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.

Edna Diertele, among others, will be on hand at the Campbell House Museum for its annual Twilight Tours this Friday.
Mourning Society of St. Louis

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

Halloween-related celebrations are legion in St. Louis, with wide-ranging revelry options available each year for enthusiasts of every sort. At the Campbell House Museum — located downtown and at the less ghoulish end of the Halloween spectrum — the holiday observance typically involves a lot of history as well as a coffin, leeches and more.

This month marks 140 years since the death of the fur trader Robert Campbell, one of early St. Louis’ most prominent citizens and the museum property’s former owner, and on Friday evening members of the Mourning Society of St. Louis will be on hand to oversee this year’s iteration of the Twilight Tours.

Three members of the small but active society will join St. Louis Public Radio’s Jeremy D. Goodwin on this Friday’s St. Louis on the Air for a preview of the nearly sold-out event — and they’ll talk about their historical reenactment work more broadly as well.

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

Last week was a busy one for David Kvidahl, who covers high school sports for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

On Tuesday he was calling Cardinal Ritter College Prep to let school officials know he planned to publish a story about a football player at the Catholic school taking to the field while ineligible. The next day he was reporting that St. Louis Public Schools had terminated Roosevelt High School athletic director and head football coach Trey Porter. Then, on Friday, Cardinal Ritter announced that its entire football staff had been “permanently released” by the school.

Kvidahl will join host Sarah Fenske on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air to go behind the headlines on the latest developments in both the Roosevelt and Cardinal Ritter stories.

From left, UMSL's Priscilla Dowden-White and Andrew Kersten joined Monday's program. The show also included the perspectives of several UMSL students.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Shortly after Andrew Kersten joined the University of Missouri-St. Louis last year as its dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, he and a group of colleagues put out a campus survey listing about 20 different books. “Which book should we choose for the UMSL Common Read?” they wanted to know.

Before long, as Kersten remembers it, one particular novel quickly rose to the top among the 300 responses to the survey: James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk.” And from there, what he and others thought would amount to a public lecture and a few classes “took off like wildfire.” More than 50 faculty members opted to incorporate the book into their courses this fall.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Kersten and Priscilla Dowden-White,  associate professor of history, about how Baldwin’s 1974 novel about Tish and Fonny is resonating across campus and the broader St. Louis community, decades after it was written. The conversation also included the perspectives of several UMSL students and faculty members.

Luka Cai is a co-founder of the newly launched SQSH project.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Growing up in Singapore, Washington University undergraduate Luka Cai was closeted, finding little support there for members of the LGBTQ community. But even in their new home of St. Louis, where Cai openly identifies as a pansexual transmasculine queer person, they’ve observed a need for more peer-to-peer support.

“When I came to St. Louis, I felt very much more affirmed and accepted by the St. Louis queer community, and I saw the same needs around me,” Cai said, “of people feeling isolated, rejected, discriminated against — and that comes out in terms of housing insecurity and employment security as well.”

This led Cai to the idea for SQSH, the St. Louis Queer+ Support Helpline that they and a co-founder launched earlier this month. The all-volunteer effort aims to be “for the St. Louis LGBTQIA+ community, by the community,” inviting calls to 314-380-7774, with highly trained volunteers ready to provide support.

From left, Michelle Yepez, Paula Witkowski and Sarah Bartley joined Wednesday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 5 people around the world have dyslexia, a learning disorder that affects how one’s brain processes information about sounds and words. In the St. Louis region, some parents are pushing for more school resources and attention to dyslexia, and a Webster University seminar on the subject last week drew a sold-out crowd.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Webster’s Paula Witkowski, an associate professor of literacy and speech-language pathologist in the School of Education, as well as local parents Sarah Bartley and Michelle Yepez, who each have a child with dyslexia. They discussed the importance of early intervention and how people with dyslexia can thrive. The conversation also included contributions from listeners who called in to the show to share their experiences.

From left, Lauren Vanlandingham and Aurrice Duke-Rollings
Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri & St. Louis Public Radio

Longtime Girl Scout and St. Louis-area resident Lauren Vanlandingham has earned quite a few badges and other accolades over the years. But the latest honor, announced last week by the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, definitely stands out: She’s been named a 2019 National Gold Award Girl Scout.

Considered to be the organization’s highest honor, it’s a designation reserved for just 10 Girl Scouts each year — young women who have taken action to address the world’s most pressing issues.

From left, D'Andre Braddix, Jessica Mefford-Miller and Mitch Eagles joined Wednesday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Those who staff and depend on the St. Louis region’s public transit system have seen significant changes in recent days, particularly with the implementation of Metro Reimagined, Metro Transit’s overhaul of its Missouri-side bus lines.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with transit riders and other stakeholders about the current state and future of public transit in the region.

Joining the conversation were Metro Transit Executive Director Jessica Mefford-Miller, Citizens for Modern Transit board member D'Andre Braddix and St. Louis resident and frequent transit rider Mitch Eagles. The discussion also included pre-recorded comments and live calls from commuters.

From left, Lisa Weingarth, Stacie Zellin and Kendra Holmes joined Wednesday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Women comprise nearly half of the United States’ civilian labor force, according to the Department of Labor’s latest statistics. Their annual median earnings — about $42,000 — fall about $10,000 short of the median paycheck men see each year. And along with the compensation gap, other workforce gender-equity disparities remain common for many industries and employers.

The Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis aims to measure progress on that front with its Women in the Workplace Employment Scorecard. The voluntary rating system, which is now underway for this year, includes a voluntary employer survey exploring policies, practices and work culture.

Susan Walker is a great-niece of the late Mary Ranken Jordan.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Growing up in Great Britain, Susan Walker heard bits and pieces about her great-aunt Mary Ranken Jordan, who had immigrated to the U.S. from Northern Ireland in the late 19th century. But several years ago she became determined to learn more about this distinguished yet mysterious relative.

She knew of her lasting impact in St. Louis, and now Walker’s research into Jordan’s life and legacy has her traveling overseas herself to the Gateway City. 

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Walker about the children’s hospital Jordan founded in 1941, what she’s learning through her research — and what she’s still hoping to discover about her great-aunt from others.

St. Louis police cadets Cearra Flowers (center left) and Mary Mazzola (center right)
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Lt. Darla Gray remembers being the last person to enter the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department's cadet program before it was dissolved in 1981. Now Gray is helping to lead its return. The program started back up in 2018 and now boasts 64 aspiring officers.

"I was actually looking at retirement, and they told me they were starting the program back up and asked if I would like to help develop it," Gray said. "And I postponed my retirement to do it, because I believe in this program that much."

On Thursday's St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with two of the young people currently participating in the cadet program as well as with Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards.

Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins University joins Wednesday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Much of the conversation about contemporary American health care revolves around money more than actual medicine. But given the crushing costs associated with seemingly every aspect of the industry, that focus isn’t so surprising.

As Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins University notes in his newly published book, “The Price We Pay: What Broke American Healthcare — And How To Fix It,” one in five Americans currently has medical debt in collections.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Makary joined host Sarah Fenske to talk about his research into why costs are skyrocketing — and what can be done to redesign the broken U.S. health care system.

Singer-songwriter Brian Owens joined Friday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The artistic path of Brian Owens has long charted both tribute territory and totally new ground, and Owens is known to navigate both well. The local singer-songwriter’s 2017 album “Soul of Cash” premiered via Rolling Stone, and that same year Owens released the song “For You,” showcasing the vocals of five-time Grammy winner Michael McDonald alongside his own.

McDonald and Owens share a hometown — Ferguson, Missouri — and are collaborating musically again this Sunday during a benefit concert at the Touhill Performing Arts Center celebrating McDonald’s legacy.

Owens joined St. Louis on the Air’s Sarah Fenske on Friday to discuss the event, which is billed as “A Night for Life” and also features “The Voice” contestant Kennedy Holmes. Owens also discussed his journey as a musician and community activist.

Michael Kupstas is president and CEO of regional fast-food chain Lion's Choice, which has been around for more than five decades.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Several years ago, restaurant industry veteran Michael “Kup” Kupstas was happily enjoying retirement when the appeal of Lion’s Choice prompted a change of plans. He wound up reentering the workforce in 2017 as the regional fast-food chain’s president and CEO.

“It was really the similarity of an experience I had early on [in a previous role] with Panera, to be honest,” Kupstas said on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, explaining what impressed him about Lion’s Choice. “I think what makes certain brands stand out is that they are able to differentiate dramatically in a really crowded field.”

Kupstas told host Sarah Fenske that he was also drawn to the “loyal, fanatic fans” and the employees of Lion’s Choice, which Food & Wine magazine recently deemed Missouri’s best fast food.

The inaugural Laugh Tracks event took place Sept. 13. The next is set for Oct. 11.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The Loop Trolley platform just outside the Pageant in the Delmar Loop was packed last Friday evening with people waiting to board. That hasn’t been a common sight in recent months following the launch of the controversial trolley, but on this particular night, something was different.

Local comedian Yale Hollander was rolling out the first iteration of Laugh Tracks, a unique comedic combination in which attendees need only pay the $2 trolley fare for about 45 minutes of family-friendly standup while riding the nostalgic vehicle.

“I honestly don’t know what to expect,” Washington University graduate student Zack Goldman said while in line for the event. “I’ve never even heard of comedians on a trolley before. I’ve also never been on the trolley ... so I’m open to new possibilities.”

Ryan Koenig and the Goldenrods performed Tuesday at the latest Western Wear Night at the Whiskey Ring on Cherokee Street.
Emily Woodbury | St. Louis Public Radio

John Joern, the co-owner of the Whiskey Ring, has watched Western Wear Night quickly grow into quite the bonanza at his Cherokee Street establishment. It all started less than a year ago with what he describes as “band practice” — local musician Ryan Koenig regularly bringing collaborators to the Whiskey Ring for live entertainment.

“He’d just kind of play for a couple hours while everybody meandered in and out,” Joern recalled during a St. Louis on the Air segment, “and [Lucas Hanner] and a few other folks, some friends of his, decided to take it upon themselves to start dressing the part, to sort of celebrate the evening, and it caught on like wildfire.”

With more and more St. Louisans joining in on the shenanigans, Western Wear Night has become a regular third-Tuesday-of-the-month festivity, despite the gathering’s decidedly Midwest, not-in-the-West, location.

Mary Engelbreit is speaking at BookFest this Saturday.
Mary Engelbreit

Before she became a household name for her internationally acclaimed illustration work, Mary Engelbreit was a typical young adult finding a way to make a living in St. Louis. In her late teens and early 20s, she worked at a local art store and an ad agency — and then landed a job as an editorial artist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

She was let go during her probation period, she told listeners Wednesday during an interview with St. Louis on the Air. The unceremonious goodbye came after she challenged the fact that men were paid much more than women. 

James Brandon is the author of "Ziggy, Stardust & Me."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

“Soul Train” was on TV. Groovy teachers were teaching “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” to the high school English classes. David Bowie stopped by Kiel Auditorium to promote a little album called “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.” Was there a more idyllic time to be a teenager than Creve Coeur in the early 1970s? 

For Jonathan, the protagonist of James Brandon’s new young adult novel “Ziggy, Stardust and Me,” it isn’t quite that simple. Sure, the music is incredible. But Jonathan is gay. And in St. Louis in 1973, that means intense and even painful therapy.

Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air included a conversation about the novel, which has its hometown launch party Wednesday evening. Brandon, a St. Louis native who makes his fiction debut with “Ziggy, Stardust and Me,” discussed his book as well as his personal journey on the show.

Jessica Ciccone, at left, and Samantha Rudolph joined Monday's program.
St. Louis Public Radio & Babyation

Since Jessica Ciccone moved back to her hometown of St. Louis in 2012 after years living in Boston, she’s found a niche connecting local professionals with business resources and service activities — and with each other.

Those passions all come together in the nonprofit she helped to form a couple of years ago, St. Louis Startup Ambassadors, for which she now serves as board vice president. The organization helps transplants find their way in what can be an insular town — although St. Louis natives and “boomerangs” like herself, who’ve moved back after years away, are also welcome.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Ciccone and with Samantha Rudolph, the founder of Babyation, a company Rudolph describes as “unapologetically for moms."

Comedian Rhea Butcher will perform at the Ready Room this Sunday evening.
Rhea Butcher

L.A.-based comedian and podcaster Rhea Butcher is well aware that there are some bad things going on in today’s world. But the focus of Butcher’s current “Good Things Comedy Tour” lies elsewhere: with the good stuff.

“To only look at the bad would be to give in to the bad, I feel like, in these times,” the Midwest native told St. Louis Public Radio’s Kae Petrin in a conversation that aired during Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air. “And so to have a good time, or to spend time in goodness and having fun and being kind and being joyous and happy, is not to ignore the bad things. It’s actually a form of self-care and growth and invigoration to take care of each other, I’ve found.”

That’s the kind of vibe that eventgoers of all ages can expect at the Ready Room this Sunday. Butcher will perform at the venue in St. Louis’ Grove neighborhood at 8 p.m. that evening.

Danny Wicentowski is a staff writer at the Riverfront Times.
Alexis Moore | St. Louis Public Radio

Danny Wicentowski conducted lots of different interviews for his latest Riverfront Times cover story digging into the status of a proposed $190 million Novus redevelopment near Interstate 170 and Olive Boulevard. The same word — limbo — kept popping up in his conversations with various sources, as he mentions in his piece.

The proposed development was publicly unveiled more than a year ago. Yet residents and business owners in the path of the Costco-focused "University Place" are still waiting to find out whether it's definitely moving forward. That's left their future in the neighborhood uncertain.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Wicentowski about his reporting on the saga. The conversation also included comments from longtime U City homeowner Letha Baptiste, who has thus far declined to accept Novus’ offer of an option contract on her house.

Tarek Husseini is one of three young bakers competing in Food Network's "Kids Baking Championship" final that premieres on Monday, Sept. 16.
Courtesy of Food Network

Thirteen-year-old St. Louisan Tarek Husseini spent four weeks in Los Angeles this past summer competing for a $25,000 prize. Now, for the last six weeks, viewers of the Food Network’s “Kids Baking Championship” have watched Husseini and other up-and-coming bakers impress the judges with one kitchen creation after another.

The Ladue resident made it through the semifinal episode that premiered on Monday.

Then, on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, he talked with host Sarah Fenske ahead of next week's final episode.

This daguerreotype by Thomas M. Easterly shows the last of one of the final big mounds in St. Louis as it was being destroyed in 1869.
Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis

A multitude of truncated earthworks — more commonly known as mounds — once dotted the St. Louis landscape. For the ancient Mississippian people who constructed them many centuries ago, these structures were full of meaning and purpose.

The mounds also drew the interest of European newcomers to the region long after the mounds were built. But by the late 19th century, most of these sacred Native American places had been destroyed — the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville, Illinois, being a significant exception. 

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Patricia Cleary, a St. Louis native who is currently working on a book about the mounds that she plans to publish leading up to Missouri’s bicentennial celebration of statehood in 2021. Cleary’s visit came in advance of her James Neal Primm Lecture at the Missouri History Museum, set for Monday evening.

Jane Elliott, at left, and Rachelle Smith joined Monday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

In April 1968, Jane Elliott was a third grade teacher in the small town of Riceville, Iowa. On the day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, she felt compelled to shift her lesson plans. She decided to teach her young white students about discrimination by telling the children that brown-eyed people were superior to their blue-eyed peers. She watched as the students turned on each other. Then, the next day, she reversed the script.

The exercise highlighted the arbitrary and irrational basis of prejudice, an issue that Americans continue to grapple with more than five decades later.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske explored that topic and others with Elliott ahead of the internationally known lecturer’s address at the Washington University Medical Campus on Monday evening. Joining the conversation was Rachelle D. Smith, a diversity, equity and inclusion leader for the School of Medicine.

Local author Amanda Doyle (right) signs a copy of one of her books for Charlie Wunderlich, age 8, at the Missouri Athletic Club after the STL Storytelling Live event Aug. 29.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The legacy of George B. Vashon. The history of the St. Louis Browns. The special moments that took place at the Top of the Tower. A handful of local authors and historians revisited all of this and more during last week’s STL Storytelling Live event at the Missouri Athletic Club in downtown St. Louis.

Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air featured highlights from the evening, with stories running the gamut from the humorous, to the surprising, to the hopeful. The storytellers included Bill Clevlen, Carol Shepley, Amanda Doyle, Ed Wheatley, Calvin Riley and Cameron Collins.

The event was sponsored by St. Louis Public Radio, Reedy Press and the Missouri Athletic Club.

The new "We Live Here" team includes (from left) Jia Lian Yang, Lauren Brown and Ashley Winters.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

We Live Here, the podcast that St. Louis Public Radio launched in the wake of the Ferguson uprising, is entering its fifth season this fall – with new voices at its helm. Co-hosts Ashley Winters and Jia Lian Yang, as well as associate producer Lauren Brown, are preparing to release a series of new episodes in the coming weeks.

On Friday, they joined host Sarah Fenske on St. Louis on the Air to discuss where We Live Here is headed and how they’re hoping to engage with listeners near and far.

Maxi Glamour, pictured in a November 2018 photo by St. Louis Public Radio's Carolina Hidalgo at left, and, at right, during a visit this week to the STLPR studio, is one of St. Louis' most prominent drag queens.
St. Louis Public Radio

As a St. Louis-based designer, burlesque performer, artist and more, Maxi Glamour’s personal and professional brand is a multifaceted one. But one particular title does stand out, and that’s Glamour’s drag performer identity as the “Demon Queen of Polka and Baklava.”

That persona comes to life in a new way in the new season of the “Boulet Brothers’ Dragula” reality TV series, which features Glamour. The first episode premiered on Amazon Prime Video on Tuesday, and on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Glamour about their experience on “Dragula” as well as other topics.

Glamour, who identifies as queer and nonbinary, is believed to be the first drag performer from St. Louis to appear on a major televised drag competition. They became a fan of the show long before being cast in it.

Mike "Muddy Mike" Clark, standing in the stern, guides adventuregoers underneath the Eads Bridge near downtown St. Louis on a recent afternoon.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Despite its ever-present vastness along the Missouri-Illinois border, the Mississippi River is easy for locals to take for granted. And all too often, residents completely avoid the river.

It’s one thing to drive above it on a highway or eat a meal at a restaurant overlooking the water; relatively few actually travel its meandering length. But the people behind Big Muddy Adventures are aiming to change that, one canoe trip at a time.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with the company’s founder and lead guide, Mike Clark, who is better known as “Muddy Mike.” Also participating in the discussion was Roo Yawitz, general manager of Big Muddy Adventures.

From left, Kea Wilson and Scott Ogilvie joined Tuesday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Every city has its nightmare intersections, and many residents could likely cite a personal nemesis or two. In the St. Louis area, the crossroads of North Grand Boulevard and Interstate 64 in Grand Center, and Eager and Hanley in Brentwood, may well come to mind among other notoriously tricky traffic spots.

Frequently stressful for drivers and non-drivers alike, these sections of public infrastructure can seem like a permanent fixture of civic life, along with the honking, confusion and rage they trigger. But change can sometimes happen.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske took a closer look at some of the region’s worst intersections – and discussed how planners work to address trouble spots in an age of crumbling infrastructure across the U.S. The conversation also touched on what residents can do to address problematic roads and contribute to smoother, safer streets for all.

From left, Catina Wilson and Kae Petrin joined Thursday's segment on transit-related challenges in the St. Louis region.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Thousands of people in the St. Louis region depend on Metro Transit’s 83 total MetroBus routes and 46 miles of MetroLink tracks to get where they need to go every day. But on Monday, many of those transit users were left waiting at their usual stops for many minutes, some even for hours, as expected public transportation vehicles did not arrive.

The transit agency cited a driver shortage early Monday as the cause of the delays, putting out a statement that read, in part, “Due to an unusually high number of MetroBus operators already calling off work and declining to work extra assignments, we anticipate that we will not be in position to deliver the normally high quality service the region has come to expect every day.”

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske heard from riders who ran into snags on Monday – and also talked with Catina Wilson, vice president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 788, and St. Louis Public Radio digital reporter Kae Petrin.

From left, Bill McDermott, Christine Ingrassia and Stu Hultgren joined Wednesday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske delved into the latest news surrounding plans for a Major League Soccer team in St. Louis.

Joining the discussion were Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia, whose 6th Ward encompasses the Downtown West area where the stadium would sit; “St. Louligan” Stu Hultgren, a south St. Louis resident and avid local soccer fan; and “Mr. Soccer” Bill McDermott, St. Louis University’s longtime men’s soccer game announcer.

The conversation also included questions from listeners and their wide-ranging opinions on what the new team ought to be named.

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