Audio Features | St. Louis Public Radio

Audio Features

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

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.

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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.

Matt Palozola greets friends at a fundraiser for the Zola Initiative, a nonprofit he started in honor of his brother. Dec. 15, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Tom Palozola arrived at Webster University after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, he struggled to fit in with his younger classmates. But he found solace in in the Student Veterans Organization.

As its president, Palozola worked tirelessly to acquire a grant to open a campus veterans center. He envisioned it as a refuge for veterans who also felt like campus outsiders.  

Palozola had suffered a traumatic brain injury when a roadside bomb exploded in Afghanistan. He struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and died by suicide last May.

Maplewood Richmond Heights teacher Otto Schultejans received a painting from a challenging student with the Beatles' lyric "nothing's going to change my world." It became "her way of saying ‘yeah, you actually did change my world.’”
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

It can be a parade of baked goods into classrooms the week before winter break. Gift cards tend to stack up on teachers’ desks. But sometimes, a gift overwhelms a teacher — and it’s kept for decades.

In the final days before winter break, teachers and students will wrap up the fall semester and dash home to celebrate the holidays. Before that, many students will present to their favorite teachers gifts, large and small; hand-made and store-bought; expensive and not-so-much.

Provided by The May Day Orchestra

A Missouri musician and his band are making music that challenges listeners to confront their own complicity in exploitative labor practices and foreign policy while celebrating those who would change things for the better.

Tim Rakel launched The May Day Orchestra in 2008. The band creates self-described folk operas that aim to honor histories of social change. This month, the band returns with its third album, “Wake,” which melds together the story of a 17th century sultan turned pirate in what is now Kenya and Rakel’s knowledge and experience in modern-day Kenya .

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger take questions after announcing their support for a task force to examine government spending.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Tuesday, Dec. 12: With the Missouri General Assembly slated to convene in a few weeks, the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis is scrambling in case state lawmakers decide to intervene in the region’s long-standing debate over a possible merger of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

The St. Louis County Council voted unanimously Tuesday night in favor of a resolution -- signed by at least 50 area municipalities -- that opposes any sort of  statewide vote on the matter. The St. Louis Board of Aldermen could face a similar request shortly.

When Ronson Rowley was a teen, he said he used to sneak into a nightclub called the Ten Bar. “It was the only black gay club here in Indianapolis,” he recalled. One night he ran into his uncle.

“He looked me dead in the face,” he recalled. “And [he] said what are you doing here? I said, the same thing you’re doing here.”


Missouri Botanical Garden researcher Ashley Glenn learning to cook in Bosnia from a homemaker named Dunja.
Ashley Glenn | Missouri Botanical Garden

On a recent Saturday, four middle-aged Bosnian women bustled in a warmly lit kitchen at Fontbonne University. Bags of flour and sugar, metal mixing bowls and trays of flaky pastries filled, called pitas, were spread across an island. The air smelled strongly of bread, butter and cheese.

Ashley Glenn, a botanist at the Missouri Botanical Garden, stood next to the women, providing commentary about the food for an audience of about two dozen people. Glenn has spent the last year and a half interviewing more than 100 Bosnians in St. Louis and in Bosnia about their cuisine and food rituals.

About 1,000 people die in U.S. jails every year. Half of deaths are due to illness, according to federal statistics.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Shirletta Chambly has lost two family members in St. Louis jails: First her brother, and then her 21-year-old son.

Maleek Coleman-Chambly died after a seizure in his bed at the St. Louis City Justice Center on Jan. 31, 2017. Family members claim he told them over the phone that jail personnel had refused to give him his epilepsy medication the night before.

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