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.


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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12:53 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

K-State Says Proposed Funding For NBAF Is A Big Step Forward

U.S. Department of Homeland Security rendering of finished facility.
Credit courtesy photo / U.S. Department of Homeland Security

A U.S. Senate subcommittee has appropriated $300 million in funding for the National Bio and Agro- Defense Facility , or NBAF, in Manhattan, Kan.

Ron Trewyn, vice president for research at Kansas State University, says this week's appropriation for a top-security animal disease lab on Kansas State's campus will allow the Department Of Homeland Security lab be finished.

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Beyond Our Borders
7:39 am
Wed June 18, 2014

KC Anti-Crime Leader Says The Black Church Needs New Message For Grieving Teens

Anti-crime activist and minister Alvin Brooks at a recent meeting on how the church can better serve siblings of murder victims.
Credit Peggy Lowe / KCUR

The homicide epidemic among young black men on Kansas City’s east side is leaving a generation of grieving teens in its wake, and some in the crime-fighting community feel black churches need to change their message to better help these young people deal with their loss.

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Beyond Our Borders
11:16 am
Fri June 6, 2014

The Story Behind The Lost Song About Fairyland Park

A commemorative postcard from Fairyland Park features lyrics from the song.
Courtesy Brancato family

Thousands of dancers flocked each week to the Fairyland Park Dance Pavilion in Kansas City, Mo., in the decades between opening day in 1923 and when the park closed in the 1977.  The park was owned by the Brancato family, a family of Italian immigrants and successful business people who'd come to the United States at the turn of the century.

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Beyond Our Borders
10:25 am
Fri May 30, 2014

Years Ago, Summer Meant (Almost) Everyone Headed To Fairyland Park

A roller coaster at Fairyland Park cost 10 cents a ride.
Courtesy photo Crawford Family Collection- Judy Long


From the 1920s through the 1960s, summertime in Kansas City meant a thrilling trip to Fairyland Park.

The 80-acre amusement park in Kansas City, Mo., offered daring rides, an outdoor dance pavilion, a large swimming pool, and later, a drive-in movie theater.

As we move into the summer of 2014, we take a trip back to the heyday of a local summer ritual for many, but not all, Kansas City residents.

Every child's dream

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3:55 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

How Long Does It Take To Get To Kansas City's Major Employers On Public Transit?

Kara McGowan, of Kansas City, Mo., takes two buses to her children's day care facility every day before hopping on two more buses to work.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Earlier this month, we ran a story about the accessibility to jobs in the Kansas City metro by public transportation. It takes Kara McGowan, of Kansas City, Mo., more than 90 minutes to get to her job in Westport once she drops off her children at day care.

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8:43 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Kansas City Public Transit Among Nation's Worst In Connecting Workers To Jobs

Kara McGowan takes two buses to Operation Breakthrough where her kids go to day care, then two more to her job.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Just after 7:15 a.m. in the morning, Kara McGowan rushes out of her house, carrying her baby, Airis, on one arm, a bulging diaper bag on the other. Her four-year-old, Addison, trails behind.

"We got eight minutes. Come on!" McGowan pleads.  She doesn't want to miss her bus. She doesn't have a car, so her only option to get her kids to daycare and to herself to her job as a receptionist in Westport is to take public transit.

McGowan's bus rolls away from the intersection before she and the children arrive, so she reroutes them to catch the 12th Street bus across town.

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Beyond Our Borders
1:52 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Prospect MAX Bus Decision Expected From Court Soon

An approval of a transit plan involving the streetcar and a new MAX bus line would send a taxing district question to voters.
Credit Kyle Gradinger / Flickr--CC

Any day now, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Marco Roldan is expected to hand down a decision that would allow an election to create a special transit taxing district.

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11:22 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Attorney In Power & Light Case Reacts To Cordish Lawsuit

The Power & Light District is at the center of two lawsuits.
Credit Ashley Turner / Flickr--CC

Linda Dickens of Dickens Law, LLC  is being sued by The Cordish Companies for extortion and defamation. Dickens says the claims against her and her firm are a scare tactic and without merit. Cordish Companies owns and operates The Kansas City Power & Light District.

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4:51 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

Cordish Hits Back Against Discrimination Allegations At Power & Light

The Power and Light district in downtown Kansas City, Mo., is at the center of two lawsuits.
Credit Maria Carter / KCUR

The Cordish Companies, owners and operators of the Power & Light District in Kansas City, are alleging a Kansas lawyer conspired to extort “large amounts of money” from Cordish as part of  race discrimination lawsuit against the company.

In a racketeering lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in Kansas City, Kan., Cordish further alleges Dickens Law LLC, principal Linda Dickens and attorney Austin Johnston engaged in witness tampering, and that Linda Dickens either deliberately or recklessly lied to the news media .

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8:15 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Dying Doctor And Woodworker Forge Tight Bond While Building Coffin

Local woodworker and artist Peter Warren met Dr. Jeff Piehler, a retired thoracic surgeon, at an art opening some years ago. But last year, the doctor came to visit Warren at his studio with an unusual request.

“He came to me and said ‘what do you think about building a casket?’” Warren said. "I told him I was fine with that."

Building his own casket

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JCC Shootings
2:31 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

In The Wake Of Tragedy, Overland Park JCC Flooded With Condolences

Cards have flooded the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kan., since the April 13 attack that took the lives of three people.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

In the weeks since a gunman shot and killed three people at Jewish facilities in Overland Park, Kan., hundreds of cards, letters and other expressions of sympathy have poured in.

Jacob Schreiber, President and CEO of the Jewish Community Center said a number of the written expressions are displayed on a bulletin board in the center’s lobby. Some of the expressions of sympathy include:

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7:43 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Streetcar Project May Prompt Kansas City Officials To Temporarily Move Bus Lines

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority is thinking about temporarily moving some routes off Main Street in Kansas City, Mo., while streets are congested with construction.

While lower Main street is torn up as workers lay streetcar lines, it comes as no surprise to anyone moving around there that traffic is a mess. So Mark Huffer, General Manager of the ATA, says officials are thinking it may alleviate some of the congestion to move peak-time routes off Main to Grand for awhile.

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9:22 am
Tue April 29, 2014

After Tulips Bloom, Rockhurst University Puts Bulbs Up For Taking

Tulips bloom along the edge of the Rockhurst University campus.
Credit Courtesy / Rockhurst University

Rockhurst University planted 33,000 tulips as part of the Tulips on Troost program this year. Now that the blankets of flowers are finished blooming, the university is giving the tulip bulbs away.

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10:55 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Troost Avenue Festival Will Celebrate 10 Years This Weekend

The Troost Ave Festival features crafts, music and food.
Credit KCUR

A handful of volunteers gathered earlier this week at Reconciliation Services, a social service agency at 31st Street and Troost Avenue in Kansas City, Mo., they ate stuffed grape leaves around a small table, talking about what needs to be done for Saturday’s 10th annual Troost Ave Festival. But, not much comes up.

"We need to figure out the color of our T-Shirts,” says Rae Peterson, the de facto group leader. The T-shirt will bear an image donated by local artist D.J. Burton.

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4:02 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Federal Transportation Dollars Boost Infrastructure And Transit

Runners help celebrate opening a bridge across Brush Creek, the final project of a $50 million federal infrastructure grant.
Credit Ron Jones

It was a backslapping moment for federal and local officials Monday morning as they celebrated the end of a $50 million federal transit and infrastructure grant.

A group of runners broke through a green crepe paper ribbon on a pedestrian bridge over Brush Creek, a block east of Troost and just north of Volker in Kansas City, Mo.

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11:09 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Tulips On Troost Program Reflects Varying Ideas For Avenue's Revival

Credit Laura Ziegler

When the first blankets of tulips bloomed along Troost as part of the Tulips on Troost street beautification program, national, even international press paid attention.

But the program was never supposed to be just about flowers. It was also an effort to reimagine Troost Avenue, which for years has been thought of as an economic and racial dividing line.

Today, the program is all but defunct, lacking funds and human capital to keep it alive.

Driving north along Troost from 75th street, there aren't many signs of tulips. 

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6:20 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Jewish Community Center Reopens Amidst Added Security

Officials with the Jewish Community Center say they'll add security in the wake of Sunday's shootings
Credit Laura Ziegler

Parents pulled into the circle in front of the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kan., at a steady pace to drop off their prechoolers at the Child Development Center Wednesday.

It was the first day the center was open since a gunman took the lives of William Corporon, 69, and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Underwood, in the parking lot before killing Terri LaManno, 53, at a retirement community down the road. 

The only reminder of the horrific event were several police cars lining the driveway and a handful of law enforcement officers inside the building.

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7:49 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Shootings At Johnson County Jewish Facilities Have Global Impact

Shootings took place on Sunday at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom retirement home (pictured) in Overland Park, Kan.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

Shootings at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom retirement home in Overland Park, Kan. became international news overnight as new details about the tragedy emerged.

Authorities have been learning about the racist and anti-Semitic ideology of the suspect, Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., who hate-group trackers have been following for years.

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4:02 pm
Sun April 13, 2014

UPDATED: Victims, Suspect Identified In Overland Park Shootings

On Monday, police tape was still wrapped around a parking lot at Village Shalom in Overland Park, Kan. to keep visitors out of the crime scene.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

Updated 10:47 a.m.:

Frazier Glenn Cross, the suspect in Sunday's shootings, is being held at the Johnson County Detention Center without bond. Kristi Bergeron, of the District Attorney's Office in Johnson County said he will not be arraigned Monday.

He will face both federal and state charges.

Updated 10:36 a.m.:

The Children's Center for the Visually Impaired released this statement:

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Beyond Our Borders
5:30 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Tulips On Troost Still Blooming, But Efforts Are Dying Out

The Tulips on Troost program has struggled in recent years, but streets near Rockhurst University reflect the school's continuing participation in the program.
Julie Denesha KCUR

When the first blankets of tulips bloomed along Troost Avenue as part of the Tulips on Troost street beautification program, national, even international press paid attention.

But the program was never supposed to be just about flowers. It was also an effort to reimagine Troost, which for years has been thought of as an economic and racial dividing line.

Today, the program is all but defunct, lacking funds and human capital to keep it alive.

Driving north along Troost from 75th street, there aren't many signs of tulips. 

Read more
9:29 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Kansas City Police Investigate More Reports Of Highway Shootings

Police say there might be as many as 20 victims in the spree of highway shootings around the Kansas City area.

Captain Tye Grant says since the shootings have been widely publicized, a number of people have come forward who think they may have been involved in a similar incident.

Police are now looking into 20 possible shootings on area highways, but Grant emphasizes the number is extremely fluid.

“Because honestly that is changing so much by the time I give it to you and the time you report it, it’s going to change," says Grant.

Read more
11:47 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Kansas City To Vote On Water Improvement Bonds

Credit Creative Commons

Kansas Citians go to the polls Tuesday and one of the things they will be deciding is whether to update an aging network of underground water pipes.

Backers of the water revenue bonds say it’s critical to maintaining the city’s infrastructure.

Kansas City’s underground pipes, along with some fire hydrants and other facilities, date back to the Civil War years, say water department officials.

And, they say, the system is breaking down. Officials report there were more than 1,000 water main breaks just last year.

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Beyond Our Borders
9:36 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Kansas City's 49-63 Coalition Unites Residents On Both Sides Of Troost

A home in one of the neighborhoods that are part of the 49-63 coalition.
Credit Courtesy / 49-63 Neighborhood Coaltion

Right off the bat, you know one thing about everyone who’s part of the 49-63 neighborhood coalition  — a collective of residential associations in Kansas City, Mo. They all  live between 49th and 63rd Streets.

It’s their east–west borders that may be most interesting, however. Those lines are Paseo and Oak.

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Beyond Our Borders
7:30 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Life East Of Troost Through The Eyes Of 5 Kansas Citians

Mary Williams Neal
Credit Alyson Raletz / KCUR

As KCUR begins its in-depth look at how Troost Avenue divides Kansas City, we wanted to talk to people about their perceptions of the area east of the thoroughfare.  

We spent some time east of Troost this month, asking about the realities and misconceptions of life near one of Kansas City’s most prominent racial and economic dividing lines.

Here are some of the highlights of what we heard back:

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7:47 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Children’s Mercy Hospital Recognized By LGBT Organization



 The nation’s largest education and advocacy group for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has recognized Children’s Mercy Hospital for its progressive policies toward LGBT patients, employees, and families.

The Human Rights Campaign will honor Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, Mo., with the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Award.

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