Margaret Wolf Freivogel


Margaret Wolf Freivogel is the editor of St. Louis Public Radio. She was the founding editor of the St. Louis Beacon, a nonprofit news organization, from 2008 to 2013. A St. Louis native, Margie previously worked for 34 years at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a reporter, Washington correspondent and assistant managing editor. She has received numerous awards for reporting as well as a lifetime achievement award from the St. Louis Press Club and the Missouri Medal of Honor from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She is a past board member of the Investigative News Network and a past president of Journalism and Women Symposium. Margie graduated from Kirkwood High School and Stanford University. She is married to William H. Freivogel. They have four grown children and seven grandchildren. Margie enjoys rowing and is a fan of chamber music.

Ways to Connect

In this 2011 photo taken in Harlem, Maya Angelou is seated and Eugene Redmond is at her right.
Ros Crenshaw

St. Louisans may have felt some civic pride this week in noting that Maya Angelou was born here. But you have to wonder whether her brilliance and strength developed because of her St. Louis experiences or in spite of them. Perhaps both.

Obituaries recounted that the renowned author split her childhood between St. Louis and Arkansas after age 3, when her parents divorced. The rape she wrote about in "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" happened here. Segregation was an ugly fact of life in both places. Yet so were family resilience and ambition.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

The Missouri legislative session’s finale played out this week with members in their usual swivet of last-minute activity and suspense. Watching the action in the closing days is like watching the cap dance at a Cardinals’ game — blink and you lose track of what’s going on.

Robert Joiner, St. Louis Public Radio’s health reporter, is not the kind of person who calls attention to himself. At staff meetings, he speaks sparingly. He chooses words carefully.

It’s worth paying attention to what he thinks.


Nixon impeachment hearings began this week.

Not THAT Nixon. Not President Richard Milhous, who resigned 40 years ago this August rather than face House votes on three articles of impeachment. This time, the Nixon under discussion is Gov. Jeremiah Wilson “Jay,” who remains very much in power as a Missouri House committee begins consideration of three articles of impeachment against him.

Beyond the jolt of déjà vu you might get from the headline, there’s little to connect the political drama of 1973-74 and the political theater playing out now.

Frazier Glenn Cross once headed a North Carolina Klan organization.
Wikipedia | archival photo

The national news brought poignant remembrances of the Boston Marathon this week. Close to home, the news brought fresh, stark examples of the best and worst in human nature.

Sean Sandefur/St. Louis Public Radio.

State Rep. Rory Ellinger's colleagues paid tribute to him last week with quick passage and ceremonial signing of his bill to help breast-feeding mothers. The gesture more than the bill itself symbolizes Rory's legacy as a public servant.

Somehow, despite extreme polarization and a rightward turn in Missouri politics, one of Missouri's most liberal legislators has earned both respect and genuine affection from colleagues of all ideological stripes.

How did this happen?

A piece of tin enameled ceramic from the colonial period found in the archeological dig below site below the Poplar Street Bridge. It is likely a Spanish ceramic of polychrome majolica.
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio intern

News is usually, well, new. But some of our most interesting stories recently have focused on things that are old – really old.

This week, Alex Heuer reported that construction under the Poplar Street Bridge has unearthed remnants of one of St. Louis’ original French houses – something historians never expected to find. Shards of pottery are a clue that the city’s residents may have been more prosperous than previously thought.

fakhar |

A welcome debate has unfolded recently over lack of diversity among digital news organizations — welcome because it raises important questions about whether media in the future will serve the public better than media did in the past.

An empty desk
Bubbles |

No matter how good schools are, you can’t learn if you’re not there. That simple truth — and its far-reaching implications — are the focus of Accounted For, a St. Louis Public Radio special project that began this week.

St. Louisan Big George Brock has performed at past Bluesweek festivals.
File Photo | Bluesweek

Interesting how the debate over mega-music festivals downtown has revealed the St. Louis region’s fault lines.

Some of the combined staff of St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon
Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

OK, we know you hate it when you turn on the radio expecting to hear Morning Edition or Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me and instead you hear us asking for money. Again? Still?

So why do we do it? Here's the story.

Chapter One: The Reign of Commercial News

An empty desk
Bubbles |

While St. Louisans celebrated our past this week, the news held hints of our future.  Most significant was a proposal from state education officials to revamp how they deal with troubled districts.

Long term, the proposal would allow state officials to intervene early and with a range of approaches. Short term, the state board took financial control of the Normandy schools – a move that caught district officials by surprise.

Wikipedia | Radagast3

In the digital world, finding information is easy. Open your email, Twitter or Facebook account, and it will find you. Search and you'll be flooded with content algorithmically judged important to your life – much of it sponsored by those who want to sell you something.


What kind of news organization are you? That question has been on my mind recently as our newly merged newsroom finds its rhythm and as other news organizations rise and fall around us. It might be on your mind, too, as you face the daily challenge of sifting valuable information from a deluge of  chatter.

Until a few years ago, the answer was simple. A news organization was defined by its means of communication -- as a radio or television station, a newspaper or magazine.

via Flickr/Nottingham Vet School

Chris McDaniel this week continued his string of significant reports on Missouri’s execution procedure. With painstaking work over several months, Chris and Veronique LaCapra have managed to develop a clear picture of a procedure that officials would rather keep secret. Among the key points they have reported:

The latest chapter of Power Players – Jason Rosenbaum's periodic watchdog report on political fundraising in Missouri – shows that Democrats topped Republicans in collecting big donations in 2013. But Rex Sinquefield was the state's most prolific donor. Again.

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Two topics dominated St. Louisans' news this week -- unusual cold and snow returned to our region and Missouri legislators returned to Jefferson City.

It would be snarky to ask which poses the greater threat to public welfare. Yet as the bad weather rolled out and the legislators rolled in, I couldn't help but notice certain parallels in the way we think about these natural and political phenomena.

(via Wikimedia Commons/Noahudlis)

Missouri's new execution drug continues to spark controversy -- or, to be more precise, several controversies. The death penalty raises ethical, legal and practical questions. And this situation raises another overarching issue as well -- government secrecy.

children studying
laura00 |

Students are counting the days until winter break, but there's no break in sight in the controversies over school quality and student transfers.

In recent days, education reporters Tim Lloyd and Dale Singer took the lead in covering developments for the newly combined news operations of St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon. Their work was a good example of how we can serve you better together.

Margaret Wolf Freivogel
Beacon File Photo

Monday, St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Beacon merged. This milestone marks the end of more than a year of effort. But in a sense, we've just broken ground for the news organization we intend to build.

Its foundation is constructed from solid principles. We believe that facts matter. We believe that fairness matters. We believe that if we pay attention to facts and fairness, then our work will matter to you and the future of our region.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Dear Beaconites,

Today, we celebrate the merger of the Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio. Our new organization will serve our fellow St. Louisans with facts and fairness. We'll not only report what happens but also explore why, so what and what's next. We believe our work can help light the way to a better region.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Dear Beaconites -

Sometimes the news generates more questions than answers. That was certainly the case when the Ferguson-Florissant school board put superintendent Art McCoy on paid leave. The board cited philosophical differences but has not been very specific about what they are.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Dear Beaconites -

Equality and inequality came into sharp focus in the news this week.

In Illinois, same sex couples won marriage equality. While the symbolic significance is sizable, the legal impact is unclear. Illinois already recognizes civil unions, and the federal government already is adjusting its regulations in light of the Supreme Court ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Dear Beaconites --

One paradox of the digital age is that we are simultaneously drowning in information and thirsty for knowledge. When anybody can publish anything and reach everyone, then all of us are inundated all the time with a lot of nothing. Finding what's trustworthy and meaningful is a constant challenge.

The article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon:  Dear Beaconites -

News organizations usually cover what's happening. But sometimes what's not happening is just as interesting. This week, the Beacon paid attention to three dogs that didn't bark.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Dear Beaconites --

The nation spent most of the week in a self-generated tailspin before Congress got its act together Wednesday to reopen the government and avoid default. In Cardinal Nation, life was better as the team headed home with a 3-2 lead. It's no wonder many St. Louisans prefer the alternate reality of sports to the reality of politics.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Dear Beaconites –

Watching developments this week, it seemed that Paul McKee's NorthSide Regeneration project passed over some invisible continental divide in support and is now on the downhill slope toward actually happening.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Dear Beaconites -

With the federal government shutting down this week, Americans across the political spectrum seem united in disgust at the way our government is – or isn't – functioning. We deserve better, citizens seem to agree – though they disagree on what better looks like.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Dear Beaconites --

After more than a year of planning together, St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Beacon are in the final stages of moving toward a merger. Approval could come as soon as November. That's when the University of Missouri Board of Curators, the governing body for the radio station, expects to take up the matter.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Dear Beaconites -

This week, the Beacon was pleased to learn that we've again been chosen as a finalist for the Online News Association's General Excellence award. ONA is the world's largest organization of its kind, including media of many types and sizes, so its awards carry some heft. This is the fourth time the Beacon has been named a finalist — not bad considering that we're only five years old.