By Lynn Venhaus
I had the pleasure to guest on Friday’s McGraw Millhaven Show with Jay Kanzler subbing as host. We talked movies, of course!
(My segment is the last hour, starting at 3:10, or after the 9 a.m. news.)
Allow me to list local professionals who have enriched my life greatly in recent years. Because this life is a journey where people you meet matter in many interesting and surprising ways.
Five years ago in November 2017, Jay asked me to be a guest on his nighttime show, talking movies, and the rest is history.
I am grateful for Jay’s support, the opportunity and being on with Jay and Jennifer, then Jay and Ray, then when Jay left, a solo Ray Hartmann through 2022. Ray has decided to end his show, and I can’t speak highly enough of Ray as an individual, colleague, and as a supportive host for several years (2019-2022).
I’ve been fortunate to join Jennifer E. Blome and Wendy Wiese on their KTRS weekday mid-morning show about theater (mostly Muny and Fox) and entertainment since they joined forces, and we’re going to continue that into 2023.
Now I’ll be a regular contributor on Friday mornings, and that will start on Jan. 6, so I’m very excited and happy to be joining the sisterhood to talk movies and what’s happening in entertainment.
I’m very grateful to Mark Mueller, for sponsoring “Mueller Furniture Presents Lynn Venhaus Goes to the Movies,” what a great guy and a great business, and to all the board ops/producers along the way – Howard Morton, CJ Nasello, Greg Harvey, Luis, Austin and others. And to station boss Mark Dorsey for allowing me to grace the airwaves.
And of course, the listeners. I really enjoy the feedback and the fellowship!
It’s been a wonderful five years at KTRS, and I look forward to continuing this partnership!
(And I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank my pal Paul Cook for being the first to invite me on St Louis airwaves to review movies, back in February 2016 at Y98, when Paul hosted the drivetime, and he’d have me on Fridays. It was the start of a beautiful friendship, and the powers-at-be ended it after a year, but it was a year full of challenges for Paul — his triumphant but gut-wrenching cancer treatment, recovery — and I learned so much from him, such positive vibes, what strong people do in times of crises.
In January 2016, I also started reviewing for Webster-Kirkwood Times, which I am very grateful for, especially after McClatchy ended local reviews in BND in 2017, and I still had a print outlet.
The business is ever-changing, ever-evolving, multiple re-inventions, revisions, and I am just happy to be part of the conversation on current film, regional theater, and what’s happening in the world of entertainment and local events. I love being able to interview people for features, and I continue to meet the most fascinating people (will discuss this more in a column on my website, about the people of the year that was).
I’m still writing print (news, features in BND) and online at my website, www.PopLifeSTL.com, but as a mass communication major who has dabbled in radio (even worked in small market radio news), it’s nice to develop other skills. I am eager to improve. And I’m fortunate to still be working in the biz I love — and doing the things I yearned to do in my early years — now 47 years after college graduation.
Now I’ve aged out of certain roles, it’s that time of life, and I am an independent contractor. This gives me more opportunities to write for other outlets, and since the electric bill won’t wait, yippee.
One of the biggest thrills this year was being added as a contributor to St Louis magazine by dining editor George Mahe, one of our town’s (and nation’s) finest. Talk about learning from someone so good at their craft! What a joy. I’m meeting the wonderful foodies and movers and shakers of this region through this outlet, and it’s been a terrific experience. More to come as I’m just getting my ‘feet wet,’ so to say. (Longer story about my December is coming). I am so very appreciative of George’s tutelage.
(Fun fact: Yes, I was the last food editor at the late, great St. Louis Globe-Democrat — where I got to interview Martha Stewart before she was a mega-brand and Wolfgang Puck at the height of his celebrated chef days at Spago’s — and I’ve written dining/chef articles for Belleville News-Democrat for many years, and recently, for Marketplace Magazine (Old Herald, Goshen Coffee, Soulcial Kitchen).
I think of where I’d be if the Globe hadn’t folded in ’86, a topic my colleague Chas Adams and I talk about regularly, as he and I have reconnected (so many times over the years, but now, he writes reviews for my website).
Of course, they would have separated us by now back in Living section because we were quite the pop culture enthusiasts back then, writing our column “DIshing It Out” and chatting about what we should include.
I started the website so I’d have a home for my theater reviews, because I am in the St Louis Theater Circle, and it’s a great joy/responsibility to support the arts, and ‘keep it real.’ It’s a challenge to keep up a grueling production schedule, in light of sometimes real-life things happening at the same time, but it’s one that is an honor and a privilege to do. So many talented people and creatives in this region, and I am grateful to see their work. (More on that in another post). Special thanks to the patient PR people and artistic directors for their assistance and their understanding when there are scheduling conflicts.
In this up-and-down rollercoaster of a career, and a life, I do not take anything for granted — especially after the pandemic, now in our third winter. I know life holds no promises, and to be respected as a professional is an ongoing process, one I work hard at because it’s important to be relevant and trusted. Gaining people’s trust is never something one can take lightly.
We can’t slack on the skills we were taught so long ago “in j-school” about ethics, integrity and ‘getting it right.’ The leg work, the fact-checking — yes, it matters. (My pet peeves, for another time). I tried to instill this when I taught journalism/media at Kaskaskia College, St Louis Community College-Forest Park and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville).
I guess the only way to sum it up any kind of work these days is to “keep on, keeping on.”
Thanks to you for reading and listening all these years. It’s truly a wonderful life being able to contribute in a meaningful way, and to be able to do what you love, learning and growing every day.
We get to carry each other, and no one does anything well alone — collaboration is always the key, and that’s how we’ll get better. Always. The ‘new normal’ has taught us that we aren’t islands (at least I hope so).
At this later stage in life, I’m afforded opportunities because of such great chances, like being vetted for Rotten Tomatoes, Critics Choice Association and Alliance of Women Film Journalists. It’s a responsibility to live up to, and I continually strive to be better at communicating critical knowledge.
Here’s to a productive 2023, full of new challenges and adventures. And hopefully, some good things to watch and see in the year ahead. And wonderful people to meet.
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.