Sylvia Maria Gross

Senior Producer / Reporter, Central Standard

Sylvia Maria Gross is the senior producer of Central Standard, KCUR's daily talk/magazine show. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, The World and Studio 360. Gross grew up in New York City, Brazil and the suburbs of Washington, DC. She came to public radio after a long stint as a middle school teacher, and has spent a lot of time trying to capture the attention of wandering minds.

Ways To Connect

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Why is the Kansas school funding formula so complicated? Or is it, really? Get a lesson on school funding, how the formula works, and why it will likely soon be replaced by block grants.

(Try and solve the formula yourself, here.)

Guests:

  • Sam Zeff, KCUR education reporter
  • Brad Tennant, math teacher, Shawnee Mission West

In many states, funding for schools is determined by a complicated formula that adjusts the basic per pupil funding according to set of factors like how many students are considered “at-risk,” receive bilingual services, ride buses or whether enrollment is declining. A bill awaiting Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature would bypass the school funding formula for the next two years in favor of block grants to districts.

Brian Hillegas / Flickr

There's talk of a West Bottoms revitalization. But the truth is, every fifteen years or so, the industrial stockyards district experiences a new kind of renaissance. In the 80s and 90s, it was an underground arts thing. Now, it's food, festivals and antiques. Meanwhile, industry and architecture have maintained a quiet presence all along. From art to antiques, can revivals of the recent past inform the future of the district?

Guests:

Central Avenue is a business corridor cutting across seven neighborhoods in Kansas City, Kan. The street has seen a major cultural shift over the past 20 years, as Latinos have moved into many of the surrounding neighborhoods and started new businesses along Central. 

Guests:

  • Edgar Galicia, Central Avenue Betterment Association
  • Steve Curtis, artist and community activist, Community Housing Wyandotte county
  • Allie Mason, Fokl Arts Center
Patrick Quick, KCUR

Recently in Columbus Park, some folks built a pop-up/DIY skate park in an underused portion of a city street. Why do people go outside the typical building process, with its system of permits and bureaucracy, and how do these projects benefit a community? How common are they and how have they turned out? We explore the organic, under-the-radar, grassroots building projects around the city.

Guests:

Comedy can come from unexpected sources, for example, parents of children who have autism. It can be hard for these parents to talk about their particular parenting experiences, and to laugh about the funny (and even challenging) moments. During an event called An Evening With The Rents at the Gem  Theater, KCUR announcer and newscaster Jenny Whitty shared her experience about parenting kids on the autism spectrum.

From Narnia to The Hunger Games, young adult literature has an age-old obsession with right versus wrong. But moral conundrums on teens' bookshelves are more complex than ever. What does the changing moral landscape say about growing up today? 

Guests: 

  • Melissa Lenos, associate professor of English, Donnelly College
  • Naphtali Faris, early literacy manager, The Kansas City Public Library

In the wake of a bullying incident that sent a 12-year-old to the hospital for five days in the Liberty School District, we get perspectives on bullying from administrators, parents and former students, all in an effort to figure out what can and should be done to keep kids safe.

 

Guests:

In principle most people care about the arts, but how much? We examine government funding for the arts  -- whether we should invest, the importance of arts education and what happens if we don't fund the arts.

 

Guests:

  • Harlan Brownlee, president & CEO, ArtsKC
  • Saralyn Reece Hardy, director, Spencer Museum of Art
  • CJ Janovy, arts reporter, KCUR
  • Kyna Iman, government affairs consultant

 

Kansas City knew Tom Schweich as a dogged state auditor who rooted out financial mismanagement on behalf of Missouri taxpayers. He died unexpectedly yesterday, by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, just weeks after entering the race for Missouri governor. We remember Schweich personally, professionally and politically.

Guests:

In a new series called Buzz Kill, Central Standard is looking at Kansas City's buzzwords with the people who best understand the true meaning of our favorite catch-phrases. 

In this installment, we ask what it really means to be an entrepreneur, how you pronounce the word, and how to correctly use it in a sentence. It's an important step for us to take, as a city, if we want to be known for our entr... entrep... entrepreneurial spirit.

Guest:

Wiki

When you walk into a restaurant, there is a certain je ne sais quoi that can make or break the experience.

Of course the food is of paramount importance, but poor lighting, decor and authenticity can make even an exquisite plate of duck confit look like a soggy KFC drumstick.

Luckily, our Food Critics Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jill Wenholt Silva know a thing or two about restaurant ambiance. Here are their picks for standout restaurants with great ambiance:

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

One of the youngest performers who will be showcased at this week’s Folk Alliance International conference here in Kansas City is a teenager from Overland Park.

Kate Rose is a 15-year-old singer-songwriter and student at Olathe East High School. She recently shared the process by which she wrote the song, And The People Will Remember.

Michael Byars / KCUR

Does it start with the music or the words? Can anybody do it? In time for the Folk Alliance International conference, local musicians share what it takes to write a song. 

Guests:

It's been 20 years since there's been a Latino on Kansas City, Mo.'s city council; and there isn't currently any Latino representation on the Unified Government board of commissioners either. That's even while our metro's Hispanic community has been growing significantly.

  • CiCi Rojas, president and CEO, Central Exchange
  • Irene Caudillo, president and CEO, El Centro
  • Louis Ruiz, Kansas state representative, District 31 (Wyandotte County)
Julie Denesha / KCUR

Many of us tag along with Pitch restaurant critic Charles Ferruzza on his restaurant adventures, enjoying his witty asides as much as his souffle descriptions. He hints at his life story when it's relevant to what's happening at the table, but for the most part, the man behind the meals is a mystery.

When Ferruzza sat down with Central Standard’s Gina Kaufmann for a Portrait Session, he said one thing he’s not is a “foodie.”

There's a new recording studio in Lawrence, and it's located inside the public library. What does it say about Lawrence that of all the new resources the library could provide its citizenry, a recording studio is what most suited the town's needs? Plus, a Lawrence music blogger talks about the weird, vibrant city she shows off in her video, Just A Sec, and a record store owner reflects on change in the Lawrence music scene over the past 15 years.

Guests:

Creative Commons, Wikimedia

Bill Schonberg is a self-professed "space nut" and his job is not just an 8-year-old's dream job. "It's also a 54-year-old's dream job," he says. His mission, which he has accepted, is to figure out how to make spacecraft more impervious to debris flying at high speed through prime orbital real estate. 

Guest:

  • Dr. William Schonberg, professor of aerospace engineering, Missouri University of Science & Technology 
Bridget Colla / Flickr

Medical and scientific communities have been working hard to reassure parents that vaccinating children is safe, especially in light of current Measles incidents in the United States. But there is something about immunization that triggers fear in a lot of people, even people who do opt in. What is that fear about? How do human beings perceive and weigh different kinds of risks on behalf of their children? 

Guests:

Creative Commons, Wikimedia

Some like it hot, and some just can't resist a challenge. We start our exploration of spice in Kansas City by subjecting our intern and food critic to the Thai Hot Challenge at the Thai Place. Then, an Indian cooking instructor shares insights into the techniques, philosophies and health properties of spice.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

1. Thai Place in Westport, Kansas City, Mo.: The "Demon Gapow" is made with 10 habanero peppers, 25 thai chili peppers, 10 fresh jalapeno peppers, 10 serrano peppers, and two large tablespoons of house-made dried chili.

Patrons must eat the entire plate in 30 minutes, and they get it for free, plus a t-shirt, a $50 gift certificate and a photo on the restaurant's "Wall of Fame." (Note: the Thai Place Hot Challenge has taken a winter hiatus and will return in the spring)

Sylvia Maria Gross

Featured: Central Standard intern Patrick Quick and Central Standard food critic Emily Farris.

Creative Commons, Wikimedia

Her children's books shaped ideas about the Midwestern experience for multiple generations worldwide. She's been gone more than sixty years, but her influence remains strong; even now, fans and scholars attend a yearly Laurapalooza festival in her honor. Her autobiography has just recently been published, but good luck finding a copy. The first print run has sold out and the second will not even fill existing orders.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

    

Missionary work, slaveholding in Kansas, a bogus legislature and a murder. These are some of the stories that surface when you investigate the namesake of Johnson County: Reverend Thomas Johnson, who founded the Shawnee Indian Mission (now a museum tucked away in a residential neighborhood). What happened at that site tells a larger story about the relationship between American Indians and the United States government.

Guests:

Are you a Kansan or a Missourian? That's a question that often divides our metro, but maybe we're more Kansas Citian than anything else. How can our economic, political and cultural reality more clearly reflect that sentiment?

Guests:

The Super Bowl is a national celebration of football... and advertising. For one day a year, we all gather around our television screens to watch commercials so we can partake in the sport of reviewing them the next morning. But is this still a relevant platform for advertising? Local ad experts weigh in.

Guests:

The Catholic Church is located in Vatican City, an ocean away and then some. But what happens in Rome affects the lives of Catholics living in Kansas City, and what happens here reverberates all the way up to the top. This conversation explores whether a perceived shift in the Catholic Church affects the priorities and attitudes of Catholics in our region. 

Guests:

Suzanne Opton / The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

In the photograph, a young soldier with a downy blond buzz-cut lies perfectly still, face down on the ground. On stage, an ancient Greek warrior goes through the four stages of events that lead to post-traumatic stress.

The arts community is asking big questions about the life of the soldier. What role does art play in public discourse around combat?

Guests: 

Lara Shipley

Photographer Lara Shipley's image, "Believer," is currently looming over 43rd and Main on the H&R Block Artspace Project Wall in Kansas City, Mo. She says her series of photographs, Devil's Promenade, is a reflection on life in the Ozarks, where she grew up.

Patrick Quick / KCUR

In a city known as a cowtown, what are the tastiest burgers around? Enjoy debates about cheese on a burger, house-made ketchup, bun preferences and what to order on the side (hint: it's hard to argue with french fries). We take a trip to an East Bottoms food truck to meet a new burger on the block. Plus, our friends at Harvest Public Media tell us what going on in the industry that brings us burgers: the beef industry.

Guests:

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