Frank Morris

National Correspondent and Senior Editor

Frank Morris has supervised the reporters in KCUR's newsroom since 1999. In addition to his managerial duties, Morris files regularly with National Public Radio. He’s covered everything from tornadoes to tax law for the network, in stories spanning eight states. His work has won dozens of awards, including four national Public Radio News Directors awards (PRNDIs) and several regional Edward R. Murrow awards. In 2012 he was honored to be named "Journalist of the Year" by the Heart of America Press Club.

Morris grew up in rural Kansas listening to KHCC, spun records at KJHK throughout college at the University of Kansas, and cut his teeth in journalism as an intern for Kansas Public Radio, in the Kansas statehouse.

Ways to Connect

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Earlier this summer, Jeff Blackwood started the process of moving his business to Kansas City, Missouri -- and out of Overland Park, Kansas.  But first, he had something to say.

“I could have just moved and not said anything," Blackwood says. “There’s really no benefit to me in having said anything, but it comes down to conscience.”

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

The U.S. Supreme Court transformed the landscape of the abortion debate this summer with a sweeping decision throwing a broad class of abortion restrictions into question, and thrusting Missouri back into the center of the abortion debate.

The Planned Parenthood clinic at Cleaver Boulevard and Troost Avenue in Midtown Kansas City dispenses birth control and provides reproductive health exams, but doesn’t do everything a woman might expect from Planned Parenthood. 

Editor's note: This report contains accounts of rape, violence and other disturbing events.

Sex trafficking wasn't a major concern in the early 1980s, when Beth Jacobs was a teenager. If you were a prostitute, the thinking went, it was your choice.

Jacobs thought that too, right up until she came to, on the lot of a dark truck stop one night. She says she had asked a friendly-seeming man for a ride home that afternoon.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Amazon is building another huge facility in the Kansas City area, this one in Kansas City, Kansas, and it will bring more than 1,000 new jobs to an underutilized part of Wyandotte County.

Those jobs will start above minimum wage, come with benefits, and steep community college tuition discounts. They’ll be at a new facility south of I-70 near the Turner Diagonal, which is good news to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

One in every five calories people around the world eat, comes from just one grain, wheat. And for generations the U.S. led the world in wheat exports. But, that’s changed, and maybe for good.

Wheat is not something you want to run out of. Wheat shortages helped spark the bloody French Revolution and the Arab Spring.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

In Kansas City, hundreds of military veterans live without a house, apartment or even a permanent shelter to call home. Many have mental scars that make living in normal society difficult.

But three entrepreneurial veterans are trying to build a solution on a sloping field of grass and trees just east of 89th and Troost in Kansas City.

“We’re looking at four wonderful acres,” says Kevin Jamison, squinting into the sun. “Because it’s not the land, it’s what’s going to be done with the land.”

The battle over religious freedom and LGBT rights has moved from Arizona and Mississippi to Missouri. Conservatives there are backing an amendment to the state Constitution that would protect certain people — clergy, for instance — who refuse to take part in same-sex marriages.

But the measure has run into some unexpected — and unexpectedly stiff — opposition, from a longtime ally of the religious right: the business community.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is offering to stop spending state tax incentives to lure Missouri businesses across the state line but only if the Missouri General Assembly amends an offer to stop using tax breaks to poach Kansas jobs. Missouri extended the compromise two years ago, contingent on Kansas reciprocating.

Bill Hall, president of the Hall Family Foundation, says what's been called an economic border war has been extremely wasteful.

“We’re using our incentives to move existing jobs, rather than trying to compete for new jobs,” says Hall.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Residents of Flint, Michigan, may tell you lead is a serious menace, but for most of the last 5,000 years, people saw lead as a miracle metal at the forefront of technology.

"You can think about lead as kind of the plastic of the ancient world," says Joseph Heppert, a professor of chemistry at the University of Kansas. He says it was because lead is easy to melt — a campfire alone can do it. And Heppert says Greeks smelted lead into, among other things, ‘bullets”.

Residents of Flint, Mich., may tell you lead is a serious menace, but for most of the last 5,000 years, people saw lead as a miracle metal at the forefront of technology.

"You can think about lead as kind of the plastic of the ancient world," says Joseph Heppert, a professor of chemistry at the University of Kansas. He says it was because lead is easy to melt — a campfire alone can do it. Unlike iron, lead is malleable.

Near record numbers of Americans are buying second homes — the kind on wheels, that is.

The Great Recession almost totaled the RV industry, but now camper trailers and motor homes are popular again. Daryn Anderson is the owner of an RV dealership south of Kansas City, and he says his sales here have roughly tripled since the bottom of the recession.

"Business has been great. Six straight record years and no end in sight," he says. "We're excited."

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

On average, about 10,000 Americans retire every day, and rather than “aging in place,” retirees increasingly are doing just the opposite.  

Take Diane Herynk, president of the Working Sams RV club. “Sams” is short for Samaritans. Good Samaritans is a national camping group with hundreds of local chapters. The Working Sams group is based in Topeka, Kansas.

“Once upon a time when this was a brand new club, everyone worked," recalls Herynk. “And no one could go camping until they got off work. But, now everyone is retired, but we’re still Working Sams.”

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says he’s the only presidential candidate who can block Donald Trump from winning the Republican nomination.  

During a rally at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park on Wednesday evening, Cruz lambasted Obamacare and business regulations, characterizing them as huge drains on the economy.  

Copyright 2016 KCUR-FM. To see more, visit KCUR-FM.

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Kansas conservatives want a new weapon to use against what they consider an “activist” state Supreme Court: impeachment. 

Frank Morris / KCUR

A technology company called Pramata is branching out to Kansas City.  The company’s office in Kansas City's Crossroads neighborhood will be its only U.S. hub outside of the San Francisco area.

Google Fiber

Some low-income housing residents in Kansas City now have some of the fastest Internet in the country — for free.

Kansas City is the first place Google Fiber is giving away its premier service, at no cost to users or the government. That’s because the city has become a primary laboratory in the effort to close the digital divide.

Kansas City was the first to get Google Fiber, and the service came with a promise to help close the “digital divide."  

Jay Flatland / YouTube

Have you ever just given up on a Rubik’s Cube? That’s what Paul Rose did as a kid. 

“I was around for the original phase in the early ‘80s, and had a puzzle back then, and messed around with it, and put it down,” says Rose.

When his daughter got one, a few years ago though, Rose cracked the code, and he got pretty fast, for a mortal. He can tackle a scrambled Rubik’s Cube in about a minute and a half. 

Now Rose and another enterprising Kansas City programmer have built the world’s fastest Rubik’s Cube-solving robot.

CREDIT JOESPH NOVAK / FLICKR--CC

You may take it for granted, but electricity gets to your outlets through wires that originate all the way back to the source.

Now, if that’s a solar panel on your roof, it’s not very far. But when it comes to wind, power is generated a long way from where it’s used — often crossing hundreds of miles, numerous personal property lines and, increasingly, state boundaries.

Building new high-voltage lines across all those jurisdictions is now the biggest obstacle to the growth of wind energy.

Courtesy / Centerfire

President Obama unveiled new measures on gun sales in an executive action Tuesday.

He says he wants all gun dealers to run background checks on buyers, and comply with other paperwork and restrictions that licensed gun shops already do.

You might think that licensed dealers would welcome such a directive, but Obama’s executive orders drew a range of emotions from indifference to anger at Centerfire Shooting Sports in Olathe, Kansas.

The Kansas Supreme Court has struck down a law that would have taken the power to select state district court judges away from Supreme Court justices.  Some fear the ruling inches the state toward a constitutional crisis.

Frank Morris / KCUR

A mosque, a church and a synagogue go up on the site of an old Jewish country club ...

It sounds like the setup to a joke — but it's not. It's actually happening in Omaha, Nebraska. The Tri-Faith Initiative may be the first place in history where these three monotheistic faiths have built together — on purpose — with the intention of working together.

The project has inspired some, and angonized others.

In a tiny suburban section of Omaha, kids at Countryside United Church of Christ sing Away in a Manger in preparation for an upcoming Christmas program.

A mosque, a church and a synagogue go up on the site of an old Jewish country club ...

It sounds like the setup to a joke — but it's not. It's actually happening in Omaha, Neb. The Tri-Faith Initiative may be the first place in history where these three monotheistic faiths have built together, on purpose, with the intention of working together.

The project has inspired some, and antagonized others.

Almost all of the goods we buy spend time in a truck before they get to us. And because store shelves are full and sales are strong, you might assume that the trucking industry is doing great.

But trucking companies say they are critically short of drivers — and many truckers say it's pay the companies are short of.

One of the fast-growing parts of the trucking industry these days is driver training.

Schools, like APEX CDL Institute in Kansas City, Kan., are cranking out drivers.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Almost all the stuff we buy spends some time in a truck before it gets to us. So, since store shelves are full and sales are strong this holiday season, you might assume that the trucking industry is doing great.

They're not.

Trucking companies say they are critically short of drivers. Truckers say they’re really just short of pay.

Teaching truckers

Dan Verbeck / KCUR 89.3

Union workers at Ford’s truck assembly plant in Claycomo have dented the push to ratify the new labor agreement worked out between Ford and the UAW. 

Courtesy of mutigers.com

University of Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel says he will resign at the end of season.  The announcement is the latest twist in a dramatic week for the team.

On Friday, the 63-year-old Pinkel announced his resignation, effective at the end of this season.  Doctors have been treating Pinkel for lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, since May.  Pinkel says his health and not the turbulent week at MU drove his decision.

Looking for a job? How about working way up in the air, in all kinds of weather, with thousands of volts of electricity?

Working on high-voltage lines pays well and doesn't require a degree, but electric utilities are hard-pressed to replace retiring linemen.

If you want to learn about the dedication and character needed to be a lineman, look no farther than a place with a super-abundance of line workers: the International Lineman's Rodeo.

Copyright 2015 KCUR-FM. To see more, visit http://www.kcur.org/.

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