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.


Business & Tech
8:24 am
Mon September 9, 2013

Local Probiotics Company Is Missouri’s Exporter Of The Year

The Governor’s Conference on Economic Development in Missouri has named a Kansas City company its Exporter of the Year. SCD Probiotics makes products used for human health, agriculture, veterinary medicine and industry.   

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7:53 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Horse Slaughter Divides Horse Lovers

The Hilltop Saddle Club, established in 1944, is the oldest African American saddle club in the nation. Most members of the group oppose horse slaughter.
Frank Morris KCUR

Most Americans don’t eat horse meat, and they don’t like the idea of horses being slaughtered, but a handful of investors are struggling to restart a horse slaughter industry in the United States.

They argue that slaughter would be good for the horse business, and more humane than the current situation. The issue cleaves horse owners into two camps: one that views horses as pets, and another that see them as livestock.

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Cops & Crime
9:50 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Bradley Manning Wants To Serve Time In Leavenworth As A Woman

Private Bradley Manning, who was convicted of one of the largest security breaches in U.S. history, has been moved to the Army’s maximum security prison at Fort Leavenworth.   But, Manning wants to serve the time as a woman.

Manning has issued a statement, saying he'd like to be called Chelsea, and start hormone therapy, because he identifies as a female.  Jeff Wingo, a spokesman at Fort Leavenworth, says there’s only so much the Army can do.

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bus crash
2:23 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Pembroke Hill School 6th Graders Injured In Minor Bus Crash

A school bus carrying sixth grade girls from Pembroke Hill School in Kansas City, Mo. overturned at a ramp at the intersection of Kansas 7 and Kaw Drive in Wyandotte County, Kan. early this afternoon. Nine children have reportedly been transported to hospitals, none of them suffering critical injuries. 

KCUR is following the story and will provide updates in our afternoon newscasts.

Harvest Public Media
8:27 am
Wed August 7, 2013

My Farm Roots: Tough Guys In The Saddle

Nate Pike has worked the land outside Dodge City, Kan., for most of his 80 years.
Credit Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

I met Nate Pike working on a story back in 2012. When I dropped back by his ranch 30 miles south of Dodge City, Kan., this summer, he took me on a bumpy pickup ride to see a spring called St. Jacob’s Well and we got to talking about the former owner of some of his ranchland.

Pike has been out on his ranch for a while and he told me the former owner started ranching in western Kansas before 1900.

“He was a fine old gentleman and one of the toughest old men I ever knew,” Pike told me, his gravelly voice carrying over the pickup truck’s rambles.

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Harvest Public Media
7:37 am
Tue July 30, 2013

As Aquifer Dwindles, Rural Kan. Wells Run Dry

Limited water supply has put stress on many western Kansas towns, like Meade.
Credit Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

The drought, now in its third year in parts of western Kansas is taxing a resource that has been under pressure for decades: the High Plains Aquifer system.

The aquifer is enormous, but it’s running low in places, forcing a move to dry land farming, and farmers aren’t the only ones effected.

The drought has been burning up crops, lawns and trees for three years now. But there are places where you wouldn’t even know it’s dry, like at the Garden City Big Pool, in Garden City, Kan.

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7:46 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Kan. Farmers Struggle As Ogallala Aquifer Dwindles

Because of the short water supply, farmer Anthony Stevenson only planted half his corn field this year.
Credit Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

Imagine enough water to fill a couple of great lakes, but spread under some of the driest parts of eight western states. That was the High Plains Aquifer 60 years ago, before new pumping and irrigation systems made it easy for farmers to extract billions of gallons from it, and use it to grow lucrative crops on the arid land.

An agricultural gold rush of sorts followed, transforming the regional economy. But now parts of the aquifer are playing out, leaving parts of the high plains high and dry.

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4:46 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Spreading Virus Kills Hundreds of Thousands of Pigs

Healthy pigs in central Missouri
Frank Morris KCUR

A virus new to the United States is spreading through farms hundreds of thousands of baby pigs.  

Like most hog farmers, Brent Sandidge in Missouri, has been losing money lately.

"We’ve had a drought, and record high feed prices, so that’d be the last thing you’d need is another hit," says Sandidge.

But that hit came this spring for some with the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus. Bob Morrison, at the University of Minnesota says the excrement of infected pigs is loaded with the bug.

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3:00 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Farm Bill Fail Leaves Farmers Uncertain, But Unvexed

The Kalbs cut wheat on a clear Kansas Day.
Frank Morris Harvest Public Media

Farmers work at the mercy of three big forces that are largely outside their control, the weather, the markets, and the government.

In many parts of the country the first two are doing pretty well these days, but government remains the wild card. Congress can’t seem to pass the farm bill, a huge package of legislation setting food policy for years to come.

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Cops & Crime
6:11 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

KC Man Tied to New York Bomb Plot

Khalid Ouazzani

The FBI alleges that a Kansas City man was involved in a fledgling plot to bomb the New York Stock Exchange. The case came up as an example of effective the government surveillance programs have been at foiling some 50 terrorist plots.

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Harvest Public Media
10:49 am
Mon June 17, 2013

What Is The Future Of Crop Insurance?

Kansas wheat farmer John Thaemert surveys his parched crop in this file photo from 2006.
Credit Frank Morris

Crop insurance is a big part of the farm bill debate in Washington this year. The Senate recently passed a bill that would expand the heavily subsidized program.  And now the House is zeroing in on the issue.  

Several pending amendments would curb how much the government provides to cut the cost farmers pay for crop insurance. But, crop insurance premiums aren’t the only part of the system supported by tax payers.

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The Salt
2:32 am
Mon May 27, 2013

Twinkies' Return Is Mostly Sweet News For Kansas Town

Hostess Twinkies are offered for sale in Chicago, part of the last shipment of Hostess products the company made in 2012.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 27, 2013 4:17 am

The news of Hostess' return to Emporia, Kan., sparked an ecstatic response in this beleaguered town — even though there will be only half as many jobs.

The new company, formed when investors bought Hostess' snack cake business, has hired longtime snack cake production veterans Pat Chambers and her husband, Bob, to help get the bakery here running again. Pat lost her job at the Hostess plant when it closed last November. Now, she sits beaming on her front porch, wearing a dirty Hostess work shirt.

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Harvest Public Media
12:02 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Report Questions Crop Insurance Structure

Parched ground in western Kansas
Credit Eric Durban / Harvest Public Media

Taxpayers are contributing billions more than necessary for farmers’ crop insurance, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

The study, which examined the 2012 crop year, argues that big subsidies channel farmers into lavish policies that in some cases paid drought-afflicted farmers last year more than they would have earned with a good harvest.

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Community Stories
5:00 am
Thu April 25, 2013

The Epic Tale Of A Man, A Motorcycle And A Breast Cancer Bracelet

A motorcycle malfunction stranded Luis Belaustegui in the desert during the 2013 Dakar Rally in South America.
Credit Courtesy/Luis Belaustegui

Earlier this year, Luis Belaustegui set off on a long, brutal, exotic journey, in an unprecedented way.

Belaustegui is a motorcycle racer from Argentina who lives in Kansas City. His adventures – and misadventures— in Peru, Chile and his native Argentina, come from racing in the Dakar Rally

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Harvest Public Media
5:15 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

From Flush To Fertilizer: City Farms Recycle Waste

Birmingham Farm, owned by the city of Kansas City, Mo., uses treated human waste as fertilizer.
Jeremy Bernfeld Harvest Public Media

While most Americans don’t farm, they do contribute to agriculture by buying food at stores and restaurants. And about half of us make an additional donation in the form of fertilizer. With spring at hand, farmers are getting ready for planting. That means enriching the soil and that may just involve you.

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The Salt
4:22 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Cities Turn Sewage Into 'Black Gold' For Local Farms

Thick jets of processed sewage arc out 30 to 40 feet from giant moving spreaders at Birmingham Farm in Kansas City, Mo.
Frank Morris for NPR

Originally published on Fri April 12, 2013 11:07 am

On a normal day, Kansas City, Mo., processes more than 70 million gallons of raw sewage. This sewage used to be a nuisance, but Kansas City, and a lot of municipalities around the country, are now turning it into a resource for city farmers hard up for fertilizer.

After the sewage has been processed at a treatment plant, it's piped out to Birmingham Farm on the north side of the Missouri River.

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4:42 pm
Sun April 7, 2013

After Years Of Struggle, Veteran Chooses To End His Life

Tomas Young was paralyzed from the chest down during his deployment to Iraq. Since then, his health has only deteriorated. He has decided to refuse care and end his life, and his wife, Claudia Cuellar, says she respects his wishes.
Frank Morris for NPR

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 9:19 am

After a dozen years at war, an estimated 2 million active-duty service members will have returned home by the end of 2013. Some reintegrate without much struggle, but for others it's not so easy. The psychological wounds of war can sometimes prove to be just as fatal as the physical ones.

For injured veterans such as Tomas Young, life is a daily struggle. But this Iraq War veteran, who says his physical and emotional pain is unbearable, has decided to end his life.

At War

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8:03 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Iraq War Veteran Tomas Young Signs Off With 'Last Letter'

Tomas Young and Claudy Cuellar at home
Frank Morris KCUR


Nearly two million active duty U.S. servicemen and women are due back home by the end of this year. Many have struggled to reintegrate, but few more profoundly, or more publicly, than Tomas Young of Kansas City.   Young now says he’s ready to take his own life, but not before making one more stand against the war that wrecked his body. 

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11:23 am
Sun March 24, 2013

Legendary Broadcaster Walt Bodine Dies At 92

Longtime journalist, author and talk show host Walt Bodine died early Sunday morning. He was 92.

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Cops & Crime
2:28 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

'Anti-Smurfing' Campaign Targets Meth Cook Suppliers

Jean Peters Baker, the Jackson County Prosecutor, shows off a new anti-smurfing poster.
Frank Morris KCUR

Missouri holds the dubious distinction of being #1 in domestic methamphetamine production. State Attorney General Chris Koster and Jean Peters Baker, the Jackson County Prosecutor, unveiled an effort to curb meth by shaming people who help drug producers get around limits on pseudoephedrine sales.  

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3:42 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Drought-Stricken Plains Farmers 'Giddy' Over Heavy Snow

Kirk Sours says heavy snow creates extra work on his ranch, but he's thrilled that the pending melt will bring his otherwise dry pastures much-needed moisture.
Frank Morris/KCUR

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 4:34 pm

Two rapid-fire snowstorms belted Kansas with more than 2 feet of snow this week. They caused thousands of accidents and all kinds of hardships — but they also produced very broad smiles from some quarters.

That's because in a place as dry as Kansas has been lately, a blizzard can be a blessing for farmers and ranchers.

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Around the Nation
4:42 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Major Storm Blankets Plains States

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 5:09 am



A lot of kids have the day off from school today, thanks to a huge winter storm in the Midwest. A foot of snow fell on Kansas City, one of the worst storms in the city's history. That city declared a state of emergency, as did several others in the region. Frank Morris, of member station KCUR, reports.

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Winter Storm
6:56 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Snow Snarls Traffic, More Snow Expected

A stalled car gets a push along Troost Avenue.
Frank Morris KCUR

It was a bad day to try to get around in Kansas City. KCI essentially closed at mid-morning with about 300 flights cancelled. Although flights are expected to resume later tonight, more cancellations are all but certain tomorrow morning. Driving was terrible, too.

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8:09 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Plaza Explosion Timeline Raises Questions

James cautions not to assign blame in Plaza blast before all the facts are in.
Frank Morris KCUR

The investigation into the blast and fire that rocked the Country Club Plaza and destroyed JJ’s Restaurant has entered a new phase.  

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2:46 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Blame Elusive In Plaza Blast

KC Mayor Sly James and Fire Chief Paul Berardi. 'Today is about people, not blame.'
Frank Morris KCUR

Workers using heavy equipment to install fiber-optic cable hit a gas main hours before the blast.   According to the Kansas City Business Journal, gas company workers showed up about 20 minutes later.

They were still on site later when firefighters responded to the leak, about 45 minutes before the explosion. 

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7:05 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Fire Hits Plaza Business

TV-9 cameras capture a Kansas City fire truck silhouetted by the intense flames that destroyed a building near the Country Club Plaza
KMBC, TV-9 News

A fire caused by an apparent gas explosion near JJ's Restaurant on the Country Club Plaza has sent at least 14 people to area hospitals with injuries, some of them critical. The fire started around 6:00 Tuesday evening.  

Update 7:07 PM.  Residents from a nearby apartment building were evacuated.  Some are reporting that there was a strong smell of gas earlier in the afternoon. One resident of the nearby building also told reporters someone was operating a backhoe in the area earlier in the afternoon. 

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4:52 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Evan S. Connell On 'Mr. and Mrs. Bridge'

  Kansas City native Evan S. Connell died Thursday at the age of 88. His fiction and non-fiction works were wide-ranging, but he was probably best known locally for his two novels, "Mrs. Bridge" and "Mr. Bridge," about a fictional well-to-do Kansas City family.

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2:17 pm
Mon December 31, 2012

McCaskill Hopes For Compromise On 'Fiscal Cliff'

Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
Dan Verbeck KCUR

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, says that falling over the so-called fiscal cliff, the deep program cuts, and big tax increases set to hit January 1st wouldn’t be as dramatic as some people imagine.

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5:42 am
Mon December 31, 2012

Blunt, McCaskill Take Opposing Views On Senate Rule Changes

The U.S. Capitol.
wikimedia commons

Averting big, abrupt tax increases and spending cuts isn’t the only issue pressing in Washington this week.

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4:55 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Rep. Cleaver On 'Plan B' And The Fiscal Cliff

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver

The U.S. House of Representatives is likely to vote Thursday on a proposal advanced by Speaker John Boehner to avoid the "fiscal cliff."

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