Ande Siegel and Menea Kefalov

Ande Siegel (left) and her friend Menea Kefalov.  Each won awards in this year’s Creating Original Music Project competition. Ande won first prize and Menea took home third for songs they composed and submitted.

Focus on news

For the past six years, Dayle Kline has volunteered to read the Jewish Light every week so that people who are visually impaired or have other disabilities that prevent them from reading or turning pages can be informed about news and happenings in the St. Louis Jewish community. She reads as part of MindsEye Radio, a virtual newsstand based at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville.

“This has been something I feel passionate about,” said Kline, explaining her desire to make local Jewish news accessible to everyone in the area who wants to know what’s going on.

But after six years, Kline called to say she’s ready to turn the reading reins over to someone else. She prefers that that person be Jewish or very familiar with Judaism because “otherwise, there’s apt to be mispronunciations, and no one listening wants to hear words mangled,” she explained.

To be honest, the first I heard of MindsEye Radio is when Kline called a few days ago. But I soon learned that it’s been around since 1973 when the Rev. Boniface “Boni” Wittenbrink, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate priest, founded WMRY Radio Information Service — now MindsEye Radio — with 10 radio receivers, a few volunteers and limited operating capital.

Today, MindsEye serves more than 13,000 people in the metropolitan area and reaches a 75-mile radius from its tower in south St. Louis County. It offers 132 hours of creative content, including local, national and international news, sports, comics, programming geared toward women, and local shopping specials via grocery store circulars. 

“We even do a pet hour,” said Jason Frazier, community outreach coordinator for MindsEye. “Our women’s programming includes reading from Oprah magazine, Redbook, Woman’s Day and many more. We cover Blues games live and do all kinds of interviews with the Blues (players), the Cards and the Rams.”

All of the reading is done by 202 volunteers, many of whom have a regular weekly gig at MindsEye. Kline  records her weekly Jewish Light reading on Saturday morning for airing at 8 a.m. Sunday. She prefers to drive to Belleville to read at the station, though many volunteers do so at home. All it takes is a decent microphone and computer.

Frazier said there are four ways to access MindsEye. Most users have a personal, closed-circuit radio box that is lent to them by the station; all they need to do is turn the knob to “on.” Other ways include Web streaming, podcasting or downloading an app at iBlink. The latter aggregates audio information services and other content created by and for blind people all over the world.

So how about it? Any of you willing to do the local Jewish community a solid and take Kline’s place reading the Jewish Light? If so, call 618-394-6446 and ask to speak to Tom. And for more information, go to mindseyeradio.org.

Top of the pops

Congratulations to Ladue Middle School eighth-grader Ande Siegel for taking top honors at the Creating Original Music Project (C.O.M.P.), sponsored by the University of Missouri School of Music and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation. 

Now in its 10th year, C.O.M.P. is a statewide music composition festival that recognizes work by students from kindergarten through high school. This year, 70 students applied. Of the 18 winners, eight are from the St. Louis area.

Ande, who has competed for the past five years, won first prize in the Popular Music category for Grades 6 through 8 for her original song,  “Rate Your Pain.” Ande and other winners will perform at a concert in Columbia on April 18. (You can hear the concert live that day, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at  music.missouri.edu.) Ande and her school also receive cash prizes. 

“What’s great is that the money allows some of the schools to purchase equipment or music or whatever they need to enhance their music program,” said William Lackey, managing director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

Lackey said the competition got started because philanthropist Jeanne Sinquefield (she’s married to Rex) felt there weren’t enough opportunities around for young composers. The Sinquefield Foundation has also championed a Missouri Summer Composition Institute (or C.O.M.P. camp) for youngsters. Participants receive composition lessons from Mizzou faculty and compose a piece to be premiered at the end of the week by a resident ensemble. The institute is open to students entering grade 9 through freshman year in college.

Debby Siegel, Ande’s mother, said her daughter is passionate about music. She plays guitar, bass, keyboard and ukulele and performs in two rock bands.

“I am so proud of her — she really makes her dreams come true,” Siegel said. “This was the first year she ever wrote a song about love. I was like, ‘Oh, well, here we are.’ ”

Ande had entered the competition before with her best friend, Menea Kefalov, also a Ladue eighth-grader. They took third place honors last year, first in 2013, and first in the Elementary School Song Division in 2012 and 2011. This year, Menea, who plays piano and cello, placed third in the same division as Ande.

For more information about C.O.M.P., go to music.missouri.edu.