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Glory Days For The Mafia In KC

Kansas City may be famous for its jazz and barbeque, but it also has the dubious distinction of having had one of the best Mafias in the country.

This is according to Terence O’Malley, who researched the history of organized crime in Kansas City. 

After compiling photos, artifacts and records, O’Malley produced a documentary about the subject in 2009, and recently released companion book called Black Hand Strawman: The History of Organized Crime in Kansas City. By bringing key mafia characters to life, the film tells the story of the rise and fall of Kansas City organized crime and the politicians who became caught up in its web.  

KCUR's Susan Wilson caught up with O’Malley recently in the studio to learn about how the mafia got started in the early nineteen teens.

This story was produced for KC Currents, which airs Sundays at 5pm with a repeat Mondays at 8pm. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KC Currents podcast.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Susan admits that her “first love” was radio, being an avid listener since childhood. However, she spent much of her career in mental health, healthcare administration, and sports psychology (Susan holds a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Bloch School of Business at UMKC.) In the meantime, Wilson satisfied her journalistic cravings by doing public speaking, providing “expert” interviews for local television, and being a guest commentator/contributor to KPRS’s morning drive time show and the teen talk show “Generation Rap.”
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