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What are you up after midnight and before sunrise? What are you thinking about? Doing? Eating? Tune in to KC Currents this week Sunday, August 26 at 5 p.m. and Monday, August 27 at 8 p.m. for a special Up All Night edition. Explore the region between the hours of midnight and 5 am.Up All Night With A New Baby KCUR listeners may know that our producer and regular co-host Sylvia Maria Gross is on maternity leave. But this Up all Night show theme was her idea, so we felt we had to include her somehow. Sylvia and her husband, Bill Elder, had baby Rosa Mina just a month ago. We thought their overnight experience would take us to a scene all new parents will recognize.A Late Night Frog GigIn Missouri, the bullfrog and green frog harvest seasons start on the night of June 30th and last through the end of October.Waiting until complete darkness falls, a spotlight is used to scope the edges of water banks to find the frogs by the glare of their eyes. The frogs are blinded by the shining light and freeze in place. This makes it easier to get close enough to use a gig, a fork like hook on a pole, to stab them. Late Night Town Topic Town Topic Diner at Broadway and Southwest Blvd. is open 24/7. Since 1937 this tiny white shack with its red neon sign has acted as a late night hub for all night workers, drunken partiers, and anyone looking for atmosphere and cheap food. Ripe For The Night At perhaps one of the busiest and time sensitive workplaces in town Donna Vestal, editor of Harvest Public Media, takes us to Liberty Fruit Co., in Kansas City, Kansas. Here she found a business constantly on the move. So much so, that spent most of her time trying not to get run over. Mutual Musicians Foundation’s Spirit Won’t Stop For more than eighty years, the small two-story building at 1823 Highland Avenue has been the heart of Kansas City jazz. Today it’s the Mutual Musician’s Foundation, but in 1917, the building became the headquarters for the Local 627 Colored Musician’s Union. Over the decades, nearly every jazz great in the country has jammed here, and the all-night weekend jam sessions have also served as training grounds for jazz students. KCUR’s Susan Wilson spent a late night there to find out what draws audiences and keeps them until the 6 a.m. closing time.

Ripe For The Night

The merchandise doesn’t linger for long at Liberty Fruit Co. Inc., on Argentine Blvd. in Kansas City, Kan.

This business survives on movement. As a wholesaler, Liberty buys fruits and vegetables from all over the country, brings them into this huge warehouse and then sends them all out again – quickly – to an eight state region.  Produce can rot, after all, and customers are waiting.

At night, the movement is palpable.

“We turn it fast,” says Robbie Mitchell, the night warehouse manager. “It’s just go, go, go from the time they clock in until the time they clock out.”

Mitchell, who has been in the produce industry for 19 years, comes in at 3 in the afternoon and typically works a 10- to 13-hour shift. Liberty itself shuts down for just 12 hours every Saturday afternoon – the rest of time, produce is coming in and going out.

At around 1 a.m. on this night in mid-July, Mitchell’s got a full crew of 38 on the job.  And it’s like a mini mart on wheels. About 20 or so guys —  the pullers — are zooming around  on riding jacks, seemingly with their own traffic code and no speed limit. It takes them anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes to pick an order – boxes of fruit, onions, potatoes stored in Liberty’s 13 coolers. The loads are then transported into the trucks on the dock. This is the food that will be served in many of Kansas City’s restaurants tomorrow.

“It is a lot different at nights than it is day shift,” Mitchells says, “Days are a little more relaxed. On night shift, we have a lot of cases to get out and more trucks to get out by the following morning.”

He says the busiest time is actually between 9 and midnight, when the trucks headed out of town need to get moving. “After that it’s downhill.”

Donna Vestal is the Managing Director of America Amplified: Election 2020.
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