Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Lara Hamdan

St. Louis on the Air Producer

Lara Hamdan joined St. Louis Public Radio as the news intern in 2017. A year later, she became a producer for “St. Louis on the Air.” A St. Louis native, Lara graduated with a degree in journalism from Webster University. She is a cat-mom to Sali and Sami, a lover of traveling, fluent in English and Arabic – and in eating falafel sandwiches and veggie burgers. She enjoys discovering new people and gems in the city throughout her work at St. Louis Public Radio.

(June 26, 2019) Soccer coaches Olivia Silverman (at left) and Lori Chalupny-Lawson joined Wednesday's talk show to talk about the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup and the state of local women's soccer.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The United States will advance to the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup after a 2-1 victory Monday against Spain. Now they’re set to play the host nation of France this Friday, during a game anticipated to be the most-expensive-to-attend Women’s World Cup game ever.

In anticipation of the game, St. Louis Public Radio’s Rachel Lippmann delved into the Women’s World Cup and the state of women’s soccer in St. Louis on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air

(June 24, 20190 Melissa Vatterott (at left) and Rae Miller of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment joined Monday's talk show to discuss the organization's new Known and Grown campaign that helps showcase local farmers.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Earlier this month, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment launched a campaign aimed at getting the word out about farmers who are engaging in responsible agriculture practices by ethically raising animals and growing their food.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Rachel Lippmann will delve into what the new Known & Grown project entails, as well as its broader implications for growers and consumers, with the MCE’s food and farm director Melissa Vatterott and local food coordinator Rae Miller.

Nicki Morgan, a co-founder of Hart|Beet Farms, also joined the conversation by phone while at the farm in Lincoln County Missouri. The farm joined Known and Grown in 2018.

(June 24, 2019) David Meyer, senior lecturer in management in the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, joined Monday's talk show to discuss trade and tariffs as they pertain to Missouri.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Trade is no doubt an integral part of many industries and Missouri is no exception. International trade and investment support hundreds of thousands of jobs in the state. To help foster even more of that, Missouri Governor Mike Parson recently embarked on his first trade trip to Europe – with stops in France, Germany and Switzerland.

Further east of Europe, China is also a major player when it comes to foreign investment in Missouri. But the recent national trade war with China has negatively affected trade and hits regional farmers the hardest.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Rachel Lippmann discussed trade and tariffs as they pertain to Missouri and the country with David Meyer, senior lecturer in management in the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.

KCUR's Brian Ellison (left) and St. Louis Public Radio's Rachel Lippmann joined Friday's talk show to talk about multiple top news stories of the week.
Brian Ellison & St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, guest host Jim Kirchherr of the Nine Network went behind the headlines to discuss multiple top news stories of the week.

St. Louis Public Radio reporter Rachel Lippmann first joined the program to touch on the future of Missouri’s only abortion clinic. Missouri’s health department has denied a license renewal for the clinic. Planned Parenthood of St. Louis will still be able to continue performing the procedure for now, according to a court order.

And, earlier this week, a former FBI agent who was hired to help with the investigation into former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was himself charged. Investigator William Tisaby was indicted on seven felony counts that included multiple perjury charges.

Sugarfire Smoke House is the 2019 readers' choice winner of best restaurant and best barbecue.
Jonathan Gayman | Sauce Magazine

Every year, Sauce Magazine puts its critiques of local bars and eateries to the side and lets readers decide which restaurants and chefs deserve the spotlight.

This year, Sugarfire Smoke House won three Readers’ Choice awards: Favorite Restaurant, Favorite Barbecue and Chef of the Year – which went to Matt Glickert, catering and events chef for Sugarfire 44 in Valley Park, Missouri.

St. Louisan Chris Bolyard of Bolyard's Meat and Provisions in Maplewood joined Wednesday's talk show to talk about his appearance on the new History Channel television series called "The Butcher."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Many years ago, St. Louisan Chris Bolyard made the decision to switch careers and go from working in restaurants to providing them with an alternative to big-box grocery store meat. He went on to become head butcher and owner of Bolyard’s Meat and Provisions located in Maplewood.

Now the local face will soon be familiar to many across the nation after his appearance on a new History Channel television series called “The Butcher,” which airs 9 p.m. tonight. The goal of the show is to help educate the public on the skills that it takes to butcher whole animals.

(L-R) Peggy Holly, Christopher Limber and Mark Abels talked about the 2019 Grand Center Theatre Crawl on Tuesday's "St. Louis on the Air."
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Next weekend, a two-day pop-up theater experience will take place in and around Grand Center. Participants in the 2019 Grand Center Theatre Crawl will be able to explore new venues while enjoying short performances by over 20 local theater companies.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Holly Edgell discussed what all the event will entail with Mark Abels, treasurer of West End Players Guild; Christopher Limber, artistic director of Prison Performing Arts; and Peggy Holly, event founder and lead volunteer organizer.

(June 17, 2019) Author Marie-Christine Williams (at left) and Ron Klutho talked about an upcoming program at the Missouri History Museum to commemorate UN Day in Support of Victims of Torture on Monday's "St. Louis on the Air."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

From April to July 1994, nearly a million people lost their lives as members of the ethnic Hutu majority slaughtered them during the Rwandan Civil War.

The United Nations solemnizes the tragedy among others by marking June 26 as the UN Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Locally, the Missouri Historical Society has partnered with Bilingual International Assistant Services and the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center to create a program next week titled  Triumph Over Darkness.

Dabke is a native Levantine folk dance performed in a line dance.
Courtesy of Rawan Abusaid

A showcase of Palestinian culture gets underway at noon this Sunday at the World’s Fair Pavilion in Forest Park. Palestinians are often portrayed in the media only when it comes to the Israel-Palestine conflict, but not much is discussed about the nuances of their culture, from the food they eat to the different identities that make up the culture. 

 

(L-R) St. Louis Public Radio's Jonathan Ahl talked with politic editor Fred Ehrlich and reporters Chad Davis and Jason Rosenbaum about changes in the St. Louis County Council County on Tuesday's "St. Louis on the Air."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s been two months since Sam Page was sworn in as the new county executive replacing Steve Stenger in St. Louis County. On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jonathan Ahl will delve into changes that Page, the former St. Louis County Council chairman, has made, such as seeking to close a pay gap within county government between men and women and advocating for funding towards police body cameras and in-car cameras.

Joining the discussion were STLPR reporters Chad Davis and Jason Rosenbaum and politics editor Fred Ehrlich.

Dr. Mimi Vo (at left) and Rolla City Councilman Daniel Jones talked about the benefits of medical marijuana and what the application process like  for medical marijuana ID cards on Tuesday's "St. Louis on the Air."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio | Courtesy of Daniel Jones

June 4 marked the first day Missouri posted application forms for patients who want medical marijuana ID cards, which is unprecedented in the state’s history. The application forms are also for would-be marijuana businesses — dispensaries, growers and others. Patients may file the applications beginning July 4, and businesses Aug. 3.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jonathan Ahl discussed what the legalization of medical marijuana means for Missouri and the process of how physicians prescribe it as dispensaries start opening up.

Juliana Hertel and Grace Hardison demonstrate against abortion restrictions during a Planned Parenthood rally in downtown St. Louis. May 30, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Planned Parenthood is awaiting St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer’s decision on whether the center is able to renew its abortion clinic license.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jeremy D. Goodwin will go behind the headlines with health reporter Sarah Fentem to discuss developments in the case this week.

Circus Flora

Circus Flora is a longstanding tradition for many St. Louisans and is back in action this month for its 33rd season. This year’s show is bringing audiences to an unlikely place for an adventure – a grocery store. Schnucks, to be exact. 

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jeremy D. Goodwin talked about how “The Caper in Aisle 6” takes a usually mundane trip to the store and turns it into an exciting visual performance for circusgoers. 

Susan Benigas (at left) and Ghaida Awwad talked about what prompted their interest in using food as medicine on Wednesday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

There is a movement growing among health advocates to better understand how more nutritious food can help combat chronic illnesses and pharmaceutical drug dependency. Susan Benigas of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and The Plantrician Project and local nutritionist Ghaida Awwad of Nature’s Clinic, based in O’Fallon, Missouri, are among those advocates.

Guest host Ruth Ezell of the Nine Network talked with Benigas and Awwad about what prompted their interest in using food as medicine on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Tan France is visiting St. Louis for the first time on Saturday, when he discusses "Naturally Tan" at St. Louis County Library headquarters.
Marcus MacDonald

Tan France is best known for his role as fashion expert on the hit Netflix series “Queer Eye,” where he and the rest of “the Fab 5” transform people’s lives – and bridge social divides – with inspiring lifestyle makeovers.

Now France has a brand-new memoir out titled “Naturally Tan.” St. Louis Public Radio’s Kae Petrin discussed it with France during Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air ahead of France’s sold-out event this weekend at St. Louis County Library headquarters.

Musicologist Jake Cohen talked about the musical style of Vermont-based rock band Phish on Monday's talk show.
Courtesy of Jake Cohen

Phish, the Vermont-spawned jamband will open its summer tour with two shows at Chaifetz Arena this month. For a band that’s one of the country’s top touring acts, Phish remains strangely misunderstood. 

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio reporter Jeremy D. Goodwin explored the popularity and nuances of Phish with musicologist Jake Cohen, who just last month presented at the first-ever Phish Studies Conference at Oregon State University. He’s also attended about 180 of their shows.

(May 27, 2019) The Muslim Community Services of St. Louis teamed up with Romeo Banks of "Taste of Romeo's" local barbecue service to help cook the meat for the annual Memorial Day barbecue since many of the Muslim volunteers are fasting in observance of R
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

As the weather gets warmer and schools start to let out, Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, making barbecues on the day a popular friends-and-family tradition. But at its core, the national holiday is a solemn one, filled with tributes to American servicemen and women who have passed away while on active duty.

It’s also when many Americans volunteer their time to give back to their local communities. One such occasion is an annual Memorial Day barbecue at the Jefferson Barracks Division of the VA Medical Center in south St. Louis County.

(May 31, 2019) Jean Ponzi is the green resources manager at the Missouri Botanical Garden and joined Friday's talk show to expand on on the importance of sustainability and green living.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The 18th annual Green Living Festival returns to the Missouri Botanical Garden this weekend and offers patrons expertise on making links between sustainability and a healthy environment.

An array of workshops and events will provide tips and knowledge about using smart technology and energy efficiency, grilling with natural gas, combating climate change with everyday strategies, kombucha making, composting, native plants, green cleaning products and more.

(May 29, 2019) (L-R) William Freivogel, Mary Fox and Mark Smith talked about the latest local and national developments pertaining to the law on Wednesday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio executive editor Shula Neuman discussed current issues pertaining to the law with a panel of legal experts.

Topics included the recent wave of anti-abortion bills passed in Missouri, Alabama and other states; last week's espionage indictment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange; and the legal implications involving the indictment of former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger

(May 27, 2019) Alyson Thompson is founder and organizer on Mixed Feelings, a meeting group dedicated to building community among multiracial and multiethnic identities. She talked about it on Tuesday's "St. Louis on the Air."
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

When St. Louisan Alyson Thompson watched “The Loving Generation” documentary, she instantly felt heard and affirmed in her identity of being born to one black and one white parent. It also prompted her to start Mixed Feelings, a group for multiracial people seeking community among other multiracial and multiethnic individuals through curated meetups and events.

(May 24, 2019) St. Louis African Arts Festival organizers Gerald Brooks (at right) and Jason McNairy talked about what patrons can expect at this year's event in Forest Park.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The 28th annual St. Louis African Arts Festival will return to the World’s Fair Pavilion in Forest Park this weekend. Running Saturday through Monday, the festival aims to educate people in St. Louis about the wide ranges of cultures among African nations and the African diaspora.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, guest host Sharon Stevens talked with a couple of the festival’s organizers to explore what patrons can expect at the event, such as an African marketplace, movies, food, various cultural demonstrations, kids’ activities and more. 

(May 24, 2019) 2019 University of Missouri-St. Louis graduate Harold Crawford talked about overcoming his life's adversities and how he plans to use his social work degree to address community violence trauma on Friday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis resident Harold Crawford is among many local college graduates who are celebrating major academic milestones this spring. The path he traveled to get to his University of Missouri-St. Louis degree was an unusual one – and far from easy. Crawford lived through tough times to make ends meet and left a life of crime and gang involvement about a decade ago.

Crawford recalled a saying that one of his teachers would reference from time to time, explaining that getting through college to get back on track was “medicine that you don’t want to take, but you need to take it.” The 37-year-old went on to complete his undergraduate degree in social work.

"Flores Mexicanas"painting by Alfredo Ramos Martinez in storage at the Missouri Historical Society's Library and Research Center prior to conservation.
Photo courtesy of the Missouri Historical Society

Mexico City, Mexico, is the special spot where famed aviators Anne and Charles Lindbergh met and where their relationship formed. And in 1929, then-president Emilio Portes Gil gifted the celebrity couple the 9-by-12-foot “Flores Mexicanas” masterpiece by renowned Mexican artist Alfredo Ramos Martinez as a wedding gift.

Extravagant, right? St. Louisans will also get a chance to admire the painting as part of the Missouri Historical Society’s upcoming “Flores Mexicanas: A Lindbergh Love Story” exhibit, on view June 1 through Sept. 2.

World-class cyclist Liz Heller talked about her passion for cycling and recent accomplishments on Monday's talk show.
Courtesy of Liz Heller

In April, St. Louis lawyer Elizabeth “Liz” Heller took a break from the office and spent some time racing on a velodrome – an arena for track cycling – in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

The partner at Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli law firm also competes in national and international cycling competitions. At the International Cyclists Union competition last month, she broke two world records: one in the women's over-50 category in the one-hour ride and the other in the individual two-kilometer pursuit. But she’s not stopping there. She hopes to return to the competition in Manchester, United Kingdom, this October and beat her own records.

Nicola Macpherson owns and operates Ozark Forest Mushrooms.
Virginia Harold | Sauce Magazine

Ever think about where local restaurants get their mushrooms to serve with their delicious meals? Probably not. But this month’s Sound Bites segment with Sauce Magazine features Nicola Macpherson of Ozark Forest Mushrooms.

She’s an immigrant from the UK who runs a mushroom farm and supplies many of the restaurants in the St. Louis area with mushrooms. On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, Macpherson and Sauce's managing editor Catherine Klene joined guest host Sharon Stevens to expand on how people get their start in mushroom farming and what all goes into it.  

'Volcanoes: Fire of Creation' movie still

Producer and director Michael Dalton-Smith’s early passion for volcanoes has followed him throughout his career. It’s led to his production of various natural history programs on them that have aired on the Smithsonian, National Geographic and Discovery channels.

His film “Volcanoes: The Fires of Creation” – now showing at the St. Louis Science Center through July 28 – takes viewers on an IMAX adventure to the boiling lava lakes of the world, grasslands and the depths of the oceans, all where volcanoes help shape vibrant ecosystems. 

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, producer Lara Hamdan talked with Dalton-Smith about his interest in volcanoes, the theory of how they developed billions of years ago and what it’s really like getting up close to a boiling lava lake.

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert
Photo courtesy of Mayor Mark Eckert

Earlier this week, St. Charles-based Lindenwood University announced it would cease its daytime undergraduate academic programs at its Belleville campus following the 2019-2020 academic year.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert joined guest host Ruth Ezell to talk about what the consolidation means for the community. He said the university’s announcement to close parts of the campus and the termination of various positions leading up to the announcement came as a surprise.

Local artists José Garza (left) and Miriam Ruiz (right) present their collaborative project, collectively titled Ojalá, in El Chico Bakery on Cherokee Street.
Photo courtesy of José Garza

The Luminary Arts Center is in the midst of its ongoing show “Counterpublic,” a triennial exhibition scaled to a neighborhood “set to animate the everyday spaces of Cherokee Street” with expansive artist commissions, performances, processions and more through July 13.

While the exhibit itself is only around for a few months, participants including local artists José Guadalupe Garza and Miriam Ruiz have created a series of “art interventions” in El Chico Bakery, a family owned and operated Mexican bakery in south St. Louis.

(May 15, 2019)(L-R) Educators LaGarrett King, Laura Westhoff and Robert Good joined Wednesday's talk show to shed light on how U.S. history is taught in textbooks and how to correct inaccurate versions of history.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

As the U.S. population grows more ethnically diverse, many historians and educators are becoming more aware of changing demographics and are keen on ensuring that diversity is reflected in the way the nation’s history is presented in classrooms.

For many years, textbooks haven’t accurately reflected true accounts of historical figures or events, such as seen in a textbook published by McGraw-Hill Education. In covering immigration, one chapter read that “the Atlantic slave trade brought ‘millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.’”

There has also been criticism that schools limit coverage of communities of color to a chapter or lesson or time of year. For example, some say Black History Month gives short shrift to individuals whose contributions should not be forgotten.

(May 13, 2019) St. Louis County Library Director Kristen Sorth talked about new library initiatives in the region on Monday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

This Wednesday, the St. Louis County Library will open its new Meramec Valley Branch in Fenton, Missouri. Patrons said goodbye last month to the old branch, which was the smallest branch in the Library District, measuring 2,690 square feet.

The new family-friendly branchencompasses 21,000 square feet and features various amenities, such as a Discovery Zone, a community meeting room with a capacity of 150, a business center, the basis for a community garden, a one-third-of-a-mile walking path and an outdoor reading deck. The Discovery Zone has several unique features including interactive touchscreens, a pneumatic tube maze, a light table, a magnetic wall with gears and a ball maze.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, guest host Ruth Ezell of the Nine Network talked with St. Louis County Library Director Kristen Sorth about the new branch opening, other final projects in the Your Library Renewed campaign and future library initiatives.

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