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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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.

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 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 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.

Jan 18, 2017

Kansas Capitol correspondent Hunter talks about the way forward for a state with budget problems and Gov. Sam Brownback's final stretch in public office. Then Diane Stafford chats about how your workplace, job, and job security are changing in an Uber-influenced world of the gig economy. The latest "Deep Background" podcast from The Kansas City Star.

Jan 11, 2017

The Consumer Electronics Show, Kansas City's own tech scene and the balance between gadgetry convenience and privacy mark the latest Deep Background podcast conversation with Leah Becerra, Jay Pilgreen and Scott Canon of The Kansas City Star.

Jan 4, 2017

Kansas City Star reporters Dave Helling, Scott Canon, and Rick Montgomery move past the scorched earth of 2016 to take a look at trends and stories we'll see in the coming year.

Dec 20, 2016

Kansas City Star reporters Donna McGuire and Glenn E. Rice talk about the troubled Crimes Against Children unit of the Kansas City Police Department. New detectives man the operation now, but others who worked cases of child assault and rape in recent years have come under investigation, and criticism from prosecutors, for sloppy work that's jeopardized criminal cases and left children vulnerable to attack by predators. 

Dec 13, 2016

Kansas City Star reporter Mike Hendricks joins Dave Helling to discuss the subject of an extensive Star investigation into firefighter deaths.  Many such deaths might be prevented, the reporters found, but for a variety of reasons best practices aren't always followed.

Oct 27, 2016

Kansas City Star reporters Dave Helling and Scott Canon and Steve Kraske of the Star and KCUR discuss the issue questions on the November ballot, plus late-breaking analysis of the Yoder-Sidie race in Kansas and more.

Oct 13, 2016

Kansas City Star reporters Dave Helling and KCUR's Steve Kraske examine the impact Donald Trump has had on other elections, including the Missouri Senate race and the Third District in Kansas.

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