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 Allegro Senior Living.

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.

Thousands of miles away across the Atlantic — 7, 505 miles to be exact — is a city St. Louisans in Missouri can find a connection with. In the West African country of Senegal, there is a bustling coastal arts city of the same name, Saint-Louis. Known to locals as Ndar, it’s the oldest colonial city on Africa’s western coast. 

Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

NPR Silicon Valley correspondent Aarti Shahani has written a memoir about her family’s journey from pre-partition India to Casablanca to New York. It’s called “Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares.” 

Shahani said that her father lived the nightmare, but that she lived the dream. 

“Not that it was easy,” she added. “I detail in this book how the justice system derailed my life. I grew up in the shadow of a legal case that was supposed to go away, but never did, and that’s a very common experience in America.

Suzanne Michelle White is a member of the Choctaw Tribe of Oklahoma and a descendant of Cherokee, Delaware, and Lumbee nations/tribes.
EVIE HEMPHILL / ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Today is Columbus Day, and it also marks a holiday that more and more cities and organizations are formally recognizing: Indigenous Peoples’ Day. 

Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native nations to the United Nations, and it’s meant to honor Native Americans with a recognition of their histories and cultures.

Erica Williams is the founder and executive director of A Red Circle; David Dwight is the lead strategy catalyst at Forward Through Ferguson; and Colin Gordon is the author of "Citizen Brown."
EVIE HEMPHILL / ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

In 2008, with his book “Mapping Decline,” history professor Colin Gordon brought context to the issues of vacant houses, boarded-up storefronts and abandoned factories in the St. Louis region.

Gordon’s new book, "Citizen Brown: Race, Democracy, and Inequality in the St. Louis Suburbs," digs into how municipal boundaries and school district lines were drawn to exclude and how local policies and services were weaponized to maintain civic separation.

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

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

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

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.

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

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske will talk with Webster’s Paula Witkowski, associate professor in the School of Education, as well as several local parents of dyslexic children. They’ll discuss the importance of early intervention and how people with dyslexia can thrive in school and in life.

Sarah Schlafly, co-founder of Mighty Cricket, measures cricket powder on March 14, 2019 for a batch of dark cocoa oatmeal at Urban Eats Cafe.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

According to projections by the United Nations, our current food system won’t adequately sustain the 9 billion people expected to be living on Earth by 2050. Protein, the most resource-intensive ingredient in food, will be especially hard to produce.

St. Louis resident Sarah Schlafly is keenly aware of that fact. That’s why she started Mighty Cricket, a startup that produces food products including powdered, roasted crickets.

Crickets are a protein source comparable to animal protein. They can also be farmed in small spaces within an urban setting. Schlafly predicts that this food source will become quite affordable roughly 30 years from now, right around when animal protein will likely be more expensive and harder to come by.

CEO of Downtown St. Louis Inc. Missy Kelley joined Friday's talk show to discuss new developments in the city.
Lara Hamdan| St. Louis Public Radio

With Wednesday night’s win, the St. Louis Cardinals advanced to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2014. 

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Missy Kelley, the CEO of Downtown St. Louis Inc., about the economic boost the Cardinals’ success is providing to the St. Louis area. They also talked about Ballpark Village’s new high-end housing options, and Kelley shared her top picks for businesses that have opened downtown in recent years.

St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Michael Butler joined Friday's talk show to discuss Open Concept, his new bar on Cherokee Street.
Adam Rothbarth for Sauce Magazine

An open bar at an affordable price in a hip area offering quality drinks and an accommodating atmosphere might seem like too much to ask for. But a St. Louis official says he’s offering just that. 

Butler has drawn upon his party organizing skills from his college days to found Open Concept — a Cherokee Street bar where patrons pay $10 an hour for access to batched cocktails, draft beer and wine. The St. Louis recorder of deeds promises there’s no catch — no skimping on alcohol or cups filled to the rim with ice.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson poses for a photo at St. Louis Public Radio. 10/10/19
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For 17 months, St. Louis has been weighing the idea of leasing its airport to a for-profit entity. As a member of the city’s Board of Estimate and Apportionment, Mayor Lyda Krewson is among the three city officials who have the ultimate say in whether any deal goes through — the others being Comptroller Darlene Green and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed.

Leonard Slatkin conducts the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in April 2019.
Dilip Vishwanat

This weekend’s concerts at Powell Hall are a homecoming for Leonard Slatkin in more ways than one.

In addition to returning last year to live in the St. Louis area, the conductor laureate of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is taking the podium, in part, to revisit his SLSO sendoff in 1996.

Slatkin will be conducting the world premiere of variations on a theme of Paganini composed for his recent 75th birthday. The compositions update five original themes inspired by the Italian-born composer that were first performed when Slatkin’s 17-year tenure with the SLSO was ending.

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

An open bar at an affordable price in a hip area offering quality drinks and an accommodating atmosphere might seem like too much to ask for. But a St. Louis city official says he’s offering just that. 

The city’s recorder of deeds, Michael Butler, says he noticed that segregation in the St. Louis goes beyond housing and school districts. Even bars are divided in terms of race and class. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cassie Boness (at left) and Dan Kolde joined Tuesday's "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss the role of emotional support animals and the legalities that surround them.
Cassie Boness & St. Louis Public Radio

Do a quick Google Image search of “emotional support animals,” and you’ll see various photos of animals on planes or in airports dressed in vests denoting their purpose. Under the Air Carrier Access Act, passengers needing to travel with an emotional support animal can do so with some basic documentation. 

There are limitations. 

Persistence Surveillance Systems originally developed its technology for military use, and now hopes to bring it to St. Louis. This 2013 aerial photo shows the Central West End and Forest Park Southeast neighborhoods in St. Louis. 10/8/19
Paul Sableman | Flickr

Dayton, Ohio-based Persistent Surveillance Systems developed its aerial surveillance system to help the military in Fallujah. The company’s CEO, Ross McNutt, has compared it to “Google Earth, with TiVo capability.” Now a pair of wealthy donors are offering to help St. Louis implement the system and use it for three years without cost. 

McNutt said Tuesday on St. Louis on the Air that he believes the technology could make a big difference in a city that’s struggled with crime.

“We believe this will help major cities reduce their major crime rates dramatically,” he said. “And when you look at the United States, there are two major cities that stand out above all the rest: St. Louis and Baltimore.”

Erica Vickers Cage Ellen Futterman Judy Gladney
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

University City, Missouri, is considered to be among the more diverse communities in a region still grappling with the stubborn legacy of segregation. But five decades ago, things were different in U. City, including at the local schools.

When Judy Gladney began attending University City High School in the '60s, she was one of its very first African American students, and found herself bridging two disparate worlds. So did Eric Vickers, Gladney’s future husband.

Years later, the two would send their children through the same school district, which is now largely nonwhite. As Gladney looked toward her 50th high school reunion this month, she joined St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske on Monday alongside her daughter Erica Vickers Cage and local journalist and storyteller Ellen Futterman.

Missouri Botanical Garden's Glenda Abney (at left) and StraightUp Solar's Eric Schneider joined Monday's program to discuss a pilot project for St Louis residents that helps pool their buying power for discounts on solar panels.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

While the sun’s rays were at full effect this August, the Missouri Botanical Garden launched its Grow Solar St. Louis program for St. Louis-area home and business owners. In partnership with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and Washington University, property owners throughout the city and county can participate in this pilot program to pool their buying power for discounts on solar panels.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske was joined by Glenda Abney, director of the Garden’s EarthWays Center, to delve into why the initiative was started and how interested St. Louisans can use green energy to power their homes. 

Circe Denyer | Flickr

Here’s a sobering statistic from the animal advocacy nonprofit Red Rover: Only 10% of domestic violence shelters accept pets. That means many people fleeing abuse find themselves giving up animals with whom they’ve formed meaningful bonds. And sometimes, those animals themselves are at risk of experiencing abusive behavior. 

Such was the case for Jill and her 10 year old lab-mix named Scarlet. Like Jill, Scarlet is also a domestic violence survivor of the same situation. 

The patio at Bluewood Brewing, located on Cherokee Street in south St. Louis.
Lauren Healey | Sauce Magazine

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with guests from Sauce Magazine about the latest additions to the St. Louis region’s food and beverage community. 

Among the establishments that made it on this month’s Hit List are Taco Circus on the Hill and Bluewood Brewing on Cherokee Street. Joining Fenske to discuss the full list were Catherine Klene and Meera Nagarajan, Sauce’s managing editor and art director, respectively.

October 4, 2019 Gene Dobbs Bradford Tom Ridgely
Emily Woodbury | St. Louis Public Radio

The late, great jazz composer and bandleader Duke Ellington once said, “Whether it be Shakespeare or jazz, the only thing that counts is the emotional effect on the listener.” 

In the summer of 1956, Ellington found himself seriously digging the bard. Inspired by his encounters with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival while on tour in Stratford, Ontario, he composed a 12-part suite titled “Such Sweet Thunder.” The title comes from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” but the title track is actually about “Othello.” This work, suffice it to say, is complicated.

A collaboration among Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Nine Network of Public Media, Jazz St. Louis and the Big Muddy Dance Company, the new production of “Such Sweet Thunder” incorporates Ellington’s music with Shakespeare’s words. It premiered Thursday in Grand Center. And on Friday, Gene Dobbs Bradford, president and CEO of Jazz St. Louis, and Tom Ridgely, executive producer of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, shared the story behind this new “Such Sweet Thunder” on St. Louis on the Air

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Oct. 01, 2019) St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed joined Tuesday's talk show to share his thoughts on airport privatization.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Among the local politicians with huge sway over the potential privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport is St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed. He’s one of three members on the city’s Board of Estimate and Apportionment, which signs off on all city contracts. He also holds one of four votes on the St. Louis Airport Advisory Working Group.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske sat down with Reed, who could ultimately prove the swing vote that determines whether an airport lease is approved, to get his thoughts on the city’s exploration of a controversial experiment in privatization.

October 1, 2019 Meaghan Winter
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis on the Air

In May 2016, New York-based journalist Meaghan Winter made a trip to Missouri, one that would ultimately inspire her new book. While watching the Republican-dominated state Legislature in Jefferson City push through bills on abortion, guns and voter IDs in a single day, Winter realized just how outmatched Missouri Democrats had become. What was once a purple state had become solidly red — with GOP legislators handily passing legislation that just years before might have been considered extreme. 

Winter’s exploration of the roots of that phenomenon, as well as her prescription to Democrats eager to reverse it, is the subject of “All Politics Is Local: Why Progressives Must Fight for the States.” Before kicking off her book tour, she joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss what she found in her research.

September 30, 2019 Michelle Oberman and Ryan Krull
Sumit Kohli (Michelle Oberman) and St. Louis Public Radio (Ryan Krull)

The discovery of a dead baby in a south St. Louis freezer this summer was one of those macabre stories that had the nation riveted. Adam Smith told KSDK that he was cleaning out the freezer after his mother’s death from cancer when he made the grisly discovery. He said the container holding the tiny corpse had been in the freezer for decades.

The story drew national attention from all the usual suspects, but then everyone moved on. Everyone, that is, except Ryan Krull. The freelance writer and faculty member at the University of Missouri-St. Louis pushed below the surface to get a tale that is, in many ways, even more sad and surprising than the initial discovery. It is the latest Riverfront Times cover story.   

According to Washington University's Center for Social Development's latest study, predominantly black residents and low-income communities in the region face barriers in casting their ballots.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

While working at polling stations in the St. Louis region for the 2008 presidential election, Gena Gunn McClendon noticed the voting process varied, largely depending on the neighborhood. She observed hours-long wait times, malfunctioning machines and a number of people turned away because they were not registered to vote. 

“As a black woman, I am accustomed to things being a little imbalanced, but I just assumed that when it comes to voting that democracy was fair across the board, especially at the local level,” McClendon said.

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

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

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

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

Daria McKevley is the supervisor of home gardening information and outreach at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Adam Smith is the assistant scientist at the Missouri Botanical Garden's Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development.
EVIE HEMPHILL | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

With the United Nations and New York City hosting Climate Week 2019 this week, climate change has been on the minds of many. But what does climate change mean here in the Midwest? The Missouri Botanical Garden isn’t just asking that question. Its scientists are also developing answers by closely surveying Midwestern plant life.

Joining host Sarah Fenske on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air to explain climate change’s effects on the region were Missouri Botanical Garden's assistant scientist, Adam Smith, and Daria McKevley, a supervisor of home gardening information and outreach at the center. 

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