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Climate Change Has Turned The Kansas Prairie Into Junk Food That's Killing Grasshoppers

MANHATTAN, Kansas — Ellen Welti has a Ph.D. in, essentially, grasshoppers. And yet she was still mystified about why the number of grasshoppers in a long-protected and much-studied patch of Kansas prairie was dropping. Steadily. For 25 years. After all, the grass that the springy bugs feast on had actually grown more robustly as it absorbed mounting levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. So why were the grasshoppers faring increasingly worse? “We thought that this is a pretty nice...

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 MANHATTAN, Kansas — Ellen Welti has a Ph.D. in, essentially, grasshoppers.

And yet she was still mystified about why the number of grasshoppers in a long-protected and much-studied patch of Kansas prairie was dropping. Steadily. For 25 years.

After all, the grass that the springy bugs feast on had actually grown more robustly as it absorbed mounting levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

So why were the grasshoppers faring increasingly worse?

Ark Valley Fire Buff / flickr Creative Commons

The ACLU of Kansas and Kansas Appleseed are seeking to end the Wichita Police Department’s longstanding use of a confidential gang list, claiming it is unconstitutional.


Riley Sipes was a junior at Wichita’s North High School last spring when the COVID-19 shutdown closed schools and canceled prom and other activities.

She had already bought her dress — a smokey blue spaghetti-strap number that shimmers in the light. The phrase, “All dressed up and nowhere to go” had never seemed so fitting.

“It’s definitely been weird,” Sipes said. “I’m still disappointed that I missed out on so many of the traditions that North High has in place.”

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

The Environmental Protection Agency says in 2018, almost 27 million tons of plastic ended up in U.S. landfills. A new store in Wichita is trying to break that cycle, one bottle at a time.

Lu Anne Stephens / KMUW

The tallgrass prairie once covered more than 170 million acres across North America.

Today, only about 4% is left, and most of it can be found in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

WICHITA, Kansas —Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly is signaling she’ll likely reject a bill that’s part of a culture war flashpoint — an effort in Kansas and other states to bar transgender athletes from girls’ and women’s sports.

Kelly makes a practice of not explicitly threatening vetos, but critical comments this week hint that she’s likely to strike the legislation down with her veto pen.

401(K) 2012, flickr Creative Commons

Haven’t filed your taxes yet? Don’t panic: The IRS extended the filing deadline to May 17.

It marks the second straight year that the deadline has been postponed. Last year, it was pushed back to July 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s filing service started later than usual.

If you need help filing, there are a couple of free options.

El Alvi / Flickr Creative Commons

Kansas says it will stop distributing the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as federal health officials investigate reports of rare complications in six people who received the vaccine.

Ansel Armstrong had just found a psychologist when COVID-19 turned the world upside down, forcing in-person care to go remote.

So video sessions replaced a 40-minute drive between Lawrence and Topeka.

“I love how much it frees up my schedule,” Armstrong said. It eased the process in other ways, too. “It’s like, you’re at home. I have my cat on my lap. I think it was a less stressful experience.”

Madeline Deabler / Wichita Journalism Collaborative

After a year of navigating the disruptions fostered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the spring of 2021 promises to be the start of a cautious reopening.

But mental health experts say the wounds of the past year could remain with us for quite some time.


Join the KMUW movie club for a live Oscars chat.

Commentary & Podcasts

Movie Review: Recalling A Formative Movie-Watching Experience

Today is the birthday of the actor George O’Brien. There’s no real reason you’d know him, although he was pretty big in the 1920s and ‘30s. But I bring him up because he starred in the movie that completely changed my understanding of what silent films could be: 1927’s Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans , from the great German director F.W. Murnau.

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KMUW Music

Friday, April 23 and Sunday, April 25

Crossroads continues the April Blues Siblings feature with music from the Holmes Brothers, Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan, Syl and Jimmy Johnson, Lurrie Bell & the Bell Dynasty, and in hour two, a concert with the Kimbrough Brothers – the sons of Hill Country bluesman Junior Kimbrough.

We’ll also mark the birthday of blues great Albert King with some of his classic tracks, including a selection from his classic Born Under a Bad Sign album that was just inducted into the National Recording Registry.

And there’s new music from Kat Riggins, Chris Cain, Kevin Burt, and Damon Fowler.

Monday, April 19

Global Village celebrates the birthday of oud player Amos Hoffman with music he did as a leader and as a guest with bassist Avishai Cohen and the Idan Raichel Project. We also continue the April Siblings feature with music from the Golan Heights brothers in Tootard and the Algerian brothers who lead the group Sidi Bemol. We’ll also hear new music from Made Kuti (the son of Femi Kuti) and from a new compilation of European flamenco-inspired guitarists, Canadian Folk Awards 2021 World Music winner Zal Sissokho, and a blast form the past from Stevie Wonder.

Tuesday, April 20

Global Village marks Chinese Language Day, designated to celebrate the language and culture of one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Global Village celebrates by exploring some of the musical languages of China - traditional, contemporary, and cross-cultural collaborations. We’ll hear selections from the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York, the Shanghai Quartet, Guo Gan with musicians from Turkey, rock drummer Zhao Muyang, Manhu, and phe Mipa player Gao Hong with Syrian oudist Issam Rafea.

Wednesday, April 21

Global Village travels to the southwestern Indian Ocean for music from islands off the coast of Africa, including Madagascar, Zanzibar, Reunion, the Seychelles, Rodrigues, and Mauritius. Among the artists featured are Tarika, Taj Mahal with the Culture Musical Club of Zanzibar, the Malagasy Guitar Masters, and new releases from the folkloric group Sakili from Rodrigues, and Volume 10 in the Zanzibara series showcasing the emergence of modern taarab music in Zanzibar.

Thursday, April 22

Global Village marks Earth Day with topical songs from Tom Lehrer, Jimmy Cliff, Marvin Gaye, Chicago Afrobeat Project and more. Plus birthday salutes to Latin bugaloo star Joe Cuba and Hawaiian guitar great Gabby Pahinui.

Friday, April 23

Global Village celebrates two Language Days observed by the United Nations on this date – Spanish and English Language Days (two of the official languages of the UN) – with a variety of great Latin sounds and songs in both languages. We’ll hear music from Cuba, Colombia, Spain, Argentina, and the U.S. from Gloria Estefan, the Hip Spanic Allstars, Vocal Sampling, Alex Cuba with Buena Vista vocalist Omara Portuondo, Ry Cooder with Buena Vista guitarist Manuel Galban, and more.

Monday, April 19

Night Train kicks off the week with some jazz guitarists – including Pat Martino (from one of his Blue Note releases and early work as part of the John Handy Quintet), Dave Stryker, Larry Coryell with John Scofield and Joe Beck, Charlie Apicella, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, and Barney Kessell. We’ll also sneak in a few pianists as well, including Chick Corea, Monty Alexander, Gene Harris, and Mike LeDonne.

Tuesday, April 20

Night Train highlights Israeli jazz expats in this edition of the show. We’ll hear music from bassist Avishai Cohen, whose birthday it is today, from his new album and with Chick Corea’s Origin lineup; guitarist Issi Rozen (also born on this date); the Cohen family (Anat, a different Avishai, and Yuval) for our April Siblings feature; and a special in hour two that highlights a number of Israeli musicians who have made New York home and become key players on the jazz scene there. Night Train remembers producer, writer, and DJ Bob Porter throughout this week – here with an album he produced for Lou Donaldson. Plus birthday salutes to Tito Puente and Lionel Hampton, and new music from the Echo Park Project.

Wednesday, April 21

Lots to cover tonight on the Night Train. We mark birthdays of trombonist Slide Hampton, guitarist Mundell Lowe (from dates he did with great jazz singers including Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae and Sarah Vaughan), Carline Ray (from the International Sweethearts of Rhythm), and even Iggy Pop (guesting on a new album from soul jazz organ great Dr. Lonnie Smith).

There is music from three jazz artists just named Guggenheim Fellows – Rez Abbasi, Helen Sung, and Elio Villafranca.

We’ll get to music and share information about the NEA Jazz Masters Tribute concert coming up tomorrow.

Night Train also continues its weeklong tribute to influential writer, DJ, and producer Bob Porter, with selections from albums he worked on by Herbie Mann, Charles Kynard, and Red Holloway.

And we’ll hear new music from the 14 Jazz Orchestra, saxophonist Diego Rivera, and guitarists Roni Ben-Hur, Lee Ritenour, and former Wichitan Greg Skaff.

Thursday, April 22

Night Train wraps up the week-long tribute to producer, writer, and DJ Bob Porter with selections from albums he produced for Hank Crawford & Jimmy McGriff, and Scott Hamilton. We’ll also mark birthdays of Tommy Turrentine (brother of saxophonist Stanley Turrentine), percussionist Candido, and bassists Paul Chambers (with Miles Davis) and Charles Mingus (including a Mingus Big Band concert special in hour two of the show).

Move Your Hand

10 hours ago
Courtesy 4AD

Monday, April 19

Listen for selections from Dr. Lonnie Smith’s Move Your Hand, plus music from Jimmy McGriff, Grant Green and others.

Tuesday, April 20

We’ll hear music from Jeff Parker’s The New Breed as well as selections from George Benson’s Guitar Man LP.

Wednesday, April 21

sketchy. is the new release from tUnE-yArDs. We’ll hear music from that effort as well as selections from Mia Doi Todd’s Music Life. 

Thursday, April 22

We’ll hear selections from Live!, the newly-reissued 1980 concert set from Fleetwood Mac as well as music from Peter Frampton, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, and George Benson.

Friday, April 23

Tina is the new documentary film from directors Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin. It examines Tina Turner’s life and career, including the unlikely success of her 1984 album Private Dancer, which catapulted her to superstar status in both the U.S. and Europe. We’ll hear music from that release as well as selections from George Benson, Nina Simone, and Jeff Parker.

Saturday, April 24

Emigrant is the new EP from Kishi Bashi, listen for music from that release as well as selections from Dawes, DL Rossi, and Hiss Golden Messenger.

 Sunday, April 18

Nine-time Grammy-nominated R&B and gospel singer Kelly Price recently signed with Motown Gospel. She poured her heart and soul into her second gospel project Grace after the loss of her grandfather early in the 2020 pandemic and the sudden passing of her mother at the end of the year. Hear brand new music from that release, which is becoming one of Price’s most inspirational and moving projects to date. Also this week on Soulsations, it’s the soulful sounds of Kem and Charlie Wilson and The Brand New Heavies.  Plus, this week’s DoubleTake features the legendary Al Jarreau with “Roof Garden” followed by a version from Chris Walker who served as Al Jarreau’s musical director, co-vocalist and bassist for more than twenty years. 

Kansas Legislative Update

Explore world music, blues, jazz, R&B and gospel, local spotlights and new releases.

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