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

Kansas City, Missouri – The conversation among pork producers these days is about how to survive the H1N1 crisis.

When the Centers for Disease Control released the first report of swine flu in late April, hog prices tumbled more than 17%.

Public health officials know the new strain began with swine, but beyond that, they know little about how it will behave.

Photo By Laura Ziegler

Overland Park, Kansas – Nearly 50 percent more workers in Johnson County are without jobs today than they were this time last year. The increase in unemployment is still well below the national average of 8.9%,and lower than that of neighboring Wyandotte County. But the job base in Johnson County historically has been high wage and highly skilled, and most are accustomed to job security.

Overland Park, Kansas – Pete Barrett's a casualty of the consolidating media market. A long - time marketing manager for a local television station, he was laid off 8 years ago. He looked around and saw the health care field was a potential growth industry, and went to work in marketing for a radiology office. Now, he's lost that job now, too.

Here's Pete Barrett's story for the latest in our occasional series, My 2 Cents.

Olathe, Kansas – The job of looking for a job... you don't think about how hard it is until you're actually doing it.

That's the experience of one man recently laid off from his sales job at a start-up company that after two years decided to close it's doors this past December.

Before that, Phillip Morgan had been drawing a salary, plus commission, in the low six figures with almost 20 years experience with one of the nation's largest telecom companies.

www.unity.org

Kansas City, MO – Prayer is in. Of course, for many people, it never went out. But with the anxiety and misery this economy is producing, there are reports of an increasing number of prayer websites and blogs. Pastors are devoting sermons to issues of economic distress. More than a hundred years ago, the co-founders of Unity Village in Lee's Summit, began a magazine promoting the power of prayer.

Kansas City , Mo. – We're in the habit of hearing mostly negative stories about the impact of the economy.Here's one with a more positive twist.

The proprietor of one hair salon on the Plaza has decided to offer FREE hair cuts and color, for as many unemployed women as she can for three days, through February 10th.

KCUR would like to hear from you. Are you changing the way you live because of the recession? Tell us how the economic climate has affected you, or your business. Join the discussion here.

The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, as it's known, is supposed to bring millions of dollars in economic development, hundreds of jobs and international prestige to Manhattan, Kan.

A consortium of Kansas State University, the state of Kansas and a public-private "bioscience authority" wrote the proposal for the facility's location. The Department of Homeland Security chose the Kansas proposal over four finalists from other states.

Manhattan, KS – The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, as it's known, is supposed to bring millions of dollars in economic development, hundreds of jobs and international prestige to Manhattan. A consortium of Kansas State University, the state of Kansas and a public-private "bioscience authority" wrote the proposal.

The Department of Homeland Security chose the Kansas proposal over four finalists from other states. Leading the effort were Senior Senator Pat Roberts, Governor Kathleen Sebelius and President of K-State, Jon Wefald.

The Foote Family

Lawson, Missouri – Autoworkers were relieved Friday when President Bush approved a 14.3 billion dollar loan to the Big 3 automakers.

Kansas City, Missouri – Thousands of autoworkers in the Kansas City area are watching the Washington debate over the proposed bailout closely, wondering what it will mean for their jobs. The Fairfax General Motors plant in Kansas City, Kansas, is already feeling the pinch. The company has added an additional two weeks to shut-down orders which would've kept the plant closed through mid January. Now workers won't be going back until February 9th.

Kansas City, MO – The commercial baking industry is watching closely as Interstate Bakeries Corporation creeps back out of bankruptcy. It was a shock when the Lenexa-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankcruptcy four years ago. The owners of Hostess and Wonder Bread, among other familiar lines, had long been the largest commercial bakery in the United States.

Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey

Ailey Camp is one of the legacies of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey. It's more than a summer camp for kids who want to dance. Alvin Ailey started the camp with the idea that dance could be a vehicle for growth and personal development among the community's youth.

Overland Park, Kansas – The third district encompasses Johnson County, Wyandotte County, and part of Douglas County. Dennis Moore easily slid to victory, in spite of a Republican majority there. He told supporters he was looking forward to working with the new Obama administration. He will be the lone Democrat in the Kansas delegation once again, but will have a larger Democratic majority to work with in Congress.

Johnson County, Kansas – So far in Johnson County things are running smoothly. KCUR's Laura Ziegler reports.

Johnson County, Kansas – Should voters in Johnson County elect their judges, or keep a system by which a commission of seven lawyers and seven non-lawyers nominate judges for the Governor to appoint?Should voters approve a one-eighth cent sales tax for an "education and research triangle?" The projected 15 million dollars in annual revenue would fund three Johnson County facilities: the KU Edwards Campus, K-State's National Food Safety and Health Institute in Olathe, and the Cancer Clinical Research Center in Fairway.

Kansas City, Missouri – A number of studies are looking at voting patterns in the suburbs, but one in particular identifies suburbs in the Missouri counties of Platte, Clay, and Clinton as places the candidates might pay special attention to. A study scheduled to be released next week by the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech looks at so-called "emerging" suburbs, or those that have evolved in rings outside of cities.Laura Ziegler looked into the report's findings.

Overland Park, KS – With energy at the top of the political agenda, representatives of state energy offices are in Kansas City hitting all the hot button issues. More from Laura Ziegler.

An economist with the National Petroleum Institute told member of the National Association of State Energy Offices that the average household could expect to see their heating bills go up by several five to six hundred dollars this winter because of higher fuel prices.

Kansas City, MO – With the conclusion of the Republican Party's national convention, we decided to speak to local pundits, our region's representatives in St. Paul and some local convention watchers for their reactions. KCUR's Laura Ziegler has a sample of what they had to say.

This story was produced for KC Currents. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KC Currents Podcast .

Kansas City, Missouri – A movie theater with red leather recliners is a good place to watch CNN - even if there are only a few of you. That's how many members of the Women's Political Caucus came out to watch Cindy and John McCain last night. President of the Caucus board Ina Montgomery says that while the Caucus is nonpartisan, it's endorsed mostly democrats. It hasn't always been like that, and she says last night's event was an effort to attract Republicans.

Johnson County, Kansas – There haven't been many yard signs. You may have read an editorial or two in the newspaper. But the effort to renew a quarter-cent sales tax for public safety in Johnson County has been pretty low- profile so far. KCUR's Laura Ziegler reports on some of the arguments pro and con as the August 5th election draws near.

People spilled out of the courtroom door of Edwin Hall's dramatic hearing. Kelsey Smith's murderer was pleading his case the same day I was touring the Johnson County jail.

Photo by Laura Ziegler.

OVERLAND PARK, KS – After almost a year and a half of research and input from thousands of residents, the city of Overland Park and a team of consultants will reveal a new "vision" for Metcalf Avenue on February 21.

The plan gives this important Johnson County artery a massive face lift, including bus rapid transit and pockets of revitalized mixed-use development along key stops between Johnson Drive and 123rd Street.

Local jazz fans gather this Sunday at Jardine's for a tribute to local singer Gregory Hickman-Williams who died just as his career seemed about to take off.

Kansas City, MO – Tribute to Gregory Hickman-Williams
with Sons of Brazil
Sunday, January 20, 5 - 10 pm
Jardine's

The Department of Homeland Security announced recently that a site near K-State in Manhattan, Kan., was on the short list to be the home of a new multi-million dollar federal center designed to protect the nation's food supply and public health.

Sen. Pat Roberts, the former Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and member of the Agriculture Committee, says biosecurity is a national concern and that Kansas is a natural place to put it front and center.

The proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, as it's known in Washington, will replace the aging lab on Plum Island, near New York. That lab has been the premier biosecurity facility to date.

Kansas City, MO – The United Nations is struggling to put a peacekeeping force in place to uphold the fragile cease-fire in Southern Lebanon, as it enters its third week. In the Kansas City area, Jewish and Muslim groups are monitoring events as hope increases that hostilities will begin to die down. We wanted to see what others were thinking about the situation, people who don't necessarily have a vested interest in the situation in that part of the world. KCUR's Laura Ziegler talked to three people, and has this report.

July 31, 2006 –
This years Kansas State School Board elections are being more closely watched than ever. Usually overlooked during the last days of summer, primary elections - particularly for the school board - don't draw much attention. But that was before evolution and intelligent design, or sex education, or the controversial new commissioner of education put a spotlight on Kansas schools.
Now, the conservative majority that some say has made Kansas a punchline for night-time talk shows could be voted out of power.

 

Kansas City, MO – Families for Adoption, an international and domestic adoption ministry at the Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Liberty recently held a roundtable for people interested in adopting children from another country. We heard about it, and thought it would be an opportunity to take our own look at the subject. KCUR's Laura Ziegler spoke to some adoption experts, and dropped in on some parents with kids who come from other countries.

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