Wait no more: Unreal's presidential-candidate endorsements are in; plus we lament the loss of "Poetry Beat," check in with the lads at Sanford-Brown and wonder if we can get a direct line to God

"There are going to be six antennas on the chimney, painted the same color as the building," Mason says. "They'll be no taller than the chimney, and they're next to the alley."

Still, the antennas have been something of a lightning rod for controversy. Neighborhood residents have circulated petitions and distributed flyers in opposition to the project, concerned about possible health effects and the impact on property values. (The World Health Organization says "no study has shown adverse health effects" from cell antennas that operate at standard frequencies.)

But for Greg Patton, who has spearheaded much of the opposition, the issue is more about the way the church, located at the intersection of Macklind and Nottingham avenues, agreed to the deal without any input from the community.

KDHX station manager Bev Hacker
Jennifer Silverberg
KDHX station manager Bev Hacker

"I'm more pissed off, upset, at the fact that they haven't been able to tell the truth," says Patton, who lives directly across the alley from the church.

The lease isn't the first between a cell provider and a local church. Ladue Chapel, a Presbyterian church on Clayton Road, has antennas affixed to its roof. Vicki Hampton, the church's business administrator, declined to comment on that arrangement. Neither Mason nor T-Mobile officials will disclose the terms of Southampton's lease.

Laura Altschul, director of national siting policy for T-Mobile, says T-Mobile has approximately 200 cell antennas on churches across the United States -- and even more on other buildings. "It's not that it's a church building," Altschul says. "It's an existing structure right in an area where we have to build. Whether it's a church or an office building, it's going on an existing site." Altschul adds, "It's a great alternative to having to build a new structure."

A Season on the Brink

Sanford-Brown coach John Campbell counted on returning a solid core of players from the prior Indian outfit. What he didn't count on were Gary Lenoir and Darrin Burns, two out-of-nowhere newcomers who have arguably been Campbell's two finest performers this season. To wit, the pair led the Indians to a second-place finish in the Concordia Seminary tournament over MLK Day weekend. Lenoir netted a season-high 28 points in a 72-59 opening-round win versus St. Louis Christian, while Burns notched 26 in a 100-85 loss to Concordia that was closer than it seemed (the priests-to-be padded their lead with free throws in the final two minutes). The Indians then closed out a busy flurry of games with a 64-52 win over Central Christian on January 19 and a 93-53 loss to Robert Morris on January 23. The Indians are now 6-9, thus surpassing their cumulative victory total for the prior two seasons combined. They next play Concordia Seminary in the opening round of the St. Louis College of Pharmacy tournament at 6:15 p.m. on January 30.

Poetry's Beat

Fiery station manager Beverly Hacker's KDHX (88. 1 FM) is, as she puts it, first and foremost, a music station (though infighting occasionally gets in the way; see Mike Seely's December 3 feature story, "Rattle and Humbug"). Still, the nonprofit, community-supported radio station has stridently made room for a handful of "mission" shows, programs like Michael Castro's long-running "Poetry Beat," known locally as "The River Styx of the Air."

But despite impassioned pleas by well-respected local academics, the station is sticking by a startling recent decision to end "Poetry Beat"'s fourteen-year run, citing low pledge-drive totals, poor annual reviews and sloppy programming as reasons for dropping the axe.

"On the contrary, the annual evaluations were enthusiastically positive," counters Castro, who works at Lindenwood University in St. Charles.

Hacker also pointed to Castro's failure to endure mandatory training sessions, a citation that River Styx editor Richard Newman, a longtime fan of the show, finds a wee bit puzzling.

"It seems a little cold-blooded to pull his successful show after all these years," says Newman. "I think it's really unfortunate and short-sighted. It's the only thing like it in the area."

University of Missouri-St. Louis professor Howard Schwartz concurs.

"Literature in St. Louis has only one radio outlet, and that's 'Poetry Beat,'" laments Schwartz. "All of the best-known writers in St. Louis have been on there several times. What's happening at KDHX is they're taking him off the air to put on more music. This is such a beautiful radio station, it doesn't make sense to cut off this audience. Literary people are cultured, educated people that KDHX should be aiming for. Music is essential, absolutely, but what would the world be like if we had no more books? That's the effect this has on St. Louis radio."

While he says he's ready to "move on to other projects," Castro hasn't ruled out the possibility of shopping the show to other stations. After all, should KDHX be expected to serve as the sole bastion of locally engineered literary radio in the entire region? Probably not, concedes Newman, who points to well-heeled, UMSL-headquartered National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate KWMU (90.7 FM) as a station that might feel some obligation to air a show like Castro's.

Come to think of it, KWMU could probably broadcast "Poetry Beat" in the same time it takes spasmodic dysphonia-afflicted host Diane Rehm to complete a sentence while her listeners splash on the Old Spice in the morning.

Wishful thinking, perhaps, as KWMU is not exactly a wellspring of local-origin programming. No matter, says Castro.

"You can't stop poetry," he asserts. "The Beat goes on."

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