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.

Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly
FX Networks

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.

In her soon-to-premiere FX limited series “Mrs. America,” creator and showrunner Dahvi Waller introduces viewers to the late St. Louis native Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) in unprecedented, full-color fashion.

A new documentary directed and produced by Aisha Sultan (at right) puts the case of Patty Prewitt (at left) in the spotlight.
Aisha Sultan

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

Seventy-year-old Patty Prewitt has been busy making masks lately — like many citizen seamstresses working to help combat COVID-19. Prewitt, though, is sewing them for staff at the women’s prison in Vandalia, Missouri, where she’s serving a life sentence for her husband Bill’s 1984 murder.

In the three and a half decades since that stormy and violent night in Holden, Missouri, Prewitt has consistently maintained that she is innocent, and that her husband’s death came at the hands of an intruder who also raped her.

Prewitt’s case is getting some fresh attention thanks to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Aisha Sultan. She just released the film “33 and Counting” via the newspaper’s website

The 38-minute documentary digs into the wildly contrasting accounts of the crime as well as what Prewitt and her children and grandchildren have endured — and been fighting for — since her 1985 conviction.

Michael Wolff, at left, and Dave Roland joined the talk show on Wednesday.
St. Louis Public Radio & Dave Roland

All those hypothetical questions we love to debate around issues of privacy, freedom and other civil rights? Many of them feel a lot less theoretical these days.

The spread of coronavirus — and restrictions placed by the government on the public and private sectors in response — has given these questions a greater sense of urgency.

On Wednesday, St. Louis on the Air convened a conversation focused on COVID-19’s implications for government power and its limits as expressed in the U.S.’ founding documents.

SLU Professor of Law Rob Gatter will join Tuesday's program.
Rob Gatter

This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” over the noon hour Tuesday (April 7). This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

About three weeks ago — which feels more like months in coronavirus time — Rob Gatter and his St. Louis University School of Law colleague Ana Santos Rutschman drew attention in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to what they consider to be Missouri’s problematic use of “informal quarantine.”

Officials’ decision in early March to simply ask, rather than formally order, a suburban St. Louis family to self-quarantine while awaiting COVID-19 test results seems to have backfired. The family’s attorney has said they weren’t told to stay home until after their trips outside the home made headlines.

Gatter is quick to acknowledge that in many cases people do and are abiding by informal quarantine measures, and he notes that the success of public health actions requires a great deal of public cooperation.

But “the current practice of oral requests to self-quarantine accompanied by an oral threat of a formal order is dangerous for several reasons,” he and Santos Rutschman write. They believe that includes the potential for miscommunication, mistakes and mistrust. Court orders, they say, increase transparency and forces health officials to do their homework.

The 70 Grand bus stops near St. Louis University in December 2018.
File Photo | Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

While many people are now working from home due to the spread of coronavirus, other members of the workforce, like grocery store staff, are still required by employers to go out to perform their regular duties and, in some cases, interact with the public. 

And since people need a way to get to those essential jobs, other sectors, such as transit, become inherently essential, too. Metro Transit has significantly decreased its frequency of weekday service and its ridership is down, but some buses and trains are still running.

The Grotto Bridge in Lafayette Park is one of many stunning St. Louis backdrops typically buzzing with weddings during the warmer months of the year.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

This time of year typically marks the start of wedding season, with venues, vendors and engaged couples all gearing up for major gatherings. Now, many such celebrations have been canceled or postponed in light of the ongoing spread of COVID-19, and those working in the event industry are reeling.

But when the upheaval of coronavirus eventually settles down — and even in the midst of it all, in some cases — St. Louis remains a great city in which to get hitched.

Just ask Carolyn Burke, whose small business aims to make St. Louis a destination for elopement. With courthouses currently closed to nuptials, she’s found a workaround by bringing her officiant credentials and related services straight to wherever couples are located.

An image of several books on a shelf
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s no time quite like the present for escaping into someone else’s story for a bit, and, even in the technology-crazed 21st century, the written word is still the go-to medium for doing so. Books have a distinctive way of engaging hearts and minds for hours on end, providing everything from comfort and knowledge to intrigue and comic relief.

And in the St. Louis region, our local booksellers, librarians and authors are great resources for recommendations of what to read — specifically some top picks for a pandemic.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, LuAnn Locke, owner of Afterwords Books in Edwardsville, Illinois, and Jen Ohzourk, regional manager with St. Louis Public Library, talked with host Sarah Fenske and fielded listener requests and suggestions, too.

Michael Kinch
Washington University

Many aspects of everyday life and commerce are grinding to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the online world remains as frenetic as ever. And while virtual tools and social media platforms provide much-needed connections in these isolating times, they’ve also made it easy for harmful misinformation to spread almost as fast as the coronavirus itself.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, we worked to combat some of the false assumptions circulating about the virus. Host Sarah Fenske talked with Michael Kinch, the director of Washington University’s Centers for Research Innovation in Biotechnology and Drug Discovery, and he fielded listener calls in addition to Fenske’s questions.

From left, Deborah Stiles and Kaori Chaki joined the talk show for a conversation that will air during an upcoming broadcast.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

As someone focused on child and adolescent psychology, Webster University’s Deborah Stiles is used to writing about psychological theory and case studies — and working with multiple co-authors in doing so. But one of her most recent projects involves a total of 14 co-authors, and this one isn’t simply ending up in a scholarly journal.

Instead, it’s headed to the halls of power in Washington. Titled “The Psychological Impact of Separating Immigrant Children from their Families,” the 48-page report tells the stories of 10 children caught in the middle of U.S. practices along the nation’s southern border.

Elsa Lemp is at the center of a new film from Shift Films.
Shift Films

The year 1920 was a pivotal one for the Lemp family in St. Louis, and not just because of the enforcement of Prohibition. One hundred years ago this week, the front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch proclaimed that Elsa Lemp Wright — part of a local beer dynasty that had long rivaled Anheuser-Busch — had taken her own life.

"This is the Lemp family for you," her brother William Lemp Jr. said at the scene of her death.

But was that really what happened? Local filmmaker Franki Cambeletta explores this question in his soon-to-be-released documentary from Shift Films, “Lemp’s Last Wright.”

A family of geese traverse the UMSL campus.
File photo | Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Today’s college campuses are in many ways designed to be like small cities, featuring places to shop, eat and live daily life as well as learn and teach. And in the age of coronavirus, those campuses are facing major concerns and questions not unlike those that municipal leaders are grappling with.

The University of Missouri-St. Louis’ Jessica Long-Pease is one of the people working closely with UMSL’s on-campus students and staff in this uncertain time. She’s the director of the Millennium Student Center and the Office of Student Life, both of which are normally buzzing with people.

“[Our] communication to our students has been, ‘Come to campus if you absolutely must, but in the interest of all of our health and safety, let’s make sure that we’re trying to spread each other out as much as possible,’” Long-Pease said on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air. “So it’s definitely a little bit more like a ghost town right now than it typically is, and for those of us who work in student affairs and student services along with faculty, it’s a completely different view of campus than we’re used to having.”

Madeleine James
Danny Reise | UMSL Opera Theatre

Updated March 13 with notice of event cancellation

In light of recent developments and an abundance of caution related to the coronavirus, this weekend's student opera performances have been cancelled. There are hopes of the events taking place sometime in the future. Visit the UMSL Department of Music's events page for updates.

Original story from March 12:

Vocal performance students at the University of Missouri-St. Louis have tackled classic operatic works over the past decade through UMSL Opera Theatre, an ensemble led by faculty member Stella Markou.

In 2011, UMSL Opera Theatre presented “The Marriage of Figaro,” and, two years ago, the group’s “Pirates of Penzance” tied for first place in a National Opera Association production competition.

But this weekend, the student performers are showcasing a more contemporary work at the campus’ Touhill Performing Arts Center. Titled “The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret,” it’s a one-act chamber opera from composer Leanna Kirchoff that’s been described as a “cat-and-mouse conversation between two rivals.”

Charles Heuvelman is one of the actors who regularly perform during dinners at Bissell Mansion.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s Saturday night at Bissell Mansion, a nearly 200-year-old home overlooking Interstate 70 in north St. Louis. Dozens of people have gathered to enjoy a meal — and a murder mystery.

Over the course of the evening, dinner theater actors Linda Spall and Charles Heuvelman put on a raucous show, “Phantom of the Grand Ole Opry,” in which Spall plays two characters, Tammy Whino and Dolly Pardon, and Heuvelman portrays a very drunk Kenny Rogeers.

The rest of the cast has been drafted from among audience members, who were each assigned a role as they arrived and provided with a partial script outlining that particular part in the story. By the time salads have been served, one of the characters has been murdered, and it’s up to a wild bunch of country stars to apprehend the killer.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, at left, talks with host Sarah Fenske, right, ahead of his St. Louis rally on Monday.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders sat down with St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske ahead of a campaign rally in St. Louis on Monday. 

Missouri voters will go to the polls to cast primary ballots on Tuesday. The Vermont senator’s visit follows a campaign stop in St. Louis on Saturday by former Vice President Joe Biden, whose staff did not make him available for an interview.

The conversation with Sanders touched on the senator’s strong showing in the 2016 Missouri primary, the new coronavirus and who’s best situated to unify the Democratic Party and defeat President Trump. It also delved into the potential impact of a transition to Medicare for All on one of the St. Louis region’s biggest employers: the health care industry.

Orlando Bagwell and Henry Hampton
Washington University Libraries

Fifty-five years ago this week, Alabama troopers greeted peaceful protesters gathered along a Selma bridge with billy clubs, tear gas, bullwhips and horses. And they didn’t hesitate to use them.

“I felt like it was the last demonstration; it was the last protest on my part, like I was going to take my last breath from the tear gas,” John Lewis told filmmakers in 1985, two years before he’d begin his long tenure representing Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District.

Parts of that interview are included in “Eyes on the Prize,” a 14-part film series that originally premiered on PBS in two parts in 1987 and 1990. It’s still considered the definitive documentary on the civil rights movement in America, and the complete oral histories that were gathered during its production, including the conversation with Lewis, have been preserved by Washington University Libraries. Many of the interviews are now digitized and accessible to members of the public.

Kevin Scott (at left) and Taulby Roach joined Wednesday's show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Taulby Roach has made the safety of the St. Louis region’s transit system a major focus since becoming president and CEO of Bi-State Development 14 months ago. Just last week, he and other area leaders gathered to mark the culmination of two years of study and planning aimed at improving safety on buses and light rail lines. They touted the creation of a four-prong “systemwide security strategy” aimed at reducing “the rate and perception of crime” on transit, among other commitments.

Bi-State also recently selected private security firm GS4 for a three-year contract, and has a new plan in place for a bigger police presence on MetroLink, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Roach joined host Sarah Fenske to discuss the latest developments in the agency’s safety efforts.

Randy Vines (at left) and his twin brother, Jeff Vines, are the co-owners of STL-Style.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louisans and tourists alike have lots of options for sporting their love of the Lou, whether they snap up airport tchotchkes or visit one of countless vendors around town making the most of the city’s prized Gateway Arch and other iconic #STL imagery. But one retail shop has stood out from the crowd in recent years: STL-Style.

The brainchild of St. Louis-area natives Jeff and Randy Vines, STL-Style is marking a full decade of life on the city’s vibrant Cherokee Street this year. And on March 28, the identical twins promise a celebration featuring Brothers Lazaroff, drag performers, local brews and more.

It will be, the Vines brothers say, “a block party for all ages and a must-do event for any self-respecting St. Louisan.”

From left, Natalie Murphy and Gabrielle Bahr joined Monday's show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Gabrielle Bahr remembers being fascinated by the medical field even as a young child. And her family’s experience a handful of years later, when her younger sister spent a few months in a neonatal intensive care unit and she interacted closely with the nurses there, solidified Bahr’s choice of career: She knew then and there it would become her passion.

Now a staff nurse in the emergency department of Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Bahr has zero regrets about her job path despite its inherent stresses and difficulties. At the end of each long shift, she knows her work is meaningful. But sometimes she heads home feeling even more exhausted than usual. That’s because her nursing team, like so many in Missouri, is chronically short staffed.

Leonard Green is a professor of psychological and brain sciences and economics at Washington University.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

’Tis the season for attempted lifestyle changes and vice-forsaking of all sorts. For the more resolute, perhaps a new 2020 goal has really started to stick after two months of hard-fought discipline. Others, particularly many Christians, are just beginning to give something up for Lent, a 40-day period leading up to the celebration of Easter.

Or at least they’ll try to give it up, whether it be a substance such as alcohol or sugar or, say, a digital denial of the self — like completely staying off Facebook. Many people fail at these attempts, giving in before the 40 days are up.

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

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.

“This is the first play that I have worked on or to my knowledge has been published where a character is explicitly written to have albinism and is also an African American,” he said Tuesday. “And in a world where perception is everything, you don’t get to see that very often.”

Sam Page, Beth Huebner, Julia Fogelberg
August Jennewein | University of Missouri-St. Louis

St. Louis County’s jail population has dropped significantly over the past couple of years, from an over-capacity total of 1,242 in the summer of 2018 to 930 inmates as of last week. The sustained decrease has been touted as one positive outcome among the justice reform efforts that followed protests in Ferguson.

Much work remains — and thanks to five years of research led by University of Missouri-St. Louis professor of criminology and criminal justice Beth Huebner and funded by the John and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, collaboration continues between the researchers and the county, its circuit court and service providers.

During this year’s Pierre Laclede Society Community Confluence donor event at UMSL on Feb. 20, St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske talked about ongoing efforts in the county and addressed lingering challenges.

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

Today’s teachers and school administrators are under increasing pressure on many fronts. There’s the increased focus on standardized testing, large class sizes and 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 UMSL-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 on Feb. 20, Bier and Hoerr talked with St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske.

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.

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.

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