Laura Spencer

Reporter

Laura Spencer caught the radio bug more than a decade ago when she was asked to read a newscast on the air on her first day volunteering for KOOP, the community radio station in Austin, Texas. 

After moving home to Kansas City, she learned the fine art of editing reel-to-reel tape as an intern and graduate assistant with the nationally syndicated literary program New Letters on the Air. Since 2001, she's focused her efforts on writing and producing feature stories as KCUR's Arts Reporter. 

In 2011, Laura was one of 21 journalists selected for USC Annenberg’s seventh National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater. She's received awards from the Associated Press, Kansas City Art Institute (Excellence in Visual Art and Education), Kansas City Association of Black Journalists, Missouri Broadcasters Association, Radio-Television News Directors Association (regional Edward R. Murrow Award) and Society for Professional Journalists. 

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KCUR Arts
9:01 am
Thu September 30, 2010

Artist Inspired By Visits To Remote Village In Mountains Of Peru

Artist Ana Maria Hernando

Argentinian-born artist Ana Maria Hernando's paintings, drawings, and prints layer designs, like a lacy mantilla worn in church, with images of plants and insects.

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KCUR Arts
12:57 pm
Wed September 29, 2010

WEB EXTRA: Ana Maria Hernando Reads: "Sin Planes (No Plans)"

Artist Ana Maria Hernando

Ana Maria Hernando is a multimedia artist; she's also a poet. Here, Hernando reads a poem called "Sin Planes (No Plans)."

"Sin Planes (No Planes)" read by artist/poet Ana Maria Hernando

Kansas City, MO –

Excerpt from "Sine Planes (No Plans)"

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KCUR Arts
8:00 am
Thu September 23, 2010

"Thinking Photography" Explores Photography Legacy At KCAI

As a nod to the Kansas City Art Institute's 125th anniversary, an exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum explores the school's photographic legacy from the 1960s to the present. "Thinking Photography: Five Decades at the Kansas City Art Institute" features works by nearly 30 notable KCAI alumni, including Joe Deal, Robert ParkeHarrison, and Mark Osterman.

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Story Corps
8:21 pm
Mon September 20, 2010

StoryCorps in KC: Ross and Kelly Thompson

Ross Thompson and Kelly Thompson, StoryCorps MobileBooth, Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas City, MO – At StoryCorps recording booths across the country, friends and loved ones interview each other about their lives. Each Tuesday during Morning Edition, we'll bring you a story from the MobileBooth in Kansas City.

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KCUR Arts
11:31 am
Wed September 1, 2010

Juliàn Zugazagoitia Takes Helm At Nelson-Atkins Museum Of Art

New Museum Director & CEO Juli?n Zugazagoitia

September 1, 2010 marks the first day on the job for the new director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Juliàn Zugazagoitia.

Kansas City, MO – In the spring, after a more than year-long search, a committee of nine museum trustees announced selecting international scholar, museum director and consultant Juliàn Zugazagoitia (HOO-lian SZU-ga-sa-GOY-tee-ah) as the fifth director in the museum's 75-year history. They touted his "energy as a leader, his passion for the arts, and his international background."

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Jazz/Blues
2:47 pm
Fri August 20, 2010

Remembering Alaadeen

Photo by Tom Styrkowicz

One of the last living links to the golden age of Kansas City jazz was cut on Sunday, August 15 when veteran saxophonist Ahmad Alaadeen died. Alaadeen was born in Kansas City.

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Theater/Performance
3:15 pm
Fri July 16, 2010

Remembering Richard Harriman

Harriman-Jewell Series co-founder, Richard Harriman, with tenor Luciano Pavarotti in 1983.

The Harriman-Jewell Series has brought world-class classical music and dance to Kansas City for more than four decades. On Thursday, July 15, the tall, soft-spoken co-founder of that series died. Richard Harriman was 77.

Kansas City, MO – The Harriman-Jewell Series of concerts built a national reputation, both as a launch pad for up and coming musicians, and as a place where world famous artists tried out new material.

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Theater/Performance
10:26 am
Fri July 16, 2010

Performing Arts Leader Richard Harriman Dies at Age 77

Performing arts leader Richard Harriman, who guided the Harriman-Jewell Series for more than four decades (first as director, then as artistic director) died Thursday, July 15, 2010.

Kansas City, MO – In 1965, Richard Harriman co-founded what's now known as the Harriman-Jewell Series - as an English professor at William Jewell College in Liberty with a passion for performing arts.

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KCUR News
11:20 am
Thu July 1, 2010

Kansas Smoking Ban Begins (Mostly)

Kansas City, MO – A statewide ban on smoking in public places goes into effect today, with a few, limited exceptions. Kansas Public Radio's Bryan Thompson has more.

 

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KCUR News
1:34 pm
Wed June 2, 2010

Troost Bridge Project Underway

Troost Bridge Project Groundbreaking
photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

Kansas City, Mo. – Today marked the groundbreaking for the $13.5 million Troost Bridge project. The Troost Avenue bridge will be replaced. There will be streetscape and intersection improvements. Crews will also upgrade a stretch of the storm and sanitary sewer system.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver says despite years of delays, with help from federal stimulus funds, the project is now moving forward.

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Theater/Performance
2:03 pm
Thu May 6, 2010

Kansas City Ballet Closes Season with "Concerto Grosso" and Other Works

Kansas City Ballet dancers Catherine Russell, Charles Martin & Nadia Iozzo in Toni Pimble's "Concerto Grosso."
photo: Steve Wilson

As part of its spring program, the Kansas City Ballet presents two world premieres - including one by choreographer Toni Pimble. Pimble studied at the Royal Academy of Dance, and danced with companies in Germany before co-founding Eugene Ballet Company in Oregon 1978 where she's artistic director.

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Music
1:15 pm
Fri April 23, 2010

Opera's Bad Boy, "Don Giovanni," Returns to the Lyric

Baritone Christopher Schaldenbrand as Don Giovanni in the Lyric Opera of Kansas City's production.

The central character in Mozart's "Don Giovanni" is the Don himself, a young nobleman with a list of more than two thousand female conquests. As the opera begins, this ladies' man has assaulted a young noblewoman and killed her father, and he's also trailed by jilted lovers. Don Giovanni's schemes and their consequences will be on display at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.

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KCUR News
10:11 am
Thu April 8, 2010

At 40, KU Info Sticks To Its Roots In Internet Age

Kansas City, Mo. – The late 1960s and early 70s were years of civil unrest at colleges across the country. Hotbed campuses created "rumor control" phone lines to provide one central location for information. Over the years most shut down, but the one at the University of Kansas morphed into what a VP at Google describes as an early, phone-based search engine, catering to everyone in the Lawrence community.

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Music
2:39 pm
Fri February 26, 2010

WEB EXTRA: Composer Zhou Long on Cultural Revolution

"Class of 1978," members of the first class at the Central Conservatory in Beijing.

As a teenager during the Cultural Revolution in China, composer Zhou Long was sent from his home in Beijing to work on a rural state farm. Here, he talks about the experience.

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Music
11:31 am
Thu February 25, 2010

Production of "Madame White Snake" Marks First Opera by UMKC Composer

The thousand-year-old Chinese folk tale, "Madame White Snake," is the story of a white snake demon who longs for love. And there are tragic consequences. It's the subject of the first opera for composer and UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance professor Zhou Long. In the production, elements of traditional Chinese opera meet the style of the West.

Kansas City, MO –

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Theater/Performance
3:12 pm
Thu February 18, 2010

KCAI Alum Nick Cave's Soundsuits

Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2005 Found sequined and beaded materials, hand sewn, mixed media, mannequin and armature 100 x 26 x 14"
courtesy of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art

The Kansas City Art Institute includes a who's who roster of artists who've studied or taught at the college in its 125-year history. Among the notable figures: animator Walt Disney took Saturday classes as a child; Thomas Hart Benton headed the painting department from 1935 - 1941; Robert Rauschenberg studied fashion design in 1948; and Nick Cave graduated in 1982 from the fiber department. Cave's Soundsuits will be featured at a performance this weekend.

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Music
10:48 am
Fri February 5, 2010

Chinese New Year Celebrations Begin in Kansas City

The Chinese New Year is also called the Spring Festival. And it's considered the most important traditional Chinese holiday. Families clean their houses to symbolically sweep away ill fortune and make way for good luck. Windows and doors are decorated with red to celebrate the themes of happiness, wealth and longevity.

Kansas City, MO –

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Theater/Performance
3:38 pm
Thu February 4, 2010

Dancers in Pilobolus with Ties to Lawrence and Kansas City

Pilobolus Dance Theater
photo: John Kane

Pilobolus Dance Theater was founded in the early 1970s by non-dancers who met in a Dartmouth dance class. Their first gig: the opening act for a Frank Zappa concert.

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Visual Arts
10:04 am
Fri January 15, 2010

Gift Of African Art For 75th Anniversary Of Nelson-Atkins

In honor of the 75th anniversary of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, more than 400 works of art have been promised or gifted to the museum. This includes seven pieces of African art.

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Visual Arts
9:54 am
Fri January 15, 2010

WEB EXTRA: Adele Hall Talks about Personal Favorites in African Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art announced a promised gift of seven works of African art from the private collection of Adele and Donald Hall, in honor of the Museum's 75th Anniversary.

Kansas City, MO – According to Adele Hall, a personal favorite is a work she and her husband, Donald Hall, affectionately call "The King." She says, "You see the tilt of his head and the chin coming out, the strength of the pose. He is saying, 'I am king! My household is protected and this place will stay safe.'"

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KCUR News
4:13 pm
Tue January 12, 2010

Kansas City One of 18 Cities in U.S. Bid for World Cup

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City is one of the 18 official host cities in the U.S. bid for the World Cup in 2018 or 2022. FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, requires that each bidding nation submit between 12 and 18 stadiums capable of seating 40,000 or more.

Sunil Gulati is the Chairman of the USA Bid Committee and President of U.S. Soccer. Gulati says the cities selected span all time zones, offer new and old stadiums, and demonstrate a passion for soccer.

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KCUR News
2:31 pm
Wed December 23, 2009

Secret Santa's Legacy Lives On

Secret Santa is off to another stop on a recent \"sleigh ride.\"
photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

Kansas City, MO – For nearly 30 years, Kansas City businessman Larry Stewart spent the holiday handing out crisp $100 bills to people in need. Stewart gave away more than $1 million dollars anonymously as "Secret Santa." Before he died in 2007, he revealed his identity and asked his friends to carry on the tradition.

This aired on NPR's Morning Edition, December 23, 2009. Listen to the story here.

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Theater/Performance
9:19 am
Fri December 18, 2009

Kansas City Ballet Dancer Blogs about "The Nutcracker" and Retiring

Matthew Donnell, as Drosselmeyer, holding the Nutcracker at a Kansas City Ballet rehearsal.
photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

This marks dancer Matthew Donnell's 10th and last season with the Kansas City Ballet. And he's documenting it along the way in a blog. This includes writing about what's likely to be his last year in the fairy-tale ballet, "The Nutcracker."

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Theater/Performance
2:18 pm
Fri December 11, 2009

Owen/Cox Dance Group: "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King"

The Mouse King (Mark Southerland)
photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

Most people are familiar with the popular ballet, "The Nutcracker." But few know of its darker inspiration: an 1816 story called "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King."

Kansas City, MO – Most people are familiar with the popular ballet, "The Nutcracker." But few know of its darker inspiration: an 1816 story called "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King." This weekend, the Owen/Cox Dance Group takes a crack at a new Nutcracker.

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Jazz/Blues
8:17 am
Wed December 9, 2009

Shay Estes and Trio ALL Release New CD

Shay ESTES & Trio ALL play for the 5th Annual Crossroads Music Fest @ the Czar Bar, Kansas City, MO - 09/12/2009
photo: Todd Zimmer (courtesy of Flickr)

Before turning to jazz, vocalist Shay Estes performed with a rock band, a Western-surf band, and a burlesque troupe.

Kansas City, MO – Before turning to jazz, vocalist Shay Estes performed with a rock band, a Western-surf band, and a burlesque troupe. In recent years, Estes has collaborated with Brad Cox's People's Liberation Big Band and Mark Southerland's "Urban Noise Camp."

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KCUR News
3:26 pm
Thu December 3, 2009

Architects Selected For Green Building Project In Johnson County

Kansas City, MO – A Kansas City-based architecture firm has been awarded a $1.2 million contract to design a new, and green, public works facility in Johnson County, Kansas. KCUR's Laura Spencer reports.

Out of a field of six finalists, 360 Architecture, Inc. was selected to design the new $14 million Johnson County Public Works facility in west Olathe, Kansas. It will replace a small, and aging, building from the 1960s.

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KCUR News
9:00 am
Mon November 23, 2009

StoryCorps In Kansas City: Laurie Avery & Elizabeth Avery

Kansas City, MO – The day after Thanksgiving, Americans will be encouraged to sit down to record a conversation with a loved one. It's part of a project by NPR's StoryCorps called National Day of Listening. KCUR is playing stories recorded 3 years ago when StoryCorps visited Kansas City.

Laurie Avery asked her then 21-year-old daughter, Elizabeth Avery, about a time they hadn't talked much about. After high school, Elizabeth spent two years traveling the United States hitchhiking and hopping freight trains.

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Theater/Performance
12:33 pm
Thu November 19, 2009

"Arts in Crisis" Tour Stops in KC: Kennedy Center President Says to Take Risks

Michael M. Kaiser, President, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
photo: Ilan Mizrahi

The current economic climate has hit arts organizations hard. With reduced income, and declining endowments, some organizations have closed their doors, or are struggling to survive. Despite the tough economy, Michael Kaiser says artists and arts organizations should think big and bold.

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Theater/Performance
12:43 pm
Wed November 18, 2009

WEB EXTRA: A Conversation with Michael Stern and Michael Kaiser, Part 2

As part of the 50-state tour called "Arts in Crisis," John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts President Michael Kaiser stopped in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Theater/Performance
9:55 am
Wed November 18, 2009

WEB EXTRA: A Conversation with Michael Stern and Michael Kaiser, Part 1

As part of the 50-state tour called "Arts in Crisis," John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts President Michael Kaiser stopped in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas City, MO – Here, the Kennedy Center's Michael Kaiser talks to Kansas City Symphony Music Director Michael Stern and takes questions from the audience. In this segment, Kaiser lists 10 rules that should apply to every arts organization.

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