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.

  • Drawing from his book Dead Last: The Public Memory of Warren G. Harding’s Scandalous Legacy, historian Phillip G. Payne examines what is widely regarded as the most corrupt presidency in American history.
    Warren G. Harding - Phillip Payne
    Thursday, November 21, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    If George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are the saints in America’s civil religion, then the 29th president, Warren G. Harding, is our sinner, consistently judged a failure and ranked dead last among his peers.

  • Biographer Terry Teachout discusses his new book about Duke Ellington, the greatest jazz composer of the 20th century — and an impenetrably enigmatic personality whom no one, not even his closest friends, claimed to understand.
    Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington
    Wednesday, November 20, 2013
    Central Library

    Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was the greatest jazz composer of the 20th century – and an impenetrably enigmatic personality whom no one, not even his closest friends, claimed to understand. Biographer Terry Teachout sheds new light on this creative genius in a discussion of his new book about the grandson of a slave who wrote such classics as “Mood Indigo” and “Sophisticated Lady.”

    Teachout, a Kansas City resident from 1975 to 1983, is the author of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken, and the play Satchmo at the Waldorf. For The Wall Street Journal, he is drama critic and the author of “Sightings,” a column about the arts in America. He is the critic-at-large at Commentary, and writes the blog About Last Night.

  • 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.

  • New Letters on the Air host Angela Elam holds a public conversation with prize-winning writer Charles Baxter about his work and his new collection of short stories, Gryphon: New and Selected Stories.
    Gryphon: New and Selected Stories - Charles Baxter
    Monday, October 21, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    In Gryphon, his career-spanning collection of short stories, author Charles Baxter offers yarns in which our acutely observed reality is rocked by the exotic, the surreal, and by Baxter’s comic-melancholic world view.

    Now Baxter—whose novel The Feast of Love was a National Book Award finalist and became a feature film starring Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear—holds a discussion about his work with New Letters on the Air host Angela Elam.

  • 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.