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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Medical and scientific communities have been working hard to reassure parents that vaccinating children is safe, especially in light of current Measles incidents in the United States. But there is something about immunization that triggers fear in a lot of people, even people who do opt in. What is that fear about? How do human beings perceive and weigh different kinds of risks on behalf of their children? 

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Some like it hot, and some just can't resist a challenge. We start our exploration of spice in Kansas City by subjecting our intern and food critic to the Thai Hot Challenge at the Thai Place. Then, an Indian cooking instructor shares insights into the techniques, philosophies and health properties of spice.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

1. Thai Place in Westport, Kansas City, Mo.: The "Demon Gapow" is made with 10 habanero peppers, 25 thai chili peppers, 10 fresh jalapeno peppers, 10 serrano peppers, and two large tablespoons of house-made dried chili.

Patrons must eat the entire plate in 30 minutes, and they get it for free, plus a t-shirt, a $50 gift certificate and a photo on the restaurant's "Wall of Fame." (Note: the Thai Place Hot Challenge has taken a winter hiatus and will return in the spring)

Sylvia Maria Gross

Featured: Central Standard intern Patrick Quick and Central Standard food critic Emily Farris.

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Her children's books shaped ideas about the Midwestern experience for multiple generations worldwide. She's been gone more than sixty years, but her influence remains strong; even now, fans and scholars attend a yearly Laurapalooza festival in her honor. Her autobiography has just recently been published, but good luck finding a copy. The first print run has sold out and the second will not even fill existing orders.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

    

Missionary work, slaveholding in Kansas, a bogus legislature and a murder. These are some of the stories that surface when you investigate the namesake of Johnson County: Reverend Thomas Johnson, who founded the Shawnee Indian Mission (now a museum tucked away in a residential neighborhood). What happened at that site tells a larger story about the relationship between American Indians and the United States government.

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Are you a Kansan or a Missourian? That's a question that often divides our metro, but maybe we're more Kansas Citian than anything else. How can our economic, political and cultural reality more clearly reflect that sentiment?

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The Super Bowl is a national celebration of football... and advertising. For one day a year, we all gather around our television screens to watch commercials so we can partake in the sport of reviewing them the next morning. But is this still a relevant platform for advertising? Local ad experts weigh in.

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The Catholic Church is located in Vatican City, an ocean away and then some. But what happens in Rome affects the lives of Catholics living in Kansas City, and what happens here reverberates all the way up to the top. This conversation explores whether a perceived shift in the Catholic Church affects the priorities and attitudes of Catholics in our region. 

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Suzanne Opton / The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

In the photograph, a young soldier with a downy blond buzz-cut lies perfectly still, face down on the ground. On stage, an ancient Greek warrior goes through the four stages of events that lead to post-traumatic stress.

The arts community is asking big questions about the life of the soldier. What role does art play in public discourse around combat?

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Lara Shipley

Photographer Lara Shipley's image, "Believer," is currently looming over 43rd and Main on the H&R Block Artspace Project Wall in Kansas City, Mo. She says her series of photographs, Devil's Promenade, is a reflection on life in the Ozarks, where she grew up.

Patrick Quick / KCUR

In a city known as a cowtown, what are the tastiest burgers around? Enjoy debates about cheese on a burger, house-made ketchup, bun preferences and what to order on the side (hint: it's hard to argue with french fries). We take a trip to an East Bottoms food truck to meet a new burger on the block. Plus, our friends at Harvest Public Media tell us what going on in the industry that brings us burgers: the beef industry.

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Elle Moxley / KCUR

Since October, four children have died in drive-by shootings in Kansas City. What's going on, and what are the first steps we can take to work against this trend? A physician, a criminologist, and a mother weigh in. Race, opportunity in life, gun safety and witness protection play into the discussion. 

"When they took my son's life," says Roslyn Temple, "That's the worst thing they could have ever done to me. ... That was my child."

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Sugar consumption can now be linked to a number of health complications, including cardiovascular problems. James DiNicolantonio, a researcher whose New York Times op-ed about sugar has gone viral, says he still allows himself one "hit" of added sugar a day. If that language hints at drug references, that's not as far-fetched as it sounds. DiNicolantonio says studies show that lab rats prefer sugar to cocaine. 

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KC Ale Trail is a guide to the craft brewing industry in our region. Inspired by the 25-year milestone since Boulevard Brewing Company got its start, author Pete Dulin has expanded our palate by adding several smaller startup breweries to the local must-try list. Plus, a young beer-preneur shares his insights into what makes Kansas City's beer scene unique. 

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Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

If we are all "Charlie" in the wake of an armed assault on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, no one has earned that solidarity more than political cartoonists. A left-leaning cartoonist and his conservative counterpart weigh in on the risks and rewards of taking a bold stance. In the course of doing a job intended to provoke, are there lines they do not cross?

"Problems are the gasoline that runs the self-help car." So says David Wayne Reed, who wrote the play Help Yourself. On the heels of a discussion of this darkly humorous new play, a librarian and a psychologist discuss the self-help genre, its history and the human condition that fuels it. Is change possible? And when might acceptance be just as important?

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In the 1990s, Kevin Fox Gotham began researching Race, Real Estate and Uneven Development: The Kansas City Experience, 1900-2000. The book's premise is that housing patterns isolating impoverished, minority populations in city centers don't naturally result from free market pressures; institutional policies contribute, and the desires the free market satisfies originate somewhere. After the subprime mortgage crisis of recent years, Gotham decided to publish a second edition.

Good criticism can make all the difference, but that doesn't make it fun to hear. It can also be tough to deliver, even when it's intended in a loving spirit. Self-examination, careful listening and sensitive timing can go a long way, when both giving and receiving input.

Guest:

  • Bruce Liese, psychologist and professor of family medicine, The University of Kansas Medical Center

We don't have flying cars, and futurists guess we never will. That's an infrastructure thing. On the other hand, leaps in communication technology have changed our lives in ways that surpass most of our wildest dreams. How does the 2015 we are living in compare to the 2015 visited by Marty McFly in Back to the Future Part II? Up next: Blade Runner, 2019.

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Our food critics share their favorite meals of 2014, go over the year's restaurant openings and closings, and predict some local food trends for the coming year.

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As we say goodbye to 2014, we remember the people we lost this year. Author Jack Gantos shares his boyhood experience typing stories for his town's obituary writer, offering insights into why a community needs to remember. Kansas Citians share memories, plus, a tribute to the Westside's Lynda Callon, who died in October. 

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  • Jack Gantos, author, Dead End in Norvelt
Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Central Standard is following three high school seniors through the trials and triumphs leading up to graduation. Catch up with Ashwanth Samuel, Harold Burgos and Sache Hawkins on internships, waiting to hear back from colleges, career dreams, school lunch, juggling coursework with outside interests, senior-itis, and what grown-ups don't know about high school today. Plus, one of these seniors surprised us with an early graduation in December.

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When we tell people where we're from, we're not just clarifying our address. We're saying something about who we are. So when we proclaim that we're from Kansas City (or Kansas or Missouri or the Midwest), what is it we're trying to communicate? And when you move to a new place, when do you start truly being from there?

BONUS: Hear KCUR's Suzanne Hogan exploring her own dedication to the 816 area code, despite growing up just a short walk from the Kansas border.

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We don't learn anything in a vacuum — including financial skills. So it comes as little surprise that we are inclined to save, spend and budget based on lessons from the past rather than circumstances of the present. But, can we change how we're wired in order to adapt?

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Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Wine merchant Ryan Sciara says “slurping” is the proper way to taste a wine.

Suck in some air to help move it to the different taste receptors in the mouth.

“You get acidity on the front, tannins in the back, and sweetness in the middle,” Sciara says.

And then he spits, so that he can function through the rest of the day.

Sciara, who opened Underdog Wine Co. in Crestwood Shops in Kansas City, Mo., earlier this year, developed a taste for wine as a small child, sitting in his grandmother’s kitchen.

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A whole podcast genre has developed around devices that put giant sound libraries inside people's pockets. Podcast-lovers enjoy the "headspace you can crawl into when you're listening to incredible radio," says audio-whiz Andrea Silenzi. "You kind of travel to this other space with a podcast." Our guests debate the hugely popular Serial, and discuss their top recommendations for podcast listening.

Audiofiles Recommend:

Doug / Flickr--CC

The line between radio show and podcast is pretty blurry.

After all, a podcast is just audio that you can stream or download on your own time. (You can subscribe to KCUR podcasts here.)

Many of our own staff at KCUR are also big consumers of podcasts, whether produced by public radio or not.

Here are some picks from our staff and interns:

Maria Carter, news director/newscaster

After gaining independence, the people of Ireland used pageantry to express their heritage. These thematic recreations of historical and mythical events were subversive acts of forging a new national identity. In All Dressed Up: Modern Irish Historical Pageantry, Joan Dean explores the public imagination of history.

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Kansas City Public Library / Missouri Valley Special Collections

Sonny Gibson likes to let history speak for itself. He spent 25 years visiting flea markets, poring over old newspapers, digging through archives and even knocking on people's doors, all to gather information about the daily lives of African-Americans in Kansas City in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

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