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A People's History of Kansas City

The podcast about the everyday heroes, renegades and visionaries who shaped Kansas City and the region. If these stories aren't told, they're in danger of fading into the past. Made by Suzanne Hogan and Mackenzie Martin.

Send story ideas to peopleshistorykc@kcur.org, follow us on Twitter @PHKCpod or join our Facebook Group.

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  • Cassette tapes could have remained a relic of the 1970s and 80s. But against all odds, they’ve survived the eras of CDs and streaming to win over music lovers of a new generation. That’s in large part thanks to the National Audio Company in Springfield, Missouri, the largest cassette manufacturer in the world. Suzanne Hogan shares the story of how this proudly analog format found a new life.
  • Oreo is the best-selling cookie in the world today. But few people remember the product that Nabisco blatantly ripped off: Hydrox. A creation of Kansas City’s Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company, Hydrox was billed as the “aristocrat of cookies,” with a novel combo of chocolate and cream filling. So why, more than a century later, is Hydrox still mistaken as a cheap knockoff? Producer Mackenzie Martin documents the rise and fall of America’s first chocolate sandwich cookie.
  • Did you know that a certain cream-filled black and white sandwich cookie got its start right here in Kansas City? And no, we're not talking about the Oreo.A People's History of Kansas City is hosting a special live event on March 1, 2024, where host Suzanne Hogan and producer Mackenzie Martin will take you back to the birth of the very first: Hydrox. Hear our next episode before everyone else. Go to KCUR.org/cookies for tickets.
  • In the early 1900s, the three Conley sisters barricaded themselves in a Wyandot cemetery in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, to save it from destruction. Then Lyda Conley took the battle all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court — the first Indigenous woman to do so. In this episode, which originally aired in 2020, Suzanne Hogan uncovers Conley’s story and reports how the Kansas City arts community is newly celebrating her legacy.
  • In the late 1970s, a group of musicians in Topeka, Kansas formed what became one of the first all-women mariachi bands in the country. Mariachi Estrella broke down barriers in a male dominated music scene, before a deadly disaster almost ended the group for good. Suzanne Hogan tells how the band’s descendants are ensuring their legacy shines on, decades later.
  • When hip-hop first hit Kansas City streets, the effect was immediate. The new sound took over record stores, local high schools and underground dance parties. As America celebrates a half century of hip-hop, KCUR’s Lawrence Brooks IV honors Kansas City’s own contributions to the culture.
  • In 1948, Phillip Sollomi debuted an Italian vinaigrette at his Kansas City fried chicken restaurant, the Wishbone. An immediate hit, the salad dressing formed the foundation for an empire: For 75 years, Wish-Bone Italian dressing has helped bring people together around the dinner table, but few Kansas Citians know their connection to the iconic bottle. KCUR’s Jenny Vergara and Natasha Bailey track down why.
  • For more than a century, Kansas City has been haunted by the mysterious death of philanthropist Thomas Swope. Suspect number one is his nephew-in-law, Dr. Bennett Hyde, who stood to inherit a sizable portion of the Swope family fortune. But did Hyde really murder Thomas Swope, or was the physician actually the victim of a longstanding family grudge? This question was at the center of one of the most publicized murder trials of the early 20th century. Producer Mackenzie Martin walks host Suzanne Hogan through the evidence of this still-unsolved mystery.
  • Alvin Brooks is a public figure who has served as a bridge in Kansas City for decades. He was one of the city’s first Black police officers, an educator, a leader in the civil rights movement, a founder of Ad Hoc Group Against Crime and almost a Kansas City mayor. Yet few know about his personal life and the internal struggles he’s faced. KCUR’s Reginald David talks to Brooks about the moments in his life that shaped him and pushed him to fight for a better Kansas City.
  • At the turn of the 20th century, a self-taught caterer in Columbia gained national acclaim with her sought-after biscuit recipe. Fisher’s famous beaten biscuits made it onto the plates of presidents and Hollywood stars alike — making her one of the wealthiest Black women around. But her story may have been lost if not for a few determined Missouri women.