Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Evie Hemphill

“St. Louis on the Air” Producer

Evie Hemphill joined the St. Louis on the Air team in February 2018. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English literature in 2005, she started her career as a reporter for the Westminster Window in Colorado. Several years later she went on to pursue graduate work in creative writing at the University of Wyoming and moved to St. Louis upon earning an MFA in the spring of 2010. She worked as writer and editor for Washington University Libraries until 2014 and then spent several more years in public relations for the University of Missouri–St. Louis before making the shift to St. Louis Public Radio.

When she’s not helping to produce the talk show, Evie can typically be found navigating the city sans car, volunteering for St. Louis BWorks or trying to get the majority of the dance steps correct as a member of the Thunder & Lightning Cloggers of Southern Illinois. She’s married to Joe, cat-mom to Dash and rather obsessive about doubt, certitude and the places where refuge and risk intersect.

Tom Hoerr and Mindy Bier joined host Sarah Fenske for a conversation before a live audience Feb. 20.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

This interview will air on “St. Louis on the Air” over the noon hour Monday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

Today’s teachers and school administrators are under increasing pressure on many fronts. There is the increased focus on standardized testing, the large class sizes and the funding issues, not to mention the outside-the-classroom challenges complicating their students’ ability to learn.

In the midst of all of this comes a refreshing focus — and a new graduate-level course — from two University of Missouri-St. Louis-connected leaders: Mindy Bier, co-director of the university’s Center for Character and Citizenship, and Tom Hoerr, assistant teaching professor and scholar in residence in the College of Education and former head of the New City School

During this year’s Pierre Laclede Society Community Confluence donor event that took place at UMSL Thursday evening (Feb. 20), Bier and Hoerr talked with St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske. They discussed how a servant leadership model can help educators avoid empathy fatigue and foster social-emotional learning among educators and children alike.

The conversation was recorded for broadcast and will air during Monday’s noon show (Feb. 24).

This interview will air on “St. Louis on the Air” at noon Monday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

St. Louis County’s jail population has dropped significantly over the past couple years. The decrease has been touted as one positive outcome among wide-ranging justice reform efforts that began in the wake of Ferguson protests.

Much work remains — and thanks to MacArthur-grant-funded research led by University of Missouri-St. Louis Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice Beth Huebner, collaboration between the researchers and the county, its circuit court and service providers continues.

During this year’s Pierre Laclede Society Community Confluence donor event that took place at UMSL Thursday evening (Feb. 20), St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske talked about ongoing efforts in the county, and addressed lingering challenges. She was joined by Huebner, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page and Julia Fogelberg, director of diversion and special programs for the St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office.

The conversation was recorded for broadcast and will air during Monday’s noon show (Feb. 24).

Robert Davis and Shayne Danielson
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

For the occasional traveler, “TSA” likely conjures images of opening laptop bags, taking off shoes, lifting arms overhead and hoping against hope that there’s no spare change hiding in a pocket. But for Transportation Security Administration manager Robert Davis, that scene has about as much to do with customer service as it does airport security — and earlier this month, he was honored in a big way for his efforts.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport named Davis its Ambassador of the Year at the airport’s annual employee celebration. The kudos came as part of the airport’s Catch Us Giving program, after Davis helped an international traveler avoid what could have otherwise turned into a travel nightmare.

Davis — who began working for the TSA when it was created in 2002 and has been at Lambert throughout the 18 years since — joined host Sarah Fenske during St. Louis on the Air on Wednesday.

Ernest Emmanuel Peeples as Lu in Ghost
Jennifer A. Lin | Metro Theater Company

This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” over the noon hour Tuesday (Feb. 25). This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

As an actor, Ernest Emmanuel Peeples has portrayed a real range of characters — from Hamlet to the Ghost of Christmas Present. But in recent months, one particular theatrical role stands out from the rest: the opportunity to portray Lu, one of the adolescents at the center of Jason Reynolds’ wildly popular young adult novels, one of which is now also a play.

Like Peeples, the character Lu has albinism, a genetic condition involving a lack of pigment that affects one’s skin, hair and eyes. Having this in common with a character is a first for Peeples, and a meaningful one.

“Lu is given the opportunity to just be a normal person,” Peeples explains. “Typically when you see characters with albinistic characteristics, they’re presented in an overly antagonistic or monstrous way, devoid of true human emotions to the point that they're bad or angry or evil simply due to the fact that they're different. Or they're overly sympathetic.”

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Peeples will talk with host Sarah Fenske about his role in Metro Theater Company’s “Ghost,” which runs now through March 1 at the Grandel Theatre. The production is directed by Jacqueline Thompson, who will also join the on-air conversation.

The 200-foot-tall St. Louis Wheel, which opened in September, continues to draw a crowd to Union Station.
File photo | David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Following months of crowds and fanfare, most of the infrastructure associated with the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair was demolished soon after the festivities ended. That included George Ferris Jr.’s giant wheel, which had debuted in Chicago in 1893 and boasted 36 observation cars — “each the size of a Bi-State bus,” as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch later described them.

But Ferris’ legacy survived the dynamite and has seen something of a resurgence locally since the opening of the 200-foot St. Louis Wheel at Union Station last fall. And last Friday, wheel-goers found a special celebration underway: a Valentine’s Day-themed observance of National Ferris Wheel Day.

St. Louis on the Air producers stopped by to take in the scene and speak with riders. Then, on Monday, host Sarah Fenske led a discussion about St. Louis observation wheels past and present.

From left, Michele Norris, Aisha Sultan and Colleen Starkloff will joined host Sarah Fenske live during Wednesday's show.
Images courtesy Michele Norris, Eddie Hafiz and the Starkloff Disability Institute

Increasingly more companies, organizations and governmental entities are establishing formal units focused on diversity and inclusion — the St. Louis County Police Department is one recent example in the bi-state region. But even as awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion grows, it can sometimes seem like something that all too often gets stuck at the level of lip service rather than leading to real change.

Webster University is aiming to move the needle “From Conversation to Action” over the course of its four-day Diversity & Inclusion Conference set for Feb. 24-27. All of the sessions are free and open to the public, with journalist and former NPR host Michele Norris, founder of The Race Card Project, giving the keynote address.

Darwin Aquino grew up in the Dominican Republic playing the violin before becoming a conductor and composer.
August Jennewein | University of Missouri-St. Louis

For about a year, Darwin Aquino has been serving as conductor of the orchestras at both the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Washington University. And on Tuesday evening, the two groups under his direction rehearsed together for the first time ever. Final preparations are underway for their distinctive concert this Sunday, where they’ll combine musical forces to present music from several popular video games, films and more.

“It’s the music that we hear every day, and especially our young people,” he said during Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air. “They are hearing that music while they play the video games or they see a movie. So that’s why we decided for this very special event [to] put two university orchestras together … playing the music of today.”

Capt. Garon Mosby (at left), the St. Louis Fire Department's spokesman, and Chief Dennis Jenkerson joined Thursday's show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

News crews haven’t had a monopoly on live footage of breaking news and emergency situations in quite some time. Among other innovations, the proliferation of cellphone video — especially video taken by bystanders during first-responder interactions with citizens — has been a game-changer in recent years for the public’s understanding of such events.

Production companies including Big Fish Entertainment have also turned their cameras toward the real-life drama. And in “Live Rescue,” a Big Fish show currently airing on the A&E Network, St. Louisans are finding themselves in the spotlight.

Adia Harvey Wingfield joined Wednesday's talk show.
Sean Garcia

Washington University’s Adia Harvey Wingfield, who is a professor of sociology, has long been interested in the ways that race, class and gender influence everyday workplace structures and interactions. Her most recent book, “Flatlining: Race, Work, and Health Care in the New Economy,” looks closely at the experiences of black workers in health care — as does a new study of which she is the co-author.

Focused around 60 in-depth interviews with black doctors, nurses and technicians, the study suggests that among people of color, one’s professional status within an organizational hierarchy has a significant effect on how one perceives instances of racial discrimination.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Harvey Wingfield joined host Sarah Fenske to discuss the implications of this research for the health care industry and beyond.

February 5, 2020 Link Market
Courtesy of Link Market

In January, St. Louis’ regional transit agency considered taking on operation of the embattled Loop Trolley — and ultimately declined to do so. At this month’s meeting of the Bi-State Development board, a totally different project’s future will come before the agency: the two shipping-container-sized grocery stores located along MetroLink in north St. Louis County.

From left, Kelly Von Plonski, Ignacio Sanchez Prado and Kris Kleindienst joined Tuesday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Twenty-nine years ago this spring, Jeanine Cummins lost two of her cousins in a brutal attack on the old Chain of Rocks Bridge that spans the Mississippi River about 10 miles north of downtown St. Louis — now a popular pedestrian bridge. Her brother was also a victim in the incident. He survived, but the impact on the Cumminses and their loved ones reverberated for years.

In 2004, Cummins published a memoir about the aftermath of that crime, “A Rip in Heaven: A Memoir of Murder and Its Aftermath.” But the strong attention it got pales in comparison to the press Cummins’ latest book, a work of fiction titled “American Dirt” (January 2020, Flatiron Books), has garnered in recent days. 

Oprah Winfrey endorsed the novel for her book club, and the New York Times’ book review gave it a rave. But not all of the press has been good. Some critics blasted it, saying its ascent came at the expense of authentic Latino voices. The outcry led Left Bank Books to cancel Cummins’ planned appearance on Jan. 26 at the Ethical Society of St. Louis.

Local shock jock Bob Romanik may finally be facing a moment of accountability.
Alan Levine/Flickr

For years, Bob Romanik’s presence on St. Louis-area AM radio airwaves has been marked by constant, overt racism. Somehow, the Illinois-based shock jock remains on air, as the Riverfront Times’ Danny Wicentowski notes in his latest reporting on the saga.

But as Wicentowski detailed in his story published Monday, the current Federal Communications Commission investigation surrounding Romanik has to do with something else: evidence that he is acting as the de facto owner of Entertainment Media Trust, which owns multiple radio stations in the region. As a felon, that’s something Romanik is barred from doing.

Jane Halprin, an FCC administrative law judge, issued an order last Friday setting a Feb. 10 deadline for EMT’s attorney to explain, as Wicentowski reported, “why she shouldn't throw the license renewal applications out due to ‘EMT’s continuous efforts at obfuscation.’”

Maria Ellis leads a rehearsal on Jan. 22 in UMSL's Music Building.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Growing up in north St. Louis County, where she was leading choirs by the time she was 12 years old, Maria Ellis remembers thinking about St. Louis Children’s Choirs as “the ultimate vocal group.” But as her alma mater, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, notes in a recent UMSL Daily story about Ellis’ journey, Ellis couldn’t afford to join the SLCC program as a child.

She did participate in one of the organization’s community honor choirs, and now she’s come full circle, having landed a position as SLCC’s community engagement manager several years ago. But shortly after starting that job, she realized the north St. Louis County honor choir she’d so enjoyed as a child was no more. Now, in 2020, it’s coming back, thanks to Ellis.

Dozens of children in grades three through six are now gathering for regular rehearsals on UMSL’s campus — a place that was pivotal for Ellis’ own musical journey.

The city of St. Louis alone contains roughly 2,000 miles worth of sidewalks, which vary widely in design and overall condition.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

In an age of crumbling infrastructure across the U.S., sidewalks have been no exception to the pattern of decay. The city of St. Louis alone is home to roughly 2,000 miles worth of sidewalks, and both the physical condition and suitability of those streetside pathways vary widely.

David Newburger, St. Louis’ commissioner on the disabled, thinks about sidewalks quite a bit. He notes that he’s old enough to remember when curb cuts — sloped curb faces that are particularly critical for someone using a wheelchair — were few and far between. These days, Newburger says, a lot of effort goes into the design of new sidewalks to ensure that they are safe and passable for everyone, including pedestrians with disabilities.

Nancy Weaver joined Thursday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

When news breaks about a dangerous situation, it’s natural to wonder what one might have done in a similar scenario: Tried to help? Been courageous? Perhaps made things worse?

Running into burning buildings and shielding others from active shooters may be the sort of dramatic situations that come to mind. But far subtler opportunities to intervene on behalf of fellow humans come up more regularly than one may recognize — right in the grocery checkout aisle, for example, when witnessing a tense parent-child interaction.

That’s the sort of scene Nancy Weaver and her colleagues at St. Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice have been helping others around the region visualize and then learn to respond to in positive, practical ways.

Barr branch library
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

In some ways, the concept behind St. Louis Public Library’s Creative Experience makerspace, located at its downtown branch, sounds pretty simple: It’s a space dedicated to creating things. But as makers of all sorts of stuff know, it can be difficult to bring even the best ideas to fruition without the right tools.

That’s where Creative Experience comes in — providing studio-quality software and equipment to help bring many different kinds of projects to life.

Lucy Grimshaw, Sha-Lai Williams and Courtney McDermott
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

University of Missouri-St. Louis sophomore Lucy Grimshaw grew up learning about Martin Luther King Jr. and the fraught times that shaped his life and death. But none of those lessons stuck with her quite like what she experienced last spring while touring places associated with key events of the civil rights movement.

As she visited sites such as Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, where four young girls were killed in a racist bombing, and Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, where law enforcement officers brutally attacked black protesters on a day later known as Bloody Sunday, Grimshaw and fellow UMSL students reflected each evening on what they were seeing and learning.

They did so under the guidance of UMSL School of Social Work faculty members Courtney McDermott and Sha-Lai Williams, who co-taught the trip as part of a Pierre Laclede Honors College course offered to students coming from various academic and ethnic backgrounds.

From left, Ness Sandoval and Shawn Steadman
Emily Woodbury | St. Louis Public Radio

Vast wildfires in Australia, California and elsewhere continue to have wide-sweeping impacts, testing the limits of firefighters on the front lines and presenting new challenges for experts in all sorts of sectors. At St. Louis University’s Geospatial Institute — also known as GeoSLU — researchers are using remotely sensed images and spatial analysis to extend our understanding of these disasters and others.

The geospatial technology helps them predict wildfires as well as map the extent and severity of wildfires after they have occurred.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske led a conversation about the difference this research can make. She talked with Ness Sandoval, associate professor of sociology at St. Louis University and an associate director of the Geospatial Institute, and with Shawn Steadman, director of SLU’s emergency management program.

From left, Ray Hartmann and Rachel Lippmann joined Wednesday's show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Lots of things set St. Louis apart from other Missouri municipalities, from its fixation with the high school question to bread-sliced bagels. So the fact that the city of St. Louis is one of few municipalities in the state with a residency requirement for most of its government employees is hardly its most defining.

But right now, it might be the most hotly contested. After the Board of Aldermen rejected last fall Mayor Lyda Krewson’s plan to put the issue to voters — and have city residents decide whether to continue requiring city workers to live within the city limits — Krewson is now pushing for the Legislature to take up her cause. House leadership seems on board.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with longtime local journalist Ray Hartmann, who has a column in this week’s Riverfront Times on this subject. Also joining the discussion was St. Louis Public Radio reporter Rachel Lippmann.

From left, Dr. Bahar Bastani and attorney Javad Khazaeli joined Tuesday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The year 2020 is still in its infancy, yet it’s already been marked by a slew of troubling events near and far — from gun violence in St. Louis, to devastating wildfires in Australia, to dramatically escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Many Americans may feel far removed from violence and loss in another part of the world, despite direct U.S. involvement, and everyday life goes on. But for those with loved ones based in volatile, vulnerable places, or who have deep cultural ties to a country such as Iran, the latest round of disturbing headlines can carry a lot more weight.

St. Louisan Jaleh Fazelian, who lived in Iran as a small child, felt a wave of worry after America’s assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iran’s ensuing attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq — and the accounts from Iranian Americans who said they were detained for hours last week along the U.S.-Canada border. She wondered what’s next, both in terms of potential war and when it comes to questioning people’s citizenship.

From left, Sunni Hutton, Ryan Krull and Jesse Bogan joined Monday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Samuel Rodgers has been a tenant at TEH Realty’s Blue Fountain apartment complex in St. Louis’ Baden neighborhood for about 13 years. Early on, he had relatively few complaints about his living situation. But in recent years, maintenance of the property has plummeted dramatically.

“I’ve been about three or four years without heat in my apartment, so I have these space heaters to try to stay warm, my shower’s not working right,” Rodgers told St. Louis on the Air in a phone interview this week. “I need a whole new toilet — they still haven’t replaced that. My kitchen sink [is] jacked up; I have to take a bucket and get water from the tub to transfer the water from the tub into my kitchen sink to do my dishes.”

At another TEH complex in St. Louis, Southwest Crossing in Carondelet, the situation has deteriorated to the point that Mayor Lyda Krewson and mortgage loan corporation Freddie Mac last month each filed suit against TEH. Southwest Crossing residents began taking actions of their own, too.

Auarium collage of images
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station opened with a big splash on Christmas Day. Thousands of area residents have been streaming through its gates in the two weeks since, and aquarium staff have had to turn some families away due to sellout crowds.

For executive director Tami Brown, that's been the only downside of an otherwise successful launch of the new downtown destination. Many visitors have expressed excitement about their experiences, staff have been enthusiastic about their interactions with visitors and animals, and the marine species that  now call the aquarium home seem to be adapting well.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Brown joined host Sarah Fenske for a deeper dive into the new activity at Union Station. Joining the conversation was St. Louis Aquarium curator Aaron Sprowl, who discussed the wide-ranging creatures and their transition to a new space. The segment included an audio tour of the aquarium, first impressions from children and adults alike, and plenty of questions from listeners who called into the show.

Waller McGuire and Kristen Sorth
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Two of the largest library systems in the St. Louis region are axing fines for overdue library materials.

St. Louis County Library and St. Louis Public Library join a trend of major metropolitan library districts across the U.S. — including those of Kansas City, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Chicago — that have eliminated fines for their users in an effort to increase access and equity within the communities they serve.

“We have seen a lot of studies out there that say fines are not the incentive to get people to bring their books back,” said Kristen Sorth, the director of the St. Louis County Library district. “And so, we still want the books back. You just don’t have to come back and pay a fine.”

Image of cliffs by Andy Magee
Andy Magee

A year ago this week, Andy Magee set out on a 365-day quest to visit every single location within the U.S. National Park System. His initial travels happened to coincide with a government shutdown in January 2019 that made access to some parks difficult, but Magee didn’t let those early, unexpected challenges stop him.

Now, after having spent the holidays exploring various parks in Hawaii, the local artist and co-owner of Cioci’s Picture Mart in Kirkwood has brought his journey to a close. On Tuesday, he checked the final site off his to-visit list: the Gateway Arch.

He joined host Sarah Fenske on St. Louis on the Air Friday to look back on the highlights and lessons from his trip.

St. Louis police Sgt. Heather Taylor is president of the Ethical Society of Police.
Heather Taylor

In mid-December, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page touted his police department’s promotion of Keith Wildhaber as a key step toward thoughtful change within the department. The news that Wildhaber will lead a new diversity and inclusion unit came in the wake of a $20 million verdict in Wildhaber’s favor — after a jury agreed that county police had discriminated against the gay officer because of his sexual orientation.

But the Ethical Society of Police, which represents many black officers in the St. Louis region, soon put out a statement that was significantly less enthusiastic.

The Loop Trolley drew a crowd of people hoping to catch a ride on its last day Sunday.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Over the past 13 months, the Loop Trolley regularly traveled a 2.2-mile route from the Missouri History Museum to the Delmar Loop and back again several days each week. But on Sunday afternoon, it made its final few laps along those tracks — at least for now — before going out of service due to funding problems.

St. Louis on the Air connected with people who were gathered at the history museum stop that day to bid the trolley farewell, many of them hoping to ride it for the first and potentially last time.

And while the trolley struggled to attract robust ridership over the course of its months in operation, it faced a different challenge on its last day: There were so many would-be riders that some were turned away. In addition, only one of the two operating trolley vehicles was in service Sunday, and it encountered technical issues that caused significant delays on its final trip.

From left, Mark Smith, Bill Freivogel and Nicole Gorovsky joined Monday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s been a busy and in some instances bizarre few weeks of legal news on both the regional and federal level — from the prospect of legal jeopardy for public defenders to a case involving a St. Louis-area doctor and his child bride.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske convened this month’s Legal Roundtable for a closer look at these stories and other recent developments pertaining to the law.

Also in the lineup was the latest news surrounding St. Louis County Police Department Sgt. Keith Wildhaber — who has been tasked with overseeing a new diversity and inclusion unit after winning a $20 million jury verdict for sex discrimination — and a $113 million judgment facing Missouri taxpayers in light of an appellate court ruling about state corrections officers’ back pay.

Dionna Raedeke (at left), Beverly Brennan (center) and Robert Breig joined Friday's show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis cabaret scene got a boost this fall with the debut of the Blue Strawberry, a dining and show destination on the eastern edge of the Central West End. A quick glance at the venue’s music calendar reveals a steady parade of performers — continuing on into the new year.

And during the first weekend of 2020, New York-based singer/songwriter Rick Jensen will be collaborating with local cabaret performers, together presenting three consecutive evenings of storytelling and song.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske got a preview from cabaret artists Beverly Brennan, Robert Breig and Dionna Raedeke.

From left, Chloe Owens and Kneeshe Parkinson joined Wednesday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

As Chloe Owens looks toward the new year, she’s thinking about it from the perspective of an activist — and well aware of the challenges that come with 2020 being an election year.

“A lot of people in this field expect a lot of things not to get done,” Owens, a justice organizer with Empower Missouri, acknowledged. And yet she sees an exception to that pattern in the momentum surrounding a current bipartisan effort to modernize Missouri’s statutes relating to HIV transmission and criminalization.

In the Missouri House, Reps. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, and Tracy McCreery, D-St. Louis, have each pre-filed bills for 2020 that they see as addressing an important public health issue. At present, people living with HIV in Missouri can face consequences on par with a murder conviction for transmitting the disease. That’s even though HIV is no longer the killer that it was during the disease’s early days.

This draft concept image depicts a vision for a greenway segment along North Grand.
Great Rivers Greenway

What once was a plan to build a continuous greenway along St. Louis’ Chouteau Avenue has morphed into something even bigger — and, after a year of planning and civic engagement, Great Rivers Greenway has released a 140-page document outlining the overall aims of the project.

Described as a “major public-private partnership to bring a longtime vision to life,” the design and construction phases are still to come. But the overall plan involves creating a network of up to 20 miles of paved paths in the city, stretching east to west from the Arch to Forest Park and north to south from Fairground Park to Tower Grove Park.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske got a status update from Emma Klues, Great Rivers Greenway’s vice president of communications and outreach.

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