Briana O'Higgins

Digital Content Editor

A California native, Briana comes to KCUR by way of KMUW in Wichita, Kan. and KUSP in Santa Cruz, Calif.

She started working in public radio as an intern at WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio to fulfill a degree requirement while studying at Antioch College.

She has a graduate certificate from the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine and a Master of Arts in Journalism and Documentary Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. 

Ways To Connect

Courtesy / KCPT

KCUR and Kansas City public television station KCPT announced a news collaboration on Thursday.

The collaboration is not a merger, the two public media stations said in a statement, but rather a pooling of resources and a commitment to partner on reporting and engagement projects.

The initial focus will be on health and agriculture reporting, along with a Kansas City launch of the Public Insight Network (PIN), a nationwide database that helps connect journalists to sources. 

Photoguyinmo / Flickr-CC

Kansas City made the next cut in the running for the 2016 Republican National Convention, the GOP announced Wednesday.

Denver, Las Vegas, Cincinnati and Cleveland are also still contenders for the convention. Pheonix and Columbus were eliminated.

Shortly after the announcement, Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Sly James said the city would have no problem accommodating the expected 40 thousand conventioneers.

Missouri Valley Special Collections / Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

Eds note: This look at the Troost corridor is  part of KCUR's months-long examination of how geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City. KCUR will go Beyond Our Borders and spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism. 

We will share the history of these lines, how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what’s being done to bridge or dissolve them. 

Mudkipz_KGM / Flickr--CC

You may have caught wind of a study conducted about a decade ago claiming the state of Kansas was indeed flatter than a pancake. 

Using the 'flattening ratio,' researchers in the geography departments at the University of Texas and Arizona State University concluded the topography of Kansas was flatter than that of a "well-cooked pancake" from the International House of Pancakes (IHOP)

Janet Rogers / UMKC Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

  The University of Missouri-Kansas City announced a $7 million grant Monday to establish its School of Nursing and Health Studies as a national HIV-prevention resource center.

The award comes from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is the largest in the school's history.

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

Longtime Kansas City journalist Dan Verbeck retires from KCUR Friday.

Verbeck started his broadcast news career more than 40 years ago. He spent most of those years in Kansas City. 

His departure signals the end of an era for radio listeners in the city, who have heard him on KMBZ, KMBR, KCMO and most recently on KCUR.

Dan sat on the other side of the microphone this week to talk about his career, his favorite stories and what he will miss about reporting.

Pop Culture Geek / Wikimedia -- Creative Commons

Ok nerds. We know you’re descending on Kansas City this weekend for the epic Planet Comicon conference featuring science fiction celebrities like William Shatner, Sylvester McCoy and almost the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

But in between catching glimpses of Michael Dorn, Wil Wheaton, LeVar Burton and the blue Power Ranger, we thought you may want to eat, drink and scope out our fine city.

Here we present you the nerd’s guide to a weekend in Kansas City:

Only 12 families with a total of 23 students applied to be transferred out of the unaccredited Kansas City Public Schools at the district's expense, the Kansas City Star reports.

KCUR

Gina Kaufmann, a veteran broadcaster and former co-host of The Walt Bodine Show on KCUR, will return to the station as host of the 10 a.m. weekday program, Central Standard.

Earlier this year, KCUR announced the merger of Central Standard and their weekly newsmagazine, KC Currents.

Courtesy / Kauffman Foundation

The Board of Directors of the Ewing Marion Kauffman School announced Monday that Hannah Lofthus will be the next CEO.

Lofthus is the founding principal and chief academic officer of the charter school and will transition into the role of CEO over the next several months.

In a release, board chairman Robert Strom said the promotion puts the strongest and best leader for the school in place while providing continuity of leadership.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

  Updated 7:19 p.m.

Snowy, winter weather made another visit to the Kansas City area over the weekend, bringing multiple inches of snow and subzero temperatures to the region. 

Snow packed roads, ice and continuing temperatures below freezing prompted many area schools to cancel or delay classes for Monday. The list below will be updated as closures and cancelations come in.

KCUR

This week will mark the one-year anniversary of the explosion at JJ's Restaurant on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo.

As we look back, we want to know your memories of those tragic hours and days, and what has stayed with you.

Tell KCUR: Where were you when the explosion occurred? What about the tragedy sticks with you?

Whether you were a regular at JJ's or had never been, we want to know your thoughts as we remember the disaster that happened the night of Feb. 19, 2013.

supersum / Flickr--CC

Figure skating and ice dancing are the two Winter Olympic sports that combine sport with art. The choreographed performances show not only elite skill and athleticism, but also artistry and emotion. 

Practiced inside on a standard sized rink, figure skating is a sport that is easily practiced in the Kansas City area.

Heather Prewitt

Updated: Wednesday, 7:49 p.m.

Here we go again. Some school districts across the Kansas City metro are calling for another snow day Thursday as a result of snow, ice and bitterly cold temperatures.

The following schools have canceled or delayed classes for Thursday, Feb. 6:

Lasaro Abalos

During the snow storm that swept across the Kansas City metro Tuesday, KMBC cameraman Lasaro Abalos was on assignment to gather shots of the snow. While he was out gathering shots for television, Abalos decided to make something a little different and slower as a side project.

"I have a 4 and 6-year-old and I never get a chance to enjoy the snow fall  with them because I'm always covering it for news," Abalos wrote in an email. "Seeing the excitement in my kids eyes when it snows made me see the beauty of a snowfall."

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Heavy snow blanketed the Kansas City metro Tuesday, bringing a snow day for most students and a holiday (or work-from-home day) for many adults.

We rounded up photos in the slideshow above from KCUR employees for a glimpse of what is going on across the metro.

We also compiled photos from social media users in the region, you can see their photos below:

Updated: Tuesday, 9:34 p.m.

A winter storm moved across the Kansas City metro Tuesday bringing heavy snow to the region. Forecasters expect snow to stop falling by early Wednesday, but the amount of snow will close some schools for the second consecutive day.

A winter storm that is expected to move across the Kansas City metro area Tuesday has prompted the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDot) to urge people to stay home, if possible.

"This storm is forecast to shape up much like the heavy snow we faced nearly a year ago," said MoDOT engineer Dan Niec, in a release Monday.

Niec said in February 2013 many employers sent workers home midday after they realized how heavy the snow was falling, clogging highways and interstates and bringing snow removal efforts to a standstill.

KCUR

Updated: Tuesday, 7:18 a.m.

A storm is expected to move across the Kansas City area Tuesday bringing moderate to heavy snowfall.

A winter storm warning has been issued for 6 a.m. Tuesday until at least 9 a.m. Wednesday. Forecasters expect 6-10 inches of snow, with the heaviest accumulations across the Kansas City metro and the northern part of Missouri.

Due to the severe weather, the following schools have canceled classes:

Hello Turkey Toe / Flickr--CC

A freshman state representative from the St. Louis area has introduced a bill in the House that would make the high-five the official greeting in the state of Missouri.

Democratic Rep. Courtney Allen Curtis, of Berkeley, introduced House Bill 1624 earlier this week.

Saint Louis Public Radio and the Beacon

A new website unveiled Tuesday will track the life of some bills introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate during the 2014 legislative session.

MOBillTracker.org, created by Saint Louis Public Radio and the Beacon, will track bills in five categories: health; elections and ethics; guns; education; jobs; and the economy. There is a sixth category that will track bills that have seen recent action.

Southwest Airlines announced Tuesday that it would begin nonstop service to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C., beginning Feb. 1.

Southwest received authority to serve the route after filing a petition with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The request was backed by the Kansas City Mayor Sly James.

In a release from the Kansas City Aviation Department, James said the announcement solidifies Kansas City's reputation as a top-tier, centrally located travel destination.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Veteran Kansas City radio newsman, Dan Verbeck announced his retirement Monday. Verbeck has been a reporter in the Kansas City region for 40 years. Since 2008, Verbeck has served as a general assignment reporter at KCUR.

Previously, Verbeck worked at KMBZ 980 AM for 23 years, where he was well known for his signature signoff: "Cruiser 980 ... clear."

"I have always admired Dan as a hard-boiled radio newsman who has a poetic and empathetic approach to the people in his stories," said KCUR News Director, Frank Morris.

Courtesy / jaynixon.com

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon delivered his sixth State of the State address Tuesday evening at the Statehouse in Jefferson City, Mo. He presented his proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, and called for an increase of $278 million to K-12 schools and a freeze on undergraduate tuition. 

His speech was followed by the Republican response, delivered by House speaker Tim Jones of Eureka.

Saint Louis Public Radio and the Beacon live-blogged the speech. You can follow along below.

The Speaker of the Missouri House is pushing lawmakers to restore caps on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Missouri law created a $350,000 cap on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. But that cap was tossed out in 2012 by the Missouri Supreme Court.

House Speaker Tim Jones says without the cap, millions of dollars could be shifted from patient care to legal defense costs.

state of Kansas

Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback delivered his 2014 State of the State address Wednesday night at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. He called on the state to institute all-day kindergarten and allocate funds to address the housing shortage in rural areas and to focus on water needs in the state.

You can read the full text of Gov. Brownback's address here:

90.9 The Bridge

A new Kansas City noncommercial radio station that features local music officially launched this week.

Kansas City's public television station, KCPT, bought KTGB "The Bridge" last May, and ownership was officially transferred last month.

After KCPT's purchase, studios for The Bridge were moved to the KCPT headquarters in Kansas City, Mo. Previously, they were housed in Warrensburg, Mo., where the station was owned and operated by the University of Central Missouri.

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Kansas City banker and philanthropist, R. Crosby Kemper Jr. has died at the age of 86.

Kemper was best known for leading Kansas City-based UMB Financial Corp. He died Thursday in Indian Wells, Calif.

His son R. Crosby Kemper III says he was there enjoying the great weather over the holidays.

Kemper Jr. was born in Kansas City on Feb. 22, 1927 to R. Crosby Kemper Sr. and Enid Jackson Kemper. He worked in banking for more than 50 years, starting at his father's City National Bank as a night transit clerk and eventually becoming president in 1959.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Mariachi musician and founder of a groundbreaking all-female mariachi band, Teresa Cuevas, died late last year at the age of 93.

Cuevas founded Mariachi Estrella with seven other women from her church choir in 1980. They became a regional phenomenon, trading the mariachis' traditional black pants for long maroon shirts. The band played shows all over Kansas.

Edwin Olson / Flickr--CC

The Maryville rape case story, originally reported by KCUR in July, topped our most-viewed web content list by a landslide this year. The case garnered national attention this fall after the Kansas City Star's story was picked up by the aggregator news site, Gawker. Also near the top was the merger between Chinese company, SoftBank Corp., and Kansas City's own Sprint Corp. 

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