Alex Smith

Health Reporter

Alex Smith is a health reporter for KCUR. 

Alex 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.
 

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Kansas City, Mo. – Businessman and political boss Tom Pendergast was a major player in Kansas City life for nearly 20 years. Many of the facts of his underground activities during Prohibition have been lost to history.

But new renovations and development in the Crossroads have recently revealed another clue to understanding the man who's been called the Al Capone of the Plains.

Kansas City's Experimental Instrument Orchestra is a folk band, in which the two members craft their own instruments.

Kansas City, MO – Folk music has always relied on a do-it-yourself philosophy. But Kansas City's Experimental Instrument Orchestra takes the idea to new extremes. They not only improvise music, but also create their own instruments. KCUR's Alex Smith recently spoke with EIO band members Amy Farrand and Mark Smeltzer.

Kansas City guitarist Will Matthews has toured and recorded with the Count Basie Orchestra for nearly 15 years, but he's also found time to develop a solo career.

Kansas City, MO – In the 1930's, Kansas City may have served as the jazz capital of the world, but today, you rarely hear the swing music of groups like the Count Basie Orchestra. Count Basie died in 1984, but his band continues to play around the world to audiences craving the classic Basie sound.

Lawrence, Kan. – Now that it seems spring may have really begun, farmers and gardeners are making plans to grow food and ornamental plants. But an ambitious new project at the University of Kansas has researchers tilling the soil in hopes of growing medicine. KC Currents' Alex Smith went to Lawrence this week to find out more.

Rich Hill, Mo. – March is typically when the outdoor planting season starts for Amish and Mennonite farmers in Missouri. But this year, many of these farmers may be exploring ways to farm using more environmentally-conscious methods. KCUR's Alex Smith reports.

This story was produced for KC Currents. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KC Currents Podcast.

Kansas City's Angela Hagenbach talks about the music business and her new album.

Photo by Alex Smith/KCUR.

Historic pipe organ holds special significance for the homeless members of a downtown church.

Kansas City, MO – KCUR's Alex Smith went to the Grand Avenue Temple United Methodist Church downtown to learn more about the 1912 pipe organ, and its important role at this unique church.

The Little Piano Girl

Jan 25, 2010

Local author Ann Ingalls' new children's book introduces young readers to the legendary pianist Mary Lou Williams.

Kansas City, MO – If she were still alive this year, jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams would be 100 years old. Williams was considered by many to be the greatest female jazz instrumentalist of all times. She spent the years between 1929 and 1941 in Kansas City, and was one of the principal architects of the Kansas City swing sound.

Overland Park, KS – This holiday season, some Kansas Citians got an early start on Christmas. The city's Malayalam community, which consists of about 400 families from the Indian state of Kerala, held their annual Christmas party last Saturday at Blue Valley Northwest high school. KCUR's Alex Smith stopped by to find out more about the holiday traditions of one of the world's oldest Christian cultures.

Kansas City, MO – There are a few street corners in Kansas City where you almost always see someone with a sign asking passers-by for money or food. But if you've driven by any of those typical spots in downtown during the past few months, you may have noticed that, instead of panhandlers, the corner is occupied by a cheery worker in a yellow windbreaker waving a sign that reads "Have a Great Day."

Kansas City, MO – Despite the economic climate, homelessness in the Kansas City area is only up slightly this year, according to new data. But 50% of those surveyed, report being homeless for the first time.

More Homeless In KC Area

Nov 12, 2009

Kansas City, MO – The number of homeless in greater Kansas City has increased just slightly in the past year, and fewer homeless people are seeking social services, according to the Homeless Services Coalition.

Homeless Services Coalition Executive Director Brian O'Malley reports that 13,600 homeless people sought social services in 2009, a 2% decrease from last year. But 50% report being homeless for the first time, and O'Malley believes Kansas City is falling behind other cities in dealing with homelessness.

Lawrence, KS – Kansas has been gradually losing population for over a century. But a new study suggests that regionalization, the movement of people from rural to urban areas within Kansas, is actually more significant and pronounced trend.

KC Currents' intern Tim Bridgham spoke with a few Kansas City transplants about why they moved here: Bill Gallo, actually another former KCUR intern, and two of Tim's friends Andrew Pirotte and Jordan Hasty.

When the Majestic Steakhouse in downtown Kansas City shut down in May, Bram Wijnands was forced to look for a new way to spend his Friday and Saturday nights. For the previous 16 years, the Dutch pianist had delivered authentic 1930s KC-style swing and boogie woogie in the cellar which once served as a speakeasy.

Kansas City, MO – Historian Thomas Frank first came to national attention in 2004, when his book What's The Matter With Kansas?, which explores the culture wars in our region, spent 18 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list. Since that time, the political climate of Kansas has shifted a bit: Democrat Kathleen Sebelius was elected governor (and since left for Washington) and Democrats like Raj Goyle of Wichita have made gains in the statehouse.

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.

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