Central Standard | KCUR

Central Standard

Monday - Friday at 10 a.m.

Central Standard is an arts and ideas show. We tell the stories of people who matter in the Kansas City region.

Central Standard is broadcast weekdays at 10 a.m. on KCUR 89.3 and is available via podcast.

Coming up the week of November 12, 2018:

  • Monday: The Flu, from 1918 to Today | TVs of Tomorrow
  • Tuesday: Kansas City Weather | A Look Back At Open Spaces
  • Wednesday: Local Legacy of Stan Lee | Sherlock Holmes Club
  • Thursday: Feeding The Homeless & Food Safety | Sauce 
  • Friday: Portrait: Cynthia Levin
Paul Andrews

Forty years is a long time to spend in one place, doing one thing. Especially when the goal is to ruffle feathers.

But that's what the Unicorn Theatre's producing artistic director Cynthia Levin has done, turning an anti-establishment theater into an established venue.

Portrait Session With Artistic Director Cynthia Levin

20 hours ago

For the past 39 years, Cynthia Levin has made the Unicorn Theatre's stage her home, family, and legacy. We spoke with her about growing up in an activist family, using theater to examine social issues, and giving a voice to the voiceless in her role as the Producing Artistic Director of the Unicorn. This hour-long interview marks the latest installment of our Portrait Sessions. 

Seg. 1: Food Safety & Feeding The Homeless. Seg. 2: They Call Me Sauce

Nov 15, 2018

Segment 1: Food safety and feeding the homelessness in Kansas City.

The Kansas City Health Department recently intercepted food intended for the homeless out of concern for food safety, then used bleach to ensure it would not be consumed. The story has gone viral, generating a heated discussion in the metro and beyond. On this episode, we address the underlying tensions about how to help, and the needs in our community still going unmet -- with upwards of 4,000 people enduring homelessness.

Segment 1: Stan Lee's local impact on entertainment culture.

Stan Lee, the creator of the Marvel Comics Universe, passed away earlier this week. On this episode, we speak with local artists and collectors who were influenced by Lee's legacy.

Segment 2, beginning at 35:00: The Baker Street Irregulars.

Segment 1: Why is predicting Kansas City weather so hard?

In Kansas City, you can regularly experience three seasons in one day. We talk with local meteorologists about how different elements of Kansas City such as altitude, latitude and longitude combine to create our signature weather, once named most unpredictable among major US cities

Segment 1: 100 years since the 1918 epidemic, but we still battle influenza.

Historians are still debating how many people died from the flu pandemic in 1918, at least 2,000 Kansas Citians included. We talk about the politics and protocols of treating the flu in the past and learn how to best prevent the spread of the flu this season.

Food Critics: Grits And Diners

Nov 9, 2018

Segment 1: Grits.

Whether you like them or not, grits are making a comeback on menus across the nation. Grits have been around a long time; they are a meal indigenous to North America. We talk with a local chef about the variety and versatility of grits. 

Segment 2, beginning at 13:10: Diner dining in Kansas City.

Segment 1: How to remember war.

How World War 1 was a pivotal moment in how we memorialize wars, with Kansas City's Liberty Memorial playing a key role.

Post-Midterm Election Reactions

Nov 7, 2018

The day after the 2018 midterm elections, two political science professors join us to talk about who turned out to vote, and how that affected the outcomes. The discussion includes high turnout for young voters, changing rural demographics in Kansas and Missouri, the importance of identity for voters and candidates, and whether Kansas just turned blue as some are claiming, or not. 

Seg. 1: Election Words. Seg. 2: National Novel Writing Month.

Nov 6, 2018

Segment 1: Where does the word vote come from?

Voting and elections have their own vocabulary, with words like poll, tally, ballot, and candidate. We discuss with scholars to learn the origins of voting words and how they came to be associated with the election season. We also check in with a KCUR reporter out at the polls on this election day.

Protecting Your Vote

Nov 5, 2018

On the day before the midterm elections, we discuss the process of voting and how to ensure your vote is protected. Plus, a look at two recent episodes of My Fellow Kansans covering gubernatorial candidates Kris Kobach and Laura Kelly.


Segment 1: Jason Sudeikis brings it for his friends.

Jason Sudeikis returns to his hometown for Thundergong, with a star-studded lineup of comedy and music. The proceeds go towards a local non-profit founded by a childhood friend who lost a leg unexpectedly in 2005; his foundation now supports others who need prosthetic limbs. The two friends talk about everything from yacht rock to the scourge of indecency.  

Segment 1: Are you using your phone to read this? Us too.

A cell phone today is like another limb; we do not want to leave the house without it. Is this an addiction? We talk with parents and smartphone users about why phones are so addictive and how they are affecting our moods, motivations, and parenting.

Audiofiles: 7 Scary Podcasts

Oct 31, 2018

Whether it be kitschy or creepy, there is a scary story out there for everyone. Here are recommendations from two audiofiles who shared their favorite spooky-themed podcasts on the Halloween episode of Central Standard.

Madeline FoxKansas News Service reporter

Segment 1: The haunts of Kansas City.

Everyone loves spooky ghost stories — and Kansas City is home to a few horrors of its own. On this episode, we chat with the host of a podcast that dives into the creepy side of the Metro.

Segment 2, beginning at 16:08: Spooky podcast recommendations.

Our Audiofiles have compiled some suggestons for scarily good podcast listens.

Segment 1: How do you prepare to vote?

There are a lot more issues on the ballot than you may realize. How do you make sure you have sufficient knowledge of candidates, judges, and amendments before getting to the ballot box? We talk with a local voter who did extensive research and shared her findings on social media, as well as KCUR staff members who put together some resources.


Fall has arrived in Kansas City along with a vast selection of seasonal beer, as breweries new and old have rolled out their finest brews to coincide with the increasingly chilly weather.

But one cannot survive on beer alone. So, in the interest of keeping stomachs full and hearts warm, Central Standard's food critics recently shared some of their top food-and-beer pairings.

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

Segment 1: How should we respond to violent acts of hatred?

On Saturday, a gunman killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We talk with leaders in Kansas City's Jewish community about this act of violence, including ways to heal and prevent this from happening again in the future.

Seg. 1: Food Halls. Seg. 2: Breweries.

Oct 26, 2018

Segment 1: Are food halls the next food trucks?

The Kansas City area now has two food halls, which are single buildings with lots of restaurant stalls inside. If you're thinking of a fancy food court, you're right. But rather than chain restaurants, food halls offer speciality foods from local vendors, like Yucatan-Turkish wings from Karbon in Parlor

Segment 1: Celebrities are entertaining and increasingly political.

Recently more and more celebrities are getting involved in political activism, but it has not always been this way. We talk about the origin of celebrity influence in politics and its effects in today's political climate.

Segment 2, beginning at 14:10: What's in a name?

For many new citizens, voting is a crucial milestone in becoming an American. On this episode, we find out what issues matter to newly-naturalized citizens both here in Kansas City and across the nation as they prepare to vote for the first time. Plus, a look at the latest episode of My Fellow Kansans.


Segment 1: Midwestern millennials are getting married at younger ages than those on the Coast. 

Across the United States, millennials are choosing to delay marriage. We talk with marriage experts about the reasons why and also how the Midwest differs slightly in this national trend.

Seg. 1: DNA Tests And Identity. Seg. 2: Archetypes Of Witches

Oct 22, 2018

Segment 1: Does your DNA make you who you are?

KCMO Homeless Period Project

Menstruating isn't just having a monthly period. It's also having a monthly bill, because buying proper hygiene products such as pads and tampons can be costly.

"It may cost $7 for 22 pads. That's pretty expensive," says Jessica McClellan, founder and president of a Kansas City non-profit called Giving Hope and Help, which provides funds and resources, including menstrual hygiene products, for domestic violence shelters.

Segment 1: A Kansas City musician's self-proclaimed 'nerdy rap.'

Kadesh Flow is a trombonist with The Phantastics. He released "Room Service," a solo hip-hop album, which he recorded in a hotel room during a gamer convention. Hear more of his story, from leaving his job at Cerner to pursue music to being part of the Nerdy People of Color Collective.

Segment 1: Paying for period products can be difficult.

For some people, there’s a financial choice to be made when it comes to buying food, paying the bills, or purchasing pads and tampons. Some have to miss school or work because they don’t have the proper supplies. We talk about menstrual equity in the nation and in Kansas City, and what locals are doing to ensure that people have the supplies they need.

The Battery Tour

Oct 17, 2018

AY Young is a local musician who's making a name for himself across the country with solar-powered, community-centered concerts. We hear the story of how he learned to rap without ever having heard rap music, and he fills us in on what to expect from his Open Spaces show this Sunday. Plus, a look at the latest episode of My Fellow Kansans.

Segment 1: What is the state of the honeybee in Missouri?

Most of the news we hear about honeybees is bad news. Is it really all doom and gloom? Or are honeybees doing better than we thought? 

Segment 1: Forty-four years at Kansas City Parks and Rec. 

From his early years mowing grass, to repairing fiberglass kangaroos at Penguin Park, to overseeing the vast system of parks and boulevards, we hear about Mark McHenry's long career in Parks and Recreation. And yes, he says, it's a lot like the TV show. He plans to retire from his post as Director this December.

White plate with baba ganoush on it.

When he was in college, Kansas City author Adib Khorram taught himself to make Persian food.

Khorram, who grew up in Gladstone with an Iranian-born father, hadn't always felt comfortable embracing that part of his background when he was kid. The struggle to find cultural belonging would later be mirrored in his semi-autobiographical young adult novel. Another thing that found its way into his book, "Darius The Great Is Not Okay"? Iranian cuisine.