Alex Smith

Health Reporter

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. In January 2014 he became KCUR's health reporter.


1:00 pm
Tue December 7, 2010

Pianist Harold O'Neal: Translating Martial Arts into Jazz

Harold O'Neal recently talked about his musical and extra-musical adventures of the past few years.

Kansas City, MO – Pianist Harold O'Neal's new album Whirling Mantis doesn't come out of the New York jazz clubs where he most often performs. Instead, the songs were largely inspired by the time he spent studying martial arts here in his hometown of Kansas City.


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KC Currents
11:26 am
Mon November 8, 2010

Hindu Community Celebrates Diwali in Shawnee

Photo by Alex Smith / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – We're in the middle of the five-day Hindu celebration of Diwali. On Saturday, some 2000 people gathered at the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center to celebrate with the region's biggest-ever Diwali party.

Earlier last week, KC Currents' Alex Smith went to temple to find out more about the holiday known as the "festival of lights."

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7:25 am
Wed November 3, 2010

Prop B Passes, Puts Restrictions On Missouri Dog Breeders

Kansas City, MO – Missouri Proposition B squeaked in last night by two points.

Supporters say the measure will require dog breeders to provide safer and cleaner conditions for animals.

At the 75th Street Brewery, a group of nearly forty had dwindled to seven when Proposition B was declared victorious just before midnight. Dispelling some campaign rumors, a spokesperson for the Missourians for the Protection of Dogs says they have no other plans to set up rules for the treatment of animals in business or agriculture in Missouri.

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11:40 am
Mon November 1, 2010

Young Dems Face Apathy on Campus

Kansas City, MO – Almost daily polls show a tough uphill battle for Democrats for this election. It's a sea change from the enthusiasm for Obama two years ago, which was especially strong in younger voters. KCUR's Alex Smith recently spoke with some Democratic organizers at UMKC about the changes they've witnessed working on the front lines.

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10:42 am
Mon October 25, 2010

Park University Music Program Attracts Pianists from around the World

Stanislav Ioudenitch works with students Erin Hale (left) and Yuntian Liu (right). Photo by Alex Smith / KCUR.

This coming weekend, Kansas Citians will have the chance to hear two internationally-known concert pianists. And they're traveling all the way from . . . Parkville.

Kansas City, MO – KCUR's Alex Smith has the story of how Park University has built a world-famous conservatory with the help of Uzbek-born pianist Stanislav Ioudenitch.

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1:12 pm
Thu October 14, 2010

Kansas City Ballet Presents Parody of Broadway Theatrics, Russian Ballet and the Mob

Dancers Aisling Hill-Connor & Michael Eaton
photo: Sara Forrest Photography

The new season of the Kansas City Ballet is its last at the Lyric Theatre before next fall's move to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Kansas City, MO – The new season of the Kansas City Ballet is its last at the Lyric Theatre before next fall's move to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

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2:58 pm
Mon October 4, 2010

Jeff Harshbarger and Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

In the jazz world, making it big isn't what it used to be. Record sales are down, instrumentals don't make hit songs, and even Grammy-winners need day jobs. But for those with the right combination of talent, dedication and luck, it's still possible to make a living and good music.

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KC Currents
10:56 am
Mon September 20, 2010

Betty Caywood: An Accidental Pioneer in Sports Broadcasting

Kansas City, MO – This week, the Royals hosted the Oakland Athletics in a series that resulted in 1 win for the A's and 2 wins for Kansas City. Long-time baseball fans might recognized the A's visit as a kind of homecoming; before the Royals, the A's were Kansas City's home team from mid- 50s to the mid- 60s.

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And make some purchases of equipment.
11:47 am
Mon August 23, 2010

Wee Small Hours: Reimagining Sinatra

Nathan Granner

Kansas City musicians Nathan Granner and Jeffrey Rukaman have a new take on the iconic 1955 Frank Sinatra album.

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City has seen its fair share of "tribute" bands in the past few years. Midtown bars have hosted sometimes nearly note-for-note renditions of music by Radiohead, U2 and Huey Lewis and the News, to name a few.

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KC Currents
11:16 am
Tue August 17, 2010

Cubans Honor Priest Who Helped During Refugee Years

Kansas City, MO – Earlier this summer, about 25 Cuban families gathered to honor Father Patrick Tobin, a Catholic Priest who helped them settle in Kansas City almost 50 years ago. As a board member of Catholic Relief Services, Tobin was given the job of helping refugees fleeing the Cuban Revolution. Tobin organized parishes in Kansas City to provide housing, jobs and basic services for the Cubans. Alex Smith spoke with Father Patrick Tobin as well as one of the Cubans who arrived in the early 60s, Maria Rovarosa.

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KC Currents
3:01 pm
Tue June 22, 2010

Simulating Poverty

Kansas City, MO – If you grew up in Kansas City anytime since 1980, you probably took a school field trip to Exchange City. At this learning center, grade school students take on the roles of various members of an adult community, like the mayor, banker and radio reporter, to learn how the economy of the "real world" really works.

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KC Currents
3:03 pm
Tue June 8, 2010

Athletes Prepare For Scottish Highland Games

Valley Falls, Kan. – This coming weekend, E.H. Young Park in Riverside will serve as a showcase not just for Scottish culture, but for feats of strength as well with the the Kansas City Scottish Highland Games.

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

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KC Currents
2:33 pm
Tue June 1, 2010

UMKC Professors Take Heterodox View On Economy

Kansas City, Mo. – If you've been paying careful attention to the financial crisis in the past few years, or the more recent news of financial reform proposals, you've probably come across the unconventional views of economist and law professor Bill Black. He's recently testified before Congress four times, and he's appeared on Bill Moyer's Journal and in Michael Moore's film Capitalism: A Love Story. He's also been heard as an expert commentator on NPR News and This American Life.

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KC Currents
11:17 am
Tue May 18, 2010

Legal Roadblocks To Copyrighting Natural Remedies

Kansas City, Mo. – Many in the health and pharmaceutical industries believe that the greatest possibilities for indigenous knowledge in mainstream society may come from natural healing remedies. Commonly used herbal remedies like aloe vera for burns, St. John's wort for depression and valerian root for insomnia are proven not just by clinical trials, but by thousands of years of traditional use.

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KC Currents
11:51 am
Mon May 10, 2010

Crossroads Renovations Uncover Pendergast's Secrets

Photo by Alex Smith / KCUR. Click to enlarge.

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.

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8:39 am
Mon April 26, 2010

EIO Explores the Sounds of Unusual Objects

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.

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10:57 am
Mon April 19, 2010

Playing with the Count Basie Orchestra

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.

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KC Currents
5:09 pm
Tue March 30, 2010

KU Researchers Study Native Kansas Medicinal Plants

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.

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12:01 pm
Tue March 16, 2010

EPA Attempts To Limit Amish And Mennonite Pesticide Use

A sign in Lancaster, PA. Photo courtesy of

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.

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11:36 am
Mon February 22, 2010

Jazz Singer Angela Hagenbach Releases New Album

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

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8:40 am
Mon February 8, 2010

Century-Old Pipe Organ Inspires Unique Congregation

E.M. Skinner's Opus 190 at Grand Avenue Temple United Methodist Church
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.

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12:23 pm
Mon January 25, 2010

The Little Piano Girl

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.

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3:33 pm
Mon December 28, 2009

Malayalam Community Celebrates Christmas

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.

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12:08 pm
Mon November 23, 2009

New Competition For Panhandlers On Downtown Street Corners

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."

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11:52 am
Mon November 16, 2009

Local Agencies Strategize To Combat Homelessness

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.

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5:23 pm
Thu November 12, 2009

More Homeless In KC Area

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.

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11:43 am
Mon November 9, 2009

New Study Tracks Migration Of Kansans

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.

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3:21 pm
Tue November 3, 2009

Dutch Pianist Mastered Classic KC Jazz Techniques

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.

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