Pulitzer Prize-winner Jon Meacham's new book on the first President Bush is generating attention for what he had to say about Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, advisers to his son President George W. Bush. But there's a lot more inside the biography about the man Meacham describes as "the last moderate Republican."

Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin has written about  some of the the most powerful people in the world. She shares with Steve Kraske leadership lessons from the White House. 

Doris Kearns Goodwin will speak with Bill Moyers at 6 p.m. Saturday, November 14 at Unity Temple on the Plaza as part of an event sponsored by the Truman Library Institute. General admission is sold out.

Nan Palmero / Flickr-CC

St. Louis, the Gateway City, is also known worldwide as the "Gateway to the West." But before the federal government erected the Gateway Arch 50 years ago this week, some historians say that Kansas City had a strong claim to the title.

The National Park Service built the Gateway Arch in St. Louis to celebrate the millions of explorers and pioneers who settled the American West in the 19th century.

She's been written about as an afterthought to her husband's presidency, but Lady Bird Johnson was a true political partner to Lyndon Johnson. Author Betty Boyd Caroli discusses Lady Bird's marriage to one of the most mercurial presidents this country has ever known.

'Cattle, Cowboys & Culture: Kansas City To Amarillo'

Oct 23, 2015

The bond between Kansas City and Amarillo, Texas may be stronger than you think.  A train that ran between the two cities led to the shaping of cultures, and a lasting connection.  


Michael Grauer is a Kansas City native and Curator of Art and Western heritage at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum.

He stood alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. in the fight for civil rights, yet the name Bayard Rustin remains largely unknown. We hear the story of this important figure in history. 


Audiofiles: Podcasts We Love — Fall 2015

Oct 20, 2015
Photo Credit: Sascha Kohlmann

Central Standard’s podcast connoisseurs take to the mic to share what podcasts deserve your time and attention. Here’s what they recommend:


Jeremy Bernfeld, editor of KCUR's Harvest Public Media

Courtesy Aaron Barnhart

The story of Kansas abolitionist John Brown — the wild-eyed man who killed pro-slavery settlers in response to the sacking of Lawrence before the Civil War — has been told so many times he's now a historical figure of mythical proportions. Few people, however, know the story of August Bondi, who fought alongside Brown in less-murderous Free State skirmishes.

Wikipedia -- Creative Commons

A local group is planning to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a little known but important gathering of gay activists in Kansas City.

The Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America at UMKC wants to memorialize the first meeting of the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations, or NACHO. The group gathered at Kansas City's State Hotel in February 1966, three years before the Stonewall Riots in New York City. 

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. 

On this edition of Up to Date, we explore Charles Hyer's footwear innovation and how his choice of employees boosted a deaf community.


  • Sandra Kelly, executive director of the Deaf Cultural Center Foundation in Olathe.

The Deaf Cultural Center hosts the 2nd biennial Boots and BBQ Un-Gala from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Heritage Center, 1200 E. Kansas City Road in Olathe. 

A new short-story collection, "I Was A Revolutionary" looks at Kansas history from a multitude of takes -- from Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence during the Civil War to the Populist era to the meat-packing plants of today. We take a closer look at the stories on this edition of Up to Date.


Caroline Kull / KCUR News

Port KC, the organization in charge of riverfront development in Kansas City, has an ambitious plan for the south bank of the Missouri River. 

For Michael Collins, the group's president and C.E.O, the idea of another park on the river isn't enough.

"We want to see what we can do to push the needle or do better than other riverfront communities across the country," says Collins.

Though Collins says it's too early to talk specifics, the first stage of development will be multi-family housing and mixed-use retail.  Groundbreaking is slated for this fall.

National History Day

Fifteen-year-old Jay Mehta is inspired by Winston Churchill.

So much in fact, that he spent over 300 hours studying his life and character to put on a performance that won first place in his category in the annual National History Day contest, which attracts more than 600,000 student historians nationwide. 

His ten-minute performance starts before 1940 when Hitler began his campaign in Western Europe, Prime Minister Chamberlain resigned, and Churchill became Prime Minister.   

Fifteen-year-old Jay Mehta took first place this summer in the National History Day competition for his depiction of Winston Churchill. Steve Kraske asks the Pembroke Hill student why the English Prime Minister inspired him, and what it took to channel his persona. 

The Truman Library hosts the regional History Day contest. Teachers can get involved by sending an e-mail to Mark Adams at mark.adams@nara.gov.

How Floods Shaped The Kansas City We Know Today

Aug 10, 2015
Montgomery / Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City owes its place on the map and its early prosperity to rivers. But those same streams that carried people and goods in and out — and later made easy routes for railroads – also created unforgettable chapters in the city’s history: destructive floods. With each disastrous chapter, Kansas City has recovered, adapted and sometimes changed direction.

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

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.


America has a long history with Peter, Paul and Mary, the folk group that endured for 49 years, won five Grammys and kicked out 13 top-40 hits.  Noel Paul Stookey, one of the two living members talks about the trio's memorable career and of the issues he's still passionate about today.

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?


'Abandoned America'

Jul 16, 2015

He's documented the ruins of a great civilization- our own. On this edition of Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks to a photographer who has traveled across the country recording the stories told by abandoned structures through his photographs and words.


The Pioneers of Meteorology

Jul 15, 2015

  The very idea of predicting the weather was once considered outrageous. Yet, the pioneers of meteorology pushed forward "against convention and religious dogma" according to Peter Moore.  The author of The Weather Experiment talks with Steve Kraske about the history of meteorology and the foundation of the first weather forecasts. 

CC Library of Congress

Imagine the United States' expansion westward.

Most people picture wagons traversing the trails and railroads chugging towards the coasts.

But before trails were blazed and tracks were laid, mighty steamboats bore hundreds of tons of cargo and passengers through the nation's arteries – its rivers and waterways.

Before the Civil War, St. Louis was the last stop west on the railroad, so anything, or anyone, needing to go to Kansas City went by steamboat. 

We live in Lyndon Johnson’s America. So says Joseph Califano, Johnson's top domestic adviser. We learn about the complex president and the long list of groundbreaking legislation he signed during his tenure.

Joseph Califano speaks about his book,  "The Triumph and Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson" at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library Wednesday, July 15 at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit kclibrary.org.

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.


Why Is Downtown Kansas City South Of The River?

Jul 10, 2015
Vincent Parsons / Flickr--CC

There’s something pretty obvious about how the Missouri River divides Kansas City: All the tall buildings are on one side of the river. It seems downtown Kansas City is firmly entrenched on the south side of the river. But … why?

Missouri Valley Special Collections/Kansas City Public Library

Hear the stories of historic Midtown Kansas City, from the heart of Westport to Manheim Park.


  • Mary Jo Draper, author, Kansas City's Historic Midtown Neighborhoods

On the newest edition of Audiofiles, an irreverent women's history podcaster tells her story and sings a drinking song. A prolific podcast-listener shares a playlist. Obama's visit to Marc Maron's garage is discussed.


  • Beckett Graham, cocreator of The History Chicks podcast
  • Jeremy Bernfeld, editor, Harvest Public Media

Historian David McCullough tells Steve Kraske what four years of research revealed about brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright. Hear what role their sister Katharine played and the characteristics that made them successful in their quest to fly.   


  • David McCullough is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of The Wright Brothers.
Simon & Schuster

They came by the thousands from around the country to work on a project so secret, the town where they worked couldn’t be found on any map. We’ll hear about The Girls of Atomic City, also known as Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and their contributions to the building of the atomic bomb.


Denise Kiernan is the author of The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story Of The Women Who Helped Win World War II.