Radio Interviews

All Library locations will be closed on Sunday, April 20, in observance of the Easter holiday.

KCUR, Kansas City's local NPR station, hosts on its programs many of the authors and speakers that visit the Library. This page lists these interviews and provides links for you to listen to the programs.

  • Journalist and historian Max Holland looks at the Zapruder film, the famous home movie of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, discussing how it was made, its status as the dominant record of a national tragedy, and how it has helped and hindered our understanding of that traumatic day in Dallas.
    Images from an Assassination
    Wednesday, November 13, 2013
    Central Library

    Several hundred spectators in Dealey Plaza witnessed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963. Everyone else experienced it through the eyes of Dallas dressmaker Abraham Zapruder, whose home movie of the shooting is among the most famous – and closely examined – films in history.

    Journalist and historian Max Holland looks at the Zapruder film, delving into how it came to be, its exalted status as the dominant document of a national tragedy, and how it has helped – or hindered - our understanding of precisely what happened 50 years ago this month.

  • Writer Deborah Shouse discusses her book about caring for her aging mother. She is joined by storyteller Ron Zoglin and Alzheimer’s expert  Michelle Niedens.
    Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey
    Sunday, November 10, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    During her mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s, Deborah Shouse explored ways to connect with her and developed new rituals to anchor holidays and other celebrations. She is joined by Ron Zoglin, a professional storyteller, and Michelle Niedens, education director of the Heart of America Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, for a discussion of her book, which offers humor and hope to family members, friends, and caregivers.

  • Author and funeral reform advocate Joshua Slocum examines the new movement to allow survivors a greater hand in final rites, from home burials and green burials to direct arrangements with a crematory.
    Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death
    Friday, November 1, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    Abuse of consumers by the funeral industry has only worsened in the decades since Jessica Mitford’s landmark expose The American Way of Death. But a funeral consumer movement is awakening, as Joshua Slocum explains in a discussion of his book Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death.

    As with natural childbirth and hospice care, Americans are asserting their right to take charge of this major event in their lives. Many still want the help of a funeral director – but to assist, not direct. And many are handling it themselves with home burials, green burials, or direct arrangements with a crematory.

  • Former Royals great Willie Wilson discusses his 19 seasons as a Major League Baseball player, his record-setting career, and the drug conviction that might have ruined his life at the official launch of his new memoir, Inside the Park: Running the Base Path of Life.
    Inside the Park: Running the Base Path of Life
    Wednesday, October 9, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    Former Kansas City Royal Willie Wilson retired from Major League Baseball with 668 stolen bases (ranking 12th all-time) and 13 inside-the-park home runs (the most of any major leaguer playing after 1950). He was also among the first active major league players to serve jail time, having pled guilty to misdemeanor drug charges in 1983.

    Now Wilson and his co-author, former Kansas City Star sportswriter Kent Pulliam, discuss his life and career as chronicled in a new memoir.

  • Drawing from his definitive biography Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg looks at the president who was one of the past century’s most influential – and enigmatic – figures.
    Woodrow Wilson - A. Scott Berg
    Thursday, October 3, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    A century after his inauguration, President Woodrow Wilson remains among the most influential figures of the 20th century—and one of the most enigmatic. Now, after more than a decade of research and writing, A. Scott Berg discusses his definitive biography Wilson, which looks not only at this leader’s public life but also his private passions.

    Berg is a winner of both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

  • Musician Jeff Harshbarger – accompanied by his band The Revisionists — discusses and performs new and traditional songs reflecting the historic era in which True Grit unfolds.
    The Sound of True Grit: Music Inspired by the Novel
    Wednesday, October 2, 2013
    Plaza Branch


    Television and movie audiences have grown familiar with the cattle-driving, staccato, and triumphant theme music at the beginning of nearly every Western film or television program. Yet for their 2010 remake of True Grit, the Coen brothers employed somber and contemplative bluegrass and folk-inspired music.

    Navigating the gap between the rousing pomp of earlier Westerns and the more subdued soundtrack featured in the Coen brothers’ 2010 True Grit remake, Kansas City musician Jeff Harshbarger performs original songs inspired by the historic era in which the film unfolds. With his band The Revisionists he performs both new and familiar tunes keyed to the novel’s setting.

  • Jeffrey Frank discusses his new book, Ike and Dick, about the 20-year political and private relationship between Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.
    Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage - Jeffrey Frank
    Thursday, September 12, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    Jeffrey Frank discusses his new book Ike and Dick, which examines the 20-year political and private relationship of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon to reveal hurtful slights and tense misunderstandings. The two men brought out the best and worst in each other, and their association had important consequences for their respective presidencies.

    Frank is a former senior editor at The New Yorker and deputy editor of The Washington Post’s Outlook section. He is the author of four novels, including the Washington Trilogy - The Columnist, Bad Publicity, and Trudy Hopedale.

  • Editors Jonathan Earle and Diane Mutti Burke and three fellow historians who contributed to their book -- Kristen Oertel, Jeremy Neely, and Jennifer Weber – discuss the era of Bleeding Kansas, its overall impact on the Civil War, and the lasting divisiveness it spawned.
    Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri: The Long Civil War on the Border
    Tuesday, September 3, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    Long before the Civil War began violence was commonplace along the Missouri-Kansas border. There a recurring cycle of robbery, arson, torture, murder, and revenge was established over the same issues that would fuel the larger conflict.

    Jonathan Earle, associate professor of history at the University of Kansas, and Diane Mutti Burke, associate professor of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, are editors of the new book Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri. They are joined by contributing writers Kristen Oertel of the University of Tulsa, Jennifer Weber of the University of Kansas, and Jeremy Neely of Missouri State University for a discussion that blends political, military, social, and intellectual history to explain why the region’s divisiveness was so bitter and persisted for so long.

  • Author Kirstin Downey discusses her book about FDR’s Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins who implemented the forty-hour work week, child labor laws, Social Security, unemployment compensation, and other essential New Deal programs.
    The Woman Behind the New Deal: Frances Perkins
    Wednesday, August 28, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    She is no longer a household name, but during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration Frances Perkins was one of America’s most influential women. As the first female secretary of labor she was responsible for implementing programs that reshaped society and business and established the social safety net we enjoy today.

    Biographer Kirstin Downey examines Perkins’ life and enduring impact in a discussion of her book The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life and Legacy of Frances Perkins – Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and the Minimum Wage.

  • Time magazine editor-at-large  David Von Drehle holds a public conversation about The Future  of Space Exploration with The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach. The two will also discuss the recent sale of The Post to billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com.
    The Future of Space Exploration and the Sale of The Washington Post : Joel Achenbach
    Tuesday, August 20, 2013
    Central Library

    The August Dateline: Washington event at the Kansas City Public Library was supposed to be about outer space. Just outer space. Host David Von Drehle and The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach were to talk about the future of NASA and the American space program now that our astronauts are being launched from sites in Russia. But the recent sale of The Post to billionaire Jess Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, gives special meaning to the event.

    Not only is Achenbach a current Washington Post employee, but Von Drehle is a former Post reporter. So it’s only natural that they will devote part of the evening to discussing this seismic upheaval in the world of American journalism.