Alex Smith

Reporter, Heartland Health Monitor

Alex Smith is a health reporter for KCUR, a  partner in the Heartland Health Monitor team. HHM is a reporting collaboration among KCUR, KHI News Service in Topeka, Kan., KCPT television in Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas Public Radio in Lawrence, Kan. 

Alex Smith began working in radio as an intern at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. A few years and a couple of radio jobs later, he became the assistant producer of KCUR's magazine show, KC Currents. He became health reporter at KCUR in January 2014.
 

Ways To Connect

Fort Osage curator and archeologist John Peterson. Photo by Alex Smith / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – As the first major wave of troops return from Iraq, the job market is likely to see a new batch of motivated, young job-seekers. KCUR's Alex Smith recently went to a veteran's job fair and spoke with new veterans. But he found the job market is already flooded with a previous generation of vets with plenty of experience and just as eager to find work.

Alex Smith

Independence, MO – Monday was the 61st anniversary of Harry Truman signing executive order 9981, which racial integrated the US military. A forum at the Truman Library used the occasion to draw attention to what some say is a similar civil rights battle. KCUR's Alex Smith went to Independence, Missouri to find out more.

John Brewer talks about his double life of firefighter and jazz / electronica musician.

Kansas City, MO – The phrase: "Don't Quit Your Day Job" has been used as a put down for decades. If someone sings badly, that's what they're told. And yet, often it's the day job that provides the inspiration, material, or simply a structured schedule for the art.

Lawrence, KS – Soldiers returning from war often find the shift to civilian life to a be difficult one, but the support of fellow veterans as well government programs like the GI Bill can help ease that transition. The federal government has recently passed a major expansion of GI education benefits and it's likely this new expansion will have a big impact on the lives of vets. Alex Smith traveled to Lawrence, Kansas to talk with Daniel Parker who helped push for the new benefits.

Construction at Knob Noster's new baseball facilities. Photo by Alex Smith / KCUR.

Knob Noster, MO – For most public schools, May is the end of the school year and it's a busy time. But in the spring of 2009, many school administrators are also faced with another challenge: a large influx of federal stimulus money and a small window of opportunity to use it. KCUR's Alex Smith recently paid a visit to Knob Noster School District, which is in just that situation.

The owners and staff of the Jackson County Advocate. Photo by Alex Smith / KCUR.

The Blue Note record label started 70 years ago when German immigrant Alfred Lion was inspired to record some of the boogie-woogie piano music he heard at Carnegie Hall. Today, the label is recognized as one of the finest in jazz. It's classic records, especially those from the 50's and 60's, have a cult following. The American Jazz Museum at 18th and Vine is celebrating Blue Note's anniversary with a series of events.

Blue Springs, MO – There's alot of Kansas Citians among the millions of people flooding Washington, DC for the Presidential Inauguration. And the marching band from Blue Springs High School is among them. They'll represent this area in Tuesday's Inaugural Parade. The Blue Springs Golden Regiment is on their way to DC right now. But before they left, KCUR's Alex Smith paid a visit to an afternoon practice.

Nine years ago, when Kansas native son Bobby Watson returned to the area from New York to head the UMKC jazz department, jazz fans had cause to celebrate.

The bossa nova craze hit the US in the late 50's, and ever since then, that mellow Brazilian groove has been a standard part of many jazz musicians' repertoire. But when Kansas City musicians Stan Kessler, Doug Auwater, Danny Embrey and Greg Whitfield formed the Sons of Brasil in 1991, they were determined to dig deeper into the rhythmic soul of the country.

Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City voters weighed in against the most recent proposal for a light rail system yesterday. 56 percent turned the starter route, running from Vivion Road to east 63rd.

The verdict was consistent with seven previous elections in the past 11 year - the majority of Kansas Citians have not been interested in light rail. Two years ago, voters approved a plan for a starter route of 27 miles. But the city council repealed the measure, and crafted a 14-mile proposal for voters.

Photo by Dan Verbeck / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – It's been an intense political season, enough to blow away some seasoned political reporters, like Up to Date's Steve Kraske, who last week declared, "I think this whole thing has been a dream." So the KC Currents team imagined what that dream might sound like . . .

FOLLOW THE 2008 MO/KAN ELECTION DREAM LINKS:

The People's Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City got its start two years ago. That's when an all-star group of local jazz composers decided to do their own radical take on Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." The mix of folk, popular and avant garde styles turned out to be so much fun that the musicians decided to stick together.

Singer Megan Birdsall grew up in Kansas City, but in this last year, she has really come to understand what being a part of the local jazz community is all about.

Up and coming jazz trombonist Kevin Cerovich talks about his new album and why he's leaving KC.

Kansas City, MO – Every May, many college students are graduating, and struggling to decide what direction to take next. For trombonist Kevin Cerovich, who recently graduated from the UMKC Conservatory , the next step is a big one. Soon, he'll be moving to New York City in hopes of breaking into the jazz world. But, as Alex Smith found out, the 23-year-old musician is already off to a strong start.

Kansas City Youth Jazz and conductor Leon Brady prepare for this Sunday's performance with legendary trumpeter Clark Terry at Unity Temple on the Plaza.

Mila Vigdorova and Korey Ireland met at a tango marathon in Holland. The couple now teaches tango in Kansas City.

KANSAS CITY, MO – While growing up in Moscow, Mila Vigdorova studied classical dance. It wasn't until a trip to the United States that she fell in love with tango. Meanwhile, in Kansas City, composer Korey Ireland discovered tango at a performance by the local band Tango Lorca.

photo courtesy of http://www.draperama.com/bio.html

Since moving to Kansas City from New Mexico, jazz drummer Brandon Draper has kept a busy schedule, playing and recording with artists like Ahmad Alaadeen, Harold O'Neal and Bobby Watson.

Miles Bonny first took up the trumpet because of his father. Francis Bonny, who now plays in Broadway musicals, instilled in his son a love of jazz and classical music that now influences Miles' work as a hip hop producer and performer.

Rhyme Records records Bengali and North Indian artists who perform around the world. When Pro Ghosh moved to Kansas City from upstate New York to work for Sprint, he brought the idea for creating an Indian music record label with him.

KCUR's Alex Smith visited the home of Llewellyn Thompson, who's a member of a team called the Immigrant Smokers. They're competing in this week's Rhythm and Ribs Festival.

TET: Vietnamese New Year

Mar 11, 2007

This weekend, Kansas City jazz musician Harold O'Neal traveled to Washington D.C. to play in the 2006 Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Piano Competition. O'Neal is one of twelve young pianists selected from around the world to play for the judges, who include jazz greats Herbie Hancock, Kenny Barron and Randy Weston. The top prize is a twenty thousand dollar scholarship.

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