Frank Morris

News Director

Frank Morris has supervised the reporters in KCUR's newsroom since 1999. In addition to his managerial duties, Morris files regularly with National Public Radio. He’s covered everything from tornadoes to tax law for the network, in stories spanning eight states. His work has won dozens of awards, including four national Public Radio News Directors awards (PRNDIs) and several regional Edward R. Murrow awards. In 2012 he was honored to be named "Journalist of the Year" by the Heart of America Press Club.

Morris grew up in rural Kansas listening to KHCC, spun records at KJHK throughout college at the University of Kansas, and cut his teeth in journalism as an intern for Kansas Public Radio, in the Kansas statehouse.

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Community
1:53 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Kansas City Stands With Overland Park During Service Honoring Shooting Victims

The Rev. Bob Hill invites leaders of all faiths to join in prayer Thursday in honor of the victims from Sunday's shootings in Johnson County. The service took place at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park.
Suzanne Hogan KCUR

A diverse crowd linked arms in Overland Park, Kan., on Thursday to remember the three victims of an attack on a Jewish community center and retirement home.

Clergy representing many faiths, politicians of different stripes and more than 1,300 people from the community united to condemn shootings during the memorial service.

The service took place at the Jewish Community Center, where two of three victims died on Sunday.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the whole country was standing with Overland Park.

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Community
6:16 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Suspected Shooter In JCC Attacks Has 30-Year History Of Hate

Frazier Glenn Cross, also known as Glenn Miller, is accused of killing three people on Sunday in Overland Park, Kan.
Credit courtesy: Johnson County Sheriff's Office

The man suspected of killing three people at two Jewish facilities in Johnson County, Kan., is a well-known neo-Nazi and someone who authorities say spent much of his life calling for attacks on Jews.

Frazier Glenn Cross, Jr. faces state murder charges and likely hate crime charges in federal court, after allegedly murdering three people in shootings at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom assisted living center in Overland Park, Kan., Sunday.

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Community
4:02 pm
Sun April 13, 2014

UPDATED: Victims, Suspect Identified In Overland Park Shootings

On Monday, police tape was still wrapped around a parking lot at Village Shalom in Overland Park, Kan. to keep visitors out of the crime scene.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

Updated 10:47 a.m.:

Frazier Glenn Cross, the suspect in Sunday's shootings, is being held at the Johnson County Detention Center without bond. Kristi Bergeron, of the District Attorney's Office in Johnson County said he will not be arraigned Monday.

He will face both federal and state charges.

Updated 10:36 a.m.:

The Children's Center for the Visually Impaired released this statement:

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Government
8:16 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Area Governments Pool Resources To Bring The 2016 GOP Convention To KC

Bid fund will help sell promoters dream of a GOP nominating convention in Kansas City in 2016
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR-FM

Kansas City is going after the 2016 Republican nominating convention but the city won't go it alone. Four local governments have put some skin in the game.

Johnson County, Wyandotte County’s Unified Government, Kansas City and Jackson County are in for $65,000 each. Kansas City’s contribution follows $100,000 of city Convention and Visitor’s money - a small ante, Mayor Sly James says, for what could be a big payoff if Republicans stage their convention here.

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Government
7:41 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Lesser Prairie Chicken Threatened Species Listing Ruffles Feathers in Kansas

Rancher Wayne Keller scans the horizon for lesser prairie chicken. He says the 4-year drought in western Kansas has been especially hard on the birds.
Frank Morris KCUR

It's prairie chicken mating season!

Still, it's tough being a lesser prairie chicken these days.

This type of grouse once spanned an enormous area, though now they survive mainly in pockets of Oklahoma and Kansas. Their numbers are plummeting; in 2012, the population dropped by half.

Now, after they were recently listed as a threatened species by the U.S. government, complaints of federal overreach and lawsuits have followed.

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Environment
4:27 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Federal Plan To Save Prairie Chickens Ruffles State Feathers

A male lesser prairie chicken in the Texas Panhandle. The bird's entire habitat includes parts of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
Jon McRoberts AP

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 4:29 pm

It's prairie chicken mating season!

Still, it's tough being a lesser prairie chicken these days. This type of grouse once spanned an enormous area, though now they survive mainly in pockets of Oklahoma and Kansas. Their numbers are plummeting; in 2012, the population dropped by half.

But after they were recently listed as a threatened species by the U.S. government, complaints of federal overreach and lawsuits have followed.

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Community
5:26 am
Wed April 2, 2014

New Kansas City Store Serves Up Midwestern Pride

Raygun owner and founder Mike Draper cracks himself up a little bit in his new Kansas City store.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR

It’s not hard to find stores catering to people proud of their schools or sports teams, but a shop opening this week in Kansas City, Mo., called Raygun, is all about a perennial underdog: the Midwest.

Owner Mike Draper is from Iowa, and this will be his first store outside his home state.

Like a lot of Midwesterners, Draper left home when he could, but came back to take part in a big shift he sees taking place in the Midwestern self-image.   

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Government
5:06 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Committee Recommends Excluding Brookside From Proposed Streetcar Line

A rendering of the streetcar in Kansas City.
Credit HDR, City of Kansas City

Kansas City’s Streetcar Advisory Committee is recommending that a proposed southern expansion of the new system end at UMKC. 

The committee is backing three extensions off the two-mile starter line, which will run from Union Station to the Rivermarket.  Phase two would stretch east from Main, running about two miles along Independence Avenue, and Linwood Boulevard. The third would extend south from Union Station about three and a half miles, and stop around 51st street.  

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Community
11:23 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Westboro Baptist Founder Fred Phelps Dead At 84

Fred Phelps at a demonstration in an undated file photo.
Credit file photo / The Topeka Capital-Journal

Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., founder of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church, died around midnight Thursday. 

For almost 24 years, Phelps and his small group of followers have made themselves infamous for leading anti-gay demonstrations at natural disasters, mass killings and funerals.

In his mind, Phelps said in a 2006 interview, every catastrophe, attack or misfortune was God’s retribution for America’s failure to castigate gays.

That’s my job man,” Phelps told KCUR. “To cause this evil country to know their abominations."

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Community
10:07 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Lawsuit Tests Missouri Gun Shop’s Liability In Pistol Sale To Mentally Ill Woman

Colby Sue Weathers bought a gun similar to the one pictured after her mother called the seller and asked them not to sell firearms to her mentally ill daughter.
Credit Wikimedia -- Creative Commons

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is suing on behalf of Janet Delana from Wellington, Mo., who is the mother of a mentally ill woman who used a gun to murder her father.

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Community
12:22 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Is Kansas City The Best Place To Be Rescued From Human Trafficking?

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Cynthia Cordes, now works in private practice at Husch Blackwell.
Credit Courtesy Husch Blackwell

Kansas City has been a center of sex trafficking, according to a U.S.

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Economy
7:45 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Sprint Chairman Takes Case For T-Mobile Merger To The Public

Sprint Corp. chairman, Masayoshi Son, speaks at a SoftBank summit in 2008.
Credit nobihaya / Flickr--CC

Masayoshi Son, SoftBank Corp. CEO and chairman of Overland Park-based Sprint Corp., promises lower prices and faster service — if he’s allowed to buy T-Mobile.

Son, who heads Sprint’s parent company SoftBank, says merging Sprint with T-Mobile would create a stronger competitor to the big guys, Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc.

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Agriculture
9:18 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Missouri Among States Suing California Over Henhouse Restrictions

Hens living high on the hog on David Kesten's family farm
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR-FM

By most measures David Kesten's hens are living the good life.

"They can act like chickens, they can run around," says Kesten, who's raising hens in an old wooden shed in the open countryside near Concordia, Mo. "They can go out and catch bugs, they can dig in the ground."

But most U.S. hens live crammed into very close quarters, according to Joe Maxwell, with the Humane Society of the U.S. And he says that's just wrong.

"There are some things we should not do to animals," says Maxwell.

Proposition 2, and the Commerce Clause

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Music
8:35 am
Tue March 4, 2014

'Free State Serenade': Chuck Mead’s Ode To The Dark Side Of Kansas

Chuck Mead remembers seeing a colt born in this barn on his parents' property south of Lawrence.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR

Musician Chuck Mead has made a name for himself in Nashville, but his new album is all about his home state of Kansas. Mead describes the music in Free State Serenade as “Kansas Noir… true stories of love, murder, and a UFO."

“Nashville is where you go to make country music,” says Mead. “There’s a certain song vibration down here, there’s a whole song writing culture and playing culture that really doesn’t exist outside of New York, or Los Angeles or Chicago."

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Politics
2:37 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

X-rays Expose Problem For Milton Wolf’s U.S. Senate Campaign

Milton Wolf formally announcing his candidacy in October, 2013
Credit Milton Wolf for Senate Campaign

Milton Wolf has been mounting a strong primary challenge for the seat currently held by Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts. But a recent expose by the Topeka Capital-Journal of Facebook posts made by Wolf has some questioning whether he will be able to continue the race.

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Arts and Culture
2:54 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

All The Songs On The New Chuck Mead Album Are About Kansas

The cover of Chuck Mead's new album, Free State Serenade

Chuck Mead left Kansas more than two decades ago when he set out for Nashville and made a name for himself in country music. Now he’s circling back to Kansas, where his career began.

The first group he formed there, BR549, started out as the house band at Robert’s Western World on Lower Broadway in Nashville, just across the alley from Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry.  BR549 quickly built a huge following playing regularly in the small bar.

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Economy
8:02 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Winter Storms Trigger Widespread Salt Shortage

Salt Miner Lewis Lavy rests for a moment before drilling another wall of rock salt. The Hutchinson Salt Mine has been working 24/7 for months.
Frank Morris KCUR-FM

If you think the roads you’re driving on seem worse than usual this winter, you’re probably right.The waves of snowstorms in much of the country have exhausted supplies of rock salt, the main tool that road crews use to melt ice and snow. Even areas with vast quantities of salt underground are having a hard time getting it onto their streets this year.

When Milwaukee fights road ice with cheese brine, New Jersey breaks out the pickle juice and New York, a major salt producer, declares a salt shortage, you know you’ve got a widespread problem.

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Arts and Culture
1:45 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

William S. Burroughs And Lawrence, Kansas: Linked Inexorably

On the Banks of the Wakarusa with .44 Special, March 4, 1994
From William S. Burroughs in Prints: A Portfolio of Original Photographs Courtesy of the Spencer Museum of Art

Wednesday, February 5, marked what would have been the 100th birthday of one of the 20th century’s most important and notorious writers: William S. Burroughs.

Burroughs was one of the original Beat poets, and helped spark a cultural revolution. He wrote like no one had before, about topics considered impolite, if not obscene, at the time.  

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Business & Tech
8:24 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Kansas City’s Enormous Airline Overhaul Base Full Again

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon spoke at the overhaul base Thursday.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR

Kansas City can finally hang a “no vacancy” sign on one of its largest and most important industrial buildings.  

In its heyday some 6000 people worked in the TWA overhaul base at KCI. The place is massive, a million square feet, more room than all three terminals combined. When American Airlines pulled out a few years ago, the place was empty. Now, after an intensive marketing campaign Mark VanLoh, Kansas City’s Aviation director says, it’s just the reverse.

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Business & Tech
6:00 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Sprint Eyes Difficult Merger With T-Mobile

There have been rumors Kansas City-based Sprint Corp. may be interested in merging with wireless competitor, T-Mobile.
Credit Consumerist dot com / Flickr--Creative Commons

Sprint Corp., based in Overland Park, Kan., has been losing subscribers to bigger rivals for years. One way to reverse that trend would be to merge with another carrier, and Sprint is reportedly eyeing the fourth largest wireless provider, T-Mobile, for acquisition.  

When the Wall Street Journal published a report, citing unnamed sources, that Sprint was getting ready to try to buy T-Mobile, lots of industry analysts treated it as old news.  

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Around the Nation
4:02 pm
Sat December 28, 2013

Injured Veteran Keeps Up His Fight, Deciding To Live

Tomas Young was paralyzed from the chest down during his deployment to Iraq. He had decided to refuse care and end his life, but since changed his mind.
Frank Morris for NPR

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 5:54 pm

A spinal injury left Iraq War veteran Tomas Young paralyzed below the waist in 2004. Further medical complications a few years later made him quadriplegic.

Although Young had enlisted two days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he became an outspoken anti-war activist.

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People
8:26 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Organization Helps Kansas City Military Come Home For The Holidays

Vicki Sanders waiting for arrival of husband, Army Corporal Robert Sanders at KCI airport in Kansas City, Mo.
Credit Dan Verbeck / KCUR

People from the Kansas City area serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines have started arriving home for the holidays. The services don’t cover a trip like that, but lower-paid service men and women can put in for a ticket home from a group called Operation Homefront.

Corporal Robert Sanders landed at KCI Wednesday afternoon, met by his wife, and two young sons. Sanders and his wife Vicki Sanders both graduated from Shawnee Mission North High School.

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Business & Tech
8:02 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Boulevard Sale Shows American Beer Makers Have Turned The Tables On Europe

Most Boulevard beer produced today is consumed in the Midwest, but that may be changing.
Frank Morris KCUR

People in Kansas City may not be too thrilled about it, but the pending sale of Boulevard Brewing company to Belgian beer maker Duvel Moortgat says a lot about how the American craft beer industry has grown up and gone global.

Kansas Citians are proud of lots of things, their barbeque, the Chiefs, Sporting Kansas City, even lately, the Royals, and most beer lovers in this town would add Boulevard Brewing to that list.  

“I think Boulevard is, is one with Kansas City,” says Bob Ellis, standing in line for a Boulevard Tank 7, at the Bier Station, in Kansas City.  

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Sports
10:01 am
Sun December 8, 2013

Sporting Kansas City Wins Major League Soccer National Championship

A jubilant crowd at the Bier Station in the Brookside neighborhood of Kansas City celebrates Sporting KC’s win.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR

Sporting Kansas City and MLS Cup opponent, Real Salt Lake tied the score 1-1 after two hours of regulation play. That left a “shoot out” a series of kicks with just one player, squared off against the opposing teams goal keeper, to settle the national championship.  

Fans across Kansas City, and a sold out stadium, watched as the longest shoot out in MLS playoff history unfolded. The score was tied, again after 10 kicks. But in the end, Sporting KC put seven in the net, Salt Lake, six.

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Business & Tech
5:44 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Former Chiefs Players Sue Team Over Brain Injury

Five former Kansas City Chiefs players are suing the team over brain injuries they say resulting from concussions they sustained playing in the late 1980s and early 1990s.    

The suit alleges that Chiefs leadership understood the long-term risks of concussions back then, but didn’t take them into account.  

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Government
7:17 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Newt Gingrich Backs Roberts Over Wolf In Kansas Senate Primary

Kansas Senator Pat Roberts campaigns backed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR-FM

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts campaigned with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at a campaign event Friday in Overland Park, Kan. Roberts faces a serious primary challenge.

The event was a show of force, and conservative political clout.  Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer was there, along with Mary Kay Culp, the executive director of Kansans for Life, and Patricia Stoneking, president of the Kansas State Rifle Association.     

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Business & Tech
1:38 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Boulevard Beer 'Ingrained in Kansas City' Sold to Duvel of Belgium

Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR-FM

The owner of Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Company has sold a majority stake in the business to a Belgian brewery. Still John McDonald, Boulevard’s founder, says the deal with Duvel Moortgat will only allow the brewery to accelerate its Kansas City expansion.

Charting a new path

John McDonald just turned 60, and that got him thinking about stepping back from the beer business. He began looking for partners.

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Business & Tech
9:50 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Intermodal Shipping Hub Opens In Johnson County

BNSF Railway officially opens a huge new freight handling center in southern Johnson County, Kan. Thursday. The intermodal freight yard in Edgerton will be the largest in the region.

Kansas City is a major shipping hub. It’s the second largest rail hub, as measured by number of train cars, and by some measures, the third largest trucking center in the country. 

All that freight flowing in and out of the Kansas City-area creates jobs for drivers, warehouse workers and others. Increasingly it comes in by train, and gets distributed from Johnson County by truck.  

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Agriculture
1:03 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Government Shutdown Stops USDA Data, Leaves Farmers Guessing

Credit Frank Morris / KCUR-FM

Normally, Friday would be a big day for the commodity markets. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Report is due, providing what is widely excepted to be the most trusted and complete snapshot of farm markets in the middle of harvest season. But, with the government shutdown the report is not coming out. In fact, farmers and ranchers aren’t getting any of the USDA information they rely on, and in this case, ignorance is not bliss.

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Government
8:32 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Tea Party's Milton Wolf To Challenge U.S. Senator Roberts

Milton Wolf is challenging U.S. Senator Pat Roberts in the Republican primary in Kansas.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR

A Leawood physician who is a distant cousin of President Barack Obama is challenging Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts in the Republican primary. Milton Wolf is taking on the incumbent with strong support from Tea Party conservatives.   

Wolf’s first campaign event filled a large ballroom in south Overland Park, Kan. Tuesday evening. It featured live performers and a slick biographical video.   

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