Audio Features | St. Louis Public Radio

Audio Features

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

Basketball players huddle for a prayer at the Monsanto Family YMCA.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

For Marcus Wilson, basketball is more than just a game — and he has the career to prove it. Before becoming the executive director of the Monsanto Family YMCA, Wilson learned that basketball could take him far in life and away from the rough neighborhood he came from.

Now he wants to make sure others have that same opportunity.

Every Saturday morning, Wilson opens the court of his YMCA off of Page Blvd., free of charge for anyone wanting to play basketball.

Sister An Mei, left, and Sister Mary Lea Hill wave to a group of high school students who recently visited the Pauline Books and Media store in Crestwood.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Daughters of St. Paul have operated Pauline Books and Media, a small bookstore adjoining their convent in Crestwood, since the 1980s. But these days, the Roman Catholic sisters are reaching people far beyond St. Louis with their posts and videos on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

Using the hashtag #MediaNuns, they tweet friendly messages of inspiration:

“If you do nothing else today, remember that God loves you.”

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In Emeara Burns’ north St. Louis neighborhood, gun violence is a way of life.

Shelley Richmond, a transgender woman, and her wife live in the same house in this Cahokia neighborhood where Richmond grew up.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Eighty-year-old Wisper Lowe, a transgender woman from Belleville, grew up during World War II, a period that demanded patriotism and strict gender roles.

Lowe was assigned male gender at birth. When she was 5, her mother caught her putting on lipstick.

“And her response was to smear the lipstick all over my mouth and then push me onto the front porch where all the neighborhood kids were playing in the street — and lock the door,” Lowe said.

St. Louis Public Radio and other local news outlets took a guided tour of the Medium Security Institution, also known as the Workhouse, in March 2018.
Ashley Lisenby | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis public safety officials want city residents to know people jailed at the St. Louis Medium Security Institution are treated humanely despite allegations to the contrary.

In March, the mayor’s spokesman invited reporters to tour the jail — commonly known as the Workhouse — after weeks of requests for access from local press. A pending lawsuit against the jail by ArchCity Defenders alleges inhumane conditions, including poor ventilation, rodent and insect infestation and problems with black mold.

Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards and Corrections Commissioner Dale Glass fended off the claims in the lawsuit.

College students in the Living Lands & Waters Alternative Spring Break program hauled roughly 35,000 pounds of garbage from the Mississippi River this year near Grafton, IL.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

 

A rowdy group of college students slathers on sunscreen, getting ready for a day on the river.

Instead of bathing suits, these spring breakers are decked out in knee-high rubber boots and faded life jackets. They’re part of the Living Lands & Waters river cleanup crew and for a week, they’ll spend their days pulling trash from the Mississippi River near Grafton, Illinois.

 


Wash U medical resident Pawina Jiramongkolchai presents Joe Weissmann with a smell test.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Two years ago, Joe Weissmann lost something many take for granted: his sense of smell.

“I still eat, but I don’t enjoy it near as much, because I can’t taste any food or have any sensation of smell,” said Weissmann, a lifelong St. Louis resident and retired sheet metal worker.

Still, Weissmann hasn’t lost hope. He is now a participant in a Washington University research study designed to understand how the brain changes after a person loses their sense of smell. The goal is to eventually develop a treatment for long-term smell loss.

 


Office of Missouri House of Representatives, and File photos | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and his lawyers have repeatedly attacked St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s investigation into the governor’s personal and political activities, and the related grand jury indictment.

But the governor and his team are notably silent about the state House panel that could decide his future.

An ancient Egyptian mummy named Pet Menekh is placed in a CT scanner at the Washington University School of Medicine.
Washington University School of Medicine

In a dark room on the third floor of the Saint Louis Art Museum, nearly a dozen grade school boys encircled a tour guide, who was dispensing facts about Egyptian mummies. But instead of crowding around three mummies lying nearby in glass cases, they stood in front of a recently added feature to the exhibit: a touchscreen that displays images of what the mummies look like inside.

Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Jo Mannies and Rachel Lippmann round up this week’s legal and political news surrounding Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.

This week’s episodes focuses on how the governor’s allies and adversaries are trying to alter public opinion in the run up to his felony invasion of privacy trial on May 14.

Several Missouri school districts arm their employees to prevent mass shootings. More schools in the state are considering it following a school shooting last month.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Glenwood Elementary School sits along a state highway between West Plains and the Arkansas border, in far south-central Missouri. If the school has an emergency, the Howell County Sheriff’s Department is more than 10 minutes away.

Superintendent Wayne Stewart said it’s a situation that makes the district of 240 students especially vulnerable if a shooter ever attacked.

“Very likely, the deed would be done by the time emergency responders got here,” he said.

File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Bobby Bostic was 16 when he committed several felonies in the course of an armed robbery. Two years later, he was sentenced to 241 years in prison.

Advocates for juvenile sentencing reform say that runs contrary to earlier U.S. Supreme Court decisions limiting how harshly the courts can punish young defendants who have not killed anyone, and they are now asking the justices to weigh in.

Kelsey Thomas started the #314DayAccentChallenge to celebrate and highlight the St. Louis accent. 2018.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Kelsey Thomas celebrates 314 Day the way many St. Louisans do: she puts on a Cardinals shirt and orders some Imo’s Pizza. If she’s feeling nostalgic, she’ll tune in to Hot 104.1.

But a few years ago, she started a new tradition for March 14. To show off her city’s accent, she curated a list of words that end with an “R” sound — chair, hair, millionaire — and posted them on Twitter with the hashtag #314DayAccentChallenge. The words highlight a unique feature of a local accent that has been celebrated by St. Louis rappers and studied by linguists.

Captain Perri Johnson of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department discusses cultural diversity with participants in the Ethical Society of Police pre-academy recruitment program at the Urban League on March 6, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Six months ago, the acquittal of a white police officer charged with the murder of an African-American man sparked widespread protests in St. Louis and put a spotlight on racial disparities in the police department.

About 47 percent of city residents are black, but just over 32 percent of city officers are non-white.

Recently appointed St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden, a 30-year veteran of the department, said it’s obvious they need to do more to increase minority recruitment. He’s now partnering with the Ethical Society of Police, a mostly African-American police association, to support their pre-academy recruitment program.

 

 


A volunteer greets Chico, one of the six St. Louis steers who escaped the slaughterhouse and now live at The Gentle Barn. March 3, 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Michelle Robertson unlocked the gate to a 15-acre pasture at The Gentle Barn in Dittmer, Missouri, where the St. Louis Six now spend their days. A year after they made headlines for escaping from a slaughterhouse and romping through city streets in north St. Louis, the steers are free to roam.

“There’s lots of rolling hills for them to run up and down and play,’’ said Robertson, cheerfully. She manages the animal sanctuary in Jefferson County, about 40 miles from St. Louis. “There’s beautiful trees for them to scratch on. They’ve got a big, beautiful barn filled with fresh straw that they can sleep in — although they do like to sleep outside.”

A boy named LaRon enjoys a class at the former Intersect Arts Center building, before the organization moved into its new renovated space.
Intersect Arts Center

St. Louis artist Sarah Bernhardt had no idea she’d be teaching children when she first moved into her Gravois Park studio. But that changed after a rock sailed through her window and she invited a teenager with a good throwing arm to come inside for an art project.

That was five years ago, in the early days of her Intersect Arts Center, 3636 Texas Ave. A $3 million renovation recently transformed the center, but the commitment to free art classes for local kids remains a cornerstone.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens greets his fellow elected officials during the 2018 State of the State speech. Later that night, KMOV reported that Greitens acknowledged an extramarital affair.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

With Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens promising to fight for his job, members of both political parties already are focusing on how the governor’s woes — whether he stays or goes — could affect this fall’s elections.

The question, eight months out, is how big the impact will be.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s suicide rate ranks 13th in the nation.

In 2016, there were roughly 10 suicides per 100,000 residents, and more than half were gun-related. Yet despite the statistics, only about half of emergency-room doctors in the U.S. ask patients at risk of suicide if they have access to guns at home.

A new Washington University program aims to tackle this issue directly by working with patients at risk of suicide before they’re discharged from the hospital. The Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (C.A.L.M.) program helps patients temporarily store dangerous items they may have at home, including guns and prescription medication.

 


Niah Ester and Anjali Adhikari pose for a portrait at the annual Educators for Social Justice conference.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Anjali Adhikari and Niah Ester teamed up for a class project last summer, they had one goal – to teach educators at Northeast Middle School all about microaggressions.

The seventh graders never imagined their work would make it from their Creve Coeur school into classrooms across the St. Louis region. But since then, they’ve created and led training sessions for dozens of teachers, counselors and school administrators.

Pastor Gwenndolyn Lee of Spirit of Love Church wants to change the negative stigma surrounding HIV in the black community. Her younger brother died from AIDS nearly 14 years ago.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 50 percent of HIV cases in the St. Louis region are in the African-American community. That’s according to a 2016 report from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. But the stigma surrounding the virus in the black community makes it a challenge to address.

Local organizations like Faith Communities United have been working to break the stigma down by partnering with several faith communities throughout the region, including Spirit of Love Church in St. Louis, lead by Pastor Gwenndolyn Lee. For Lee, the fear of discussing HIV in the black community, and especially in the black church, is a personal one.

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