Audio Feature | KCUR

Audio Feature

Alex Smith / KCUR

Once a month, a recording studio in the basement of the Lawrence, Kansas, public library opens for a jam session.

There are no guitars or drum sets, though.

The players make music with motion-detecting computers that allow anyone – regardless of physical or developmental ability – to become composers.

The jams are an opportunity for creativity and healing, organizers say.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City native Amaad Wainright already has had some big moments with the Kansas State men’s basketball team, including the team's run to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 and a season-high 35 minutes played during a Big 12 tournament loss to conference champion Kansas earlier this month.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Jeff Sloan knew something was wrong as soon as his 10-year-old son got off the school bus.

Jayden, a fourth grader at Mason Elementary in Lee’s Summit, was limping slightly – and there was something wrong with his speech.

“He’s talking like his tongue’s tied, and he’s telling me, ‘I’ve had the worst day, Dad. It’s just been terrible,’” Jeff says. “I said, ‘So what happened? Why are you talking like that?’ And he goes, ‘I bit my tongue.’”


When many black diners go out to eat, it’s not uncommon for them to question if race plays a part in the service they receive.

Turns out, that’s not paranoia.

Zach Brewster is an assistant professor of sociology at Wayne State University in Michigan. He has conducted several national research studies on the experience of dining and restaurant discrimination. In his 2015 survey of approximately 1,000 waiters and waitresses across the country, 53 percent of the participants admitted to not giving black diners their best service.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

For decades, city officials say Kansas City police would write about 300,000 traffic tickets a year. The last few years that's dropped below 120,000, according to Kansas City Police Department records.

While that may be good for drivers, it’s bad for the city’s bottom line.

“So what we’re seeing is, not only a decline in the number of tickets but a decline in the corresponding revenue that are used to support city operations,” says Kansas City City Manager Troy Schulte.

Tom Hellauer / For Harvest Public Media

Cypress Pond used to be a plantation in southwest Georgia. Old-growth pecan trees line the gravel roads that wind through the 800 acres of farmland, and there’s an orange grove flanked by patches of long-leaf pine.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Law enforcement officers in Kansas City are engaged in an innovative approach to fighting violent crime.

In 2016, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office and the Kansas City Police Department won grants from the U.S. Department of Justice to use data and community involvement to attack the city’s violent crime rate. Funds are being matched locally.

It’s led by a Yale Law School graduate with roots in the Mennonite community of Newton, Kansas.

MU Athletics

For the first time in 17 years, the Missouri Tigers are playing in the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Check out the rosters, and you’ll find one surname listed five times: Porter.

There are the brothers likely bound for the NBA, Michael Porter Jr. and Jontay; sisters Cierra Porter, a junior forward, and graduate assistant Bri Porter; and the patriarch, Michael Porter Sr., an assistant coach for the men’s team.

Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media file photo

Seeking what he called “clean” food for lunch, Alexander Minnelli chose ProteinHouse, one of the newer restaurants in downtown Kansas City.

The bodybuilder ordered a Greek Bowl, which was topped with a "natural" turkey burger, produced without antibiotics. Minnelli describes "clean" as a number of things: "not something deep-fried," "non-GMO, no preservatives, something cooked right away, fresh."

The Untold Story Of How Eggs Make Your Bacon

Mar 12, 2018
Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

When a man places 40 dozen eggs on the conveyor in the check-out line at the grocery store, it begs the question: What’s he going to do with all of them?

This happened to Kim Becker in Ames, Iowa. The man’s answer left her so gobsmacked, she posted it on Facebook:

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Updated at 7 p.m. March 9 with updated travel details — Kansas men’s basketball team is just down the road from home this week for the Big 12 conference in Kansas City. Mizzou only had to go to St. Louis.

UMKC, on the other hand, traveled more than 1,300 miles to Las Vegas for the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) tournament. The WAC is a far-flung conference: UMKC’s closest competitor is Chicago State. Otherwise, they’re going to places like Seattle and Bakersfield, California, and paying for the travel.

Kansas City trumpeter and tap dancer Lonnie McFadden has been performing since he was in grade school.

He's known as half of the act called The McFadden Brothers; Lonnie and his brother Ronald play music, sing and tap dance — carrying on a family tradition started by their father, dancer and performer Smilin' Jimmy McFadden.  

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

There is so much illegal trash dumping in Kansas City that the city has more than doubled the number of investigators assigned to help clean it up.

The dumps have everything from hazardous waste to limbs and brush.

Illegal dumping investigator Alan Ashurst starts his day like a lot of people, with a stop at a QuikTrip for coffee and doughnuts. "I like the old-fashion doughnut. It’s good."

Donald and Laurie Draughon

After a seven-month deployment in 2004 in Iraq as a squad leader and gunner, Cpl. William P. Draughon received a citation for heroic service and was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps.

Several members of his squad were killed in Iraq, and when he returned stateside, the North Kansas City High School graduate began experiencing depression and nightmares and became withdrawn and moody. He also started drinking heavily.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Alan Carter didn’t start his recent research with any deep doubts about the insulin that people buy in pharmacies. He just wanted to find out how different kinds of insulin compared. 

“We thought, well, if we can figure out if there’s very subtle differences between the two manufacturing processes, then maybe we can help determine if there is a significant issue for patients who switch back and forth because of insurance formulary restrictions and costs,” Carter says.

courtesy: Robert Stewart

Robert Stewart has nurtured a lot of up-and-coming writers over the decades he's spent as an editor at New Letters magazine and as a writing instructor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. 

In December, Stewart released a new book of his own poetry. He called it "Working Class" in recognition of his roots as well as the blue-collar ethos he brings to writing.  

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

The Trump administration wants to show rural communities, which voted for him by wide margins in the 2016 election, they are still on the president’s mind.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Two times every year, a group of admittedly obsessive collectors gets together for a "show and tell." And sometimes, what the members of the The Print Society of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art are most excited about can end up on the walls of area museums.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The young survivors of a Florida school shooting last month don’t want thoughts and prayers.

They want gun control.

They’ve organized protests, staged walkouts and demanded policymakers do more to protect them. On Twitter, they’ve called out politicians who oppose restrictions on the assault-style rifle a gunman used to kill 17 of their classmates and teachers.

And their activism has resonated with teens across the country.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Police Department faces two big problems, violent crime and putting enough officers on the street to fight it.

But the department is coming up with new ways to recruit and is trying to find new paths to recruit minorities and women.

Madelyn Beck / Harvest Public Media

Western Illinois might be close to the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, but it’s the driest part of the state this year.

“We really haven’t really had any measurable rain since the middle of October,” says Ken Schafer, who farms winter wheat, corn and soybeans in Jerseyville, north of St. Louis. “I dug some post-holes this winter, and it's just dust.”

When the hospital closed in rural Ellington, Missouri, a town of about 1,000, the community lost its only emergency room, too. 

That was 2016. That same year, a local farmer had a heart attack.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

Farmers depend on productive, sustainable land, clean water and air and healthy animals to make a living. To help create those conditions and protect ecosystems, they get help from conservation programs that make up about 6 percent of the $500 billion federal farm bill.

BigStock Images

Eric Greitens was having a rocky 15 months as Missouri governor even before being charged this week with felony invasion of privacy tied to his 2015 extramarital affair.

So far, his term has been marked by disagreements with fellow Republicans, severe cuts to higher education and a state ethics fine. Questions surround his appointments to the state board of education, the use of a secretive texting app and who’s donating to the nonprofit, run by former campaign staffers, that advocates for his agenda.

MU Athletics

Mizzou’s Michael Porter Jr. is the type of player coaches build a team around, and many wanted to. Even Kansas.

“The things that people say about him being a potential top-3 pick or the No. 1 pick, totally accurate,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said last fall about Porter likely landing in the NBA. “I’d be shocked if he’s not. I think he’s every bit as good as advertised.”

Missouri Legislature

Missouri’s general revenue spending on Medicaid has topped more than 2 billion dollars annually in recent years and its costs are rising.

That’s a problem for Republican State Sen. David Sater of Springfield. 

“It continues to be the biggest inflation that we have in state programs, and we have to do something,” Sater says.

The Springfield lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that would require Missouri to seek permission from the federal government to get what’s called a global waiver, basically allowing the state to create its own rules for operating Medicaid.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

No matter how far fruits or vegetables travel, whether they’re grown organically or conventionally, they’re packed with vitamins, minerals and other necessary nutrients. The men and women in the fields try to grow foods with an eye to boosting the health factor, but researchers say it’s hard to measure the precise impact.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City singer Jim Cosgrove has spent the past two decades performing songs about dancing dinosaurs and other kid-friendly topics all over Kansas City. His youngest fans know him as “Mr. Stinky Feet.”

Which makes him a perfect act for the family stage at this weekend's Kansas City Folk Festival.

File/Harvest Public Media

Partisan politics may meet its match in the 2018 farm bill.

The massive legislation, versions of which will be introduced this spring in the U.S. House and Senate, is shaping up to be less about political affiliations and more about finding common ground.

Micelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

For decades, the Wonder Hostess Thrift Shop Bakery was an institution at 30th and Troost in Midtown Kansas City. People in the neighborhood remember it from as far back as the 1970s, when it was a quick and cheap place to stop by for day-old bread and discounted baked goods.

It closed about six years ago, and a new player has taken over in that location. People can still buy food there, but it’s a far cry from the processed HoHos and Zingers they used to get from Hostess.