Q. What happened to Wendy Wiese, who was on radio station KTRS (AM-550) and then went on to be a regular on “Donnybrook”? Since then she seems to have disappeared from the airways. I always enjoyed her commentary, maybe because she was so personable. She was my age (53), so she should be active still. — Joy Erin Wheeler, of Glen Carbon
A. Disappeared? Not on your life. She may be gone from the stations on which we first came to know and love her, but with a computer and TV, you can still hear and see this energetic fireball seven days a week — and twice on Thursdays.
For me, her appearances on KETC-TV’s “Donnybrook” at 7 p.m. Thursdays (or 11 a.m. most Sundays) are always must-see TV. You must have caught the show on one of her infrequent nights off, because “the media veteran herself” is usually there on provocateur Charlie Brennan’s immediate left as she verbally dukes it out with Ray Hartmann, Bill McClellan and Alvin Reid. Last week, she added her poignant memories during a touching one-hour tribute to the show’s beloved founder, Martin Duggan, who recently passed away.
But here is where even I had lost track of her daily work until I began researching your question. Now her voice is heard around the country from 1-2 p.m. Monday through Saturday when she hosts her “On Call” program on the Relevant Radio Network, which offers 80 hours of original programming each week to serve the Roman Catholic Church.
If you aren’t familiar with the not-for-profit network, it has been working to help people bridge the gap between faith and everyday life since December 2000. Its shows air on 37 stations reaching 18 states, although none in the immediate St. Louis area. But that’s no problem in this day of computers and smart phones. Just punch up www.relevantradio.com, click on “Listen now” and you can stream her show into your home any time you want.
Wiese says she is trying to help listeners keep their faith at the forefront of their lives as she examines issues through the lens of the Catholic church. You can even sample the show or catch up on those you’ve missed on the archive page. Just this week, for example, she interviewed experts on adoption (Wiese was an adopted child herself), depression, bipolar disorder and the health effects of abortion. You can even call into the show and, of course, follow her on Facebook.
Wiese herself was not born Catholic, but after attending her first Mass while in the fourth grade she says she told her adoptive parents that she was “supposed to be a Catholic.” Her parents asked her to wait until she was older, but later they followed her into the church, too. Just recently, she was appointed by St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson to the archdiocese’s Annual Catholic Appeal Council, on which she will serve a four-year term.
Wiese threw herself into journalism with equal gusto. After earning a bachelor’s degree in communications at Fontbonne College in 1983, she started out as a co-host and news anchor on KWTO in Springfield, Mo. But it didn’t take long for her to make it to the big city, where, in 1986, KMOX hired the 24-year-old to start filling a radio giant’s shoes — Rex Davis.
With the help of Belleville’s own Bob Hardy, who died in 1993, to ease her in, Wiese quickly found the shoes fit just fine, thank you. She was heard on KMOX’s 50,000 red-hot watts for more than a decade before she, Bill Wilkerson and others left in 1996 to help start up a competitor, first at the former WIBV in Belleville before moving to St. Louis with KTRS until 2006.
In the meantime, she and her husband of 23 years, Chris Carter, settled in Chesterfield, Mo., where they raised two daughters — Kate, now 21, and Maggie, 19 — and joined Ascension Parish. Never a shrinking violet, the 6-footer remains as strongly opinionated as ever as witness the open letter she wrote to St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke last January in St. Louis Magazine.
“Look, we both know that the Parkway Central High School’s JV Colts have put on a better show than the NFL team we’ve supported during these past 12 seasons,” wrote Wiese, who says she is an original PSL holder and season-ticket holder since 1995.
“But your diehard fans have persevered, soldiered on, lived and mostly died with you. I’m married to one of those fans. (Personally, I jumped off the bandwagon when you started using phrases like putting ‘a lot of jack into the market.’ Hey, we wives know the signs and aren’t stupid when it comes to the siren call of Malibu.) ... Vaya con dios.”
Now, if you’d like to go back a couple of decades, you can find a picture of a younger Wiese at Frank Absher’s great website, www.stlmediahistory.com. Just punch the large “St. Louis Radio Media” icon, click on “personalities” and find Wiese in the alphabetized list.
Follow-up baseball question: After what momentous event did pitcher Gaylord Perry hit the first home run of his career?
Answer to Thursday’s trivia: On Sept. 17, 1968, San Francisco’s Gaylord Perry handcuffed the Cardinals and Bob Gibson in a masterful 1-0 no-hitter at Candlestick Park. The only run came on Ron Hunt’s first-inning home run, his second and last of the season. But the very next day, the Cardinals’ Ray Washburn returned the favor by no-hitting the Giants 2-0, the first Cardinal no-hitter since 1941. It was the first time in history that consecutive no-hitters had been pitched in the same series. Washburn, by the way, threw the first pitch at Busch Stadium II on May 12, 1966, and, after being traded to Cincinnati after the 1969 season, pitched in the first game at Riverfront Stadium on June 30, 1970.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 618-239-2465.