Luke X. Martin | KBIA

Luke X. Martin

Luke X. Martin is an assistant producer for KCUR's Up To Date.

Born in Manhattan, Kansas, and raised in Wichita, Luke fell in love with public radio listening to KMUW. He got his start pulling early morning DJ shifts at KJHK in Lawrence while he was a student at KU.

Luke was previously an intern for Up To Date, and joined the team as a producer in 2016. His work has appeared online for UPI.com, The Daily Caller, Politics Daily and The Pitch.

He has a Master of Science degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. If you see him limping along a running trail in Kansas City or the suburbs, please offer him a drink of water or a high-five.

Segment 1: A NASA Hall-of-Famer discusses the Apollo 11 mission.

Five decades after witnessing the first man step on the moon, Lynn Bondurant shared his deep knowledge of the monumental mission to explain what it took to fly three men the 238,900 miles to Earth's most notable satellite — and back!

Segment 1: Finding affordable housing in the suburbs can be a challenge.

Gladstone, Missouri, plays host this weekend to a summit aimed at exchanging ideas and solutions to affordable housing problems in first-ring suburbs. Cities around the country are attacking the issue proactively, and some of what they've learned could help ease things in the Kansas City region. 

During a week when President Donald Trump continued attacks on four members of Congress after tweeting that they should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came," people of color in Kansas City are reacting with anger, frustration and sadness.

One emotion that's less common is surprise.

Segment 1: A "dark store theory" update

The Kansas Board of Tax Appeals handed Johnson County a defeat last month when they ruled the county has overcharged some Walmart stores millions of dollars in property taxes. The decision is based on something called the "dark store theory," and it could put homeowners on the hook for making up the county's lost revenue.

Segment 1: Educators see more vaping in schools, and researchers are beginning to understand how e-cigarettes affect lungs

Segment 1: Where a new mother lives often affects her ability to find treatment

Postpartum depression affects women of all demographics, but those in rural areas are particularly unable to take advantage of certain treatment options. Kansas City medical professionals reviewed some of the resources available in the region and discussed the challenges of connecting those to the mothers who most need them.

Segment 1: American patriotism through the years

Some things never change, like the American need to blow things up on Independence Day. Not as predictable is our collective definition of patriotism. The concept has sustained the country's 243 years, but does it mean the same thing today as it did during the 1770s, 1870s or 1970s?

One might think the end of her first legislative session as Kansas governor would give Laura Kelly some relief.

"Oh, not much," she said. "We've been extraordinarily busy."

They may have each spent only a single session in their respective statehouses, but Kansas Rep. Rui Xu and Missouri Rep. Matt Sain have already learned some important lessons about how state government works, why it sometimes doesn't, and what their responsibilities are to the people back home.

Those lessons are colored by the fact that both lawmakers are in the minority party (Sain is in the superminority), but they're still worth paying attention to. Politics is cyclical, after all, and today's legislative rules will affect the way future politicians do their jobs.

Wyandotte Country District Attorney Mark Dupree is on the lookout for folks with criminal records. He wants to talk with them about the possibility of wiping clean that history and giving them a new chance.

Starting on Wednesday and continuing every Wednesday until August 14, his office is hosting expungement fairs at Kansas City Kansas Community College Technical Education Center as part of an effort to be what Dupree calls "smart on crime."

Segment 1: An American tradition revived.

In their first iteration, victory gardens provided much needed food for Americans at home and abroad fighting World War I. Now the victory garden concept can be seen in community gardens helping social organizations and food pantries, which often struggle to stock and distribute fresh fruits and vegetables.

New high-rises are going up downtown, the streetcar is helping revitalize parts of Midtown, and a new airport terminal will eventually welcome visitors. All good news, yet violent crime remains a concern, Kansas City’s building boom stops at Prospect Avenue, and gentrification threatens to displace residents elsewhere. Addressing those concerns and others will be the next mayor's job.

It's news no family wants to get — that a loved one who was serving in the military has died. But with more than 30,000 Marines deployed around the world and 183,000 on active duty, casualties are inevitable. The Marines who deliver that news are called Casualty Assistance Calls Officers.

It's a duty that comes with a host of emotions, though the role requires the utmost emotional control. Gunnery Sgt. Roger Ruiz, who is based at a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve regiment in Kansas City, Missouri, considers it an honor.

Segment 1: 4th District candidates for Kansas City Council.

Kansas City firefighter Geoff Jolley and co-founder of BikeWalkKC Eric Bunch are competing for the 4th District City Council seat vacated by mayoral candidate Jolie Justus. Both look to make the city safer and more responsive to residents, but the top priorities for the 4-year term look different for each.

After years of complaints from customers, rising costs and declining service from contractors, the Kansas City Council voted to ditch the contractors and have city crews do weekly trash pick-ups throughout the city.

City council initially met the plan with skepticism, questioning how much money it would save the city, but they eventually passed the measure unanimously.

Michael Shaw, the city's Solid Waste Division director says he, too, is confident in the cost-savings estimates.

Segment 1: New data analysis of Kansas City's public school environment.

A new analysis shows public and charter schools in Kansas City are more segregated, more expensive to operate, and more complicated than they were 20 years ago. We talked with two officials behind the report about these issues and others, and discussed possible solutions. 

"Mentoring should be transformational," says Henry Wash, "like a metamorphosis."

It certainly has been for Wash, who runs the nonprofit High Aspirations, a mentorship program that focuses on African American males between 8 and 18 years of age.

Wash has benefitted from two of Kansas City's most generous mentors, who passed down lessons he still uses in his work.

When George Kessler drafted plans in 1893 for a parks and boulevard system in Kansas City, he created a model for cities throughout the world. From Mexico City to Denver and Indianapolis, Kessler had a hand in hundreds of projects.

Inasmuch as Detroit relied on automobiles, or Pittsburgh on steel, Kansas City once relied on a meatpacking industry that, in turn, depended on a multi-ethnic, low-wage, but organized labor force.

Kansas City recyclers take heart, for now.

Despite reports that some waste companies in the U.S. are burning recycled paper and plastic or sending it to landfills, processors in the metro are still finding ways to market recycled material.

Water is still on the mind of many Missourians right about now. As floodwaters crept their way down the Missouri River in recent weeks, questions outnumbered answers about how to best control future inundations.

Despite rain showers that delayed the start of the game by two hours, thousands of baseball fans turned out at Kauffman Stadium for Opening Day of the Kansas City Royals' 2019 season.

It was the first opportunity for fans to see this year's team in action, but Royals staff have been preparing for months.

"As soon as one season ends," says Nicole Averso, "we're getting ready for the next."

Segment 1: Journalists discuss the Kansas City mayor's race, legislative sessions in Jefferson City and Topeka, and politics in Washington. 

In one week, Kansas City voters will narrow the field of mayoral candidates from 11 to two. Today, our political panel discusses issues on the April 2 ballot in Kansas City, Missouri, and the latest happenings in Missouri, Kansas and Washington politics.

You might not know it from looking at her business card, but MacKenzie Mallon is a detective of sorts.

Mallon is The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art's specialist in provenance, which means she researches the records of ownership for works in the museum's collection.

A little more than a week after 10 longtime journalists took their leave from the Kansas City Star in what was seen by some people as a blow to local journalism, former police and courts reporter Tony Rizzo was enjoying his new-found free time.

Whether it's corn, wheat or soybean, Kansas grows it. And given the importance of those crops to the United States economy, people who live in cities might be forgiven for thinking the Sunflower State's farmers have it made.

Paul Johnson, an organic farmer in Jefferson County, just northeast of Topeka, and a policy analyst for the Kansas Rural Center, says the situation in farmland is much more dire than most people know.

Why aren't people more panicked about climate change? Bob Berkebile thinks it has something to do with the complicated nature of the threat.

"We're talking about climate change, and specifically global warming, when it's frozen outside today," Berkebile says, citing the infamous and incorrect claim that winter weather is evidence against climate change. "It's not clear to (people) what the facts are, and it's time to change that."

For Michael Watson, playing pro basketball was like being in an entirely different world from the one he grew up in, shooting hoops at Kansas City's Central High School.

"Everything is done at the highest level of excellence — from the GMs down to the players to the managers and the coaches and the staff — everything is done 100 percent and at the top of what you can get," he says. "That's what you dream about doing."

When Uhunoma Amayo found out his science experiment was one of just 34 selected to be carried out this spring on the International Space Station, he was shocked.

"They pulled me out of class," says Amayo, a seventh-grader at Coronado Middle School in Kansas City, Kansas. "I was dumbfounded."

Amayo is one of four students at Coronado who designed the experiment, which will explore whether mint grows as well in orbit as it does here on earth.

Tara Raghuveer wants to raise the alarm.

"The national housing crisis has not skipped over Kansas City," she says. "Half the people in this city are tenants and many of them have issues with their housing."

Raghuveer is the woman behind the Kansas City Eviction Project, which has analyzed 18 years of eviction filings in Jackson County.

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