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

To outsiders, last week's protests at the University of Missouri in Columbia were eye-opening first encounters with race at the school. For others, they were reminders. A nuanced look at the history of race on MU's Columbia campus, including past protests.


Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

If you’ve ever wondered what food tasted like 100 years ago, Dixon’s Famous Chili on Highway 40 is like a culinary time capsule.

With its red décor, bar stools and historic photos, it looks like a 1960s-style diner, and that’s when this particular restaurant opened near the stadiums on U.S. Highway 40.

In 1919, Vergne Dixon opened the original location at 15th and Olive streets just east of downtown, which makes it one of the oldest family-run establishments in the Kansas City metro; Dixon’s Chili eventually became a chain of 13 restaurants, including one in Minnesota. 

We visit Dixon's Famous Chili, a KC institution since 1919; a hot sauce expert recommends the best way to add heat to chili; then KCUR's Food Critics search out the best chili dishes in and around Kansas City.


Paul Sableman / Flickr

If white flight is making a u-turn and the suburbs are seeing an influx of black residents, are we becoming any more integrated, or are we just trading places?


Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Besides the biggest celebration ever in Kansas City history, there also was an election on Tuesday.

Voters were deciding a couple of open Missouri statehouse seats, capital improvement taxes in Independence and Oak Grove, and a school board seat in Kansas City Public Schools.

At lunch time, a polling place in Brookside was completely empty, except for the poll workers. Some voters came in early, every single one with a Royals shirt on.

In the entire history of the natural world -- that's hundreds of millions of years -- only four groups of animals have developed the ability to lift up off the ground and fly. A KU professor has been piecing together that story.


Now that same-sex marriage is the law of the land, what has and hasn't changed for same-sex parents in our region? Three local parents tell their stories.


  • Jacqueline Smith, Central Grazing Company
  • Dustin Cates, Heartland Men's Chorus
  • Lynn Barnett, MidAmerica Family Treatment Center
Frank Morris / KCUR

The morning after the Royals take the crown in the 2015 World Series, KCUR listeners tell us what this moment means to them. Plus, what fireworks have to do with the Kansas City-style of celebration.


  • Frank Morris, national correspondent and senior editor, KCUR
Creative Commons, Wikipedia

With Kansas City and New York about to face off in the World Series, KCUR's Central Standard challenged the Brian Lehrer Show at WNYC to a battle of wits, demonstrating once and for all why New York is a terrible place to live and Kansas City is a bastion of love, happiness and joy.


  • Brian Lehrer, The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC

Pain. It's not the most uplifting topic, in fact it hurts, but it's universal... and throughout time, philosophers have found value in it. Our meditation on pain starts with a dance.


Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

"The Story of a Song" is monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which local musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically.

Artist: The Popper aka Walter Lee Edwin

The Song: I'm KC

Music Career: The Popper’s been rapping in Kansas City since 1996, straddling some of Kansas City’s different hip-hop scenes.

The Story: After a few days in jail early this summer, Edwin was on house arrest and wrote and recorded a whole album, Write (Right) Thru The Pain, about that experience. With that out of the way, he wrote, recorded and released the summer anthem "I’m KC" in a matter of days. 

African American students have greater faith in the fairness of their schools when they have more black teachers. That’s a finding in a new national study conducted by professors from the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri.

The study examined student attitudes towards discipline and fairness by analyzing survey data of 10th graders around the country from the National Center for Education Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education.

Kristofer Husted / Harvest Public Media

As the agriculture industry changes, what it means to grow up on a farm is changing, too. Our panel talks chores, the cycle of life, the dangers of farming and the lessons in business and character that farm kids learn. Plus, leaving the farm for the "concrete jungle," and city kids pursuing agriculture as adults.


  • Mary Hendrickson, rural sociologist, University of Missouri
  • Adam Kirby, Future Farmers of America
  • Alex Haun, young farmer, Trenton, Missouri
Cody Newill / KCUR

Kris Wade remembers 33-year-old Jasmine Collins, as a "young person, out there, struggling to survive on her own." 

Collins, a transgender woman, was stabbed to death in June.

Wade had known Collins for about a year as part of the Justice Project, a non-profit that provides advocacy and services to transgender women in poverty, among others.

With Kansas City's transgender community reeling from news of the violent death of Tamara Dominguez, a 36-year-old woman who was both transgender and latina, concerns about safety for transgender people of color have risen to the surface.

UPDATE: As the show neared its conclusion, a story appeared in The Guardian suggesting another transgender homicide victim in Kansas City this year.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Martin Heuser, an eighth generation chef, grew up in Bonn, Germany, where corn is eaten, but not a traditional part of the cuisine. He grew to appreciate fresh, local corn as an ingredient when he lived in Canada. 

"For me, corn is summertime," Heuser said it adds another component and flavor to a dish.

At his restaurant Affäre in the Crossroads, he features it in special recipes when it's in season.

Charlie Parker's birthday is coming up, and Kansas City is all a-twitter. Hear a visiting jazz scholar's take on the history of Bebop, and Kansas City-born Charlie Parker's place in it. Bonus: a recording of a jam session where you can hear the Bird talking.


With the recent passing of Jesse Hope, the founder and curator of the Old Quindaro Museum and one of the historic township's most dedicated champions, questions arise about the future of the site and its legacy. 


  • Laura Ziegler, community engagement reporter, KCUR

Kansas Representative Gene Suellentrop is a supporter of the Kansas budget experiment known as the "march to zero" for income taxes. In his nephew's social circles, on the east coast, that position is hard to understand. So the nephew decided to immerse himself in his uncle's world, just as a legislative session turned upside-down by budget debates got underway.


Sam Zeff / KCUR

Teaching has changed a lot in the past few decades. From standardized testing to ADD diagnosis, technology to policy. But it's not just the classroom that's different. Teachers are going into the profession for different reasons and with different motivations as well. This discussion kicks off KCUR's Teaching It Forward series.


When researchers stumbled upon a buttery substance under a lake, they thought maybe they'd also stumbled upon the answer to an age old mystery: why a pre-Columbian civilization near St. Louis abandoned the complex city they'd built. But with multiple research teams exploring the Cahokia Mounds site, not everyone agrees on what the new discovery means. 


  • Sissel Schroeder, University of Wisconsin
  • Melissa Balthus Zych, University of Toledo
Praeger publishing

The escalating problem of student debt isn't just about the pain of writing large checks. So say two University of Kansas professors who have co-written a book on the crisis, using their own personal stories to make a case that differences in access to higher ed begin long before loans, and influence life and career paths far beyond graduation.


Andrea Tudhope / KCUR

Research into income mobility across US counties inspires Central Standard to take a roadtrip, talk to an economist and hear from locals with their own research and experience to share. Is the "land of opportunity" created by individuals or their environments?



The 1974 Ozark Music Festival lives on in infamy.

It drew as many as 350,000 people to the small, family-oriented town of Sedalia.

Traffic ground to a halt. Temperatures were in the triple-digits. Nudity ran rampant and the cost of ice skyrocketed.

Residents came home to festival-goers camped out on their lawns, using garden hoses for "baths." People sent their children out of town for safety. Hungry, drug-addled music fans stole a cow. And it only gets crazier from there.


Caroline Kull / KCUR

Pull in to the tiny Nelle Belle’s diner (pronounced “nell-ee bells”) on U.S. Highway 69 in Claycomo any weekday morning, and you’re likely to find the parking lot packed.

Gina Kaufmann / KCUR

In 1966, the Kansas City Board of Trade Building was new. Then it got old. Now, the iconic modern structure is getting a makeover. How do you transform an iconic piece of architecture, and what's the state of modernism in the Kansas City area?


Gina Kaufmann / KCUR

Modernist architecture flourished in the Kansas City area in the period following World War II, particularly at the time that the Johnson County suburbs were developing in Kansas.

All Aboard

Jul 14, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

It was smelly, crowded and potentially life-threatening, but riding on a steamboat was de rigeur for travelers to Kansas City in the mid-nineteenth century. For a brief and some might say "golden" era, the steamboat was also the primary agent of settlement and change. How steamboats shaped Kansas City.


Julie Denesha / KCUR

Heidi Van says that Kansas City needs to send original, locally created theater out into the world every bit as much as it needs a baseball team. That means experimenting on stage, taking risks, re-tooling scenes and sometimes failing. In front of an audience. Get a window into the world of experimental theater in Kansas City. 


Peggy Lowe / KCUR

As the National Council of La Raza prepares to convene its annual conference in Kansas City, a lively and heartfelt conversation about the term 'la raza' -- translated imperfectly as 'the race', but meaning something closer to 'my tribe', 'the big family' or 'my people'.