Audio Features | St. Louis Public Radio

Audio Features

Feature-length audio news reports from St. Louis Public Radio reporters.

Erin Hulbert, a student at Orchard Farm Middle School, and a partner collected more than 30 blankets as part of a class on community service.
Courtesy of Erin Hulbert

A teacher at Orchard Farm Middle School started a new class this semester with one assignment: organize a fundraiser for a nonprofit of the students’ choice and follow through.

Chris Liesmann teaches Spanish in the eastern St. Charles school system. He decided to start an elective course on philanthropy. He called the class Change Makers.

Carlos Restrepo outside STL Style House on Dec. 21, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Carlos Restrepo estimates he’s about one year away from achieving a dream: having his father permanently in the U.S. after 13 years of living apart.

“It would be awesome if by next Christmas he was here,” Restrepo said.

Determined to make it happen, Restrepo is aiming to raise $10,000 to cover the many costs associated with his father’s green card application and travel from Medellin, Colombia to the United States.

Guitarist-vocalist Paige Brubeck and drummer-vocalist Evan Sult play the Ready Room on Dec. 13. 12/21/18
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

On a crisp, December weeknight in Sleepy Kitty’s cozy practice space on Jefferson Ave., guitarist-vocalist Page Brubeck and drummer-vocalist Evan Sult begin to rehearse for an upcoming set at the Ready Room.

An opening slot on a weeknight, the gig seems pretty low-profile. But it’ll be their first in over a year. Brubeck was sidelined by throat surgery in January, and it’s been a slow, difficult path back to the stage.

Brubeck and Sult view the set as a re-affirmation of the band’s very existence. And they’re not sure how it’ll go.

Pediatrician Ken Haller tries to get 3-year-old Azaya Clemons to laugh during a checkup at Danis Pediatrics in Midtown.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

As a pediatric surgeon at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Dr. Bo Kennedy has seen firsthand how bullets can shatter tiny bodies.

He’s collected dozens of horror stories from his time in the hospital’s emergency department, including the time a 3-year-old boy stuck a loaded gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

“That’s what he did with his water pistol to get a drink out of it,” Kennedy said. “And obviously he didn’t survive.”

Because of their experience treating guns’ youngest victims, St. Louis pediatricians have increasingly considered it their responsibility to promote gun safety by talking to parents about how to keep guns away from children.

Erica Jones reads with her grandson, Jakeem, at their Florissant home. Jones has lost a daughter and a godson due to guns in recent years.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A charmer. A smooth talker. A ball of life.

That’s how Erica Jones remembers her godson Jermon Perry.

The 7-year-old died in March after his younger brother accidentally shot him in the head while playing with a gun. Perry is one of hundreds of children who have been shot and killed over the last decade in St. Louis, a region with one of the highest rates of child gunshot wounds in the country.

Gov. Mike Parson speaks to St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum during an interview on Dec. 13, 2018.
David Kovaluk I St. Louis Public Radio

After roughly six months as governor, Mike Parson is not only settling into the job — he’s charting out an ambitious policy agenda.

In a wide-ranging interview with St. Louis Public Radio, Parson laid out his priorities. Much of his agenda centers around developing jobs and finding more money for roads and bridges. But it also includes overhauling state programs that already require a lot of money — or have elicited controversy in the past.

Paul McKee on March 28, 2018.
File Photo | Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Paul McKee’s $8 billion vision for north St. Louis has been controversial since its announcement in 2009, but a new set of legal battles have plagued the project this year.

A Washington, D.C. based think-tank has released a report showing just how hard Saudi Arabia is trying to influence the American government using lobbyists and PR campaigns. One senator from Missouri made the top 10 list of politicians taking campaign contributions from firms representing the Persian Gulf kingdom.

A stand of trees in the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri looks a little more sparse than what is often depicted in a forest.

The trees are eight to ten feet apart, and that’s on purpose, fire management officer Greg Painter said.

Carrie Miller (right), a member of the Rolla Mom Huggers group, hugs a student in front of the library at Missouri S&T on Dec 3, 2018.
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Being away from home at college, especially during finals week, can be a stressful experience.

That’s why a group of moms from Rolla Vineyard Church stand in front of the Missouri University of Science and Technology library once a month shouting words of encouragement and giving high-fives and hugs.

David Burks mans the Salvation Army's red kettle outside the Walmart store in Granite City.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Salvation Army bell-ringer David Burks was making a joyful noise in front of the Granite City Walmart on a recent Friday morning. He greeted everyone who passed his red kettle, whether they dropped in pennies or a folded dollar bill or hurried by without a glance.

“You have a good day now. Thank you, and God bless you.”

The fundraising goal for the Granite City Salvation Army is $88,000 this Christmas season, and it will take thousands of drops in the buckets to get there. The Salvation Army says its trademark red kettle campaign is as important as ever because many have been left behind by the nation's rebounding economy.

The old Berkeley High School, and the area now, which is owned by St. Louis Lambert International Airport.
Calvin Usery, via Facebook and Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

When the Ferguson-Florissant Board of Education weighed a plan to redraw boundaries and consolidate the district’s footprint this fall, residents in Berkeley heard a familiar threat in the undertow: a further washing away of their community identity and erosion of the city’s population.

Ferguson-Florissant School District plans to close two elementary schools — one of which is in Berkeley — and transform the high school Berkeley teenagers attend into a selective magnet school.

NASA engineers celebrating the successful landing of the Mars Insight spacecraft at the Mission Support Area in Pasadena, California on Nov. 26, 2018.
NASA/B. Ingalls

Engineer Brooke Harper has spent the last four and a half years making sure that the Mars lander InSight would make a graceful descent on the red planet. When the day finally came on Nov. 26 for InSight to land, she recalled feeling “extremely tense” in Mission Control.

When the announcer declared that InSight had landed, engineers and scientists celebrated. Harper and her colleague, Gene Bonfiglio, performed a touchdown dance, which was caught on NASA’s livestream camera. The elaborate routine has drawn widespread public attention to the mission.

Harrington’s lynching was remembered in a ceremony on Dec. 1, with the placement of a memorial marker.
Michelle Tyrene Johnson | KCUR

Updated on Jan. 8 to clarify that there is an earlier plaque honoring another lynching victim in Missouri.

Levi Harrington was lynched on April 3, 1882, in the West Bottoms neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri.

That may seem like a long time ago, but after 136 years, the racial terror of lynchings reverberates today. That's why lynchings — and Harrington — are being remembered in Kansas City with a new memorial.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay talks with supporters Tuesday night at a Pasta House restaurant in University City. Clay easily defeated his 1st District Republican challenger Robert Vroman.
File photo I David Kovaluk I St. Louis Public Radio

It’s fair to say this past election cycle was bad for Missouri Democrats.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill lost re-election. Democrats made no gains in either the Missouri House or Senate. And the party’s dismal showing in rural Missouri doesn’t bode well for future contests.

Election night felt different, though, for Congressman Lacy Clay. Not only was the St. Louis Democrat celebrating another term in the U.S. House, but his party is poised to take control of Congress’ lower chamber — giving the veteran University City Democrat more power and responsibility.

The "tip room" at Republic Services' processing plant in Hazelwood, where trucks bring in recycling.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

The stuff we’re throwing into recycling bins is getting so dirty that it’s driving up costs and forcing recycling companies to shut down.

In St. Louis, several municipal governments began sending their recycling to other processing plants. O’Fallon officials told residents they were no longer going to pick up paper and cardboard.

China, which has long accepted a large portion of paper and plastics from western countries, last year started rejecting paper and plastic from the United States. That’s because single-stream recycling contains too much contamination, such as food residue and rain-soaked paper.

Opening of the Metrolink station in the Cortex Innovation Center marked the first time for a privately funded transit project.
Bi-State Development

John Nations is stepping down after eight years as president and CEO of Bi-State Development — the agency that operates the Metrolink public transit system among other regional services.

Taulby Roach, a longtime transportation consultant for St. Clair County, is expected to succeed Nations as Bi-State’s next president and CEO, although the board has not made an official announcement.

Maxi Glamour hosts a polka-themed drag and burlesque show at Das Bevo Underground on a recent Friday night. Nov. 11, 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Once a month, 90-year-old John Chaney dons a blond wig, dressy suit and heels — and transforms into a Tammy Wynette look-alike who lip-syncs to country music.

Several times a week, 28-year-old Maxi Glamour also puts on makeup and a skirt. But Glamour forsakes the falsies and is proud to show a flat chest through the opening of a sparkly vest.

The two performers — more than 60 years apart in age — use the same word for their brand of performance: drag. But while Chaney’s act celebrates so-called femininity, Glamour’s show pierces the notion that male and female are two distinct categories. The perspective is increasingly being embraced by wider culture as more people identify as non-binary, or neither male nor female.  It’s also reshaping an art form rooted in gay culture.

Signs with Fabiano Caruana's head are for the taking at the St. Louis Chess Club. The St. Louis resident is playing the reigning champion, Magnus Carlsen, for the World Chess Championship in London.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Fabiano Caruana is the first American to play in the World Chess Championship match since Bobby Fischer back in 1972.

If he wins against defending champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway this week, it won’t just be a big deal for the U.S.; it could cement St. Louis as a center for chess.

Nov. 19, 2018 at Operation Food Search: Andrew Glantz, CEO GiftAMeal and food bank manager Mark Taylor check bags for weekend meal program.
Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio

As many families prepare for the annual Thanksgiving feast, not everyone has the opportunity to sit down to a traditional meal on Thursday, or any other day of the week. The statistics about food insecurity — hunger — in our region are stark.

“Missouri is one of the hungriest states in the country,” said Mark Taylor at Operation Food Search, a food bank that distributes 200,000 meals a month in St. Louis and 31 surrounding counties in Missouri and Illinois.

Residents at Park Ridge in Ferguson received some form of notice about either an impending eviction because of St. Louis County Housing Authority or because of late rent payments.
Holly Edgell | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 19 at 4:20 p.m. with response from T.E.H. management. 

Hundreds of residents in Park Ridge Apartments in Ferguson are concerned about where they will live next month because of mass-eviction notices sent to them by the landlord in November.

Housing advocates say people who live in nearly 400 units in the low-income housing complex received letters from the company T.E.H. Realty asking them to be out of their apartments by Nov. 14. Some tenants say they were asked to leave by the end of the month.

A drone photo taken November 14, 2018 of the two north city water towers. The Grand Avenue Water Tower is shown in the forefront and the Bissell Street Water Tower is in the background.
Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio

Hilary Sedovic used to drive past a peculiar structure on East Grand Avenue during her commute.

Each time, she wondered: What’s that massive white column doing in the middle of the traffic circle?

"Did it used to hold up a building and something happened to that, but they kept it as a memorial of some sort?” Sedovic asked.

Missouri state Treasurer Eric Schmitt. Dec. 7, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As he prepares to change jobs, state Treasurer Eric Schmitt talked to St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies about two of the major influences on his life:

  • His Jesuit education at DeSmet High School and St. Louis University Law School.
  • His son, Stephen, who has autism and other health issues.

Schmitt says he was at the Jesuit-run White House Retreat, in south St. Louis County, last Sunday, when he got the call from Gov. Mike Parson to tell him he had been chosen to be Missouri’s next attorney general.

Iris Jackson works with first-graders at Patrick Henry Downtown Academy in St. Louis on a reading comprehension assignment. Jackson is a resident teacher at the school.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

A group of middle-aged adults is back in school this fall. This time, though, they’re at the front of the classroom learning how to be teachers.

St. Louis Teacher Residency, launched over the summer, is recruiting adults to change careers to work in education, hoping their life experience and maturity will lead to less burnout and longer tenures among urban educators.

This video still is from Yvonne Osei’s 2018 "She Wears Me As Her Armor. Watch Me Watch You. See Through Me." She is obscuring a painting called "Nymph at the Fountain" as an extension of her "Africa Clothe Me Bare" series.
Yvonne Osei

When performance and video artist Yvonne Osei arrived in St. Louis from Ghana in 2009, she noticed that everyone seemed concerned with physical appearance.

What seemed to matter was a person’s size, race and clothing, she observed, a focus unlike anything she’d experienced growing up in the Ashanti tribe. Osei, who was born in Germany, began thinking about how to use clothing to explore such issues in her work. Recently, an organization called Critical Mass for the Visual Arts gave her a Creative Stimulus award, and the Visionary Awards named her as its 2018 Emerging Artist.

Missourian John Lewis Barkley was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for actions he took Oct. 7, 1918. This image of him is from a painting done by Howard Chandler Christy in 1930.
National World War I Museum and Memorial

It’s likely you’ve never heard of John Lewis Barkley.

The Missouri native fought in World War I, winning the Congressional Medal of Honor and later writing a book about his experience. Yet his book, “No Hard Feelings!” and his name remain in relative obscurity, even as the nation marks the 100th anniversary of World War I’s end.

That surprises Steven Trout, who helped get the book reprinted under the title “Scarlet Fields” in 2014.

“I’m astonished, in fact, and I don’t really know the reason,” he told St. Louis Public Radio.

World War II veteran Ralph Goldsticker at his home in Creve Coeur.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Ralph Goldsticker doesn't consider himself a hero.

The 97-year-old World War II veteran says he was just a guy was doing his job like everyone else at the height of the war in 1944.

But his story, which he continues to share as Veterans' Day approaches, is the stuff of which heroes are made.

The Creve Coeur resident was flying bombing missions over Europe when he was 22. Goldsticker was the bombardier in a B-17 bomber. That's the person who sat in the plexiglass bubble in the nose of the plane, to get the best view of the targets.

Dave Grelle has been one of the most sought-after keyboard players in St. Louis for years. But two years ago, his life — and his music — were upended. A hit-and-run driver struck him on South Grand Boulevard and caused him major injuries, from which he’s still recovering.

Grelle has been easing back into his musical life, sitting in with various groups around town. Now comes a big milestone: For the first time since the accident, Grelle will make his way back to the stage as a bandleader this weekend, when he leads a group of local all-stars, Friday and Saturday at Ferring Jazz Bistro.

 To help kids deal with the trauma of bullying, 9-year-old Mikaylah Norfolk started We Rise Up 4 Kids with her mom, Monique Norfolk. November 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the surface, Mikaylah Norfolk is like most kids her age. She likes to play with her three-story Barbie Dreamhouse, dress up her dolls, hang out with her friends and do arts and crafts.

But the 9-year-old Florissant resident is also the founder of an anti-bullying organization.

We Rise Up 4 Kids aims to help kids deal with the trauma of bullying, while also providing mental health resources.

Families gather at the Fairmont City libary to play, read books and take classes.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It's a common sight at the Fairmont City Library Center: Students discussing the grammar and syntax of English sentences in small groups.

On a recent night, the teacher wanted to know what another word for “per” is. The word got lost in translation. Some students suggested “for,” but in the sentence the teacher gave the correct answer is “each.” It was a confusing answer for one student who offered the Spanish word for “each” instead. It’s “cada.”

The class is just one of the night English language classes the library offers adult native Spanish speakers in the area who want to perfect their second language.

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