David Schaper

David Schaper is a NPR National Desk reporter based in Chicago.

In this role, he covers news in Chicago and around the Midwest. Additionally he reports on a broad range of important social, cultural, political, and business issues in the region.

The range of Schaper's reporting has included profiles of service members killed in Iraq, and members of a reserve unit returning home to Wisconsin. He produced reports on the important political issues in key Midwest battleground states, education issues related to "No Child Left Behind," the bankruptcy of United Airlines as well as other aviation and transportation issues, and the devastation left by tornadoes, storms, blizzards, and floods in the Midwest.

Prior to joining NPR, Schaper spent nine years working as an award-winning reporter and editor for Chicago Public Radio's WBEZ-FM. For three years he covered education issues, reporting in-depth on the problems, financial and otherwise, plaguing Chicago's public schools.

In 1996, Schaper was named assistant news editor, managing the station's daily news coverage and editing a staff of six. He continued general assignment reporting, covering breaking news, politics, transportation, housing, sports, and business.

When he left WBEZ, Schaper was the station's political reporter, editor, and a frequent fill-in news anchor and program host. Additionally, he served as a frequent guest panelist on public television's Chicago Tonight and Chicago Week in Review.

Since beginning his career at Wisconsin Public Radio's WLSU-FM, Schaper worked in Chicago as a writer and editor for WBBM-AM and as a reporter and anchor for WXRT-FM. He worked at commercial stations WMAY-AM in Springfield, IL; and WIZM-AM and FM in La Crosse, WI; and at public stations WSSU-FM (now WUIS) and WDCB-FM in in Illinois.

Schaper earned a Bachelor of Science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and an Master of Arts from the University of Illinois-Springfield.

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Europe
7:00 am
Sat July 19, 2014

Airspace Over Ukraine Was Not Considered Unsafe

Originally published on Sat July 19, 2014 7:39 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Most airlines are now diverting their planes away from the Ukrainian-Russian border to avoid the area where the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot-down. The Federal Aviation Administration banned U.S. operations in the air space around Crimea back in April. Aviation authorities in other countries warned about flying through parts of the region, too. But those restricted flight zones are some distance away from where flight 17 went down. NPR's David Schaper reports.

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Around the Nation
6:55 am
Sun July 6, 2014

First Responders Unprepared For Another Train Disaster

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 11:50 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Ever since that Canadian train derailment, first responders all across North America wonder, what if it happens here? And as NPR's David Schaper reports from this side of the border, many say they don't have the training, the equipment or the manpower necessary to respond to an oil train disaster in their cities and towns.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: The images of that fiery blast that incinerated much of Lac-Megantic's downtown last summer still haunt many first responders.

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Around the Nation
3:01 am
Wed July 2, 2014

For Sale: Vacant Lots On Chicago Blocks, Just $1 Each

Sonya Harper picks peppermint she's been growing in a vacant lot on her block in Chicago. With her neighbors, she's hoping to acquire two adjacent overgrown lots under the city's "Large Lot Program" so they can expand the community garden.
David Schaper

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 1:08 pm

Chicago is practically giving away land: vacant lots for just $1 each. The catch? To buy one, you must already own a home on the same block.

Like many U.S. cities, Chicago has struggled with what to do with a growing number of empty lots in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. Efforts to develop affordable housing or urban farms have had some mixed results.

So Chicago officials and community development advocates hope the vacant lot program can help spark a renewal in some of the city's most blighted areas.

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Around the Nation
2:16 am
Thu June 26, 2014

Rainstorms Pummel Upper Midwest, Drowning Resources

Flooding across the Upper Midwest, including Iowa, over the last couple weeks has soaked homes and fields and left local governments scrambling.
Dirk Lammers AP

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 1:28 pm

Heavy rains over the past couple of weeks have rivers rising all across the Upper Midwest, flooding homes, swamping fields and washing out roads.

Fans hum 24/7 as Laura Westra tries to dry out her sopping-wet basement in the small town of Rock Valley, Iowa.

The nearby Rock River, in the northwest corner of the state, swelled last week wider and deeper than anyone can remember.

"We've lived here 45 years, and this is the first time we had water in the basement," Westra says.

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Around the Nation
3:07 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Chicago Gets Out From Under Its History Of Political Patronage

A court-appointed federal monitor will no longer oversee hiring in the city of Chicago. A federal judge ruled that the city has put in place enough safeguards to minimize patronage in Chicago government jobs. It took 45 years of court orders and consent decrees, but political reformers say that patronage, which once built a powerful democratic machine, is slowly becoming a thing of the past.

The Two-Way
4:56 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Chicago 'Heroin Highway' Bust Shows A 'New Face Of Organized Crime'

Authorities say the drug operation allowed customers to pay at one location, pick up the heroin at another and be back on the expressway within minutes.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Authorities say they've broken up a major heroin and crack cocaine distribution ring in Chicago.

A joint federal and local task force that includes the DEA, FBI, Chicago police and other law enforcement agencies arrested and charged more than two dozen gang members who allegedly supplied a significant amount of heroin to customers coming from the city and suburbs.

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The Two-Way
4:27 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Illinois Lawmaker Found Guilty Of Accepting $7,000 Payoff

Illinois state Rep. Derrick Smith (center) speaks to reporters at the federal building Tuesday after a jury convicted him of bribery.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 5:17 pm

In a case in which some observers suggest the FBI may have gone too far to snare a politician in a bribery scheme, a jury has convicted an Illinois lawmaker of corruption.

The verdict against State Rep. Derrick Smith relates to the then-freshman representative's acceptance in 2012 of a $7,000 payoff from an FBI informant.

The jury agreed with the prosecution that Smith abused his office for personal gain. The defense had argued that the representative repeatedly refused the bribe before finally relenting and that the undercover sting amounted to entrapment.

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Around the Nation
6:33 am
Thu May 29, 2014

NPR Reporter Witnesses One Of Chicago's Latest Shootings

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 1:33 pm

Gun violence in Chicago is so common in some neighborhoods that the daily reports of shootings can seem like little more than numbers. Our reporter saw the dangers of Chicago's South Side firsthand.

News
3:04 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Northwestern Players Cast Union Vote — But Results Will Have To Wait

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 6:15 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

It's a historic day on the campus of Northwestern University. Football players there became the first college athletes in this country to vote on whether to unionize. The results may not be known for some time. The National Labor Relations Board is reviewing Northwestern's appeal of an earlier ruling to allow this union vote to take place. NPR's David Schaper reports.

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Sports
4:39 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Chicago Celebrates A Century Of Baseball At Wrigley Field

The view inside Wrigley Field during a 1959 Cubs game. The stadium was built in 1914 and celebrates its centennial this year.
AP

Originally published on Fri April 4, 2014 7:22 am

When the first pitch is thrown between the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, it will mark the start of the 100th professional baseball season at iconic Wrigley Field.

The ball park on Chicago's North Side, known as the Friendly Confines, opened as the home of the Chicago Federals 100 years ago this month.

The Cubs moved there two years later, and in all that time the Cubs have never won a World Series. There hasn't even been a World Series game played at Wrigley since the end of World War II.

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Sports
4:51 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

NLRB Sides With College Football Players Hoping To Unionize

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 7:24 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

A ruling by the National Labor Relations Board today could really shake up big-money college sports. The board took the first step in favor of allowing Northwestern University's football players to unionize. A regional director for the board ruled that these college athletes meet the definition of university employees under federal law.

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News
3:13 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Off Australia, Searchers Find Possible Clues To Airliner Mystery

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 5:20 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

As morning breaks over the Indian Ocean, crews are searching for objects in the water that could be debris from a missing Malaysian Airlines jet. Australian satellites spotted two objects: one that appears to be almost 80 feet long, the other about 15 feet long. They were located way out at sea in an area of the ocean about 1,500 miles southwest of Perth, Australia.

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Business
3:31 am
Thu March 20, 2014

FAA Review Finds Dreamliner 'Fundamentally Sound'

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 5:37 am

A review by the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing has concluded that the troubled 787 known as the Dreamliner is safe.

Around the Nation
5:35 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

A Terrible Winter Wreaks Havoc On Roads, Pipes And City Budgets

Potholes on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive, one of which is about half-a-car-length long and at least a foot deep. The city of Chicago says it has filled an estimated 240,000 potholes this winter, 100,000 more than last winter, at a cost of more than $2.8 million.
David Schaper NPR

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 5:43 pm

Bitter cold has returned to parts of the Midwest, mid-Atlantic and Northeast, following another heavy snowstorm that left 1 to 2 feet of snow from Ohio to New England.

And when all this snow finally melts, it'll expose the physical toll of this brutal winter: potholes, broken water mains, collapsed catch basins and other infrastructure problems.

"This winter's crazy, crazy busy," says John Polishak, a foreman for the Chicago Department of Water Management. "Everybody's been working 16 hours a day, seven days a week. It's exhausting."

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Business
2:22 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Amtrak Fights Big Oil For Use Of The Rails

Amtrak trains on the Empire Builder route, which stops in Williston, N.D., have been facing long delays.
Shannon Stapleton Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 11:03 am

Oil business in North Dakota is creating some big headaches for Amtrak travelers. Trains on the popular Empire Builder route between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest are often delayed for hours.

One reason for the congestion is an influx of trains hauling crude oil across the Northern Plains.

The delays are becoming so bad that a passenger group now wants the U.S. transportation secretary to intervene.

Frozen Before Ice Fishing

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Around the Nation
6:00 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

String Of Oil Train Crashes Prompts Push For Safety Rules

A fireball goes up at the site of an oil train derailment in Casselton, N.D., in December.
Bruce Crummy AP

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 6:29 pm

The National Transportation Safety Board is calling for the swift enactment of tough new standards on trains carrying crude oil. And in an unprecedented move, the NTSB made its recommendations jointly with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

With the huge increase in oil shipped by train across North America, the agencies warn another major disaster could be looming.

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Law
4:41 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Documents Reveal Decades Of Child Abuse Among Some Chicago Priests

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 6:55 pm

Papers documenting allegation of sexual abuse by priests in the Chicago Archdiocese were released to the public today by victims' attorneys. The documents cover only 30 of at least 65 priests for whom the Chicago church says it has substantiated claims of child abuse. The papers, put online, were made available through settlements between Church and victims' lawyers. Church officials said most of the abuse occurred before 1988, none after 1996, and that all were ultimately reported to authorities.

Environment
6:19 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

The Upside Of The Bitter Cold: It Kills Bugs That Kill Trees

Tom Tiddens, supervisor of plant health care at the Chicago Botanic Garden, displays bark with beetle larvae.
David Schaper NPR

While many of us may prefer to never again see temperatures drop below zero like they did earlier this week across the country, the deep freeze is putting warm smiles on the faces of many entomologists.

That's because it may have been cold enough in some areas to freeze and kill some damaging invasive species of insects, including the tree-killing emerald ash borer.

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Around the Nation
3:21 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Oil Company Looks To Great Lakes As Shipping Demand Booms

A company proposes shipping crude oil by barge across Lake Superior to keep up with the booming supply from North Dakota and Canada.
Jack Rendulich AP

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 6:15 pm

North Dakota and western Canada are producing crude oil faster than it can be shipped to refineries.

Rail car manufacturers can't make new tank cars fast enough, and new pipeline proposals face long delays over environmental concerns. So energy companies are looking for new ways to get the heavy crude to market.

One proposed solution is to ship the oil by barge over the Great Lakes — but it's a controversial one.

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Around the Nation
4:33 pm
Sat December 7, 2013

N.Y. Train Crash Spotlights Push For Automatic Safety System

A police officer stands guard at the scene of a Metro-North passenger train derailment in the Bronx borough of New York on Dec. 1.
John Minchillo AP

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 10:36 am

A commuter train crash that killed four passengers in New York is raising questions about whether a high-tech safety system could have prevented the derailment.

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U.S. Commutes: The Way We Get To Work
1:46 am
Fri November 29, 2013

Epic Commutes Face Those Caught In Public Transit Puzzle

It takes Chicago resident Sarah Hairston two hours to go 15 miles to get to her part-time job.
David Schaper NPR

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 10:42 am

It's a sign of the times: More people are commuting for more than an hour to get to work, and many of the longest commutes are at least partially on public transportation.

Take Sarah Hairston's commute from her apartment on Chicago's South Side to her part-time job at a shelter for homeless teens on the north side of town.

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Around the Nation
3:44 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Early Warnings Saved Lives In Weekend Storms

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 6:34 am

The death toll from Sunday's tornado outbreak across the Midwest stands at eight. Many of those who witnessed the devastation say they're shocked that number isn't higher. Early warnings delivered by text message may have helped limit the casualties.

NPR Story
3:41 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Midwestern States Sort Through Aftermath Of Scores Of Tornadoes

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 5:27 pm

Scores of tornados touched down across the Midwest on Sunday, leveling homes and killing at least eight.

Architecture
2:03 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Size Does Matter, At Least In The Tallest Building Debate

The view from the Willis Tower, formerly known as Sears Tower, in Chicago.
FleishmanHillard

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 1:20 pm

There's a question that's looming over the new skyscraper at the World Trade Center site in New York: Should it count as the tallest building in the country?

The developers say yes. But by some measures, the Willis Tower in Chicago — formerly known as Sears Tower — can still lay claim to the title.

Now, an obscure organization known as the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat is preparing to settle the debate.

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U.S. Commutes: The Way We Get To Work
1:55 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Reverse Commutes Now Often A Daily Slog, Too

Reverse commuters, include Kathy LeVeque (in the foreground), wait for an approaching outbound Metra commuter train at the Mayfair neighborhood stop on Chicago's northwest side.
David Schaper NPR

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 6:49 am

It is still as dark as night as Jim Rix steps out of his red brick Chicago bungalow and gets into his car, parked on the street. It's 6 a.m., and the 53-year-old engineer is getting an early start on his 35-mile commute out to Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago's southwest suburbs.

"Depending upon weather and time of day, it can take 45 minutes to two hours to get to and from work," Rix says.

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All Tech Considered
4:47 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

FAA May Stop Making You Power Off Those Electronics

An expert FAA advisory committee has recommended that airline passengers be allowed to use most personal electronic devices below 10,000 feet.
Leonardo Patrizi iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 9:09 pm

It's news many airline passengers have waited to hear: The Federal Aviation Administration may allow smartphones, tablets and other personal electronic devices to be used throughout an entire flight — including takeoff and landing.

Frequent flier Barbara Reilly, a health care consultant from Atlanta, is like many airline passengers: She boards her flights with a laptop, an iPad and a cellphone, and "I used them all ... continuously, until the very moment I had to turn them off. And the second I could turn them back on, they were all back on," she says.

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Business
2:29 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Chicago's Privatized Parking Meters Sour Airport Lease Deal

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 6:47 am

Close to 19 million passengers come through Chicago's Midway Airport each year, and many will spend a lot of cash here — on food, drinks, books, gum, parking and rental cars — not to mention the landing fees and gate fees paid by airlines.

There are a lot of opportunities to make money in a bustling hub airport like this, and the city was hoping to cash in.

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NPR Story
4:12 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Tensions Over Syria Run High In Two Chicago-Area Districts

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 4:20 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Defending national security is one of the core arguments President Obama is using in his bid to strike Syria. Congress is expected to vote on military action next week. NPR's David Schaper takes us now to two Chicago area districts where passions on Syria are running high.

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Sports
5:05 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Chicago Blackhawks Stun Boston Bruins In Hockey Final

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Oh, what a day to be a hockey fan in Chicago. The city is celebrating its Stanley Cup champions after last night's thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Boston Bruins. The Blackhawks stunned the Bruins and all of Boston by tying the game with just a minute and 16 seconds left in the final period. Then, just 17 seconds later, the game-winning puck flew into the goal.

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Around the Nation
3:49 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Rogue Jumpers Parachute From Top Of Chicago's Trump Tower

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 10:19 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Finally, a big jump and a mystery in Chicago. Police are searching for three men who jumped off the top of the 92-story Trump Tower late last night with parachutes. They managed to land and escape before police arrived.

NPR's David Schaper has been gathering reaction in Chicago.

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