Wm. Stage, also known as William Stage (born June 30, 1951) is an American journalist, author, and photographer, with a focus on the area and history of the American Midwest and St. Louis, Missouri. From 1982–2004 he worked for the weekly newspaper The Riverfront Times, producing three columns, with the best known being Street Talk, where over the years he photographed and interviewed more than 8,500 random individuals about miscellaneous topics. He is also known for his documentary work on a special kind of historical outdoor advertising: vintage brick wall signs. As of 2016, he has authored 11 books, a combination of photography, non-fiction, and fiction, including Ghost Signs: Brick Wall Signs in America (1989), Mound City Chronicles (1991), and Litchfield: A Strange and Twisted Saga of Murder in the Midwest (1998). His photographs have appeared in multiple works, including the cover photograph on the Oxford University Press book, For the Common Good (2002). In 2001, Stage, who had been adopted as an infant, tracked down his biological family, a search which led to a Canadian television documentary and formed the basis for his 2009 memoir Fool for Life. In 2007, Stage was a guest commentator on the St. Louis NPR affiliate, KWMU-FM.
Wm. Stage was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan and immediately given up for adoption by his 19-year-old unwed mother. For three months he lived under the care of Catholic sisters in the St. Agnes Foundling Home, also in Kalamazoo, until he was adopted and taken to Grand Rapids, becoming the only child of Bill and Virginia Stage. As a boy, he took a keen interest in zoology and botany, roaming the woods and farmlands near his home. In 1969, he graduated from Catholic Central High School, and two weeks after his 18th birthday, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to Germany as a medic / ambulance driver. It was there he attended the University of Maryland Evening Division, studying English composition and German language. After the Army, he began natural history studies at Thomas Jefferson College, the now-defunct “hippie college,” located on the campus of Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan; he graduated four years later with a Bachelor of Philosophy degree [B Ph].