Audio Features | St. Louis Public Radio

Audio Features

Feature-length audio news reports from St. Louis Public Radio reporters.

Clayton resident Stacey Smith and her Olympic ice dance partner John Summers. The two finished ninth at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.
Stacey Smith

Stacey Smith is an Olympian.

The former figure skater competed for the U.S. at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. 

As the ice dance competition wraps up at the Winter Olympics in South Korea, the Clayton resident is watching with a mix of pride, patriotism and accomplishment.

Smith recently spoke with St. Louis Public Radio about how she started in the sport, her memories of Lake Placid and the importance of embracing St. Louis' Olympic legacy.

RISE Community Development's Stephen Acree stands in one of his organization's apartments in Forest Park Southeast. His group used low-income housing and historic tax credits to redevelop a slew of buildings in the central corridor neighborhood.
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

A question and answer panel with four Republican statewide officials was meant to showcase the party’s unprecedented consolidation of power within Missouri’s government. Instead, the Lincoln Days event pointed to a major policy division among the GOP.

That’s because Gov. Eric Greitens touted how he engineered a halt to state low-income housing tax credits in late December. He called the incentive a “scam” that had been “ripping off” Missourians for years, and received a round of applause from the audience when mentioning how he “zeroed out” the program.

Ty'Chila Thomas answers trivia questions during a L.O.V.E Project session at Lafayette High School in Wildwood. Feb. 14, 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For three years Shante Duncan has facilitated The L.O.V.E. Project with freshman girls at Lafayette High School in Wildwood. She talks to the girls about school and anything else they want to share about their personal lives.

This month, Duncan centered the session around important African-American females, from Ida B. Wells to Henrietta Lacks, a black woman whose cervical cancer cells advanced medical research.

Families take photos next to a Black Panther banner at the St. Louis Science Center First Friday event dedicated to Black Panther on Feb. 2., 2018
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Welcome to Wakanda, the technologically advanced fictional nation that is the setting for an upcoming superhero, blockbuster film.

If you are not sure where that is, try asking the thousands of people who pre-ordered tickets to “Black Panther,” the film with the most first-day presales in history.

HCI Alternatives in Collinsville is one of 53 medical cannabis dispensaries licensed by the State of Illinois
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Regulators and dispensary operators are taking stock of medical marijuana in Illinois as the state's program hits the two-year mark. The Illinois Department of Public Health says it has approved approximately 31,500 patients for the program, compared to more than 36,000 who have completed the application process. It has also approved more than 50 dispensaries throughout the state, including HCI Alternatives in Collinsville.

The West Lake Landfill, seen from St. Charles Rock Road in Bridgeton.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Feb. 11 with story audio and additional details on EPA rationale for cleanup plan  The Environmental Protection Agency has released the full details of its proposal to remove radioactive waste from the West Lake Landfill. The agency will make a final decision after a public comment period.

Gov. Eric Greitens delivers the 2018 State of the State address in Jefferson City.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

Gov. Eric Greitens talks often about growing jobs in Missouri.

It was one of the major themes in the Republican governor’s State of the State address last month. He told members of the state House and Senate that he would continue to focus on several areas to create jobs:

“Making sure that we have the right laws on the books to be fair to family businesses, and making strategic investments in education, infrastructure, and workforce development,” Greitens said.

Yet just a few days later, the governor proposed a roughly $68 million reduction for public colleges and universities. The suggested cuts to higher education for the second year in a row drew criticism almost immediately, including from Greiten’s own party.

This album was recorded live at Club Imperial in 1965.
George Edick

When George Edick Jr. was in elementary school, he received a present he’ll never forget: a guitar from Ike Turner.

Edick grew up in the 1950s around musicians like Turner who played at his father’s Club Imperial, 6306-28 West Florissant Ave., in the Walnut Park West neighborhood in northwest St. Louis.

The run-down building escaped the wrecking ball last month after the St. Louis Preservation Board voted to save it.

Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley and Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill
Durrie Bouscaren & Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

For U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, the political question may well be whether lightning can strike twice.

In Missouri, 2012 was shaping up to be a strong Republican election year when the party’s U.S. Senate nominee, Todd Akin, went on St. Louis TV station Fox2 and offered up his opinion regarding why an abortion ban wouldn’t affect rape victims:

“If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has  ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” 
Now, some in both parties wonder if a replay is looming.

Kirkwood City Hall was the scene of fatal shootings on Feb. 7, 2008.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Ten years after Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton opened fire at Kirkwood City Hall, some residents hope the city is learning to empathize with the experiences of non-white people and encourage understanding across racial and socioeconomic lines.

Thornton shot and killed five people and wounded others at Kirkwood City Hall on Feb. 7, 2008. Two police officers and two council members were among those killed. Police killed Thornton at the scene.

Lights illuminate the commemorative plaques that line a memorial walkway near Kirkwood City Hall. The plaques honor those killed at City Hall 10 years ago. Feb. 6, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The choir will sing soothing words of hope when the community gathers Wednesday evening at Kirkwood United Methodist Church for a prayer service marking the 10th anniversary of a tragedy that time has not yet tempered.

“Peace fall like a gentle snow ... Fall fresh on the wounded heart ... Come blanket our every fear and let the healing start ...”

The church commissioned “Canticle of Peace’’ by Joseph M. Martin in 2009 and dedicated it to a community still healing from the City Hall shootings. On Feb. 7, 2008, Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton, armed with two handguns and a festering grudge against city officials, fatally shot two council members, the director of public works and two police officers before being shot and killed by responding police officers.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden poses for a portrait in his office at police headquarters on Olive Street.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

2017 was a violent year in the St. Louis region. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department handled 205 homicides. St. Louis County detectives investigated 55 more.

Getting the 2018 numbers down is a priority for law enforcement at all levels, and the team leading that effort looks much different than it did last year.

Residents who live near West Lake Landfill gathered at John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Bridgeton after the EPA announced its remediation plan. (Feb 1, 2018)
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

When the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced its plan to remove much of the radioactive waste from the West Lake Landfill, some activists and residents celebrated.

But many residents expressed frustration and disappointment that only some of the waste would be removed before the site is covered. They said they’re still concerned about groundwater contamination, which might not be prevented by a partial removal, and worried that they might not be able to move away if the government doesn’t come up with a buyout plan. Some still don’t trust that the EPA can deliver on its promises.

Erise Williams, wearing a gray and white striped shirt, stands by the window, talking with guests at Rustin's Place, a drop-in center  serving mostly young, black, gay men. January 2018
Erise Williams

Black History Month is a time to spotlight African-Americans who made a difference. But many people don’t know that prominent African-Americans were part of the LGBTQ community.

Among them was Bayard Rustin, an openly gay black man who worked side-by-side with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The civil rights strategist who died in 1987 is honored every day at a little storefront in St. Louis’ Vandeventer neighborhood, called Rustin’s Place. It’s a drop-in center that largely serves LGBTQ people, particularly gay African-American men.

Charles Robinson, right, a deputy juvenile officer in the St. Louis Family Court's truancy unit, leaves Roosevelt  High School with a student in his caseload who got into a fight and was suspended.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Charles Robinson’s morning is already upended.

With a rap on the wooden door of his small office, he learns the mother of a child in his caseload overdosed on drugs the night before.

He had planned to do home visits with a middle school social worker. With a few deep breaths, Robinson collects himself. Then moments later, a phone call interrupts again.

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said it's not a sure thing that Gov. Eric Greitens' nominees to the Board of Education will get a committee hearing.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and Republican lawmakers are angling for tax cuts during this year’s legislative session. It’s a policy push that the GOP officials believe will make the state more attractive to businesses and potential residents.

But with the state facing yet another tough budgetary year, members of both parties worry that cutting taxes will deprive Missouri of revenue needed to fund basic state services. Some fear that Missouri is marching in the same direction as Kansas, where tax cuts have been criticized for hurting the state.

Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, resigned his seat in the Missouri Senate in January to fill a vacancy on the Public Service Commission.
Courtesy of Silvey's Facebook page

Ryan Silvey began 2018 as the state senator for most of Clay County in the Kansas City metro area. On the second day of this year’s legislative session he resigned his seat in the Senate in order to accept an appointment to the Missouri Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities.

And his new job comes courtesy of someone he’s often criticized, fellow Republican and governor, Eric Greitens.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin talked with Silvey about why he made the switch and how his new job is going:

A Buddeez factory worker removes a plastic bin from the conveyor belt. Plastic bins are one of the many products Buddeez manufactures. (Jan 12 2018)
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri company is benefiting big from Walmart’s effort to boost manufacturing in the United States.

Buddeez Inc., which makes milk crates, plastic storage bins and other products for Walmart and other retailers in Union, is in the midst of an expansion. Its growth is part of Walmart’s 10-year initiative to invest $250 billion in each of the 50 states.

With elections looming, tensions continue between the St. Louis County Council and County Executive Stenger
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

To some of his critics, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s strained relations with many members of the County Council is payback.

During his last years as the 6th District councilman, it wasn’t unusual for Stenger to publicly joust with then-Executive Charlie Dooley at council meetings. Stenger won their 2014 confrontation at the polls.

But now, others see a broader conflict over power and who wields it.  Stenger and the council continue to battle over a variety of issues as this year’s November elections loom. Their feud has gone on for over a year.

Marissanne Lewis-Thompson | St. Louis Public Radio

When Jazzmine Nolan was 12, her father was murdered by one of his friends. His death left her devastated and empty inside.

“I was so angry that I didn’t know what I was feeling,” she said.

Nolan became unsure of whom to trust. Her cries for help and understanding often fell on deaf ears of the people around her. But instead of going down the path of self-destruction, she turned to the dance form "step" as a way to cope.

Carmen and Isabel Garcia with a Clydesdale, on location in September 2017 at Grant's Farm for a promotional St. Louis Blues video.
Carmen Garcia

For years, teenager Isabel Garcia performed in school plays as her mother, Carmen, beamed from the audience.

Isabel knew her mom once loved to perform, too, and had the playbills to prove it. But she’d never seen her mother on stage.

Alex Garcia poses for a portrait at Christ Church United Church of Christ, where he’s taking sanctuary.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When the letter from immigration officials came in the mail in September, Carly Garcia knew her life was about to change.

Panicked, she opened the envelope then called her husband, Alex, and told him to rush home.

In the past, immigration agents had given Alex Garcia temporary permission to live in the United States with Carly and their five children. But now, the letter said, he had two weeks to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office for deportation.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has provided NAFTA-related estimates for all states. It has concluded that doing away with the agreement would have a significant impact on Missouri's economy.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The fate of tens of thousands of Missouri jobs could hinge on trade talks set to resume this week in Montreal. Negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico will gather for another round of North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations. The U.S. wants to rework the deal, or possibly withdraw altogether.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says roughly 250,000 jobs in Missouri could be affected if the Trump administration decides to leave NAFTA.

This image is a still shot from home movies of a gay pool party in 1945 that St. Louis filmmaker Geoff Story bought in an estate sale.
Geoff Story

Dozens of gay men gather for a pool party in a secluded spot in Hillsboro, Missouri. Home movies capture their easy affection and carefree dancing. 

But they’re not recent videos. The movies were taken in 1945.

St. Louis filmmaker Geoff Story has begun weaving the films into a documentary, “Gay Home Movie.” It offers a rare glimpse into a largely invisible world, a time when same-sex relationships were not only looked at as immoral — they were illegal.

Nurse Thomas Pacatte draws blood from Gary Newcomer, a volunteer of Saint Louis University's Zika vaccine trials in 2018.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

In what looks like a typical doctor’s office, Gary Newcomer, 26, waited to have his blood drawn for the last time as a participant in a trial for a Zika virus vaccine.

Newcomer has visited Saint Louis University’s Center for Vaccine Development 16 times since November 2016. But a cut in federal funding is bringing a halt to the trial before a vaccine can be developed.

Joshua Eckhoff, 33, of Ballwin suffered a traumatic brain injury while clearing roadside bombs in Iraq. January 2018 photo
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Joshua Eckhoff of Ballwin smiled as he described posing for pictures at his college graduation in December — and how proud his mother was. Earning that degree is the latest achievement for the Army veteran who suffered a brain injury in Iraq 10 years ago that no one thought he could survive.

On Feb. 6, 2008, as Eckhoff led a convoy searching for roadside bombs, an improvised explosive device pierced the armored vehicle he was riding in and smashed into the right side of his head. His injury was so severe that the Army notified his mother that he had died in combat.

“I call that my ‘alive day,’ ’’ said Eckhoff, 33. “The anniversary of my injury every year, we celebrate it like a birthday.”

This photograph by Kat Reynolds is part of the Mane 'n Tail exhibition. Other artists include LaKela Brown, Pamela Council, Baseerah Khan, Abigail Lucien, Narcissister, Yvonne Osei, Shenequa, Diamond Stingily and Rachel Youn.
Provided | Kat Reynolds

Kat Reynolds stops by the beauty products store about as often as some people shop for groceries — about three times a month.

For many women, shampoos, conditioners, extensions and weaves seem to hold the key not only to an improved appearance but also a kind of self-satisfaction, according to Reynolds. With that in mind, the photographer is curating an art exhibition, “Mane ‘n Tail,” named for a popular line of beauty products.

Reynolds said the show, which opens Jan. 19, focuses on female attractiveness and African-American culture, including money and self-determination.

Ivan Baxter, a researcher at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and Liz Haswell, a biology professor at Washington University, started a podcast called Taproot last summer to talk about the challenges of doing research.
Provided by Ivan Baxter and Liz Haswell

Researchers Liz Haswell and Ivan Baxter spend most their time trying to understand how plants function. But the two plant scientists sometimes step away from their microscopes and specimens to have honest conversations with their colleagues about the challenges of doing research. They recorded these dialogues into a podcast called Taproot, to represent how they’re digging for stories beyond what’s in a scientific publication.

For each episode in Taproot’s first season, Haswell, a biologist at Washington University, and Baxter, a researcher at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, would pick a study and have a conversation about one of its authors about the difficulties involved in doing research. The issues ranged from finding work-life balance as a scientist to embracing the fact that a researcher may never achieve total certainty in what they are studying. The content, funded by the American Society of Plant Biologists, can be a bit inside baseball for a general audience, but it’s picking up in popularity among plant researchers.

Lonnie Powell's watercolor, Southsun is one of 200 works in the All Colors exhibition.
Portfolio Gallery

A longtime gallery owner is debuting an exhibition Jan. 13 that he hopes will draw people from all over the country to see African-American art in St. Louis.

“All Colors” features the work of 66 national and local artists. The Portfolio Gallery nonprofit will present the show at the Artists’ Guild, 2 Jackson Ave., in Clayton, the first exhibition following the sale of its Grand Center building.

Portfolio owner Robert Powell sold the gallery space in 2015 with the goal of supporting African-American artists.

Republican state Reps. Jay Barnes, center, and Justin Alferman, right, converse with Alex Curchin, left, during the last day of the Missouri General Assembly's 2017 legislative session.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Heightened tensions between Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and fellow Republicans who control the General Assembly will likely add drama when the 2018 legislative session begins next Wednesday.

Because 2018 is an election year, it’s long been assumed that lawmakers will avoid divisive topics that could upset voters. But that might not be possible this time.

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