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Longtime St. Louis Political Journalist Jo Mannies Reflects On Career, Major Stories

David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

After a four-decade career, St. Louis Public Radio political reporter Jo Mannies is retiring, although she will work part time for the radio station beginning in March.

Mannies began her journalism career with a brief stint as a newspaper reporter in Indiana. She arrived at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1976, and although she covered sports for a brief time, she gravitated toward political coverage.

“[Sports reporting] is not my first love. It’s always been politics, ever since I was a little kid,” Mannies told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh.

Mannies covered a range of political stories but noted the biggest and saddest story was the sudden death of Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan in 2000.

“I knew the people who were on the plane. It was unexpected,” she said. “That was a very emotional experience for a lot of the reporters involved.”

Mannies also reflected on her time in the Post-Dispatch’s Washington bureau and the collegiality between U.S. Senators John Danforth and Tom Eagleton.

“The whole atmosphere was one of ‘OK, we’re debating the issues but this isn’t personal, and we’ll go out and have dinner together afterwards.’

“You don’t see that now. I was lucky enough to witness that.”

Mannies’ other notable stories include the death of St. Louis County Executive Buzz Westfall in 2003, the recently concluded U.S. Senate race between Claire McCaskill and Josh Hawley and the saga involving former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.

“The problem for [Greitens] was that he didn’t like politicians, and you had a sense he didn’t really like politics,” Mannies said. “He had a goal of what he wanted to do, and when things started to get in the way of that he didn’t know how to negotiate or even talk to people.

“It was kind of sad because when he came in there were a lot of Republicans who had really high hopes of where he was going to go.”

Mannies left the Post-Dispatch in 2008 and joined the St. Louis Beacon, an online-only news startup in 2009. She joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2013, after the St. Louis Beacon and radio stationed merged.

As to why she’s leaving now, Mannies said she wants to spend more time with her family, specifically her grandchildren.

“I don’t want to be one of those people who stayed too long, so I’ve tried to be self-aware. I’m almost 67. My knees are an issue and I don’t know how much time I have left, and while I do care about what I do and hope to be able to do it some, there are other things I want to do in life too,” she said.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Alex HeuerEvie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.