Brian Ellison

Host/Contributor

Brian Ellison is substitute host of Central Standard and Up To Date and has served in a variety of roles at KCUR since 2008. He has been acting producer and associate producer of Up To Date and was acting producer of The Walt Bodine Show. A member of the Religion Newswriters Association, he also contributes occasionally to KCUR news coverage. Even before joining the KCUR staff, he was a producer and frequent guest on Up To Date's "Religion Roundtable," as well as a committed listener and volunteer.

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 in Kansas City, Mo.

Ways To Connect

The tragic death of actor and director Philip Seymour Hoffman has shed light on heroin and opiate use in America. Right here in Kansas City, opiate-based drugs are more popular than ever and the results have been devastating. Central Standard takes a look at why Kansas and Missouri residents are using these lethal substances and what impact heroin addiction has had on one local family.

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The Missouri River levels are critically low. If the problem is not resolved soon, area utilities, levees and bridges could be in serious crisis . Today we discuss the effects of dropping water levels and the multimillion dollar expenditure needed to remedy the issue.

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On Feb. 4, Congress passed the farm bill, a piece of legislature that will cut food stamps by $800 million a year, consolidate dozens of agriculture subsidy programs and provide crop insurance to farmers. Harvest Public Media's Jeremy Bernfeld share details on the changes to one of the largest spending measures congress passes.

Guest: 

  • Jeremy Bernfeld, multimedia editor for Harvest Public Media at KCUR

It’s been three years since the suicide of Sasha Menu Courey, a student at the University of Missouri. But revelations and questions have come to light in the last few weeks — allegations that Sasha had been raped by at least one fellow student, perhaps three members of the football team.

Colleges and universities serve several purposes: they are places to get credentials necessary for a career; they are  places to learn; they are homes. At a crucial time in their lives young adults live together, make memories, get in trouble and grow up.

On Wednesday's Central Standard, host Brian Ellison delves into campus housing  and how it's progressed over the last few decades, as students arrive with higher expectations and schools are trying to meet them.

We’ll also hear about new apartments catering to athletes at KU and other schools across the country.

More Solomon / Creative Commons

Who was William S. Burroughs? Some remember him as a controversial Beat writer; others remember his illicit drug habits and the murder of his second wife.

On Tuesday's Central Standard, we talk about the life of the infamous man from St. Louis, Mo. who traveled around the world and later settled in Lawrence, Kan.

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Central Standard explores the possibility of  emotions and thoughts being more than just a brain function. Is there more to being human than just our physical realm?

Also, we bid farewell to KC Currents and take a look at what's ahead for Central Standard.

Guests:

  • Susanna Rinard​, professor of philosophy at UMKC
  • Augustin Rayo, professor of philosophy at MIT

Will Missouri inmates on death row face death by firing squad someday? After a recent debacle in a Ohio execution and shortages of lethal injection drugs, legislators are considering alternative methods.

Host Brian Ellison talks to death penalty opponents. Later, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will discuss voter identification laws.   

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Halfway through January, and it's a time for a serious question. Are you going to bear down and get started on that new year’s commitment to regular exercise and healthy eating? Or are you going to let this year's goal lapse and be forgotten?

On Tuesday's Central Standard, Brian Ellison talks with an exercise scientist and a behavior modification expert helps us understand how we can change those habits and why we usually don’t. You can learn why for so many of us, the resolutions are already over.

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The Kansas City Chiefs season came to a stumbling, stuttering end on Saturday, January 4th. Everyone knew it would not be an easy game, but watching a 28-point lead turn into a one-point loss – the second-biggest playoff choke by any team in NFL history.  It was also the Chiefs' 8th playoff loss in a row that some might say was a fitting end to a season that started as hopefully as any season could and then went into something of a tailspin.

It would be impossible to go one news day without hearing about the state of the economy, or the movement of financial markets or the rising cost of a gallon of gas. Money in America shapes our votes and the quality of our lives. But have you wondered, just where did it come from? How did the dollar get its start?

On Wednesday's Central Standard, Brian Ellison looks at the origins of American money, specifically on the influence of wampum and other early money on our financial system to this day.

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Before November 2013, the state of Missouri had executed two inmates over the past six years. Then, near the end of the year, two inmates were executed within three weeks of each other, and both executions used a controversial new drug protocol.

Critics question the way the state is carrying out executions, including the way the state obtains its lethal drugs. With courts still considering critical legal issues as another execution date nears, will the Department of Corrections keep pressing ahead?

Chelsea Gomez / Flickr - CC

*This show originally aired Tuesday, July 2, 2013*

dphiffer / Flickr - CC

Communities around the Kansas City metro are taking part in programs to install LED street lights.

Participating cities saw significant energy savings after switching to the high-efficiency lights, and felt they got more light for less cost. The initiative was funded by the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Conservation grant program.

Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton / Flickr -- Creative Commons

In 1989 Michael Katz wrote the first edition of The Undeserving Poor and changed the way we talk about and understand poverty. He directly addressed the question of who is responsible for the victims of poverty.

His recently revised second edition came out last month, numerous aspects of poverty have completely changed, while others have persisted and some have even expanded over the last two decades.

On Wednesday's Central Standard, we talk with Michael Katz about his work and some of the deepest challenges regarding poverty.

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Americasroof / Wikimedia Commons - CC

On Tuesday, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the law that allows students in unaccredited districts to transfer at district expense to accredited schools in neighboring districts.

Kansas City Public School district Superintendent Stephen Green and the neighbors of the KCPS district are afraid that the impact will be detrimental.

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It’s been a little over two years since the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce announced its Big 5 goals – their plans for, as they said, “making Kansas City one of the greatest communities in America.”

Boston Public Library / Flickr -- Creative Commons

It was known as the Great War—or even The War to End All Wars, even though, of course, it didn’t. It did, however cost 9 million lives, devastated Europe and drew in all the world’s great powers of the day.

Next summer marks the 100th Anniversary of World War I. But how do you remember something that no one alive has first-person experience with?

The answer includes the hiring this month of new staff to head up the effort and start making plans and putting them into action.

Carla Wilson was named UMKC's new athletic director this week. Her hiring is a landmark for women of color, as she is the only African-American woman who is an athletic director of a division 1 school that is not historically black.

Wilson is not new to UMKC, she's been there for 24 years, 16 of them in the athletic department. As a college student, she had a work study in the athletics department, and after earning her degree in accounting, she went on to work at UMKC and move up in the ranks. 

Monicas Dad / Flickr - CC

Several cases have been popping up in the news in which former NFL players are suing either the league, or their team organization, for injuries or disorders they have developed after retiring. They claim that the professional organizations that used to employ them are responsible for the health problems they are now experience.

Miles Bonny / Flickr

Perhaps you’ve had dreams of a simple lifestyle, living in harmony with nature, off-the-grid. But, putting theory into practice is usually where many people lose interest. But musician Miles Bonny, his wife Jesse and their two young daughters did exactly that about one year ago.  They sold much of what they owned packed the rest into a small trailer and made for the high desert of northern New Mexico to build their own off–the-grid home. With no wired electricity, no plumbing, no wireless internet they crafted their own adobe home, with their own hands learning as they went.

Hey Paul Studios / flickr Creative Commons

It began when Abraham Lincoln declared that in gratitude for the Union Army’s victory at Gettysburg, the fourth Thursday in November would henceforth be a national day of Thanksgiving. We would come to add the familiar stories and imagery of pilgrims and native Americans, the tradition of a harvest feast, but the celebration’s purpose from the start was in its name.

Oxfam / flickr Creative Commons

We’re approaching the time of year when people tend to be most generous. But how do you know that your desire to help … is really helping? That your giving is actually doing good and not harm?

Tuesday we take a look at how the best of intentions can sometimes backfire, and how to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.

Ryan Knapp / Flickr-CC

The roar of the crowd confirmed what Sporting KC did this weekend at Sporting Park: They secured a spot at the MLS Cup being held in Kansas City Dec. 7.

In the second part of Monday's Up to Date, KCUR's Greg Echlin joins us to give a preview for that game.

Guest:

  • Greg Echlin, KCUR sports reporter

Medical problems, gender identity or varied abilities that put children out of the mainstream can bring overwhelming challenges for the individual and their family. In the first part of Monday's Up to Datewe take a look at how this struggle forms identities for the children and the parents.

Guest:

  • Andrew Solomon, author of Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

The Human Rights Campaign recently released it’s second Municipal Equality Index. It rates 291 cities across the United States in terms of laws, policies, and services that positively impact the LGBT community. Perhaps the most striking things about the report was that Kansas City,  Mo., scored 100 out of 100, while Kansas City, Kan., scored zero.

Roger Ross Williams / God Loves Uganda

A new film, now playing in Kansas City, makes a startling case – that American evangelicals, in the name of doing mission work, have triggered something in Africa that’s very different from prayer and worship and medical help for the needy. Instead, the film suggests, they’ve influenced governments and societies to discriminate against gay and lesbian people … or worse.

thejbird / Flickr-CC

There was a time when being a kid did not involve needing a planner. Those days are long gone for many families in the new world of lessons, sports, classes, tutoring, clubs, church groups and academics. Many children have busier schedules than their parents, which means the parents’ schedules fill up, too.

Leaders of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan., have announced plans to purchase and renovate Community America Ballpark – the home of the T-Bones – for $8 million. It would join a growing list of publicly subsidized sports venues. It's good news for baseball fans and  for the Village West shopping and entertainment area – but how should taxpayers feel?  Host Brian Ellison discusses the pros and cons behind the decision with two of the decision-makers behind the proposed purchase. Guests:

Secretary of Defense / Flickr - CC

Allan Katz recently returned from foreign service as the U.S. Ambassador to Portugal to teach at his alma mater, UMKC. Katz was a friend of Barack Obama (before he became President Obama) which he says contributed to being chosen as the ambassador. President Obama nominated Katz in 2009, which was followed by what Katz says was a long, arduous process of congressional approval. Katz says there were difficult times of misunderstanding, such as the publication of Wikileaks, but that if given the opportunity he would serve again. 

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