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.


10:08 am
Thu December 18, 2014

University Of Kansas Sanctions Kappa Sigma Fraternity For Alleged Sexual Assault

The University Of Kansas placed the Kappa Sigma fraternity on probation for two years on Wednesday because of violations of the Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities.

The sanctions are the result of an investigation of alleged sexual assault at the fraternity the weekend of Sept. 26.

According to a statement from the University, the sanctions against the Kappa Sigma fraternity include:

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3:41 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Kansas City Response To Ferguson Calm But Tensions Simmer

Students and civil rights leaders marching the day after the Ferguson decision was released.
Credit Laura Ziegler / K

Kansas City, like many cities across the world, saw a public outcry to what many felt was an injustice in the Ferguson, Mo., grand jury decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.

As anticipated, the decision set off immediate violence in the St. Louis suburb. The ruling reverberated with demonstrations and protests from New York to San Diego, and as far away as Sydney, Australia.

Here in Kansas City, the response was quick and vocal, but mostly peaceful.

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Beyond Our Borders
1:32 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

For Neighbors, Construction On Kansas City Church Is Good News

Ivanhoe resident Mrs. Martha Tolbert welcomes construction at the Linwood Presbyterian Church and community center.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Martha Tolbert has lived directly across from the Linwood Presbyterian Church and adjacent Harold Thomas Center for more than 50 years.

The massive complex at Linwood Boulevard and U.S. Highway 71 has been an architectural icon in the Ivanhoe neighborhood since its construction around the turn of the century.  

But for decades, the buildings have been vacant, the majestic bell tower crumbling and the brick walls  increasingly dilapidated.

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6:01 am
Wed November 26, 2014

Kansas City Response to Ferguson Orderly, Thoughtful

Civil rights activists marched in support of family and friends of Ferguson teen Michael Brown in Kansas City.
Credit Julia Davis / KCUR

From the Country Club Plaza to the federal courthouse to a church at 46th and Benton Boulevard, activists in Kansas City, Mo., protested passionately, but generally with civility Tuesday in the wake of the controversial decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown.

Four people were arrested for blocking traffic and one for assaulting a Kansas City police officer's horse, according to Kansas City Police Department spokesman Darin Snapp.  Otherwise, peaceful marches took place around Westport and the Plaza.  

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Beyond Our Borders
5:28 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Kansas City, Missouri, Is A Model For Progressive LGBT Policy, Group Says

Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan., each received vastly different marks on LGBT-friendliness in a recent report.
Credit Wikipedia -- Creative Commons

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization, calls Kansas City, Mo., “a beacon of hope” for the LGBT community.

Kansas City, Kan., however, represents a city “at the opposite end of the spectrum” in terms of LGBT rights, according to a new report.

“The simple reality is LGBT people in Kansas City are living in two completely different worlds divided by a line,” the Washington-based group says in a statement.

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4:44 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Teens Gathering In Kansas City Hopeful About Reversing Young Voter Apathy

Zephanii Smith, Rose Smithson and Ricardo Gonzales hope to see more young people voting next election cycle.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

As the future of our country, millennials have not distinguished themselves as a group vitally enthusiastic about participating in the electoral process.

Last week's mid-term elections proved to be no exception with young people turning out in significantly lower numbers than older voters.

Seventeen-year-old Ricardo Gonzales, a senior at Sumner Academy in Kansas City, Kan., blames part of the apathy on grown-ups who talk down to teenagers.

He said he's been told not to take elections seriously until he's of voting age.  He believes that's a mistake.

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Election 2014
3:53 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Just Over A Third Of Voters In Missouri, Half in Kansas, Turn Out To Vote

About 35 percent of Missouri voters took part in Tuesday’s midterm elections, according to Secretary of State Jason Kander. That’s about 1.5 million of the state's 4 million registered voters.

Knox and Schuyler counties in northeast Missouri and Worth County in northwest Missouri had the largest turnout.

Missouri sent its two only Democratic house members, Lacy Clay in St. Louis and Emanuel Cleaver in Kansas City, back to Washington.

Voters also approved two of four ballot amendments last night:

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Election 2014
4:22 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Turnout Strong In Places, But Some Have Problems At Polls

It’s still early to have much except anecdotal turnout numbers, but we are hearing back from people about their voting experiences.

Pretty uniformly, early voters are saying they've experienced a robust voting electorate. Some said they waited up to 30 minutes in line.

Jeffrey Benes told us when he voted in Westwood, Kan., at 7:10 a.m., he waited 20 minutes.

"It was good to see so many people turning out to vote," Benes said, "but I don't believe it is emblematic of the whole."

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Election 2014
11:58 am
Tue November 4, 2014

Hot Races, Down Ballot Amendments Affect Turnout In Kansas And Missouri

Voters at Lutheran Church-Resurrection waited in long lines to vote an hour after polls opened in Johnson County.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Turnout for midterm elections typically lags behind turnout in a presidential election year, and this year appears to be no exception.

On the Kansas side, Secretary of State Kris Kobach estimates somewhere around 50 percent of the Kansas registered electorate will vote. That's slightly more than the average low to mid 40 percent who typically turnout for mid-terms.

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Beyond Our Borders
9:43 am
Mon November 3, 2014

Voting Can Be Challenging For People With Disabilities On Both Sides Of State Line

Credit BigStock image

Update: Nov. 4, 2014   2:30PM

On Election Day, respondents to a new Tell KC query told us their polling places were not well-equipped to help them vote.

Mary-Corinne Corely has cerebral-palsy-like symptoms in her legs due to an illness when she was an infant. Some days, she says, the symptoms make it impossible for her to do steps at all.

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8:20 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Campus Sexual Violence A Problem Nationwide And In Our Own Backyard

An increasing number of universities are bringing in consultants to teach students what sexual violence is.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

The University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan.,  Missouri Science and Technology in Rolla, Mo., Kansas State University, and Washburn University in Topeka, Kan., are all on a list of over 70 colleges and universities under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for violations of sex discrimination.

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Beyond Our Borders
8:28 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Legally, What Can Happen When You Commit A Crime And Cross State Line?

Credit Creative Commons

As we explore the state line in our ongoing project looking at borders that unite and divide the metro, we’ve heard a number of times about the question of law enforcement.

How does the state line affect it?

Well, it depends.

In all cases, law enforcement departments say they collaborate closely across jurisdictions. When a crime occurs on or near the state line, dispatch officers from the city where the crime occurred immediately get in touch with dispatch across state line.

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8:17 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Colleague Remembers Kansas City Community Activist As Mentor And Friend

Longtime Westside activist Lynda Callon died Sunday after a short illness.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Lynda Callon, longtime director of the Community Action Center in Kansas City's Westside died Sunday after a very short illness.

Callon was a fierce advocate for Latino day workers and others in the community. She pushed to create a haven where day workers could get food and clothing as they gathered under the I-35 bridge waiting for work.

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12:00 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Avila Students Hear From Sen. McCaskill About Sexual Assault

Students from Avila University helped Senator Claire McCaskill understand the problem of campus sexual violence.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Avila University students said a meeting with Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill Wednesday afternoon taught them important things about the definition of sexual assault, what their school was doing to combat it and how to involve law enforcement in the event of an attack.

With the national spotlight on the issue of sexual violence on campuses, McCaskill has been touring Missouri schools to discuss pending legislation she has co-sponsored on the issue.

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6:07 am
Fri October 3, 2014

Missouri Curators Approve Tougher Sexual Discrimination Rules

Meeting on the UMKC campus, university curators approved tougher rules governing sexual discrimination.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

The University of Missouri Board of Curators unanimously ratified changes in rules governing sexual assault and discrimination Thursday.

The changes come from an executive order put forward last week by University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe aimed at toughening university responses to Title IX violations.

Wolfe told the curators he pledged at the beginning of the year to invest in making Missouri campuses safe and secure for students, faculty and staff.

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Beyond Our Borders
2:49 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

What Are You Doing On This Side Of The State Line In Kansas City?

Trell West lives on State Line Road.
Credit Alyson Raletz / KCUR

As KCUR looks at how the Kansas-Missouri border divides the Kansas City metropolitan area, we wanted to talk to locals about their daily experiences with State Line Road.

We spent some time on both sides this month, asking people: What are you doing on this side of the state line?

From shopping to jobs to restaurants, here’s what we heard back:

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Beyond Our Borders
4:38 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

Things You May Not Have Known About The Kansas-Missouri State Line

State Line Road heads south from the Missouri River in the West Bottoms.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Our research into State Line Road as part of our ongoing exploration for Beyond Our Borders turned up some interesting things about the dividing line between the two very different states in our metro.

We are pretty evenly divided as a population by the state line, and our political differences pre-date the Civil War.  

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Arts & Culture
4:08 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

'Sheaves Of Wheat' Sculpture Leaves Plaza For Powell Gardens

Workers spent most of the business day on Tuesday removing the wheat sculpture on the old Kansas City Board of Trade building on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

The iconic shafts of wheat and corn that have arched over the east entrance of the building that formerly held the Kansas City Board of Trade were pried off the wall Tuesday after a nearly 50-year running.

Workers with Belger Cartage Service of Kansas City – the same company that installed the art work in 1966 — spent the day wrenching loose bolts and heaving the 4,000-pound bronze sculptures onto flatbed trucks in the middle of Main Street on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo.

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Beyond Our Borders
1:16 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Keep Your Leaves Off My Side — A Kansas City Cartoonist's Take On The Border Wars

Credit Charlie Podrebarac

Local cartoonist Charlie Podrebarac is familiar with the tensions that sometimes arise over the Kansas-Missouri state line.

He lives on the Kansas side, but has often highlighted the border conflict in his Cowtown Cartoons. He’s been penning Cowtown since 1984 for the Kansas City Star.

In his series, “soldiers” take the battlefield on State Line Road armed with leaf blowers and rakes in an ironic statement about the “border war” between Missouri and Kansas. It’s part of a series of cartoons about metropolitan Kansas City that use a leaf motif.

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Beyond Our Borders
11:27 am
Thu September 18, 2014

When It Comes To Kansas City's State Line, It's Complicated

State Line Road winds through the industrial west bottoms as it divides Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan.
Credit Alyson Raletz / KCUR

I’m someone who simply will just say "I’m from Kansas City.” But, sometimes people will ask "Kansas City, Kansas, or Kansas City, Missouri?"

Then I go into the convoluted explanation how I live in the suburbs of Kansas City, Mo., but in Kansas, not far from the state line. It gets kind of boring.

But State Line is anything but boring.

I recently found Blue Springs, Mo., resident D.J. Lee at Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que (formally known as Oklahoma Joe's) in Kansas City, Kan.

"To cross the street and be in a different state ... pretty awesome!" says Lee.

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6:13 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

Pat Roberts Faces Tough U.S. Senate Race After Field Narrows

Sen. Pat Roberts
Credit Wikimedia Commons -- CC

A Wednesday shake-up in Kansas politics even has seasoned pundits amazed. 

Chad Taylor, a Democrat running for U.S. Senate, has withdrawn from the race, leaving Kansas Republican Pat Roberts facing his toughest political test in decades.

Steve Kraske, host of Up To Date on KCUR and Kansas City Star political commentator, says the change spells bad news for the incumbent.

"Pat Roberts is suddenly in very deep trouble in Kansas," Kraske says. "His polling numbers have not been good. He was ahead only because he was in a three-way contest."

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7:56 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

NBAF Will Be Finished If Funds Come Through, Say Lawmakers

Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary Reginald Brothers got a tour of the NBAF site with Senators Pat Roberts and Tim Huelskamp.
Credit Laura Ziegler

Three members of the Kansas Congressional delegation were in Manhattan, Kan., Friday to see the first stage of construction on the $1.2 billion federal animal disease lab known as NBAF, or the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.

Joining Senators Jerry Moran, Pat Roberts and Congressman Tim Huelskamp was Dr. Reginald Brothers. Brothers will oversee the facility as an undersecretary with the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Talking to reporters after the tour, Brothers said he was happy with what he saw.

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5:08 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Judge Throws Out Case Against Lawyer Suing Owners Of Power & Light For Discrimination

The Power and Light District in downtown Kansas City, Mo., was at the center of multiple lawsuits.
Credit Missouri Dept. of Tourism / Flickr--CC

A federal judge has thrown out racketeering charges against the firm of Linda Dickens, the local attorney who is suing the owners of the Kansas City Power & Light District  for racial discrimination on behalf of African-American clients.

In a ruling handed down Wednesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge John W. Lungstrum said the allegations by The Cordish Companies Inc. did not amount to the kind of long-term criminal activity against which the racketeering law is aimed.

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12:31 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Looking Back, Looking Forward As School Days In Kansas City Begin

Hundreds of families line up for school supplies at a back-to-school fair at Kansas City Kansas Community College last week.
Credit Laura Ziegler

Many of the schools in the Kansas City metro area began this week. As we look around and see students toting backpacks and boarding school busses, we take a look at what's universal about this "back-to-school" time of year with this audio postcard.

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5:20 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Mayor Says Streetcar Defeat Bad For Job Seekers

Credit HDR, City of Kansas City

Not long after Kansas City's proposal to add street car lines along Independence Avenue and Linwood Boulevard went down to defeat in Tuesday’s election, Kansas City Mayor Sly James was in front of microphones expressing his disappointment.

The mayor reiterated those concerns the morning after the election. “Things are not going to get better unless we do something different,” he said in an interview with KCUR.

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4:31 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

What It Means To Be A Midwesterner In The Words Of Kansas Citians

When we asked you to describe what it's like to be a Midwesterner, responses ranged from "Finding beauty in simple things," to "Living in literal hell." Tweet your answer with the #TellKCUR hashtag.
Credit Pam Morris / Flickr--CC

Midwesterners are hard-working, friendly and polite.

Those were the recurring adjectives that came up when we asked Kansas Citians for their take on the heartland.

When we took to social media and asked, “What does it mean to be a Midwesterner in five words or less?”  you also shot back these common themes:

• Underappreciated

• Family-oriented and pragmatic

• We feel we know what’s really important (priorities)

• Compassionate

• Considerate

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Beyond Our Borders
4:49 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Meet The Eyes And Ears Of Kansas City's Ivanhoe Neighborhood

Florence Hayden (left) and Ida Dockary have kept tabs on their block in the Ivanhoe neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo., by meeting every month since 1980.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Ida Dockary and Florence Hayden have seen it all during the 55 years they’ve lived on the 3800 block of the Ivanhoe neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo., just a few doors down from one another.

At 81 and 86 years old, respectively, they were there when Ivanhoe was a thriving residential and business community. They watched as U.S. Highway 71 bisected the neighborhood, eliminating whole blocks of homes. They saw their streets become infested with crime and blight, and change from a mix of races to mostly all black.

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3:50 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Immigrants Bring Power Soccer To Kansas City's Historic Northeast

Angel Ponce, of Mexico, Jean-Luc Kamin, of the Ivory Coast, and Soemoe Oo, of Burma, all play soccer with Coach Foday Kamara.
Laura Ziegler KCUR

Coach Foday Kamara is proud that countries in the World Cup are represented among the immigrants living in the Historic Northeast neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo.

Kamara — an immigrant from Sierra Leone - has been in the United States for nine years. He was a professional soccer player before he came. 

Now he's trying to form a soccer league in Kansas City's Historic Northeast. He says the area's diverse population lends itself to some excellent soccer.

"Everybody here is playing soccer." Kamara says. "All the immigrants ... (grew up) playing soccer."

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Beyond Our Borders
11:19 am
Tue July 1, 2014

Neighborhoods In Kansas City's Historic Northeast Move Beyond City Ordinance

Neighborhoods say there are hundreds of homeless camps throughout the woods along historic Cliff Drive.
Credit Laura Ziegler

The Historic Northeast has a concentration of social services such as soup kitchens, shelters and health centers.

And the services tend to draw large numbers of the homeless to the area.

During the past year and a half, residents have been organizing to deal with some of the accompanying issues, like excess trash, sanitation and property damage. 

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Beyond Our Borders
1:56 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Cliff Drive Began With Aristocratic Kansas City Family

This 1903 photo shows a portion of Cliff Drive near an overhang.
Credit Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library / Kansas City, Mo.

Cliff Drive in Kansas City, Mo., hugs the limestone bluffs that separate the stately turn-of-the-century mansions in the Historic Northeast neighborhood from the industry and train tracks of the Missouri River bottoms.

The road was purchased from the estate of Reverend Nathan Scarritt around 1900.

Scarritt and his family were early settlers in Illinois, and moved to Missouri in the mid-1820s as pioneers.

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