storytelling

Senate Democrats / Flickr - CC

From his vantage point in the U.S. Senate, Sheldon Whitehouse is of the mind that the longstanding tradition of honor in American politics is disappearing. Today, he argues corporate infiltration into the political system is to blame.

A rural farm in Kansas. A wealthy family with a dark secret. A missing young woman. That's the basis of a new book by a local author. She shares how a real-life small Kansas town — and her background as a criminal defense attorney — helped inspire her novel.

Then, a look at how police department throughout the country (including in KC) are using technology that mines cell phone data.

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

On March 20, 1978, William Least Heat-Moon left Columbia, Missouri in a Ford van. The van, which he named Ghost Dancing, would be his home for the next three months.

He was 38 years old. His marriage was falling apart. He'd lost his teaching job due to staffing cutbacks. His decision to get behind the wheel in search of America's stories was part dream, part desperation.

Now that the van is a literary artifact, he has to visit it in a museum. And he's careful not to get behind the wheel. Sitting back in that driver's seat makes him misty eyed.

Courtesy of Sherie Randolph / sheriemrandolph.com

In the early 1900s, in a home near 18th and Vine, a young black mother made her daughter promise never to have children. That little girl became a radical feminist, who pried her way into Columbia Law School in a time when they weren't even admitting black men. Historian Sherie Randolph unearths the life and times of the late Flo Kennedy. 

Plus, an encore broadcast: One local academic on performing around the world as Zora Neale Hurston. 

Guests:

Universal Pictures

How many times has terrible science kept you from enjoying a sci-fi movie? From hits like I Am Legend to the classic Soylent Green, we explore the science behind these (and other) movies, and how they relate to real life.

It's Election Day. We're taking a trip down memory lane, as we explore the first elections many of us got to participate in: class elections. Whether for elementary schools, high school student council, or college class president, these early elections are an opportunity to practice being members of a democracy.

Guests: 

Courtesy of Anna Cole

It's Election Day, which has us thinking about those times in our childhood when we ran for office, or managed our best friend's campaign. Back when things were simpler ... right?

Wrong, says Anna Cole. 

As a fifth grader at Bryant Elementary School in Kansas City's Brookside neighborhood, Cole ran for school president.

It was the fall of 1991, and Cole was geared up. After getting into student council in the third grade, then progressing to treasurer in fourth, she was ready for higher office.

Coloring books, dodgeball, spelling bees . . . Kids' activities are all the rage for adults these days. Kansas City actor and writer David Wayne Reed has hopped on the bandwagon and, with an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant, launched a new live storytelling event called "Shelf Life."

We hear about the project — think "The Moth meets Antiques Roadshow" — and we get a sneak preview of the first event.

Guest:

Hordes of storytellers from around the world are descending on Kansas City over the next few days for the National Storytelling Conference. How do we craft better stories and why does the way we tell stories matter? We find out why this ancient art is still in vogue today.  Plus, a story from last February's Flame KC event.

Guests:

Everybody seems to be talking about storytelling these days. That's music to our ears on Central Standard, where we're always looking for good, true tales about life in Kansas City. This past winter, KCUR sponsored a series of storytelling events at Pilgrim Chapel in Hyde Park, called FlameKC.

We will be airing some of those stories over the next couple of weeks, starting with the first. Within the theme "Letting Go," Pilgrim Chapel director Andrew Johnson shared his story about parenting and time.

From research to relationships, from the laboratory to the living room, there's a lot going on in the world of Alzheimer's. In this encore presentation of Central Standard, we share the voices of Alzheimer's patients, stories from caregivers and a progress report from a leading scientist. 

Guests:

Charlotte Street Foundation

Rodolfo Marron is an artist who grew up in the 1990s, on Kansas City's West Side. It was a grittier place back then, he says. For an escape, he started creating characters who inspired him. Now, he draws on Kansas City stories and the materials that grow wild in backyards and along highways.

Guest:

If you like to learn about the inner lives of musicians, as though they're the friends or older siblings who are way cooler than you, then music podcasts might just be your thing. This show compiles great music podcasts with an emphasis on the musician-interview approach, plus a handful of new, non-music podcasts to refresh your general playlist. Timed in anticipation of KCUR's upcoming Podcast Party featuring Central Standard and The Grisly Hand. 

Guests:

A Kansas City-based filmmaker talks short films, mothers-in-law and wanting to knock an obnoxious guy's chair over at a picnic. Her most recent short film, I Was a Teenage Girl, Apparently, is making its local premiere

Guest:

  • Lynn Elliot, filmmaker 

Hidden Roots

Feb 23, 2016
Library of Congress

Tracing your family's roots becomes a complicated prospect once the legacy of slavery enters the picture. Records relating to a little-known chapter of the Civil War might help. 

Guest:

Audiofiles: Winter Edition

Feb 22, 2016

We share tips on starting a successful podcast from The Heart's Kaitlin Prest. Our critics on what they're listening to, from fresh takes on folk tales to new ways of exploring crime to voices of Bernie Sanders supporters and other political podcasts.

In this encore presentation, we revisit our conversation with Scott Hobart, AKA "Rex", on the occasion of his country band's first new album in ten years.

David DeHetre / Flickr

What is the Plaza worth to you? To the city on the whole? A conversation inspired by the retail district being up for sale.

Guests:

  • Monroe Dodd, local historian, KCUR's Central Standard
  • Susie Haake, lifelong Plaza resident
  • Celia Ruiz, activist, Una Lucha KC, lifelong Kansas Citian

Nic McPhee / Flickr

Crazy travel stories told live by Kansas Citians Marcel Des Marteau, Matthew Long-Middleton, Hector Casanova, Megan Coleman, Will Averill, Priscilla Howe and Barclay Martin, hosted by Gina Kaufmann. The event was a benefit for Generation Listen KC

The Breakthrough Moment

Nov 12, 2015

Enrique Chi of the band Making Movies stopped by the studio to tell the story of his band's breakthrough moment. Which included a broken van, a crowded bus and a car engulfed in flames. This story kicks off a Generation Listen KC storytelling event at Knuckleheads with the theme Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Ah, fairy tales. Magical stories from our childhoods where the worst thing that could happen was getting your thumbs chopped off, or being grabbed by your ankle and pulled underwater, or pushed out a window into briars full of thorns that poke out your eyes. Yikes! This edition of Up To Date features the original and sometimes gruesome versions of popular children's stories. 

Guests:

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

For many, Ira Glass and his program, This American Life, have been a gateway into the public radio world. 

But the radio icon, who has one of the most recognizable voices in the business, claims that it took longer for him to get good at telling stories on the radio than anyone else he knows in the business. 

"I was working in public radio starting when I was 19. I knew I wanted to do radio stories ... but doing it well, it really took me until I was 27 or so until I was a decent writer and reporter, maybe 28 really," he says. 

Pixabay / Creative Commons

As KCUR gears up for a Podcast Party, the Audiofiles recommend a history series that digs into strange stories from the past culled from small town newspapers, a bunch of comedians making fun of bad movies, politicians in the laid-back podcast format accidentally confessing to being robots, and more.

Guests:

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Mará Rose Williams is a reporter for The Kansas City Star. And though her beat is technically higher education, for Williams, it's all about love.

"I really love people," she says. "And my job, I look at it as an opportunity every day to fall in love."

She says that when she meets someone whose story she loves, it gives her the same euphoric feeling as a romantic flame being kindled.

For example, there was the girl she covered who was blind, and wanted to run track for her middle school.

From research to relationships, from the laboratory to the living room, there's a lot going on in the world of Alzheimer's. We share the voices of Alzheimer's patients, stories from caregivers and a progress report from a leading scientist. 

Guests:

On the newest edition of Audiofiles, an irreverent women's history podcaster tells her story and sings a drinking song. A prolific podcast-listener shares a playlist. Obama's visit to Marc Maron's garage is discussed.

Guests:

  • Beckett Graham, cocreator of The History Chicks podcast
  • Jeremy Bernfeld, editor, Harvest Public Media

The Vietnamese-American Community of Greater Kansas City just participated in an annual commemoration the Fall of Saigon, which the organization calls its Black April Commemoration. This year's anniversary marked forty years since the moment when communist power extended to South Vietnam, and Saigon became Ho Chi Minh City. People fled in large numbers, and for many in the local Vietnamese community, a long perilous journey ended here in Kansas City. 

Guests:

courtesy of the author

Joanne Saxon Hill  lives in Peculiar, Missouri, but her writing is rooted in the South. 

A novelist and short story writer, Saxon Hill grew up in Alabama in a strict religious family — an upbringing that, at times, was isolating. But she says, she's always been "tuned to life's quirkiness." 

Saxon Hill, who goes by the name Sister Saxon, incorporates bits of memory, overheard conversations, and imagination into her stories, like The Affliction.

Paul Andrews

 

Paul Mesner has never been bored. 

"I was a pretty shy kid, but I also was and still am very content to be by myself,"' he says. "There's tons I can do to entertain myself."

In that sense, Kansas City's master puppeteer was his own first audience.

It started with a teddy bear.

Early beginnings

There’s a storytelling renaissance going on, and Kansas City’s about to be at the heart of it.

To understand what's happening, the first thing you need to know is this: There is such a thing as an official storyteller. We’re not talking about your average barstool raconteur. We’re talking about people who hone a craft. Who practice an art. Who carefully structure their yarns with slow reveals and escalating tension, all in an effort to convey deep meaning. For many of these people, it's a career.

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