Kansas City Missouri (KCMO) | KCUR

Kansas City Missouri (KCMO)

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.

What motivates a Baptist pastor to provide AIDS education, a fitness center and other unconventional services.

Reverend Eric Williams has been at the forefront of AIDS outreach since 1991, when he held a funeral for an openly gay man after a colleague refused to do it. Today, he continues to focus his ministry on health as a way of helping his congregant achieve the "abundant life" he preaches about. Hear his story, beginning with a childhood in zipcode 64130.

Segment 1: Why it's so important that kids make it to class.

Between the years 2013 and 2016, Kansas City Public Schools staffers falsified attendance records, presumably to help the district regain full accreditation. Why is it so hard for kids to get to school in the first place, though? Also, what is really at stake for schools when they don't show up and what can we reasonably expect educators to do about it?

Elle Moxley / 89.3

Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell concedes he’s not sure what it’s going to take to improve attendance.

Missouri uses what’s known as the 90/90 rule. Districts need to get 90% of students to school 90% of the time to get all of the attendance points on their Annual Performance Report (APR). KCPS didn’t get any attendance points for the 2018-19 school year because only 73% of students were at school 90% of the time.

Updated at 11:55 p.m. ET

Facing a barrage of criticism for pulling ads featuring a lesbian couple from its airwaves, the Hallmark Channel has reversed course, and says it will now work to "reinstate the commercials."

The ad for the wedding planning site Zola shows a couple at the altar, wishing they had used the service before their big day.

Unicorn Theatre

Sarah Bernhardt was known for her eccentricities. She slept in a coffin, she kept a pet lion and attracted lovers everywhere she went.

Bernhardt made five visits to Kansas City between 1887 and 1918, during nine American tours. Her 1906 performance at Convention Hall reportedly broke a world record, selling more than 6,000 seats for the world’s largest indoor audience of “legitimate theater.”

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.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Waddell & Reed will have a week to get city officials and Kansas City Public Schools on board with an incentive deal for its new headquarters.

The Kansas City Council on Thursday reduced the company's incentive package and delayed a vote on tax breaks for the project.

The financial services firm is seeking $40 million in incentives to move from its current headquarters in Overland Park to downtown Kansas City, Missouri. It  already has been awarded $62 million by the state of Missouri.

Silvia Ines Gonzalez

Rashida Phillips, a St. Louis native who has worked with a range of cultural organizations, has been named the new executive director of the American Jazz Museum. She is also a jazz singer.

In a letter, the museum's board of directors said that "after a thorough and thoughtful" national search process, Phillips "rose to the top" of the field of more than 25 candidates. 

Segment 1: Why Iowa holds the first caucuses in the country, and what their results mean for each political party.

Advertising guidelines and an agriculture convention landed Iowa in the No. 1 spot in the country's presidential primary process. One political science professor said, for Republicans the caucuses show who will not be president, and, since 2000, the Democrat who won Iowa has gone on to be the presidential nominee.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

The Prospect Avenue MAX bus line that begins running on Monday will charge no fares for the first three months. The $56 million system built with federal grants and local matching funds features faster, more comfortable buses with wifi, and heated concrete benches at the stops.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said making the service available at no charge is a step toward zero fare transit city-wide.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Actress and singer Debra Bluford, known for her work in comedies and musicals, died on Thursday of pancreatic cancer. She had been diagnosed three weeks ago, according to a friend.

A regular on many Kansas City stages, Bluford performed in nearly 20 shows at the American Heartland Theatre before it closed in 2013. She had also acted with Kansas City Actors Theatre, Musical Theatre Heritage, New Theatre & Restaurant and Quality Hill Playhouse.

On this very special edition of KCUR's Up To Date, one of Kansas City's most renowned chocolatiers discussed responsible sourcing of cacao beans, his approach to the combining of other flavors with his favorite ingredient, and how non-experts can stear clear of junk when shopping for something to satisfy a chocolate craving.

Logan Action

Artist Hugh Merrill, who is white, had troubling memories from what he saw growing up in the Jim Crow South of the 1950s and '60s. And when he started looking into his family history, he was shocked by what he found out.

"It's a little bit like finding out that not only, if you were German, that your ancestors, that your uncles, were guards at Auschwitz — it's like finding out they ran Auschwitz," he says. "I had to make a decision about what to do with this. And it was absolutely clear what had to be done. I had to tell the truth."

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City is poised to become the largest city in the country to eliminate bus fares.

The Kansas City Council on Thursday enthusiastically endorsed the idea, voting unanimously to direct the city manager to identify up to $8 million from the city budget to fund free bus service.

Fourth District Councilman Eric Bunch, who co-sponsored the measure along with Mayor Quinton Lucas, acknowledged the importance of the change.

Adam Vogel / Copyright Kansas City Business Journal

Waddell & Reed Financial Inc. has selected 1400 Baltimore Ave. as the location for its new $140 million headquarters in downtown Kansas City.

Segment 1: Why attracting artists is a goal for a new affordable-housing complex.

Pendleton Arts Block is a new project unfolding in the historic Northeast, providing affordable housing with an eye toward attracting artists. Because of competitive grant funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the effort to transform this block is happening on a national stage. This is a discussion about what affordable housing means for artists, and for the ecosystem of a city.

Kevin Collison

An unvarnished account of the Vietnam War — from the Cold War domino theory that hooked the U.S. in the 1950s to a baby sweater left by a grieving mother at the Vietnam Memorial in 1990 — at the National World War I Museum doesn’t flinch from the brutality of the war and how it tore apart American society.

“This exhibit should help people think about what happened,” said Matt Naylor, CEO and president of the museum.

“It’s not a myopic view, but a balanced view that will examine the conflict from a variety of angles and will stimulate conversations around that.”

Kansas City Fire Department

Donna Maize, who has recently been promoted to serve as the first female fire chief in Kansas City's 150-year history, says the role of the fire department has changed since she joined the force in 1992.

Recently, she said, their service has been morphing into the areas of social service and emergency healthcare.

"In Kansas City, unfortunately, we do have a certain amount of homeless population and kind of those transient people who really don’t have other resources or there's a lot of people that live without healthcare," Maize said.

Segment 1: Teachers highlight current events and human impact to help students learn about climate change.

Teachers are seeing less resistance to teaching climate change in Missouri schools. The state has adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, and one Raytown High School teacher said, "I've also changed my approach some, in the sense that I really don't indulge argument on the topic at this point."

Google

Kyle Mead got more than he bargained for after he agreed to a one-year contract to temporarily house Kansas City inmates.

Mead is the president and CEO of Heartland Center for Behavioral Change. After ending its contract with the Jackson County jail in June, Kansas City offered Mead a $3.2 million contract to provide 110 bed spaces for what he said he thought would be inmates detained for low level offenses.

Kansas City Royals

If the Kansas City Royals' new ownership group is seriously considering moving the franchise's stadium to Downtown, they aren't showing their cards just yet.

During an introductory press conference Tuesday, new Royals chairman, CEO and controlling owner John Sherman was asked about whether the new owners were considering the move. He responded that the ownership group will be evaluating the potential to move in the coming years, but that there's a general idea that baseball stadiums can have a mutually beneficial relationship with economic development in denser areas.

Segment 1: Environmentalism and the outdoors have long been seen as safe spaces for white people.

The concerns of climate change action organizations are wide-ranging and well-founded, but membership is largely white and adult. Learn the benefits and challenges of adding young people of color to these groups, apart from just making them more reflective of the communities they serve. The founder of an Atlanta group and the head of a Kansas City organization explained how they are bringing diversity and youth to the environmental ranks.

Segment 1: Heartland Center for Behavioral Change was not equipped to accept the full array of inmates brought in by the Kansas City Police Department.

Accepting prisoners from the Kansas City Municipal Court system was initially seen as a chance for the nonprofit organization to link inmates with resources that could help them reintegrate into the community. In retrospect, Heartland Center's CEO said serving as a temporary jail "is outside of our scope" of ability.

Frank Morris / NPR and KCUR

Trucks and trains aren’t carrying as much as they did just a few months ago, and haulers are cutting back on orders for new trucks and rail cars. Despite this slump, Kansas City’s logistics industry is pushing ahead with an enormous expansion of warehouse space and other regional distribution hubs.

Rail traffic is down substantially from last year. Carloads are down by about 7%. Coal is down more than 14%, and metallic ores and metals are down even more.  

Freshwater/Facebook

Yes, Kansas City is known for its chicken — whether it's fried, barbecued or one ingredient of many.

What about the other birds out there, though? On the Friday before Thanksgiving, KCUR's food critics took a moment to consider not just turkey but also grouse, quail, pheasant and duck. Especially duck.

"Pheasant, quail and squab should all be on this list," said Mary Bloch. "But duck seems to be more favored."

"I like to refer to ducks as beef that fly," said wild game expert James Worley. "Duck breast is very similar to a steak."

Pirate's Bone Burgers on Facebook

As evidenced by recent openings, closings and bankruptcies, the Kansas City restaurant scene is extremely competitive right now.

"Lots of players are competing for the same dollars, employees and customers," said KCUR Food Critic Jenny Vergara. "Only the strongest operators will survive."

Friday on KCUR's Central Standard, Vergara, Liz Cook and Mary Bloch shared the most important food stories in Kansas City from the past few months.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

On one busy corner of Kansas City's St. John Avenue, a community is coming together to create a piece of art that reflects the whole world.

Home to culturally and ethnically diverse businesses and many artists, the city's Historic Northeast neighborhood is already a colorful place.

Kansas City Royals

John Sherman has been a familiar face to Major League Baseball owners. To Kansas City Royals fans, he will become one after the other MLB owners officially approved his ownership of the team at their meeting in Arlington, Texas, on Thursday.

After the meeting ended. Sherman opened his brief statement by acknowledging his partnership with the Cleveland Indians as a 30% owner.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Seven Kansas City Public School district employees falsified student attendance records for three years from 2013 to 2016, according to a summary of an external investigation made public by the district.

The issue was most prominent in the 2015-2016 school year, boosting attendance data which resulted in additional state funding.

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