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.

  

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

The International Institute of St. Louis has been a welcoming community for immigrants and refugees to the area for 100 years. Their mission is to foster a more connected community “to benefit immigrants, their families, and the wider community.”

In 2018 alone, the organization assisted 6,500 immigrants and refugees from 80 countries. 

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

In the wake of St. Louis Public Schools’ termination last month of Trey Porter, Roosevelt High School’s now former football coach and athletic director, there were more questions than answers. There was also some hope — on the part of Porter’s students, parents and others — that Porter might be reinstated, especially after an Oct. 21 student-led walkout in support of him.

But at the latest meeting of the school board, Porter was notified that the board is standing by the district’s decision to terminate him.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Porter will join host Sarah Fenske to share his perspective on the events of recent days.

From left, Lynn Novick, Salih Israil and Paul Lynch joined Friday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Filmmaker Lynn Novick’s new documentary “College Behind Bars,” set to air on PBS later this month, follows the journeys of men and women pursuing academic degrees while in prison. In doing so, it illustrates the life-changing nature of educational opportunity while also putting a human face on mass incarceration and, as the film’s website puts it, “our failure to provide meaningful rehabilitation for the over two million Americans living behind bars.”

Prison education programs, including the one featured in Novick’s film, the Bard Prison Initiative, are among efforts to address that failure across the nation. Locally, both St. Louis University and Washington University run programs that bring faculty members to several of the region’s correctional institutions to lead college-level classes. And like other such programs, they boast extremely low recidivism rates for participants who have since been released from prison.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Novick joined host Sarah Fenske to discuss her film and the critical issues it puts in the spotlight. An alumnus of the Bard Prison Initiative, Salih Israil, participated in the conversation, too, as did Paul Lynch, the director of SLU’s Prison Program.

Ella Olsson | Flickr

In the new Netflix documentary, "The Game Changers," a former team physician for the St. Louis Rams and Cardinals challenges what he refers to as a “locker-room mythology about meat, protein and strength.

“The attitude of most athletes for many years was that you had to eat meat to get protein, [that] we need that protein to get big and strong, and again, that meat was the best source. But that’s clearly just not true,” Dr. James Loomis said Friday on St. Louis on the Air.

“There are many, many highly successful athletes, both in the strength world … but also endurance athletes, who really thrive on a plant-based diet.”

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The Trump administration’s formal withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement on climate change has members of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative concerned. The organization is worried that the withdrawal could lead to U.S. commodities producers being taxed or penalized by countries that signed on to the accord, something that the European Union has signaled it would like to pursue.

John Wolbers' adaptation of "It's a Wonderful Life" for Metro Theater Company is set at a fictional 1949 St. Louis radio station.
Jennifer Lin

Metro Theater Company’s Julia Flood was looking for a classic holiday show this fall — one that would also speak to Metro’s mission as a theater company inspired by the intelligence and emotional wisdom of young people. Her colleague John Wolbers’ fresh take on the story of George Bailey and the town of Bedford Falls aspires to fit the bill.

Set at a fictional St. Louis radio station 70 years ago and framed as a radio play within a play, the local playwright’s retelling of “It’s a Wonderful Life” aims to build a generational bridge. The 50-minute production opens this Sunday at the Grandel, with the cast introducing younger theatergoers — and audiences of all ages — to the golden age of radio as well as a long-beloved tale.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Wolbers joined host Sarah Fenske to talk about his adaptation ahead of its opening matinee (performances run Nov. 17 through Dec. 15). Also joining the broadcast were cast members Alicia Revé Like, Abraham Shaw and Chris E. Ware. The trio presented a scene from the play during the talk show, complete with Foley sound artistry.

Patrick Horine joined Wednesday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The weather outside may be frightful, but Patrick Horine, co-founder of the popular Tower Grove Farmers' Market, isn’t exactly closing up shop for the colder months these days. As he looks toward the final market of the season this weekend in the south St. Louis park, he’s also gearing up for its wintry equivalent — which is growing.

Initially launched in 2007 as a monthly affair, the Winter Market this year will take place weekly beginning Dec. 7. And it’s moving to the spacious Koken Art Factory in St. Louis’ Fox Park neighborhood to accommodate dozens of local vendors.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Horine joined host Sarah Fenske for a sneak peek at the wintry offerings, which also will feature a holiday theme the first three Saturdays of the season. He also discussed farmers market trends in the region as a whole.

Rita Csapo-Sweet joined Wednesday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

In 2012, Rita Csapo-Sweet and her husband, the late Frederick Sweet, jointly published a paper on the ghastly but little-known legacy of Carl Clauberg, a German physician who conducted mass sterilization experiments at Auschwitz during World War II. Clauberg would use his work in the concentration camp to develop a pioneering fertility test. 

“Clauberg’s name needs to be placed next to [Josef] Mengele’s in its rightful place in infamy,” the two scholars concluded, emphasizing that Clauberg’s medical crimes against humanity “must be disclosed whenever the test bearing his name appears” in modern biomedical texts.

As Csapo-Sweet and Sweet dug into their research, filmmakers Sylvia Nagel and Sonya Winterberg also began a documentary about Clauberg — and the St. Louis-based couple’s academic article filled in key gaps in the filmmakers’ story. Nagel and Winterberg reached out to Csapo-Sweet in 2015, and she joined the documentary as its American producer.

Matthew Albrecht (at front), associate scientist at the Garden's Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development, and volunteer Eva Adams help during a honeysuckle sweep workday at Shaw Nature Reserve in 2018.
Mike Saxton | Shaw Nature Reserve

Bush honeysuckle isn't native to Missouri, but the species is flourishing in the state. The infestation has impacted the diversity and abundance of native plants, eliminated essential habitats for the insects that rely upon native plants, and has provided poor nutrition for birds, among other issues. The honeysuckle also escalates human exposure to Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis, a tickborne bacterial infection, by increasing the activity of the tick host, whitetailed deer. 

In an effort to upset honeysuckle infestation, the Missouri Botanical Garden has organized public events and volunteer removal days to raise public awareness about the need for bush honeysuckle removal and the benefits of replacing it with native plants. 

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with the garden’s restoration outreach coordinator, Ali Brown, who is heading up the organization’s Honeysuckle Sweep Month

EarthCam

Did you see the bright flash last night? Many home security cameras in the St. Louis area sure did

The annual Taurid meteor shower, known to burn more brightly than other meteor events, hit its peak on Monday night. Area residents blasted social media with doorbell camera videos and firsthand accounts about the noise it made.

The American Meteor Society received more than 120 reports about the sighting, from Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and other Midwestern and Western states. 

EMILY WOODBURY | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

In 2009, New York Post reporter Susannah Cahalan suddenly experienced hallucinations, paranoia, seizures and catatonia. She was misdiagnosed for a month before she was finally treated for a rare autoimmune disease that can attack the brain, anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis.

Cahalan has little recollection of this time in her life, but she investigated her experience and published the details in her 2012 book, “Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness.”

The fossa is one of the mammals that scientists are studying in Madagascar.
Fidisoa Rasambainarivo

For nearly three decades, the Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis has bestowed its World Ecology Award on prominent biodiversity-minded individuals ranging from John Denver to E.O. Wilson. But this year the center is instead honoring a pair of world-class local institutions — the Missouri Botanical Garden and the St. Louis Zoo — for their critical research and conservation work in Madagascar.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with the center’s interim director, Patty Parker, and with a Malagasy scientist, Fidisoa Rasambainarivo, who is in St. Louis to speak at an upcoming gala where the zoo and garden are being honored.

Sheila McGlown has become an advocate for inclusion of women of color in clinical trials.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

In 2009, when Sheila McGlown began battling metastatic breast cancer at the age of 43, she was already a skilled fighter. She’d spent 25 years in the U.S. Air Force, a background she says gave her strength as well as a sense of defiance that would serve her well amid new challenges.

Ten years later, McGlown is still undergoing cancer treatment — and still focused on the service to others that she cherished during her military career. The Swansea, Illinois, resident has found a new passion for advocacy around the inclusion of women of color in clinical trials. Meanwhile, she’s also 16 months into a clinical trial participation herself.

On Monday, in light of Veterans Day, McGlown joined St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske to discuss her journey.

From left, authors Meg Cabot and Ridley Pearson joined Monday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Parents and educators often look for various ways to engage kids in reading. Traditional novels are seen as the ideal, but graphic novels can be just as effective. While similar to comic books, graphic novels tend to be in a longer format, and the narrative is largely self-contained. With the combination of text and pictures, graphic novels have complex plots, characters and conflicts. 

DC Comics recently introduced a line of superhero-based graphic novels aimed at middle-grade readers, between the ages of 8 and 12.

St. Louisans will get to learn more about some of them by visiting the St. Louis County Library this week. Authors Ridley Pearson and Meg Cabot are in town Monday and Tuesday to promote their separate DC Comics graphic novels aimed at middle-grade readers.

November 11, 2019 Josie Grillas and Chris Ottolino
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Critics of airport privatization believe they are close to having enough signatures to force a public vote on any potential lease.

Since June 2018, a group calling itself STL Not for Sale has been circulating petitions for a ballot initiative requiring any airport lease to be subject to a public vote — that’s even though Mayor Lyda Krewson would prefer to leave the matter to the Board of Aldermen.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, Josie Grillas and Chris Ottolino of STL Not for Sale said they are now working with the union-rights organization Jobs with Justice. The groups are working together to analyze the petitions they’ve gathered and see how close they are to ensuring they have enough signatures to get the issue on the ballot. 

Glenn Burleigh joined Friday's show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ relatively low cost of living is an oft-touted point of pride for the region. But a newly released report by the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council suggests that life in the Gateway City isn’t so affordable for everyone — especially when it comes to paying rent.

Compiled by the organization’s community engagement specialist, the report aims to fill an information gap when it comes to understanding local rent costs. And one of the key takeaways from Glenn Burleigh’s ZIP-code-level analysis is that perceptions of gentrification are rooted in reality: Across the city of St. Louis, rents are rising faster than in the metropolitan region as a whole, and twice as fast in the central corridor and south St. Louis.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Burleigh joined host Sarah Fenske to discuss the implications of EHOC’s recent findings as well as related topics.

Chris Clark (at left) and Ben Scholle joined Friday's talk show to talk about this year's St. Louis International Film Festival. Michael Bertin joined the conversation by phone.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

The 28th St. Louis International Film Festival returned this week to offer local moviegoers the chance to view international films, documentaries, American indies and shorts over the course of 11 days. On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Cinema St. Louis artistic director Chris Clark about some of this year’s highlights. 

Joining the discussion were two film directors whose works take a look at issues pertaining to the region, albeit vastly different ones. 

The Muny's 2020 season kicks off on June 15 with "Chicago" and concludes with "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" on Aug. 16. | The Muny
The Muny

The Muny’s 102nd season gets underway in June 2020, and it features musicals representing six decades of musical theater.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Mike Isaacson, artistic director and executive producer of the Muny.

In addition to discussing the 2020 season, they discussed the Muny’s $100 million capital campaign and recent renovations, as well as local and national musical theater trends.

November 7, 2019 Michael-John Voss and Blake Strode
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Ten years ago, a trio of recent law school graduates formed a nonprofit law firm. They called it ArchCity Defenders. And they had a novel idea: wraparound services, not just legal representation, for the people who needed it most.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Michael-John Voss explained that he and his co-founders, Thomas Harvey and John McAnnar, were inspired by the Jesuit tradition at St. Louis University School of Law. After taking classes in public interest law, they found themselves working on projects representing those too poor to afford lawyers.

“We saw the fact that the existing entities that were supposed to serve the indigent population were overburdened and overworked,” he said. “And there was no communication between the civil and criminal organizations that are supposed to serve this population. We thought, ‘There’s got to be a better way to do this.’” 

November 6, 2019 Pianos for People
Emily Woodbury | St. Louis Public Radio

Last month, Tom Townsend died at 60, just two weeks after being diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of cancer. Just one year before, Townsend had survived being shot in an attempted carjacking. He was a much-loved figure in St. Louis.

One big reason for that was the organization he founded: Pianos for People. A retired advertising executive, Townsend had devoted the final seven years of his life to helping underprivileged students access both free pianos and free lessons in playing them. 

But Pianos for People continues its work. And on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, executive director Matt Brinkmann explained how he’s helping to carry on without Townsend.  

"Michelangelo, God's Architect: The Story of His Final Years and Greatest Masterpiece" will be published on Nov. 19, 2019.
EMILY WOODBURY | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Most people are knowledgeable about the early accomplishments of Michelangelo, like his work on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in his 30s. But the artist and architect worked well into his 80s, at a time when the average life expectancy was about 40 to 45 years. In fact, he was still carving sculptures four days before he died.

The groundbreaking on a new NGA site in north St. Louis is set for Nov. 26.
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

In three weeks, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency will formally break ground on Next NGA West, its long-anticipated headquarters that will be located in north St. Louis. The $1.7 billion construction project is expected to last several years, with a goal of completing much of the campus in 2023.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Next NGA West Program Director Sue Pollmann joined host Sarah Fenske to give an update on the project and to discuss the spy agency’s hopes for the St. Louis region as a geospatial industry hub.

Glynis Brooks is a Harriet Tubman impersonator based in St. Louis.
EMILY WOODBURY | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

There’s good reason the U.S. Treasury Department selected Harriet Tubman as the new face of its $20 bill. Tubman lived one of the nation’s most remarkable lives. Born into slavery in Maryland, she escaped by making her way to Pennsylvania — on foot. And then she returned, again and again, to rescue family members and other slaves via the Underground Railroad. 

President Ronald Reagan delivers his famous "tear down this wall" speech in June 1987 at the Brandenburg Gate. | Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library
Ronald Reagan Library

Peter Robinson had just turned 30 years old when, as Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter in 1987, he was tasked with crafting what would become one of the world’s most famous presidential speeches.

“I spent six years in the Reagan White House and I wrote tens of thousands of words, and nobody remembers anything except six of them — and one of them is ‘mister,’” said Robinson, referring to the memorable “tear down this wall” line that Reagan directed at Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev before a crowd of thousands at the Berlin Wall.

November 4, 2019 Kenny Kinds, Tina Dybal, Zach Gzehoviak
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis comedy scene is a busy one. Just about any night of the week, you can catch local comedians honing their sets at open mic night, improvising madly on stage with a troupe of their closest friends or battling each other with wit and good humor as local drunks cheer.

For the past three years, a three-day comedy festival has brought those disparate elements together. The Flyover Comedy Festival launched in 2017 and returns to the city’s Grove neighborhood beginning Nov. 7. It’s a showcase for local talent in the scene and also a chance for big names to show off their best stuff.

MADCO's new production "WallSTORIES" is a collaboration with UMSL's German Culture Center.
MADCO (Modern American Dance Company)

Nov. 9 will mark 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall that divided Germany from 1961 to 1989.

A dance production being staged this week by St. Louis’ Modern American Dance Company explores the personal stories behind the politics of that moment in time. The production, “WallSTORIES,” was choreographed by native Berliner Nejla Yatkin and is a collaboration between MADCO and the University of Missouri-St. Louis' German Culture Center. 

Yeatman-Liddell Middle School students listen to Excelsior Program instructor Nate Oatis.
Tonina Saputo | St. Louis Public Radio

At a 2017 funeral service for a student at Yeatman-Liddell Preparatory Middle School in north St. Louis, Nate Oatis noticed a young friend of the victim trying not to cry. 

“I could feel the gentleman’s energy, [this] 13- to 14-year-old trying to process the death of another 13- to 14-year-old due to gun violence. As he tried to bottle that energy, that intense emotion that really needed to spill, I put my arms around him and embraced him, and he absolutely melted,” Oatis said. “It broke my heart to think that a child doesn’t have the ability to vent those types of frustrations.”

Steve Ehlmann

The exploration of the potential privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport continues — request for qualifications submissions from interested companies were due today. 

The city of St. Louis will now begin screening potential bidders to gauge whether they can financially and operationally move forward in the process. But now both St. Charles County and St. Louis County have entered the debate on airport privatization. They want the Port Authority to study regional control of the airport and whether privatization is a good idea. 

Nov. 1, 2019 Laura Burkemper, Phyllis Ellison and Bronwyn Morgan
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis on the Air

The first-ever STL Startup Week begins Nov. 1, celebrating a growing entrepreneurial scene in a city once better known for beer and brick. An integral part of St. Louis’ startup scene: women. A total of 45.2% of local startups are female-owned. That’s more than any other city in the country.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, a trio of movers and shakers discussed the area’s startup success. Phyllis Ellison, vice president of partnerships and program development for Cortex, explained that the area has developed an entire infrastructure to help new companies succeed. 

R.J. Hartbeck (at left) and Mary von der Heydt joined Thursday's "St. Louis on the Air" to talk about their "Small Circles" recipe book.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

The holiday season often signals a time when people gather together and aim to impress their friends and loved ones with their cooking skills. And now, home chefs can try some recipes not found in the Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray cookbooks. 

R.J. Hartbeck and Mary von der Heydt have launched a series of short cookbooks titled “Small Circle,” each showcasing about 10 recipes from noted chefs around St. Louis. 

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