Sylvia Maria Gross | KCUR

Sylvia Maria Gross

Storytelling Editor

Sylvia Maria Gross manages creative projects at KCUR, including overseeing Central Standard, KCUR's daily talk/magazine show and the podcast Midwesternish. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, The World and Studio 360. Gross grew up in New York City, Brazil and the suburbs of Washington, DC. She came to public radio after a long stint as a middle school teacher, and has continued to spend her career trying to capture the attention of wandering minds.

Ways to Connect

Midterm elections will soon be upon us, and we're curious-- will this be your first time voting? Whether you just turned 18, recently became a U.S. citizen, or have just gotten more interested in the democratic process, we want to hear from you.

If you're willing to be a source for this series on KCUR's Central Standard, please fill out this form.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

At one point in history, Atchison, Kansas was positioned to be one of the main connecting points for the railways between Missouri and Kansas. The town played an important role in the Civil War, and had many significant residents. But what's going on there today?

KCUR's Central Standard revisits a road trip to Atchison. Come along with us.

Guests:

File photo / Kansas News Service

Stories of small-town Kansas usually deal with issues like population decline, the brain drain or boarded up downtowns and food deserts. A different story played out last year in Tonganoxie, a growing town of about 5,000 people that rejected a proposal for a chicken plant that would offer more than 1,000 jobs. On this episode, we dig into Tonganoxie, a town where the population is changing and where the controversy over a poultry plant has raised questions about what that change will look like in the future.

One out of five Americans is a woman of color. So, why are their perspectives often overlooked, even in conversations about race and gender? KCUR's Michelle Tyrene Johnson hosts an unfiltered, wide-ranging discussion about life in Kansas City for women of color.

Guests:

Families living in the Kansas City Public Schools district have more school options than ever before.  Is school choice improving education for all? A special broadcast of a live forum about this issue.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

The total number of homicides has been rising and falling for decades here in Kansas City, Missouri. Right now, we're in the midst of a scary climb. It's easy in times like these to ask, why? We always seem to start there. We want to change the conversation. 

David Kovaluk, St. Louis Public Radio

Talking about race and culture is hard for a lot of Kansas Citians. It’s hard everywhere in the United States where people from different backgrounds share space and resources. But when we dig into stories about our identities and how they affect our families, our politics, arts and health – it’s hard not to recognize that race, culture and identity is a central force in our lives, and deserves special attention in our news coverage.

With Nazi rallies and swastikas showing up close to home in today's headlines, how one high school teacher is answering students' questions about World War II. 

Plus, why KU professor Kevin Willmott is wearing a bulletproof vest to class

Guests:

Ziegler Family / KCUR 89.3

Reporter Laura Ziegler reflects on what bringing her family and her father under one roof really meant.

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Paul Andrews PAUL ANDREWS / Paulandrewsphotography.com

For his day job, he smoked ribs at a barbecue joint. But his secret identity was a playwright. Hear Nathan Louis Jackson's journey to becoming a writer for television and stage, including the Netflix series Luke Cage.

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Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Just hours ahead of the total eclipse of the sun, Central Standard broadcasts live from Parkville, Missouri. We hear from KCUR reporters along the path of totality, as well as scientists and historians who traveled across the country to see this rare celestial event.

Guests:

Gina Kaufmann / KCUR 89.3

The Garden of Eden isn't as far away as you might think. It's in the small town of Lucas, Kansas and it's filled with art. On this episode, a grassroots art project and it's unexpected caretaker. 

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LAURA ZIEGLER / KCUR 89.3

Roger Thomas wants you to move to his hometown, Orrick, Missouri, in order to save a small town that's only getting smaller. But can he convice you to see what he sees in Orrick?

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Zota / Flickr

The story of how one Kansas City man's DIY fireworks display got completely out of hand.

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Music: Gentle Marimba by Alastair Cameron, The Stars And Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa

KCUR’s reporters, producers have won a host of honors this year in local and national journalism awards, including a national Edward R. Murrow Award and two prestigious awards from the Public Radio News Directors Incorporated.

Public Radio News Directors Incorporated

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Between natural disasters, the transformation of farming, and the widespread decline of rural America, the small town of Orrick, Missouri has dwindled to a few square blocks.

KCUR's Central Standard has been visiting the edges of our listening area, to learn about communities we don't hear from quite as often. Join us for this trip 30 miles northeast of Kansas City to Orrick, where the town, lead by a new mayor, is all about re-invention.

Guests:

Pseph / Flickr -- CC

What exactly is healthy food? Definitions can vary. On this show: a visit to T. Loft, then a local scientist says that salt has gotten a bad rap for years; many of us should eat more salt, not less.

We also look into the healthy restaurant trend, and our Food Critics and a dietitian search out the best healthy dishes in and around KC.

Guests:

COURTESY OF THE JACKSON FAMILY

Avery Jackson was the first transgender person in the world to grace the cover of National Geographic. That's a huge responsibility for a nine-year-old girl from the Midwest. But, through her journey, Avery's learned to deal with the haters.

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Americasroof / Wikimedia Ccommons

You might think it's easy to define the Midwest...it's just a collection of states, right? Wrong. On this episode, we explore our regional identity and attempt to answer the question: what is the Midwest, really? 

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Jeff Mast / worldsoffun.org

There's something a little sad about returning to your favorite childhood amusement park as an adult. That pinch of nostalgia for certain rides connects us to the places we grew up, and the people with whom we grew up.

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Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Every city has that one bookstore, the irreverent corner shop where literary types plot revolutions. In Kansas City, that bookstore is Prospero's, owned by Will Leathem. Leathem took a surprising path to becoming a used book salesman.

 

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Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

At one point in history, Atchison, Kansas was positioned to be one of the main connecting points for the railways between Missouri and Kansas. It's said there were more millionaires there than anywhere in the world. Can Atchison hold onto its grand past but carve out a new identity for young residents?

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Courtesy of Will Fisher / https://www.flickr.com/photos/fireatwillrva/6800794340/

Malls used to be "cool" places to hang out. But now, more and more malls are becoming abandoned structures, rotting inside and waiting for the wrecking ball. What do these hollowed-out shopping centers say about where we are as a country?

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Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

At one point in history, Atchison, Kansas was positioned to be one of the main connecting points for the railways between Missouri and Kansas. The town played an important role in the Civil War, and had many significant residents. But what's going on there today?

KCUR's Central Standard takes a road trip to Atchison. Come along with us.

Guests:

KCUR 89.3

Suddenly, everyone seems to be using the word "y'all." But what do we mean when we use that word? Is it a bad case of appropriation? Is it racist? One thing's for sure, "y'all" is far more interesting than you think.

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ANTHONY LADESICH

Anthony Ladesich never got to buy his dad a drink. He died when Anthony was only 19. But after listening to his father's old reel-to-reel tapes, Anthony discovered a dad he never knew, and what he heard blew his mind.

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As more young people identify as Nones (as in "no religious affiliation"), are they still making room for rituals in their daily lives?

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As a kid, Ed Dwight never dreamed he might one day go to the moon, but he did fantasize about escaping life in Kansas. And it was that idea of escape that was so powerful for a young black man in the 50s.

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In the 1990s, fiddler Dennis Stroughmatt was a student at Southwest Missouri State University when a folklore professor made a passing reference to a little-known dialect of French spoken nearby. An encore presentation of his journey to find out if anyone still spoke Missouri French.

Then, a KU professor on the connection between blues and funk, and Question Quest has the final installment of the mysterious bird lady statue on the Trolley Trail.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A shooting in Olathe, Kansas that left one Indian man dead and another injured has captured national and international attention. How does violence like this change South Asian immigrants' perceptions of the Midwest and the "American Dream?"

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