Brian Ellison


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

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

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Missouri Rep. Joe Don McGaugh from District 039 provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss agriculture, education, and Medicaid expansion.


  • Joe Don McGaugh, Rep. for District 039, Missouri General Assembly 
  • Arley Hoskin, Citizen Voice
  • Mike McGraw, Special Projects Reporter, Flatland KC

A book is often evaluated by the words it contains, but what value does a book with no words have? It turns out that wordless books can bolster creativity for both children and adults.


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
Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

Back in the 19th century, Missouri winemakers were experiencing success while today's domestic wine behemoths, like California, were struggling. After prohibition however, the state was slow to recover. 

As the wine landscape changes and Missouri begins to again come into its own, we compare how the Show-Me State compares to the rest of the world. 

Master Sommelier and Master of Wine Doug Frost brought some selections to taste. Each of these is available locally, though you may have to search :

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Democrat Missouri Rep. Judy Morgan from District 024 provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss infrastructure, education, and the culture of Jefferson City.

This is only an excerpt of this week's episode, but you can listen to the full show here for even more Missouri capital conversation.


Today, it's hard to imagine baseball without Hispanic players. But for a long time, Latinos, like their African-American peers, had a color barrier to overcome in major-league baseball.


The exodus of teachers from Kansas has caught the nation's eye. As KCUR launches a series highlighting the numerous challenges Kansas and Missouri teachers face, we ask three educators what a day in their lives looks like.


Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Democrat Missouri Rep. Judy Morgan from District 024 provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss infrastructure, education, and the culture of Jefferson City.


  • Judy Morgan, Rep. for the District 024, Missouri General Assembly 
  • Eric Bunch, Citizen Voice
  • Gina Kaufmann, Host of Central Standard, KCUR

With the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage, some county clerks have refused to issue marriage licenses, citing religious beliefs. The Ethics Professors discuss performing government duties that conflict with one's faith. Plus, is it okay to break the law in the name of a just cause?


The newly elected Kansas City, Missouri, city council features six members who have never served on the before. On yesterday's edition of Up To Date, we spoke to three of those new members, and today we meet two more newcomers to the job. 


Kansas is facing the lowest number of state highway troopers in ten years. Guest host Brian Ellison examines the reasons for this and looks at efforts to recruit and retain new troopers on both sides of the state line.


  • Technical Trooper Cory Beard is with the Kansas Highway Patrol.
  • Capt. John Hotz is with the Missouri Highway Patrol.

The newly elected Kansas City, Missouri, city council features a lot of new blood— six out of the 12 members have never served on the council before. On this edition of Up To Date, we talk with three newcomers to the job.


  • Quinton Lucas will be the 3rd District At-Large councilman.
  • Jolie Justus will represent the 4th District.
  • Alissia Canady will represent the 5th District. 

We talk to the senior pastor of Kansas City's Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church about last week's shooting and murder of nine people at an AME church in Charleston, South Carolina. We also discuss the formation of racial identity in this country with a history professor, a vice-chancellor of diversity and inclusion (who is also a psychologist) and a high school teacher.

Two retired MLB players--Rex Hudler of Fox Sports (now a Royals announcer) and Fred Kipp of the Dodgers and the Yankees--share their experiences on and off the field, then and now. 

70 years later, we catch up with Kansas City's own Riveter Rosies--the women behind the manufacturing of the aircrafts taken to battle in WWII. 

During World War II, the noses and tails of airplanes often were painted with cartoon characters, topless women or even some geographical landmarks. A history professor explains the meaning and stories behind those iconic designs.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Sen. Kay Wolf from Prairie Village, provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session underway in Topeka. 


Democrat Kansas Rep. Jim Ward from Witchita, provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session underway in Topeka. 


Kansas Legislature / Kansas Legislature

Democrat Kansas Rep. Jim Ward from Wichita, provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session underway in Topeka. 


  • Jim Ward, Rep. for the 86th District, Kansas Legislature 
  • Scott Morgan, citizen voice
  • Cody Newill, General Assignment Reporter, KCUR

Since 2007, the number of children in need of foster care in Jackson County has nearly doubled. We speak with Denise Cross, President and CEO of Cornerstones of Care, about what accounts for the increase of need in the area. We also examine how the community is accommodating and caring for children in need of a home.

For more information on becoming a foster parent, you can call Cornerstones of Care toll-free 855-778-5437 or visit

For many, the goal after living through trauma is to get back to normal. On this edition of Up To Date, guest host Brian Ellison speaks with two authors who tell stories of people who not only survive tragedy, but thrive in the aftermath. 


Kansas City’s Steve Metzler was a business leader, a nonprofit supporter, and a patron of the arts, but phrases don’t begin to describe the impact he had on the community.

On this edition of Up To Date guest host Brian Ellison shares memories with those whose lives were touched by Metzler and talks with Steve's long-time partner, Brian Williams. 

Technology is finding it's way into every part of our lives, and it may be in our roads sooner than we think. One Kansas City engineer is proposing a smart I-70 that could charge electric cars by contact, connect to navigation systems, and more. 



When you walk into a restaurant, there is a certain je ne sais quoi that can make or break the experience.

Of course the food is of paramount importance, but poor lighting, decor and authenticity can make even an exquisite plate of duck confit look like a soggy KFC drumstick.

Luckily, our Food Critics Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jill Wenholt Silva know a thing or two about restaurant ambiance. Here are their picks for standout restaurants with great ambiance:

"We said we were going to have 20,000 listeners by this time … but we have ten times that," says Gimlet Media co-founder Matt Lieber on the podcast Startup. But as podcasting grows as a medium, can it sustain what is typically given away for free?

In this episode of Central Standard, our podcast review panel explores how to make money with the form and makes recommendations for what to tune into next (when you're not listening to back episodes of Central Standard!).

It's been 20 years since there's been a Latino on Kansas City, Mo.'s city council; and there isn't currently any Latino representation on the Unified Government board of commissioners either. That's even while our metro's Hispanic community has been growing significantly.

  • CiCi Rojas, president and CEO, Central Exchange
  • Irene Caudillo, president and CEO, El Centro
  • Louis Ruiz, Kansas state representative, District 31 (Wyandotte County)

From the world's fascination with Pope Francis to the rise of ISIS overseas, religion played a significant role in some of the biggest headlines of 2014.

On Wednesday's Up To Date guest host Brian Ellison speaks with Kevin Eckstrom, editor-in-chief of Religion News Service, and Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, executive religion editor of the Huffington Post, on the top religion stories last year, and religion's rising profile in the news. 

Rob Friesel / Flickr-CC

From serving stuffed celery sticks with cream cheese on the Thanksgiving table to participating in the Pilgrim Run every year or bringing kilts, scotch and good cheer to houses on New Year's Eve, family rituals take many different forms.

The path to wholeness for those whose lives have been touched by addiction is always different. But for at least one group of Kansas Citians, that road has been filled … with writing. Poetry and prose that chronicle and process and maybe even transform the struggle. 

On Friday's Up to Date,  guest host Brian Ellison talks two women taking part in an annual reading of work stemming from addiction.


Beth Lipoff/KCUR

In sports, we teach kids valuable lessons like, “Winning isn’t everything. The most important thing is that you did your best.” But if you’re a pro athlete, that goes out the window. Your job is to win.

On Friday's Up to Date, we look at the psychology of the clubhouse in a pennant race as the Royals gear up for possibly their first post-season appearance in a generation. We also hear from a team official about what it feels like to be at the K these days.