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.

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Every city has that one bookstore, the irreverent corner shop where literary types plot revolutions. In Kansas City, that bookstore is Prospero's, owned by Will Leathem. Leathem took a surprising path to becoming a used book salesman.

 

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Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

At one point in history, Atchison, Kansas was positioned to be one of the main connecting points for the railways between Missouri and Kansas. It's said there were more millionaires there than anywhere in the world. Can Atchison hold onto its grand past but carve out a new identity for young residents?

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Courtesy of Will Fisher / https://www.flickr.com/photos/fireatwillrva/6800794340/

Malls used to be "cool" places to hang out. But now, more and more malls are becoming abandoned structures, rotting inside and waiting for the wrecking ball. What do these hollowed-out shopping centers say about where we are as a country?

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Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

At one point in history, Atchison, Kansas was positioned to be one of the main connecting points for the railways between Missouri and Kansas. The town played an important role in the Civil War, and had many significant residents. But what's going on there today?

KCUR's Central Standard takes a rode trip to Atchison. Come along with us.

Guests:

KCUR 89.3

Suddenly, everyone seems to be using the word "y'all." But what do we mean when we use that word? Is it a bad case of appropriation? Is it racist? One thing's for sure, "y'all" is far more interesting than you think.

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ANTHONY LADESICH

Anthony Ladesich never got to buy his dad a drink. He died when Anthony was only 19. But after listening to his father's old reel-to-reel tapes, Anthony discovered a dad he never knew, and what he heard blew his mind.

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As more young people identify as Nones (as in "no religious affiliation"), are they still making room for rituals in their daily lives?

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As a kid, Ed Dwight never dreamed he might one day go to the moon, but he did fantasize about escaping life in Kansas. And it was that idea of escape that was so powerful for a young black man in the 50s.

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In the 1990s, fiddler Dennis Stroughmatt was a student at Southwest Missouri State University when a folklore professor made a passing reference to a little-known dialect of French spoken nearby. An encore presentation of his journey to find out if anyone still spoke Missouri French.

Then, a KU professor on the connection between blues and funk, and Question Quest has the final installment of the mysterious bird lady statue on the Trolley Trail.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A shooting in Olathe, Kansas that left one Indian man dead and another injured has captured national and international attention. How does violence like this change South Asian immigrants' perceptions of the Midwest and the "American Dream?"

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COURTESY OF NABIL HADDAD

There's no question that the McDonald's Happy Meal was invented in Kansas City, Missouri. The question is...who invented it? To find an answer, we go on a journey from 1950's Lebanon to Salina, Kansas.

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KCUR Studios released today Midwesternish, a new podcast about the thinkers, doers and makers in the middle of the country.

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A visit to a local olive oil shop, then KCUR's Food Critics search out the best pasta dishes in and around KC.

Plus, the latest news from KC's restaurant scene.

Guests:

Vincent Chow / Flickr -- CC

From 60 degrees to a winter weather advisory in just a couple of days: yes, the weather here can be manic. A chat with Mike July, who recently retired from the National Weather Service office in KC, about the art of forecasting ... and about his witty social media posts.

Then, in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. gave a surprising speech at K-State. We'll hear about the impression it left on Kansans.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

When you picture a break-dancer, or "b-boy," you may envision a skinny kid who drops to the ground and pops back up like it's no big deal. But the hip-hop culture that gave rise to break-dancing isn't getting any younger.

Now, the original hip-hop generation is bringing kids to the club for events featuring crayons. In this encore presentation of Central Standard, we ask, how is the culture of hip-hop growing up with them? Plus, profiles of three icons in Kansas City's hip-hop scene. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

When musician Amado Espinoza and theater artist Karen Lisondra moved to Kansas City from Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 2014, Espinoza noticed that many people here were disconnected from their own roots, from each other and from the earth. He'd come from a place where indigenous culture is present in everyday life.

As they looked to develop a creative network and collaborate with other artists, Espinoza and Lisondra also started thinking of a project that would bring different people with indigenous backgrounds together.

DonkeyHotey / Flickr -- CC

After a surprising and emotional election night, how are Kansas Citians feeling today? A look at how the election results fit into their personal stories.

Guests:

It's Election Day. We're taking a trip down memory lane, as we explore the first elections many of us got to participate in: class elections. Whether for elementary schools, high school student council, or college class president, these early elections are an opportunity to practice being members of a democracy.

Guests: 

Photo illustration by BigStock Images

Ask food critic Charles Ferruzza what restaurants in Kansas City might look like in 30 years, and he envisions places where “farm-to-table” has gone to the extreme.

“Can you see the day people will come in with their very own sorghum from their backyard and ask you to cook it?” Ferruzza asked chef Ted Habiger on a recent episode of Central Standard

Halloween is here. Out with the normal, in with the zombies, ghouls and ghosts . . . and all of your favorite customs. From trick-or-treating to haunted houses, how are the customs of this holiday changing in Kansas City?

Plus, one Kansas City cardiologist recently branched out to make an evolutionary case for homosexuality.

Guests:

It's not a new story: newspapers are in flux. Recently, Yael Abouhalkah, a longtime Kansas City Star journalist, was laid off; he was one of only two editorial writers at the paper.

What is the significance of the newspaper editorial — especially in a time when nearly everyone can broadcast their opinion online? And how are layoffs affecting newsrooms nationwide?

Plus, Question Quest sifts through the legend and superstition to find the true story behind the Black Angel in Iowa City, Iowa.

Is nature a place to unplug ... or is it a photo op for social media? (#nature #gettingoutthere)? The relationship between technology and the wilderness.

Plus, a look back at how Leon Jordan and others consolidated black political power in Kansas City.

Guests:

Kansas Citians love their Chiefs. But the game of football has been harshly criticized, for the slew of injuries and the enduring mentality that causes them. We hear from a few people working to change the game, including one UMKC professor who has designed a new football helmet.

Also, ahead of an event at the Black Archives of Mid-America, a local historical tour guide shares stories of the late Felix Payne, an influential man who transformed the political identity of black Kansas Citians in the early 20th-century.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Students in the Hickman Mills School District face a lot of challenges, including poverty and a provisionally accredited district, as well as a high rate of mobility: 75 percent of students typically change classrooms, schools or districts within the course of one year.

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The food of Kansas City has a life story to tell. Author Andrea Broomfield tells it. The origins of Kansas City chili, tamales and tailgating, an affinity for dining al fresco and cinnamon rolls, and what local beer has to do with our sports teams and stadiums. Every food tradition can be explained through the lens of history.

Guest:

Courtesy of Bruno Bessa

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard in which local musicians tell the story behind a song they have written or are performing.

The Song: "Sabiá"

The Songwriters: Chico Buarque and Antônio Carlos Jobim

Interpreted by: Vocalist Bruno Bessa and guitarist Beau Bledsoe with Ensemble Ibérica

Hordes of storytellers from around the world are descending on Kansas City over the next few days for the National Storytelling Conference. How do we craft better stories and why does the way we tell stories matter? We find out why this ancient art is still in vogue today.  Plus, a story from last February's Flame KC event.

Guests:

Pokémon Go has taken Kansas City by storm. As Pokémon pop up around us, we chat about how video games have changed us, and we discuss the distinction between virtual reality and augmented reality. Then we let our guests and listeners get back to their quests to "catch 'em all."

Guests: 

Danny Lyon / courtesy of Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The violence and horror of cell phone videos of the recent police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have galvanized many Americans to question race relations and justice.

We take a look back at iconic civil rights era photos, and then invite a psychologist and criminologist to explore the effect of images of violence, past and present, on our minds and our culture.

Guests:

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City artist Ryan Wilks explored a wide range of gender and sexuality in the 12 large-scale portraits and interviews on display in the show Gender Treason at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center. He and one of his painting subjects say the process of creating the art changed each of them.

Guests:

  • Ryan Wilks, artist
  • Ana Marcela Maldonado Morales, visual artist, tattoo artist, musician

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