Laura Ziegler | KCUR

Laura Ziegler

Community Reporter

Laura Ziegler began her career at KCUR as a reporter more than 20 years ago. She became the news director in the mid 1980's and  in 1988,  went to National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. as a producer for Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon.

In 1993, she came back to Kansas City as the Midwest correspondent for National Public Radio. Among the stories she covered - the floods of 1993, the ongoing farm crisis and rural affairs, and presidential campaigns.

After the birth of her 3rd child, Laura returned to KCUR as producer of Under the Clock, a weekly talk show broadcast live from Union Station. It was hosted by former Kansas City mayor Emanuel Cleaver. When he was elected 5th district Congressman in 2002, Laura returned to KCUR as a part-time reporter and producer.

Laura has won numerous awards for her work, including three regional Edward R. Murrow awards.

In 1992, Laura was awarded a Jefferson Fellowship in Journalism with the East West Center at the University of Hawaii which took her to China, Japan, Burma, Bangladesh and Thailand.  In 1990, she was part of a reporting trip to the then -Soviet Union with the American Center for International Leadership.

Laura graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Anthropology from Vassar College.

She, her husband, and their three children - Julia, Ellie, and Benjamin, live with Laura's father in the house in which she was born.

Ways to Connect

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Uniform-clad students filed somberly across the parking lot from their classrooms Monday morning at Christ the King elementary, on their way to the church. They took their places in the pews, where they’ve gone to pray many times.

This gloomy morning, though, they were there to say goodbye.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

A crossing guard employed by the city of Kansas City, Kansas, died Tuesday after he pushed two schoolchildren out of the way of an oncoming car. 

The incident occurred just before 8 a.m. along the 5400 block of Leavenworth Road outside the Christ the King Catholic School. Kansas City, Kansas, Police have identified the victim as 88-year-old Bob Nill. 

Kansas City Chinese American Associatiaon

Alex Che, president of the Kansas City Chinese American Association, estimates there are between 10,000 and 20,000 Chinese and Chinese American residents in the area, although it’s hard to know for sure because they're spread out all over the metro. 

Many have friends and family in China, and as deaths from the new coronavirus — officially named COVID-19 on Tuesday by the World Health Organization — exceeded 1,000, concern grew among the community here as well.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

No more waiting, Kansas City: The Chiefs are Super Bowl champions again, and it’s time to party.

Courtesy / Stram family

The Kansas City Chiefs are preparing to play in the franchise's first Super Bowl since Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Hank Stram led the team to a title in Super Bowl IV 50 years ago.

Stram's sons — Dale, now 64; Stu, 62; and Gary, 58 — were three of the six children raised by Phyllis and Hank Stram in Prairie Village in the 1960s and 1970s.

KCUR 89.3

Bill Shapiro, a Kansas City tax attorney by day who spent more than four decades hosting a Saturday-night radio program devoted to rock-and-roll, died on Tuesday. He was 82.

"The name of the program is Cyprus Avenue, and I’m Bill Shapiro," he said each week in a deep, gravelly voice over the show's opening music, which was not Van Morrison's "Cyprus Avenue" but rather Matthew Fisher's "Interlude."

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

The KCUR news staff presents the State of Kansas City series as a look ahead to 2020 on topics of importance to the region. Find the State of Kansas City report on other topics in the series as they are published each weekday, Jan. 6–Jan. 20. Follow coverage on these topics at KCUR.org and on 89.3 FM throughout the year.

The debate over immigration has been dominated by the Trump administration’s hardline policies. Meanwhile, there are immigrant communities in the Kansas City area whose stories often go unheard amid the surrounding noise.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The KCUR news staff presents the State of Kansas City series as a look ahead to 2020 on topics of importance to the region. Find the State of Kansas City report on other topics in the series as they are published each weekday, Jan. 6–Jan. 20. Follow coverage on these topics at KCUR.org and on 89.3 FM throughout the year.

Buzz about new housing and development in the metro has focused on downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The past two decades saw former warehouses and old buildings converted to lofts at lightning speed.

Wyandotte County Sheriff's Office

The Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office amended charges Wednesday against the two men suspected in October's fatal shootings at a bar in Kansas City, Kansas.

Hugo Villanueva-Morales and Javier Alatorre now also face capital murder charges in the shootings at Tequila KC that killed four people and injured five. Under Kansas law, capital murder charges carry a sentence of either life in prison without chance of parole or the death penalty. 

Courtesy Photo
Chouteaufountain.org

Kansas City likes to call itself the City of Fountains, but only two of approximately 200 fountains are north of the Missouri River. For years this has rankled northland officials and neighborhood leaders who have felt the entryways to their communities lacked inviting art and monuments.

Civic, neighborhood and political leaders hope that will change with The Francois Chouteau & Native Americans Heritage Fountain, currently scheduled to be completed in 2021.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89-3

Though he’d been deported once before, it was worth the risk for Florencio Millan to come back illegally to Kansas City, Missouri. He’d lived here off and on since he was a teenager. He had a son here, and he was not only a top chef in a well-known restaurant, but he’d found love.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Council on Thursday resoundingly passed what advocates are calling a historic resolution, codifying protections for renters.

Mayor Quinton Lucas, who often talks about his lack of stable housing growing up in Kansas City, made affordable housing a flagship issue of his campaign.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service file photo

More than 2 million people live in the Kansas City metro, on either side of the state line. They live in urban, suburban and rural communities, and in everything from subsidized apartments to century-old farm homes.

As scientists better understand the impact of climate change, elected officials, city planners and housing advocates are working to design housing that will endure extreme weather. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Residents who lived around the historic Quindaro ruins in Kansas City, Kansas, were driving to the corner of 29th and Sewell on Nov. 19, getting out of their cars and inspecting what appeared to be another act of vandalism to the John Brown statue: Part of his hand and a scroll he'd been holding were missing.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Two years ago, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority gave veterans free bus passes. The next year, students became the beneficiaries of the zero fare policy. According to KCATA, 23% of riders over the past several years have not paid a dime to ride the bus.  

Transit officials argue the policy gives individuals and families more money to pump back into the local economy and that it improves the safety and efficiency of the system.

Courtesy of the family

Boston Daniels was chief of the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department for only one year.

But he is remembered not only as the city’s first black police chief, but for distinguishing himself as a cop who worked his way up through the ranks over 25 years.

“It is safe to say there has never been another police chief quite like Boston Daniels,” the Kansas City Kansan wrote in an editorial on May 17, 1971, marking Daniels' retirement.

A journey along Quindaro Boulevard in northeast Kansas City, Kansas, takes us through history, demographic shifts, religion, and plans for economic development. Visit a black-owned bookstore in the 1960s, an integrated church and hear about one of the country's first black police chiefs. Plus, teens grapple with whether they have to leave the area to succeed.

This show is a culmination of months of reporting along Quindaro Boulevard as part of KCUR's Here to Listen initiative

Courtesy of the McFields

On the northeast corner of 5th and Quindaro Boulevard in Kansas City, Kansas, sits a vacant and weathered building where 45 years ago, a black-owned bookstore became a clearinghouse for black literature, history and music as well as a vibrant gathering place to discuss the culture and politics of the day.

Brandon Parigo / KCUR 89.3

Bernard Crawford grew up on Quindaro during the 1970s. He remembers thriving businesses: bakeries, grocery stores and theaters. He left for school but has come back to be what he calls a "light” on Quindaro, to help it be a safe and welcoming place. A sign on the wall says, "No swearing allowed."

He’s got fruit snacks and lollipops for the kids.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority is expanding the Safe Place to include bus routes in Independence, Overland Park, and Kansas City, Kansas.

Arnetta Young, 55, has been a Kansas City bus operator for 20 years. Kansas City busses have been part of the national Safe Space program all that time.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

At a stop in Kansas City, Kansas, on Sunday, former Vice President Joe Biden stood on the bed of a black Chevy Z71 pickup and told several hundred striking United Auto Workers he was one of them.

“I’m Joe Biden and I am UAW,” he said to cheers and applause outside the General Motors' Fairfax plant. “My dad sold those vehicles. That’s how I got through school."

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Updated at 9 p.m.

Dozens of college and high school students gathered on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus on Friday morning to demand action against climate change. On Friday evening, hundreds more reinforced that message at Mill Creek Park near the Country Club Plaza.

The student protest, organized by the local branch of the Sunrise Movement, was one of hundreds of similar events around the world. Many participants were inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old environmental activist from Sweden who has become a global celebrity in a movement against climate change.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Dena Duffin, 53, pulls her teenage son close as she looks into the trailer stuffed with tables, tubs of housewares and whatever else they were able to salvage when the tornado ripped their home off its foundation the night of May 28.

“I gave that to my dad,” she says, pointing to a dented copper tub. “And there’s a stepstool and shelf my dad made for us. You can’t replace those kinds of things.”

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Florencio Millan, the undocumented Mexican immigrant whom immigration agents dragged out of his car after breaking its window, was deported to Mexico on Wednesday just two days after he was arrested.

Cheyenne Hoyt, his girlfriend and the mother of his two children, told KCUR that Millan called her Wednesday evening and said he had been flown to Brownsville, Texas, and then transported just over the border to Matamoros, Mexico.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

A Facebook video showing an immigration agent in Kansas City smashing the window of a car and dragging out an undocumented immigrant marks a newly aggressive approach by Immigration Customs and Enforcement.

It also has provoked community outrage, along with questions about whether the agency complied with the law and the extent to which the Kansas City Police Department is lending assistance to ICE operations.

Immigration agents captured on a Facebook live video Monday morning in Kansas City are seen smashing the driver side window of a car, pulling the driver out and arresting him after he refused to get out of the car.

The man had refused to emerge after a woman in the car asked the agents to show a warrant and they didn’t do so, telling her they had a “paperless” warrant.

Project 1020

You’d never pick him out as someone who’d been camping in the Johnson County woods for the last year.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Eugenia Houston stands among a couple dozen blue-T-shirted Habitat for Humanity volunteers with hammers and buzz saws working on a new home  just off 27th and Quindaro in Kansas City, Kansas.

She lives in an adjacent home that Habitat built six years ago. It’s got a neat, grassy lawn with flowers on the edge and a front porch where she can sit to enjoy them. For the five years she's lived here, she says, she’s been able to raise her six children with the security of a home she can afford.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City isn’t San Francisco or Seattle. By national standards, we’re still an affordable place to live.

But it turns out for those at the low end of the earning scale, affordability is elusive with the vast majority spending significantly more for housing than the 30% of income recommended by federal standards in the definition of affordable.

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