Christmas | KCUR

Christmas

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Holiday traditions sometimes start in unlikely ways.

Case in point: Gerald Dunn and Kansas City's Musicians Appreciation Day, which these days offers live music for the public and free health screenings and fresh produce for musicians of all genres.

It started years ago as a chance encounter between Dunn, director of entertainment at the American Jazz Museum and Blue Room general manager, and tenor saxophonist Eddie Saunders, who died in 2012.

How to impress this holiday season without driving yourself nuts.

Our expert Kansas City hosts include a restaurateur who feeds people like they're her personal dinner guests and a bartender who makes strangers feel like friends.

Don Ipock / William Jewell College

In 1982, William Jewell College of Liberty, Missouri, joined with Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, Missouri, to begin a holiday tradition that the college called a Christmas gift to the city in words and music.

KCUR recorded this year’s performance on December 10 at Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral for airing on Christmas Day.

Sharice Davids campaign

Segment 1: Women have made strides as candidates, but are still looking to break through as campaign managers and advisors. 

Some have called 2018 another "Year of the Woman" in politics — but not everyone. A record number of women were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, but many had to fight to be taken seriously as candidates. Today we discussed the accomplishments and future goals for women in politics.

Eric Winkler

 

Segment 1: A new report shows mid-sized cities are better positioned to see faster growth.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Sales tax collections for the early part of this year’s holiday season are down across Kansas, and that includes Johnson, Wyandotte and Douglas counties. But some local shops are having a great year, by selling experience as well as stuff.

NASA

Fifty years ago on Christmas Eve, the astronauts of Apollo 8 — the first humans to leave Earth’s gravity — orbited the moon, photographing its dark side and witnessed the first view of an earthrise.

Broadcasting back to Houston, they offered a Christmas greeting to those on Earth, where one in four people were watching the televised event.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

It's Nutcracker season, and ballet dancers everywhere are preparing for the biggest performances of the year. But their productions also rely on colorful backgrounds onstage, which is where Kenmark Scenic Backdrops of downtown Overland Park comes in.

Cory Weaver

Some of the basic lessons of “A Christmas Carol” have rubbed off on Nicole Marie Green and Logan Black, the actors who play Mrs. and Mr. Cratchit this year at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

They’re playing Charles Dickens’ 175-year-old characters for the first time, and are grateful.

Jeff Fudge / Flickr - CC

Segment 1: Barbecue, jazz, and historical sights connect visitors with the soul of the city. 

Kansas Citians, prepare yourselves for a big year of tourism in 2019. National Geographic listed KC as one of the world's most exciting destinations for the year ahead. Today, we talked with an editor-in-chief at National Geographic Traveler about the appeal of our Midwestern city compared to other exotic places on the list. 

Strawberry Swing

There’s no reason to just give a gift this holiday season when you can give the gift of Kansas City. These holiday craft and art sales will make shopping thoughtfully, and locally, simple.

birgl / Pixabay - CC

Here we are, 10 days ‘til Christmas, halfway through Hanukkah, and maybe you’re still looking for that perfect gift for your favorite sports fan. Don’t worry. 'A Fan’s Notes' commentator Victor Wishna is back to tell you what you he really, really wants.

Well, ‘tis the season, as they say. The most wonderful time of the year, when so many of us look forward to getting what we say we’ve wanted, and I’m not just talking about the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl — go ‘Cats!

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Gingerbread houses crafted by Kansas City Public Schools culinary arts students are on their way to Union Station, where they’ll be on display until Christmas.

“They make some amazing things,” says Rashawn Caruthers, director of Career and Technical Education for KCPS. “One year they made SpongeBob’s house. It’s not just your traditional gingerbread house.”

When it comes to fighting for a cause, some may picture protestors chaining themselves to machinery or going on hunger strikes. But a former journalist in Kansas fought a proposal for saltwater injection wells in a different way: she read a lot of documents and examined the tiny administrative details.

Then: two area researchers on how dogs and humans became friends, then an encore presentation of how a local musician found one family's long-lost Christmas tape at a thrift store.

Guests:

David Shankbone / Ryan J. Reilly / Max Goldberg / Flickr - CC

Are threats of coal the best way to get children to behave? Today, the Ethics Professors take a look at what Santa's naughty-and-nice list may be teaching our kids. Then, a conversation about the ongoing surge of sexual misconduct allegations. Brenda Bethman, director of the UMKC Women's Center, joins the ethics team to take a deeper dive into how to handle the the assault and harassment revelations that continue to surface.

Cory Weaver / Kansas City Repertory Theatre

Ten years ago, when Eric Rosen was angling for the job as artistic director of Kansas City Repertory Theatre, he pitched a new adaptation of A Christmas Carol. It was something he'd wanted to do for years while running a theater company in Chicago. Now he's finally bringing it to the stage.

"It's sort of a dream project in the sense of having a scope and a cast and a capacity to make something huge that we don't often get to do," Rosen says. 

Danny Wood/KCUR 89-3

City Union Mission, a Christian charity, says it distributed nearly 20,000 gifts to struggling Kansas Citians this Christmas, more than ever before.

The Rev. Dan Doty says during 40 years of its Christmas program, City Union Mission has never received more requests for help or given out more gifts. One-thousand twenty-one families, or a total of about 5,000 people, received presents, up 20 percent over 2015.

Paul Andrews

The world doesn’t need any more Christmas music. But with the complex emotions of the season so unavoidable, songwriters like David George can be forgiven for succumbing to them – especially when it results in more risqué holiday tunes, which the world might be able to use.

Dmitry Grigoriev / Flickr - CC

Today, the Ethics Professors take on what's been a prickly issue for Shawnee Mission schools. Should teachers be allowed to wear safety pins in classrooms?

Capitol Records

By the time Dec. 25 actually rolls around, you may be tired of hearing Christmas music.  

How many versions of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" can one person hear before it drives them crazy?

And while "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" is timeless, you might be interested in one of Brenda Lee's lesser-known hits. To keep your Christmas playlist interesting, here's a list of songs that you (probably) won't hear on the radio.

Courtesy National Christmas Tree Association

It's the time of the year when Katie Abrams sees her Fort Collins, Colorado, neighbors pulling up with real trees tied to car roofs. She feels small pangs of jealousy when friends post woodsy pictures in flannel shirts, cutting down the perfect spruce.

“It all sounds really nice,” Abrams says. “And then once you go out and do it I can just imagine all the steps involved.”

That’s about when she pulls out the fake tree from the garage. An act that terrifies U.S. Christmas tree growers.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Dozens of families who've suffered loss due to homicide came to the Lucile Bluford branch of the Kansas City Public Library for gifts, food and support Saturday. 

The AdHoc Group Against Crime and Laura E. Mason Foundation organized the Toys for Tots event to help children suffering after the death of loved ones. Organizer Nae-na Oliver has personal experience dealing with homicide and the influence it can have on kids.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The Dickens Carolers have brought their roving band of holiday cheer to the metro since 1983. With a sprig of holly here and there, each quartet is decked out in costumes that evoke the Victorian era.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

 This post was first published in December, 2015.

For more than a decade, the downtown Marriott Hotel's lighting display has played a key role in brightening up the Kansas City skyline — especially during the holidays.

But who controls those iconic lights? Just one man named Mike Davis. 

There was a time when every kid hauled their toys around in a bright red Radio Flyer wagon. That toy, which started production in 1923, was a "must-have" Christmas present. The passing decades have given us plenty of “it” toys, from the Slinky to the Cabbage Patch Kid.

Guest:

Ho Ho Ho

Dec 8, 2015
Alyson Raletz / KCUR

Three Santas. One talk show host. The inside scoop on being Santa. 

Guests:

  • Santa
  • Kris Kringle
  • St. Nick

The day after Thanksgiving remains the biggest shopping day of the year, but some researchers say that Black Friday is losing steam, as online shopping becomes the norm.

Guests:

  • Jessica Lee and Noelle Nelson are professors in Marketing and Consumer Mentality at the University of Kansas School of Business.

Courtesy / Sonya Aplough

Editor's note: Since this story first aired on Jan. 2, 2015, KCUR has re-aired it as a holiday tradition.

About a decade ago, Kansas City musician Billy Smith was combing thrift stores for records when he stumbled upon quite a find for an experimental sound guy: an old-school Magnavox, reel-to-reel tape recorder with a pile of tapes for less than $5. 

He brought it home, dusted it off, cleaned the tape heads and popped in some new batteries. He was about to hit record to start messing around with his new toy when curiosity took hold.

Wikimedia Commons

Besides food and presents, Christmas music might be one of the most important parts of the holidays.

From Bing Crosby to Brenda Lee, dozens of music artists have produced timeless classics that never lose their seasonal appeal.

That said, one can only tolerate "White Christmas" so many times before suffering a holiday breakdown. To keep that from happening, here's a list of more obscure Christmas tunes that are sure to brighten your spirits.

courtesy: Topeka Public Library

As a novelist, Thomas Fox Averill has explored country music, southwestern cuisine, Scotch whisky and the poetry of Robert Burns. 

Averill's fourth novel, A Carol Dickens Christmas, is a Christmas story, set in his hometown of Topeka, Kan. It's filled with recipes, puns, and modern characters inspired by Charles Dickens.  

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