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. 


9:51 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Legendary Kansas City Radio Man Dan Verbeck To Retire

Dan Verbeck (right) with KCUR news director, Frank Morris.
Credit 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.

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Missouri Statehouse
3:36 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

LIVE BLOG: Missouri State Of The State 2014

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon will deliver his sixth State of the State address Tuesday.
Credit Courtesy /

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.

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Missouri Statehouse
8:20 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Missouri House Speaker Urging Medical Malpractice Caps

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.

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7:45 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

READ: Gov. Brownback Delivers 2014 Kansas State Of The State Address

Credit 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:

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11:02 am
Wed January 8, 2014

KCPT's 'The Bridge' Brings More Local Music To Kansas City Airwaves

Credit 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.

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9:29 am
Fri January 3, 2014

R. Crosby Kemper Jr. Dies At 86

Kemper Jr. displayed a lifelong passion for the arts.
Credit 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.

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10:20 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Remembering Kansas Mariachi Pioneer, Teresa Cuevas

Teresa Cuevas plays her violin in a 2008 photo.
Credit 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.

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11:17 am
Tue December 31, 2013's Most-Viewed Stories From 2013

In 2013, Kansas' Flint Hills were considered one of the top iconic drives in the United States by Smarter Travel.
Credit 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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Business & Tech
2:52 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Brace Yourself For A Faster Sprint In 2014, CEO Says

Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint Corp.
Credit John Taylor / Wikimedia-CC

Sprint Corp. CEO Dan Hesse won't confirm reports that his company may one day merge with wireless carrier T-Mobile, but he did have lots to say about Sprint's future in an interview with Marketplace host David Brancaccio.

Hesse told Brancaccio 2013 was a year of rebuilding, and that he thinks Sprint customers will consider worth it when those efforts are completed in 2014.

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Business & Tech
9:50 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Kansas On Bloomberg's List Of Most Innovative States

Kansas, in all its prairie glory, ranks among Bloomberg's most innovative states.
Credit Roy Montgomery / Flickr--CC

Kansas is among the most innovative states in the nation, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The state came in 18th out of 20.

States were ranked on the number of STEM professionals in the state, science and technology degree holders, percentage of utility patents and a three-year analysis of productivity change, among other things. 

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12:49 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Last Part Of KanCare Overhaul Delayed, Again

Kansas will not be allowed to move forward with the plan to move long-term services for the state's intellectually and developmentally disabled to the KanCare program.

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3:12 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Winter Storm Expected To Bring Ice, Snow To Kansas City Metro

Winter weather is expected to move across the Kansas City area this weekend, likely bringing freezing rain, snow and ice.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the Kansas City metro. Ice accumulations on Saturday are expected to be less than an inch, Saturday night could see up to eight inches of snow.

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2:59 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Kansas City Announces $100K For Art At Streetcar Stops

This streetcar stop in Portland, Ore. features public art.
Credit brx0 / Flickr--CC

The city of Kansas City, Mo., will commission $100,000 of public art for the first phase of the streetcar line, and has announced a request for proposals. 

In a release Friday, the city said it is looking for professional artists or artist-led teams to create proposals for art projects to be displayed at selected streetcar stops. The release says while all proposals will be considered, the city is looking for ideas that integrate the artwork into the infrastructure of the stops.

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9:29 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Remembering The Kansas Citians We Lost In 2013

Longtime Kansas City journalist and KCUR talk show host, Walt Bodine, died this year at the age of 92.
Credit KCUR

As 2013 comes to a close, we remember some of the local public figures who died this year. This list is by no means exhaustive, but recognizes some of the most prominent people who were lost in the philanthropic, arts and media communities of the Kansas City region.

As always, share your comments (or additions to the list) below.

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Cops & Crime
1:31 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Man Arrested In Plot To Bomb Wichita Airport

An employee of the Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita, Kan., has been arrested in what Kansas U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said was a plan to bomb the airport.

Terry Lee Loewen was identified as an alleged plotter earlier this year, according to the FBI special agent-in-charge at the Kansas City regional office, Michael Kaske.

Authorities say 58-year-old Loewen thought he was driving a car with a bomb onto airport tarmac when arrested Friday. No one was injured.

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9:26 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Winter Weather Closes Schools And Cancels Activities

Updated 3:04 p.m.

Rain is expected to continue this afternoon with snow tonight and overnight, according to an update from the National Weather Service.

In the latest report, NWS forecasters say: "Light snow accumulations will be possible with a dusting to 3" in the local area. Snow will end by daybreak Saturday, with a chilly day anticipated."

A winter weather advisory remains in effect for the metro area through 9 a.m. on Saturday.

School and community closings (Saturday)

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10:52 am
Fri December 6, 2013

KCUR Bids Farewell To Long-Time Announcer, Kim Noble

Credit KCUR

After 19-years of working the airwaves for KCUR, announcer Kim Noble has decided to leave the station to devote more time to civic interests. She also plans to carve out time for the occasional sunny, warm, tropical beach.

Noble started working at KCUR part-time on weekends, that position turned into a full-time announcing gig as the station’s midday host.

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1:58 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Missouri Has The Happiest Cities, According To Instagram

St. Louis and Kansas City topped a list of the 20 happiest cities in the United States, based off of an analysis of Instagram photos.
Credit KCUR

Missouri's two largest cities sit at the top of a list of the 20 happiest cities in the U.S., compiled by startup company, Jetpac.

St. Louis came in as the happiest city, based off of an analysis of images from social media site Instagram. Kansas City, Mo., came in at No. 2.

According to Business Insider, Jetpac has been analyzing millions of photos uploaded to Instagram to uncover trends in the United States.

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1:05 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Your Guide To Getting On The Sporting Kansas City Bandwagon

Sporting KC fans hold up scarves in "The Cauldron" at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.
Credit ryanknapp / Flickr--Creative Commons

You've probably heard by now that our very own Major League Soccer team, Sporting Kansas City, has made it to the MLS championship game, called the MLS Cup. The game will be played against Real  Salt Lake (pronounced ree-AL) at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., on Saturday afternoon.

Sporting KC last played in a MLS final in 2004, losing to D.C. United. Kansas City, then known as the Wizards, won the MLS Cup in 2000.

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Cops & Crime
9:20 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Bomb Threat Reported At KCMO City Hall

Updated, 12:33 p.m.

The city has announced that they expect to be able to reopen City Hall aound 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. Until then, police officers will continue to search the building floor by floor to determine if a threat still exists.

The original story starts below:

Multiple news organizations are reporting a bomb threat was called into Kansas City, Mo., City Hall Tuesday morning. KCTV5 reports the call was made to 911 at 8:04 a.m. 

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9:20 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Your Guide To Interviewing Loved Ones On The 'National Day Of Listening'

Credit StoryCorps

Since November 2008, the public radio community has been celebrating the day after Thanksgiving as a National Day of Listening.

The holiday is the brain child of StoryCorps founder, Dave Isay, and urges people to take advantage of time with friends and family and record interviews with loved ones.

You don't need to be a radio professional or have a studio to participate, but these tips should help you get started:

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2:57 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Kansas City Scores Best And Worst On LGBT Equality Index

Credit Wikimedia -- Creative Commons

Kansas City has simultaneously achieved the lowest and highest scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index scorecard.

Kansas City, Kan., earned a zero on the scorecard, which ranks city laws, policies, benefits and services that work to positively impact residents in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

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6:00 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Get Out Your Camera, The Word Of The Year Is 'Selfie'

KCUR staffers, in all their selfie glory.
Credit Briana O'Higgins + staff / KCUR

The word of the year, according to Oxford Dictionaries, is selfie. The company announced the 2013 selection on Monday in a press release.

According to the release, selfie can be tracked to 2002, where it was used in an Australian online forum.

Oxford claims the word's linguistic productivity is already evident by numerous spin-offs, like welfie (workout selfie) and drelfie (drunk selfie).

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10:28 am
Thu November 14, 2013

WATCH LIVE: Obama To Address Nation On Affordable Care Act

President Barack Obama is expected to address the nation at 10:45 a.m. 

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1:16 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

WATCH: Welders Begin Work On Kansas City's Streetcar Line

Workers began laying track in the Crossroads district of Kansas City.
Credit Streetcar Neighbors / Facebook page

Kansas City, Mo. resident David Johnson on Tuesday posted a video that he believes is the first weld of the city's new streetcar tracks. The video was taken just north of 16th and Main streets in the Crossroads.

The streetcar will eventually run down Main Street from Union Station to the River Market when it is completed, which is expected by mid-2015.

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2:26 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Chiefs Star Player Arrested For Marijuana Possession

Kansas City Chiefs star wide receiver, Dwayne Bowe, was arrested Sunday in Riverside, Mo. 

Riverside police pulled over a black Audi A8 for going 48 mph in a 35 mph zone. When the officer approached the vehicle he said he could smell marijuana.

A release from the Riverside Police Department says the officer was part of a K-9 unit and a dog was able to lead the officer to a black backpack that contained a substance that looked like marijuana. Along with the substance was the wallet of vehicle owner and Chiefs player, Dwayne Bowe.

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10:03 am
Thu November 7, 2013

See Which Missouri Legislators Took Gifts From Lobbyists

Credit St. Louis Public Radio/NPR

In partnership with NPR, St. Louis Public Radio has created a new website to keep track of all the gifts Missouri state lawmakers have been receiving from companies and organizations that have lobbyists at the capitol in Jefferson City. And, the information is searchable and downloadable. 

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7:34 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

November 5 Election Results, By The Numbers

Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

Updated 5:36 a.m.

The ballot issues Tuesday were on the Missouri side of the Kansas City area, including the largest tax increase in Jackson County in more than two decades. Voter turnout was, as expected, light.

The results below are unofficial until certified.

Here are the latest numbers:

Blue Springs, Mo. Parks Sales Tax:
In Blue Springs, voters defeated a permanent half-cent sales tax that would have raised $3 million a year for parks-related projects, including community recreation centers.

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Business & Tech
2:07 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Boulevard President Sells Majority Of Company To Belgian Brewery

Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR-FM

The Kansas City Business Journal reports that Kansas City-based CEO of Boulevard Brewing Co., John

McDonald has sold the majority interest in the company to Belgian brewery Duvel Moortagat.

McDonald started Boulevard in 1989 and brought the company to national acclaim. McDonald told the Kansas City Business journal that he turned 60 this year and needed to figure out what he was going to do with the brewery.

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KC Currents
11:11 am
Thu September 5, 2013

157 Years After The Steamboat Arabia Sank, Museum Of Cargo Thrives

Firearms recovered from the steamboat Arabia on display in the museum.
Credit Courtesy / Arabia Steamboat Museum

One hundred fifty-seven years ago Thursday the Arabia, a steamboat traveling the Missouri River westward from St. Louis, sank. The actual event was relatively minor, the only casualty was an mule that was tied to the deck — all 130 passengers were able to make it ashore safely.

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