Witnessing the death of his brother, moving to Bleeding Kansas during the border war, losing his father and protecting his family. All of this happened in the life of Billy Cody before he ever turned into the legend known as "Buffalo Bill."


She’s written 21 books which have been translated into 35 languages. Her list of awards — which includes a Presidential Medal of Honor — could practically fill a book itself. Chilean-American author Isabel Allende joins Steve Kraske to talk about her latest book, her inspirations and her eventful life.

When we explored the life of Charlie Parker earlier this year, we were told that you can't talk about the history of jazz without talking about drugs. Is that true about the arts in general?


  • Jan Schall, curator, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
  • Clancy Martin, writer
  • Chuck Haddix, host, The Fish Fry on KCUR

Roger Coleman's new book begins with a curse on Kansas City. It's the dreaded curse of dullness. Coleman spent 42 years as a minister in midtown, Kansas City and started writing five years ago when he saw the city becoming younger, more vibrant and more open. He wanted to document that shift. His protagonist is a boy whose mission is to lift the curse of dullness. His journey takes him all over town.


Shelf Life

Sep 11, 2015

Before Will Leathem opened Prospero's Books in Midtown, he was a Republican political consultant and a touring musician. On this Portrait Session show, Will talks about poetry, politics and the first book he published: 'Leavened 911, a compilation of stories and essays by Kansas Citians about the September 11 attacks.


Creative Commons

Whitney Terrell's novel, The King of Kings County, delves into the history of racial covenants and white flight in Kansas City; the author pulls no punches about that. But the characters who populate the novel and their personal dramas are purely fictional. Ten years after the novel was published, upheaval in Ferguson and a downtown renaissance in Kansas City may inspire us to see something new in the story.


  • Whitney Terrell, author, The King of Kings County

Schoolchildren have been admiring Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird for generations. With the publication of Go Set A Watchman, readers are learning about a side of Atticus they're having a hard time stomaching. But fictional characters change all the time in their private lives with their authors.


  • Catherine Browder, author of three collections of fiction, associate in UMKC's Creative Writing Program

Bill Martin studied with revered lamas in India. He was also the charismatic founder of a money-making church, and ultimately, a sufferer from mental illness who died in a hospital for the homeless. Years later, his son tries to understand the man who raised him.


Epic Summer

Jun 16, 2015

If summertime means being out of school, think again. Crestview Elementary is one of two schools in the metro experimenting with a year-long schedule. So we attempt to redefine summer, with great literature set amid sweltering summer heat and a roadtrip in search of a frozen dessert called "pineapple whip."


Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

Between teaching at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, writing for the Kansas City Star, and hosting Up To Date, you might think KCUR’s Steve Kraske doesn’t have time to spend reading. But you'd be wrong.

The voracious non-fiction reader has brought some titles from his bookshelf to share. He spoke with the authors of three of his picks on Up To Date.

Paul Sableman / Flickr

LaShonda Katrice Barnett remembers going out with a quarter to buy the latest issue of The Call for her grandmother. Now, Barnett has written a novel about the trailblazing founder of a fictional African-American newspaper called Jam on the Vine. If it resembles The Call, that's no coincidence. 


  • LaShonda Katrice Barnett, author, Jam on the Vine

From Narnia to The Hunger Games, young adult literature has an age-old obsession with right versus wrong. But moral conundrums on teens' bookshelves are more complex than ever. What does the changing moral landscape say about growing up today? 


  • Melissa Lenos, associate professor of English, Donnelly College
  • Naphtali Faris, early literacy manager, The Kansas City Public Library
Carl Van Vechten / Creative Commons, Wikimedia

The prolific author best known for Their Eyes Were Watching God got her start as an anthropologist, listening to the stories and songs of former slaves in Florida in the 1930s. About fifty years later, a Kansas City woman found a connection with her own history and community in the voices Hurston captured. Her one-woman play about Zora Neale Hurston now takes her all over the world.


Creative Commons, Wikimedia

Her children's books shaped ideas about the Midwestern experience for multiple generations worldwide. She's been gone more than sixty years, but her influence remains strong; even now, fans and scholars attend a yearly Laurapalooza festival in her honor. Her autobiography has just recently been published, but good luck finding a copy. The first print run has sold out and the second will not even fill existing orders.

Patrick Quick / KCUR

It’s cold outside, so now is the perfect time to curl up with a good book.

Central Standard took the opportunity to seek out some of the best books about Kansas City history. After all, even if you can't get outside to explore the city, you can still do it from the comfort of your home.

Local historian Monroe Dodd and Missouri Valley Special Collections manager Eli Paul gave us their recommendations of the best books for local history lovers, focusing on those that are a really good read.

Penguin Group

As 2015 gets off to a chilly start, it's the perfect time to cozy up with some of 2014's hottest reads. Up to Date's Book Doctors share some of their favorite titles from last year. 

From Jeffrey Ann Goudie, freelance writer and book reviewer:

Best Books Of 2014 For Children And Teens

Dec 12, 2014

Books have the remarkable ability to enthrall, captivate and inspire. When kids are trapped indoors during the cold winter months books  can transport them into new and fascinating worlds.

On this edition of Up to Date, Steve Kraske and three Johnson County librarians review their top picks in children's literature. 

The Best Children's Books of 2014:

From Kate McNair, young adult librarian at the Johnson County Library: 

The KCUR Arts team asked for submissions on December 5, 2014. Since then we’ve received more than 200 poems, essays, and short stories to consider. From those, we’ve already selected the first few months of Word episodes.

But we still have a lot of submissions to read, and because we want to give all of them a thoughtful review, we’re hitting “Pause” and closing submissions for now. More information is here.

Thank you for your interest in WORD.

Our city is teeming with people who dream of writing that novel... someday. If those aspiring writers decided to turn their literary dreams into reality, where would they begin? Our guests offer advice and personal stories in honor of National Novel Writing Month.


Anna Quindlen On Life's Second Acts

Nov 6, 2014
Anna Quindlen


Anna Quindlen's most recent work, Still Life with Bread Crumbs, tells the story of a 60-year old New York photographer and feminist who moves upstate in an effort to remake her life. On this edition of Up to Date, Quindlen talks with Steve Kraske about her connections to the lead character, why she never wants to be 25 again, and the changing face of the news business. 


Jon Feinstein / Flickr, Creative Commons

In late October, as the leaves begin to rustle and the winds begin to moan, our thoughts turn to night frights and all things ghoulish. In partnership with the ongoing 100 Ghost Stories project at Wonder Fair in Lawrence, Central Standard presents three ghost stories by writers with local ties.

In order of increasing scariness:

Ghost Feelings, by Mick Cottin

Caroline, by Megan Kaminski

Monitored, by BJ Hollars

An Overland Park teenager plans his life around his favorite online video game to the point where his divorced parents agree on this much: “Get off the damn computer!”

Paul Andrews

Paul DeGeorge and his brother Joe have been writing and performing songs about the trials and triumphs of wizards-in-training since 2002. They look disorientingly similar, and both wear v-neck sweaters and neck ties. Their band, Harry and the Potters, has inspired its own genre: "wizard rock."

It was the younger brother, Joe, who first read the Harry Potter books. In his early 20s when the first books in the series came out, Paul, the older of the DeGeorge brothers, picked them up out of curiosity; he immediately related to the Harry Potter character as a punk.

20th Century Fox

Gone Girl, a new film based on the best-selling thriller by Kansas City native Gillian Flynn, opens this Friday.

It's directed by David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Fight Club, Seven), and Flynn wrote the screenplay. Cape Girardeau, Mo., on the banks of the Mississippi River, was a stand-in for the fictional North Carthage, Mo. 

From their favorite recent reads to books they love on banned or challenged books lists, the Book Doctors are full of recommendations. They chatted with Steve Kraske on Friday's Up to Date. Here's a list of their picks:

Kaite Stover

Dennis Lowden

William "Bill" Hickok died Monday at the age of 82 in Marina Del Rey, Ca. Two decades ago, Hickok and his wife, Gloria Vando, co-founded a literary community center in Kansas City, Mo. called The Writers Place.

Hickok, a first cousin several times removed of the gunslinger "Wild Bill" Hickok, was born in Kansas City; he graduated from Southwest High School and the University of Missouri.

Teemu008 / Creative Commons, Flickr

Former Kansas City Star columnist Bill Tammeus, who still blogs for the paper, recently released a memoir titled Woodstock: A Story of Middle Americans.

It's about his boyhood in the Illinois town of Woodstock, in the middle of the 20th century. Through critical reflection on his early experiences and observations, Tammeus arrives at a handful of truisms about life in the Midwest, offered without sentimentality or rose-colored glasses, but with measured fondness.

York College ISLGP / Wikimedia Commons

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." For Maya Angelou, these words were a way of life. Her poetry and prose, even her off-the-cuff remarks during interviews, made people feel things deeply.

On Tuesday's Central Standard, local artist Peregrine Honig and writer Natasha Ria El-Scari join host Gina Kaufmann to share how Maya Angelou impacted their lives.

Creative Commons

Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants series recently received the dubious distinction of topping the American Library Association's list of most-challenged books of 2013. With the author on his way to Kansas City, Central Standard took a look at what makes some of the most-challenged books so controversial.

The worlds of creative writing and visual art are woven together for an upcoming First Friday event in Kansas City's Crossroads Arts District.