Audio Features | St. Louis Public Radio

Audio Features

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

Amy Sherald, "What’s precious inside of him does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence (All American)," 2017.  5/15/18
Amy Sherald and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago

Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald built a reputation in the art world for painting highly stylized portraits of what you might call ordinary people. But she became a household name in wider circles this year for her portrait of a rather extraordinary subject: the first African-American First Lady of the United States. 

 

An exhibition of Sherald’s work is at Contemporary Art Museum, where it remains on view through Aug. 19.

Piles of concrete and brick line a fence separating the former Pruitt-Igoe housing development from the Gateway school complex. Parents and staff at the school say placing the rubble there stirred levels of dust high enough to sicken students and teachers
File Photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

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Demolition and excavation work for a new federal intelligence agency headquarters in north St. Louis received environmental scrutiny and regulation that officials said is “above and beyond” what’s required.

When some of that demolition material from the site of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s West headquarters was moved across the street, and next to a public school, little if any monitoring occurred. Parents and staff at the Gateway school complex on North Jefferson Avenue, point to the 30-foot piles of rubble they say brought high levels of dust and caused breathing problems and other ailments at the school over several months.

Parents and staff blame illnesses inside the Gateway school complex on debris brought over from the site of the planned National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency headquarters. The piles tower over a fence next to the school. May 6, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Isaiah Carson was happy and healthy on an early April afternoon as he worked on spelling with his dad at the family’s kitchen table.

That wasn’t the case a few months earlier when he started having trouble breathing. He was wheezing and had a shallow cough.

Isaiah, who’s 5, would lie in bed with his parents at night, unable to sleep. His father, Michael Carson, felt helpless. “He scared me to death,” Carson said.

Hari Kondabolu at St. Louis Public Radio on Friday, May 4.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Hari Kondabolu is not afraid to talk about the topics that make people uncomfortable. Sexism, racism, colonialism — all the “isms” you can think of — are fair game at his shows.

To that he says, why wouldn’t I?

David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Public service ads about foreclosure were all over the nation's airwaves by late 2007, airing frequently at night when worried homeowners couldn’t sleep.

The messages, accompanied by somber music and stark images, urged U.S. homeowners to take action — to call a hotline or their lenders if they were falling behind on their mortgages:

“Foreclosure doesn’t affect just you, it affects your whole family, too … Because nothing is worse than doing nothing.”

University City seniors Alex Cunningham, sitting, and Kyhler Cross work out a new beat as part of the audio production course Cunningham started last year. April 23, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Alex Cunningham is sprawled across the hallway in a corner of the University City High School music department. His laptop rests on his chest. Headphones cover his ears.

“I was trying to get to the studio but the door was locked,” he explained.

Cunningham, an 18-year-old senior, didn’t feel like doing the four flights of stairs down and up again to find a staff member to let him in. So he plopped down in the hall, outside of what could be considered his classroom.

The Missouri Botanical Garden's Stephen and Peter Sachs museum.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Visitors at the Missouri Botanical Garden are likely familiar with a historic building on the eastern portion of the grounds, where an obelisk stands outside with the words “In honour of American science.”

When philanthropist Henry Shaw founded the garden in 1859, the building served as its first scientific research facility. It contained a library and an herbarium that housed 62,000 specimens. Today, the garden’s herbarium has more than 7 million specimens, one of the largest botanical collections in the world.

Rebecca Wanzo, co-organizer of Dwell in Other Futures: art/ urbanism/ midwest
Rebbeca Wanzo

National and local artists will explore the past, present and future of city life in an upcoming exhibition in St. Louis.

Organizers of Dwell in Other Futures: art/ urbanism/ midwest say the event will expose attendees to the ways urban development constructs and reinforces how people engage, or don’t, with public spaces and the people around them.

Students with the Throwing and Growing Foundation take a tour of Good Life Growing in the Vandeventer neighborhood.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Lonza Patrick has lived in the Walnut Park East neighborhood for more than 50 years. He’s seen the area take repeated turns for the worse, as nearby properties became vacant and neglected.

“Oh man, have I had experiences,” Patrick said.

Patrick wants to see the neighborhood improve and it might, with the unrolling of a new initiative to demolish vacant properties to build green spaces. It’s headed by the Green City Coalition, which consists of the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Botanical Garden and several other St. Louis-based nonprofits.

Business owners in Jeffrey Plaza on Olive Boulevard say they have not been receiving updates about a proposed development that would displace them.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis once had a thriving hub for Chinese immigrants moving to the city. Historical records show in 1894 there were about 1,000 people of Chinese heritage living in St. Louis, many of whom had moved to the region from California in the middle part of the century.

A St. Louis Public Radio listener wanted to know how so many Chinese businesses came to exist at Olive Boulevard near Interstate 170 in University City. The listener also wanted to know why hasn’t there been more expansion of Asian businesses there. 

Curious Louis question-asker Rachel Duncan, left, and St. Louis Public Radio reporter Shahla Farzan, center, speak with Bill Houston of the Saint Louis Zoo.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Rachel Duncan doesn’t remember the first time she visted the St. Louis Zoo, but she’s pretty sure she was an infant.

“There’s not a summer in my life that I have not come to visit the St. Louis Zoo and enjoyed what it has to offer,” said Duncan. “It’s a part of my entire life.”

Like many St. Louisans, she feels personally connected to the animals at the zoo. That prompted her to ask our Curious Louis reporting series: What happens when an animal passes away at the zoo? Do they have a funeral? And how does it impact the workers?


File photo: Esther, played by Jacqueline Thompson, and Mr. Marks, played by Jim Butz, examine a bolt of fine fabric in a scene that simmers with largely unspoken feelings.
Eric Woolsey

The emphasis is on the “new” for incoming New Jewish Theatre artistic director Edward Coffield.

In July, Coffield will take the reins from founder Kathleen Sitzer who launched the company 22 years ago.

Coffield plans to shake things up by including a family show every year, collaborating with other companies and working with themes that encompass issues well beyond the realm of Judaism.

After serving as Sitzer’s assistant for 16 years, Coffield acknowledges he’s building on the work of a St. Louis theater icon.

The Minner Arena fan cave is in the basement of O'Fallon photographer Dennis Minner.
Dennis Minner

An O’Fallon, Missouri, resident might have the coolest basement around — especially if you are a hockey fan. Dennis Minner has converted the space into a mini-Scottrade Center, with much of it devoted to his love of the St. Louis Blues hockey team.

Sterling Moody re-arranges shelves at Neighbors' Market, his new East St. Louis grocery store. April 6, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Neighbors’ Market, which promises to focus on healthy food options, is expected to open its doors in East St. Louis this month.

The market will be a full-service grocery store with a dairy and frozen food section, a robust produce aisle, and a butcher’s area for cutting fresh meats daily. The store has already employed its own chef, who will prepare soups, salads and sandwiches. 

Scores of reporters look on as House Speaker Todd Richardson addresses the media on April 11, 2018. The release of House report on Gov. Eric Greitens' conduct is opening the door to impeachment proceedings.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

State Rep. Kathie Conway was one of the first Republican lawmakers to suggest that Gov. Eric Greitens resign.

It was a move that set her apart from most of her Republican and Democratic colleagues, many of whom wanted to wait for more information to come out about a 2015 extramarital affair.

Now, high-ranking members of both parties have joined Conway in calling for Greitens to leave after a startling House committee report. But Conway isn’t saying ‘I told you so.’ Instead, she’s lamenting how his refusal to step down may affect the business of state government.

Omega Jones plays Jesus in Stray Dog Theatre’s “Jesus Christ Superstar.” This rendition is set in a dystopian world and portrays Jesus as a complicated human.
Stray Dog Theatre

Growing up in and out of foster care, St. Louis singer and actor Omega Jones managed to find a silver lining: self-reliance.

It’s a trait that helps him confront racism as a young black man — and handle  the ups and downs of musical theater.

“I know at the end of the day, I’m taking care of me; no one else is,” he said.

Caitlyn Kalmer, 7, works on her model of the brain during the Little Medical School after-school program at Stanton Elementary School in Fenton.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Splinters and paper cuts? No. Broken bones? Yes, that’s more worthy of a trip to the hospital. So goes a first-aid lesson for a first-grader.

Treating bumps and scrapes is the first lesson of Little Medical School, a St. Louis County-based company that introduces young learners to health and science.

A Triceratops skull at the Saint Louis Science Center.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

On a late morning at the St. Louis Science Center, ecology educator Brian Thomas showed two elementary school students a fossil that looked like a very old, mangled piece of rock. It was a partial skull of a young Triceratops. 

"Inside here is where the brain would sit," Thomas told the boys. "And it's not a very big brain." 

The science center has two juvenile Triceratops skulls, dug up from northeast Montana, that a researcher at Washington University School of Medicine is studying to understand how the species developed in its lifetime.

In "Islandborn," Junot Diaz writes for immigrant children.
Illustration by Leo Espinosa

For more than 20 years, novelist Junot Diaz has explored the immigrant experience.

From his debut 1996 novel, “Drown,” a semi-autobiographical work on the life of a young Dominican transplant to the United States, to “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008, Diaz has found inspiration in the culture that surrounds him. 

His work has won him more than just accolades. He is a MacArthur “genius grant” winner and teaches creative writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In his books and in person, his use of language is very much for an adult audience. But for years, his two goddaughters and other children have asked him to craft stories with them in mind. Diaz has done so with his latest book, “Islandborn,” which tackles the dilemma of an island girl in the United States: How do I remember where I come from?

Tickets to the touring version of "Hamilton," coming to the Fox Theatre, sold out in less than five hours.
Joan Marcus

After standing in line, waiting in online queues and forking out big bucks, St. Louisans will be able see “Hamilton” in their hometown.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blend of musical theater, hip-hop, blues, jazz and rap begins Tuesday night and runs through April 22 at The Fox Theatre. The musical turns traditional casting on its head, with actors of color playing the men who shaped the nation, including the first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Aaron Burr.

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