St. Louis on the Air

St. Louis Public Radio

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 host Sarah Fenske brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region.

All Episodes

Tom Zoellner's new book, "The National Road: Dispatches from a Changing America," is a journey into the uneasy soul of the nation: What unites us, what divides us, and what lies in the middle of the cities of the coasts.

Nov 26

21 min 35 sec

Matthew Stock and Sid Sivakumar started out talking crossword puzzles and became fast friends. Now, a puzzle they co-wrote has been published in the New York Times. They discuss the joy of puzzle making with host Sarah Fenske.

Nov 26

21 min 20 sec

Fewer than 20 American red wolves live in the wild throughout the U.S., all in a refuge in North Carolina. Two Missouri-born wolves were flown there last month to join the population, providing a critical source of new genetic diversity.

Nov 26

16 min 14 sec

In this one-hour special edition, Nina Gilden Seavey discusses her podcast "My Fugitive," which connects the story of anti-war activist Howard Mechanic with that of another fugitive who spent time in St. Louis: James Earl Ray, who was convicted of killing Martin Luther King Jr.

Nov 24

34 min 22 sec

The Legal Roundtable discusses the latest in the litigation over the Rams’ departure from St. Louis, the Missouri Democratic Party’s attempt to fight unionization of its employees and the surprisingly short sentence given to a former police officer accused of beating an undercover colleague.

Nov 23

51 min 33 sec

The building that began as St. Liborius Catholic Church has housed one of St. Louis’ coolest underground spots: Sk8 Liborious. Two of its owners discuss how they turned the deconsecrated church into a skate haven — and their plans to turn it into an official arts center.

Nov 22

27 min 57 sec

Minnesota Public Radio is suing St. Louis police over their refusal to release clearance status information for homicides, information sought by St. Louis Public Radio in collaboration with APM Reports. STLPR Justice Correspondent Rachel Lippmann discusses the suit — and what families of crime victims say about getting information from the department.

Nov 22

11 min 47 sec

Food Outreach provides nutritious meals to people living with cancer or HIV. Now the nonprofit is piloting a project to help veterans with uncontrolled diabetes. Executive Director Julie Lock explains the impetus.

Nov 22

14 min 4 sec

Two members of Midwest Avengers explain what’s kept the hip-hop rock band together for nearly 30 years — and how they navigated a world that wasn’t quite ready for their music.

Nov 19

21 min 52 sec

Jamey Stegmaier, co-founder of St. Louis-based Stonemaier Games, discusses the art of designing a hit board game and while tabletop games will never go out of style in a digital age.

Nov 19

20 min 4 sec

The futuristic, sustainability-focused legacy of the late American architect Buckminster Fuller lives on, including in the St. Louis region. Hundreds of people stopped by SIUE’s Fuller Dome last week to take a spin in a replica of Fuller’s 1933-built Dymaxion Car.

Nov 19

10 min 16 sec

A new nonprofit is doing big things in small spaces. Pocketparks’ founder explains how, and why, she’s taking vacant lots in St. Louis and transforming them into community spaces.

Nov 18

17 min 2 sec

The Brickline Greenway aims to connect the Gateway Arch to Forest Park and Fairground Park to Tower Grove Park with pedestrian and bike paths. Great Rivers Greenway discusses how two recent federal grants will fuel the ambitious plan to connect 17 city neighborhoods.

Nov 18

13 min 41 sec

More than 30,000 property deeds in St. Louis include language that excludes Black people and those of certain religions from buying the homes. STLPR reporter Corinne Ruff and historian Colin Gordon talk about the two-part investigation on the topic.

Nov 18

22 min 2 sec

Washington University researchers find cognitive decline is linked to having too little or too much sleep. Dr. Brendan Lucey discusses how the data untangles the complicated relationship between sleep, Alzheimer’s and cognitive function and gives advice on better sleep.

Nov 17

24 min 50 sec

Two St. Louis County corrections officers were brutally attacked by inmates in recent weeks. Attorney Elad Gross describes the attacks as acting jail director Scott Anders explains what he’s doing to prevent them from happening again.

Nov 17

28 min 4 sec

Colin O'Brien's quest for a date made him an internet sensation earlier this year. And now, he has some news, as he explains in this episode.

Nov 16

20 min 13 sec

Author Lisa Napoli discusses her book “Susan, Linda, Nina & Cokie” and the early days of NPR with Sarah Fenske before a live audience at St. Louis Jewish Book Festival.

Nov 16

30 min 44 sec

North St. Louis neighborhoods get help tackling big problems with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri’s Neighborhood Vacancy Initiative. Attorney Peter Hoffman and neighborhood advocate Tonnie Glispie-Smith discuss the progress they’ve seen and the grant that will allow program expansion.

Nov 15

24 min 27 sec

The co-founders of Airly Foods explain how they invented a snack cracker that actually takes carbon out of the air, how they’re already seeing demand from grocers across the U.S., and how they hope to be a “lighthouse brand.”

Nov 15

28 min 3 sec

Missouri is a local control state, so COVID policies in schools vary statewide. Margie Vandeven, commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, discusses the options available to schools and how to keep kids in the classroom.

Nov 12

24 min 18 sec

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted Molly Wilson to seek a deeper understanding of vaccine hesitancy — and the possibilities for breaking through it. She discusses how public health officials might persuade parents as they weigh vaccinating their kids.

Nov 12

22 min 50 sec

Cori Bush's "no" vote on the infrastructure bill went against the votes of many of her democratic colleagues. St. Louis Public Radio political correspondent Jason Rosenbaum digests the vote and its implications.

Nov 11

12 min 20 sec

Service dogs can make a big difference for veterans suffering from PTSD. Nicole Lanahan of Got Your Six Support Dogs discusses her organization’s work, and Navy veteran Andy Canning shares how his dog Arkum helps him and his family.

Nov 11

21 min 24 sec

Spire’s Nov. 4 email about its STL Pipeline sparked alarm. UMSL economist Lea Kosnik says higher energy bills are a concern for this winter but residents shouldn’t be too concerned about the pipeline closing. Carondelet Mechanical owner Jesse Irwin, whose phone has been blowing up with people hoping to switch to electric heat, also joins the conversation.

Nov 11

19 min 50 sec

Harry Truman’s grandson, Clifton Daniel, portrays the late president in a one-man show, “Give 'em Hell, Harry!” Daniel talks about his grandfather and this weekend’s performance in Rolla.

Nov 9

14 min 30 sec

Metro Transit plans to suspend six MetroBus routes and reduce the frequency of service along 31 others later this month in response to an ongoing operator shortage. Local Metro operator union rep Catina Wilson and rider Mitch Eagles join the talk show to share their concerns and ideas for a way forward.

Nov 9

22 min 20 sec

Conventional wisdom holds that leaves are changing colors later than they used to due to climate change. But Susanne Renner, an honorary professor of biology at Washington University, says that’s not true — and explains what her research shows about fall foliage.

Nov 9

14 min 57 sec

Military historian John C. McManus of Missouri S&T is the author of the new book “Island Infernos.” It explores the U.S. Army’s Pacific War during World War II. McManus joins guest host Jeremy D. Goodwin.

Nov 8

22 min 58 sec

Lawyer and author Areva Martin discussed her book “Awakening: Ladies, Leadership, and the Lies We've Been Told” before a live audience. The St. Louis native explained the lies told to women and why society needs an overhaul, not a tweak.

Nov 8

28 min 59 sec

We'll listen back to when Rob Mellon, executive director of the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County, guided us through SeeQuincy's new self-driving tour. It highlights 20 historically significant sites and stories in Quincy, Illinois.

Nov 5

17 min 31 sec

Biologist Bruce Carlson joined our program in June to talk about the evolution of communication in the animal world. In this encore discussion, he explained how fish use electric pulses as they signal their peers.

Nov 5

18 min 25 sec

In this encore discussion, journalist Connor Towne O'Neill delves into his new book, “Down Along With That Devil’s Bones," which explores monuments to Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest in four Southern cities — and the people seeking to take them down.

Nov 5

20 min 45 sec

In 2012, St. Louis residents voted to cut the number of wards in half – 28 to 14. STLPR reporter Rachel Lippmann talks about how this process is playing out now that the Board of Aldermen has released its first draft of a map.

Nov 4

18 min 8 sec

A dispatcher explains how the St. Louis County Police Department is paving the way for centers across the region to formally recognize 911 dispatchers as first responders.

Nov 4

29 min 47 sec

The documentary film "Ferguson Rises" focuses on Michael Brown Sr. in the five years after the death of his son. Filmmaker Mobolaji Olambiwonnu discusses the film ahead of its showing at the St. Louis International Film Festival.

Nov 3

19 min 9 sec

Augusta is seeing a big increase in economic development. While it seems like a positive change for the small St. Charles County town, some residents worry that too much is happening too quickly.

Nov 3

14 min 23 sec

British-born writer Zadie Smith comes to town this week as the 54th recipient of the St. Louis Literary Award. She discusses everything from death, anger and the COVID-19 pandemic to her first foray into writing a historical novel.

Nov 3

20 min 12 sec

The Illinois legislature has repealed parental notification laws for abortion — one of the state’s last abortion restrictions. An abortion provider discusses why she pushed for the repeal, and how it will affect her practice.

Nov 2

23 min 31 sec

After growing up in the St. Louis area, Mary Anne Rothberg wound up in New York City, in the advertising industry. But in recent years, she’s shifted to documentary films — and her very first feature-length one features Martin Scorsese on camera.

Nov 2

14 min 41 sec

Since 1967, the St. Louis Literary Award has brought heavy hitters to town, including Shelby Foote, Eudora Welty and Chinua Achebe. Executive director Ted Ibur discusses the award’s history and what it’s like to deal with writers such as Margaret Atwood and Stephen Sondheim.

Nov 2

17 min 4 sec

Washington University’s Dr. Jessi Gold says the COVID-19 crisis has been particularly hard on college students, and yet they are often not part of the conversation about pandemic impacts. Gold joins us for a look at what is happening on campus — and what can be done.

Nov 1

20 min 34 sec

The Strong Towns founder and former engineer discusses what his former profession gets wrong, what makes streets safer and why St. Louis is, in one key way, a “tragedy” — albeit one that could still be fixed.

Nov 1

30 min 48 sec

Pedestrian deaths have spiked in St. Louis in recent months. Tiffanie Stanfield and Xandi Barrett discuss what they’re each doing to prevent such traffic violence.

Oct 29

24 min 7 sec

STLPR's new education reporter, Kate Grumke, discusses her first story for the station that takes a look at how the state of Missouri is trying help alleviate the short supply of substitute teachers and meet demand.

Oct 29

8 min 27 sec

Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death” is a most appropriate tale for Halloween during the pandemic. This audio version is recited by historical interpreter Anne Williams with production and sound design by Aaron Doerr.

Oct 29

17 min 56 sec

Homer G. Phillips Hospital was internationally known as a state-of-the-art institution and for training Black medical graduates, when few institutions in the U.S. did so. Former nurses and a historian remember its legacy.

Oct 28

29 min 6 sec

Kelli McCrary, executive director of the Downtown St. Louis Community Improvement District, discusses the tax district’s quest for renewal and vision for downtown amid criticism from some local property owners.

Oct 28

24 min 31 sec

As part of an ongoing focus on increasing safety and comfort along Metro Transit vehicles, Bi-State Development’s Taulby Roach has high hopes for a new partnership aimed at connecting struggling riders with much-needed services. He and the CEO of Chestnut Health Systems, Dave Sharar, talk with host Sarah Fenske.

Oct 27

20 min 11 sec

In honor of “Bat Week,” we talk with two local scientists about their work at the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Shaw Nature Reserve to highlight the winged mammals that keep our insect populations in check.

Oct 27

16 min 29 sec