Audio Features | St. Louis Public Radio

Audio Features

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

Missouri S&T engineering researchers inspect a damaged apartment building in Jefferson City in May 2019.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Among the volunteers and workers moving furniture, broken lumber and fallen trees at Hawthorne Park apartments in Jefferson City last weekend, three engineers with a large remote control watched a drone fly over a building that was missing a chunk of its roof.

A team of engineering professors and students from the Missouri University of Science and Technology began inspecting damages after a violent tornado struck parts of the state capital last Wednesday. For several years, some have been studying ways to design houses in Tornado Alley states like Missouri to withstand extreme weather events.

Use Of Controversial Weed Killer Glyphosate Skyrockets On Midwest Fields

May 28, 2019

Farmers have been using the weed killer glyphosate – a key ingredient of the product Roundup – at soaring levels even as glyphosate has become increasingly less effective and as health concerns and lawsuits mount.

Nationwide, the use of glyphosate on crops increased from 13.9 million pounds in 1992 to 287 million pounds in 2016, according to estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The image of Bobby Orr flying through the air after scoring the winning goal in the 1970 Stanley Cup Final was on a wall of The Geyer Inn a few years ago. O'Neil said it's a "great photo" that "kind of captures the frustration" for the Blues.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

A nearly five-decade wait for hockey fans throughout the St. Louis region ends Monday. The Blues will return to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970.

They will be in Boston to take on the Bruins, the same team that knocked out the Blues the last time they made it this far.

Author Dan O’Neill’s connection to the National Hockey League team goes way back. He was working as a busboy in the old arena club during that 1970 final and was in the building earlier this month when the Blues clinched a spot in this year’s final playoff round.

Flags mark veterans graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery on a past Memorial Day.

About 30 times a day, Drayton Denson answers the phone at a call center in south St. Louis County that helps U.S. military veterans secure a grateful nation’s perpetual thank you: free burial, with honors, in a national cemetery.

Denson is one of about 80 Veterans Administration employees who work at the National Cemetery Scheduling Office on Lemay Ferry Road. They schedule burial times for the VA’s 136 national cemeteries that are located in 40 states and Puerto Rico.

Riverview Gardens High School Marching Band saxophone members play sweet tunes during the 109th Annie Malone May Day parade.  May 20, 2019
Andrea Henderson | St. Louis Public Radio

For over a century, the Annie Malone Children and Family Services agency has brought thousands of community members together in the country’s second-largest African American parade: the Annie Malone May Day Parade.

Last Sunday’s procession marked its 109th celebration in downtown St. Louis. Parade viewers saw marching bands, local business owners on floats and peppy cheerleaders throughout Market Street near Union Station.

For the agency, the bash is a yearly celebration to let the public know they are still in the city and willing to serve the needs of a growing community. In recent years, the nonprofit has experienced a drastic change in the type of care families in the area need, said Patricia Washington, the agency’s vice president of development and external affairs.

Summer festivals are ubiquitous (especially across the Midwest), and often highlight the local food specialty, be it corn, apples or beef. But when the food has a less-than-glamorous reputation, a town has a decision to make.

Second-graders at Bryan Hill Elementary School react to having their class announced over the intercom for having perfect attendance. The north St. Louis school has the second-best attendance in the district.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The cheers at the end of the day could be heard down the hall and around the corner, all the way in the office where Sarah Briscoe was making daily announcements.

The hollering was coming from a second-grade classroom where every student showed up for the school day. The daily ritual of announcing perfect-attendance classrooms is part of the school’s all-out focus on getting its students into desks every day.

Bryan Hill Elementary School in the far-north side College Hill neighborhood can boast an attendance rate 97.9%, a figure bested only by one of St. Louis Public Schools’ gifted-program magnet schools.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson speaks to news reporters on the last day of the legislative session in Jefferson City.
File | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Mike Parson just finished up his first legislative session as governor. And by any objective measure, it was a good one for the GOP chief executive.

He wanted the Republican-controlled Legislature to approve his ideas around workforce development and transportation spending, and those lawmakers followed through. He was also able to deal with warring factions within his party, most notably six conservative senators that at times held up his priorities.

Jeremy Murray leads the Francis Howell Central High School esports team review, watching a video of a match they played against students from another high school.
Andy Field | St. Louis Public Radio

In a dark classroom at Francis Howell Central High School, students are gathered around a glowing projector screen displaying a video game. On it, avatars shoot machine guns, blasters and orbs at each other.

The students are watching a video of a match they played against students from another high school earlier in the week — “reviewing tape,” like high school football players do after a game.

MADCO dancers Darrell Hyche (in front), Belicia Beck (right) and Natalie Williams choreographed "miles (dia)logged."
Provided | David Lancaster

People living in the disparate municipalities of St. Louis often struggle to relate to each other. But members of a local dance troupe believe the first step toward having meaningful conversations can be taken without words.

On Saturday, MADCO will hold a free community performance at Central Studio, 5617 Pershing Ave., designed to get people with opposing views and politics to talk to each other.

MADCO’s “The Unity Movement” began with listening to people open up about their communities. The company worked with Washington University researchers to go way beyond the stereotypical, “Where did you go to high school?” Managing Director Emilee Morton said.

Khalia Collier in her office at the St. Louis Surge. Collier is owner and general manager of the women's basketball team.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Women make up just a fraction of professional basketball referees, coaches and owners. A St. Louis woman is doing her best to change that. Khalia Collier is owner and general manager of the St. Louis Surge, the region’s only professional women’s sports team.

In her eighth season at the helm of the team, Collier is also the newest commissioner of the Global Women’s Basketball Association, a league of five teams that creates a space for players to have careers beyond collegiate, amateur and professional play.

Setting children up for academic success is Annie Watson’s driving passion.

The Kansas City, Missouri, native is the director of early education and parent success at Turn the Page KC, a non-profit that aims to have all children reading at grade level by third grade.

After years of poor health and drug addiction, David Crosby is staging a late-career rebound. [5/13/19]
Anna Webber

David Crosby is a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer twice over: inducted in 1991 for his work as a founding member of The Byrds and again six years later for the folk-rock supergroup Crosby, Stills and Nash.

That group, with the addition of Neil Young, earned its pedigree as a major voice of the Woodstock generation by famously playing its second-ever live gig at that festival, following a warmup the day before.

After years of well-publicized backstage acrimony, serious health problems and struggles with drug abuse, Crosby has emerged with a late-career renaissance. Now 77, he’s collaborating with a new circle of younger musicians and has released four albums in five years, with another on the way.

Nayla Nava and Maya McGregory pitch Afrospanic Atmosphere  for the St. Louis Metro Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. May 5, 2019
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Nayla Nava and Maya McGregory took to the stage at the St. Louis Science Center on Tuesday to pitch their business idea for Afrospanic Atmosphere. It’s a plan they’ve been working on since the beginning of the year.

“We’re an apparel and accessory line that encourages black and Hispanic communities to pursue STEAM careers,” McGregory said. “We want to inspire black and Hispanic people to just go after their dreams and pursue their goals.”

A group known as Better Together is proposing a plan to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County. They're planning to get the measure on the 2020 ballot.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The Better Together plan to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County was polarizing, but there was one aspect that many acknowledged would have been a big win for the region — a single vision for economic development.

Now the question for many economic development leaders is how to move forward with that vision with Better Together being put on hiatus this week.

Experts say that under the status quo, the regional economy has lagged for more than a decade, in part because economic development groups have spun in circles using tax incentives to compete for the same business.

River Roads Lutheran School Principal Yvonne Boyd works with students Sadie Turner and Amyah Gilbert.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

All the middle school students at River Roads Lutheran School easily fit inside Yvonne Boyd’s classroom. Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students follow Boyd through daily lessons.

When Boyd has a free period, she walks across the hall to the principal’s office to handle paperwork and respond to messages. She’s also the school’s top administrator.

River Roads is celebrating its 150th year of education, though it nearly didn’t reach this milestone, staving off a brush with closure.

Feb. 7, 2019. Ngone Seck takes the MetroLink and multiple buses to get to work in St. Ann.
File photo | Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Ngone Seck, a first-generation college student from Florissant who received a full scholarship to Washington University, is smiling bigger after getting her teeth fixed. But the long hours she spent working toward that goal have taken a toll.

After St. Louisans learned that her dental problems and heavy work schedule made college a struggle, dozens reached out to the Italian immigrant of West African heritage.

Some offered money, others free dental services. Seck took a Ladue dental clinic up on its offer of treatment and surgery, and completed the work this spring.

But after falling behind in her classes, Seck took a leave of absence from Wash U. Although she’s disappointed, Seck retains her full scholarship.

Since February, patients in Illinois have been able to swap their opioid prescriptions for marijuana. And many are doing just that.

Animal waste and nitrogen-based agricultural fertilizers contribute to nitrate runoff, which ends up in creeks, streams, rain and, eventually, water systems. Nitrate, that mix of nitrogen and oxygen, can cause serious health problems if it’s too concentrated.

The best defense is filtering, which forests are great at doing. But a new study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service suggests forests are falling behind, and heavy rains brought on by climate change are making it worse.

Both the governor and Legislature in Missouri are in charge of the congressional redistricting process. But they're directly involved in approving state legislative maps.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

As the GOP-controlled Legislature seeks to undo a new state legislative redistricting system, some are pointing to the plan’s potential negative impact on majority-black House and Senate districts.

While those arguments aren’t prompting African American Democrats to vote to get rid of what’s known as Clean Missouri, that doesn’t mean black political leaders are universally embracing the new system. Some believe the language in the new redistricting process won’t prevent a scenario where the percentage of black residents in House and Senate districts get reduced — making it easier for white candidates to win.

A lot sits vacant in the once-thriving Martindale-Brightwood neighborhhood on Indianapolis' east side. Residents say city leaders have neglected such neighborhoods in favor of downtown development.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

The Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood on the east side of Indianapolis was once a thriving working-class community supported by manufacturing and a nearby railroad. But in recent decades, the predominantly black neighborhood has suffered from decay. Many of its buildings have plywood over their windows, and vacant lots are filled with trash or scrap metal. Nearly 40 percent of people live in poverty.

Just south of the train tracks lies the city's revitalized downtown, with its soaring office towers and the looming Lucas Oil Stadium, home to the Indianapolis Colts. After the city and surrounding Marion County merged governments in 1970, Republican mayors focused their attention on downtown renewal. But critics of the consolidated government, Unigov, say it benefitted the few at the expense of the many. For them, the contrasting images in Indianapolis hold lessons for St. Louis, which is weighing a similar merger.

St. Louis County council member Sam Page leaves the dais after being voted in as the new county executive Monday night.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For Sam Page, Monday night marked a culmination of a long and at times frustrating political journey.

After an electoral career that featured bruising primaries and crushing defeats, Page completed his startling turnaround when he was picked to replace Steve Stenger as St. Louis County executive.

But there won’t be much time to bask in the moment.

Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and his attorney Scott Rosenblum leave the federal courthouse in St. Louis Monday afternoon after Stenger pleaded not guilty to federal pay-to-play charges. April 29, 2019
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 4:15 p.m., April 29 with more information from Stenger's court appearance — Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he steered county contracts to big campaign donors.

Stenger appeared in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Noelle Collins Monday, hours after resigning as county executive. He was released without having to pay bond, but will not be allowed to travel outside of eastern Missouri without permission.

Fifth graders at The Soulard School take turns feeding and caring for chickens in the school's yard.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On a recent sunny-side-up morning, Seth Jansen delivered two lively hens and a rental coop to Anne Miller’s home in Olivette.

Miller smiled nervously as Jansen showed her how to hold a chicken.

“Hi, little friend,’’ Miller cheerfully told her new backyard guest. “We’re going to have to get to know each other. And then we’ll come up with a name, because I can’t just call you Chicken One and Chicken Two.”

St. Louis outdoor educator Cara Murphy teaching children in Tower Grove Park about the food web.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

It was one of the first days of spring, and Cara Murphy had her work cut out for her.

In a field in St. Louis’ Tower Grove Park, the outdoor educator sat on a blanket, surrounded by more than a dozen loud and distracted children between the ages of 4 to 10. She held a large poster covered in illustrations of animals and plants. Some children pointed and named animals on the poster; a few focused more on digging up the dirt around them.

Murphy is teaching a class called "Food Web” about how animals, plants, the sun and other organisms consume energy from each other. It’s one of several classes she started teaching this year for In The Field, an outdoor education organization she recently founded.

<p><strong>Better Together-Style Merger In Indianapolis Created Winners And Losers</strong></p> <p>Backers of the ambitious plan to merge governments in St. Louis and St. Louis County have pointed to the success of Indianapolis which completed its own mer
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

Backers of the ambitious plan to merge governments in St. Louis and St. Louis County have pointed to the success of Indianapolis, which completed its own merger 50 years ago. Since then, Indianapolis has been a Midwest success story, with a gleaming downtown, a business boom and steady regional population growth.

But the success of Indiana's capital was made possible by political maneuvers that allowed Republicans to gain the upper hand in Unigov, Indianapolis' version of merged government. Critics say the city's success largely came at the expense of black residents and Democratic voters.

Deon Morris, left, and David Scales examine a deer that was hit by a car. They will transport the deer to a bird sanctuary where it will feed carnivorous birds. March, 2019
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Nearly anyone who has driven has seen it: a dead animal on the side of the road. Fenton resident Jim Marshall was seeing a lot of dead animals last fall — especially deer — and it was beginning to bother him.

Then one day he noticed two deer on the side of Interstate 44 within a few hundred feet of each other.

“One was a doe, and quarter mile down was a buck,” Marshall said. “By Friday, they were still there. I thought they would be picked up over weekend. But on Monday, they were still there. However, someone came by over the weekend and cut off the head. I guess they wanted a trophy.”

Mojda Sidiqi models one of her designs, a long black silk dress with an embroidered brocade bib on April 10, 2019.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Mojda Sidiqi wants every woman to feel like a work of art.

But that can be a challenge — particularly for those who want less revealing clothing that fits their personal and religious beliefs.

Sidiqi is among a small group of St. Louis fashion designers working to create more modest clothing options for women. They held their first Modest Muslim Women’s fashion show over the weekend as part of the Council on American-Islam Relations in Missouri’s third-annual art exhibition. The show featured various types of “modest wear” — a style of clothing for which demand is growing worldwide.

St. Louis civic leaders, members of the Taylor family, which owns Enterprise Holdings, and World Wide Technology Jim Kavanaugh announced plans to form a bid to attract a Major League Soccer expansion team in St. Louis. Oct. 9, 2018.
File photo | Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated April 19 with MLS expansion plan details — The potential owners of a St. Louis Major League Soccer team are closer to reaching their goal. League Commissioner Don Garber says St. Louis and Sacramento will be asked to make another formal presentation to the league's expansion committee.

The announcement came Thursday after an owners’ meeting in Los Angeles. The league says it will expand by two teams. For months, it was looking to add only one franchise.

A group playing The Detective room at Great Xscape in Rolla. The four month old business is trying to cash in on the escape room craze in a smaller city.
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

The escape room experience sounds a lot like putting yourself in a stressful situation for the sake of fun. These are games in which a group of people are put in a room. A clock counts down. The players have to find clues and solve puzzles hidden in the room before time runs out.

The popularity of escape rooms has increased dramatically, with just a handful in existence in 2015 to more than 2,300 nationwide operating today. There are national chains that operate rooms in dozens of big cities across the country, including St. Louis. But they are so popular that they are opening in smaller cities, usually run by individuals and families.