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.

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Crime
6:14 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

FBI Investigating Death Of Kansas City Teenager As Possible Hate Crime

Muslim community members gather for prayer at the Somali Center in Kansas City Friday.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR

The FBI is investigating the death of a 15-year-old Muslim boy who was run down with a SUV outside the Somali center in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday night.

He later died of his injuries.

The center doubles as a mosque where the teen’s father is a teacher.

The FBI is looking into the death as a possible hate crime, but the suspect was well known to the those Kansas City’s Somali community. Ahmed H. Aden, 34, of Kansas City was charged with the crime Friday. Prosecutors are requesting a $250,000 bail.

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Economy
9:25 am
Thu November 20, 2014

After A Six-Year Dive, Wichita Aviation Industry May Be Looking Up

Beechcraft's King Air line in Wichita
Frank Morris KCUR

Wichita, Kan., calls itself the "Air Capital of the World."

But sales of the business jets made there took a nosedive during the recession and have struggled since.

A couple of fresh business ideas are trying to help. One centers on getting more people to travel in small planes. The other is repurposing business jet technology to build a jet fighter for the developing world. 

Hard times in Wichita

Wichita’s been through some tough years recentl. And so has Kevin Bell.

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Community
12:17 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Victim Of Jerusalem Terror Attack Had Deep Roots In Kansas City

Rabbi Kalman "Cary" Levine grew up in Kansas City and attended the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy. He died in a terror attack in Jerusalem Tuesday.
Credit Courtesy of the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy

Updated, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday:

Two of the four rabbis killed in a terror attack at a Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday had deep ties to the Kansas City Jewish community. 

Rabbi Kalman Levine was part of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy’s first graduating class in 1976. And Rabbi Mosheh Twersky’s nephew teaches at the Jewish school in Overland Park, Kan. 

The two men died Tuesday in Jerusalem. 

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Politics
8:27 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Poverty Numbers Used By Brownback Campaign Were Inaccurate

A couple of weeks before the election, the Kansas Department for Children and Families issued a press release that poverty in the state fell almost two and a half percent under Gov. Sam Brownback.

Brownback wasted no time incorporating those figures into the narrative of his success as governor.

“And just yesterday, poverty rates going down in the state of Kansas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau,” said Brownback at the gubernatorial debate in Wichita. “We are moving in the right direction and getting things done."

But the poverty rate information was wrong.

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Community
8:23 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Tomas Young, Wounded Iraq War Vet And Antiwar Activist, Dies

Tomas Young and his wife Claudia Cuellar at home in Kansas City last year.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR

Tomas Young, an Iraq War veteran from Kansas City, Mo., who became a symbol of the anti-war movement, died peacefully in his sleep early Monday morning. He was 34.

Young joined the Army right after 9/11, wanting to take revenge on the Taliban in Afghanistan. He was shipped instead to Iraq, and within a week of landing there, he was shot in the spine and paralyzed below the chest. 

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Election 2014
11:13 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Gov. Sam Brownback Wins Re-Election In Kansas

Paul Davis concedes to Gov. Sam Brownback in Lawrence, Kan. Tuesday night.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR

Gov. Sam Brownback was re-elected as Kansas governor by a narrow margin Tuesday night after a tough campaign against Democratic challenger Paul Davis.

Brownback took a majority in crucial Johnson and Sedgwick counties, giving the Republican the edge over Davis, who ended up with 47 percent of the vote. Brownback landed 49 percent of the vote, and 4 percent went to Libertarian candidate Keen Umbehr.

"What a night!" Brownback exclaimed as he thanked supporters for the win. "Paul Davis ran a great race ... that State Fair debate is not one I will soon forget."

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Royals
3:59 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

PHOTOS: Royals Fans Flock To The K For One More Celebration

Mike Arnott, right, and his son Dillon were teary-eyed as they watched the celebration from the stands.
Frank Morris KCUR

About 6,000 fans Thursday made one more trip to Kauffman Stadium, just to celebrate the 2014 Kansas City Royals.

It was cloudy and threatening rain as fans filed into Kauffman Stadium. Almost on cue, the sun came out when the celebration started. 

Fans chanted “Thank you, Royals,” with the familiar cadence. Many were smiling. It was festive. There were little kids dressed as baseball players, cheerleaders, and Sluggerrr, the Royals’ mascot.

Most were smiling, but Mike Arnott stood with eyes puffy from crying. 

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Kansas Governor Race
8:56 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Kansas Highway Patrol Backs Davis In Governor Race

Another law enforcement group is backing Paul Davis over incumbent Sam Brownback for Kansas Governor.

The Kansas Highway Patrol's PAC says that they decided to back Davis because he fought consistently for laws that hold criminals accountable for their actions when he served in the Kansas House. 

The Kansas Paternal Order of Police publicly backed Davis over the summer. Davis supporters say that these endorsements show that he is hard on crime.

Election 2014
7:31 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Kansas Republicans Split Over Secretary of State Race

Democrat Jean Schodorf campaigns in Topeka, Kan.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR

Americans saw how important a state elections officer can be in 2000, when Florida Secretary of State Kathryn Harris certified the presidential election for George Bush.

Recently, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach intervened in a contentious race that could alter the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

Kobach is known nationwide as a conservative Republican in a deeply red state. But this year, he is struggling to win re-election.

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Kansas Secretary Of State
5:58 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Moderate GOP Group Backs Democratic Candidate For Kansas Secretary Of State

More than 70 former Kansas lawmakers, all of them Republicans, have endorsed the Democrat in the Secretary of State race.

Traditional Republicans for Common Sense is backing Jean Schodorf, a Democrat, over incumbent Republican Kris Kobach. Founder Jim Yonally, a former state Representative, from Overland Park, says the decision to back Schodorf is partly because Kobach has embraced what Yonally sees as a stridently conservative political agenda.

Yonally says his group draws from generations of moderate Kansas Republican leaders.

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Election 2014
8:01 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Would-Be Kansas Governors Spar Over Taxes and School Spending

Kansas Governor’s debate from left to right: Moderator Micheal Mahoney, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis, Libertarian candidate Keen Umbehr
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR

The three candidates for governor in Kansas diverge on taxes, health care and school funding, but they   came together Friday for a debate sponsored by the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce. 

The contest is largely between incumbent Republican Governor Sam Brownback and his Democratic challenger, Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis. Friday’s gubernatorial debate in Overland Park also included the Libertarian candidate, Keen Umbehr, who echoed some of Gov. Brownback’s views and pledged to take his income tax cuts to a new level.

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Election 2014
11:19 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Kansas High Court Considers Case That May Determine Who Controls Senate

Kansas Supreme Court justices peppered a lawyer representing Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach with tough questions about how the law and the interests of Kansans are served by Kobach’s refusal to allow Democrat Chad Taylor to remove his name from the U.S. Senate ballot. 

Kobach maintains he refused to remove Taylor’s name because Taylor’s notarized letter to Kobach’s office did not expressly state he was “incapable of fulfilling the duties of office if elected,” as Kobach says the relevant law requires.

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Elections
3:51 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

The New Justice In Kansas: Judicial Selection And The Governor’s Race

Justice Caleb Stegall

The candidates for governor in Kansas are sparring over taxes, health care and school funding. But in many ways there’s a more fundamental issue that separates  Gov. Sam Brownback from his Democratic challenger, Paul Davis. Both stand on opposing sides of a running battle over how state Supreme Court justices should be chosen.

Lots of people are influential in one way or another, of course, but Kansas Supreme Court justices really do make a difference, says Michael Kaye, a trial advocacy professor at Washburn University School of Law.

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Economy
5:50 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Fast Food Workers Arrested In Kansas City After Minimum Wage Protest

Fast food workers stepped up protests for higher wages Thursday, and dozens were arrested in Kansas City.

Hundreds of fast food workers and supporters marched and chanted near 14th Street and Prospect Avenue in Kansas City, Mo. They are trying to form a union, and asking for $15 an hour.

Unlike earlier protests here though, this one involved civil disobedience.

Forty-five year old Richard Iker says he’s worked for McDonalds 18 years and pulls down $11.05 an hour. He was one of 52 people arrested for blocking the on ramp to I-70 from Prospect.

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Government
6:13 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

Pat Roberts Faces Tough U.S. Senate Race After Field Narrows

Sen. Pat Roberts
Credit Wikimedia Commons -- CC

A Wednesday shake-up in Kansas politics even has seasoned pundits amazed. 

Chad Taylor, a Democrat running for U.S. Senate, has withdrawn from the race, leaving Kansas Republican Pat Roberts facing his toughest political test in decades.

Steve Kraske, host of Up To Date on KCUR and Kansas City Star political commentator, says the change spells bad news for the incumbent.

"Pat Roberts is suddenly in very deep trouble in Kansas," Kraske says. "His polling numbers have not been good. He was ahead only because he was in a three-way contest."

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Crime
3:46 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

UPDATED: Three Dead, Two Injured In South Kansas City Shooting

file photo
Credit Robert Francis / Flickr--CC

Update, 7:11 a.m., Wednesday:

Police have apprehended a man they say has been positively identified as the suspect in the assaults at a Motel 6 in the Northland. The are continuing to investigate whether there is a link between the suspect and the triple homicide in south Kansas City. 

Update, 8:15 p.m.:  

Police say the shooting may be related to an incident at a northland Motel 6 Tuesday afternoon. The hotel is close to where an SUV taken from the scene of the homicides earlier in the day in south Kansas City was found. 

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Government
2:11 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Brownback Appoints Former Chief Counsel To Kansas Supreme Court

KPR file photo of Governor Sam Brownback introducing Caleb Stegall when Stegall was appointed to the Kansas Court of Appeals in January, 2014.
Credit Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has chosen his former legal counsel, a staunchly pro-life judge named Caleb Stegall to fill a vacancy on the Kansas Supreme Court. 

Stegall served as Gov. Brownback’s legal counsel early in his administration. Last year Brownback nominated Stegall to the Kansas Court of Appeals, and Friday boosted him onto the highest court in the state.

“I’d like to say on a personal note, I believe Caleb Stegall to be one of the most qualified people ever to go on the Kansas Supreme Court,” said Brownback.

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Government
3:27 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Christie Says Republicans Will Spend Big On Kansas Governor’s Race

Kansas Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer, Gov. Sam Brownback and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stop by Oklahoma Joe’s on their way to a Mission Hills fundraiser.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made another trip to Kansas City Wednesday to stump for Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and attend a fundraiser in Mission Hills.

Christie heads the Republican Governors Association (RGA).

“Kansas is an important race for us in the country, and that’s why I’m here and told the governor I’ll be back between now and election day as well,” says Christie. “RGA is going to make a significant investment here in Kansas, because we believe in Sam.”

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Elections
5:55 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Unusual Challenger Cuts Brownback’s Margin In Kansas GOP Primary

Gov. Sam Brownback addressed supporters at a watch party on Tuesday night.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback fended off a primary challenge Tuesday, but not by the margins his supporters would have liked.  

Brownback won 63 percent of the vote, but his opponent Jennifer Winn, a first-time politician running on a platform to legalize marijuana, inspired by a murder charge against her son. Her son was trafficking pot when he was killed.  

Winn took two rural counties. Some observers call that showing bad news for the tax-cutting Governor, but he says he’ll win the general election defining Democratic challenger Paul Davis with the ‘L’ word —both of them.

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Crime
7:45 am
Tue August 5, 2014

Former Grandview Mayor Remorseful At Fraud Sentencing

A federal judge has sentenced Stephen Dennis, the former mayor of Grandview, to a year and a day in prison for fraud.

In January, Dennis abruptly resigned from his position as mayor. A month later he pled guilty to wire fraud after embezzling $35,000 from his organization, Matters of the Heart. He has described the organization as a non-profit that helps local low-income people.

The money was a donation from The International House of Prayer in Grandview.

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Education
4:50 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Nixon Calls For Investigation Into UMKC Business School Rankings

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is calling for an investigation into the way leaders at UMKC’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management promoted the school.  

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Economy
8:00 am
Tue July 22, 2014

What Would A Sprint, T-Mobile Merger Mean For Kansas City?

Speculation has been building over recent weeks about a possible deal between Sprint parent company SoftBank and T-Mobile to merge the two wireless carriers.
Credit Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Talk of the proposed $32 billion merger of Sprint and T-Mobile continues to bubble, raising serious questions about the future health of the Kansas City regional economy. 

The deal is still just rumored – and it's unknown if federal regulators will approve it, how it will be structured and even whether Sprint or T-Mobile would be the lead company in the deal.

What is clear is that Sprint is a vital company to the Kansas City area, and that the proposed merger comes at a delicate time for the regional economy.

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Economy
7:55 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Purchase Of Russell Stover May Enable Lindt To Do Something 'Creative' In Midwest

Kansas City-based chocolate company Russell Stover was purchased by Swiss chocolatier Lindt on Monday.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR

The Swiss chocolate maker Lindt will gobble up Kansas City-based Russell Stover. The acquisition may be kind of an odd pairing, but analysts say it could be a sweet deal for the Swiss company and possibly for American chocolate lovers. 

Mr. Russell Stover started his boxed candy business with money he made helping to invent the modern ice cream bar. He brought it to Kansas City in 1931, where the company still has dedicated stores and a faithful following.

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Economy
6:58 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Lindt Chocolate Maker Purchases Russell Stover

Credit Kansas Tourism / Flickr--CC

Another iconic Kansas City-based company has been sold. Lindt, a Swiss chocolate company, has reached a deal to buy Russell Stover, according the the New York Times. The announcement comes nine months after the sale of one of Kansas City's other iconic retailers — Boulevard Brewing Co.

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Community
5:17 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

World's Tallest Water Slide Opens In Kansas City, Kansas

Verrückt, the world's tallest water slide, is 17 stories high.
Laura Spencer KCUR

After much ado, the world’s tallest water slide is now open to the public. Verrückt — which is German for insane, by the way — plunges 17 stories to take the record, previously held for more than a decade by a giant slide in Brazil.

Design problems repeatedly pushed back the launch. We figured, since no one in their right mind would be one of the first to ride it, we’d send Frank Morris down it.

The approach to the slide

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Sports
12:18 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Kansas City World Cup Watch Events Spawn Serious Soccer Fans

Best friends Miguel Torres and Alex Bedockie from Kansas City enjoyed a good party and a game that may have made lifelong soccer fans out of some in the crowd.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR

At least 13,000 fans chanting “I believe that we will win!” jammed the central common area of the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City, Mo., to cheer on the U.S. men's soccer team Tuesday in their World Cup match against Belgium.

Many were literally waving the American flag. Even more were wearing it.

Miguel Torres, in a red-white-and-blue top hat, beads and body paint, came out to support the country as much as the team.

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Government
7:40 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Kansas City Out Of Running For 2016 GOP Convention

Mayor Sly James joined RNC committee members at a press conference during their site visit to Kansas City in early June.
Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR

Update, 1:10 p.m.

The Republican National Committee announced Wednesday that Cleveland, Ohio, and Dallas, Texas, were finalists to host the 2016 Republican Convention. Kansas City and Denver have been eliminated.

Committee members were in Kansas City earlier this month to tour facilities and meet city officials. In a release, the committee says the decision was based on a review of bids and information gathered at site visits to each city.

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Economy
3:42 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Report: Kansas City Economy Lags Behind That Of Other U.S. Cities

Credit MARC

The Mid-America Regional Council presented a sobering assessment of the Kansas City area economy Thursday, one showing the metro is having trouble bouncing back from the recession.

The report, called "Prosperity at the Crossroads," says that fewer than half of the 100 largest metropolitan areas, including the greater Kansas City region, had recovered all the jobs they lost during the recession by the end of 2013. 

Data in the report show that Kansas City employment rates, wage growth and job growth are all down.

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Government
8:02 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Cantor Upset May Enliven Tea Party Challenge To Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts

U.S. House Majority leader Eric Cantor’s primary defeat this week could revitalize a challenge to Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas. Roberts faces a Tea Party backed primary challenge from Milton Wolf.

Most political types consider the three-term Senator pretty safe, but then they felt the same way about Virgina's Eric Cantor. Bob Beatty at Washburn University says Cantor’s upset could make Milton Wolf look like a contender.

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JCC Shootings
3:39 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Alleged Jewish Community Center Assailant Faces Additional Charges

Frazier Glenn Miller is accused of killing three people in last month's shootings at Jewish centers in Johnson County, Kan.
Credit Courtesy photo / Johnson County Sheriff's Office

Prosecutors have charged the neo-Nazi accused of killing three people at Jewish facilities in Overland Park, Kan., last month with several more felonies.

The Johnson County District Attorney’s office says Frazier Glenn Miller shot at and tried to kill three additional people, endangered a fourth and fired into the Jewish Community Center knowing there were people inside.

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