Maria Altman

Reporter

Maria is a reporter at St. Louis Public Radio, specializing in business and economic issues. Previously, she was a newscaster during All Things Considered and has been with the station since 2004. Maria's stories have been featured nationally on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition, as well as on Marketplace.

Maria has won numerous awards, including from the Illinois Associated Press, the Missouri Broadcasters Association, the Missouri Bar Association, and the Missouri State Teachers Association.

She came to St. Louis from Dallas, where she worked at KERA. Maria has also worked at WUIS in Springfield, and WSIU in Carbondale, Ill. She received her M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting at the University of Illinois-Springfield and a B.A. in journalism from the University of Iowa.

In her spare time she serves as an adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Maria lives in St. Louis with her husband and two kids.

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Fairmount race days
5:16 pm
Tue September 27, 2011

Fairmount gets 67 racing days

Horses speed around the track at Fairmount Park Racetrack during a summertime race in 2011.
(Robert Altman)

Fairmount Park Racetrack in the Metro East is getting 67 race days next year.

The Illinois Racing Board approved the race dates Tuesday.

This year Fairmount was awarded 75 days and raced 69.

But both the track and horsemen say they’re happy with next year’s 67-day schedule, which they requested.

Fairmount will be offering bigger purses for winner horses next year, and spokesman Jon Sloane says that’s good for the track.

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Morning round-up
9:30 am
Wed September 21, 2011

Morning headlines: Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The United Auto Workers announced Tuesday, Sept. 20 that GM plans to invest $380 million and bring more than 1,800 jobs to its Wentzville plant.
Flickr/GoTRISI

Wentzville Mayor: news couldn't be better

The United Auto Workers announced Tuesday that GM plans to invest $380 million and bring more than 1,800 jobs to its Wentzville plant as part of a proposed contract with the union.

Mayor Paul Lambi says he's hoping the union will ratify the contract on Monday.

"The announcement made by the UAW seems to be a positive indication that contract negotiations went well," said Lambi. " And it seems to me that I would expect that contract to be approved and ratified."

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Illinois Gambling / Horse Racing
4:17 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Language of law keeping money from Ill. horse racing industry

Horses speed around the track at Fairmount Park Racetrack in Collinsville, Ill.
(Robert Altman)

$2.6 million dollars is waiting to be distributed to Illinois’ horse racing industry but the law’s wording is keeping that from happening.

More than a decade ago Illinois legislators promised horse tracks 15 percent of the tenth casino’s gross revenue receipts.

That license was caught up in the courts for years.

Finally a new owner opened the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines in July, yet the portion slated for horse racing remains in the state’s Gaming Fund.

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Trade Law / Claire McCaskill
4:58 pm
Mon August 29, 2011

McCaskill to introduce trade law enforcement legislation

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Senator Claire McCaskill says after a month of traveling to Missouri businesses she’ll introduce legislation to better enforce U.S. trade laws.

The Democrat says too many foreign companies are engaging in unfair trading practices, such as mislabeling products to avoid paying duties.

McCaskill says her bill will require all importers to have a physical address to ensure easier tracking and new shippers will be required to pay cash for duties instead of posting bonds that sometimes go unpaid.

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Joplin Tornado /FEMA
11:20 am
Mon August 29, 2011

McCaskill: funding for Joplin not in jeopardy

The view of some of the damage following the strike from a massive tornado to the area on May 22.
(via Flickr/Meagan)

Updated at 3:47 p.m. following a press conference with McCaskill

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says federal funding for Joplin is not in jeopardy.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said last week that funding for some long-term projects in the tornado-ravaged town would be put on hold because of Hurricane Irene.

McCaskill said she was worried initially (see earlier story below) but says she got a better explanation over the weekend.

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Employment rate of Young People
3:30 pm
Fri August 26, 2011

The employment rate of the young is at an all-time low, but why?

(via Flickr/srqpix)

This summer, fewer young people in the U.S. are employed than at any time since the government began keeping track.

On Wednesday the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report that found just 48.8 percent of 16-to-24-year-olds had jobs in July.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman spoke with Michael Saltsman, a research fellow at the Employment Policies Institute, about what the numbers mean.

Business
5:45 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Wehrenberg Theatres has new zero tolerance policy for cell phones

(via Flickr/number657)

Officials with Wehrenberg Theatres say when the announcement was made Friday some movie goers actually applauded.

The St. Charles-based company says as cell phone screens have gotten bigger, they’ve gotten more complaints.

Instead of blocking phone signals as some movie chains have done, Wehrenberg is asking patrons to put their phones on vibrate.

If they’re caught talking or texting, they’ll be asked to leave without a refund.

Spokeswoman Kelly Hoskins says they’re stepping up monitoring, and so are other movie goers.

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Education / Charter Schools in St. Louis
6:35 am
Fri August 12, 2011

The Charter School Choice: who holds charter schools accountable?

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay speaks at a July press conference celebrating new charter Better Learning Communities Academy. Alderman Freeman Bosley, Sr., on the left, with soon-to-be Kindergartener Carl Walker is on the right.
(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

There are 20 charter schools in the city of St. Louis, and when classes start Monday, four more will open their doors.

Charters get public funding, but they have more autonomy from the state.

The free schools are a draw for parents who want to avoid the unaccredited St. Louis Public Schools system.

But some charters are performing far below state standards.

And as St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman reports in the second of a two-part series, no one is holding them accountable.

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Education / Charter Schools in St. Louis
6:35 am
Thu August 11, 2011

The Charter School Choice: the effect on St. Louis Public Schools

South City Prep is one of four new charters opening in St. Louis on Monday. It will open to fifth and sixth graders this year. It will eventually serve students through senior high.
(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

Classes begin Monday in the St. Louis Public School District.

But four new charter schools also will be opening their doors.

Charters receive public funding but have more freedom with their budgets, staff, and curriculum than traditional public schools.

Many parents in St. Louis welcome the charter alternative and more than a quarter of the city’s students attend charter schools.

As part of a two-part series on charters, St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman looks at how that trend is affecting the city’s public school district.

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Battle of Wilson's Creek
6:35 am
Wed August 10, 2011

The Battle of Wilson's Creek: remembering the 150th anniversary

A cannon stands on what is now Wilson's Creek National Battlefield. The area was, 150 years ago on Aug. 10, the site of the Battle of Wilson's Creek.
(via Flickr/Jo Naylor)

"It's not the large, organized, and, later in the war, the drafted armies that you see on the East Coast. This is very personal. You know, you better know who your neighbor is, and where their sympathies lie, or they're going to be turning you in, so to speak."

- Connie Langum, National Park historian on the nature of Civil War battles in Missouri

Today marks the 150-year anniversary of the Battle of Wilson's Creek near Springfield, Mo.

It was the second major battle of the Civil War, after Bull Run, and the first major battle to take place west of the Mississippi River.

About 2,500 men died or were wounded at the site, which is now known as Wilson's Creek National Battlefield.

St. Louis Public Radio's Maria Altman spoke with National Park historian Connie Langum about what happened on that day a century and a half ago, and how it will be remembered this week.

Listen to their conversation above.

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