted USS Ronald Reagan.

(L-R) Nisar Syed-Power, Mojda Sidiqi and Faizan Syed talked about their observation of the holy month of Ramadan.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

For the month of Ramadan, Muslims in St. Louis and across the world are counting down the days left of the holy month marked by daily fasting, increased religious observance and self-reflection.

But also added in the practice is refraining from smoking, bad behavior, such as cursing, gossiping or fighting, and impure thoughts. It’s a time for people to reflect on their habits and rekindle a practicing relationship with God, as well as build self-discipline.

(L-R) Rodrick Burton, Marylen Mann and Paul Weiss talked about how to meet the needs of aging Americans.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The month of May is designated as Older Americans Month. It also marks the 36th anniversary of the founding of the Oasis Institute – a local organization that aims to meet the needs of aging Americans and keep them engaged by offering learning programs, health education and volunteer opportunities.

Marylen Mann founded the organization that serves older adults aged 50 and older. But she said “aging is just a state of mind.”

St. Louis Public Radio's newsroom drone.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio data and visual journalist Brent Jones joined host Don Marsh to talk about how the station is using a drone to enhance news coverage.

“For journalists, we like to think of [drones] as tools because we can use them to help tell the story in the best way that we know to tell it,” Jones said.

Gage Skidmore | Flickr

In the aftermath of the media frenzy following his appearance at the 2016 presidential debate at Washington University, Ken Bone, a.k.a the “red sweater guy,” has managed to have more than his so-called 15 minutes of fame.

As an undecided voter, Bone asked candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump a question about energy policy, but it was his appearance and red sweater that caught the nation’s attention.

Wade Rakes (left) and Colleen Starkloff (right) talked about efforts designed to inspire high school students with disabilities to explore vast career options.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

In its efforts to “make the world a better place for disabled people,” the Starkloff Disability Institute is organizing a summer camp designed to inspire high school students with disabilities to explore vast career options, Colleen Starkloff, co-founder of the organization, said.

She joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Wednesday to talk about the organization’s upcoming program, Dream Big Career Camp. Wade Rakes, chief diversity and inclusion officer at Centene Corporation also joined the conversation to talk about how companies are partnering in the effort.

Dozens of Palestinians and supporters, including Hadeel Salameh, marched in downtown St. Louis to commemorate Nakba Day.  May 15, 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A planned local observance of Nakba, the day Palestinians commemorate their displacement following Israel’s establishment in 1948 and the Arabic word for "catastrophe," took on greater significance for a group of St. Louis activists and business owners Tuesday.

River Styx editor Jason Lee Brown (at left) and writer Adrian Todd Zuniga discussed the magazine’s 2018 Literary Feast on Friday’s show
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

River Styx, St. Louis’ oldest literary magazine, will release its 100th issue this summer. And while that’s a big milestone on its own, the 43-year-old organization has lots to celebrate even beyond the long existence of the biannual publication itself.

That’s according to River Styx’s new editor, Jason Lee Brown, who took the reins back in November.

Susan McGraugh talked to "St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh about the process of jury selection.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Jury selection is underway in the felony invasion of privacy trial of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. There are currently 160 prospective jurors, who will be questioned until the first day of trial, which is scheduled for Monday.

Susan McGraugh, professor of law and supervisor of the Criminal Defense Clinic at Saint Louis University, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to talk about the voire dire process, which began Thursday.

(L-R) Helene Meyer, Collins Lewis and Dianne Morris talk about how theater helps address mental health stigmas.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Slaying Dragons theatrical troupe uses dramas to remove the stigma of mental and emotional illness. Aiming to “give mental health a stage,” the local group puts on productions with the purpose of helping audiences better understand mental health issues.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about Slaying Dragons’ upcoming production, "My River, My Valley," with Helene Meyer, actress and artistic director of Slaying Dragons, actress Dianne Morris and Collins Lewis, board member of Slaying Dragons and associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Washington University.

Carrie Houk (left) and Henry Palkes (right) talked about the  third annual Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The third annual Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis gets underway later this week in honor of a legendary American playwright, poet and artist who spent many formative years in the Gateway City.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed some of the highlights of this year’s lineup in celebration of Williams.

Tanzina Vega is the new host of "The Takeaway."
Matthew Septimus

From diversity to elitism, Tanzina Vega’s journalism career has previously taken aim at the intersection of race and class. The journalist is now the host of WYNC and PRI’s “The Takeaway,” a public radio news show heard on St. Louis Public Radio from 11 a.m. to noon.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Vega about her team’s vision for “The Takeaway.” In addition to hosting the show, Vega will be involved in its editorial direction.

Farmers cheese, olives, pepper, za'atar and olive oil dip with bread from The Benevolent King.
Greg Rannells | Sauce Magazine

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with our partners from Sauce Magazine about the best new restaurants to try during the month of May.

Joining him for the discussion were Heather Hughes and Meera Nagarajan, managing editor and art director, respectively.

Producer's note: Chamber Music Society of St. Louis executive director Marc Gordon announced on May 4 that Leonard Slatkin had to cancel his May 21 appearance due to unexpected heart bypass surgery. On May 8 Gordon reported the surgery was successful and Slatkin is expected to make a full recovery. However, since Slatkin is such an integral part of the Gala program, it has been postponed until the Fall when he can participate. Those who hold tickets for the original May 21 date are invited to a free concert. 

When Leonard Slatkin left his position as music director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in 1996, he still retained many ties to the city he had called home for more than two decades. In his role as conductor laureate he has returned regularly to conduct the symphony.

He also serves as a board member of the Chamber Music Society of St. Louis, has appeared on several of its programs and has advised the organization on educational activities.

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