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

Alex Smith / KCUR

With help from a new grant, University of Kansas Medical Center researchers will look at how Alzheimer's might be prevented without drugs. Pharmaceutical companies haven’t had much success fighting the disease, which is the most common form of dementia.

KU Med Dr. Jeff Burns will have older high risk volunteers in the study exercise 150 minutes a week. Burns will scan volunteers’ brains to see how exercise affects amyloid protein, which is linked to the disease.

Burns says even if exercise can only hold off Alzheimer’s, it could make a big difference.

401(k) 2012 / Flickr--Creative Commons

In recent weeks, states like Colorado, California and Oregon have been hit hard by advertising campaigns designed to let people know about their state-created health marketplaces. State health marketplaces are a central part of the Affordable Care Act, but information about Missouri’s health marketplace has been hard to find. And that’s not just because the state decided not to set one up.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

Citizen Group Reviews KC Government Charter

Kansas City is known as a “weak mayor” town. That’s no slight on Mayor Sly James, it’s the way the city charter sets up our government, where the mayor is a glorified city council member, and the city manager really runs the town. Since June, citizens in the Charter Review Commission has been meeting to make recommendations to revise the charter. Two major issues are the role of the mayor and the composition of the city council.  

Alex Smith / KCUR

A new report from the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph shows an increase in reports of child sexual abuse and suspicious behavior toward children.  The report is the work of the diocese’s Office of Child and Youth Protection. While the overall numbers of reports are up, confirmed cases of abuse appear to be down.

Wikimedia -- Creative Commons

The University of Missouri – Kansas City has taken big steps in recent years to be more welcoming to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender and sexually-questioning students and staff.

Like a lot of universities, the school now considers diversity and inclusion to be a mission, right alongside educating students. But there hasn't always been an attitude of acceptance at UMKC.

Students at the university fought hard for LGBT rights, and the resulting legal victory influenced campuses around the country.

Welcome to UMKC, 2013

Julie Denesha / KCUR


Kansas City School District Celebrates Good Evaluation

On Friday morning at Paseo Academy, Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Green made a big announcement about the district's accreditation status.  It had leaped more than 40 points in the new state assessment system. KCUR’s Maria Carter was there and talked to us about what happened.

Alex Smith / KCUR

For Zev Nerenberg, the journey from his home in New York to the parking lot of a synagogue in Overland Park, Kan. was a kind of pilgrimage.

“This is the barbeque capital of the world,” Nerenberg explained with a laugh. “There’s nothing to talk about!”

Susan B. Wilson / KCUR

Union Station Issues Statement On Museum Agreement With City

It came as a shock to a lot of people when Kansas City Museum director Christopher Leitch was let go last month by the management of Union Station. The two institutions merged back in 2000, but have had a rocky relationship ever since.  And now it’s really unclear what the future will be for both institutions.  KCUR arts reporter Laura Spencer has been following the fall-out from the departure of the museum’s director.

Alex Smith / KCUR

The local Roman Catholic diocese has attracted worldwide attention for its problems with child abuse, particularly for Bishop Robert Finn who is the first and only U.S. bishop to be convicted of failing to report suspected abuse.

Later this month, the Diocese’s Office of Child and Youth Protection will release its second annual public report on abuse in the parishes. The report is one of several big steps the Diocese has taken in recent years to address abuse, but some say these steps aren’t enough.

Women In Soccer, Paseo YMCA, KC Creative Couples

Jul 31, 2013
Sangeeta Shastry / KCUR

President Obama Visits UCM, Lauds Missouri College Cost Cut Program

A western Missouri-based educational program was the lure to bring President Obama to speak in Warrensburg last week. The President said so, directly, in his address at the University of Central Missouri. Hear from some originators of what's known as the Missouri Innovation Campus.

Alex Smith / KCUR

The last time Congress raised the federal minimum wage was four years ago. Last week’s anniversary ofthat legislation prompted many to push for higher minimum wages around the country in places like FtLauderdale, Seattle and Boston. Here in Kansas City, church activists have been organizing their own fight for higher wages and greater economic opportunity. On Thursday, July 25th in the Washington-Wheatly neighborhood, they held a rally to build support for their cause.

Every summer, young people in the area can attend camps for everything from pottery to ecology to

modeling. And this year, there’s a new place for parents to send kids. It’s a secular summer camp with a focus on science and critical thinking.

A camp like any other

Paddlefish Caviar, Frida & Diego, Rural Librarian

Jul 15, 2013
Ryan Schuessler / KCUR

KC Regional Health Assessment Finds Rising Rates of Obesity, Poverty

Since 2000, poverty in the metro area has increased by 75 percent. A quarter of the population is currently uninsured or on Medicaid.  And the number of elderly people in the area will double in the next three decades. Those are just a few of findings in a new regional health assessment produced by the Mid-America Regional Council.

Voidxor / Wikimedia--CC

The REACH Healthcare Foundation recently released the Kansas City Regional Health Assessment, that analyzes health data from the area from 2000 to 2011, and offers a forecast of what’s in the future for health in Kansas City.

"The poverty rate has been increasing in the metropolitan area, and generally it's been especially increasing in suburban areas," says author and Government Innovations Forum Director for the Mid America Regional Council, Dean Katnerdahl. "So there's sort of a suburbanization of poverty."

Alex Smith / KCUR

Opponents to expanding Medicaid in Missouri worry about costs, but supporters say expansion is needed to help children, the disabled and elderly. The two sides sounded off on July 10 in Independence, Mo.

Treece, Kan., Fast Pitch Softball, Grand Marquis

Jul 8, 2013
Zack Lewandowski / KCUR

Kansas City International Airport Weighs Proposed Changes

Kansas City International Airport is looking at a potentially major change: tearing down the current three terminals and moving to a single, new terminal on the site of the current terminal A. The one terminal idea came to a head in 2008 when the Master Plan called for a new, central terminal south of the current airport. That came just four years after the airport wrapped up nearly $260 million in renovations.

Abortion Lawsuit, Sprint Deal, Gordon Parks School

Jul 1, 2013
Payne Roberts / KCUR

Planned Parenthood Sues Kan. Over Free Speech Violation

This month, two different lawsuits were filed in Kansas over a new state abortion law. But the lawsuit that Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri filed on June 20 isn’t about the freedom to perform abortions. It’s about freedom of speech. 

4 Things You Should Know About The Sprint-SoftBank Deal

Hourick / Wikimedia--CC

In June, two different lawsuits were filed in Kansas over a new state abortion law. But the lawsuit that Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri filed on June 20 isn't about the freedom to perform abortions. It’s about freedom of speech.  

KC Shopping, Wiccans on Solstice, Bloodstone

Jun 25, 2013
Ryan Schuessler / KCUR

PraveenbenK / Flickr--CC

The Crittenton Children’s Center Friday announced it was receiving a major grant to help preschool-aged children cope with trauma.

In front of a crowd of around 200 health professionals at the Kaufmann Foundation, Crittenton CEO Janine Hron said that the Center will be able to expand its Head Start – Trauma Smart program thanks to a $2.3 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Resurrection Downtown

The renaissance of downtown that has happened in recent years has attracted more than restaurants and real estate developers. As more and more people have come to live, work and hang out downtown, churches have also had their eyes on the area.

Courtesy of Opal Jaquess

The UMKC School of Medicine will start accepting applications for a new physician assistant master's degree program. This follows the governor recently signing a bill that would allow physician assistants to operate more independently.

Under the law signed by Gov. Jay Nixon last month, physician assistants in Missouri will only need to be supervised by a physician four hours for every 14 days on the job. Previously, they needed to be supervised two thirds of their time.

Paul Andrews

For 15 years, fiddler Betse Ellis helped lead and shape the Wilders, an internationally-known old-time country quartet which, for years, toured the US and Europe.

But in December of 2011, the Wilders announced they were going on an indefinite hiatus. Ellis, however, is still going as strongly as ever. She stopped by KCUR this week to talk about her solo career, her new CD, and give us a live, in-studio performance.