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Editor's weekly: Sharing the region's voices

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but the sound of a voice can sometimes tell you even more.

Two recent Beacon slideshows included audio of conversations with longtime small-town residents recalling the history of their communities. In both cases, the unhomogenized twang of the speakers transported me instantly to a different place and time, conveying as much about the subject at hand as the words and images.

In freelance reporter David Weinberg's piece , the subject is Tuscumbia, Mo., home of the first shovel-ready project to receive federal stimulus funds. That bridge is now built. And though politics in the area trend conservative, residents are thankful for the federal assistance.

In addition to that window into the contradictions of human nature, what I'll remember from the piece is a brief history lesson. Speaking of the earlier bridge over the Osage River, Tuscumbia resident Royal Kallenbach recalled the day the circus came to town and tried to walk an elephant across. "He got out a ways and got excited or something and jumped off into the river," Kallenbach said. "Broke off one of his tusks and left it in the gravel bar."

Kallenbach's quiet bemusement conveyed something fundamental about how the world looks from Tuscumbia, whether the focus is the circus or the political circus.

Earlier, Beacon interns Drew Canning and Rachel Heidenry visited Kaskaskia , that chunk of land that once was Illinois' capital before the Mississippi changed course and made it an island. "If you don't like the water, don't live on Kaskaskia Island," advises Dot Brown, a longtime resident. Like the river, her voice flows at a stately pace yet with power.

Tapping into the richness of our region is an important part of the Beacon's commitment to report news that matters. Fortunately, working online, we can let audio bring that richness directly to your ears.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon.

Margaret Wolf Freivogel is the editor of St. Louis Public Radio. She was the founding editor of the St. Louis Beacon, a nonprofit news organization, from 2008 to 2013. A St. Louis native, Margie previously worked for 34 years at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a reporter, Washington correspondent and assistant managing editor. She has received numerous awards for reporting as well as a lifetime achievement award from the St. Louis Press Club and the Missouri Medal of Honor from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She is a past board member of the Investigative News Network and a past president of Journalism and Women Symposium. Margie graduated from Kirkwood High School and Stanford University. She is married to William H. Freivogel. They have four grown children and seven grandchildren. Margie enjoys rowing and is a fan of chamber music.

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