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.


4:02 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.

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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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4:00 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

What Happens To Foster Children When They Turn 18?

Foster children often overcome a great deal in life. Many have to take charge of their own wellbeing at a young age, and learn to navigate a complex system of care-providers from state to local agencies.

But the real obstacles can begin when they leave the system. In a number of states, children age of out foster care at 21 years old, but in Kansas it is 18. 

On today's Central Standard, we explore the foster care system in Kansas.


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Public Transit
10:12 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Residents Turn Out To Learn About Prospect Max Bus

Lena Rose - showing here ATA swag - says she is "elated" there might be a MAX bus along Prospect
Credit Laura Ziegler

A small group of residents crowded into the basement of Zion Grove Missionary Baptist Church on Swope Parkway Tuesday night to learn about the proposed MAX bus line along Prospect.

The 2005 Main Street MAX and 2011 Troost MAX have been popular with riders, and residents east of Troost seem equally enthusiastic about having the upgraded express line in their neighborhoods.

MAX buses don't make as many stops and have upgraded terminals; the lighting and shelter is better; and there are talking notifications about when the next bus is arriving.

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2:19 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Stowers Institute And American Century Investments Founder Jim Stowers Dies At 90

Philanthropist and financial innovator Jim Stowers, Jr.
Credit Courtesy: Stowers Institute for Medical Research

James "Jim" Stowers, Jr., the founder of American Century Investments and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, died Monday of natural causes according to a joint release from both institutions. He was 90.

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1:08 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Missouri Paraplegic Skier Hopes To One Day Make Paralympics

Jason Myers trying to best his time on the slopes of Snow Creek in Weston, Mo.


Jason Myers crosses the finish line at the bottom of the race course at Snow Creek in Weston, Mo., so fast that you almost can’t tell he’s sitting on his ski.

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Power & Light District
3:13 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Another Suit Filed Alleging Discrimination At Power & Light District

The periphery of the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City, Mo.
Credit eschipul / Flickr--CC

A class action lawsuit was filed in federal court Monday afternoon against The Cordish Companies, the Baltimore-based developer who owns and operates the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City.

It follows a suit filed less than two weeks ago by Glen Cusimano, who claims he was wrongfully terminated for failing to enforce what he alleges was a pattern of racial  discrimination

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Power & Light District
5:11 am
Thu March 6, 2014

New Lawsuit Alleges Racial Discrimination At Power And Light

The Power and Light District in downtown Kansas City, Mo., is at the center of new allegations claiming racial discrimination.
Credit eschipul / Flickr--Creative Commons

The Cordish Companies, owner-operator of the popular Power and Light District in downtown Kansas City, is again facing allegations of discrimination. Cordish vehemently denies as “complete fabrication” the latest charges, which are part of wrongful dismissal lawsuit filed late Friday.

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Central Standard
4:00 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Exploring The Borders And Boundaries In And Around Kansas City

How do we define ourselves, Kansas City? Are we a community made of rich and poor, black and white? Are we defined and divided by the languages we speak at home? Do neighborhoods, suburbs or rural communities signify who we are?

On today's Central Standard, we’ll explore the ways our communities have changed and are changing. Also, we'll talk about the lines that separate and unite us as the beginning of a longer conversation between KCUR and the greater Kansas City about borders and boundaries.


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Olympic Dreams
8:32 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Olympic Dreams In Kansas City: Downhill Skiing Or Snowboarding

Our own Brian Ellison beat his own time on the race course at Snow Creek at Weston, Missouri.
Credit Laura Ziegler


Alpine skiing is the most commonly practiced Winter Olympic sport. But, as Midwesterners our "alpine" options leave much to be desired. Still, if you want to feel the air through your hair as you barrel down a mountain on skis or a snowboard, we have some options. The mountain just won't be quite be the size of those found in Sochi.

Where to go:
Snow Creek Park, Weston, Mo. 

Adult lift ticket: $43
Child lift ticket: $28
Equipment rentals: $10-$25

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Central Standard
4:00 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

The Science Of Street Traffic

As populations continue to grow in urban areas, the demand for a more efficient traffic system has been brought to the forefront of modern transportation issues. There is simply not enough room to add more lanes to highways or to build new roads.

Innovative updates to existing infrastructures are a work in progress right here in our backyard. Today we discuss what is being done to allow for safer and faster transportation in our cities. 


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Central Standard
4:00 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

A Fellowship Of The Questioning And Unbelievers - Oasis

There is a growing trend of atheists who also recognize the importance and impact of the communal nature of faith based worship. As a result Sunday Assemblies have popped up throughout the United States. Now their popularity is spurring others to offer even different options, with even less of a focus on communal worship. Oasis is one such group that will begin meeting in April.

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8:15 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Johnson County Salvation Army Opens New Homeless Shelter

Credit Photo Credit Creative Commons

The Salvation Army of Johnson County has expanded and improved its facilities for the homeless. Their existing shelter is 60-years-old and does not meet the needs of the county, which is the fastest growing county in Kansas.

The chapter's Major Mark Martsolf says the county wanted to provide a more dignified environment while the growing number of homeless families are trying to get back on their feet. He says the new Olathe facility will upgrade broken amenities and fixtures, as well as add square footage.

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10:29 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Kansas City Sudanese Man Narrowly Makes It Out Of Sudan

Manon Bol, a Sudanese refugee living in Kansas City, hopes to save enough money to bring his family here.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Thousands of miles from renewed violence in South Sudan, Sudanese residents of Kansas City are trying stay on top of the rapidly changing news from their homeland and learn what they can about family and friends.

Kansas City has one of the largest Sudanese communities in the country, mainly refugees from decades of brutal civil war. It was almost incomprehensible when fighting broke out over a political dispute among differing tribes in the new Southern Sudanese capital of Juba last month.

Reunited For The First Time

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9:40 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Big Boost For NBAF In New Budget Bill

Senators Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts sit with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback at the NBAF groundbreaking in Manhattan, Kan., in May, 2013.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Finally — a chunk of federal funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), has made it through Congress.  The $1.1 trillion appropriations bill that sailed through Congress this week makes it possible for construction to begin on the animal disease lab in Manhattan, Kansas.

It would be the first federal funding for the controversial project since 2011.

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10:21 am
Thu January 9, 2014

The Life And Work Of Kansas City Civil Rights Activist, Alvin Sykes

Alvin Sykes will speak at the Kansas City Public Library later this month about his life and work.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Kansas City native Alvin Sykes is a self-taught civil rights activist who has done instrumental work with the justice system, particularly with unsolved civil rights crimes, including the high-profile murder of Emmett Till, and the 1980 murder of Kansas City musician Steve Harvey.

This month he is giving a talk at the Kansas City Public library, where he was the 2013 scholar in residence. Sykes educated himself in law and civil rights using resources from the city's public library system.

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4:01 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Remembering R. Crosby Kemper Jr., Icon Of Kansas City

The Kemper family supported farming and agriculture, most notably through the support of the American Royal.
Credit Courtesy / The Kemper family

R. Crosby Kemper Jr., banker, philanthropist, and giant of Kansas City civic life, died last week at his friend's home in Indian Wells, Calif. He was 86.

Kemper was born in 1927 in Kansas City, the only son of R. Crosby Kemper Sr. and Enid Jackson Kemper.

Throughout his active life, many of his preoccupations reflected his family's legacy  — a long line of Kansas City aristocrats and leaders involved in banking, agriculture and politics. 

A banker's life

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8:31 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Lee's Summit Woman Honored On Rose Parade Float For Organ Donation

Lezlie McLendon's image in flowers for Rose Parade float.
Credit The Midwest Transplant Network

A Lee’s Summit, Mo., woman will be remembered in a special way at Wednesday’s Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. Lezlie McLendon’s family hopes the memorial will send a message to others  about the benefit of organ donation.

The family says it not only saves lives, but helps those grieving.

Lezlie McLendon was driving with her sister earlier this year when she suddenly passed out. Her sister got her out of the car and tried to administer CPR, but Lezlie’s cardiac arrest left her in a coma she never woke up from.

At 45, Lezlie had never been seriously ill.

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3:28 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Kansas Congressional Delegation Sparring Over Budget's Impact On NBAF

Senator Lynn Jenkins speaks in support of NBAF at groundbreaking ceremonies earlier this year
Credit Laura Ziegler

Some fissures have erupted among the Kansas Congressional delegation over how the House budget bill might affect the proposed National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF). 

The Department of Homeland Security project is currently under construction in Manhattan, Kan., but is behind schedule and underfunded.

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KC Currents
4:42 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Tech KC: History, Startups, Digital Divide

Google Fiber has set up a display room in Westport.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR
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Business & Tech
9:49 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Google Fiber And Kansas City's Digital Divide

Issac Wilder (right) and assistant add a dish to a tower at Posada del Sol to send bandwidth over to the 18th and Vine district.
Credit Courtesy / Connecting for Good

While Google has cast a spotlight on Kansas City that has the country excited about high speed internet, like most cities around the country, access is not equally available.

Internet activists believe that the arrival of Google Fiber has highlighted the so-called digital divide. But Google says it wants to work with the communities and organizations involved in bridging the gap.

Digital training, a life necessity 

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