u. city | Al Hopkins of the U. City Forestry Division is adept with a chainsaw. He carved a bench at the North McKnight entrance to the Ruth Park Woods nature trail to replace the weathered sign that had been there for years. Hopkins, who started with U. City in 1995 as a tree trimmer and is now crew leader, wanted to create something unique—not to mention practical—to replace what was there. He also does chainsaw carving in his free time. The view from the spot has changed substantially over the past few years: After construction workers moved mountains of earth, a strip center without much more than an urgent care and a Vietnamese bistro has given way to a larger, multifarious shopping center that so far includes at least four restaurants and a bank. Today, one can see a subdivision entrance to the south and the drive-thru for the Raising Cane’s fried-chicken joint to the north. Along with the extra traffic, it’s enough to make you want to grab some lunch and take a walk in the woods, or vice versa. We’d heartily recommend either approach. Cane’s has become a very guilty pleasure.

Cable-TV journalist Joy-Ann Reid, host of MSNBC’s The ReidOut, is slated to share the legacy of civil rights icons Medgar and Myrlie Evers. Reid will discuss her book, Medgar & Myrlie: Medgar Evers and the Love Story That Awakened America, on Feb. 10 at Ladue Performing Arts Center. When Medgar Evers became the field secretary for the Mississippi branch of the NAACP, his wife Myrlie served as his secretary and confidante. On June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers became the highest-profile victim of a KKK-related assassination. In the wake of his murder, Myrlie carried on their legacy and became a leader in her own right. In her unique account of two heroes of the civil-rights movement, Reid explores the groundwork that went into winning basic rights for Black Americans. The theme for the County Library’s 2024 Black History Celebration is “African-American Arts: Inspiring, Impacting and Influencing Every Generation.” The library’s event with Reid is the 2024 Frankie Freeman Inspirational Lecture, named in honor of legendary St. Louis civil rights attorney Frankie Freeman. Tickets for the 7 p.m. event can be purchased through eventbrite.com. Seating will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis at the arts center.

st. louis
St. Louis-based radio and TV personality Randi Naughton has kicked off 2024 by launching her own podcast, More to Say with Randi Naughton: Interesting Conversations with Interesting People. It will feature a mix of guests from the world of entertainment, sports, literature, philanthropy and health and wellness. Produced by SPOT Content Studios in St. Louis, new weekly episodes of More to Say can be found wherever you get your podcasts. The first roster of guests: world-renowned sports broadcaster Bob Costas; New York Times best-selling author and health and fitness guru Dr. Ian Smith; original MTV veejay and current host of Sirius Radio’s “80s on 8,” Alan Hunter; and two-time Tony Award-winning actor/musician Norbert Leo Butz. “I’ve honed my skills to make it a more casual, easy conversation, rather than an interview,” says Naughton. “I feel like I can talk to anyone. I was always limited to short interview times on TV… three minutes or less. This gives me a chance to do a deep dive in conversation with my guests and let it breathe.” Naughton began her broadcast career in the early 1980s in Buffalo, N.Y., working in local radio and TV news. After moving to St. Louis, she worked as a sports reporter/anchor for much of the 1990s, before moving to the morning anchor desk at FOX-2 News (KTVI-TV) where she spent 30 years delivering the topics of the day. She has interviewed countless celebrities, sports figures, authors, world leaders and change makers. Naughton stepped away from the anchor desk in July 2022 and continues to run her own voiceover and narration business with clients worldwide. For sponsorship opportunities or to suggest an interesting guest idea, visit randinaughton.com.

notable neighbors
the sheldon
He probably doesn’t have to worry about being recognized at the grocery store, unless someone in the checkout line can identify him by his distinctive voice. That’s because not as many people who’ve listened to the “U-Man,” John Ulett, on KSHE-95 have ever seen his face, unless he’s on a ‘remote’—a broadcast accompanied by one of the Real Rock Radio vans out in the field. Ulett has been with the Lou’s legendary rock station since Ron Stevens hired him in 1976, when the U-Man was but 19. (He wasn’t called that then; broadcast legend J.C. Corcoran blessed him with the moniker in 1984). Ulett and Stevens will appear at the Sheldon on Feb. 29 for some conversation and plenty of hilarity. “This is Ron’s idea,” says Ulett. “It’s a trend he’s starting to see … conversational shows. For some reason I’m the first subject.” Ulett rolls his eyes. “It’s not gonna be just two old guys sitting and talking. There’ll be shock and awe!” In a career spanning nearly 50 years, starting in the era of free-form radio when jocks could select what songs they were going to play, peppered with clever patter, many things were left unsaid. The U-Man pointed out, “There’s a lot of reasons some things are never talked about.” More often than not, that has to do with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). There’s big trouble if a broadcaster uses one of comedian George Carlin’s seven dirty words on the air (there’s even a Wikipedia article on the topic). Although Ulett and host Stevens probably aren’t itching to utter any of those particular words at the Sheldon just because they never could on the air, Ulett isn’t entirely sure what curveballs his former boss may throw at him on stage. But he’s game. “I suspect he’ll bring up two things that are really embarrassing.” That’s OK, said Ulett, declining to share what those stories might entail. “Life, Death & Other Scary Things” is the evening’s official title. Show time is 7:30 p.m. Stevens has produced radio comedy features for years, often featuring his wife: In fact, the evening will open with the very funny Joy “In The Morning” Grdnic and her wacky slide presentation. The duo, as Stevens & Grdnic, recorded a skit/song about fast food that was included on a Dr. Demento record and recorded two Grammy-nominated comedy albums. So, guests should expect the unexpected. For a modest extra charge, ticket-holders can attend an after party meet-and-greet with Ulett and other VIPs. Generations of music and sports fans grew up with the U-Man, who graduated in 1975 from Bishop DuBourg. “It was a dream to play in my hometown!” And music sustains him, he says. “It calms me, it excites me, it medicates me,” he says. Whether on their way to work or just goofing off, diehard rockers heard him every morning, and for years he was the radio voice of every St. Louis Cardinals home game. As a kid, you may have even laughed with ‘Professor U-Man’ when “Cardinals Kids” aired on Saturday mornings. From the world of rock music, local media personalities and sports stars, Ulett’s many friends are more than eager to roast him for this one night. For tickets, visit metrotix.com; for more information, visit thesheldon.org or kshe95.com.