Laura Ziegler

Special Correspondent

Laura Ziegler began her career at KCUR as a reporter more than 20 years ago. She became the news director in the mid 1980's and  in 1988,  went to National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. as a producer for Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon.

In 1993, she came back to Kansas City as the Midwest correspondent for National Public Radio. Among the stories she covered - the floods of 1993, the ongoing farm crisis and rural affairs, and presidential campaigns.

After the birth of her 3rd child, Laura returned to KCUR as producer of Under the Clock, a weekly talk show broadcast live from Union Station. It was hosted by former Kansas City mayor Emanuel Cleaver. When he was elected 5th district Congressman in 2002, Laura returned to KCUR as a part-time reporter and producer.

Laura has won numerous awards for her work, including three regional Edward R. Murrow awards.

In 1992, Laura was awarded a Jefferson Fellowship in Journalism with the East West Center at the University of Hawaii which took her to China, Japan, Burma, Bangladesh and Thailand.  In 1990, she was part of a reporting trip to the then -Soviet Union with the American Center for International Leadership.

Laura graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Anthropology from Vassar College.

She, her husband, and their three children - Julia, Ellie, and Benjamin, live with Laura's father in the house in which she was born.

Ways To Connect

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

As the nation's Capitol was humming with activity around the pope's visit, Catholics in Kansas City came together Thursday at Rockhurst University to watch the historic address to a joint session of Congress. 

A large crowd gathered in the auditorium of Pedre Arrupe, S.J. Hall on the Rockhurst campus. Students, faculty and staff, and members of the community watched the pope on two large screens at the front of the hall, applauding vigorously almost every time they saw Congress clap. There was also a giant screen feeding live tweets from around the country.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

If you’ve driven down State Line Road just north of 39th Street recently, you’ve seen the bustling construction under way. It’s a multi-million dollar addition to the University of Kansas Hospital that will include new beds, department offices and operating rooms.

And right there in the middle of the humming machinery and hard-hatted workers is Linda Mawby’s house.

file photo

Pope Francis on Tuesday appointed Springfield-Cape Girardeau Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr. as the new bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. 

Johnston, 55, replaces Archbishop Joseph Naumann, who had been leading the diocese on an interim basis since the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn in April.

Archbishop Naumann introduced Bishop Johnston to Chancery staff at the Catholic Center in downtown Kansas City Tuesday morning.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

The Missouri River shaped Kansas City.

It ferried traders and explorers. It helped establish Kansas City's reputation as a transportation hub.

Slaves escaped across the river, where some settled in the town of Old Quindaro in the Kansas Territory, soon to be Free Kansas.  

But as important as the river is, we don’t get out on it much. And for me, growing up in a place that focused more on the prairie than the river, I’ve always been fascinated by the Mighty Mo.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Adding extra preparations following the disastrous bird flu outbreak this year, federal authorities have tapped Kansas State University to share its course on responding to agricultural emergencies.

K-State's National Agricultural Biosecurity Center, or NABC, is helping the Federal Emergency Management Agency provide training to first responders, according to a release from K-State.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

It's not that there's a problem with plans to develop the Quindaro Township site in Kansas City, Kansas — some feel it's the way they're being executed.

The African Methodist Church owns nearly 100 acres of  the Quindaro site, once an important spot on the Underground Railroad, a thriving business and cultural community, and site of the first African American University west of the Mississippi.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Slavery along the Missouri River in what is now the Kansas City metro area was not the slavery of Gone With The Wind.

University of Missouri-Kansas City history professor Diane Mutti-Burke, who has written extensively about slavery in Missouri, says slave owners tended to have less than 20 slaves. Those with more than 20 are historically defined as "plantations."

With the recent passing of Jesse Hope, the founder and curator of the Old Quindaro Museum and one of the historic township's most dedicated champions, questions arise about the future of the site and its legacy. 


  • Laura Ziegler, community engagement reporter, KCUR


For some, it’s a quiet reading corner in the crowded public library.

For others , it’s the same spot at the bar in their favorite local pub, or table at the corner coffee shop.

Maybe your favorite home-away-from-home is an art gallery or museum.

When we heard at one of our neighborhood meetings that some felt their community offered a lack of gathering spots, we got to wondering — where do you like to hang out?

TELL KCUR:  Where are you most comfortable when you’re not at home?

Creative Commons /

Kansas City has been selected to participate in an initiative aimed to help officials better implement the city's strategic goals through the use of consultants and technical experts.

"What Works Cities" is sponsored by the Bloomberg Foundation -- as in former New York mayor and business scion Michael Bloomberg -- and it’s dedicated to enhancing openness and using data to improve government efficiency.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

My colleague, Donna Vestal, and her husband Eric like living in the Northland.

They have space. Their expansive backyard spills down from their deck like their own personal park where they enjoy a rural kind of quiet.

They like their living situation well enough to endure what can easily be a 30-minute commute daily across the Missouri River.

To save gas, Donna and Eric frequently commute together. He works downtown and she works at KCUR in Midtown.

Kansas Bioscience Authority

Facing additional funding cuts from the state, the Kansas Bioscience Authority has laid off seven of its 13 full-time staff members and altered the primary focus of its mission – to invest in bioscience startups in the state.

The KBA also will stop making any new investments in its portfolio of companies.

The recent downsizing was unavoidable, KBA President and CEO Duane Cantrell told The Wichita Eagle

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

Cara Smith didn't move to Parkville, Missouri, for the Missouri River.

But that's why she stayed.

Ray Tsang / Flickr--CC

Excessive heat warnings hit the Kansas City area on Monday and Tuesday.

And forecasters predict dangerously high temperatures  at least through mid- week.

The elderly, infants and young children, those with dementia or other cognitive impairments, and those who work outside are among the most vulnerable to heat-related illness.

Maria Carter / KCUR

 This story was updated on June 17 at 4:32 p.m. 

A federal judge has thrown out a race discrimination suit against Cordish Companies Inc., operator of the Power & Light District in Kansas City.

U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith ruled earlier this week that the case brought by Dante A. R. Combs and Adam S. Williams was not supported by the evidence.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

After years of environmental and safety reviews, Congress approved final funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas this year.  And last week, a who's who of the power elite gathered for a ceremonial groundbreaking. Two cabinet secretaries, most of the Kansas Congressional delegation, military personnel and several state lawmakers joined the Kansas Lt. Governor and Gov. Sam Brownback, who had been wooing NBAF for more than a decade.

"NBAF is finally here!" Brownback shouted to the cheers of an ecstatic crowd.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Most of the Kansas Congressional delegation, state and local officials as well as the Secretaries of both Agriculture and Homeland Security smiled, shook hands, even hugged as they came together for the latest in a series of ceremonial groundbreakings for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF.

The Manhattan, Kansas facility has been in the works for 16 years, said Sen. Pat Roberts, the grandfather of the project, who first pushed for greater food and agriculture safety with Kansas State University officials in 1999.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

A newly appointed official with the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, said Thursday the facility’s main laboratory will be under construction within a month at the site in Manhattan, Kansas.

Marty Vanier told the Agriculture Business Council of Kansas City the release of several million dollars in funds from Washington finalized the federal government’s commitment, allowing The Department of Homeland Security to move forward with the lab.

The state of Kansas has committed more than $300 million in state funds.

Earthworm / Flickr--CC

As a nation we have been talking about race a lot lately. And with Mother's Day just ahead we thought we would pair two unlikely subjects.

"How did your mother talk with you about race?" we asked.

What you told us ran the gamut from “my mother didn’t talk to me about race,” to “she let us know her feelings, but indirectly,” to “she told us exactly what she thought and what she wanted us to know.”

Connecting for Good

Connecting for Good, a Kansas City-area non-profit that’s working to provide digital literacy and computer access across the metro, established a computer lab last year across from the Juniper Gardens Housing Project in Kansas City, Kansas. The organization recently added 25 computers, because the lab became so popular.


We’re linking two slightly unlikely topics this week for our Tell KCUR question.

As we consider the unrest in Baltimore, Ferguson, and other places around the country and as Mother’s Day approaches, we thought it was a good opportunity to ask about race — and your mother.

Tell KCUR: How did your mother talk to you about race?

Did she talk to you about it at all, and if so, was it direct, coded, comfortable or uncomfortable?

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

With a towering physical stature and soft spoken, solicitous style, Archbishop Joseph Naumann knows he has a difficult task before him as he takes over the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph on an interim basis after the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn.

He's encouraging the grieving and still angry parishioners to reach toward their faith.

"I think we need to ask the Lord to help each of us to heal. There are people who have experienced wounds on both sides," Naumann said in an interview Monday at the Diocese headquarters in downtown Kansas City. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

By midday Tuesday, there were still many among the flock of Catholics in Kansas City who didn’t yet know that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of their Bishop — Robert William Finn.

Finn has been at the center of controversy for years. He became the highest ranking official of the church to be convicted of a crime when he was found guilty of failing to report allegations of child abuse in 2012.

Kansas City-area Catholics reacting to the news revealed a wide range of opinions.

Cara McClain / KCUR

Rebecca Koop stood by Saturday watching as workers carted away the boards painted with images of gigantic playing cards. The artwork had covered the windows and doors of an abandoned apartment building at 702 Indiana in Kansas City's Historic Northeast neighborhood.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

When Sister Berta Sailor called Kansas City Mayor Sly James' cell phone a couple of weeks ago, he picked up.

The director of the child care and social service agency Operation Breakthrough told the mayor some of her patrons wanted to participate in events marking the one year anniversary of the shootings at Jewish sites in Overland Park — but there was a problem. The march and candlelight vigil were to start at the Jewish Community Center, and she didn’t have a way to get her people there.

Kevin Harber / Flickr--CC

The 2014 American League Champion Kansas City Royals  face the Chicago White Sox in their home opener Monday afternoon. And to get ready, we asked you to imagine yourself in the line up. What music would you want to hear blasted over the speakers at Kauffman Stadium as you stepped up to bat?

We had a deluge of Tweets, Facebook comments and phone calls with a range of responses — from the silence of John Cage’s "4'33"" (hmmmm ...)  to "You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate, to George Frederic Handel’s Royal Fireworks Suite.

Bennie Campbell called to say he’d like hear Jim Neighbors singing "To Dream the Impossible Dream." Come on, Bennie, have a little confidence!

Just who is the middle class?  The Wall Street Journal wondered in a piece earlier this year. The paper points out the term means little, and that’s why politicians love to use it.

Middle class in the Kansas City metro is certainly different than middle class in San Francisco, but how should we decide who fits into that category?

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Law enforcement across the country has been forced to confront violent acts of terrorism, and with the shootings at Jewish sites in Overland Park just a year ago – officials realize we’re as vulnerable here as anywhere.

A bill currently waiting to be heard on the floor of the Kansas House is aimed at helping police intervene in incidents across the Missouri-Kansas state line. The bill is known as the Critical Incidents Bill, named for the type of incidents it applies to — those that could cause serious injury or loss of life.

Speaking to more than 700 people at the Pride Breakfast on the campus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Thursday morning, Nico Leone, general manager at KCUR, announced the station will be bringing the national storytelling project StoryCorps to Kansas City.

In partnership with the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America (GLAMA) at UMKC, KCUR and StoryCorps will capture the stories of the LGBTQ community in the Kansas City metro this June. --CC

The mother of a boy who was severely beaten in a Liberty, Missouri middle school lunchroom in February said she’d written to the school a month earlier — telling administrators her son was being picked on.

Blake Kitchen has Asperger’s Syndrome and as part of his condition, he likes routine. For example, he likes eating in the same spot in the lunchroom each day. When Blake put his tray down in that spot, an older student allegedly beat him so badly he ended up in the hospital with a broken skull and jaw.