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Courtesy Peggy Shine

'Whispers Of The Dead': Remembering The Great War, Harry Knowles And A Country's Coming Of Age

It was the War to End All Wars. World War I, a massive tableau of death and suffering, ended 100 years ago on Sunday, Nov. 11. More than 9 million servicemen died in the Great War, including 116,000 Americans. Countries from five continents sent troops to the conflict. It was war on an epic scale that the world had never witnessed. And yet it also was a war with small, personal stories. Millions of them. Of fathers and husbands, sons and brothers, sent to Europe never to return.

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One thing I’m betting you are not asking Santa for this year is a telephone book.

Yet another unrequested phone book was delivered to my front porch the other day. I dutifully brought it in and opened the cabinet door to the area where we store them to add it to the collection. It was hours later before the avalanche rescue team found me beneath the huge pile of phone books that had tumbled out of that cabinet and buried me.

I’ve never been able to pass up an estate sale and stopped in at one last week in modest little home. The tattered art prints and hundreds of books painted a picture of a person with intellectual curiosity about the world of ideas. The small living room was dominated by a seriously grand piano standing proudly out among a few worn and threadbare sticks of furniture.

While I was in the basement, someone sat at that piano and played a flourishing rendition of “I Will Always Love You.” It echoed easily through the thin floors and walls of that once-beloved home.

What a weird holiday Halloween is.

It’s like some sort of phantom holiday that we all know exists and yet seems to dwell in some other holiday dimension. It’s printed on calendars, yet no one gets off work for it. The mail’s delivered.  Banks are open. Schools don’t shut down on Halloween, though some teachers trying to deal with kids on a frantic sugary candy high probably wish it was otherwise.

I like trains. I like riding on trains. I like looking at trains.  Heck, I even like songs about trains.

And I guess I really must admit that sometimes I even like getting slowed down at a railroad crossing while a thundering freight train lumbers along. It’s a chance to throw your hands up and say, “What can I do? I’m forced to sit here and take a pause out of my busy day and just watch this train go by.” It’s a break from the routine, as we scurry over the busy ant hills of our daily lives.

Fall is a time that always reminds me of when I was a kid growing up in the developing suburbs of Memphis. I had lots of opportunities then, to roam around the fields and woods, going no place in particular through nature’s leafy abundance.

Sometimes I was Robin Hood, sometimes a yodeling Tarzan, and sometimes I was just a leaf-kicking explorer feeling the breezes that whispered of a weather change just around the next weekend.

I have a health care proposal. It’s not about insurance availability or doctor choice. It’s not about single-payer or public option issues. But it is about our health. Our mental health. We need to take all the minutes from all the health care reform town hall meetings, take all the breathless commentaries from red-faced conservatives and blue-in-the-face liberals, put all that stuff in a lockbox, throw the lockbox in a closet for about a week, and get ourselves down to the Cowley County Fairgrounds in Winfield, Kansas.


Commentary & Podcasts

Jordan Kirtley / KMUW

Bruschetta. How Do You Say It? | YSIW

We're back to food in this episode! (We do love to eat.) This week's word is bruschetta . How do you say it? You're Saying It Wrong host Fletcher Powell and our language experts, Kathy Petras and Ross Petras, tackle 'bruschetta' as well as other variances often heard in Italian, Southern Italian and New Jersey Italian.

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KMUW Music

Sunday, November 11

Sunday on Soulsations - a bit of jazz.  We remember Grammy award-winning trumpeter Roy Hargrove, who died November 2, 2018 at the age of 49 in New York.  Mentored by Winton Marsalis, Hargrove was known for his traditional jazz as well as his work with D'Angelo, Common and Erykah Badu.  He also formed the group RH Factor that included an urban flavor of modern jazz, hip hop, R&B and gospel music.  


James McMurtry first emerged on the American music scene of the 1980s via the John Mellencamp-produced Too Long In The Wasteland, the first of a handful of recordings he made for Columbia Records. Since then, songs such as "Levelland" and "Out Here In The Middle" have become staples of the Americana scene — with Robert Earl Keen covering both — joining other McMurtry compositions such as "We Can't Make It Here" and "Choctaw Bingo" as essential listening in an age of unrest and hardships.

Album Cover Art

Monday, November 12

We commemorate Veterans Day with selections from Band of Gypsies, Soul Asylum, Jason Isbell, John Prine and more.

Tuesday, November 13

Released in 1989, Mr. Music Head was Adrian Belew’s (David Bowie, King Crimson) fourth solo album and features his only radio hit to date, “Oh Daddy,” a duet with his eldest daughter, Audie. We’ll hear selections from that release as well as selections from Belew’s work with Paul Simon and Talking Heads.

Wednesday, November 14

Elastic Days is the new solo release from Dinosaur Jr. guitarist J Mascis. Listen for selections from that recording as well as music from The Replacements’ 1990 album All Shook Down.

Thursday, November 15

Released in 2006, Under The Skin was Lindsey Buckingham’s fourth solo album. We’ll hear from that release as well as Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.

Friday, November 16

Issued in 1991, Dweezil Zappa’s Confessions  was produced by Nuno Bettencourt, guitarist for the band Extreme (“More Than Words”); the album featured appearances by Zappa’s brother Ahmet as well as alumni from his father Frank’s band, including bassist Scott Thunes and guitarist/keyboardist Mike Keneally. Listen for music from that recording as well as selections from Frank Zappa’s Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar.

Saturday, November 17

Released in mid-2001 Alive In An Ultra World was musician Steve Vai’s tribute to the many countries he visited during his 2000 world tour in support of The Ultra Zone. The live set features songs written for people of the nations of Ireland, Poland, Bulgaria and Portugal. We’ll hear music from that release as well as from Mike Keneally’s Wooden Smoke.

Monday, November 19

Listen for selections from The Kinks’ landmark 1968 LP The Kinks are The Village Green Preservation Society as well as music from Billy Bragg’s 1988 effort, Workers Playtime.

Tuesday, November 20

We celebrate the birthdays of Chris Opperman, Kevin Gilbert and Joe Walsh. 

Wednesday, November 21

Stone Pushing Uphill Man is the 2014 covers collection from guitarist Paul Gilbert featuring renditions of songs originally recorded by Elton John, Aerosmith and The Police. We’ll hear music from that release as well as Aerosmith’s 1976 release, Rocks.

Thursday, November 22

It’s our annual Thanksgiving celebration with music from The Kinks, Mike Keneally, Lyle Lovett and more.

Monday 11.5.18

As part of the November feature celebrating the centennial birthday of jazz organ pioneer and Parsons KS native Wild Bill Davis, Night Train highlights a number of jazz organists tonight. We’ll hear Davis with long-time music partner and fellow Ellington alum Johnny Hodges, along with music from organists Pat Bianchi, Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, Mel Rhyne, Jared Gold and more. Plus new music from Aimee Allen, Tiffany Austin, Tim Warfield, Stefon Harris + Blackout, and the Rob Dixon Trio.

Tuesday 11.6.18

Night Train will be pre-empted tonight for election coverage – but you can join us on-line afterwards for tonight’s edition of the show through the streaming archive player you’ll find right near the top of the Night Train page on our website.

Night Train offers a special rebroadcast of “Live from the Caramoor Jazz Festival” with performances from a great line-up of veteran players and rising stars of jazz, including pianist Kenny Barron, the Cookers, singers Gretchen Parlato and Dee Dee Bridgewater, and the Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band.

Wednesday 11.7.18

Night Train celebrates a long list of birthdays tonight – including Joni Mitchell (with covers of her songs from Lynne Arriale and Tierney Sutton), Lighthouse All Stars leader Howard Rumsey, and singers Denise Jannah, Kitty Margolis, and Rene Marie (who will also be featured in an hour two special). Plus, Night Train pays tribute to saxophonist Sonny Fortune who recently passed away, and there’s more jazz organ for the November feature including contemporary players Larry Goldings, Ben Paterson, and Larry Young.

Thursday 11.8.18

Night Train marks birthdays of drummer Eric Harland, cool jazz singer Chris Connor, and guitarist Russell Malone. Plus we remember saxophonist Sonny Fortune, who passed away recently, and the Night Train November feature celebrating the centennial birthday of jazz organ pioneer Wild Bill Davis continues with a guest appearance he made with Arnett Cobb.

November 9/11

Crossroads continues the November Blues Organ feature and highlights recent Blues Blast Music Awards winners and newly announced Maple Blues Awards nominees.

We’ll hear blues organists Lucky Peterson, Gregg Allman, Jimmy Smith, Raphael Wressnig, and Mike Finnigan with the Phantom Blues Band.

Plus Maple Blues nominees Rick Estrin & the Nightcats (also Blues Blast winners), Samantha Martin, Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne, the Ghost Town Blues Band, and Crystal Shawanda – and Blues Blast Lifetime Achievement Awards recipients Jimmy Johnson and Sugarpie DeSanto.

We’ll also get to new music from Dave Keller, Kirk Fletcher, Kansas City’s Grand Marquis, and Janiva Magness.

My Fellow Kansans: The latest episode

My Fellow Kansans: Kelly Wins — A Minisode

A race that looked to be oh-so-close turned out to be a clear victory for Democrat Laura Kelly, the new governor-elect of Kansas. On this mini episode of “My Fellow Kansans” we hear what Kelly had to say on election night and her explanation of what vaulted her to victory over Republican Secretary of State and conservative firebrand Kris Kobach.

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Lancerenok / flickr Creative Commons

Top Candidates For Kansas Governor Disagree On Medical Marijuana

The top contenders running for governor say Kansas should not follow Colorado’s lead and legalize recreational marijuana, but they differ on medical marijuana.

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