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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Government
5:33 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Election Day: What's On The Ballot?

Laura Spencer KCUR

Voters go to the polls for Election Day on April 2, 2013 in many cities across the Kansas City metropolitan area. Decisions will be made about bond issues, school board and mayoral races, and more.

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Music Stories
5:00 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Heartland Men's Chorus Explores Love, Before And After the Holocaust

Kip Niven, plays Holocaust survivor Gad Beck in Jake Heggie’s 'For a Look or a Touch.' The Heartland Men's Chorus stands in the background.
Laura Spencer KCUR

In the 1920's and into the early 1930's, there was a thriving gay culture in Europe, especially in Berlin. But, with the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party, that all changed.

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Government
5:00 am
Thu March 21, 2013

A Vision Taking Shape For KC's Arts And Culture Plan

Mayor James speaks to the crowd gathered at ArtsTech.
Julie Denesha KCUR

In January, the Mayor’s Task Force for the Arts launched a series of meetings - at community centers, nature centers, libraries and other venues - to try to map out a vision for Kansas City’s arts and cultural policy.

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Books
10:05 am
Tue March 19, 2013

Remembering John Mark Eberhart

John Mark Eberhart

Former book review editor for The Kansas City Star, poet, and regular "Book Doctor" on KCUR, John Mark Eberhart, died Tuesday, March 19, after a fight with cancer. He was 52.

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Headlines
10:01 am
Tue March 12, 2013

Top Of The Morning News: March 12, 2013

Declining membership, and increased operating expenses lead to the closing of three area YMCAs. A veteran Superintendent takes the leadership job in the Shawnee Mission School District. Those stories and more on KCUR. 

Changes Afoot for the YMCA

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Headlines
8:20 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Top Of The Morning News: March 11, 2013

In Atkinson, Neb., a semi rolls past the NEDAK plant, which shut down when corn prices peaked during the summer of 2012 and new demand from E15 failed to materialize.
Grant Gerlock Harvest Public Media

A Kansas City cardiologist examines the health of mummies. Attorneys gear up for a conference call with Chief Justice Lawton Nuss to discuss the Kansas school funding case. Those stories and more on KCUR.

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Central Standard
3:17 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

True/False Film Fest Turns 10

Set in Karachi, 'These Birds Walk' takes viewers into the life of Omar, a young runaway.

Indonesian gang culture. The hunt for Osama bin Laden. Sunbathers, barbecuers and swimmers at a national park in Israel. Life in a Karachi orphanage. These are just some of the subjects explored in the nearly 40 films scheduled for this year's True/False Film Fest.

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Central Standard
2:02 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Inventing A World With A Pinhole Camera

Liberty Head, Illinois, 1978, from the series Expeditions.
Ruth Thorne-Thomsen, American (b. 1943) Courtesy: Nelson-Aktins Museum of Art

A pinhole camera is a simple tool – and it can be constructed with basic materials. You could even make one at home with your child on a snow day. All you need is cardboard, tape, and aluminum foil. But, it’s the eye behind the camera that draws a line between child’s play and the potential for photography.

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Weather
3:46 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Snow Update: Power Still Out For Many

Matthew Long-Middleton KCUR

"Snowpocalypse 2" brought upwards of a foot of snow to some parts of the Kansas City metropolitan area. The storm shut down schools and businesses, and knocked out power to tens of thousands of residents.

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Fire
5:20 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

A Timeline Of The Explosion

Smoke and fire at JJ's. A view from the corner of 48th and Roanoke on Tuesday night.
Jeffrey Harvey KCUR

The circumstances surrounding Tuesday's natural gas explosion just west of the Country Club Plaza - that killed one person, injured more than a dozen, and destroyed JJ's restaurant - were discussed in an afternoon press conference.

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Fire
4:09 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Local Hospitals Provide Injury Updates On Plaza Explosion

University of Kansas Hospital officials provided an update.
Elana Gordon KCUR

Ambulances on Tuesday night traveled with nine people injured in the explosion and fire on the Country Club Plaza to area hospitals, including St. Luke's and University of Kansas Hospital. Six injured patients walked themselves in. Officials today provided an update on the six victims still hospitalized.

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Fire
10:44 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Body Found In Rubble At JJ's

Mayor Sly James tweeted this aerial view of JJ's site from the bucket of truck 6.
Mayor Sly James

At a press conference this morning, officials say they found a body in the rubble of the site of former JJ's restaurant on the Country Club Plaza. No positive identification has been made yet.

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Visual Arts
5:00 am
Thu February 14, 2013

A Journey Through Chinese Landscapes

Artist Xu Longsen
Yang Xinli Courtesy: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Nature has provided a source of inspiration for Chinese poets and painters for thousands of years. An exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art juxtaposes the old with the new - showcasing some of the museum’s collection of Song Dynasty paintings, as well as a monumental landscape by a contemporary Chinese artist.

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Architecture
3:34 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Do Cities Need Old Buildings, Even If They're Not 'Historic'?

Orion Pictures building at 118 W. 17th St., with the Power and Light Building in the background.
Laura Spencer KCUR

A proposal is in the works to tear down the Orion Pictures building in the Film Row District in the Crossroads Arts District in Kansas City, Mo. and put a 180-space garage in its place. But some say the 1946 building should be preserved.

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Visual Arts
5:00 am
Fri February 8, 2013

A New Kind Of Wash, Dry, Fold: Art In The Laundromat

The landing with seating inside the Walnut Place Laundromat.
Sean Starowitz

Over the next six months, a quiet Midtown laundromat will be transformed into the site for a series of arts events. It’s an experiment - combining different genres including film, poetry, and even culinary arts - with a focus on public-oriented artwork.

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Performance
5:00 am
Wed February 6, 2013

In And Out Of The Labyrinth

Actor Spencer Lott, as Icarus, and Anwar Yadullah, as Theseus, during a recent rehearsal of 'Escape from the Labyrinth.'
Marlo Angell Lawrence Arts Center

Greek mythology is considered one of the major touchstones of Western culture. And modern literature abounds with references.

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Government
5:00 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Data Collected On Future Of Arts In Kansas City

Larry Thomas, Fine Arts Chair at Johnson County Community College, responds to a question from his group of artists.
Julie Denesha KCUR

More than 20 community meetings took place across Kansas City last week – morning, noon and night – to discuss the future of the city’s arts and cultural policy. It’s the first comprehensive review since 1997.

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Arts
10:37 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Mayor's Task Force For The Arts Kicks Off Conversation

Kansas City Mayor Sly James arrives at the podium greeted by a standing ovation from the crowd.
Julie Denesha KCUR

This week marked the launch of a series of public meetings – at community centers, libraries, churches, a museum, an art gallery, even a police station - to discuss the future of the arts in Kansas City.

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Visual Arts
5:30 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Collaborating With The Xijing Men

As the Xijing Men work a sign requesting silence is posted on the door of the H&R Block Artspace at the Kansas City Art Institute.
Julie Denesha KCUR

Kansas City Art Institute students experienced cross-cultural communication through art during a Sunday workshop with visiting artists at the H&R Block Artspace. As part of their 1o-day residency in Kansas City, the Xijing Men led the students through activities designed to inspire them to use their skills as budding artists.

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People
5:30 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Civic Leader Adele Hall Dies At 81

Adele Hall
Courtesy: Hallmark Card, Inc.

Adele Hall, civic leader and wife of Hallmark Cards chairman Donald J. Hall for nearly 60 years, has died. She was 81.

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Opera
5:27 pm
Sat January 26, 2013

Composer Kirke Mechem On Realizing What Opera Could Be

Composer Kirke Mechem, Murphy Hall library, University of Kansas.
Laura Spencer KCUR

Composer Kirke Mechem grew up in Topeka, Kansas, but he's lived in San Francisco since 1963. He says he still considers himself a Midwesterner: "You can take the boy out of Kansas, but you can never take Kansas out of the boy."

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Performance
9:00 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

'Housebreaking' Reveals A Family At A Breaking Point

Siblings Magda (Missy Fennewald) and Chad (Bryan Moses) talk in the kitchen.
Laura Spencer KCUR

The dysfunctional family is an often-mined subject for drama, from the early Greeks to the present. The play "Housebreaking," by Jakob Holder, combines humor with an exploration of failed relationships and dreams.

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Performance
1:47 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

[VIDEO] In This Scene...'Blackbird' At The Living Room

Scott Cordes and Vanessa Severo perform a scene from "Blackbird."
Julie Denesha KCUR

This season, David Harrower's "Blackbird" returns to The Living Room. It's a play exploring an unsettling relationship and its aftermath.

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Books
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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Government
4:15 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Prairiefire Breaks Ground In Overland Park

A museum will feature traveling exhibitions from the American Museum of Natural History.
Rees Masilionis Turley Architecture LLC

City and state officials were on hand Thursday to lift the shovels during a ceremonial groundbreaking for Prairiefire, a new Overland Park development at 135th Street between Nall and Lamar. The site includes a natural history museum.

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Music Stories
5:30 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

The 'Swinging' Sounds Of The Drums In A Pipe Band

A Tuesday night practice for the Tullintrain West Pipe Band at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Kansas City, Mo.
Laura Spencer KCUR

Bagpipers and drummers from across North America and the U.K. hope to stay on the beat and in tune this week in Kansas City while competing in the annual Winter Storm piping and drumming contest.

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Performance
12:54 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

KC Rep Awarded Playwright Residency Grant

Joseph Moran Courtesy: The Juilliard School

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre on Thursday announced a $174,000 three-year playwright residency grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The award is one of 14 Mellon residency grants. The Rep tapped award-winning playwright Nathan Louis Jackson, a native of Kansas City, Kansas, to join the artistic staff.

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Sports
10:30 am
Mon December 31, 2012

Crennel Out, No Word About Pioli

omeo Crennel coaches Glenn Dorsey during footwork drills.
flickr user BabyBare11

The Kansas City Chiefs announced today that Romeo Crennel, the team's 12th coach, has been "relieved of his duties as head coach" after a 2-14 season. This record matches the team's worst in its 53-year history.

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People
9:14 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

One Man's Walkabout In Kansas

Kansas City Public Library's Henry Fortunato starts his walk in Overland Park, Kan.
courtesy of Henry Fortunato

In recent years, urban planners have renewed their focus on creating walkable communities. Walking is the most basic mode of transportation – and yet, in the Kansas City metropolitan area, it’s not as common as in other parts of the country.

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Weather
9:25 am
Thu December 20, 2012

KCMO Snow Plow Crews At The Ready

Towplow speeds snow removal. Brine treatment precedes plowing,
Photo courtesy of MoDot

The Kansas City metropolitan area started gearing up yesterday for the season's first winter storm. One to three inches of snow was forecast for the area overnight.

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