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Olin and Populous

Sidelined By The Pandemic, Work On A Plan For Wichita's Riverfront Could Resume This Year

One year ago this week, hundreds of people gathered on the Newman University campus for the "big reveal" of a new plan to redevelop Wichita’s downtown riverfront. The international design firm Populous promised a "bold vision" for what the east bank of the river might look like: The billion-dollar Riverfront Legacy Master Plan contained 17 major projects, including a new performing arts center and a new convention center. There would be 12 acres of green space, and a pedestrian bridge to...

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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.


New Year's Solutions

Commentary & Podcasts

Lisa Smith

A Musical Life: Jason Smith

Jason Smith is a founding member of the Oklahoma City-based band Traindodge and plays bass in the band Rainbows Are Free as well. Traindodge has released albums such as Time Will Never Know Your Name, I Am Forever, and On A Lake of Dead Trees.

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A book club for public radio listeners.

KMUW Music

Album Cover Art/Courtesy New West Record

Friday, January 15

Listen for selections from Walking Proof, the 2020 album from Lilly Hiatt as well as music from The Ascension from Sufjan Stevens.

Saturday, January 16

Listen for music from Balsams, the critically-acclaimed release from pedal steel guitarist Chuck Johnson as well as selections from Promise, the 2020 LP from “ambient country” outfit SUSS.

Monday, January 18

Listen for music from The Most Fire, the latest from Gooding as well as selections from Live Drugs by The War on Drugs.

Tuesday, January 19

Cover Me: We’ll hear two hours of cover songs from The War on Drugs, Andrew Bird, Pearl Jam, Chris Cornell and others.

Wednesday, January 20

First made available in 1999 solely for those who subscribed to the BowieNet website, Live and features songs from David Bowie’s 1997 Earthling tour. The record has now been made available for wide release, along with a series of other live Bowie recordings. We’ll hear music from as well as selections from the expanded version of UFO’s 1979 live album, Strangers in the Night, which was recorded over five nights in late 1978.

Thursday, January 21

Listen for music from 808 Hymns, the late 2020 release from The Brazilian Gentleman, plus selections from The Cure’s Pornography.

Friday, January 22

We’ll hear music from Black Happy, the 2012 release from Conny Ochs, as well as music from Jerry Leger’s Time Out For Tomorrow.

Saturday, January 23

We’ll hear music from American Foursquare, the 2020 album from Denison Witmer as well as selections from David Ramirez’s My Love Is A Hurricane.

Monday, January 25

Listen for music from J.T., the latest from Steve Earle, as well as music from Brothers, the 2010 effort from The Black Keys.

Greater Wichita Ministerial League

Sunday, January 17

It's an hour of socially conscious songs and gospel as we celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Hear new music from Jarod Lawson and classics from Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Donny Hathaway. Plus, this week's DoubleTake features the 1976 gem "Harvest for the World" by The Isley Brothers and a version by Vanessa Williams.

We'll also talk with singer and evangelist Dr. Dorinda Clark-Cole, one of the legendary members of The Clark Sisters. Clark-Cole is the featured speaker at the Greater Wichita Ministerial League's virtual MLK program, which will be streamed live on Facebook at noon on Monday, January 18. She shares what she hopes viewers take away from her speech, and teases the possibility of hearing engaging sounds by The Clark Sisters.

Monday, January 11

You might have heard the news abour F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby entering the public domain at the start of this year. But it is not just books whose copyrights have expired. In this edition of Night Train, we’ll showcase some of the many songs that are now in the public domain too. And since it's the composition, not the recording, whose status has changed, Night Train will highlight songs waxed from the ‘20s up to the present day from such artists at Fats Waller, Dinah Washington, Roy Haynes, the Mills Brothers and more.

And as the January Best of the Year feature continues, we’ll hear show favorites Erroll Garner, Bill Frisell, Pearl Django and more, salute 2020 ‘Genius Grant’ recipient Cecile McLorin Salvant and Grammy nominee Kenny Washington, and remember Bucky Pizzarelli and Frank Kimbrough. It’s also the birthday of prolific guitarist Lee Ritenour and we’ll hear music from him as well, including from his new album Dreamcatcher, his first solo guitar recording.

You can click here to see the full lists of works entering the public domain for this and previous years, including books, musical compositions, pamphlets, and works of art.

Tuesday, January 12

Night Train marks the birthdays of Kansas City legend Jay McShann (including a Jazz Profiles special in hour two of the show), singer Ruth Brown, and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen (who we’ll hear as part of the all-female jazz supergroup Artemis, one of the show favorites of 2020). As we continue the January feature looking back at the past year in music, we’ll also hear 2020 releases from the Flying Horse Big Band with a tribute to Ray Charles, baritone saxophonist Claire Daly with a tribute to Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Vincent Herring/Bobby Watson/Gary Bartz with their tribute to Charlie Parker for his centennial birthday year.

Wednesday, January 13

It’s the birthdays today of jazz guitar legend Joe Pass, and trombonist and arranger Melba Liston. We’ll hear both as leaders and guests (Pass with Benny Carter and Liston with long-time musical partner Randy Weston) and check out a Jazz Profiles Liston special in hour two of the show. Night Train also continues the January feature looking back at the year in music with 2020 releases from Javon Jackson, Grant Stewart, and John DiMartino’s salute to Billy Strayhorn.

Thursday, January 14

Night Train joins Global Village and Strange Currency in marking the birthday of one of the legends of Crescent City music, Allen Toussaint. We’ll hear some of his more jazz-influenced work in hour one and a special, including an interview with the later musical genius, in hour two of the show. Night Train also marks birthdays of bassist Mark Egan with music he did with the Pat Metheny Group and from a new album with Metheny album Danny Gottlieb) and drummer Grady Tate, and continues the January feature looking back on the best of the past year with music from New Orleans’ Delfeayo Marsalis and Kansas City’s Guitar Elation.

Monday, January 11

It’s world pianos this time in the Global Village, as we highlight keyboard players in different styles and from different parts of the world. Among the artists featured: Brazilian pianist and composer Antonio Adolfo, new tango master Pablo Ziegler, South African jazz star and 2020 NEA Jazz master Abdullah Ibrahim, space age musical scientist Esquivel, Latin jazz artists Michel Camilo and Omar Sosa, and pianist Chick Corea with flamenco guitar legend Paco de Lucia.

Tuesday, January 12

Global Village marks the birthday of tenor saxophonist and ska pioneer Roland Alphonso with music he did with the Skatalites, Bob Marley & the Wailers, the Heptones, Tommy McCook, Jump with Joey, and the Soul Brothers. And as the January Best of the Year feature continues, Global Village remembers Toots Hibbert of Toots & the Maytals who passed away in 2020, salutes Grammy Lifetime Achievement recipients the Talking Heads, and highlights past year releases from Italian reggae artist Gaudi (with theremin!), Belgian reggae and afrofunk band Kosmo Sound, and French afrofuturist afrobeat group Supergombo.

Wednesday, January 13

This time in the Global Village we highlight some great Roma brass bands. We’ll hear Romania’s Fanfare Ciocărlia, the popular Serbian band the Boban Markovic Orkestra, from Macedonia the Kočani Orkestar, and some Balkan Brass by way of NYC from the Raya Brass Band. Also on tap: Italy’s Bandadriatica, the Cypriot band Monsieur Doumani, Turkish psychedelic rocker Umut Adan, and the Roma-influenced Hungarian group Söndörgő.

Thursday, January 14

Global Village pays tribute to one of the giants of Crescent City music, Allen Toussaint, on his birthday. The program highlights music from his rare albums in the ‘70s to later projects including the Grammy-nominated release The River in Reverse, which he did with Elvis Costello. Plus New Orleans R&B classics he wrote and produced for Irma Thomas, Ernie K-Doe, Lee Dorsey and others, and covers of his songs from Robert Palmer, the Band, the Pointer Sisters, and more.

Friday, January 15

Global Village highlights a variety of styles and artists from South Africa this time. We’ll hear legendary vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo (in tribute to Joseph Shabalala, who passed away last year), a 2020 show favorite from Vusi Mahlasela recreating the vibrant sound of township jive, township classics from the Dark City Sisters, Mahlathini and West Nkosi, the long-delayed project from South African great Hugh Masekela with afrobeat master Tony Allen (who passed away last year), and South African reggae from Lucky Dube and O’Yaba.

Friday, January 15, and Sunday, January 17

In conjunction with our January feature looking back at the past year in music, Crossroads devotes this episode to remembering artists who passed away in 2020. We’ll hear selections from Bill Withers, Lucky Peterson, Salome Bey, Frank Bey, Peter Green, Little Charlie Baty, Little Richard, Robert Parker, and in hour two of the show, a special featuring the late blues pianist and singer Henry Gray.

Best Music Releases

NPR's Favorite Books Of 2020: The Book Concierge Is Back With 380+ Great Reads

NPR's Book Concierge returns with more books than ever: 380+ new titles handpicked by NPR staff and trusted critics. Find eight years of Concierge recommendations all in one place – that's nearly 2,500 great reads. Open the app now! Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit

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