Emily Woodbury | St. Louis Public Radio

Emily Woodbury

“St. Louis On The Air” Senior Producer

Emily Woodbury joined the St. Louis on the Air team in July 2019. Prior to that, she worked at Iowa Public Radio as a producer for two daily, statewide talk programs. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa with a degree in journalism and a minor in political science. She got her start in news radio by working at her college radio station as a news director. Emily enjoys playing roller derby, working with dogs, and playing games – both video and tabletop.

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Cindy Lefton has worked as a registered nurse for 37 years. For her, the job requires attention to not only patients’ physical needs, but to their loved ones, helping them know they're in good hands.

Lefton did just that for Dana Nichols Scott when Scott’s younger brother was in the emergency room in 2001. Scott said that even though she knew her brother wouldn’t make it, Lefton helped her family feel at peace.

“Cindy was so awesome. She was caring and made me and my family feel so good at the time,” Scott said. “Even when I think of that time now, during troubled times, I feel at peace because there are people like Cindy around to help people.”

The mysterious Fiddle Assassin has been playing music on the streets of Alton during the pandemic.
Courtesy of the Fiddle Assassin

A masked violinist has been making music while strolling the streets of Alton. Local rumor has it that she last played during the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic and that she lives on an island in the Mississippi River.

She calls herself the Fiddle Assassin and claims her only enemy is the coronavirus.

“[I’m] trying to assassinate these bad vibes,” she said Tuesday on St. Louis on the Air.

The Fiddle Assassin has been playing an electric violin for several weeks, walking through downtown Alton and playing on street corners with a tiny, battery-powered amplifier attached to her hip.

A teacher tutors a student at the Nahed Chapman New American Academy.
Day One

The documentary “Day One” follows a group of teenage refugees enrolled at a unique public school in St. Louis: the Nahed Chapman New American Academy. The school only enrolls refugees and immigrants, some of whom come from war-torn countries.

“With a lot of refugees, they’re really just surviving — in the beginning especially — on a day-to-day basis,” said the documentary’s producer and director, Lori Miller, on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air. “They’re learning a new language; they’re trying to survive economically.”

“I think this ‘soft place to land’ does make a difference for the kids,” she said.

Tents at the encampment off Market Street, where about 50 unhoused individuals have lived for weeks. 5/1/20
File photo | Lindsay Toler | St. Louis Public Radio

Residents of what had been St. Louis’ largest homeless encampment, located just off Market Street in downtown St. Louis, are now on the move.

St. Louis Health Director Fredrick Echols ordered the camp to be cleared on April 29, saying it poses a public health risk of spreading the coronavirus.

The camp’s 50 or so residents had resisted moving to shelters during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, despite a push from the city. Campers cited concerns ranging from fear of greater exposure to COVID-19 to being unable to bring their possessions to city-run shelters. But after the city ordered residents to vacate the encampment last week — and a federal judge ruled against a temporary restraining order meant to halt the city’s effort — they now have little choice but to find somewhere else to stay.

Michael Kahn is a writer and works as senior counsel at Capes Sokol law firm in Clayton.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

What started as a dare from his wife has blossomed into an 11-part book series for attorney Michael Kahn. Kahn works as senior counsel at Capes Sokol law firm in Clayton by day, and by night, he writes mystery novels. 

The first Rachel Gold mystery novel was published in 1988. The protagonist, Gold, grew up in University City, and references to the city of St. Louis are sprinkled throughout the series. 

“After that first novel, [Gold] moved back to St. Louis where she’s from,” Kahn said. “After her father passed away, she wanted to be closer to her mom, and that’s where she’s been for the last 10 novels.”

The latest in his Rachel Gold series is called “Bad Trust.” In it, Gold gets involved in two lawsuits that spiral out of control, “one ending in murder, the other in courtroom humiliation.”

health officials are expecting the peak on/around April 25. But another, potentially worse, peak could come if businesses/etc try to go back to normal before wide-spread testing becomes available.
Nat Thomas | St. Louis Public Radio

In mid-April, the incident commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, Dr. Alex Garza, predicted that hospitalizations of COVID-19 cases in the region would peak around April 25. It’s impossible to say whether the city has hit the peak until time has passed and the overall trend becomes clear, but it could be the case that recent days have been as bad for local hospitals as it will get.

According to Dr. Kristen Mueller, an emergency medicine physician at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, the overall volume of patients coming to the emergency room is actually down.

St. Louis musician John Henry's new album is titled, "Out At Sea."
Nate Burrell

Embracing the new virtual landscape many performance artists find themselves in during the age of social distancing, St. Louis musician John Henry is using a Kickstarter campaign for pre-orders of his new album, “Out At Sea.”

If the fundraiser is successful, donors will not only receive a record and a screen print from local shop Sleepy Kitty, they will also be supporting a cause close to Henry’s heart: mental health advocacy. 

“A few years ago we lost a band member to suicide, so mental health was a major issue that we dealt with. It was a huge loss, and it was a very confusing time,” Henry said Friday on St. Louis on the Air. “I think a lot of men, in a certain respect, are taught to bury this so you don’t see it, and that’s when it becomes very dangerous, I feel like.”

Dr. Raul Artal Mittelmark stands in his St. Louis University office before retiring in 2014.
St. Louis University

On April 22, 1943, Dr. Raul Artal-Mittelmark was born in a Nazi concentration camp in Transnistria, a region in Eastern Europe. 

“It was a very difficult breech delivery; I came into the world with my feet first,” Artal-Mittelmark said Wednesday on St. Louis on the Air. “Luckily, there was a physician in the camp … who knew what to do. He saved my mother’s and my life.”

Amy Taylor bought her home in University City with the hope of sharing it with strangers.

“When I was renovating a home in Connecticut, a good friend of mine — a retired psychiatrist — asked me if I wanted to stay at her home while my kitchen was being renovated, and I absolutely loved it. We had another roommate, Adam, and the three of us basically sort of formed a family unit,” Taylor said. “So when I moved to St. Louis, I specifically bought a home where I could see how I could have roommates.”

Affinia Healthcare's staff and nurses take a moment for prayer before the first day of testing at their Biddle Street location on April 2.
File photo | Kendra Holmes

On April 8, St. Louis Health Director Dr. Fred Echols brought attention to the fact that, at that point, all 12 people who died of COVID-19 in St. Louis were African American. This echoed what other cities have experienced in treating COVID-19 patients: There are racial disparities in who is more at risk of a COVID-19 diagnosis due to long-standing socioeconomic factors that have disproportionately affected black Americans.

“The virus is showing us ourselves. It’s showing us the truth of the way in which people have to live in order to survive and do the best for them and their families,” said Washington University’s Dr. Laurie Punch, who is currently working in Christian Hospital Northeast’s ICU.

“And because we live in such a highly segregated city, which has scars in it carved by the knife that is structural racism,” Punch continued, “it’s not surprising that there is such a dramatic difference in the incidence of the disease and then the death by the disease when you look at north versus south St. Louis.”

With schools closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, students have had to adapt to trying to keep up with lessons remotely, from living rooms, kitchen tables and bedrooms.
Nat Thomas | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s not news that parents are struggling with suddenly being cast into the role of virtual teacher. They didn’t sign up for two jobs, and most of them didn’t train to be educators. So how can parents do the best they can for their children, while staying sane, in the weeks ahead? 

“Structure up,” said Gina Jeffries, director of SIUE East St. Louis Charter High School. “Make sure that everybody knows what their role is. The roles have changed.”

Employees at Dierbergs in Ballwin bag customer groceries on March 21, 2020. Local grocery stores have been particularly busy in recent weeks, as shoppers rush to stock up on essentials during the COVID-19 pandemic.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The union that represents thousands of grocery and other retail workers in the St. Louis area is asking Missouri Gov. Mike Parson to mandate that customers cover their faces while shopping in retail facilities deemed essential businesses.

“Most of the retailers that I represent today, and a lot of the nonunion ones, are now providing some type of mask for their employees,” said David Cook, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655. “And that’s great — the mask protects the public from getting an infection from them — but nothing protects them from the public.”

Cook said that the CDC specifically mentions grocery stores in its latest recommendation that customers wear cloth facial coverings in public. The union sent its letter to the governor’s office today.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that health care workers interacting with a coronavirus patient wear a heavy-duty mask called an N95 respirator.
michael_swan | Flickr

At the St. Louis hospital where Emma Crocker works as a registered nurse, only employees working in areas with confirmed COVID-19 patients, like the emergency room and the ICU, were given N95 masks from the hospital’s collection. 

“The CDC, when they first came out, recommended the use of N95 masks for every health care worker, but we know that there’s a shortage — there’s a limited supply, which is actually what’s hindering us the most right now,” said Crocker.

N95 masks are in short supply across the country, and the hospital said they were conserving their supply.

St. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps on duty during the 1918 Influenza epidemic.
Library of Congress

In determining the best guidelines for government action during the COVID-19 outbreak, city leaders and officials are looking at how different metros responded during the 1918 flu pandemic. The general consensus is that because St. Louis implemented more extensive quarantine measures, the area had a lower death rate than other cities — like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York City.

In his latest piece, Chris Naffziger, who writes about history and architecture for St. Louis Magazine, wrote that while city officials managed to prevent the deaths of thousands during the pandemic of 1918 through 1920, St. Louis’ response to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic wasn't quite what we've been told.

Teams work on responding to COVID-19 at the St. Louis County Office of Emergency Management in Ballwin on March 13, 2020.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Medical ethicists are trained to confront ethical questions in medicine, and the novel coronavirus raises quite a few.

For instance, in China and Italy, there have been reports of hospitals being forced to ration care for COVID-19 patients. This form of rationing care and prioritizing treatment is determined by a hospital’s crisis standards of care guidelines.

Families and friends are finding alternative ways to connect in response to stay-at-home orders as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Heathzib | Flickr

Even before the outbreak of COVID-19 forced mass social distancing — keeping friends and family members apart for the sake of their health — many seniors felt isolated, particularly those living in nursing homes and assisted living communities.

For those who were already lonely or isolated, things are likely to get worse in the months ahead, as caregivers find themselves overwhelmed and strained and as social distancing recommendations remain in place. 

Ken Burns' new film, "East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story," explores the history of a former public housing community in Atlanta.

Documentarian Ken Burns’ latest work, “East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story,” explores the history of a former public housing community in Atlanta. It features the stories of residents and raises critical questions about race, poverty and public assistance.

The film premieres Tuesday, March 24, at 7 p.m. on PBS.

Tim Eby is St. Louis Public Radio's general manager.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Public health considerations and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to be at the forefront of daily life. Among those effects, the last few weeks have been incredibly tough for journalists and nonprofits alike, St. Louis Public Radio included.

The station is dealing with the difficulties of being dependent on members, even as they face serious anxiety as well as real or potential losses in income. St. Louis Public Radio continues to cover the news while minimizing in-person contact. That is not easy.

Benjamin Yates, right, works on a puzzle with his mother, Tracy, and brother, Nicholas, at their Webster Groves home.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

The summer slide — the propensity for students to lose academic progress made during the school year — is something educators have expressed concern about for years. 

With the region’s schools being closed until at least early April due to the COVID-19 outbreak, teachers and administrators are working to make sure such a slide doesn’t happen this spring as well.

Rebecca Lester is an associate professor of sociocultural anthropology and a licensed clinical social worker.

According to Washington University’s Rebecca Lester, eating disorders are among the most misunderstood medical conditions. For instance, she says, there’s an assumption that eating disorders are only a problem for upper-middle-class white girls — while that’s not completely off base, it’s just a sliver of the story.

In “Famished: Eating Disorders and Failed Care in America,” Lester looks closely at the impact of common misconceptions of eating disorders, as well as the way the U.S. health care system often fails to provide the types of treatment needed.

The new coronavirus has been detected in dozens of countries, including the United States. It gets its name from its protruding spikes, which resemble a crown.
Nat Thomas | St. Louis Public Radio

There is a lot of anxiety swirling right now over the new coronavirus. There’s also a lot of misinformation. 

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, Dr. Alexis Elward joined host Sarah Fenske to help set the record straight and answer listener questions and concerns. Elward is an infectious disease physician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Elward says that health care providers are still being careful about who they test for COVID-19, with tests mainly limited to people likely to have had contact with an infected person.

MADCO's show "Resilience" explores the impact of trauma through movement.
Modern American Dance Academy

Modern American Dance Company’s new show “Resilience” is not what you might picture when you consider a dance performance. The MADCO show features four pieces, each touching on a type of trauma — everything from losing a child to the loss of one’s sanity — with a focus on battling adversity through movement. 

One of the show’s choreographers, Carl Flink, was inspired to create a piece based on what he observed caring for his mother as she underwent chemotherapy for both breast cancer and, eventually, lymphoma. 

Jeff Smith is the executive director of the Missouri Workforce Housing Association.

A former Missouri state senator, Jeff Smith was sentenced to a year and a day in prison after being charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice over election law violations during his 2004 campaign.

The experience led him to write the book, “Mr. Smith Goes to Prison: What My Year Behind Bars Taught Me About America's Prison Crisis.” And since his release, he’s worked to reform the criminal justice system and help other former offenders get their lives back on track.

"City on a Hill: A History of American Exceptionalism" examines the 1630 sermon "City on a Hill" by Massachusetts Bay Governor John Winthrop.
Emily Woodbury | St. Louis Public Radio

When a country’s origin story is developed, whose stories get highlighted and whose get erased? How do we foster the ideals of a nation while recognizing that some perspectives have been trampled during the nation’s history?

These are among several questions Abram Van Engen explores in his new book, “City on a Hill: A History of American Exceptionalism,” which examines the 1630 City on a Hill sermon by Massachusetts Bay Gov. John Winthrop.

Charles and the full moon on February 8, 2020.
Mark Glenshaw

Mark Glenshaw is obsessed with owls. By day, he is a manager at Fontbonne University’s library; but by night, he frequents a discrete area of Forest Park, checking in on a great horned owl he named Charles. 

Glenshaw has been observing Charles for almost 15 years, sometimes as often as six or seven days a week. In that time, he’s seen some owl lady friends come and go. Charles’ longtime partner, Sarah, died of natural causes a few years ago. Glenshaw watched another owl take her place, only to be chased away by a more aggressive owl. He named her Samantha, after the character Samantha in "Sex and the City."

More than 80 GOP lawmakers at the Missouri State Capitol recently signed a letter asking the Missouri Supreme Court to revoke the bond rules the court established in 2019.
Jim Bowen | Flickr

Last July, the Missouri Supreme Court enacted rules requiring judges to first consider non-monetary conditions for pretrial release when setting bail conditions. Under these new rules, judges can still set bail, but only at an amount that would ensure public safety and that the defendant would appear in court.

Since then, high-profile crimes — including an October shooting at a Kansas City bar — have led to backlash against the new Missouri Supreme Court rules. More than 80 Missouri state representatives signed on to a letter asking the court to revoke the new bond rules. They say they’ve heard from law enforcement officials who have concerns about suspects re-offending before facing trial. They argue that the court overstepped its boundaries and that these new rules, meant to address a problem facing a small number of courts, place a significant burden on all courts across the state.

J. Eric Robinson is an assistant professor of history at St. Louis College of Pharmacy and proprietor of J. E. Robinson tours.

The town of Alton was a major stop for escaped slaves making their way to freedom from St. Louis.

Some runaways stayed in Alton, and some continued north to Canada. Though Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery nationally, it wasn’t necessarily a friendly place to escaped former slaves.

Missouri native Brady Sims is ranked No. 27 in the world among professional bull riders.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Often referred to as the most dangerous eight seconds in sports, bull riding is not for the faint of heart. In fact, the medical director for the international organization Professional Bull Riders estimates that about 1 in 15 rides results in injury. Yet, the sport is gaining popularity.

Since PBR was founded in 1992, the sport has grown into a global phenomenon. Over the course of a weeklong competition, riders can earn up to six figures in prize money.

This weekend, PBR is hosting a competition at the Enterprise Center. Riders and their bulls will be coming to St. Louis with several events already under their belt, and competition this year has been tough.

Washington University's Clinic for Acceptance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) is one of two clinics in St. Louis that provides care for pregnant women facing the challenges of an opioid use disorder.

Washington University’s Clinic for Acceptance, Recovery and Empowerment treats women who become pregnant while dealing with an opioid use disorder. It provides prenatal care, substance abuse treatment and extended postpartum support. 

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, the clinic’s medical director said there is a high demand for these services in the St. Louis region.

“We started as a half-a-day-a-week clinic, and volume has expanded so much that we are opening a second half-day in addition to our original,” said Dr. Jeannie Kelly. “We have seen a pretty high number [of clients] in our clinic.”

The Lone Wolf Club, shown here, was a speakeasy during Prohibition. The club, which stood at the edge of what is now Castlewood State Park, later became a private tavern.
Castlewood State Park

The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution established the prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. Enforcement of the new law started on Jan. 17, 1920.

In this episode of St. Louis on the Air, we recognize the 100th anniversary of Prohibition by diving into St. Louis’ rich Prohibition-era history.