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A People's History of Kansas City
The podcast about the everyday heroes, renegades and visionaries who shaped Kansas City and the region. If these stories aren't told, they're in danger of fading into the past. Hosted by Suzanne Hogan.
Nov 22, 2023
The salad days of Wish-Bone dressing
In 1948, Phillip Sollomi debuted an Italian vinaigrette at his Kansas City fried chicken restaurant, the Wishbone. An immediate hit, the salad dressing formed the foundation for an empire: For 75 years, Wish-Bone Italian dressing has helped bring people together around the dinner table, but few Kansas Citians know their connection to the iconic bottle. KCUR’s Jenny Vergara and Natasha Bailey track down why.
Oct 25, 2023
The strange case of Mr. Swope and Dr. Hyde
For more than a century, Kansas City has been haunted by the mysterious death of philanthropist Thomas Swope. Suspect number one is his nephew-in-law, Dr. Bennett Hyde, who stood to inherit a sizable portion of the Swope family fortune. But did Hyde really murder Thomas Swope, or was the physician actually the victim of a longstanding family grudge? This question was at the center of one of the most publicized murder trials of the early 20th century. Producer Mackenzie Martin walks host Suzanne Hogan through the evidence of this still-unsolved mystery.
Sep 27, 2023
Alvin Brooks, Kansas City’s ultimate civil servant
Alvin Brooks is a public figure who has served as a bridge in Kansas City for decades. He was one of the city’s first Black police officers, an educator, a leader in the civil rights movement, a founder of Ad Hoc Group Against Crime and almost a Kansas City mayor. Yet few know about his personal life and the internal struggles he’s faced. KCUR’s Reginald David talks to Brooks about the moments in his life that shaped him and pushed him to fight for a better Kansas City.
Aug 30, 2023
Annie Fisher’s beaten biscuit empire
At the turn of the 20th century, a self-taught caterer in Columbia gained national acclaim with her sought-after biscuit recipe. Fisher’s famous beaten biscuits made it onto the plates of presidents and Hollywood stars alike — making her one of the wealthiest Black women around. But her story may have been lost if not for a few determined Missouri women.
Jul 27, 2023
Making the Lake of the Ozarks
With more shoreline than the coast of California, the Lake of the Ozarks in mid-central Missouri is a popular tourist destination for land-locked Midwesterners. For decades, it's provided financial opportunities for locals and outside interests alike — but at what cost? The story of how this man-made body of water came to be involves corruption, jail time, communities torn apart, and displaced families.
Jun 8, 2023
Kansas City’s first Pride parade
Kansas City’s first Pride parade in 1977 was spearheaded by Lea Hopkins, a bold, Black lesbian whose organizing sparked a wider gay rights movement that continues today. But it was only a few weeks after that successful event that Hopkins found herself on the defense again, when a prominent anti-gay activist came on a crusade through town.
May 25, 2023
When Independence destroyed a Black neighborhood
In the 1900s, the Neck neighborhood was the center of the Black community in Independence, Missouri. But by 1969, the neighborhood had been demolished — thanks to urban renewal policies put into place by President Harry S. Truman, who lived nearby. Today, it’s the site of McCoy Park, a vast green space that connects the Harry S. Truman Library to the Independence Square.
Apr 27, 2023
The Golden Arches in Black Kansas City
A 1975 protest at a McDonald’s restaurant in Kansas City emerged from years of escalating tension — between Black community members and their city, and between McDonald’s and the neighborhoods it occupied. But this particular location was also one of the first Black-owned fast-food franchises in the country, an accomplishment born from its own struggle for inclusion.
Mar 22, 2023
How White Castle started America’s burger wars
The White Castle chain began in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas, where its ingenious small burgers kicked off a national craze and inspired imitators of all shapes and sizes. But over a century later, White Castle has entirely vanished from its home state. And the story of how it introduced America to the hamburger and the concept of fast food has largely been overshadowed by its restaurant rivals.
Oct 13, 2022
Overlooked: Niko Quinn’s truth
KCUR Studios has a new investigative podcast. Overlooked tells the story of former police detective Roger Golubski, who put an innocent man in prison and is accused of sexually assaulting numerous Black women in Kansas City, Kansas. For decades, it was an open secret. How could this have happened for so long, and what does justice look like for his alleged victims? Hear chapter one now, and stay tuned for a new episode next week.
Aug 31, 2022
From slavery to fortune in Independence
Independence, Missouri, was the door to America’s westward expansion in the 19th century. At its center stood Hiram Young, a formerly enslaved man who carved out a fortune, lost most of it, and whose influence on the region is beginning to spread.
Aug 26, 2022
PHKC live! Go behind the scenes with Suzanne Hogan and Mackenzie Martin
Join the KCUR podcast team that makes "A People's History of Kansas City" live at the Gem Theater on Thursday, Sept. 1 for a behind-the-scenes look at their award-winning episode, "Kansas City's Barbecue King." There will be BBQ trivia, a special guest and some never-before-heard information about Henry Perry. Tickets available at kcur.org/events.
Aug 10, 2022
An American Dream at Parade Park
As Kansas City’s first Black-owned housing co-op, Parade Park helped residents pursue the American Dream of owning a home and building a community. But after 60 years, it’s uncertain if it can survive foreclosure and redevelopment.
Jul 27, 2022
Unraveling the legend of Doc Annie
This isn't the first time Missouri has banned abortions. Residents may have heard ghoulish tales of “Doc Annie” Smith, a physician who looms large in Missouri’s mythology for performing illegal abortions in the early 1900s. Today, the truth about her work has largely disappeared.
Jul 6, 2022
A toast to the birthplace of sliced bread
Chillicothe, Missouri, has an unusual claim to fame: It’s the town where sliced bread first debuted back in 1928. But despite being less than a century old, the origin of this revolutionary pantry staple was almost lost to history.
Jun 14, 2022
Kansas City's raunchy blues queen
For three decades, Julia Lee reigned over Kansas City jazz clubs singing risqué songs “her mother taught her not to sing.” But beyond the lyrical wordplay of hits like "Snatch and Grab It," Lee was a trailblazer for Black female musicians, and forged a career on her own terms.
May 30, 2022
How Kansas City blazed a path for gay liberation
Years before the Stonewall uprising, Drew Shafer started Kansas City's first gay rights organization and published the first LGBTQ magazine in the Midwest. At one point, his Kansas City home was even the “information distribution center” for the entire gay rights movement.
May 17, 2022
Hot 103 Jamz & the birth of Black radio
Black-owned broadcasters have faced a difficult path in the United States, from Jim Crow-era discrimination to racist practices within the FCC. But in Kansas City, radio pioneer Andrew Skip Carter broke through — founding the country’s oldest Black owned radio company and inspiring new generations of talent.
Apr 26, 2022
100 years of the Plaza
Over the last century, the Country Club Plaza has survived natural disasters, social unrest and challenging economic climates. But how can we reckon the place we love with the controversial vision of its creator, J.C. Nichols?
Mar 8, 2022
A radical enclave called Womontown
Fed up with harassment and housing discrimination, lesbians in 1990s Kansas City dreamed of a place where they could "walk hand in hand, freely down the streets." So they created Womontown. The self-sufficient community encompassed 12 city blocks and attracted women from all over the U.S.
Feb 8, 2022
Crock-Pots for the people, from Hungry For MO
No Midwestern cookout is complete without a delicious chili or dip simmering in a Crock-Pot. But when the device was first unveiled by a Kansas City company in 1971, it promised something more: freedom. Plus, a preview of our upcoming season in May.
May 24, 2021
9:29 The Minutes That Moved Kansas City
George Floyd’s murder sparked a long overdue reckoning of racial injustice in 2020. But no one experienced the movement in quite the same way. To take the pulse of what changed in Kansas City, we talked to protesters and police on the front lines, and the officials and advocates working behind the scenes on reform.
May 18, 2021
The battle over Mickey Mouse
Walt Disney gets most of the credit for creating Mickey Mouse. But few know the real story: Kansas City animator Ub Iwerks, Disney’s best friend, was the first to bring the iconic character to life. Then Mickey's success almost tore them apart for good.
Apr 13, 2021
Where Missouri got its name
The history of the Missouria people and how a prolific Otoe-Missouria storyteller helped preserve a fading language.
Mar 23, 2021
Kansas City's fierce women's rights champion
In the early 1900s, Sarah Lloyd Green was notorious for sticking it to the man as a feminist, suffragette and labor organizer in Kansas City. Her story isn't well known, but she was a champion for Black and white laundry workers and even started a waitress union.
Feb 23, 2021
The first known female Buffalo Soldier
The story of Cathay Williams, a pioneer in the fight against race and gender discrimination. Growing up enslaved in Independence, Missouri, she disguised herself as a man in order to become a legendary Buffalo Soldier.
Feb 9, 2021
Kansas City's barbecue king
The story behind the Black entrepreneur in the 1900s who made Kansas City barbecue a national treasure. Before Arthur Bryant and Ollie Gates, there was Henry Perry.
Jan 26, 2021
Was Kansas City almost named Possum Trot?
People from Kansas City know that our city’s name can be confusing to outsiders, because there is more than one Kansas City. But how close were we to being called something else?
Jan 19, 2021
Trailer: A People's History of Kansas City, Season 2
Season 2 of A People's History of Kansas City is finally here, and we're starting from the beginning of Kansas City's History.
May 22, 2020
Be a history maker
An important message from the team behind A People's History of Kansas City.
Apr 30, 2020
The Spanish flu of 1918 in Kansas City
A historian says Kansas City "blew it" in the 1918 flu pandemic. How a corrupt political system and the end of World War I led to a bungled response and an overwhelming loss of life.
Mar 19, 2020
Jim the Wonder Dog
In Depression-era Missouri, Jim the Wonder Dog earned his name from his ability to predict the future, and answer questions that should be otherwise unanswerable for a dog (or even a person in some cases): from allegedly predicting the winner of the Kentucky Derby and the World Series to knowing the gender of unborn babies.
Mar 12, 2020
Leila's Hair Museum
A cosmetologist becomes obsessed with the Victorian tradition of hair art, and amasses the world's largest collection in Independence, Missouri. Each of these art pieces is woven with human hair, often in memory of loved ones and friends. Leila's Hair Museum has revived the art and launched a 21st century tradition of hair jewelry.
Mar 5, 2020
Kansas drinkers can thank this tough guy
The story of the pugnacious Kansas sheriff and attorney general Vern Miller, whose antics seemed to be a throwback to the Wild West era but left a surprising legacy. Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Play | Stitcher
Feb 27, 2020
How Latinos took over the Guadalupe Center
The oldest continuously-operating Latino services center in the United States is right here in Kansas City. 101 years ago, the Guadalupe Center was established to "Americanize" Mexicans who had moved here to work on the railroads. But over the course of a century, Latinos transformed the organization, and Kansas City.
Feb 20, 2020
How a Missouri town is saving a dying language
Many early, unique dialects of German are preserved in communities in small towns in Missouri and Kansas. But they're endangered. Meet a handful of linguistic diehards in Cole Camp, Missouri, and hear about their valiant efforts to save their immigrant history.
Feb 13, 2020
The Black history of Lincoln Prep
The prestigious, historically Black high school in Kansas City is becoming more integrated. Hear how Lincoln's alumni, students and faculty are trying to make sure the school's legacy as an incubator for Black excellence is not forgotten.
Feb 6, 2020
The occupation that saved a Wyandot cemetery
Three sisters barricaded themselves in a Wyandot cemetery in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, in the early 1900s, in order to save it from destruction. Hear how the Wyandot came to settle in Kansas, and how one of those sisters, Lyda Conley, took the battle over the cemetery all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Jan 29, 2020
Introducing A People's History Of Kansas City
KCUR's Suzanne Hogan brings you tales of the everyday heroes, renegades and visionaries who shaped Kansas City and the region. If these stories aren't told, they're in danger of fading into the past. The first episode drops February 6. Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Play