Radio Interviews

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.

  • Biographer Justin Wolff examines the life and art of Missouri’s Thomas Hart Benton, whose distinctive style and views made him the object of both veneration and scorn.
    Justin Wolff - Thomas Hart Benton: A Life
    Thursday, April 12, 2012
    Central Library

    Biographer Justin Wolff examines the life and art of Missouri’s Thomas Hart Benton, whose murals bejewel many a public building. From the 1930s to his death in 1973, Benton’s distinctive visual style and nationalistic views made him the object of both veneration and scorn. The issues raised by his art and attitudes dominated debate in the post-war world of painting.

    Wolff is an assistant professor of art history at the University of Maine. He is the author of Richard Caton Woodville: American Painter, Artful Dodger.

  • Nelson-Atkins conservator Paul Benson delves into the story behind some of Kansas City’s most popular fountains.
    Paul Benson - City of Fountains: Underneath the Water and Sculpture
    Thursday, March 29, 2012
    Plaza Branch

    Fountains delight our eyes and our ears with their beauty and calming effect. And in all the world, only Rome has more public fountains than Kansas City. Nelson-Atkins conservator Paul Benson – who has often worked as a consultant in preserving and maintaining these watery jewels – delves into the stories behind some of our town’s most popular fountains.

  • Journalist and author Guy Gugliotta discusses his new book about the raising of the U.S. Capitol, a project meant to symbolize national unity even as the country slid ever closer to secession and Civil War.
    Guy Gugliotta - Freedom’s Cap: The United States Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War
    Thursday, March 22, 2012
    Central Library

    Guy Gugliotta discusses his new book about the raising of the U.S. Capitol, a process steeped in irony.

    Even as the majestic structure rose, the Union it represented was drifting toward Civil War. Among the historic characters in this drama was Jefferson Davis, a big supporter of the project – until he left Washington to become president of the Confederacy. (And the engineer in charge of construction, Montgomery Meigs, feuded bitterly with the architect, Thomas U. Walter).

  • Attica Locke discusses her novel Black Water Rising, about a Houston lawyer who saves a drowning woman and opens a Pandora’s Box of secrets that threaten the city’s power brokers.
    Attica Locke: Black Water Rising
    Wednesday, March 21, 2012
    Plaza Branch

    Attica Locke discusses her novel Black Water Rising, set in Houston in the early 1980s. Former campus radical Jay Porter is now a lawyer running his practice out of a dingy strip mall. When he saves a woman from drowning, his act of heroism inadvertently opens a Pandora’s box of dangerous secrets that threaten the city’s corporate power brokers and place Jay at the center of a murder investigation.

  • Landon Rowland examines the railroad-building efforts of Arthur Stilwell, which allowed Kansas City to enter the 20th century as one of the nation's most important transportation hubs.
    Landon Rowland: The Role of Railroads in Kansas City’s Development
    Sunday, March 18, 2012
    Central Library

    Landon Rowland discusses the achievements of 19th century railroad developer Arthur Stilwell, who forever changed the Kansas City area’s business landscape with an ambitious program of railroad construction that made the region an important transportation hub. This is the centennial year of Stilwell’s retirement – a year in which the Google Fiber network, a different kind of economic game-changer, arrives in Kansas City.

    Rowland is the former president and chief executive officer of Kansas City Southern Industries and chairman emeritus of the Janus Capital Group.

  • Preeminent historian Robert Dallek examines why some presidents succeed and others don’t by zeroing in on the vision, pragmatism, and charisma of leaders from Theodore Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan.
    Robert Dallek: The Making and Unmaking of 20th Century Presidents
    Tuesday, March 13, 2012
    Plaza Branch

    Offering the keynote address for this year’s series on the American presidency, presidential scholar Robert Dallek examines why some presidents succeed and others don’t by zeroing in on such determinants as vision, pragmatism, charisma, trust, consensus, and luck.

  • University of Kansas historian Shawn Leigh Alexander looks at the forgotten men and women who in the late 19th century took up the cause of civil rights for African Americans.
    Shawn Leigh Alexander - An Army of Lions: The Civil Rights Struggle Before the NAACP
    Tuesday, March 6, 2012
    Central Library

    Historian Shawn Leigh Alexander looks at the forgotten men and women who in the late 19th century took up the cause of civil rights for African Americans. Creating groups such as the Afro-American League, the Afro-American Council, the Niagara Movement, the Constitution League, and the Committee of Twelve, these pioneers developed the methodology of boycotts, propaganda, lobbying, and moral suasion that would bear fruit only long after they had passed on.

    Alexander is an assistant professor of African and African American Studies at the University of Kansas.

  • Emiel Cleaver premieres his new documentary about the creation and decades-long activism of Freedom, Inc., Kansas City’s pioneering African American political organization.
    Emiel Cleaver: Freedom Is Now
    Friday, February 24, 2012
    Plaza Branch

    Area filmmaker Emiel Cleaver debuts his documentary film Freedom Is Now about Freedom, Inc., Kansas City’s pioneering African-American political organization.

    Not only did Freedom, Inc. give many blacks their first taste of politics, for decades it tirelessly fought for self determination for African Americans frustrated with racism and political irrelevancy.

    Co-sponsored by Black Archives of Mid-America.

  • In his new memoir playwright/novelist/poet Zakes Mda recalls his coming of age under South African apartheid and his love of jazz, comic books, political discourse and writing.
    Zakes Mda: Sometimes There Is A Void
    Thursday, February 16, 2012
    Central Library

    In his memoir Sometimes There Is A Void award-winning South African author Zakes Mda chronicles his youth from boyhood in Soweto to his exile and coming of age in Basutoland (now Lesotho).

  • Just in time for Valentine’s Day: UMKC’s Jennifer Phegley provides insights into Victorian “dating” and wedding practices that continue to be embraced by modern brides and grooms…and asks if the Victorians’ ideas about romantic have left us with unhealthy expectations.
    Jennifer Phegley - Courtship and Marriage in Victorian England
    Thursday, February 9, 2012
    Central Library

    Jennifer Phegley, chair of the Department of English at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, examines how many of our modern marriage traditions – including wedding dresses and honeymoons – have their roots in the Victorian era.