Midwesternish | KCUR

Midwesternish

A podcast for people who ♥ the heartland.

Hosted by writer, storyteller and public radio journalist Gina Kaufmann, a Midwesterner born and raised.

Minnesota wants to rebrand itself as "The North," because apparently they think they're different from the rest of the Midwest. So, is it time to break up?

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Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3 / File Photo

The Midwest has a reputation for being a neutral and accent-free place. But that simply isn't true.

Everybody has an accent and everybody has a dialect, and, yes, that includes the Midwest.

The Midwest has a reputation for being a bland, neutral, accent-free place. But experts say that simply is not true.

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School Lunch

Mar 28, 2018

We produce a lot of food in this part of the country, and some of it ends up as school lunch. But with every cafeteria tray comes a large helping of economics and politics.

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Singer Vanessa Thomas credits her idyllic childhood in a cozy Kansas town for her international success. But she ended up in that town through a set of dark circumstances. And her path forward hasn't always been a straight shot.

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Midwesterners are used to seeing squirrels all over the place - in the woods, in cuisine (really) and in their front yards. But some species are leaving the Midwest for the west coast and abroad. And they're not making friends easily. 

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What's it like to be an icon in the Midwest? The tap-dancing McFadden Brothers tell the story of their coming up, and how they're carrying on a legacy for African American arts in the Midwest.

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Demo Derby

Mar 7, 2018

People have been intentionally destroying cars in demolition derbies for generations. It's like the Midwest's Colosseum.  But the old school demo derby is running out of gas.

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When we talk about being from the Midwest, it usually comes with some familiar words. "Quaint" and "old fashioned" or worse, "close-minded" and "too slow." So are they true? Well - it's complicated.

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Ever been to a squirrel cook-off? How about the demo derby? Well ... that's ok. Here in the Midwest we eat all kinds of food, play all kinds of sports and maybe aren't exactly what you thought — particularly if you identify as a Midwesterner yourself. Midwesternish is a podcast that explores (and sometimes explodes) what it means to be Midwestern. Stories of triumph, identity and casseroles. 

Ziegler Family / KCUR 89.3

Reporter Laura Ziegler reflects on what bringing her family and her father under one roof really meant.

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Paul Andrews PAUL ANDREWS / Paulandrewsphotography.com

For his day job, he smoked ribs at a barbecue joint. But his secret identity was a playwright. Hear Nathan Louis Jackson's journey to becoming a writer for television and stage, including the Netflix series Luke Cage.

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"The Wizard of Oz" (1939) / MGM

When you start a show called "Midwesternish," at some point there'll be an episode about The Wizard of Oz. If this film defines Kansas for the entire world, what exactly does it say and do we believe it? 

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Scott Schiller / Creative Commons

2015 was the most successful year since 1969 for the nation's largest cassette tape manufacturer. We meet the founder of that company, based in Springfield, Missouri, and try to figure out why people are returning to cassettes.

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Gina Kaufmann / KCUR 89.3

The Garden of Eden isn't as far away as you might think. It's in the small town of Lucas, Kansas and it's filled with art. On this episode, a grassroots art project and it's unexpected caretaker. 

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Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

What happens when a state regulates a tradition practiced on stoops and living room floors for generations? Missouri hair braiders say you could end up disenfranchising a community. On this episode: African hair braiding in the Midwest.

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JENNIFER MORROW / FLICKR — CC

It's one of the hardest conversations to have: the conversation about abortion. But what if we tried to just talk about it without all the politics. We sat down to hear two women share their stories, they stand on opposite sides of the issue, politically, but they've both had abortions.

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LAURA ZIEGLER / KCUR 89.3

Roger Thomas wants you to move to his hometown, Orrick, Missouri, in order to save a small town that's only getting smaller. But can he convice you to see what he sees in Orrick?

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Zota / Flickr

The story of how one Kansas City man's DIY fireworks display got completely out of hand.

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Music: Gentle Marimba by Alastair Cameron, The Stars And Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa

Rob Jefferson

Can you imagine what it would be like to regain your sense of hearing after years of silence? Regaining the ability to hear isn't as simple as flipping a switch. Hear what  Rob Jefferson heard as he relearned to hear with cochlear implants.

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PAUL ANDREWS (PAULANDREWSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM)

When you're falling in love, spending time apart can seem unbearable. Kansas City-born musician Krystle Warren has been away from her first love, her hometown, for a long time. She shares her story of finding a new home in Paris when her heart was still in the plains. 

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Music: Krystle Warren

Up All Night

Jun 9, 2017
Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Weird stuff happens in the middle of the night. We share stories recorded at a live storytelling event hosted by Gina.

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Jenny Simeone-Casas / St. Louis Public Radio

As Confederate monuments come down in New Orleans, people in other states across the country are considering similar memorials in their own backyards. On this episode, one Midwestern state deals with its own Confederate history.

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PAUL ANDREWS / WWW.PAULANDREWSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

William Least Heat-Moon takes us on a trip across America's forgotten rural routes, through history, away from our digital devices and into the universe.

 

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COURTESY OF THE JACKSON FAMILY

Avery Jackson was the first transgender person in the world to grace the cover of National Geographic. That's a huge responsibility for a nine-year-old girl from the Midwest. But, through her journey, Avery's learned to deal with the haters.

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Americasroof / Wikimedia Ccommons

You might think it's easy to define the Midwest...it's just a collection of states, right? Wrong. On this episode, we explore our regional identity and attempt to answer the question: what is the Midwest, really? 

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Jeff Mast / worldsoffun.org

There's something a little sad about returning to your favorite childhood amusement park as an adult. That pinch of nostalgia for certain rides connects us to the places we grew up, and the people with whom we grew up.

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Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

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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