Sylvia Maria Gross

Senior Producer / Reporter, Central Standard

Sylvia Maria Gross is the senior producer of Central Standard, KCUR's daily talk/magazine show. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, The World and Studio 360. Gross grew up in New York City, Brazil and the suburbs of Washington, DC. She came to public radio after a long stint as a middle school teacher, and has spent a lot of time trying to capture the attention of wandering minds.

Ways To Connect

Eleanor Klibanoff / KCUR

After years spent battling landlords and management, residents of a Kansas City, Kansas public housing complex await promised vouchers for housing of their choice. What will happen when, and if, they get off that steep hill?

Katie Knight / KCUR

The year Chris Pollard was born, his father Dave bought a meat market. So, of course, Chris grew up there: stocking shelves, bagging groceries and hanging out behind the meat counter.

 

He’s 28, now, and Chris Pollard is about to take over The Store: Old-Fashioned Meat Market in Raytown.

 

We wanted to see the sausage being made. A trip to The Store, a lesson in seasoning, and our critics' recommendations for the best sausage in town. 

Guests:

Everybody's got a reputation. To wrap up our months-long exploration of the line between Wyandotte and Johnson Counties, we get confessions about geographic profiling, and stories from people living on both sides of the county line. 

Guests:

  • Maria Carter and Steve Kraske, KCUR staffers who live five blocks apart in separate Kansas counties

Just 80 years ago, the word racism barely existed. How did it — along the word racist — become such loaded terms? We invite a New York Times reporter, the president of the Urban League and a professor of linguistics and sociocultural anthropology to discuss how we talk about racism today — and the power of those two words.

Guests:

The Vietnamese-American Community of Greater Kansas City just participated in an annual commemoration the Fall of Saigon, which the organization calls its Black April Commemoration. This year's anniversary marked forty years since the moment when communist power extended to South Vietnam, and Saigon became Ho Chi Minh City. People fled in large numbers, and for many in the local Vietnamese community, a long perilous journey ended here in Kansas City. 

Guests:

Mysteryman28/Google Images -- CC

After last season's incredible run, the national spotlight has been on the Kansas City Royals — and the team's recent bench-clearing brawl and skirmishes with opposing teams. We invite KCUR's sports reporter and sports columnist at the Kansas City Star to discuss the unspoken code of conduct in baseball — and how the Royals are changing the game.

Guests:

  • Lee Judge, cartoonist and sportswriter, Kansas City Star
  • Greg Echlin, sports reporter, KCUR
Matt Rahner

Kansas City's new east side police station and crime lab on Prospect and 27th Street is still under construction — the campus is slated to open next year. Meanwhile, the city is still facing litigation over how the four-block area was selected for the campus, and how the people who lived there were moved to make way for the new construction.

Starting in the fall of 2012, photographer Matt Rahner documented the residents of the Wendell-Phillips neighborhood between Prospect and Brooklyn avenues and 26th and 27th streets. He wanted to capture the final months before the demolition of their homes.

www.FBI.gov

Many Kansas Citians have heard of the Union Station Massacre or the River Quay explosion — two of the more infamous episodes in KC's mobster history. But what about the lesser-known mob landmarks?

Gary Jenkins, a retired KCMO police officer, created a new app that reveals the history behind all of those spots. He talked to Central Standard's Gina Kaufmann about Kansas City Mob Tour.

Maureen Didde/Flickr -- CC

For most Kansas Citians, the only time we interact with the Missouri River is when we drive over one of the many bridges that span it. Local author Patrick Dobson has a different take; he traveled from Montana to Kansas City down the Missouri River in a canoe. 

Guest:

  • Patrick Dobson, author, Canoeing The Great Plains: A Missouri River Summer
Danny Clinch / Sacks And Co.

One of the most intriguing musical acts in Kansas City these days is a duo whom most musicians and fans here had never heard of until about a year ago.

Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear — who is actually Madisen’s mom, Ruth Ward — started performing together off and on about six years ago in coffeehouses in Independence, Blue Springs and Overland Park. They played a lot of covers—Tracey Chapman, Adele, Fleetwood Mac — until Madisen started experimenting with songwriting and found he was getting a great reaction to his original songs.

Oonagh Taeger / Flickr

  

You can learn a lot from a sip of tequila. Explore tequila's history, taste, origins and pairings, and learn about other beverages in the mezcal family. Just in time for a citywide tequila-tasting workshop and culinary event

Guests:

  • Grisel Vargas, Chamber of Tequila
  • Berto Santoro, Extra Virgin
Creative Commons -- Google Images

DeSoto is a town on the edge of the suburbs. K-10 used to run through it, but not anymore. Commuters used to drive into DeSoto for work, but now, traffic tends to flow in the opposite direction. We discuss how the transformation of DeSoto unfolded, and we'll learn what it's like to live in exurban communities like DeSoto today.

Guests:

Capoeira, karate and Krav Maga — the martial arts of Brazil, Japan and Israel, respectively — are all being taught and diligently practiced here in Kansas City. It can be a source of fun, or exercise, even philosophy. And people form entire communities and identities around them. We meet some of these martial arts practitioners and find out more about their disciplines.

Guests:

When Stephen Metzler passed away this week, many Kansas City organizations lost an avid supporter. On social media, his passing sparked a discussion about the role philanthropy plays in Kansas City. We discuss whether Kansas Citians with means have a responsibility to be philanthropic -- and whether the philanthropic community reflects its potential.

 

Guests:

Sylvia Maria Gross / William Leonard Elder / KCUR

Pollen levels have skyrocketed to new heights this spring in Kansas City.  That’s bad news for allergy sufferers, but good news for a UMKC scientist, who has found a way to use a byproduct of all that suffering.

Ernest Virostus looks like what you might imagine a biochemical engineer would look (stereotypically, of course): weirdly parted black hair, glasses askew, a red bow-tie. He’s always tinkering in his laboratory with glass beakers oozing fluids into other beakers

“Look at the viscosity, here,” he points to a bubbling vat of thick liquid, which looks like a pot of lime green jam. “It’s the perfect texture.”

The dictionary definition of the word adjunct is: "something that is joined or added to another thing but is not an essential part of it." But have adjunct professors become essential to higher ed? And if so, what are the implications for students attending local universities and colleges?

Guests:

With the advertising and design community immersed in Kansas City Design Week, we examine how local companies get people to identify with their products and their stories. Let's pull back the curtain on some popular KC brands: Shatto Milk, Sporting KC and SPIN! Pizza.

Guest:

"Kansas City nice." It's a term you hear all the time around here, but what does it mean? Is there such a thing as a Kansas City-specific code of conduct? We explore the purpose and history of etiquette in general, then we focus on etiquette in Kansas City today. What do we consider polite and what offends us? And do our etiquette rules hinder us in any way?

Guests:

Earthquakes are more frequent than ever in Oklahoma, and they're hitting harder. KCUR's Frank Morris visits Kansas's neighbor to the South and gets perspectives and stories from those directly affected by the situation. Is the cornerstone of that state's economy shaking its foundation?

Lisa Brewster / Flickr

My Little Ponies may be great enticements for toilet training, but new research shows that material rewards for accomplishments can lead to materialism down the road. Kids raised with "stuff" as the main motivator for good behavior disproportionately correlate material things with self-worth as adults. The researcher discusses her findings. 

Guest:

  • Lan Chaplin, University of Illinois in Chicago
Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Why is the Kansas school funding formula so complicated? Or is it, really? Get a lesson on school funding, how the formula works, and why it will likely soon be replaced by block grants.

(Try and solve the formula yourself, here.)

Guests:

  • Sam Zeff, KCUR education reporter
  • Brad Tennant, math teacher, Shawnee Mission West

In many states, funding for schools is determined by a complicated formula that adjusts the basic per pupil funding according to set of factors like how many students are considered “at-risk,” receive bilingual services, ride buses or whether enrollment is declining. A bill awaiting Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature would bypass the school funding formula for the next two years in favor of block grants to districts.

Brian Hillegas / Flickr

There's talk of a West Bottoms revitalization. But the truth is, every fifteen years or so, the industrial stockyards district experiences a new kind of renaissance. In the 80s and 90s, it was an underground arts thing. Now, it's food, festivals and antiques. Meanwhile, industry and architecture have maintained a quiet presence all along. From art to antiques, can revivals of the recent past inform the future of the district?

Guests:

Central Avenue is a business corridor cutting across seven neighborhoods in Kansas City, Kan. The street has seen a major cultural shift over the past 20 years, as Latinos have moved into many of the surrounding neighborhoods and started new businesses along Central. 

Guests:

  • Edgar Galicia, Central Avenue Betterment Association
  • Steve Curtis, artist and community activist, Community Housing Wyandotte county
  • Allie Mason, Fokl Arts Center
Patrick Quick, KCUR

Recently in Columbus Park, some folks built a pop-up/DIY skate park in an underused portion of a city street. Why do people go outside the typical building process, with its system of permits and bureaucracy, and how do these projects benefit a community? How common are they and how have they turned out? We explore the organic, under-the-radar, grassroots building projects around the city.

Guests:

Comedy can come from unexpected sources, for example, parents of children who have autism. It can be hard for these parents to talk about their particular parenting experiences, and to laugh about the funny (and even challenging) moments. During an event called An Evening With The Rents at the Gem  Theater, KCUR announcer and newscaster Jenny Whitty shared her experience about parenting kids on the autism spectrum.

From Narnia to The Hunger Games, young adult literature has an age-old obsession with right versus wrong. But moral conundrums on teens' bookshelves are more complex than ever. What does the changing moral landscape say about growing up today? 

Guests: 

  • Melissa Lenos, associate professor of English, Donnelly College
  • Naphtali Faris, early literacy manager, The Kansas City Public Library

In the wake of a bullying incident that sent a 12-year-old to the hospital for five days in the Liberty School District, we get perspectives on bullying from administrators, parents and former students, all in an effort to figure out what can and should be done to keep kids safe.

 

Guests:

In principle most people care about the arts, but how much? We examine government funding for the arts  -- whether we should invest, the importance of arts education and what happens if we don't fund the arts.

 

Guests:

  • Harlan Brownlee, president & CEO, ArtsKC
  • Saralyn Reece Hardy, director, Spencer Museum of Art
  • CJ Janovy, arts reporter, KCUR
  • Kyna Iman, government affairs consultant

 

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