Audio Feature

Dank Depot / Flickr - CC

More than half of states have legalized marijuana for either recreational or medical use.

Kansas City voters won’t be considering that exact question on April 4th, but they will get to decide whether to reduce the penalties for marijuana possession.

Bryan Thompson / KCUR 89.3

The social and health effects of isolation on some rural Kansas residents spurred three Catholic nuns to convert a storefront in Concordia into a drop-in center where women can find support and resources. 

Seven years after the center opened, two dozen women on average come through each day in the town of about 5,000 to socialize, do laundry, get a cooking lesson, or simply connect with others.

Cynthia Levin / Unicorn Theatre

Audiences expect challenging productions from the Unicorn Theatre, whose mission is to produce "thought-provoking plays" that "illuminate social issues." Still, Danai Gurira's Eclipsed might require playgoers to work harder than they're used to.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

In the next few years, many tech businesses in Kansas City expect to do a lot of hiring, with starting salaries that most recent college graduates can only dream of.

But will these jobs go to native Kansas Citians or to people recruited from other places?

Todd Weddle / Northwest Missouri State University

Northwest Missouri State junior Justin Pitts was named the NCAA Division II Player of the Year this week by Basketball Times magazine. He’s a 5-foot-9-inch point guard from Blue Springs South High School.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

In a city with so many school options, it isn’t always easy for parents to choose where to send their children.

Amanda Recob’s daughter, Marliemae, will start kindergarten in the fall. But Recob isn’t just choosing a school for her 5-year-old.

“I have two girls following her, so it is a lot of pressure,” Recob says. “I don’t want them going to three separate schools.”

So Recob is trying to keep the needs of her 2-year-old and 4-year-old in mind as she visits schools.

courtesy B Trump Photography

For more than three decades, musician Bob Reeder has played weekly gigs — singing Irish folk songs and bawdy limericks — in an underground pub in Weston, Missouri. O'Malley's is roughly 50 feet underneath the ground in a limestone brewery cellar built in 1842. 

So you voted in the presidential election last year and felt all warm and fuzzy because you did your civic duty. Yay! Or maybe you didn't (or couldn't) but now you want to make a change. 

The race for the highest executive office in the United States may be settled, but KCUR is here to break down Kansas City, Missouri's special April 4 election for you.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

There have always been Americans worried about some pending religious, social or natural cataclysm. But, the business of catering to those fears, and helping people prepare to survive the next big calamity, has changed substantially in the age of Donald Trump.

And that change is evident on a particular county road in Kansas, near the center of the continental United States.  Here, what looks like a grassy mound is protected by barbed wire fence and a heavily armed guard. A massive concrete entrance frames big, heavy steel blast doors.

Krista Nelson
Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Health care providers who work with kids are natural innovators, says Krista Nelson, Children’s Mercy Hospital’s director of innovation development.

Nelson, an expert in innovation — not medicine, was hired by the hospital to run its new Center for Pediatric Innovation.

“In the children’s hospital or pediatric environment, we really deal with every size of child from a premature baby all the up to the captain of the football team at one of our big high schools,” says Nelson.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

The Raytown South High School boys' basketball team was only one victory short of making the state semifinals in Columbia, Missouri. Instead, Kearney High School is on its way there after beating Raytown on Saturday. 

Raytown South’s recent success was a lift for a program scorched by unresolved accusations of racial discrimination towards the team.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Many millennials now launching into adulthood have their hands full — jobs, homes and partners. But 33-year-old Ford Inbody already is thinking about a time when he won't be able to work.

He has Parkinson's disease.

Every night after work, he and his wife, Cortney, walk their two dogs through their neighborhood in Overland Park. These days, going out for an evening's stroll is easy. But many of their evening conversations revolve around a time they know is coming — when these walks will be more difficult.

What is left of the home of O.T. Jackson, the founder of Dearfield, Colorado, sits on the town site in rural Weld County.
Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Blink while driving on Highway 34 east of Greeley, Colorado, and you might miss the former Great Plains town of Dearfield.

Abandoned towns from the early 20th century are far from unique on this stretch of plains. Withered storefronts and collapsed false-front homes are common. Boom and bust economics and harsh weather made it tough for turn of the century settlers to succeed long-term.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The new Bloch Galleries at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art showcase European art from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. This includes masterpieces of Impressionism and post-Impressionism collected by Marion and Henry Bloch — artists such as Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, and Vincent van Gogh.

But visitors to the galleries might also be dazzled by some of the technological upgrades from sound to lighting. 

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

It’s mid-Friday afternoon at Wendell Phillips at Attucks Elementary School and the gym is buzzing. It’s Score 1 for Health day at the school at 24th and Prospect in Kansas City, Missouri, and kids here are getting free health screenings from medical students at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, or KCU.

For these mostly second-year med students, the program offers invaluable hands-on experience. For some, the program is what appealed to them about KCU, an osteopathic medical school near downtown Kansas City.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Looking back, Mira Mdivani says she can now connect the events and put them in context.

“Before the shooting, actually,” she says, “I had a phone call from an Indian national who emigrated to the United States and is a United States citizen.”

Mdivani, an immigration attorney in Overland Park, Kansas, was recalling the Feb. 22 shooting at an Olathe bar in which two Indian men were targeted in what appears to have been a racially motivated attack.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City's curbside recycling program started in 2004. Since then, our diversion rates, as in the measurement of how much trash we are keeping from the landfills has stayed consistently around the in the 25-30 percent range. The goal is to reach an 80 percent diversion rate by 2020. We're a ways off, but regional experts remain optimistic. 

"We are recycling much more than the numbers show," says Marleen Leonce.

Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences students Liz Hada, left, and Melissa Garcia Rodriguez say they have experienced racial tension in some of their classes, despite feeling generally welcomed by most students and faculty.
Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Farmers in the U.S. like to point out that their products feed people all over the world. And while this is a diverse country, the people working on farms and elsewhere in agriculture often don’t reflect the nation’s demographics. Changing that is becoming a priority, in hopes new people will bring fresh ideas to meet some of our food system’s greatest challenges.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

At first glance, the painter Ada Koch and the poet Glenn North might seem an unlikely pair. But what has emerged from their collaboration — Love, Loss & Violence: A Visual Dialogue on War, an art exhibit opening this weekend at the Kansas City Artists Coalition and an accompanying book — illustrates with painful honesty that certain fears are universal.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

You don’t have to drive far in Missouri to see billboards offering help to pregnant women. They’re part of the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program, which has seen a big increase in public funding in recent years.

This year’s legislative debate on the program focuses on a new question: What kind of information should these centers provide to women?

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

There’s been an awful lot of discussion on what Kansas’s new school funding formula will look like and whether the Legislature will still make cuts to public schools mid-year.

Nothing has been decided, which has educators in the state both a little optimistic and a little scared.

On a recent morning Allison Theno was combining math and penguins to teach her 18 kindergartners at Basehor Elementary to subtract.

Jason Dailey / www.daileyimages.com/

The band: Heidi Gluck

The song: Sadness Is Psychedelic

The story: Singer-songwriter Heidi Gluck is originally from Canada; she now lives in Lawrence, Kansas. But before she settled there, she lived in Indiana where she was involved in a tight-knit musical scene. 

"We've gone through some life stuff together," says Gluck. "And we still make music together. So they've just been my musical family."

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

It’s crunch time for Missouri school districts trying to reach state-mandated attendance goals.

The phone rings constantly in the attendance office at King Elementary, one of the Kansas City Public Schools where attendance is below the district average.

An out-of-breath Donetta Stuart describes the morning she’s had – and it’s only 9 o’clock. 

“Normally when we miss the bus stop, I take her to the next bus stop, but her daddy didn’t do that. It was crazy. We had a crazy day,” she says.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

The violence and reported racism of a shooting at an Olathe, Kansas, bar that killed one Indian immigrant and wounded another as well as a good Samaritan has left the Indian community in Johnson County shaken and worried about the direction of the United States. But the incident also has strengthened the community's ties to the area. 

Organic farmer Liz Graznak and her daughter hunt for weeds in the high tunnel at Happy Hollow Farm in central Missouri.
Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

Liz Graznak runs an organic farm in Jamestown, Missouri, which she calls Happy Hollow Farm. She sells her vegetables to local restaurants, in CSA boxes and at the farmer’s market.  But eight years ago, after falling in love with the idea of growing her own local produce, the farm she runs today looked like a near-impossible dream.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Members of the Kansas congressional delegation are under fire — like many of their colleagues across the country — for ducking town-hall meetings with their constituents.

At the Kansas GOP convention earlier this month, two of them explained their reaction to raucousness at their offices. 

Courtesy Ramy Essam

What’s the future of protest music?

That was a reasonable question for the hundreds of musicians who came to Kansas City in mid-February for the Folk Alliance International Conference, the theme of which was "Forbidden Folk." Given political developments over the last year, plenty of “old guys with banjos” — as one musician put it — were fired up, but I wanted to see what younger musicians thought about one staple of their genre.

Clay County Museum & Historical Society

The American Civil War ended more than 150 years ago, but those old divisions still affect us today. There’s perhaps no better example of this than Missouri, a border state claimed by both the Union and the Confederacy. The ongoing struggle to deal with this history recently came to light when the Clay County Museum and Historical Society in the town of Liberty, published an old diary.

Isra Mohamud, 18, is a member of Fort Morgan Colorado's small East African community.
Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

This story is part of the special series United And Divided, which explores the links and rifts between rural and urban America.

The bell signals the start of second period. A trio of young women take seats in English class, their attention quickly drifting outside the walls of the high school in Fort Morgan, Colorado, eager to talk about what they’re working toward.

“I want to become an FBI [agent],” says freshman Mariam Mohammed. “It’s my dream.”

This is a two-part story on immigrants and small town viability. Part one aired on this Weekend Edition Saturday. For the full story, listen to both audio segments.

Like thousands of rural towns across the country, Cawker City, Kan., was built for bygone time.

Resident Linda Clover has spent most of her life in Cawker City, and she loves the place, but it's a shell of the town it used to be.

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