Quinton Lucas (Becoming Himself)

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Quinton Lucas (Becoming Himself)

By: Matt Hodapp

One of my favorite authors, Colum McCann, wrote in his novel Transatlantic that, “We return to the lives of those who have gone before us, a perplexing mobius strip, until we come home, eventually, to ourselves.”

 

That’s certainly true of City Councilman Quinton Lucas, who says his story was shaped by the decisions of the two most important women in his life. This is a story about how the actions of people in our past, even people we may have never met, can make us who we are today.

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Songs used in this episode: Scalloped and Silent Flock by Blue Dot Sessions and they have been adapted.

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Velonder (Sacrificing For Her Family)

There’s a common phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child”, but sometimes it takes a child to bring a village together. This is a story about a family helping each other to save one of their own, and a mother going through to hell to make a better life for her kids. This is Velonder, sacrificing for her family.

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Songs used in this episode: Zither Spark, Temporal Slip, The Summit by Blue Dot Sessions and they has been adapted.

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Mo Dickens (Throwing Things Away)

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Mo Dickens (Throwing Things Away)

After years of eating at Wendy's almost every morning Mo Dickens managed to give up fast food after artist Adriane Herman convinced him to throw away some junk food during a photography shoot where she took pictures of people throwing things away. This inspired them both to start the Freeing Throwers art project through the Charlotte Street Rocket Grant program.

Songs used in this episode: Steadfast and Santre by Blue Dot Sessions and they has been adapted.

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Gary Jenkins (Policing The Mafia)

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Gary Jenkins (Policing The Mafia)

Gary Jenkins was a KCMO police officer during one of the largest mob busts in history. He retells that story and other greatest hits of historical mafia stories on his KC based podcast, Gangland Wire. For this episode of Paris of the Plains, we decided to team up and produce a joint show about Jenkin’s time covering the mafia here in Kansas city.

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Songs used in this episode: Veloma by Fabrizio Paterlini and it has been adapted.

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Hermon Mehari (Playing For Paris)

Credit: Alison Claire Peck

Credit: Alison Claire Peck

During the night of November 13th, 2015, a series of terrorist attacks claimed by ISIL killed 130 people and injured 368 in Paris, France. It was one of the deadliest attacks on France since World War II.

Kansas City jazz artist, Hermon Mehari, was in Paris that night on a trip to perform a series of shows and film a music video for his band, The Buhs.

Mehari remembers being disoriented by an unordinary amount of sirens as he and some friends walked to a bar. He says when they arrived, everyone’s eyes were glued to the television, and he tried to figure what was happening with what little French he could speak.

“At that time, the information was just coming out, and it couldn’t come out fast enough,” says Mehari.

After things had settled down, Mehari walked back to his apartment in a daze. He says he was overcome the next morning with a feeling of pride for Paris, a city that he’s fallen in love with over the years.

“This is a great city, and no-one can take that away from it,” says Mehari.

Credit: Alison Claire Peck

Credit: Alison Claire Peck

For days after the attacks, Mehari says he experienced deserted streets, and an intense sense of melancholy. The performances he had planned had all been canceled, but he felt as though some people in the city needed a moment of musical mirth.

“We wanted to kind of lift spirits,” says Mehari.

Mehari was close with a neighborhood club owner, and they agreed to let him and a few other musicians organize a jam session. They got the word out, and people showed up. 

“Some people needed something, you know what I mean. And also there’s this idea of like, don’t let them defeat us,” says Mehari. “It was soft of in defiance, but also out of necessity.” 

After the show, Mehari remembers a polish couple thanking him for performing. He thinks that everyone responds to tragedy differently, and some people were thankful for the moment of positivity that Mehari provided.

“Music can do a lot of things, it can even just make things feel normal,” says Mehari.

Above is a video of the impromptu performance and below you can watch The Buhs music video filmed Paris during the days following the attacks. Both videos were shot by Alison Claire Peck.

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Ken Stanley (Repainting Planned Parenthood)

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Ken Stanley (Repainting Planned Parenthood)

Photo By Matthew Sullivan

Photo By Matthew Sullivan

People say it only takes seven seconds to make a lasting first impression. For must of us that means we spend a lot of time creating and crafting an outward appearance that shows the world what’s inside.

Ken Stanely is an artist from Kansas City. His most recent project involved painting a mural across the outside wall of Planned Parenthood’s Patty Brous Health Center on Emanuel Cleaver Blvd. This is a story about first impressions. This is a story about the image of an organization.

Photo By Ken Stanley

Photo By Ken Stanley

Photo By Ken Stanley

Photo By Ken Stanley

Photo By Ken Stanley

Photo By Ken Stanley

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Jolie Justus (Serving As The First Openly Gay Senator In Missouri)

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Jolie Justus (Serving As The First Openly Gay Senator In Missouri)

Photo courtesy of Missouri News Horizon

Photo courtesy of Missouri News Horizon

Two years before Jolie Justus was elected the first openly gay state senator in Missouri, the General Assembly pushed an anti-gay marriage amendment to the ballot box, and voters approved it by 71%. This was in the forefront of her mind on her way to Jefferson City.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” says Justus. "They heard that I was this liberal lesbian, and that I was also smart, and that scared them.”

One of the first assignments for newly elected officials is a bus tour of the entire state that helps familiarize them with schools, hospitals, and prisons. As she was getting off the bus in Farmington MO, Justus recalls a fellow senator introducing himself as, "the redneck homophobe who banned gay marriage”.

That was Senator Kevin Engler, the legislator who had carried the 2004 bill that allowed the anti-marriage amendment to be put on the ballot.

A year after the bus tour, one of Engler's staffers ran into Justus' office, saying the senator needed her assistance with a gay man down the hall. Justus apprehensively followed the senator's aid. 

Engler was having a meeting with a group of LGBT constituents. Justus, expecting the worst, was surprised to find Engler concerned about the lack of nondiscrimination legislation to protect LGBT Missourians from being fired based on sexual orientation.

"He said well that ain’t right, Jesus wouldn’t fire anyone for being gay,” Justus recalls. "At that minute I picked up a Republican co-sponsor for my legislation”.

The same legislator who opposed gay marriage became one of Justus' strongest supports for her Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) which would ban the termination of LGBT individuals based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Together, this odd pair managed to collect the nine republican votes they needed to push the bill out of the Senate.

"Most of the republicans who voted with me were the folks who sat around me on the floor," says Justus.

Despite getting voted out of the Senate in 2013, MONA has never passed into law. During his 2016 State of the State speech, Gov. Nixon once again called on the legislature to pass the bill.

“It’s unacceptable that Missourians can still be fired for being gay, that’s wrong. It’s not who we are and it must change,” said Nixon.

Sen. Joseph Keaveny is the primary sponsor of the 2016 version of MONA, SB 653. Keaveny chairs the Senate Committee on Progress and Development which approved the bill earlier in February of 2016. But SB 653 hasn't yet been added to the Senate floor's debate calendar.

“The Missouri General Assembly is overwhelmingly conservative so it’s not one of their banner issues. They’d just as soon it go away,” says Keaveny.

Missouri is one of 28 states that do not include LGBT individuals in their nondiscrimination policies.

Justus left the legislature in 2014. In 2015, she was elected the first openly gay city council member in Kansas City, MO. She says her time in Jefferson City working with fellow legislators taught her that it’s essential, for any interest group, to have representation.

“If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu.”

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Charlie Mylie (Walking The Border)

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Charlie Mylie (Walking The Border)

By: Esther Honig and Matt Hodapp

In the attic of his single story home on Kansas City’s east side, Charlie Mylie is packing for a trip. He has a single camo tarp and cord that he’ll use as a tent, white Converse sneakers for trekking, and an antique Kelty backpack to carry the rest of his essentials: book of Rumi poetry, a sleeping bag, canned tuna, beans, and ramen, as well as a map and compass to navigate.

After months of planning, this is the night before Mylie’s departure. He’s carefully considered the potential risks and daydreamed about the uncertainty of what he’ll find. He’s prepared for an adventure, a project he’s calling the “Big Inhale,” but rather than fly to a foreign country or seek solitude in the wilderness, Mylie says that for this trip, he’ll hardly go anywhere at all.

“It made perfect sense that I could always be 30 minutes from home,” he says. “But still go on a long journey, and be a tourist in our own town, which is hard.”

Mylie will walk the border of Kansas City, Missouri, all 212 miles. Depending on the distance he manages to cover each day, the trip could take him three or four weeks. Along the way he’ll camp, maybe grab a bite from a nearby diner, and clean up in the public restrooms. He hopes to discover the corners of Kansas City that he says few people actually consider when they imagine this sprawling metropolis.

“Loving the Royals, going to the Power & Light and First Friday is a very small part of our city,” he says. “There’s a challenge to love it in its fullest.”

This particular November the weather is unexpectedly pleasant. This is not the bone-chilling fall of last year. Without the summer heat, conditions could not be more ideal. To document this journey Mylie has packed a pair of disposable cameras, and as a professional artist he’ll be reflecting on the experience of each day through his drawing and writing. For Mylie this trip is as much a creative endeavor as it is civic engagement. As a resident for the last decade who boasts a great deal of pride for his city, Mylie wonders how this trip will expand his perspective on Kansas City.

“Will I love the city on its far weird unknown parts?” he asks. “I want to see what that city is, and the idea that there’s cows grazing in our city — like how does that affect our city and do we ever think about that?”

Once Mylie has filled his backpack with all of the necessities, he fastens the straps, and sets the pack aside. Now it’s time to sleep. As he walks, his friends will have the opportunity to join him for a couple a miles. But for the most part Mylie will be going at it alone.

November 3rd, 2015

Charlie Mylie has been on the trail for three days when I meet up with him one morning on the eastern shore of Longview Lake on the border of Lee’s Summit. It’s a wooded area tucked behind a community college and a golf course. If you ignore the apartment complex up the hill, it almost feels secluded. Then, around the corner comes Mylie, his backpack shifting and jingling as he walks.

His spirits are in good shape and he’s eager to eat breakfast. But rather than down a cup of cold oatmeal, we head to the McDonald’s up the street.

Already Mylie is full of stories. He’s made a point to hang out at the local bars and talk to people he encounters in his walk. He says he’s learned a lot about the cultural reputation of cities like Raytown and how people there interact with the border. For instance, take the man he met last night, John.

“He identifies as Raytown even though he lives in Kansas City,” says Mylie. “His daughters went to school in Raytown and he feels like Raytown has a small-town vibe and he relates to that.”

Once we arrive at the golden arches and Mylie has selected a McMuffin combo, we sit down to talk about what else has happened. So far he’s walked 50 miles and has done pretty well navigating by map and compass, though he says he did get lost once. His biggest revelation has come from the places he’s discovered, none of which are destinations he says he would visit otherwise.

“Things that I might want to go see or that I would be attracted to just aren’t on the border,” says Mylie. “It’s been a matter of stopping, even just for a few minutes, at a body of water or something that I think is beautiful and remembering to take it in …”

He’s trekked through strip malls and suburban developments, or walked for hours along shoulder-less highway. In these bleak surroundings he’s managed to discover a few gems, like the other day when he stumbled upon the historic Santa Fe trail off Blue Ridge road. The trail brought him to a cave with a small creek and for a moment he was transported somewhere secluded and quiet. He removed his shoes to dip his sore feet in the cool water and escaped the long walk that still lay ahead

November 12th, 2015

Twelve days on the trail and Charlie Mylie has made it halfway to completing his trip. He says his feet have gone from sore to numb — the Converse sneakers probably haven’t done much good. He’s had knee pain from all the walking — cranking out close to 20 miles on some days — and he’s had to take time off to recuperate. From here he estimates he has at least two more weeks on the border.

It’s early evening when I meet him at the old water treatment plant off I-69. The sun sinks to the horizon as we make our way north along the Missouri river towards the international airport. The water and sky are lit a warm amber. This is what Mylie calls the “golden hour.”

For this trip Mylie has prepared a series of questions that he asks himself each day. He says it’s a way of reflecting and building intentions for the walk ahead.

For example: What does the city mean today? What are my boundaries? And, what about today has changed my perspective of Kansas City?

Mylie says the answers to that last one have remained fairly consistent. On this trip he’s uncovered a lot of wilderness and open space that he says we in the city tend to take for granted.

“I hear people talk all the time like, ‘Kansas City, there’s nothing outdoorsy to do,'” says Mylie. “But we have huge protected forests, we have all these trails, all these waterways, easily accessible lakes … It’s been redefining my view of the city.”

Listening to Mylie describe the streams and meadows he’s stumbled upon, or the conversations he’s shared with perfect strangers, I can tell he’s falling in love with the city in a whole new way. He’s become an expert on the border wars, and which small towns were swallowed into the city’s annexation, and how it feels to live in Raytown versus Kansas City or Independence.

This is the big inhale. He says his perspective is expanding, opening up to embrace a new meaning of what it means to love Kansas City.

Stepping Off the Trail

At the BNIM office overlooking the Crossroads, Charlie Mylie sits in a cushy swivel chair, dressed in slacks and a button-up shirt. He’s back at his artist’s residency. It’s been four days since he completed his trip and while his appearance is back to normal, he says his emotions are still catching up to him.

“I need more alone time now,” he says with a laugh. “And I cried the other day at the coffeeshop.”

He’s continued reading poetry by Rumi and walking rather than biking or driving. But there’s something that he encountered on this trip that he can’t seem to get back to: a frame of mind that he says relieved the weight of his everyday life.

“The thing that I had been looking for the entire time that I was out there,” he says, “was falling in love with a road, or a stream, or leaves falling off of a tree.”

It took Charlie Mylie just 15 days to complete his walk around the border — a few weeks less than he anticipated. In that short time, Mylie says he crossed a threshold. The forgotten space behind the big box stores, between the cul-de-sacs, and apartment buildings was transformed into a pristine wilderness. Friendly strangers and engaging conversations found him neighborhood bars and diners. It’s an experience he wants to have again, by planning more walks — and he hopes to share it with others.

“I think that’s the thing that makes me saddest,” says Mylie, “that people aren’t doing this.”

This interactive map allows you to follow Charlie's journey. There are photos, audio clips, and cartoons that he drew on his walk. Click on the markers to join Charlie on the edges of the Paris of the Plains. The map is designed by Zach Flanary at BNIM.

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Kadie And Suzanne (Spreading Holiday Warmth)

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Kadie And Suzanne (Spreading Holiday Warmth)

Five thousand dollars in twenty-eight days, four schools, fifteen hundred winter clothing packs for kids in need, and two Kansas City women. For our Holiday Special we could have talked to a burned out Mall Santa or star crossed Christmas lovers. Instead, we decided to talk to two KC residents that started Keep KC Kids Warm just after Thanksgiving, and clothed fifteen hundred children by Christmas. I first met up with them two days before they were going to deliver their winter packs. This is a story about spreading holiday warmth.

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Kevin Bryce (Filming From Kansas City)

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Kevin Bryce (Filming From Kansas City)

Kevin Bryce is a filmmaker from Kansas City, Missouri. His 2012 documentary, We Are Superman, explored the after effects of hyper-segregation on Troost, and a movement trying to transform it from a dividing line into a gathering place. 

His newest documentary, All These Flowers, investigates bipolar disorder through the stories of six people who been diagnosed with the illness.

“Everyone that I know who’s been diagnosed is extremely secrete about it,” says Kevin, “and I wanted to know why, why can’t people talk about it”.

Originally, Bryce intended to define bipolar disorder with the documentary, but he found that a straightforward definition of the illness was nearly impossible to find. As the film progressed, it became more focused on documenting the experiences of people with the disorder. That process became an incredibly personal study for Bryce as he began reflecting on his own life experiences.

“The day I finished principle editing was the same day I was diagnosed by a doctor with bipolar II disorder,” says Bryce.

Toward the middle of the film, Timothy Taylor, one of the subjects diagnosed with bipolar, attempts to describe the disorder through a mathematical equation. He asks the viewer to visualize that two plus three equals seven.

“Imagine that though you looked over and over again at the equation it didn’t seem right that two plus three equals five,” says Taylor, “and somehow you know deep down inside that it really equals seven and that this is all a lie.” 

Bryce says that his “seven” is a feeling that he is a total failure, a feeling that drove him to almost commit suicide several times in his early twenties. 

Similar to most bipolar patients, Bryce was prescribed medication to deal with the disorder. But his Canadian citizenship and complications from the rollout of the Affordable Care Act caused him to lose his health insurance.

“I’m not extreme. I’m more, if there’s a spectrum, I’m like somewhere past the middle. So I’ve been able to manage without the medications,” says Bryce.

Dr. Ellen Frank, a professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is featured prominently in the film. She says that the view of bipolar disorder as a spectrum is accurate, and that it may be more precise to say there are multiple bipolar disorders.

“That runs from (a) very seriously impairing disorder that includes periods of psychosis during mania through, maybe it’s not even fair to say milder conditions, but different conditions,” says Frank.

Support networks are incredibly important to those working through their illness. Bryce says he sees these support networks like concentric circles, or ripples, each connecting to the other. The people closest to the diagnosed also have a support network and so on.

As people leave the theaters, Bryce hopes they walk out with a better understanding of bipolar disorder, and that they won’t be so quick to judge people with the illness.

“Not thinking that someone with the disorder is the disorder. They are bipolar. It’s like saying they are asthma, they are cancer, no they’re not cancer. They have it and they struggle with, and they’ll hopefully survive,” says Bryce.

The documentary has been screened at multiple film festivals across the country, and was selected for the 2016 Kansas City Film Fest.

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Tim Moore and Chris Knowles (Raising Kids and Baking Pies)

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Tim Moore and Chris Knowles (Raising Kids and Baking Pies)

How many men do you know who stay at home raising children and working in the kitchen? Well according to a Pew Research study from 2014, the number of stay at home dads had doubled to 2 million between 1989 and 2012.

Tim Moore and Chris Knowles from Kansas City spend one half of their days taking care of kids and the other half baking pies for their startup food truck, Pie Hole. This is a story about discovering who you’d like to be after the world tells you who you’re not. 

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Dave (Writing In KC)

Dave Hudnall has been a writer at The Pitch for the past four and a half years. He's covered stories about the streetcar, disappearing tiny house enthusiasts, and, most notably, the payday loan industry. Recently, he took a new job in North Carolina. But, before leaving, he agreed to sit down for an interview about writing in Kansas City...an exit interview for The Paris of the Plains.

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Halloween Special

For our final Halloween episode, we get taken on a tour of the famous John Wornall Museum. This historic building was a field hospital during the Civil War. Both Confederate and Union soldiers died there. 

Sandy, a docent from the Museum, told us about her experiences with the paranormal, and introduced us to some of the ghosts we'd encounter on our tour.

Denise was our paranormal tour guide. After out trip, she told us her history with ghosts, starting in the house where spirits tried to murder her, and ending when ghosts tried to save her life.

Thanks to everyone that went on this Halloween journey with us. We'll be returning to normal programming next week.

Thanks for listening!

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JJ (A KC Haunting Part 2)

Do you know everything that happened in your house before you lived there? Who were the people that roamed the halls their before you? Did anyone die there?

Some of the homes and apartments in Kansas City have been around since the 1920s. Multiple generations of people have lived in the same rooms you sleep in. This Paris of the Plains ghost story comes from someone whose home wasn’t always just a house, but something much darker.

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Ron Megee (A KC Haunting Part 1)

You know that sound….the one you hear in your house late at night….the sound of something in the room, in the basement, around the corner. You know that shadow in the staircase of your apartment, the one that you swear looks almost human.

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Kansas City is full of long dead secrets, some of them may be angry…some of them might just be drunk looking for a drink…for the next few episodes we’re going to be hearing some of the Paris of the Plain’s ghost stories.

This is Ron Megee and his 1884 Chestnut House.

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Erika Wright (Growing The Troostwood Garden)

Photo of Erika Wright by Ennis Walker courtesy of NCR-SARE

Photo of Erika Wright by Ennis Walker courtesy of NCR-SARE

Community gardens have been a source of food stability and financial savings for Americans since the 1800’s. During the Great Depression, they provided food to the unemployed, and The Victory Garden campaign during WWII encouraged people to help a rationed economy by growing their own fruits and vegetables. 

Although many of those national campaigns were abandoned after the war, America has seen a resurgence of community gardens since the 1970’s. One of the first Kansas City gardens to join that trend was The Troostwood Youth Garden at 52nd and Paseo started by Erika Wright.

Wright conceived the idea to create a community garden focused on educating youth when she was working at her mother’s daycare center.

With the help of a land-grant from Rockhurst University, Wright grew what was an empty plot of land on a street corner into a thriving garden, an accomplishment all the more impressive because she had been wheel chair bound since birth due to muscular dystrophy.

The disease eventually took her life in 2011. She was 45 years old. 

Mary L. Wright, Erika’s mother, and Jill Anne Johnson, Erika’s godmother, have continued Erika’s legacy by tending to the garden. 

“We really kind of bombed out the first year, and then we said no. She worked so hard to get it going get it started and all that that the least we can do is it get on out there and get with it,” says Mary Wright.

They say that Erika never used her disease as an excuse not to accomplish her goals.

“Erika always felt like it was in her hips and not in her head,” says Mary L. Wright, “she would get on her scooter and go. She was well known in the community.”

Mary and Johnson say that patrons appreciate having access to a garden in their community where they can get homemade produce at a reasonable price. 

“Erika always wanted her price below the store,” says Mary Wright, “you don’t want it so high they can’t get it.”

KCUR 89.3, Kansas City’s NPR membership station, interviewed Erika in 2009. During that recoding, Erika said she wanted to teach kids that it’s possible to change your life.

“You have to put one foot in front of the other and not let no man or no woman keep you bound,” said Erika.

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21 Sax Salute (Playing For Charlie Parker)

Charlie Parker, also know as “Bird" or "Yardbird” was born in Kansas City on August 29th, 1920.  He is considered one of the single greatest jazz musicians of all time, and the inventor of the modern jazz solo.

Today was his birthday. 

Since 1976, it's been a tradition of Kansas City’s jazz musicians and leaders to honor “Bird” with a 21 Sax Salute at his grave in Lincoln Cemetery.

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The Time Traveler's Ark

For the past three years KCRW has hosted a 24 hour RadioRace: one day, one short documentary. This year, we teamed up with independent producers/reporters Esther Honig and Patrick Quick. The theme for the race was "time change".

Our piece was recently selected as a top ten finalist, and we were so proud that we thought we'd share it with all of you in podcast land. Hope you enjoy.

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