Beth Lipoff

Assistant Producer, Up To Date

Beth Lipoff has worked as a freelance writer, editor and producer. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a master's degree in public history from Royal Holloway, University of London.

Her work has appeared in the Kansas City StarSunset Magazine, 435 Magazine, the Johnson County Sun, the Kansas City Jewish ChronicleSpirit MagazineNorthwestern Magazine, the Lawrence Journal-World and the Independence Examiner.

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From a beautiful but treacherous mountaintop to post-World War II Germany to a contemporary senior home, Up to Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics' choices will take you far and wide on your holiday weekend.

Cynthia Haines

Meru, R

  • It is visually stunning. It is incredibly intense, suspenseful— it’s got everything going for it. I would put Meru on the top of any list that has to do with mountaineering.

Phoenix, PG-13

It's that in-between time when the summer blockbusters are winding down, but the holiday movie machine hasn't fired up yet — and that makes the perfect opening for independent, foreign and documentary films to fill the theaters. Up to Date's critics have numerous suggestions from this glut of possibilities to cover your whole holiday weekend.

Meru, R, Glenwood Arts

Whether you want to view World War I from the trenches, explore the war's Christmas truce or cruise the skies, our Video Gurus have something to feed your historical need. Check out what they had to say on this edition of Up to Date.

All Quiet on the Western Front, unrated (before current ratings)

Explore the world of David Foster Wallace. Find out if you really can tell someone's sexuality by their voice. Jump into the fiery rhetoric as it flies between Gore Vidal and William Buckley. Up to Date's indie, foreign and documentary critics have found a wide variety of options to spice up your weekend.

Cynthia Haines  

Listen To Me Marlon, not rated

Shooting Star was the most commercially-successful rock band to emerge from Kansas City in the 1980s. International hits like “Tonight” combined progressive rock with radio-friendly pop.

This week's edition of Local Listen features “This Is Our Town,” a hard-charging track from Shooting Star’s new album “Into the Night.”

Shooting Star will open for Boston at Starlight Theatre on Sunday, Aug. 30. 

The documentaries are thick on the ground this week, whether you want to explore of the life of Marlon Brando, take on the warring voices of Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley or watch a man confront the effects of a genocide. Or, if you're not in the mood for serious contemplation, Up to Date's indie, foreign and documentary critics also have a comedy in mind for you.

Cynthia Haines

Best of Enemies, R

Samantha Fish’s billing at the Spirit of KC Fest reflects her elite status in Kansas City’s music community. The blues-rock artist headlines over five other noteworthy locally-based acts.

This week's Local Listen features “Highway’s Holding Me Now,” a blistering song from Fish’s new “Wild Heart” album.

The Spirit of KC festival is at Crossroads KC on Saturday, August 22. 

The kids have gone back to school, and maybe it's time for you to go back to the movie theater. Up to Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics have a few ideas to spruce up your weekend.

Cynthia Haines

Best of Enemies, R

  • The thing that’s quite amusing is the pompous attitudes of these men and their accents.

Mr. Holmes, PG

Whether it's a Buckley-Vidal debate that gets your blood pumping or an exploration of the late David Foster Wallace, Up to Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics have given the verdict to help you select your weekend entertainment. Here are the films they discussed:

Best of Enemies, R, Tivoli

With August at full burn, it might be hard to imagine that autumn or winter will ever come… unless you’re a diehard football fan, in which case one of the most important parts of the season—training camp—has already begun. Commentator Victor Wishna goes camping in this month’s edition of “A Fan’s Notes.”

Instead of jetting off to desirable, sunny destinations like Arizona or Florida before the season begins, NFL teams sneak away on decidedly less glamorous excursions—if not to obscure rural locales, as most used to, then at least to the margins of their markets.


One of the best parties in Kansas City occurs every Friday afternoon at the Phoenix as the vocalist, trumpeter and tap dancer Lonnie McFadden eases celebrants into the weekend.  An old-school entertainer in the tradition of Sammy Davis Jr., McFadden is one of Kansas City’s most beloved personalities.  

This week's Local Listen features McFadden’s jovial invocation “Let’s Party.”

McFadden performs at the Phoenix every Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Not everyone can find joy in office supplies, but author James Ward has. In this edition of Up to Date, we talk about his book, The Perfection of the Paperclip: Curious Tales of Invention, Accidental Genius, and Stationery Obsession.


  • James Ward, author of The Perfection of the Paperclip: Curious Tales of Invention, Accidental Genius, and Stationery Obsession

As the summer winds down, are you looking for some music to rev you up? Our critics here at Up to Date have scoured the best of local, national and international music released this year to give you a wide selection.

Chris Haghirian

Local picks:

The Sluts, "Let Me Go" from The Sluts

  • "It's a nice, loud ruckus-y garage band sound. It looks like he's protecting himself with his drumsticks."

Hipshot Killer, "Give Me Something Better"

A tale about murder takes a dark turn in Kansas, and on another screen, Robin Williams gives his final cinematic performance. This week's selections from Up to Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics are all over the board when it comes to emotions.

Cynthia Haines

Boulevard, R

  • A closeted gay man forms a bond with a young male prostitute

Tangerine, R

If there's a sandwich of deli meat and processed cheese in your lunchbox, you might have the military to thank for it. On this edition of Up to Date, we talk about how convenience foods leaped from combat zones to your kitchen.


  • Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, author of Combat-Ready Kitchen: How the Military Shapes the Way You Eat
Beth Lipoff / KCUR

The Johnson County Fair came to Gardner, Kansas last week, and alongside the traditional funnel cakes, midway rides and livestock exhibitions, there were a few surprises.

Here's four things we found that were unexpected:

1. There were no chickens.

Anyone with a laptop computer can act as a one-man band in 2015, but A.J. Gaither goes about it the old-fashioned way as he simultaneously howls, flails at a guitar and pounds on drums during his frequent performances in Kansas City’s barrooms.

This week’s Local Listen is Gaither’s typically-unhinged song “Natural Habitat.”  

Gaither performs at the Westport Saloon August 8 at midnight.


Check out the story of two transgender prostitutes or duck gunfire from Mexican drug cartels. This week's selections from Up to Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics take you to many different worlds.

Cynthia Haines

Amy, R

  • Searing documentary about singer Amy Winehouse

Tangerine, R

  • Dramedy about two transgender prostitutes in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, PG-13 

After the U.S. House passed a bill  last week preventing states from enacting laws requiring labels on genetically modified foods, the debate over GMOs continues to heat up.

On this edition of Up to Date, Steve Kraske spoke with Harvest Public Media reporters about the controversy.


  • Jeremy Bernfeld, editor of Harvest Public Media
  • Peggy Lowe, investigations editor of Harvest Public Media

Forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs has helped solve many mysteries in real life, on the bookshelf and on the small screen. On this edition of Up to Date, Steve Kraske spoke with the prolific author of the Temperance Brennan mystery novels and the inspiration for the TV series Bones.


Be/Non / Facebook

Brody Rush has alternately delighted and confounded Kansas City’s rock community for 20 years. As the primary visionary behind his band, Be/Non, Rush has crafted a compelling catalog of psychedelic rock.

This week’s edition of Local Listen features Spark 22, a typically adventurous track from Be/Non’s 2009 concept album “A Mountain of Yeses.”

Follow the downward spiral of singer Amy Winehouse or fight Argentinian mercenaries this weekend-- but do it from the comfort of an air-conditioned movie theater. Up to Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics can steer you to the right vicarious adventure this weekend.

Cynthia Haines

Amy, R

  • Searing documentary about singer Amy Winehouse

Ardor, R

Beth Lipoff / KCUR

As a city ages, buildings and other structures can fall into disrepair and eventually end up abandoned and forgotten. 

In his book, Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences, photographer Matthew Christopher seeks out these places and tries to tell their stories through the lens of his camera.

Michael Wilson /

Singer-songwriter Jeff Black emerged from the same Kansas City open mic scene that produced Iris Dement in the 1990s. The subject of this week’s Local Listen continues to craft sturdy songs from his base in Nashville.

Members of the rock band Wilco accompanied Black on the title track of his 1998 debut album, "Birmingham Road," a gritty song that evokes the industrial thoroughfare in North Kansas City.

Jeff Black performs at Knuckleheads at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 17.

You can go back in time with Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman or stay in the present with a group of teenagers facing a serious issue. Whatever your preference, Up to Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics have options for your weekend film-viewing.

Cynthia Haines

Wolfpack, R

Whether you're in the mood for a senior citizen romance or set on a journey to the 17th century, Up to Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics can help you navigate the many movie listings to find one that fits you.

Cynthia Haines

Wolfpack, R

Delve into the story of two geeky filmmakers who suddenly confront something very serious, and get a view into the the French court of the 17th century. Whatever your tastes, our indie, foreign and documentary film critics have quite a selection for your holiday weekend.

Wolfpack, R, Tivoli

The AM Trio / Facebook

The young pianist, songwriter and bandleader Alyssa Murray is another noteworthy alumnus of Bobby Watson’s Jazz Studies program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She and her band, The AM Trio, have a stated mission of "combining jazz with the narrative elements of contemporary folk."

This week’s edition of Local Listen features “In the Evening,” a track from The AM Trio’s new EP “As of Now.”

The AM Trio will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, July 3, at Take Five Coffee + Bar.  The Blue Room will host the ensemble at 7 p.m. Monday, July 6.

A Hollywood idol filled the spotlight but had to hide his feelings from the world, and a widow discovers she can turn over a new leaf. Emotions swell in Up to Date's indie, documentary and foreign film critics' choices this week. Whether you need a good cry or a hearty laugh, they've got a suggestions for you.

Cynthia Haines

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, PG-13

  • A teenager befriends a classmate diagnosed with cancer.

Ex Machina​, R

Historian David McCullough tells Steve Kraske what four years of research revealed about brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright. Hear what role their sister Katharine played and the characteristics that made them successful in their quest to fly.   


  • David McCullough is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of The Wright Brothers.