Brian Ellison

Host/Contributor

Brian Ellison is host of the podcast Statehouse Blend Missouri and regular substitute host of Central Standard and Up to Date. He also contributes to KCUR news coverage, including political reporting, anchoring election night broadcasts and conducting interviews for the "Innovation KC" series. He has served in a variety of roles at KCUR since 2008, including as a producer of Up To Date and The Walt Bodine Show.

An ordained Presbyterian minister, Brian served as pastor of Parkville Presbyterian Church for 13 years and now is executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians. A graduate of Harvard University and Princeton Theological Seminary, he is also a freelance writer and an adjunct instructor in preaching at Saint Paul School of Theology.

Ways to Connect

A handgun and six bullets on a desk.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office / Wikimedia Commons

Drag is big these days in pop culture, but the cross-dressing tradition goes back further than most people realize. Today, we trace its roots on the American frontier. Then, we take a close look with sociologist and researcher Jonathan Metzl at claims that gun violence in America is primarily a mental health issue, and not one related to the easy availability of firearms.

Atl10trader / Flickr-CC

A good Thanksgiving Day meal requires consideration, preparation and even preservation. Today, we hear food safety advice to help keep uneaten leftovers fresh and to learn warning signs of spoiled items. Then, a local congregation shares why they've made the decision to remove the phrase 'Country Club' from their name and learn about the history of the district the church was originally named after.

Guests:

Shamley Productions

The Kansas International Film Festival begins this weekend.  Today, Up To Date's Film Critics talk with the filmmaker behind one festival entry, The Weight of Honor, that looks at the impact on families when wives and mothers of soldiers become caretakers for their catastrophically injured husbands and sons.  Then the critics review the best (and worst) indie, foreign and documentary movies now showing on area screens, including Jane, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Blade of the Immortal

Russell Watkins / Flickr - CC

Even though the winds and rain have subsided, the carnage wrought by Hurricanes Maria and Irma have left parts of the Caribbean without power and everyday necessities. Today, we find out how recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are progressing from two Kansas City relief workers who saw the devastation firsthand. Then, learn interesting facts, folk-wisdom, and oddities of the Show-Me State, via a brand new Missouri Almanac.

Candidate Forum
Chris Young / KCUR 89.3

There are only a few legislative races this November, but one of the most dynamic—and expensive—is taking place in eastern Jackson County. The Majority Floor Leader of the Missouri House Mike Cierpiot was considered a likely choice to succeed fellow Republican Will Kraus, who resigned to take a state job. Democrats recruited a strong challenger in Hillary Shields, a co-founder of the Indivisible KC political organizing group.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

After spending 23 years incarcerated for a crime he didn't commit, Lamonte McIntyre has spent the last week getting used to being a free man. Today, we ask McIntyre, his mother Rosie McIntyre, and one of his attorneys, Cheryl Pilate, about the crime he was wrongly convicted of, the court fight that finally liberated him, and how he moved through the anger and frustration he initially developed behind bars.

Gary White
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

In a world where 884 million people don’t have access to water and 2.2 billion people don’t have sanitary toilet facilities, ending the global water crisis seems like a lofty goal.

But Gary White—whose nonprofit organizations have so far reached 7 million people—believes providing access to safe water and sanitation for all people can be achieved in his lifetime.

Planned Parenthood clinic
File Photo / KCUR 89.3

Just two weeks before new regulations on Missouri abortion providers would take effect, the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliates are challenging the provisions in state court.

Cory Weaver / Kansas City Repertory Theater

The musical Between the Lines, based off a bestselling novel by Jodi Picoult and her daughter, just made its world premiere at the KC Rep. It was a huge hit, but will it make it to Broadway? We discuss what it takes to get there with a local artistic director, a national producer and a Broadway performer.

David Johnson and Pat Duff
Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

The effort to extend the Kansas City streetcar line scored a victory Saturday as voters elected a slate endorsed by expansion advocates to a new board of directors.

According to unofficial results, some 2,636 out of about 35,000 potential voters cast ballots Saturday, choosing among 19 candidates for the board of the Main Street Rail Transportation Development District (TDD), which was formed in a special mail-in election this summer.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Not only is David Litt one of the youngest presidential speechwriters ever, but he also has the distinct (dis)honor of deplaning Air Force One in his pajamas. Today, Litt shares stories about his time writing jokes — and some serious stuff, too — for President Barack Obama.

Streetcar
Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

There's an important election happening in Kansas City this weekend that will directly affect the future of southern streetcar extension. If you didn't know about it until now, you're probably not alone. 

It's the second step in a complicated, three-election process that must be completed before any work on expansion can begin. 

CFI

If you’re planning a movie night but find yourself underwhelmed by plastic blocks or cannibal clowns, take heart! There are other cinematic options this fall: A man flees Leningrad and the Soviet secret police, a doctor wrestles with guilt and mystery, and more.

Webber
Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

The Missouri Democratic Party announced an ambitious set of health care proposals Tuesday, including expansion of Medicaid and policy changes focused on veterans, women’s health and opioid abuse.

Republicans control the House, Senate and Governor’s office in Missouri, making it unlikely the proposals will be adopted. But Stephen Webber, the party chair, said Democrats still want to present a “positive proactive vision.”

Bobnjeff / Flickr - CC

Despite passing away 25 years ago, Marjorie Powell Allen's life works continue to impact the Kansas City region. Today, we recall the businesswoman, educator and philanthropist, chronicled in a new biography. Then, we speak with two-time Grammy winner and Leavenworth native Melissa Etheridge, and learn how and why she continues to advocate for the environment and the LGBTQ community.  

Initially, blogs were personal online journals; by the mid-2000s, they went mainstream. What has happened to blogging since then? Especially now that all those other feeds started filling our spare moments and our minds?

Then: how climate change may be affecting the nutrition content of our food.

Guests:

What does the college campus of the future look like? An architect from a local firm sees some radically different changes.

Then: a recent article in The Kansas City Star says that the social scene here isn't inclusive of people of color. We'll hear how some young African-Americans don't feel like there's a place for them in the metro ... and how it's driving them to move elsewhere.

Guests:

K. Trimble / Creative Commons

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens vetoed six bills passed by the Missouri General Assembly this year, and this week the legislators had their annual chance to override those vetoes and get their way anyway. In the end, the number of vetoes they overrode was ... zero.

Publichall / Wikimedia Commons

Modern dance just wouldn't be the same without Kansas City-raised David Parsons. Today, we meet the star choreographer behind works commissioned and performed by troupes in New York, Paris and just about any other city with a ballet scene. Then, we explore the economic relationship between small towns and big businesses. Learn how rural communities are able to encourage, attract and, more importantly, keep hold of new jobs.

Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is calling on Congress to balance “law and order with compassion” as it acts to replace the executive order known as DACA, the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals.

“We need to make sure we’re making a distinction between violent felons who are in this county illegally and children who were brought here through no fault of their own who have grown up in America,” Greitens said Wednesday in Kansas City.

Jo Mannies / St. Louis Public Radio

Why are thousands of Missourians losing state funding for nursing home or in-home health care this week? On this episode, we discuss how that funding was salvaged—and then lost again. And one legislator shares her ideas for how to get it back.

JO MANNIES / St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate is scheduled to debate a bill this week that would add new regulations for clinics providing abortions. Its supporters, including Gov. Eric Greitens, say these will protect the health and safety of Missouri women, but abortion rights advocates say the legislation is designed to deny access to safe and legal abortion. We talk with both sides about this bill and how the abortion debate plays out in Missouri, year after year.

Conner Hazelrigg
Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Three years ago, Conner Hazelrigg was a sophomore at William Jewell College, in Liberty, Missouri, when a friend came back from a trip to Haiti. The friend told Hazelrigg that everyone in the island nation—one of the world’s poorest countries—has a cell phone. They just don’t have any way to charge them. Electricity, she learned, was expensive and hard to find.

CAROLINA HIDALGO / ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Governor Eric Greitens had a busy afternoon last Friday, June 30. He signed a major change to employment law, making it much harder for a fired employee to prove a discrimination case. He vetoed a bipartisan compromise that would have preserved a tax credit for low-income seniors and disabled people. And he signed the state budget—while also withholding more than $250 million in spending. Host Brian Ellison talks with KCUR's Kyle Palmer to catch you up on the political news of the weekend and give you an update on what might come next out of Missouri's Capitol.

Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

UPDATED Monday, 8 a.m.: More than 12,000 people remain without power Monday morning after storms this weekend damaged trees and power lines across the Kansas City metro area.

Kansas City Power & Light crews are continuing to repair power lines and restore power to customers. That work is slower with these storms than others, according to a Kansas City Power and Light official.

“There were a high number of individual outages so that’s why this restoration is taking a little bit longer than what we’ve seen in some other storms,” said Courtney Hughley, Kansas City Power and Light spokesperson. 

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

One Missouri lawmaker who won't be back for any special sessions this summer is Kansas City's Randy Dunn; the representative resigned last week to begin a new job in Omaha. Dunn was a triple minority in the Missouri General Assembly: A Democrat, a person of color and an openly gay man. He joined us for an exit interview to give us an unvarnished look at the way things work in Jefferson City.

Marleah Campbell / KCUR 89.3

Television has rapidly evolved since its humble, black-and-white beginnings. Today, we discuss how  TV has forever changed the American culture. Then, actress and activist Morgan Fairchild joins us to discuss her advocacy work and insights on current events and politics.

Catherine Wheeler / KCUR 89.3

At the end of the 2017 legislative session, we took the podcast on the road to ask an important question: are Kansas City's communities of color being heard in Jefferson City?  

This podcast was recorded live at the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

 

Kansas City is the largest city in Missouri. But sometimes, it feels like its interests aren't at the forefront of the discussion in Jefferson City. Two former Missouri legislators turned Kansas City council members talk about how the city's priorities fared during the 2017 session and what's on their agenda for the future.  

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

The 2017 Missouri regular legislative session ended Friday with a lot of tension and a few results. On this week's episode, a team of reporters explore the session's most significant outcomes and biggest political stories. They ask what business went unfinished and predict what comes next.

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