Audio Features | St. Louis Public Radio

Audio Features

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

In this April 12 photo, arts advocate and law professor Adrienne Davis looks upon a piece by artist Lorna Simpson in her home collection.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Adrienne Davis teaches law but she regularly cross-examines the status quo in a completely different field: the arts.

The Washington University law professor will receive an Arts Advocacy award from the Women of Achievement of St. Louis in a May 16 event at the Ritz-Carlton. The honor applauds her service on various boards including that of the St. Louis Art Museum and Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

But it also extols her efforts to infuse more racial diversity into the artistic pipeline, from art-makers to gallery attendants to curators to institutional leaders. In our latest Cut & Paste arts and culture podcast, we talk with Davis about her advocacy and why it matters.

Devonshae Ali, who plays Alice, and Gary Shepard, who has the role of Sam, are pictured in this April 2017 photo. They have both experienced homelessness in their own lives.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There was a time when Devonshae Ali, Kimberly Romine and Gary Shepard had no place to call home.

Now they all have not only permanent addresses but a new mission: helping people see what it's like to be homeless, through a play to be staged this weekend by St. Louis’ True Community Theatre.

Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf, of St. Joseph, sponsored the Senate drug monitoring bill.
Courtesy of Harrison Sweazea, Missouri Senate Communications

Rob Schaaf rose Monday to speak on the Missouri Senate floor, capping what seemed to be a tough few days. One of his fellow GOP senators had highlighted how the 60-year-old from St. Joseph rented a room from a well-known lobbyist. And the nonprofit linked to Gov. Eric Greitens was making personal attacks on Schaaf’s political decision integrity — and giving out his cellphone number.

 

But Schaaf made it abundantly clear he wasn’t slinking away, issuing a blunt message to the Republican governor.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

This story was updated on 4/26/2017 with comments from Sen. Will Kraus

The state of Missouri collected $435 million in corporate income tax revenue in fiscal year 2015.

That plummeted to $280 million last year.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

It's a sentiment shared by Democratic politicians and liberal pundits: disgust over how Republicans drew up favorable (for them) legislative districts after the 2010 Census.

Mexican immigrants participating in English and Citizenship classes for new immigrants organized by the YMCA Industrial Commission. There was additional programming, like, apparently this trip to Forest Park.
State Historical Society of Missouri

Fewer than 4 percent of St. Louis city and county residents are Latino. While the Midwest as a whole has a reputation for very small Latino populations, St. Louis County Historian Daniel Gonzales says it wasn’t always on track to be that way.

Gonzales has been focused on uncovering forgotten narratives since he started his job about a year and half ago. One such story is the subject of an academic publication he's working on. It relates to the 19th and 20th century Mexican immigration to St. Louis, how the community was encouraged to blossom, and then pushed out.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Summer is approaching, a time when Missouri residents hit the road for a little rest and relaxation. It might be a rougher-than-expected journey, though, as legislators aren’t making transportation projects a priority during the 2017 session.

In the meantime, the Missouri Department of Transportation is using a reserve fund to maintain the state’s roads and bridges — money that’s supposed to go toward emergencies and natural disasters. MoDOT chief engineer Ed Hassinger said it’s not an issue right now, but will be if the department has to draw from it for another three years.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Many high-achieving and low-income high school students bound for college get an assist from the state of Missouri in the form of modest scholarships.

The trouble is that budget constraints have left programs that help both groups of students underfunded and unable to keep up with rising tuition. That’s bad news for high school seniors who’ll be choosing where to go to school in the coming weeks.

Kat Reynolds is pictured in a file photo of a self-portrait shown recently at The Militzer Art Gallery in St. Louis.
Provided | Kat Reynolds

Photographer Kat Reynolds is having a moment.

In the past few months, Reynolds has exhibited at five St. Louis venues. She was named this year’s Emerging Artist by the local Visionary Awards, a prize she’ll accept April 24 at the Sun Theater in Grand Center. She’s also wrapping up a residency program at Paul Artspace, north of Florissant. Her work primarily features young people of color, friends, people she encounters on the street, or people she finds through social media.

Reynolds works all these activities around a full-time customer relations job. In our latest Cut & Paste podcast, we catch up with this busy artist, who strives to genuinely connect with her subjects.

Gene Jackson started his professional performing  career at 15 when his mom signed a waiver allowing him to perform at the Midnight Lounge on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in the mid-1970s.

Older musicians took him under their wings, showing him the ins and outs of St. Louis’ rhythm and blues, and initiating him into a fellowship of performing musicians determined to keep soul music alive.

Roland Johnson entered the scene years earlier, started his career singing with groups at sock hops and youth dances before entering the realms of bars and clubs.

(From left) Arthur Woodley as Emile Griffith, Jordan Jones as Little Emile Griffith and Denyce Graves as Eelda Griffith
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Update 4:17 PM: this piece was updated to better reflect the use of NEA/NEH funding at the Missouri History Museum.

When acclaimed trumpeter Terence Blanchard’s jazz opera opened at the Washington National Opera last month, it was heralded as new hybrid in contemporary opera that fused musical traditions and audiences. 

Missouri History Museum

One hundred years ago, on April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I.

To mark the occasion, several thousand people will attend a national commemoration in Kansas City, home to the National World War I Museum and Memorial.

In St. Louis, an exhibit opens today at the Missouri History Museum. It focuses on the role St. Louisans played — on the battlefield and the home front.

Sam Werkmeister, 30, sits on his porch in Granite City on March 30, 2017. Werkmeister is recovering from an addiction to opioids, which began with prescription pills.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio.

Sam Werkmeister, a father of two, nearly died six times last year.

He started taking pain pills to get through shifts at a restaurant. That led him to a full-blown addiction to opioids. After a relapse last summer, it took Werkmeister six months to gather the courage to go back into treatment. 

“It’s called carfentanil, and it’s really cheap,” he said, as he sat on a worn couch in the Granite City group home he shares with a half dozen other men. “It destroyed my life.”

SIUE psychology professor Stephen Hupp lets a class of preschoolers at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center in East St. Louis touch a robot named Mo after a lesson on human emotions in March 2017.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

One morning at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center in East St. Louis, an unusual guest arrived to greet more than a dozen preschoolers, who gathered on a ketchup-colored mat, surrounded by cubby shelves, Clifford books and crayon drawings.

The visitor, a white robot with blue patches of armor on its head and joints, stood about 2 feet tall. It had arms and legs, like a person, but its plastic face had no expression.

Voters fill out their ballots at Central Baptist Church on Washington Avenue on March 7, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On March 7, the city of St. Louis held its primary, where voters selected Democratic and Republican candidates for mayor. It was the first election in 16 years where the current mayor, Francis Slay, wasn’t running. It was also the first election since the 2016 presidential vote — when Donald Trump’s victory sparked a lot of protests, outrage and, in some cases, celebration.

For some people, the election’s outcome sparked interest in participating in the political process. St. Louis resident Erica Gaca, said the outcome of the November election motivated her to do something she’d never done before: participate in a municipal primary.

A file photo of Augusten Burroughs accompanies this image of the cover of his new book, "Lust and Wonder."
Christopher Schelling

From the beginning of his writing career, Augusten Burroughs was determined to be honest, even if writing about his often messy life would be a daunting process.

In his memoir “Running with Scissors,” and his later works, Burroughs has engaged in self-reflection, an approach that has won him a loyal following and inspired a hit movie. He continues that process in his latest book, “Lust and Wonder.”

“That’s really the key: to understand what happened to you, what your role in it was,” said Burroughs, who speaks tonight at the Schlafly Branch of the St. Louis Public Library. “Just becoming more and more and more truthful with yourself.”

Two eyes peer out of a red field and an alligator rests below celestial machinery in the collaged cover of Rhizomatic St. Louis 5
Provided by Nathan Cook

For electronic musician Nathan N. Cook, abstract soundscapes, nature recordings interwoven with voices, and harsh noises, aren’t just intellectual experiments in audio editing. Instead, he finds them places of human connection.

Five years ago, Cook decided to mix those elements into recordings that capture a community of local musicians — and to share that connection with others. He launched the Rhizomatic St. Louis series, an annual album release of 10 distinct, avant-garde and experimental musicians.

This is the marketing image for "The Boys in the Band," released in 1970. It is one of two classic films to be shown in this year's QFest.
Provided | Cinema St. Louis

When St. Louis' QFest of films officially launched, people in the LGBTQ community were barred from institutions ranging from the military service to marriage.

A decade later, LGBTQ citizens can both serve and marry.  The 10th annual festival, which opens March 29, includes a dozen films that reflect a restricted past and progressive present.

Judge Paul Herbert stands in his courtroom after one of the court's weekly sessions.
Andrea Muraskin | Side Effects

Originally published July 7, 2016, by Side Effects Public Media. 

It’s not something you expect to see in a courtroom: 35 women, chatting, laughing, eating lasagna. But brunch before the session is a weekly tradition at an unusual court in Columbus, Ohio.

Once the plates are cleared away and everyone sits down in a semicircle facing the bench, a probation officer steps to the center of the room, with an empty plastic bin and a big smile.

“You know I love you so much, right?” she says, as she collects everyone’s cell phones, to a chorus of groans.

Malindi Henning answers questions during a science class at Miriam School in Webster Groves. (March 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Miriam School is a small, private school in Webster Groves that serves children who've struggled to learn in typical classrooms. Thirteen percent of its students are adopted.

At first glance, that may seem surprising, as nationally, fewer than 2 percent of school-aged children are adopted. But studies suggest that adopted and foster children suffer from learning disabilities at twice the rate as children raised by both birth parents. For adoptive parents, that may mean a greater challenge in finding the right school or learning environment for their child.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

If you look at a map of the Normandy area, three large splotches of green space stand out amid the patchwork of small municipalities that make up this chunk of north St. Louis County.

They’re golf courses, and they date back to the early 1900s.

A crowd of artists had many questions for St. Louis' mayoral candidates at this February 27 forum.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

When St. Louis’ next mayor takes office, local artists will be waiting.

They’ve got a list of things they want the mayor — likely Lyda Krewson — to do in support of the arts. They presented their ideas to mayoral candidates in a recent forum presented by Citizen Artist St. Louis. Their goals include a living wage, more artists at the table when economic development plans are decided and recognition of artists’ economic contributions.

Magic City plays a show Feb 19, 2011 at the Schlafly Tap Room. The band is performing seated on the group bathed in yellow light
Provided by Dana Smith and Magic City

When St. Louis bassist Anne Tkach died in a house fire in 2015, the members of her band, Magic City, found themselves adrift. The group had been working on a follow-up to Les Animaux Épouvantables, their 2011 driving rock ‘n’ roll album.

Tkach and drummer Sam Meyer kept the group anchored. Without her, the band members weren’t sure how to keep working on the album. Her death made every possibility seem out of the question.

Eventually, the musicians pulled themselves together. This month, they’ll release the album “Le Vie Est Chere” in Tkach’s honor.  It will be their last release as a band. They’ll play one last show at Off Broadway on March 31.

Dr. Bahar Bastani poses for a portrait at Saint Louis University Hospital on March 2, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In 1984, Dr. Bahar Bastani knew he had to leave Iran.

During Iran's cultural revolution, religious leaders closed universities and threatened academics. Bastani, then a professor of medicine in Tehran, realized he had become “unhireable” in that political climate.

“I was religious, I was doing prayers, but I could not tolerate the hardship the government was putting on people,” said Bastani, now a kidney specialist who works at Saint Louis University Hospital.

Shannon Greir, seated in this file photo, took classes at St. Louis' Improv Shop to work her way into the theater world and produce her play, "Fat."
Provided | Shannon Greier

Shannon Geier knows what it’s like to be rejected because of the way she looks. For years, she struggled to lose weight, and was often afraid of how people would react to her.

“I felt like the love I got was conditional, based on my size,” Geier said. “[I’ve been] on blind dates and having the guy see me and turn around and run from the restaurant.”

Today, Geier is at a weight she considers healthy. Now a playwright, she hasn’t forgotten the pain of rejection, but has found a way to talk about it in "Fat," a new play on stage in St. Louis that deals with weight and body image.

Community activist Dawn Chapman speaks to an overflow crowd at the John Calvin Presbyterian Church about problems at the West Lake and Bridgeton landfills.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

On a mild winter evening, about 50 people filed into a room in a community center in Bridgeton. Many live in north St. Louis County and came to hear an update from Environmental Protection Agency officials about ongoing work at the West Lake Landfill Superfund site, where World War II-era radioactive waste sits approximately 600 feet from an underground smoldering fire.

For many residents, learning that they live close to such hazards has been a traumatic experience. 

Hundreds of demonstrat0rs gathered in downtown St. Louis to express their disgust, concern and fear with President-elect Donald Trump on Nov. 13, 2016.
File | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis, like many parts of the United States, has seen an uptick in marches and protests since President Donald Trump took office.

In late January, thousands took to the streets for the St. Louis women’s march. Many of those participants have also been a part of demonstrations calling for immigrants’ rights and protections for the LGBTQ community.

Priscilla Dowden-White is a history professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis who studies civic activism in the 20th century. She says movements of the early to mid 20th century are rife with lessons for today’s protesters — but that comparing the two too closely can be reductive.

Overgrown greenery almost entirely obscures a gravestone at which a giant white paper mache heart is positioned.
Provided by Jennifer Colten

When Terri Williams’ daughters brought home their Black History Month assignment from school, she noticed most of the historical figures were entertainers or athletes. 

This contrasted with the uniquely heroic lives she saw represented by the figures interred at Washington Park Cemetery — people like Ira Cooper, the first black police lieutenant in St. Louis, George L. Vaughn, the attorney who fought for J.D. Shelley in the Shelley vs. Kraemer court case that eliminated courts’ abilities to enforce housing segregation.

William’s learned about such figures while researching the cemetery for the new exhibit “Higher Ground: Honoring Washington Park Cemetery Its People and Place,” which opens at The Sheldon this weekend.

Choreographer Stephanie Martinez worked with Big Muddy Dance Company to create a piece inspired by Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, who died in 1957.
Provided | Dance St. Louis

A 20th century Chilean poet who wanted her daughter to be more than just a princess is the inspiration for a dance performance on stage in St. Louis this weekend at the Touhill.

The dance that is rooted in the poem is called “Destino, Roto.” It’s one of three pieces in Dance St. Louis’ “Women Who Inspire,”  the name of the organization’s fifth annual New Dance Horizons presentation.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

While St. Louis voters decide among mayoral and aldermanic candidates in the city’s primary election next Tuesday, they’ll also answer a question about short-term lenders.

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