Deep Background

A news podcast by the Kansas City Star's political and news reporters, including in-depth commentary and analysis.. It's a deeper look at news and issues in Kansas and Missouri.
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Deep Background



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Jul 19, 2017


Commercial renewal driven partly by a new breed of center city-ish residents could remake Kansas City’s West Bottoms area.

Reporter Diane Stafford joined the latest episode of The Star’s “Deep Background” podcast to discuss residential development trends.

The podcast also looked at the lives of two men who changed the face of the Kansas City area, James B. Nutter Sr. and Neal Patterson.

The podcast is free to download and comes ad-free. Consider subscribing and reviewing the show.


Jul 13, 2017

The Kansas City Star's Sam Mellinger talks about Kansas City's airport, and Dave Helling talks about Kansas City's baseball team in this Deep Background episode, "Trading Places."

Jul 5, 2017


A baby boomer, a Generation X-er and a Millennial walk into a podcast — and kick around whether everything in their lives really demands a new app or dongle.

This week’s edition of “Deep Background” tackles the notion when digital age innovations are worth the trouble. A smartphone, sure. A smart refrigerator, not so much. A learning thermostat? Maybe.

Star digital editors Leah Becerra and Jay Pilgreen sat in to share their thoughts on this week’s episode.

Give it a download and a listen, free and free of ads, and think about subscribing.


Jun 28, 2017

The Kansas City Star's Scott Canon, Kelsey Ryan, and Dave Helling discuss a recent database-drive story about salaries at Kansas City's City Hall. Why it matters to them -- and to you.

Jun 21, 2017

Glenn Rice of the Kansas City Star and Dave Helling of the Star's editorial board discuss changes and challenges for the Kansas City Police Department, including the search for a new chief, the unsettled Board of Police Commissioners, the high crime rate, and proposed body cameras.  All on Deep Background.

Jun 14, 2017


Lawmakers in Kansas ground through another marathon session this year, ultimately upending the supply side tax cuts that have defined much of Sam Brownback’s time as governor.

They battled, as well, to sort out school financing, heading home still unsure whether they’ve got the distribution formula and the funding behind in a shape that the courts will let stand.

Legislators also imposed new regulations on amusement park rides after the death of one lawmaker’s son at the Schlitterbahn water park in Kansas City, Kan.



Hunter Woodall, the Star’s Topeka correspondent, and political writer Bryan Lowry sat in on the “Deep Background” podcast to unspool what happened in the Kansas capital this year, and what might yet come if Brownback vetoes key legislation.



Jun 7, 2017

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, dark money, presidential ambitions -- and the special session.  Join Jason Hancock and Dave Helling of The Kansas City Star as they discuss these topics and more on Deep Background.

May 31, 2017


Higher education reporter Mara Williams talks regional college campuses and their turmoil, in higher education broadly and the particular stories developing at the universities of Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State.


May 24, 2017

The Kansas City Star's Mark Davis and Dave Helling talk about the latest developments at Sprint, one of Kansas City's most important employers.

May 17, 2017


Obamacare. Ryancare. Trumpcare. Maybe McConnellcare to come.

The baffling world of modern American medicine, and the many obstacles that stand between patient and doctor, explain part of the reason the country struggles to find a political consensus on government’s role in delivering health insurance.

Star health reporter Andy Marso has a wealth of knowledge about innovations in health care and the complicated system of health insurance that determines who gets coverage and how.

He joined the Star’s “Deep Background” podcast to talk about some issues in the field, from political efforts to rework the Affordable Care act to phone apps that could cure a fever.


May 10, 2017

Lynn Horsley, Steve Vockrodt, and Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star discuss the growing push for an airport vote in November.  How will politicians, the business community -- and most importantly, the public -- respond?  It's all on Deep Background.

May 3, 2017


Militia, sovereign citizens, Freemen movements came before. Now the alt-right ascends, says Star reporter Judy L. Thomas in a podcast.


Apr 26, 2017

TextEditorMembers of the Star’s editorial board, who’d argued for giving President Donald Trump, weigh in on his White House tenure as he nears 100 days in the Oval Office.

Apr 19, 2017

 Details of a death of a detainee at the Jackson County Jail have raised new questions about management of the facility -- and whether taxpayers will soon need to consider expanding jail space.  The Star's Mike Hendricks and Dave Helling of the Star's editorial board discuss the newest revelations, and plans to address the jail's problems, in the Deep Background podcast.

Apr 12, 2017


Worries about how technology changes our lives are creeping into our culture. Books, TVs and movies continue to reflect society’s love with, and nervousness about, how technology is changing the world. Three Star reporters discuss art’s themes on technology.


Apr 5, 2017

TextEditorFood and beverage writer Sarah Gish talks about IPAs, stouts and sours in summing up the vibrant Kansas City beer scene.

Mar 29, 2017

Kansas City voters will decide whether to spend $800 million in the coming decades to fix infrastructure, mitigate flooding, replace an animal shelter and comply with federal rules on disability accommodation. They'll also decide whether to eliminate potential jail sentences for municipal charges on marijuana possession.

Mar 22, 2017

Jason Hancock, Bryan Lowry, and Dave Helling dissect the first half of the Missouri legislative session and the first two months of Eric Greitens' term as governor.

Mar 15, 2017

The Kansas City Star's Melinda Hennenberger recently traveled to central Africa, and discusses the ongoing humanitarian and political crisis that is costing hundreds of thousands of lives.  Dave Helling of the Star is part of the discussion.

Mar 8, 2017

Dave Helling, Blair Kerkhoff, and Steve Vockrodt of The Kansas City Star discuss the Big 12 men's basketball tournament in downtown Kansas City -- why it's here, why it might stay here, and who might win.  

Mar 1, 2017

TextEditorStar reporter Mike Hendricks talks about his work documenting the high risk firefighters face from cancer and the uphill battle they and their beneficiaries must overcome to prove their jobs made them sick.

Feb 21, 2017

TextEditorKansas City Star reporter Maria Torres talks about work she did with columnist Vahe Gregorian and photographer/videographer Jill Toyoshiba to piece together the story of the events that led to Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura driving through a guardrail to his death in his native Dominican Republic.

Feb 15, 2017

Aaron Deacon of KC Digital Drive joins the podcast to talk about what impact Google Fiber has had on Kansas City, it's internet connectivity and tech innovation.

Feb 8, 2017

Bryan Lowry, the new lead political reporter for the Star, joins the Deep Background podcast to talk about Gov. Sam Brownback and the Kansas Legislature's efforts to find a way out of a budget hole. Then the conversation turns to Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and his unconventional approach to governing.

Feb 1, 2017

Dave Helling, Colleen McCain Nelson, and Melinda Hennenberger of The Kansas City Star's editorial board discuss the eventful first ten days of President Donald Trump's administration. It's time to take him literally.

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