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Inside KCUR

Our newsroom's mission is to serve the Kansas City region. This is how we're doing that

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Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
The Up To Date staff works a live-remote broadcast from the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum earlier this year as it prepared to reopen following its extensive remodeling.

Over the last few months at KCUR, we’ve been asking folks in our newsroom to describe their work in a different way — so that the communities we serve know what we do, and why we do it.

What is a journalist’s job, really?

Ask any beat reporter what they do, and they may say something like: “I cover crime.” Or: “I cover City Hall.” Or: “I cover the arts.”

For other journalists — like the anchors, editors, hosts and producers whose bylines you see far less often, but who are critical to making KCUR run — that question is harder to answer. When journalists are talking amongst ourselves, we generally understand what these jobs entail.

But over the last few months at KCUR, we’ve been asking folks in our newsroom to describe their work in a different way — so that the communities we serve know what we do, and why we do it.

All of us at KCUR believe that shared knowledge and participation in democratic processes are critical to a well-functioning society. We believe in access to quality news and information for everyone. We take it as our duty to cover the Kansas City region, in all its diversity.

When it comes to our day-to-day jobs, what do these missions look like for all the people inside KCUR? And how do we make sure our work is really benefiting the public?

We now have a better idea. Most of KCUR’s reporters, producers, hosts and editors have written their own, individual mission statements. You can see them published on our staff biographies, and they’ll accompany all the local stories on our website from now on. And we'll be adding even more as the rest of our station joins in.

These mission statements go beyond the beats or topics we cover. Instead, each is a personal declaration of purpose to our readers and listeners. They hit at why and how we do our jobs. We hope this project strengthens KCUR’s relationships with everyone in the Kansas City area.

Journalists often talk about holding people in power accountable. Our mission statements hold us accountable — to you.


Our mission statements

Danie Alexander, senior producer, Up to Date

As senior producer of Up To Date, I want our listeners to hear familiar and new voices that shine light on the issues and challenges facing the myriad communities KCUR serves, and to expose our audiences to the wonderful and the creative in the Kansas City area. Just as important to me is an obligation to mentor the next generation of producers to ensure that the important conversations continue. You can reach me at danie@kcur.org.

Scott Canon, managing editor, Kansas News Service

As the editor of a statewide news outlet, I aspire to work with our reporters to give Kansans a clear-eyed view of the place they call home. That means delivering hard-hitting stories that expose those things that keep Kansas from being the most vibrant, healthy place it can be. You can reach me at scott@kcur.org.

Abigail Censky, politics and government reporter, Kansas News Service

It’s my job to explain statewide politics to our audience with clarity and context. Sometimes that means tracking developments in the Legislature and shining light on things that alter the laws, the taxes and the services of state government. Other times it means traveling throughout the state to amplify the voices and stories of Kansans. And, critically, I strive to hold our public officials accountable. You can reach me at abigailcensky@kcur.org.

Reginald David, assistant producer, Up To Date

As an assistant producer on Up To Date, my goal is to amplify voices of people who serve as pioneers in their respective fields while shedding light on issues that affect underserved communities. I produce daily conversations to uplift and inspire the people of the Kansas City area to make the world a better place. You can reach me at reginalddavid@kcur.org.

Greg Echlin, sports reporter, KCUR

Sports has an economic and social impact on our community and, as a sports reporter, I go beyond the scores and statistics. I also bring the human element to the sports figures who have a hand in shaping the future of not only their respective teams but our town. You can reach me at gregechlin@aol.com.

Brian Ellison, host and contributor, KCUR

As a host and contributor at KCUR, I seek to create a more informed citizenry and richer community. I want to enlighten and inspire our audience by delivering the information they need with accuracy and urgency, clarifying what’s complicated and teasing out the complexities of what seems simple. I work to craft conversations that reveal realities in our midst and model civil discourse in a divided world. You can reach me at brian@kcur.org.

Jodi Fortino, general assignment reporter, KCUR

I want to be the first to get the story to our audience when news breaks, and be there to check back in with them when the dust has settled. Being KCUR’s general assignment reporter means my beat doesn’t have to stay in one lane, and I’ll cover a wide scope of stories that are as diverse as Kansas City is. You can reach me at jodifortino@kcur.org.

Brian Grimmett, energy and environment reporter, Kansas News Service

I seek to find and tell interesting stories about how our environment shapes and impacts us. Climate change is a growing threat to all Kansans, both urban and rural, and I want to inform people about what they can expect, how it will change their daily lives and the ways in which people, corporations and governments are working to adapt. I also seek to hold utility companies accountable for their policy and ratemaking decisions. You can reach me at grimmett@kmuw.org.

Suzanne Hogan, podcast producer and contributor, KCUR Studios

Every part of the present has been shaped by actions that took place in the past, but too often that context is left out. As a community storyteller taking a new look at local history, I aim to provide that context, clarity, empathy and deeper, nuanced perspectives on how the events and people in the past have shaped our community today. I want to entertain, inform, make you think, expose something new and cultivate a deeper shared human connection about how the passage of time affects us all. You can reach me at hogansm@kcur.org.

C.J. Janovy, director of content-journalism, KCUR

A free press is among our country’s founding principles and most precious resources. As director of content-journalism at KCUR, I want everyone in our part of America to know we see them and we’re listening. I work to make sure the stories we tell and the conversations we convene reflect our complex realities, informing and inspiring all of us to meet the profound challenges of our time. You can reach me at cj@kcur.org.

Gina Kaufmann, host and producer, Real Humans by Gina Kaufmann

People don't make cameos in news stories; the human story is the story, with characters affected by news events, not defined by them. As a columnist and podcaster, I want to acknowledge what it feels like to live through this time in Kansas City, one vantage point at a time. Together, these weekly vignettes form a collage of daily life in Kansas City as it changes in some ways, and stubbornly resists change in others. You can reach me at gina@kcur.org.

Stephen Koranda, news editor, Kansas News Service

As the Kansas News Service news editor, I help our statewide team of reporters find the important issues and breaking news that impact people statewide. We refine our daily stories to illustrate the issues and events that affect the health, well-being and economic stability of the people of Kansas. You can reach me at skoranda@kcur.org.

Steve Kraske, host, Up To Date

When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. You can reach me at steve@kcur.org.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen, reporter, Kansas News Service

I'm inspired to write about how we can all live healthier, happier lives. That means stories about preventive care and societal changes that can beat back disease and chronic conditions so we make fewer trips to the doctor in the first place. And when people do have to go to the doctor, I want to give them tools to find and afford the right care. I’m also interested in what it’s like for employers trying to build high-quality health plans that don't break the bank. You can reach me at celia@kcur.org.

Peggy Lowe, justice and public safety reporter, KCUR

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. You can reach me at lowep@kcur.org.

Dan Margolies, legal and health affairs reporter, KCUR

As a reporter covering breaking news and legal affairs, I want to demystify often-complex legal issues in order to expose the visible and invisible ways they affect people’s lives. I cover issues of justice and equity, and seek to ensure that significant and often under-covered developments get the attention they deserve so that KCUR listeners and readers are equipped with the knowledge they need to act as better informed citizens. You can reach me at dan@kcur.org.

Luke X. Martin, race and culture reporter, KCUR

The Kansas City region has long been a place where different ways of life collide. I tell the stories of people living and working where race, culture and ethnicity intersect. I examine racial equity and disparity, highlight the area's ethnic groups and communities of color, and invite all of Kansas City to explore meaningful ways to bond with and embrace cultures different from their own. You can reach me at luke@kcur.org.

Mackenzie Martin, podcast producer, KCUR Studios

Whether it’s something happening right now or something that happened 100 years ago, some stories don’t fit in the short few minutes of a newscast. As a podcast producer at KCUR, I help investigate questions and local curiosities in a way that brings listeners along for adventures with plot twists and thought-provoking ideas. Sometimes there isn’t an easy answer in the end, but my hope is that we all leave with a greater understanding of the city we live in. You can reach me at mackenzie@kcur.org.

Blaise Mesa, social services and criminal justice reporter, Kansas News Service

As a criminal justice and social service reporter, it's my job to ensure the systems designed to help people are working as intended. Thousands of Kansans deal with the criminal justice or foster care systems each day. I strive to hold all agencies and departments accountable for the work they are doing. You can reach me at blaise@kcur.org.

Carlos Moreno, general assignment reporter and photojournalist, KCUR

As KCUR’s general assignment reporter and visual journalist, I bring our audience inside the daily stories that matter most to the people of the Kansas City metro, showing how and why events affect residents. Through my photography, I seek to ensure our diverse community sees itself represented in our coverage. You can reach me at carlos@kcur.org.

Frank Morris, national correspondent, KCUR and NPR

I’ve been at KCUR almost 30 years, working partly for NPR and splitting my time between local and national reporting. I work to bring extra attention to people in the Midwest, my home state of Kansas and of course Kansas City. What I love about this job is having a license to talk to interesting people and then crafting radio stories around their voices. It’s a big responsibility to uphold the truth of those stories while condensing them for lots of other people listening to the radio, and I take it seriously. You can reach me at frank@kcur.org.

Vickie Newton, enterprise editor, KCUR

As KCUR’s enterprise editor, I want to help our audience expand their understanding of what is (and is not) news by embracing a multi-faceted portrait of underserved communities, explaining the implications of public policy, and highlighting the creative beauty and human triumph that offsets the challenges of our times. You can reach me at vickie@kcur.org.

Lisa Rodriguez, news director, KCUR

Slow news days are a thing of the past. As KCUR’s news director, I want to cut through the noise, provide context to the headlines, and give you news you can use in your daily life — information that will empower you to make informed decisions about your neighborhood, your city and the region. You can reach me at lisa@kcur.org.

Gabe Rosenberg, audience editor, KCUR

As KCUR’s audience editor, I constantly ask the questions: What do people need from us, and how can we best deliver it? I work across departments and projects to ensure our entire community is represented in and best served by our journalism. I help lead KCUR’s digital efforts to make our station more responsive, more competitive and more engaging. You can reach me at gabe@kcur.org.

Alex Smith, health reporter, KCUR

As a health care reporter, I aim to empower my audience to take steps to improve health care and make informed decisions as consumers and voters. I tell human stories augmented with research and data to explain how our health care system works and sometimes fails us. You can reach me at alexs@kcur.org.

Laura Spencer, arts reporter, KCUR

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. You can reach me at lauras@kcur.org.

Nomin Ujiyediin, newscaster and host, Kansas City Today

As a newscaster and a host of a daily news podcast, I want to deliver the most important and interesting news of the day in an engaging and easily understandable way. No matter where you live in the metro or what you’re interested in, I want you to learn something from each newscast or podcast — and maybe even give you something to talk about at the dinner table. You can reach me at nomin@kcur.org.

Zach Wilson, associate producer, Up to Date

As Up To Date’s associate producer, I construct daily conversations that give our listeners context to the issues of our time. I strive to provide a platform that holds those in power accountable, while also spotlighting the voices of Kansas City’s creatives and visionaries that may otherwise go unheard. You can reach me at zach@kcur.org.

Sam Zeff, newscaster and local governments reporter, KCUR

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf. I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. You can reach me at sam@kcur.org.

Laura Ziegler, community engagement reporter and producer, KCUR

I partner with communities to uncover the ignored or misrepresented stories by listening and letting communities help identify and shape a narrative. My work brings new voices, sounds, and an authentic sense of place to our coverage of the Kansas City region. My goal is to tell stories on the radio, online, on social media and through face to face conversations that enhance civic dialogue and provide solutions. You can reach me at lauraz@kcur.org.

You can find all of KCUR on our staff page, and read more about our mission here.

KCUR serves the Kansas City region with essential news and information.
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