Brian Ellison

Host/Contributor

Brian Ellison is acting host of Central Standard and co-host of the podcast Statehouse Blend. He has served in a variety of roles at KCUR since 2008, including regular substitute host, 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

An excerpt from Ghost Notes, a new music podcast in KC. Host Hannah Copeland talks with local hip-hop artist Barrel Maker.

On Target

Jul 14, 2016

He's a 21-year-old who has gone from his small Missouri town to representing the U.S. in the Olympics. Meet Zach Garrett, an archer from Wellington, Missouri.

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H2O

Jul 14, 2016

Kansas City might be an unusual place to headquarter an international organization that helps bring clean water to people around the world. A chat with Gary White, KC native and co-founder of Water.org.

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Danny Lyon / courtesy of Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The violence and horror of cell phone videos of the recent police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have galvanized many Americans to question race relations and justice.

We take a look back at iconic civil rights era photos, and then invite a psychologist and criminologist to explore the effect of images of violence, past and present, on our minds and our culture.

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These days, political discourse may feature the occasional soaring oratory, but more often, it comes down to talking heads yelling at each other. Maybe what the world needs now is the kind of politics found only in books. As we approach the 2016 presidential election, we take a moment to explore the best books about politics with KCUR's Bibliofiles.

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

The shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana, Philando Castile in Minnesota, and several police officers in Dallas are still fresh in the minds of many across the country. On this edition of Up To Date, we hear from a diverse panel of community members, activists and police about how these tragedies affect us here in Kansas City.

Guests:

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A few months ago, the Squad of Sisters — a local group dedicated to combating sexual violence — released a zine called "Worried About Westport." The photocopied booklet chronicles personal stories of sexual assault in the area. Westport is one of the most popular nightlife destinations in Kansas City, but is it safe? 

We ask, what do reports of sexual assault and rape throughout the city tell us about our culture, and what can we do to make our community safer?

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, Missouri Rep. DaRon McGee (D-Kansas City) talks about gun legislation, libraries, and ethics reform.

Guests:

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City artist Ryan Wilks explored a wide range of gender and sexuality in the 12 large-scale portraits and interviews on display in the show Gender Treason at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center. He and one of his painting subjects say the process of creating the art changed each of them.

Guests:

  • Ryan Wilks, artist
  • Ana Marcela Maldonado Morales, visual artist, tattoo artist, musician
Anna Leach / KCUR 89.3

An exit interview with Olympic gold medalist Shannon Vreeland, a swimmer from Overland Park, Kansas, just days after her career ended at the swimming trials in Omaha. We discuss how Kansas Citians make it  from their initial training in local pools and gyms all the way to the Olympics,.

Guests:

  • Shannon Vreeland, world champion swimmer
  • Greg Echlin, KCUR's sports reporter

Everybody seems to be talking about storytelling these days. That's music to our ears on Central Standard, where we're always looking for good, true tales about life in Kansas City. This past winter, KCUR sponsored a series of storytelling events at Pilgrim Chapel in Hyde Park, called FlameKC.

We will be airing some of those stories over the next couple of weeks, starting with the first. Within the theme "Letting Go," Pilgrim Chapel director Andrew Johnson shared his story about parenting and time.

For the past few years, UMKC professor and nuclear physicist Anthony Caruso has been working with his students to elevate a local physics experiment into a major project protecting national security. We ask him about his portable neutron-detection device, and how it works in real life applications.

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Working For Fun

Jul 5, 2016
Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

We all have to work. But does your job have to be a daily grind, or can it be ... joyful? We check in with Kansas City native Cole Lindbergh, who worked his dream job as a games manager at Worlds of Fun for 12 years, and ask about how his life changed after he was profiled for This American Life in 2011.

Guest:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, Missouri Rep. DaRon McGee (D-Kansas City) talks about gun legislation, libraries, and ethics reform.

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He was a pioneer in the local craft beer and artisanal food movement before those were really a thing. Meet Chuck Magerl, the man who worked to change the liquor laws in Kansas to open the Free State Brewing Company — the first legal brewery in the state after Prohibition.

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Potter's Field

Jun 30, 2016
Anna Sturla / KCUR 89.3

Leeds Cemetery, which is out by I-435, near the stadiums, is a potter's field. Underneath the empty, grassy field are the bodies of people whose families were too poor to pay for funerals.

We explore what happens to unclaimed bodies in Kansas City.

Guests:

  • Gloria Lundy, local resident whose grandfather is buried at Leeds
  • Bridget Anaya, manager, Charter Funerals

 

 

Beth Scupham/Flickr -- CC

Inspired by a new exhibit at Union Station, which features preserved corpses, we explore our relationship with our bodies.

Guests:

Augie Grasis
Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Augie Grasis doesn’t shy away from the label “serial entrepreneur.”

“I guess it’s true from the standpoint that I’ve had a number of startups,” says Grasis, the founder of multiple technology companies in Kansas City. “It’s really what interests me the most and what turns me on the most about life and about commerce. It’s innovating and improving the way things are done.”

Grasis is best known for starting up Handmark, which made content apps for the Palm operating system before expanding to other platforms and being acquired by Sprint in 2013.

The KCMO City Council is debating a $27 million improvement package for the historic Jazz District at 18th and Vine. We look at the ongoing effort to revitalize and enhance the area — and hear why it has special meaning for some Kansas Citians.

Tonight's town hall meeting about the future of 18th and Vine starts at 6 p.m. at Centennial United Methodist Church.

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A look at Brexit and its impact across the globe, including here in KC. What's the professional and personal impact on people in the Midwest, and how will it affect our future?

Guests:

  • Raj Bhala, Associate Dean for International and Comparative Law, Rice Distinguished Professor, KU School of Law
  • Bart Dean, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology at KU
  • Kim Noble, former KCUR announcer
Faith Bemiss / The Sedalia Democrat

In Sedalia, Missouri, Marge Harlan spent $25,000 of her own money to build a "slave cabin." While she meant the cabin to honor the courage and resilience of African-Americans, many in the community, especially people of color, have found the gesture problematic and offensive.

We ask, how do we commemorate history? What is the best way to remember a conflicted and painful past? And who gets to decide?

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Ruth Hartnup/Flickr -- CC

Racism can be difficult to confront, particularly if it appears in a classic children’s book. We explore how diversity was represented in children's literature of the past, and how it's being redefined in the future.

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Last year, we asked our listeners to solve the Kansas School Funding Formula. As news develops around a potential public education shutdown in Kansas, we break out our calculators and enter the Kansas school funding debate. When legislators go back to Topeka next week, what will go into solving the state's toughest math problem?

Hannah Copeland / KCUR 89.3

Saturday night's mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, marked the deadliest shooting on U.S. soil in recent history, with 49 dead and 53 more wounded. The LGBT community wasn't the only community that bore the brunt of this attack — the vast majority of the victims were Latino or Latina, and other people of color. How is Kansas City's local Latino community reacting to the news?

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's Statehouse Blend podcast, we profile the four candidates campaigning in this year's republican gubernatorial primary.

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Anna Sturla / KCUR 89.3

Salads showcase the best produce that summer has to offer. A local chef shows us how to make gado gado, an Indonesian salad with potatoes and peanut sauce, and a food writer talks about the "mystery of flavor." Then, our food critics search out the best salads in Kansas City.

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A update on a proposed retail and residential development in Overland Park that would rival the size of the Plaza.

Guest:

Rick Hellman, freelance journalist

Courtesy of Joshua Hoffine

Joshua Hoffine is a local photographer. He doesn't take your typical wedding or graduation portraits, though — his specialty is "horror photography," and he features his daughters in his photo shoots.

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  We explore the issues related to infertility: Why is there a stigma attached to it, and how some women — and men — are creating communities where they're safe to open up.

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Michael Bentley / Flickr

A quiet debate is raging over liquor licensing laws in the Crossroads District. Does it matter, to the character of a neighborhood, what time bars and restaurants issue that famous last call? If you don't have to go home but you can't stay here, what are your options, and who's making those choices?

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