Next Best Thing

Next Best Thing is a new, limited-run commentary from KMUW. Every other Wednesday, KMUW's Jordan Kirtley will take a look at ways we can stay connected from a far via virtual events and outdoor activities.

Ways to Connect

Courtesy Mark Arts

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the Ulrich Museum of Art’s community billboard project, Ulrich + Artists + You. Hopefully you’ve spotted some billboards around town. The first batch went up July 1 and new artwork will continue to pop up through November 30.


The Ulrich is taking the community aspect of this project seriously by collaborating with several local organizations. Full disclosure: KMUW is one of them.

Courtesy Tallgrass Film Association


For me, and thousands of others, fall in Wichita means it’s time for the Tallgrass Film Festival. 

Courtesy Ulrich Museum of Art

No matter how innovative they are, virtual events will never be as engaging as the real thing. And that’s why this segment is called Next Best Thing, and not Absolute Best Thing. But, virtual programming can be more convenient, and that factors highly into my own decision-making now that I can’t be bothered to change out of sweatpants.


Thankfully, the Orpheum Theatre and the Ulrich Museum of Art have launched some online programming that I’m genuinely looking forward to.


Jordan Kirtley / KMUW

Tuesday, July 14, is the deadline to register to vote in the Kansas Primary. Normally, when election time comes around, the only decision is who to vote for. But this time, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have another factor to seriously consider: how to vote.


The options are: you can vote in-person, either at one of several location when early voting starts or at your designated polling place on Election Day. Or, you can vote in advance by mail.


Produced by Films From Within


The beauty of virtual events is that you can never really miss them. In a lot of cases, there’s not much difference between tuning in live, and watching a video on your own time.

As a public radio listener, I’m sure you’re familiar with NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concerts. Everyone has performed there—even the residents of Sesame Street.

Next Best Thing: Virtual Riverfest

May 27, 2020

The Wichita Riverfest would’ve kicked off this Friday, May 29, but for the first time in its 49 years, Riverfest will not go on as planned.

Instead of swarming to downtown Wichita with more than 440,000 other festival-goers, Wichita Riverfest invites you to go virtual, May 29 through June 6.

Fletcher Powell / KMUW

Last weekend, I needed an activity that would get me out of the house for an hour or two, while keeping public contact to a minimum. So I set out to test the Wichita Public Library’s historic walking tours on the PocketSights app.

Jordan Kirtley / KMUW


The Wichita Mom organization and United Way of the Plains are hosting a card drive for health care workers and residents in long-term care facilities. You can contribute by mailing drawings, homemade greeting cards, and letters of encouragement to United Way by April 30. They’ll take care of the rest.

Jordan Kirtley / KMUW

With the excellent weather we’re having, aside from whatever that was on Sunday, there’s no doubt that the Sedgwick County Zoo would be packed if these were normal times. But since they aren’t, the zoo has taken to posting live videos on their Facebook page twice every weekday. I last visited the zoo in person in October, when there was a new litter of capybara pups. I was happy to see them again, even if only virtually. I also watched a red panda eat grapes and caught up with Paul the red river hog. There are lots of videos, both endearing and educational, up now, and more to look forward to every day.