St. Louis on the Air | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis on the Air

Noon-1 p.m. and 7-8 p.m. (repeat) Monday-Friday

St. Louis on the Air creates a unique space where guests and listeners can share ideas and opinions with respect and honesty. Whether exploring issues and challenges confronting our region, discussing the latest innovations in science and technology, taking a closer look at our history or talking with authors, artists and musicians, St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region.

The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily WoodburyEvie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The engineer is Aaron Doerr and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

St. Louis on the Air is sponsored by The Hammond Institute for Free Enterprise and Mari de Villa Senior Living.

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

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

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 honors 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 honors 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.

 Downtown STL is in the process of upgrading the street lights throughout 360 square blocks in downtown St. Louis.
Downtown STL

The streets of downtown St. Louis are looking brighter — and more energy efficient — thanks to technology developed by Hazelwood-based Labyrinth Technologies. The local company developed a custom lighting solution as part of a $4 million Downtown STL Inc. project to brand downtown and improve public safety. 

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske learned more about Downtown STL’s process of upgrading the streetlights throughout 360 square blocks. Once completed, the project will have made St. Louis one of the largest smart cities in the U.S., second only to San Diego, according to Downtown STL.

Joining the discussion were Downtown STL CEO Missy Kelley and the father-and-son team that helped develop the smart technology: Ted Stegeman, CEO of Labyrinth Technologies, and his 23-year-old son, John, the company’s chief technology officer. 

This live interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” over the 11 a.m. hour Monday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske will convene this month’s Legal Roundtable panelists to take a closer look at local and regional issues pertaining to the law. 

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.

St. Louis Wildlife Project

There are roughly 2.8 million people living in greater St. Louis, many of whom would be surprised to know that they share the space with a good variety of wildlife.

The St. Louis Wildlife Project now has four seasons of data that they hope will give insight into how wildlife occupy and utilize the region’s urban spaces. For the past year, they’ve collected images from 34 motion-activated cameras planted in parks and green spaces across St. Louis. They’ve spotted foxes, turkeys, river otters and even a couple bobcats. 

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.

January 23, 2020 Fran Caradonna
Emily Woodbury | St. Louis Public Radio

In 1990, Fran Caradonna and her then-husband upended St. Louis’ beer scene by starting a distributorship. They wanted to give local drinkers a choice beyond Anheuser-Busch — and, when Schlafly Beer was founded a year later, the Caradonnas’ company naturally became its distributor.

They helped introduce St. Louis to many new craft beer brands, helping to shake up what once felt like a near-monopoly for A-B. And, after the Caradonnas sold their company to Major Brands, they started a craft brewery of their own: O’Fallon Brewery, which they also later sold.   

Mascots will face off in a kid-sized hockey rink in one of several activity rooms at the 2020 NHL Fan Fair, which runs Thursday through Sunday at Union Station. Jan. 22, 2020
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Blues will play host to the National Hockey League’s All-Star festivities this weekend for only the third time in the team’s history. 

And this year’s celebration of all things hockey comes with the Blues sitting at the top of the mountain as Stanley Cup champions and this season's Western Conference points leader.

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.

(L-R) Nyara Williams, Collin Elliott and Tef Poe joined Wednesday's talk show to discuss Harvard University's first #IntheCity Visual Arts Fellowship.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

This spring, a cohort of six talented St. Louis-based visual artists will head to Cambridge, Massachusetts, as part of a new initiative founded by local changemaker Kareem "Tef Poe" Jackson and Harvard professor (and Missouri native) Walter Johnson.

The Commonwealth Project at Harvard University aims to model a new way for universities to engage with social problems through service and collaboration, with a special focus on St. Louis. The half-dozen local artists were selected for its new #IntheCity Visual Arts Fellowship last November.

The goal of the program is to provide exposure and resources for up-and-coming artists in the region. And it looks to attract artists who use art in a manner beyond just creating for art's sake.

Alejandra Fallows (at left) and Bailey Schuchmann are among Sauce Magazine's picks for "Ones to Watch" in 2020.
Greg Rannells | Sauce Magazine

On this month’s Sound Bites segment, produced in partnership with Sauce Magazine, managing editor Heather Hughes Huff gave an overview of the six up-and-comers the publication chose for its annual "Ones to Watch" feature that highlights local culinary talent.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Hughes Huff as well as featured restaurateurs Alejandra Fallows and Bailey Schuchmann

Fallows is the bar manager at Chandler Hill Vineyards. She recently achieved the top score on her certified sommelier exam. Schuchmann is the beverage director at the acclaimed restaurant Farmhaus. She’s also a certified sommelier. Sauce’s profile describes her as a “wine/cocktail/service triple threat.” 

Volunteers with the Salam Clinic hold proclamation that declares Jan. 19, 2020 as Salam Clinic Day in St. Louis County by County Executive Dr. Sam Page.
Fatima Ahmad

Every Saturday, a cohort of physicians carves time out of busy schedules in an effort to fill a gap for health care for people in the St. Louis region. 

Started by members of the Muslim Community Services of St. Louis in 2008, the Salam Clinic is a model of interfaith charity. The initiative was simple: provide free medical care to the uninsured and underinsured. Doctors of various religious backgrounds gladly signed on, including the Deaconess Nurse Ministry.

The first clinic opened in north St. Louis at Lane Tabernacle Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. The second opened its doors in 2013 in Ferguson at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ. Last November, Salam opened its third location at Epiphany United Church of Christ in St. Louis’ Benton Park neighborhood. And this Sunday, the nonprofit’s first Salam Psychiatry Clinic will open at its Ferguson location. 

Richard Geary performs as Mark Twain during his one man shows at the Planter's Barn Theater in Hannibal.
Richard Geary

Mark Twain, the author born Samuel Clemens in 1835 Missouri, was ahead of his time in many important ways. That’s one reason his brilliant novels endure, and why they’re just as funny as they were when they were published more than 140 years ago.

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.

Activists with the Close the Workhouse campaign call on Mayor Lyda Krewson to close down the jail as she arrives for a segment on St. Louis on the Air.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

What started out as a viral video exposing the poor conditions detainees were facing inside St. Louis’ Medium Security Institution — also known as the Workhouse — has turned into a three-year-long effort to shut it down. In 2017, activists and civil rights organizations Action St. Louis, ArchCity Defenders and Bail Project St. Louis began pursuing calls to action to close it. 

The facility largely houses people who have not been convicted of a crime and cannot afford bail. Conditions inside have reportedly included black mold, dangerously high and low temperatures, moldy food and “rats as big as cats.” 

The city has since invested in renovating the facility, but this week, the Close the Workhouse campaign announced its relaunch with a newly updated report. And now, it has a new ally.

The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that includes meat, dairy, eggs and low-carb vegetables.
Ted Eytan | Flickr

A few weeks ago on St. Louis on the Air, we learned about a brand-new medical device that allows users to measure nutritional ketosis with a breathalyzer. Nutritionists say they’ve witnessed the reemergence of the keto diet as a means for weight loss in the past few years.

Both during and after that segment aired, we received a lot of questions about the keto diet, as well as some concern that this may be an unhealthy choice for some people. So, we looked into it on Thursday’s show with people who follow the latest research on the topic.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson delivers his second State of the State address on January 15.
Marta Payne | Special to St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 15 with comment from legislators 

Gov. Mike Parson highlighted public safety, behavioral health services, education and job training as priorities in Missouri’s $30 billion spending plan for the budget cycle that starts July 1. 

He spoke about these programs in his annual State of the State address Wednesday — and also touted many of what he considers successes of his first 18 months in office.

“The state of our state is strong, and by working together, we will be even better prepared for the future,” Parson said. 

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.

State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, the top prosecutor in Baltimore, expressed support for St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner during a press conference outside the Carnahan Courthouse on Jan. 14, 2020.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A day after filing a federal lawsuit alleging a racist conspiracy to prevent her from enacting her agenda, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner received a show of support from six prosecutors from around the country who were elected under the banner of shaking up the criminal justice system.

At a press conference on the steps of the Carnahan Courthouse in St. Louis, the prosecutors praised Gardner as someone willing to stand up to the status quo — and added that her federal lawsuit was necessary to fight back against powerful interest groups.

January 14, 2020 Miranda Popkey
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Miranda Popkey is a California native, and much of her debut novel, “Topics of Conversation,” is set in the state. But the novel has a St. Louis origin story. It’s while she was in the MFA program at Washington University that she wrote much of it. And it’s at Wash U that she realized it could be, and was, a novel.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Popkey joined us to discuss her novel. 

The novel’s focus on ideas over plot — and its sometimes “unlikeable narrator” — have drawn pushback from some readers, she acknowledged.  

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.

EHOC attorney Kalila Jackson joined Monday's talk show to discuss tenant rights in Missouri.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Bad living conditions are stressful enough. But what about landlords that are neglecting their properties and abusing the rights of the tenants? 

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, Kalila Jackson joined us to discuss how tenants can exercise their rights without escalating the situation. She’s a staff attorney at the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council, better known as EHOC. Also joining the conversation was Sunni Hutton, a volunteer grassroots organizer with Homes for All St. Louis.

St. Louis Alderwoman Cara Spencer announced plans Monday on St. Louis on the Air to challenge Mayor Lyda Krewson for the city's highest office.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 1:45 p.m. Jan. 13, with comments from Spencer

Cara Spencer, an alderwoman from south St. Louis, will challenge Mayor Lyda Krewson in 2021.

“I want to live in a city that works,” Spencer, D-20th Ward, said Monday on St. Louis on the Air. “St. Louis is uniquely poised to be the next fastest-growing city. We are a great old city, but we’re broken in a lot of ways, and I’m running for mayor to fix that.”

Spencer is the first Krewson opponent to announce a run for the office. Krewson told St. Louis on the Air last year that she intended to seek re-election.

January 6, 2020 Dave Greteman
Emily Woodbury | St. Louis Public Radio

Getting drunk at dinner is sooo 2010. Some of the area’s most buzz-worthy bars are now focused on drinks that won’t get you buzzed. That includes Elmwood.

At this one-year-old Maplewood hotspot, the roster of booze-free cocktails (called “zero proof”) is just as interesting and complex as that of their liquor-fueled cousins. The restaurant is also serving drinks it calls “low proof,” offering a taste of spirits without condemning you to a raging headache the next morning.

Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Congressman William Lacy Clay Jr., D-St. Louis, is issuing a dire warning when it comes to President Donald Trump’s actions regarding Iran.

“If we don’t rein in this president’s recklessness, we will commit young men and women to a war zone in the Middle East, and the results will be a catastrophe,” he said Friday on St. Louis on the Air

“I’ve seen this before,” he continued. “And apparently no one in this president’s family has ever served in the military or ever gone to war, so it probably doesn’t faze him. He doesn’t realize what the damage will be to Americans in a war zone. It’s so cavalier.”  

Dr. Mai Vo (left) and Dr. Mimi Vo (right) are physicians with different takes on Missouri's new medical cannabis law. They are also sisters.
EMILY WOODBURY | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Thousands of Missouri residents have received certification cards for medical marijuana, and dispensaries are gearing up to begin sales of the product later this year, likely in the spring. 

Physicians have the ability to prescribe medical marijuana to patients via the state’s certification form, although they are not obligated to do so.

On Friday's St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske spoke with two physicians, who are also sisters, to get a sense of why they react differently when patients request their signatures on medical marijuana certification forms.

St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden says the strategy of directing more police attention and resources to specific areas is working to curb violence in the city.
EMILY WOODBURY | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Thursday on St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden defended his crime-fighting strategy in the north St. Louis area known as “Hayden’s Rectangle.”

The House Of Miles East St. Louis is the focal point of a new tour of some of the city's cultural landmarks. It's listed as an Airbnb "Experience." Organizers hope the tour brings in outside money to the city.
Eric Schmid | St Louis Public Radio

For those interested in learning more about East St. Louis’ rich cultural legacy, a new “music and history walk” is one route to consider. Treasure Shields Redmond, daughter of East St. Louis Poet Laureate Eugene Redmond, is organizing opportunities for hipsters, jazz nerds and genuinely curious minds alike. 

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske discussed with Shields Redmond how opportunities like the Historic Jazz & Poetry Excursion is showing the world a different East St. Louis than what you might see on the evening news.

Pages