Central Standard | KCUR

Central Standard

The comedy about moral philosophy just wrapped up its fourth and final season.

NBC's The Good Place captured the imaginations of people across all kinds of faiths because of the way it imagined what happens when we die. It also touched on existentialism and what it means to be human. After all, what does it mean to be a "good" person in our morally compromised world? What does it mean to be a "medium" person? (Listeners beware: spoilers will be aplenty).

Seg. 1: The famously dry comedian is coming to Kansas City and we're here for it.

You might remember her as the comedian who did a set about getting cancer, but there's a lot more to her awkward sense of humor, which she'll be bringing to the Uptown later this month.

Seg. 2, beginning at 14:49: The restaurant owner/chef is mixing things up in the Kansas City food scene.

Segment 1: What does it mean to be presidential?

Imagine a world in which campaigning for president was considered beneath the dignity of the office. That world used to be the United States! It's also one of the many takeaways from a recently published book from the University Press of Kansas that looks into how the office of the president has evolved in America's history. 

Ca Va/Facebook

If you appreciate your own company but dining solo in a restaurant intimidates you, you're not alone. But it doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a try.

"I love dining alone. I'm almost evangelical about it," Liz Cook said on KCUR's Central Standard. "One of the reasons I love it is that I'm alone so seldom in my daily life.... This is a time to completely carve out for yourself."

Segment 1: Remembering the charismatic restaurant critic who never romanticized food.

It's the first food show since we got news of longtime KCUR food critic Charles Ferruzza's death, so we're taking a moment to remember the special sauce that made Charles Charles one last time.

Segment 1: A KU professor's book explores the sense of place created by our technology.

Where do you live? What is your neighborhood? Is it a physical place — or a digital one? "The Digital City: Media and the Social Production of Place" argues that smartphones are replacing cities. It also looks into how smart cities, like Kansas City, privilege people who already have a lot of resources.

Segment 1: An article from The Atlantic sparked debate over the merits of gym class last year.

Gym class in school is supposed to be fun. But according to a study, it may have a negative impact on students. In today's conversation, we explore the merits of gym and how a new crop of physical education teachers is trying to make P.E. enjoyable for every kid.

Segment 1: Kansas lawmakers are debating a bill to end hair discrimination.

The idea behind the CROWN Act is to ban employers and schools from expecting people of color to adopt "white hair norms" in the workplace and the classroom. 

Segment 1: How Missouri is dealing with opioids.

After House Bill 188 died in the Senate last year, Missouri became the only state without a database to detect abuse. We're now starting to see some improvements, but it still remains a prevalant issue in the state.

Mike Viglione / Instagram

Kansas City hip hop artist and producer Justin "Info Gates" Gillespie, 39, died unexpectedly at the end of January. Those who loved him are reeling but not at a loss when explaining how Gillespie will live on.

"He was not shy about uplifting people in whatever way possible," says Kemet Coleman, a member of the Phantastics and a friend of Gillespie.

Segment 1: A key player in Kansas City's hip hop community died unexpectedly.

In addition to being a producer for Ces Cru, Justin "Info Gates" Gillespie started the Beat Academy of Kansas City at the Plaza Academy, touching a lot of teens. Now the hip hop community is banding together to carry on his legacy and make sure those teens will continue to be supported.

Segment 1: Who gets to tell what stories? 

Controversy over a novel called “American Dirt” led to a canceled book tour—a week before author Jeanine Cummins was set to come to Kansas City. Critics have a problem with the fact that Cummins is white, yet wrote a book about a Mexican family trying to make it across the US-Mexico border.

Segment 1: MU and other universities are tracking attendance through a cellphone app.

Developed by a former Mizzou basketball coach, SpotterEDU has been used by MU to track attendance for student athletes for years and now they're expanding its use. MU says students can opt out if they're uncomfortable, but people across the country are concerned by the trend.

Segment 1: A young Kansas City poet reads Dear White Police Officer.

Veronica Clay was one of the featured performers at the Kansas City Jazz Museum for last year's Martin Luther King Day celebration (2019). This is a rebroadcast of a conversation about the poem she read, and her experience of race in Kansas City.

  • Veronica Clay, poet and spoken word artist

Segment 2: What premature birth can teach us about being human.

How Kansas City should be preparing for climate change.

Average temperatures in Kansas and Missouri are up a degree or two from a century ago. That may not seem like much, but only the Dust Bowl years were hotter than the last decade. KCUR's extensive reporting on this explains how climate change is already affecting us in the Kansas City metro area, as well as what we can do about it.

An ode to a witty and charming food critic that we'll dearly miss.

How do we honor America's most recognized Civil Rights leader, and what does it say about us?

A tribute to the Kansas City tax attorney who spent 40 years hosting a music show devoted to rock and roll.

Bill Shapiro recently died at the age of 82. To remember him, we rebroadcasted his final episode of Cyprus Avenue, the "smart" rock and roll show he hosted on KCUR on Saturday nights. His abridged final broadcast includes snippets of some of his favorite tunes and reflections on his personal relationship with music.

Segment 1: If you haven't been paying attention to football lately, here's what you need to know.

This is why Kansas City is SO excited for Super Bowl LIV.

Segment 2, beginning at 21:34: What does this year's Super Bowl mean to generations of Chiefs fans?

Vladimir Sainte

As a teenager in Queens, New York, Vladimir Sainte often didn't want to go home after school. So he didn't. His parents, Haitian immigrants, worked several jobs, and Sainte had become a defiant and anxious boy.

When his parents decided they could no longer manage him, they shipped him to Kansas City to live with his uncle. He was 16 then. But now, years later in his career as a social worker, he sees he could have been taught to manage his emotions better.

Children, he notes, don't have the "verbal literacy" of adults.

Colombus Park Ramen Shop/Facebook

Kansas City can sometimes be a city of extremes. It has more than 100 barbecue restaurants and counting, yet it's also seen an explosion of more plant-based and vegetarian cuisine, including restaurants that are completely free of meat.

But as people across the country eat more vegetables for the benefit of their own health as well as that of the environment, it's spurring creativity on the culinary scene.

Segment 1: Meet Kansas City's Veggie Burger Artist

Zaid Consuegra at Pirate's Bone is known for the colorful veggie burgers he's painstakingly developed to be both pretty and tasty. He was recently profiled in Bon Appetit with his photo next to a headline that identified him as "The Undocumented Chef." He shares the story of his life and his burgers.

Segment 1: Research shows white-sounding names curry favor in academic settings.

Xian Zhao's name means something to him. It means something to his parents. That's why he won't adopt what he calls an "anglo name." But his own research suggests he might be missing opportunities because of that.

  • Xian Zhao, researcher, University of Toronto

Segment 2, beginning at 14:47: A recent Calvin Arsenia album is a milestone in his professional and personal growth.

Segment 1: A Kansas native moderated the last Democratic debate in Iowa.

Brianne Pfannenstiel grew up in Lawrence and got her first job in journalism at the Kansas City Star. Now that she's in a state with a huge voice in this year's election, we wanted to know: How does she feel the Midwest is represented in national discourse today? What does she think of Iowa's role specifically? And, what is it like to moderate a national debate?

Segment 1: Where do efforts towards improving pre-K access and quality in Kansas City stand?

In early 2019, a big controversy was Mayor Sly James' push for universal pre-K through a sales tax. Kansas City voters didn't go for the plan on the ballot, but a year later, many people still want something to fill in the gap.

Paul Andrews / KCUR 89.3

Caitlin Corcoran has been a fixture in Kansas City's hospitality industry for about 20 years. She started as a barista on the Plaza as a 15-year-old and went on to tend bar, serve, manage and finally own a restaurant, Ça Va in Westport.

Now she's taking a break — possibly a long or permanent break — from this city's restaurant scene.

For a good chunk of her career, she figured, as many women do, that a hostile work environment came with the territory.

Segment 1: Meet the bar owner who doesn't think the customer is always right.

Caitlin Corcoran has been a force in the Kansas City food scene for a while now, most recently as the woman behind Ça Va. Her outspoken views on how to create a safe restaurant for both customers and staff have also made a name for her nationally. Does it mean that sometimes certain customers don't like her? Yes, but she's not losing sleep over it.

Segment 1: A new kind of Women's March in Kansas City aims to include more diverse voices.

Segment 1: Why do some people say Missou-ree and some say Missou-rah? And what are the political ramifications of saying one or the other?

It turns out we've been having this debate for basically forever, and which way you say it has a lot to do with parts of your identity. Some people feel really strongly there's a right way to say it, while others have never thought much about it. The people that pay the most attention to it are politicians.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

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.

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