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

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

The show for February 26, 2012.  Click "Listen" to hear the entire show; see below for individual stories.

Islamic Circle Of North America

In the last year, a movement to limit or outlaw Shariah, or Islamic Law, has been gaining momentum in the U.S.

H. Michael Miley / Wikimedia Commons

DJs pride themselves on the rare grooves they can dig up and play for audiences. But there’s another kind of audio lover who searches for artifacts of eras gone by, whether it’s radio broadcasts, commercials or speeches.

The show for February 5, 2012.  Click "Listen" to hear the entire show, see below for individual stories.

The show for January 22, 2012.  Click "Listen" to hear the entire show, see below for individual stories.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

The past few months have been rough for local jazz. Two promising newer venues, 1911 Main and Café Augusta in Lenexa, have shut down. And at Jardine's Restaurant and Jazz Club, one of the city’s most celebrated venues, a dispute between the owner and employees led to a boycott by musicians. The restaurant then closed its doors, and its future remains up in the air.

The show for January 22, 2012.  Click "Listen" to hear the entire show, see below for individual stories.

Kansas City Fire Dept.

In the early evening of December 29th, Louie “Scooter” Martin was working the final hours of his last shift before retiring. For most people, that would mean eating a big, sugary cake and hearing some words of tribute from the boss. But Martin spent his final working hours racing through midtown traffic toward one of the biggest fires in Westport history (at Westport Presbyterian Church). It was a fitting end to the career of one of the long-serving firefighters in Kansas City history. This week, Alex Smith visited Louie “Scooter” Martin at his home in Liberty.

Susan B. Wilson / KCUR

The show for January 15, 2012. 

Click above for the entire show.  See below for individual stories.

Debunking the End of the World

Photo by Tim Hursley, courtesy of the Kauffman Center of the Performing Arts.

2011 brought new buildings and faces, an end to some long-standing institutions, and the passing of community leaders.  KC Currents listens back to some of the voices of 2011.

Every 19 days, members of Kansas City’s Baha’i religious community gather for a potluck and a traditional service they call a feast. It’s a remarkable diverse mix of races, ages and backgrounds celebrating a 150-year-old gospel of global unity. But the optimistic spirit of many of Kansas City’s Baha’is has been tested. Many have fled for their lives in order to practice their religion.

Photo from the Arthur B. Church KMBC Radio Collection, used by permission of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections.

To Rebecca Pryor, her grandfather Charlie was a kind of Pied Piper. Everywhere he went, he made music that thrilled listeners.

Charlie Pryor was a percussionist, specializing in drum set, xylophone and a homemade musical washboard supped up with cowbells and horns. When she was little, Charlie took Rebecca with him to play at churches, and he played at her school's assemblies. 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Inspired by low bass pumping stereo systems, the Rumbler is the newest addition to police sirens in Kansas City, Mo. It was created for urban environments and features two large bass speakers that can be heard and felt from inside cars and even buildings. The Rumbler, introduced in 2007, was designed to literally shake the streets.

Children at the Afrikan Centered school in Kansas City, MO.

LAWRENCE, Ks. – When the Kansas City Missouri school district officially loses its accreditation on January 1, 2012, students in the district may have the option of enrolling in other district's schools. And the Kansas City district would be required to pay tuition and transportation costs for any student who does that.

Kansas City, MO – For the past month, a billboard in the Waldo neighborhood has been catching a lot of attention. It's for the local jewelry company Tivol and features two people together in a store looking at a ring. They're both men. The billboard came down on Thursday, although Tivol says it just reached the end of its intended month-long lifespan. But in that month, it has made an impression.

Photo by Alex Smith/KCUR.

KANSAS CITY, MO – The City Hall, police station, and community building of Prairie Village, KS will soon have their temperatures regulated by a geothermal heating system venturing more than four hundred feet underground.

This low maintenance alternative energy system taps into the constant temperatures just below the earth's surface to cool a building in the summer and heat it in winter.

It is funded in part by a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Who was Blind Boone?

Aug 18, 2011

It's often a challenge for even the most hard-core jazz buffs to remember Missouri's pre-ragtime composer known as Blind Boone.

KANSAS CITY, MO – The National Endowment for the Arts recently announced a pledge of $200,000 to help restore the long-abandoned Boone Theater in the 18th and Vine District. While it's a welcome boost for the neighborhood, even many Missourians are hard-pressed to remember the 19th century composer and pianist for whom the theater was named.

Kansas City, MO – The Great Plains is not exactly the setting you might imagine for the continuation of a dynasty of tai chi masters. But when the descendant of the inventors of this martial art moved to KC, she brought with her a rich tradition that has been part of her family for centuries. KCUR's Alex Smith brings us to the Shawnee, Kansas studio where this master and her husband teach and practice.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Sometimes when we hear about flooding in our area, it's easy to get a little leery about what's coming out of our facets. That's especially true when the tap water tastes a little different than usual. Could there be sewage or pesticides leaking into our water supply? Is it safe? This week, Alex Smith investigated.

A Matter of Taste

Photo of books at Prospero's Bookstore courtesy of flickr user _Madolan_.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – During the last 20 years, there's been a kind of quiet war going on. It's over who sells books and how they do it. In the early 90s, most book selling happened in small, locally-owned stores. But the rise of giant retailers and then threatened many of the small stores with extinction.

A group of young Kansas City artists are trying a new way of funding the arts by feeding people.

Kansas City, Mo. – It's a tough time to be an artist. Federal and state governments are cutting back on funding, and, while the art market is improving, it's still slow. KCUR's Alex Smith has the story.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – This past week, UMKC held a luncheon to honor some of its most accomplished alumni. Among the group was a man Kansas City hasn't seen much since he graduated over 40 years ago. Dr. Mutuku Mutinga has spent most of his life combating insect-borne diseases in his native Kenya, but he credits his years in Kansas City with giving him the tools he's needed to carry on the fight.

While he was in town, Dr. Mutinga told his story to KCUR's Alex Smith.

Mission Hills City Hall. Photo by

Mission Hills, Kan. – Mission Hills is doing unusually well in tough times, but it has always been an unusual place. There are only three business - all country clubs - in the whole city. It has no police department. Law enforcement, snow plowing and just about every other city service is contracted from outside the city. Clinging to the Kansas side of the State Line, Mission Hills is just a sliver of two square miles, home to just 3,500 people.

Photo by Angie Jennings.

LAWRENCE, Ks. – Until recently, there were eight known species of Southeast Asian butterfly lizards. But a KU biology student has added another to the count, and he discovered the new species on the menu of a Vietnamese restaurant.

KANSAS CITY, Mo – The 4th district stretches from the Missouri River south to 79th Street and between Troost and State Line, including much of downtown and midtown. Five candidates might seem like a lot of plans and philosophies to sift through, but, for the most part, all five candidates have nearly identical ideas on what the city council should do. Voters will see the five following candidates on the ballot: John Crawford, Jim Glover, Anne McGregor, Edward Pace, and Annie Presley.

Kansas City, MO – Action movie fans may have noticed some different fight moves on the big screen in recent years. In the James Bond film Casino Royale and all three of the Bourne Identity movies, the good guys are using Filipino martial arts to bust up the bad guys.

Now, a former police trainer living in Prairie Village is adapting those moves to help women learn self-defense. KCUR's Alex Smith dropped in on a class to find out more.

Kansas City, MO – For the past several years, Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas, has been the last place on the planet that officially develops Kodak's Kodachrome film. But with the end of 2010, the lab stopped processing Kodachrome.

So in the past few months, the lab has been receiving thousands of film rolls a day from all over the world. KC Currents' Alex Smith hit the road for Parsons to find out more.

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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