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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Books
12:21 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

A New Poet Laureate For Kansas

Poet Wyatt Townley
Terry Weckbaugh

Wyatt Townley, a fourth-generation Kansan, has been named the new Poet Laureate of Kansas for 2013-2015.

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Performance
4:32 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

'A Christmas Story, The Musical' Gets Tony Nod

Actor John Bolton originated the role of The Old Man in the Rep's 2009 production and also appears on Broadway.
Don Ipock Kansas City Repertory Theatre

"A Christmas Story, the Musical" received three Tony nominations, including one for Best Musical. The work had its world premiere at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre in 2009.

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Books
3:33 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Two Area Libraries Receive National Recognition

"Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut (Banned Books Trading Card Project )
Kent Smith courtesy of the Lawrence Public Library

The John Cotton Dana Award is considered one of the most prestigious in the library marketing and public relations field.  Out of eight winners this year, two area libraries - Lawrence Public Library and Mid-Continent Public Library - were recognized.

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Music Stories
9:17 am
Wed April 24, 2013

A New CD For The Grisly Hand

The Grisly Hand
Paul Andrews Photography (http://www.paulandrewsphotography.com/)

This weekend marks the release of Country Singles, the first full-length album for The Grisly Hand. The band played their first shows in Kansas City about four years ago and mixes country, soul, blues, folk, rock and pop.

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Music Stories
11:18 am
Thu April 18, 2013

Public Enemy 'Bomb Squad' Producer Studies Music At UMKC

Musician, composer and producer Kerwin Young.

The induction ceremony for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame took place Thursday, April 18, in Los Angeles. Some of this year’s inductees included Heart, Randy Newman, Rush and Public Enemy.

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Performance
12:01 am
Fri April 12, 2013

After 26 Years, American Heartland Theatre Goes Dark In August

The American Heartland Theatre's executive director, Lilli Zarda, and director of production, Paul Hough. The theatre goes dark at the end of the season.

It was an unexpected announcement on April 4 that the American Heartland Theatre on the 3rd level of Crown Center would close after 26 years.

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Central Standard
9:27 am
Thu April 11, 2013

Disability Issues in KC

It’s estimated that in the United States, people with disabilities constitute the third-largest, and perhaps the most diverse, minority group. A person may be born with a disability or it may occur during a lifetime. The disability can be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental, or a combination of all of these. On this Central Standard, we’ll talk about disability issues across the life span and some local efforts to empower those who face the challenge of a disability.


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Visual Arts
3:49 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

The Nelson's Kansas City Sculpture Park Renamed For Donald Hall

Magdalena Abakanowicz's Standing Figures (Thirty Figures), 1994-1998.
Mark McDonald Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Kansas City Sculpture Park, the more than two dozen sculptures outside the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, opened in 1989. In honor of the park’s 25th anniversary in 2014, the museum will change the park’s name to reflect its roots.

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Performance
9:39 am
Fri April 5, 2013

American Heartland Theatre To Close At End of Season

Production still from 'Life Could Be a Dream'
courtesy American Heartland Theatre

The American Heartland Theatre announced Thursday it would close in August at the end of its 26th season.

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Visual Arts
5:00 am
Thu April 4, 2013

Charlotte Street Announces New Visual Artist Fellows

Erika Lynne Hanson, U.E.I.W.E.L.: Iceberg 1875. woven linen, 2012
courtesy of the artist

Three artists. $10,000 each in unrestricted cash gifts. The Charlotte Street Foundation - a nonprofit supporting Kansas City artists through exhibitions, studio spaces and residencies, and fellowships - has announced its 2013 Visual Artist Award fellows.

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Visual Arts
9:32 am
Wed April 3, 2013

Erin Dziedzic Named Kemper Museum Curator

Erin Dziedzic, curator and head of adult programs at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.
Bruce Mathews

After conducting a national search, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art today announced the selection of a new Curator and Head of Adult Programs: Erin Dziedzic. She starts at the museum in late April.

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Visual Arts
5:00 am
Wed April 3, 2013

A New 'Cultural Icon' For Overland Park

Museum of Prairiefire director Linda Segebrecht stands in front of drawings of the new museum.
Laura Spencer KCUR

A museum with ties to the American Museum of Natural History in New York is slated to open in April 2014 in Overland Park, Kan. It’s part of Prairiefire, a $580 million development currently under construction along 135th between Nall and Lamar.

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Government
10:26 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

April 2 Election Results

Electronic pollbooks, to look up registered voters, were used for the first time in Kansas City, Mo.
Laura Spencer KCUR

Turnout was light, around 10 percent, at polling places in Kansas and Missouri for Tuesday's election. Voters were asked to consider raising taxes, ousting mayors, and more.

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Environment
9:54 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Spring Turkey Season Starts In Kansas

Missouri Department of Conservation

April 1st marks the start of spring turkey season in Kansas for archers, youth and disabled hunters.

In the early 1960s, wild turkeys were reintroduced to the state, and almost every county now has a huntable population.

Mike Miller with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism, says turkeys are anything but easy prey.

“When everything works out right it can be a really easy exciting hunt, for any hunter, especially a young hunter, just because of what you see and what you hear, and the whole build up as you get into shotgun range,” says Miller.

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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