Midwesternish

Some call it fly-over country -- the big, burly middle between the East and the West. We’re coast-less, and OK with that. Life out here isn't what it used to be. We're Midwestern ... ish. This is a podcast about the thinkers, doers and change-makers that make up our part of the country. Hosted by writer, storyteller and public radio journalist Gina Kaufmann, a Midwesterner born and raised.

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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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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www.facebook.com

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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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.

John Lodder / Flicker

When you hear the words "Conservatory of Music" what do you see ... pianos, violins, brass in padded rooms? What about a guy sitting behind a computer screen? Meet the first student to be admitted to a Missouri music conservatory to study and play the computer.

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EVA WILSON / LEAWOOD BAPTIST CHURCH

In 2016, the homicide rate in Kansas City, Missouri, was the highest it had been in a decade. Twelve of the people killed that year were under the age of 16. Meet some of the people whose lives have become intertwined with this ongoing violence.

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E.G. Schempf / Leedy-Voulkos Art Center

Artist and pastor Dylan Mortimer has cystic fibrosis, a disease that fills the lungs and other organs with a thick mucous, eventually clogging airways and limiting the sufferer's ability to breathe. When Mortimer was growing up, the life expectancy for someone with cystic fibrosis was the late teen years. Now, thanks to advances in medicine, it's 37. Mortimer is 36.