Two-Way | KCUR

Two-Way

Randy Brown

Randy Brown was barely talking yet when his father shipped out for Vietnam. To close the distance over the course of that deployment, Brown's parents made recordings for each other.

"The first time that he heard my tiny, little voice was probably on one of those little three-inch audio reels," says Brown, who is now retired from the Iowa Army National Guard.

Silvia Ines Gonzalez

The new director of Kansas City's American Jazz Museum says she's ready to take the city's historic 18th and Vine District "back to the glory that we know it to be."

Rashida Phillips started in early January. A jazz vocalist who grew up in St. Louis, Phillips has spent the last 15 years working for arts and cultural organizations in Chicago.

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."

Steve Willis Photography

In her telling of Kansas City history, writer Karla Deel made room for people and topics she says wouldn't have a place in other history books — "vulnerable voices that are often hushed," she calls them.

Courtest of Melanie Arroyo

Latinos seek help for mental health issues at half the rate of non-Hispanic whites. Yet when they do, as with other people of color in Kansas City, they can have more difficulty finding providers with a similar cultural background. 

Todd Feeback

A knight in shining armor with autism is the hero of Lawrence novelist Bryn Greenwood's new book, "The Reckless Oath We Made." A voice tells him to "champion" a waitress he meets in a Wichita physical therapy session, and the two careen off on a dangerous mission.

Greenwood says she didn't know whether the knight character, Gentry, would work. He's not only fascinated by Medieval literature and ancient martial arts, but his primary way of communicating is in Middle English.

Shelley Staib

Shelley Staib held the "best job ever" for 30 years. In 1975, the Shawnee writer was one of the first women to become a lineman for Bell Systems. The position gave her a great deal of independence, allowed her to work outside, and every day was different.

Courtesy of William Bird

Chester Owens Jr. remembers bucking the laws of Jim Crow that said a black man had no right to eat where and when he wanted.

In 1952, one of those places was a restaurant at Kresge's department store on Minnesota Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas.

Mick Cottin

No one knows what happened in Limetown, Tennessee, where all 327 citizens vanished in February 2004. The town and its people are a work of fiction, but it's still maddening not to know the cause of the disappearance, especially when initial reports don't mention much more than a massive bonfire in the town square. Well, initial "reports."

That mystery is one reason the "Limetown" podcast is so popular. Created by Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie, "Limetown" shot to  No. 1 on iTunes shortly after it first aired in 2015.

Sharice David smiling at the camera while at KCUR
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Sharice Davids broke a lot of new ground in her win over incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder in the Kansas 3rd Congressional District. Davids, a Democrat, will be the first openly gay Kansan, and as a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress.

She spoke with Steve Kraske, host of KCUR's Up To Date talk show, about her historic win and her plans for when she takes office.

Kansas Historical Society

The Missouri General Assembly is scheduled to convene a special session Friday to consider impeaching Gov. Eric Greitens.  

Only 14 governors have ever faced impeachment.

So who was the first governor to be impeached in America?

That would be Charles Robinson, the  first governor of the State of Kansas. He took office in February 1861, just a few weeks before the Civil War started.

Katie Moore/The Topeka Capital-Journal

Annette Billings says poetry isn’t about precious kittens and pretty flowers. Rather, she says, the form often calls for much harder, more controversial subject matter.

“Sometimes I feel compelled to write about a murder,” she says, “or a woman who’s living in a domestic violence environment.”

H.C. Palmer

H.C. Palmer had graduated from medical school but hadn't yet finished his residency when the Army drafted him in the mid-1960s.

President Lyndon Johnson's administration took 1,500 men from medical training programs across the country and sent them to Vietnam as surgeons.

By August 1965, Palmer found himself in a war zone as part of the First Infantry Division. All these years later, he says he’ll never completely find his way out — nor will others who’ve been similarly exposed to the “many horrific things that happen in war,” he told me in a recent interview.

Aaron Brown

Brian Daldorph, who teaches English at the University of Kansas, published his sixth book of poetry late last year. “Ice Age/Edad de Hielo” is both a celebration of his late father’s life and a glimpse into losing a parent to Alzheimer’s, which Daldorph did in 2012.

Meg Kumin

Over the past several months, Kansas novelist Laura Moriarty has found herself in a firestorm.

Her fifth novel, "American Heart," is scheduled to be released on January 30. But readers who received advance copies, and those who only read a synopsis, have already expressed fury over the fictional world this white, non-Muslim writer imagined; her status as a white non-Muslim was one point of contention.

KC Fed
Charvex

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, part of the nation's central banking system, is perhaps best known as a key provider of agricultural economic data. Its president helps set national interest rates. It works with banks.

But the bank also promotes economic growth in its seven-state region. Dell Gines, who heads up the Fed's small business work with rural communities and urban neighborhoods from its Omaha office, calls it the work of a "wholesaler."

Courtesy Elizabeth Schultz

Few people in their 80s are inclined, or able, to feed time and energy into a second career. Elizabeth Schultz is such an anomaly.

As an English professor at the University of Kansas, Schultz was an acclaimed scholar on Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.” However, just before her retirement in 2001, she felt a pull toward a more creative use of language.

Kelsey Borch / Flatland

Two recent cases involving prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Kansas City, Kansas, point to a problem that some criminal defense lawyers say has been building for a long time:

For years, they say, a small group of federal prosecutors in KCK has run roughshod over the rights of criminal defendants.

Kelly Paratore

In her new book Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science, Kansas City-based investigative journalist Carey Gillam makes the argument that the chemical industry — particularly Monsanto — has spent decades deceiving the public about the dangers of Roundup, the popular weed killer.

“Everyone who eats is impacted by this chemical,” Gillam says.

Courtesy Andrew Johnson

In his new book, Kansas City writer Andrew Johnson stares down the tiny occurrences that make up everyday life, using observations about small things, such as people's habits of speech and social media comments, to raise big questions about humanity.

Leslie Many

The new book “Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation" includes contributions from 36 "major contemporary writers" including Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Russo and Roxane Gay.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Olathe native Tim Gronniger served as a top official with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under the Obama administration. Currently a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, he also was a senior adviser for health care policy at the White House Domestic Policy Council, a senior staff member for Rep. Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, and an analyst with the Congressional Budget Office.

Wikimedia -- CC / FBI

The NPR Two-Way blog will provide live coverage of the House Intelligence Committee’s public hearing on the investigations into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. 

Courtesy of Thomas Frank

Kansas was the birthplace of Prohibition and an epicenter of the anti-abortion movement.

Historian and political analyst Thomas Frank — a Mission Hills native — wrote a whole book, What's the Matter With Kansas, about how politics in the state has been fueled by conservative social ideals.

Augie Grasis
Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Augie Grasis doesn’t shy away from the label “serial entrepreneur.”

“I guess it’s true from the standpoint that I’ve had a number of startups,” says Grasis, the founder of multiple technology companies in Kansas City. “It’s really what interests me the most and what turns me on the most about life and about commerce. It’s innovating and improving the way things are done.”

Grasis is best known for starting up Handmark, which made content apps for the Palm operating system before expanding to other platforms and being acquired by Sprint in 2013.

Dawayne Gilley

Singer Linda Shell has long been described as the "Queen of Kansas City Blues." This weekend, Shell will be crowned Queen, and her husband, K.C. Kelsey Hill, will be King, when the Kansas City Kansas Street Blues Festival returns after a six-year hiatus

Rotary Club of Nagpur / Flickr-CC

Starting tonight and for an entire week, the Glenwood Arts theater is screening the documentary “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” which was withdrawn from the Tribeca Film Festival in New York earlier this year amid an uproar over its thesis: that there’s a link between the mandatory measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, and that health authorities have conspired to cover it up.

File photo

In the past few years, Kansans have become used to monthly revenue numbers in the red. Still, May's figures came as a shock. On the last (mostly ceremonial) day of the 2016 legislative session, state revenue officials announced Kansas had come up nearly $75 million short of projections. Both individual and corporate income tax collections fell short of the mark. 

KCAVP

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Congress voted in 2013 to require domestic abuse service providers who receive federal funds to offer help to people in same-sex relationships. But many advocates say LGBT people still have far fewer resources available to them than what’s traditionally been available for woman escaping violence from men. To help fill that gap, the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project opened a center earlier this year in Westport to provide support for LGBT people living in the Great Plains region. But the group’s executive director, Justin Shaw, tells KCUR’s Alex Smith that there’s still a lot of unwillingness – both inside and outside the community – to face up to the problem.

Tatiana/flickr-- cc

  Overland Park's  Jack Sock is defending his first singles tennis title at the ATP’s U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship underway in Houston. Sock, 23, is currently ranked No. 25 in the world and is the second-best American singles-player behind John Isner.