Audio Feature | KCUR

Audio Feature

Christie Spencer

There’s a long-forbidden crop on the verge of legalization, one that’s versatile and could open up new markets for farmers: hemp.

“I believe, honestly, that [hemp] is the only thing that’s really gonna bring agriculture out of the rut that it’s been in for the last 30 years,” hemp farmer Ryan Loflin said.

He lives in Colorado, one of at least 35 states that can grow hemp mainly through research pilot programs. That was a provision championed by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the 2014 farm bill.

Mike Peyton

It's a stormy summer afternoon in Columbia, Missouri, when the writer Ibtisam Barakat arrives at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute for a book group discussion. She's wearing boots, a colorful skirt, and large hoop ear rings, carrying a large tray of manakish, a Palestinian traditional flatbread.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Bethany College track and cross country coach Aaron Yoder spends a lot of time on the treadmill in the Lindsborg, Kansas, school’s cardio room. It doesn’t seem unusual unless you see what he’s doing — running backward.

University of Kansas

Brandon Draper will not be getting a summer vacation this year.

Draper is a percussion and music business instructor at the University of Kansas, and this month, for starters, he's touring Italy and France with KU's top jazz ensemble.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

In a famous segment from Walt Disney’s 1940 film “Fantasia,” Mickey Mouse is a sorcerer’s apprentice tormented by a broom that he brings to life to help with his chores. At one point, Mickey completely loses it, grabs an ax and savagely chops the cheery, bouncing broom into splinters.

But the story doesn’t end there. As Mickey walks away, the splinters begin to wiggle and regrow, until each one become a new broom.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Are you registered to vote? CLICK HERE to check online. The deadline is July 17 if you want to vote in the Aug. 7 primaries.

With less than a month until the 2018 primaries, the question of whether Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is in compliance with a federal court order to fix its voter registration practices is still up for debate.

Kansas can no longer ask would-be voters to dig up documents like passports or birth certificates after a court ruled that unconstitutional and in violation of federal election law last month.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3/NPR

The corn and soybeans growing in Glenn Brunkow’s fields in the rolling Flint Hills north of Wamego, Kansas, got some much needed rain recently and look healthy.

Brunkow has reason to expect a good harvest, but the way things are looking globally, he’ll lose money on the crop. Trade disputes with China, Mexico and Canada threaten to slash U.S. food exports by billions. About half the soybean crop goes overseas, most of that to China — and since mid-April, soybean prices have plunged about 20 percent and corn about 15 percent.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

There’s a common thread among the campaigns of several men aspiring to replace Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — promises of administrative competence.

So says Emporia State political scientist Michael Smith. It jumped out at him as he perused some of their websites.

“To me,” he said, it “has sort of a subtext, that that has not been Kobach’s focus.”

Jerry Jay Cranford

A couple of weeks before opening night of the hit Broadway musical "Newsies," two dozen young actors were flipping and twirling on stage at the Jewish Community Center’s White Theater. They ranged in age from 14 to 22.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Police Department is spending its summer reaching out to some of the younger members of the community.

KCPD wants to improve officers' relationships with teens. “Just because a kid lives at 28th and Prospect versus 135th and State Line, a 13-year-old is a 13-year-old," says Deputy Chief Karl Oakman.

Employees from the Cosmosphere space museum in Hutchinson are helping to recreate one of the biggest moments in our nation’s space history: the mission control room used during the first moon landing.

Esther Honig / Harvest Public Media

Thirty-eight calves, between two and four months old, moo and kick at the dirt floor in a steel barn in Brush, Colorado. One by one, a handler leads them from the pen to a narrow chute, where their legs are restrained and they’re lifted onto a hydraulic table. 

Restaurant Owner Brings Mom’s Brazilian Cooking To Kansas City

Jun 29, 2018
Anna Yakutenko

Cristian Maciel’s mom laughed when he called her asking for help creating the recipes for a restaurant.

“She was like ‘what?’ Because I never, never cooked in my life,” Maciel said. “You know, so like 'Cristian are you sure you want to open a restaurant?’”

Maciel was sure. After struggling to find authentic Brazilian food in Kansas City, he opened Taste of Brazil with his partner in 2013 and expanded his business last year with a food truck.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Three Kansas City Symphony musicians recently performed their final concerts with an arts organization they've been with since its inception. 

Principal tuba player Steve Seward, bassoonist Marita Abner and oboe and English horn player Ken Lawrence retired after the Symphony's season ended last weekend. All three were hired by the Symphony in 1982, when the orchestra was founded by R. Crosby Kemper, Jr.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

This story was updated at 2:40 p.m. June 28 with a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Maria remembers the fear she felt last month at the moment she found out her son, daughter and 6-year-old grandson were planning on coming to the United States.

"They called me from the border," she said in Spanish. "I panicked because I know how dangerous that is."

Rebekah Hange / KCUR 89.3

Last September, the ground shifted under the small town of Tonganoxie, Kansas, about 35 miles due west of Kansas City.

When word got out that Tyson Foods, Inc. was ready to announce it would soon break ground just outside town on a $320 million poultry complex — a processing plant, hatchery and feed mill — opponents organized immediately.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

A deal, hatched in secret, to build a massive chicken processing plant on the outskirts of Tonganoxie, Kansas, caused a huge uproar last September. The Tyson project was promptly canceled. Despite that, all the incumbent city council members on the ballot were voted out of office in November.

The political consequences could continue with upcoming elections for the Kansas House.

Madelyn Beck / Harvest Public Media

Two counties in southwestern Illinois grow the majority of the nation’s — and possibly the world’s — horseradish. The city of Collinsville, population 25,000, straddles both Madison and St. Clair, and celebrates the root annually, hosting the International Horseradish Festival.

Harvest Public Media decided it was time to check out the entertainment, games and horseradish-based dishes and drinks. Here’s a bite of the zesty gathering.

Anne Kniggendorf

Dennis McCurdy had a stroke on October 22, 2000. At the time, he had no idea that the stroke would cause vascular dementia; that diagnosis came nearly a decade later.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

If you can imagine Las Vegas, a county fair and the TV show Hee Haw mashed up and spread out along an old Ozark highway, then you’ll have an idea of what the main strip of Branson in southern Missouri looks like.

Miles and miles of all the miniature golf, bumper cars, fudge shops, custard stands and music theaters that a vacationing family could hope for. 

Shannon works as a waitress in one of those places – a Branson restaurant – and says she loves being part of the action. 

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Bruce Carney raises cattle, poultry and a few sheep on his 300-acre farm in Maxwell, Iowa. He no longer grows any grain, but is preparing for new crops of a different kind.

Orange flags dot what was previously a cattle lot, with a ridge (or swale) built around it to manage water flow. The fruit trees Carney will be planting at each of the flags later this year will also help.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

Decades after most of the buildings were dismantled, newspaper articles raved about the beautiful vistas from a hilltop in Clay County: “One of the finest views of Missouri River countryside in all directions that may be found,” the Kansas City Journal wrote in 1941.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Golfers in this week’s U.S. Open will be trying to avoid hitting a ball into the sand. But at courses in Harrisonville, Missouri, or Leonardville, Kansas, finding the sand is equivalent to a day at the beach.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Medical researchers have made giant leaps in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease, which could make it possible to detect the illness long before memory and cognitive problems show up.

There is no cure for the fatal, degenerative disease, and it remains one of the  diagnoses most feared by patients. But researchers and patient advocates say it’s still worth facing their fears and getting tested.

Dairy Farmers' Margins, Patience Growing Thin

Jun 11, 2018
Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

Dairy farmer Gary Rock sat in his milking parlor, in LaRue County, Kentucky, overlooking what is left of his 95-cow operation.

“Three hundred years of history is something that a lot of people in our country cannot even talk about,” Rock said. That’s how long the farm has been in his family.

Anne Kniggendorf

Rob Hill was pretty sure he had the makings of the fabled great American novel. But the retired Army lieutenant colonel isn’t much of a writer, so his idea for a story about who was buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers didn’t pan out.

He did have a creative outlet, though, one that led Hill to think he could tell the post-World War I story through song. A member of the Heartland Men’s Chorus, Hill took his idea to Artistic Director Dustin Cates.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

The U.S. men’s soccer team won’t be in this summer’s World Cup in Russia, and the organization is trying to figure out how to re-enter the world’s consciousness. In that, Kansas City plays a prominent role —in more ways than one. 

Taja Welton is ready for her daughter to be born. She’s moved into a bigger house, one with room for a nursery. She has a closet full of pink, Minnie Mouse-themed baby clothes. Her baby bag is packed right down to the outfit she plans to bring her baby home in that reads, “The Princess Has Arrived.”

“I can’t wait to put it on her,” Welton smiles. The princess even has a name: Macen.


Madelyn Beck / Harvest Public Media

There’s a new strategy when it comes to combating the smells and air quality concerns that arise from large-scale animal feeding operations: Blame the company, not the farmer.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

When First Fridays started in Kansas City, the whole point was to bring more people to the Crossroads to experience art. But for years now, critics have been saying the festive scene has lost all focus on art.

“Most contemporary artists in Kansas City have a tendency to hate or just throw vitriol at First Friday because they think it’s an annoying touristy trap of everyone from the suburbs,” said Melaney Ann Mitchell, an artist who runs a website called Informalityblog, where art critics write about what’s happening in area galleries.

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