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

Sydney Llewellyn / KCUR

The federal government of the United States has shutdown.  But, how long will the country go without money budgeted to run its government?

Tim Alamenciak

You may remember when Kansas City was the fashion center of the Midwest—in the 1930's buildings in the Garment District employed thousands of people and made clothing worn all over the country. It may have been 80 years since we had that stature in the world, but one annual event may slowly, but surely be putting our town back on the fashion map. KC Fashion Week starts Thursday, October 3rd and has events through Sunday, October 6th.

Buying A Home In Today's Market

Sep 25, 2013
Laura Ziegler / KCUR

It’s the most important investment—and the largest asset—that most people will ever make and own. It’s volatile in price, difficult to manage, and subject to sudden and total loss. For many, it’s also their hope of a secure future. 

App Development In Kansas City

Sep 24, 2013
Ilamont.com / Flickr - CC

Imagine you go to the doctor's office, and instead of being handed a clipboard with the usual paperwork, they hand you a tablet. You fill in all of the information digitally and send it via the tablet to their office database. Then, with that same tablet, you have a list of digital magazines to browse instead of making a trip to the magazine stand. Suddenly, the paper trail you used to leave during your doctor's visit has been made completely digital. With new app technology, this could become the norm in many business settings.

Victor1558 / Flickr - CC

    

There are multiple tests out there that reduce your personality to a number, a one-word description, or a series of letters. Some say they’ve helped match the right person to the right job—maybe even to the right colleagues or romantic partners. But is personality simple enough to fit in such a box, or could a personality label lead people to change it, or live into it?

Is Kansas City Bike Friendly?

Sep 19, 2013

For most of us getting around Kansas City is a matter of finding the road with the least traffic and no construction. But for some of us, the problems are more elemental than that: Is there a bike lane or will I have to dodge traffic? Can I walk to get my groceries or go to the doctor? What do I do if I don’t have a car? 

Ethan Prater / Flickr - CC

We all know that the baby boomer generation is getting older. As the baby boomers enter into their  sixties and seventies, our population will experience a significant age shift. In fact, the number of residents over age 65 will double over the next 20 years, and community members over the age of 80 will be increasing at an even faster rate. But what happens when Grandma and Grandpa can no longer drive, or even live on their own?

What Is A Bitcoin?

Sep 17, 2013
Gastev / Flickr - CC

In a society where we pay bills online, transfer money via the internet, and can buy virtually anything on the web, would you be surprised to know that a currency has been developed that only exists in digital form?

BitCoin is a currency invented not by a government, or a large bank, but by a person or perhaps few people, nobody actually knows exactly who.  It has no government backing, no tie to any precious metal and is entirely unregulated.  However, on the afternoon of Monday, September 16 the exchange rate for one Bitcoin was more than 126 dollars.

What Does It Mean To Be A Man?

Sep 12, 2013
Caza_no_7 / Flickr - CC

If you were to imagine a man in your mind's eye, what would he look like? What would he sound like? How would he act? In Western culture, the idea of a man provokes thoughts of ruggedness, strength, leadership-- someone unemotional, but powerful. While some of these characteristics are true, they could not apply to every man. But are they altogether outdated, or even false? 

Ken Lund / Flickr - CC

Two bills recently vetoed by Governor Nixon are on the table for the Missouri General Assembly. Republicans are seeking to overthrow the governor's vetoes on two separate bills dealing with tax cuts and gun control.

House Bill 253 is a tax cut proposal for individuals, business owners, and corporations. The bill seeks to make Missouri more competitive with Kansas and to a more tax-friendly state. Governor Nixon vetoed House Bill 253 because he said it would gut funding for education and social services.

In earlier generations, getting an education meant going to class, sitting in a classroom or lecture hall listening to the professor, and participating in discussions. Now, something as simple as raising your hand in class, or asking your neighbor to borrow a pen could become obsolete. In the growing phenomena of online education, thousands of students are logging into class, and instead of going to a physical building, they participate from the comfort of their home or local coffee shop.

World Bank Photo Collection / Flickr -- Creative Commons

Micro-loans are becoming something of a trend now. Anyone can loan as little as $25 to $50 to someone across the globe they've never met. Bob Harris, a man who saw poverty in the world and pledged to himself to do something about it. 


Oftentimes these loans go to small businessman and businesswomen who need the money to get started or finish a project.  For instance, an individual may need a small loan to open up a new shop, or buy capital for a business they want to start, but they simply don't have the money.

Flickr / Creative Commons

  Oftentimes, a neighborhood is formed around a school. A school can be much more than a place where our children go Monday through Friday, but rather it becomes a community space for all. However, when this community space does not exist in a neighborhood, families either have to deal with the inconveniences, or take matters into their own hands to create a school in their neighborhood. 

Kayti Doolittle

When we hear about the Middle East and the cradle of Islam, many will no doubt think of news or politics-- about a war  in Syria or civil unrest in Egypt. But that would be only a partial picture. There are major cultural and artistic elements that have been created within the region.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center / Flickr -- Creative Commons

The Washington Post's Joel Achenbach joins Central Standard to discuss the precarious state of space exploration and the recent purchase of the Post by Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com.

Guest:

How would you investigate what one itinerant, unemployed Jewish man's life was like 2,000 years ago?  The record keeping wasn't so great, there's not even microfiche to consult.  It turns out there is a historical evidence to suggest that parts of the biblical account of Jesus' life are highly speculative.  Dr. Reza Aslan joins us to discuss what it is we can know and speculate about Jesus and the social, political and physical environment in which he lived.

Guest:

Shawnee Mission School District and Kansas City Public Schools

Budgets, common core, accreditation and aspirations for the year will be some of the topics of our conversation.  Superintendents Jim Hinson from the Shawnee Mission School District and Stephen Green from Kansas City Public Schools  join in a discussion of the pressing issues facing our schools and taking questions and comments from the community.

Elmwood Cemetery Loses A Longtime Friend

Aug 6, 2013
Bruce Mathews / Elmwood Cemetery

Family and friends come and go as they pay their respects at Elmwood Cemetery, but one visitor lived on the grassy grounds her whole life. 

Ella was a two-year-old deer born in the courtyard of one of Elmwood's mausoleums. The volunteers who run the cemetery, located at Truman Road and Hardesty Avenue, say they don't know exactly where she came from. About three months after she was born, her mother strayed away from the grounds and was struck by a car.

The Psychology Of Branding

Aug 6, 2013
Adam Barhan / Flickr

Logos and brands are all around us, and we probably recognize more of them than we think. But what goes into creating those familiar symbols? And how do they work to make us buy the products they represent? Today on Central Standard, we'll talk label design.

jessleecuizon / Flickr -- Creative Commons

Has a stranger ever helped you in a moment of need or brightened your day with a a small interaction that you can't forget?  Have you ever been that stranger to somebody else?

Central Standard explores why someone might be kind when they have nothing to gain in return and what impact that can have on people's lives and the world. Our guests include Suzy Hall, co-organizer of Kinder KC and Dr. James Doty, director for Center for Compassion and Altruism Research Education (CCARE).

DancingChimp / Imgur

Perhaps you've seen kids - or some adults -  busily playing away on their computers or Xbox, moving through a virtual world of blocks, digging and building.

Maybe you've wondered: What exactly is that game?  

Chris Samuel / Flickr -- Creative Commons

Right now our government is mining data about your conversations--who you called, when you called them, how long you talked, and who you’ve emailed. It’s all technically approved by law, but for many it’s deeply unsettling.

On this Central Standard we take a step backward and inward from the controversy surrounding domestic surveillance and look at the psychology of secrets and privacy with psychologist Bruce Liese.

Molecular mixology is a scientific approach to preparing cocktails that uses alcohol in unique ways.

These mixologists use chemistry to create cocktails with different tastes, textures and phases of matter. Arielle Johnson, a Ph.D candidate at UC Davis and a Flavor Chemist at Nordic Food Lab along with author Kevin Liu explained the science behind molecular mixology. And for those not as fluent in chemistry as Johnson and Liu, Scott Tipton of the Kill Devil Club in Kansas City created some drinks in studio to explain to the common bar goer. 

Anthony Cramp / Wikimedia--CC

From its inception, Americans have celebrated the Fourth of July with grand fireworks displays.

John Adams envisioned fireworks as part of the festivities before the Declaration of Independence was even signed, and the first commemorative Fourth of July featured a display that began and ended with 13 rockets.

AnnCam / Flickr -- Creative Commons

Summer is here, the humid days and the hot nights. The nesting robins and the walks through nature sanctuaries. The dead armadillos by the side of the road, yes, it’s all part of Nature in the City.

Larry Rizzo, Natural History Biologist at the Missouri Department of Conservation in Kansas City, and Mark McKellar, formerly with the Nature Conservancy and the Audobon Society and now owner of the Backyard Bird Center in the Northland, join us to explore these issues and more on this summer edition of Nature in the City.

Wallyg / Flickr -- Creative Commons

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional.  Section 4 is the part of the bill requiring certain states, mostly in the south, to get federal approval for changes to voting regulations.  Professor Allan Rostron provides an initial reaction and potential implication to this ruling.

Doby Photography / NPR

NPR’s Talk of the Nation ends a 21-year run this week. And that means the end of an era and a new start for its longtime host Neal Conan.  We talk with Neal Conan about the change of seasons in midday talk.

Ryan Schuessler / KCUR

Friday, June 21 will be the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. And for one religious group it's a time to celebrate the Oak King falling to the Holly King.

We take a look at the often misunderstood Wiccan religion. Recently they’ve made inroads into popular acceptance, but practitioners still say there's more to be done.  Owen Davies, author of the book America Bewitched,  joins two local Wiccan practitioners, "J" and "Thorgo" to discuss the Wiccan faith locally and internationally.

Beautiful Lily/Flickr--CC

The U.S. House is set to take up the farm bill this week, after the Senate passed its version of the bill in early June. Both bills include about $500 billion in spending over five years. Few pieces of legislation can produce such sharp divisions, even by Washington standards—but few could have such immediate, significant impact on so many Americans.

Justin Hobson / WikiCommons

Last month, as we all know, a series of tornadoes devastated areas around Oklahoma City, with dozens killed and hundreds injured over several days of storms.

Among the casualties were three men who were well known in the meteorological community and, indeed, to television audiences: Storm chasers Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras and Carl Young were doing interviews and sending back footage the day of the EF-3 El Reno storm that changed direction on them and killed them.

In light of these tragic events we wonder, just what is a storm chaser anyway?

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