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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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

 

Kansas City knew Tom Schweich as a dogged state auditor who rooted out financial mismanagement on behalf of Missouri taxpayers. He died unexpectedly yesterday, by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, just weeks after entering the race for Missouri governor. We remember Schweich personally, professionally and politically.

Guests:

In a new series called Buzz Kill, Central Standard is looking at Kansas City's buzzwords with the people who best understand the true meaning of our favorite catch-phrases. 

In this installment, we ask what it really means to be an entrepreneur, how you pronounce the word, and how to correctly use it in a sentence. It's an important step for us to take, as a city, if we want to be known for our entr... entrep... entrepreneurial spirit.

Guest:

Wiki

When you walk into a restaurant, there is a certain je ne sais quoi that can make or break the experience.

Of course the food is of paramount importance, but poor lighting, decor and authenticity can make even an exquisite plate of duck confit look like a soggy KFC drumstick.

Luckily, our Food Critics Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jill Wenholt Silva know a thing or two about restaurant ambiance. Here are their picks for standout restaurants with great ambiance:

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

One of the youngest performers who will be showcased at this week’s Folk Alliance International conference here in Kansas City is a teenager from Overland Park.

Kate Rose is a 15-year-old singer-songwriter and student at Olathe East High School. She recently shared the process by which she wrote the song, And The People Will Remember.

Michael Byars / KCUR

Does it start with the music or the words? Can anybody do it? In time for the Folk Alliance International conference, local musicians share what it takes to write a song. 

Guests:

It's been 20 years since there's been a Latino on Kansas City, Mo.'s city council; and there isn't currently any Latino representation on the Unified Government board of commissioners either. That's even while our metro's Hispanic community has been growing significantly.

  • CiCi Rojas, president and CEO, Central Exchange
  • Irene Caudillo, president and CEO, El Centro
  • Louis Ruiz, Kansas state representative, District 31 (Wyandotte County)
Julie Denesha / KCUR

Many of us tag along with Pitch restaurant critic Charles Ferruzza on his restaurant adventures, enjoying his witty asides as much as his souffle descriptions. He hints at his life story when it's relevant to what's happening at the table, but for the most part, the man behind the meals is a mystery.

When Ferruzza sat down with Central Standard’s Gina Kaufmann for a Portrait Session, he said one thing he’s not is a “foodie.”

There's a new recording studio in Lawrence, and it's located inside the public library. What does it say about Lawrence that of all the new resources the library could provide its citizenry, a recording studio is what most suited the town's needs? Plus, a Lawrence music blogger talks about the weird, vibrant city she shows off in her video, Just A Sec, and a record store owner reflects on change in the Lawrence music scene over the past 15 years.

Guests:

Creative Commons, Wikimedia

Bill Schonberg is a self-professed "space nut" and his job is not just an 8-year-old's dream job. "It's also a 54-year-old's dream job," he says. His mission, which he has accepted, is to figure out how to make spacecraft more impervious to debris flying at high speed through prime orbital real estate. 

Guest:

  • Dr. William Schonberg, professor of aerospace engineering, Missouri University of Science & Technology 

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