Audio Feature | KCUR

Audio Feature

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

Some restaurants just have a corner on the market for a particular dish.

In this case, that would be Kitty’s Café and its pork tenderloin sandwich. The longtime Kansas City establishment is on 31st Street, just east of Martini Corner and just west of the longtime non-profit Operation Breakthrough on Troost Ave.

It's more diner than restaurant, with six stools tightly together at the counter tops. Outside, there's some patio seating, but Kitty’s is not a destination-stop kind of place. Most of the orders are take-out and you can only pay with cash.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Down a winding road in Swope Park, on the other end of a short walk through the grass, there's an old, abandoned pool where, in the days before penicillin, sick children came for hydrotherapy. In recent weeks it's been re-filled — not with water but with silk flowers, teddy bears and candles for Ebony Patterson’s art installation.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR 89.3 file photo

The Kansas City Royals are on pace to break a team record. It’s not one they’ll be proud of.

In 2005, the team lost 106 games. There are 29 left this season, and whatever the Royals’ record is by then, it may not be the worst in baseball.

This weekend’s series between the Royals and Baltimore Orioles will have a say: Two teams mathematically eliminated only four years after they played each other in the American League Championship Series.

The United States and Mexico announced this week there’s a tentative deal in their renegotiation of the nearly 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

A new book, "Eating NAFTA: Trade, Food Policies and the Destruction of Mexico," looks at the connections between the agricultural and food trade policies that the policy has brought about.

Consumers are buying more certified organic fruits and vegetables every year, and in the Midwest and Plains states, much of it is grown on small farms.

To comply with organic rules, some use livestock to provide natural fertilizer. Two separate studies in Iowa are trying to quantify the soil health, yield and, eventually, economic impact of grazing animals on the fields after vegetables are harvested.

Jenny Wheat

When singer/songwriter Kelly Hunt arrived in Kansas City from Memphis three years ago, the relocation came with a surprise: There was already a well-known musician in town who had the same name — or practically the same. Kelley Hunt (who spells her name with just one more e than Kelly Hunt) is the R & B pianist who’s been rocking this region for a few decades.

Now, the newcomer says with a laugh, “I’m ‘Banjo Kelly Hunt’ in these parts.”

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

The Colorado Rockies are packed with natural beauty, huge vistas, pretty flowers and adorable critters.

But when I backpacked the 160-mile Collegiate Loop on the Colorado Trail last month, I discovered a great little community of strangers out on the trail. Here are just a few of the notables I met on the trail.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Like many people who can’t afford medical care, Larissa Shively-Vitt of Shawnee, Kansas, has been spending a lot of time online lately, trying to tell her story and raise money through crowdfunding.

Medical expenses are the category most often used on GoFundMe, which is the largest crowdfunding platform. And in recent years, campaigns have snowballed for one particular kind of medical care: gender confirmation surgery.

Harvest season isn’t far away for corn and soybean farmers, whose crops are worth less now than when they planted in the spring due to the United States’ trade war.

“We don't know what to think from one day to the next. It's hard to plan,” said Duane Hund, a farmer in Kansas’ Flint Hills.

Forty percent of farmers polled this summer by Farm Futures said President Donald Trump’s trade policy is permanently damaging U.S. agriculture. The scrambling of global markets is just beginning, Hund said, and pointed to the 1980 Russian grain embargo as an example.

Madelyn Beck / Harvest Public Media

Pesticides are all over, from backyard gardens to cornfields. While their use doesn’t appear to be slowing, concern over drift and the resulting effects on health is driving research — and more worries.

Those concerns are bringing pesticides to a different venue: courtrooms. 

Courtesy of Cris Medina

With professional teams like Sporting KC and the Kansas City Comets, soccer is clearly a popular sport in Kansas City. And there are tons of recreational leagues for adults and kids. But that was not always the case.

Sporting KC

Ike Opara was 26 in 2015, in the prime of his career and facing the possibility of retiring from professional soccer due to a torn Achilles tendon.

“I thought that was it for me,” Opara said.

This year, the defender is one of the major reasons Sporting Kansas City is a MLS Cup contender. Opara is one of a handful of Kansas City professional athletes who have demonstrated that an Achilles injury no longer is considered a career-ender.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The Royal Theater, once called The Fox Theater, opened in Atchison, Kansas, in 1912 as a vaudeville theater. It later showed films on the silent screen, complete with an in house piano player. They added talkies when they came along in the 1920s.

Boxes are piled high in Anne Hickman’s hallway. Family photos peek out from behind the stacks in her one-bedroom Indianapolis apartment.

Esther Honig / Harvest Public Media

Esperanza Yanez can spot a sick cow just by looking at it.

“The head hangs down and they don’t eat,” said Yanez, who immigrated from Mexico two decades ago and has been caring for cattle ever since.

While learning to communicate with animals takes years of patience, Yanez said the true language barrier exists between the dairy workers and the veterinarians who rarely speak Spanish. Medical terminology can be confusing, and to avoid embarrassment, Yanez said she and other workers may feign comprehension.

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

 

Sam Shockley went to school with the black students who eventually desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. So he was more than familiar with the harshness of racism.

When he moved to Kansas City in the 1950s, he experienced a different brand of it.

“Here it was more covert,” Shockley says.

Focus Features

Director Spike Lee’s "BlacKkKlansman," which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in May, is finally opening in theaters nationwide. 

Lee's co-writer is University of Kansas film professor Kevin Willmott, who spoke with KCUR's Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann about the movie, which is based on a true story.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Long lines, loud music ... and backpacks?

All month long, community organizations have been passing out school supplies to kids at events that feel less like back-to-school fairs and more like outdoor concerts.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

A day after her son Asher was born, state social workers paid a visit to Amber Johnson in the hospital. She had tested positive for meth, marijuana and painkillers during her pregnancy and, fearful she would lose her son, told them about her addiction.

Madelyn Beck / Harvest Public Media

Scott Pruitt’s resignation from the Environmental Protection Agency last month has many in the renewable fuel industry hoping that federal agencies will get on the same page.

That’s because for the last few years, the EPA and the Department of Energy have been at odds, with taxpayer money creating a new biofuel industry that may not have the room to grow outside the lab.

Courtesy of Joy Koesten

Most of the focus so far this election season in Kansas has been on the competitive primaries for gubernatorial and congressional nominations. But races for the state House could prove just as consequential.

Across the state, conservatives are challenging moderate Republicans and Democrats in a coordinated effort to reclaim legislative seats they lost in 2016.

Trevor Hook / KCUR 89.3

Brown and Loe is an upscale bistro in the heart of the River Market, with a large, open interior with checkered black-and-white floors. They carry high-dollar wines and cocktails, but something on the non-alcoholic side of the menu jumps out: their phosphates.

Before I was assigned to this story, I had absolutely no idea what a phosphate was. Josh Eaton, assistant general manager at Brown and Loe, explained it me.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

For more than half a century, the huge star on top of a neon sign above Fun House Pizza and Pub served as a glowing beacon to cars passing by on 350 Highway in Raytown. But one morning in April, a crane took it down.

The sign had been mostly dark since last December when owner Gary Graham served his last pizza.

Sophia Tulp / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Missouri voters have two tasks Aug. 7. One is choosing their candidates for the general election. The other is deciding whether Missouri should become a right-to-work state, effectively banning unions from requiring that workers pay dues.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

When Victoria Worden of Kansas City was pregnant with her fourth child, she was addicted to heroin and hated herself for it.

Courtesy photo / Bruce Matthews

Elmwood Cemetery covers 43 acres shaded by centuries-old trees at the corner of Van Brunt Boulevard and Truman Road in Kansas City's Historic Northeast neighborhood. Anywhere from 35,000 to 38,000 people are buried there, including mayors, local pioneers and scions of Kansas City's business and civic communites.

Scott Beachler / NET News

Ruth June has planted 120 black walnut trees on her farm in Lancaster County, Nebraska, and delights in the birds she’s seen migrating through.

“This is a nice quite neighborhood. Nice people. Everybody gets along,” she said.

It’s a tranquil scene she worries may soon be disturbed due to a different type of bird: Chickens, nearly 200,000 of them, that could be housed in four 600 foot-long barns half a mile from her house.

J Aeionic / Flickr

Folk singer and songwriter Danny Cox has been a fixture of the Kansas City music scene since he moved here from Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1967. Cox played at classic venues like the Vanguard Coffee House in the 1960s, and the Cowtown Ballroom in the '70s. 

And he's still performing. When Cox recently turned 75, KCUR's Fish Fry host Chuck Haddix spoke with Cox about his life and career, starting with his song "Kansas City":

KCUR

If a blue wave sweeps across America and ousts Republicans from control of the U.S. House, Democrats probably must first win the 3rd Congressional District that sits mostly in Johnson and Wyandotte Counties.

In the six-way Democratic primary, one question stands out: Who can beat a possibly vulnerable U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder in November?

“Any Republican in a district that Hillary Clinton won in this environment needs to be watching their back,” said University of Kansas political science professor Patrick Miller.

Rebekah Hange / KCUR 89.3

The Jackson County Republican ice cream social drew only a couple dozen Republican voters on July 15. But all of them wore yellow “Claire... you’re fired!” stickers.

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