Mass Communications from the Bottom Up

OUTdrive Episode 136 with Sean Hadley

OUTdrive Episode 136 with Sean Hadley

Did you know St. Louis claims the fourth largest sewer district in the country, only behind New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago? The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) is responsible for servicing nearly 10,000 miles of pipeline and over a million customers. So, you may be wondering what all this has to do with rural America. Geographically speaking, St. Louis sits in the middle of the heartland and is known as the gateway to the west. There are also a number of world class agriculture companies located there, like Monsanto, Purina and Anheuser Busch (yes, beer is made using grains grown in rural America). And, if you think about rural America as a mindset and a lifestyle, there are thousands of rural Americans who live there. So, in this episode, Sean Hadley from St. Louis joins the podcast to talk about their approach to mass communications for a major city utility system.

Sean is the Manager of Public Affairs for the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District. Thanks to Sean and his team, MSD is a Mid-America Emmy Award-winning sewer district, most recently for their Informational/Instructional – Short Form Content project on Maline Creek. Prior to his current role, Sean spent the early part of his career working in TV and news production. Sean had stints at KSHB Channel 41 in Kansas City, KSDK Channel 5 in St. Louis, and NBC Universal in Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated from the University of Central Missouri with a degree in political science and mass communications while playing football for the Mules.

Tune in to hear from Sean as he shares valuable insight on crisis communications, the importance of telling your own story, and some interesting facts about the fourth-largest sewer system in the country.


  • 2:00 – Sean details the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD), the public affairs team, and his role with MSD
  • 4:00 – Sean shares a recent crisis management situation regarding storms and flooding that impacted the sewer system
  • 9:00 – Sean outlines how his initial career path in media and communications led him to the role that he serves today
  • 15:00 – Sean talks about the construction of the wastewater tunnels and the consent decree St. Louis is under due to the Clean Water Act
  • 17:00 – Sean shares what he thinks it takes to be successful in a media career and what he tells to students who want to pursue broadcast journalism
  • 21:00 – Sean and Cliff discuss one of Cliff’s favorite quotes, “you never know.”
  • 22:30 – Sean and Cliff discuss how organizations can tell their own stories and no longer need to rely on the media to get the word out
  • 26:15 – Sean describes how he feels about St. Louis being considered part of rural America
  • 29:30 – Sean reflects on his time at University of Central Missouri and how Warrensburg has changed over the years
  • 32:30 – Sean’s final closing thoughts on the importance of continuing to network