Astra Audio: A morbid playlist of unrelated audio stories


Audio Astra reviews recent audio reports on Kansas news, including podcasts and radio reports. Eric Thomas heads the Kansas Scholastic Press Association and teaches visual journalism and photojournalism at the University of Kansas.

This week, three podcasts tackle the same topic in very different ways. The theme? How to find the cause of death.

Some of those deaths occurred over 150 years ago, while a podcast investigates a continuing wave of deaths that are increasing each year. And the victims range from 19th century travelers drawn to a medium to large swathes of 21st century America.

As my journalism professor said long ago, there is nothing more newsworthy than one person causing the death of another. That way, each of those episodes is important to the vital, though sometimes frightening, details that we learn.

Buried Truths and the Hyatt Regency Skywalks

Kansas Reflector Podcast, November 22, 2021

Rick Serrano, a former Kansas City Star reporter, discusses his book on the collapse of the Hyatt Regency footbridge in 1981. The book includes information from volumes of depositions read by Serrano and 240 interviews with people involved in the disaster.

Four decades have passed since the disaster that killed 114 people, the multitude of bureaucratic and construction errors is news to many in 2021 – caused by terrorism – in American history.

Serrano, who has since reported on both coasts of the United States, describes how the Star’s reporting at the time revealed that Kansas City home inspectors were not doing their job. Journalists followed inspectors who ignored their daily duties and falsified records by visiting pool halls, bars and their homes as they pretended to be working.

What is missing from the interview are some of the stories of the victims and survivors. With over 200 people injured in the collapse and given Serrano’s many interviews, I wondered how the collapse had led lives in unexpected ways. Because so many of the victims were middle-aged when they died (the collapse occurred during a popular and frequent jazz event), many families lived without mothers or fathers – or lived with relatives. or seriously injured spouses. Hearing some of these stories via the podcast would have shown more of Serrano’s research.

Serrano also explains how Hallmark Cards, the company that owns the building, paid claims to victims to settle civil lawsuits ahead of their court dates and compensate families more quickly. Serrano convincingly argues that this approach delayed the healing that would have occurred through public testimony and limited people’s understanding of what exactly happened during this disastrous moment that still resonates in Kansas City.

America’s pandemic drug overdose peak includes Kansas and Missouri

Up to date, November 21, 2021

Guest Sarah Evans, Director of International Harm Reduction Development for Open Society Foundations, and host Steve Kraske first detail the most recent chapter of the opioid epidemic in the United States, including a 24% increase in overdose deaths in Kansas in 2020. The trend has also accelerated nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The episode then turns to the search for “harm reduction services” – most of them long political plans for Kansas politicians who, Evans notes, will not sanction programs that provide care to someone. one who still uses drugs. Nonetheless, Evans suggests three avenues for stemming overdose deaths. One mitigation, naloxone, is a medical antidote that reverses the effects of an overdose and acts like a “Lazarus” drug by resuscitating potential overdose victims.

Evans also endorses methadone treatment, an intervention that does not require people to abstain from drugs to reduce their drug use. The Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services website lists the benefits of methadone treatment, saying, “Using commonly accepted criteria for medical interventions, several studies have also shown that MMT is extremely cost-effective.”

The last preventive option? Some treatment centers abroad allow the use of drugs under medical supervision to prevent overdoses. Although naloxone and methadone have at least some influence in every state, drug use under medical supervision is not legal in the United States. However, Evans says the scientific literature suggests it makes medical and political sense.

Returning to political reality in 2021, Evans acknowledges that lawmakers in the United States generally require drug users to abstain from drugs in order to receive public assistance. This naivety on the part of lawmakers – that we should wait until an addict is cured before offering help – will lead to an increase in the total number of overdoses each year, Evans says.

Owner of the Bloody Benders lands looking for clues to the serial murders in Kansas

Up to date, November 19, 2021

It’s the holiday season to uncover the family secrets around the table: the intimate story of your aunt and uncle’s divorce, the reason Grandpa sold the family business or the dark past of your family. ‘a distant cousin.

So that was for me this week while listening to the Up to Date podcast, where I learned a haunting story from Kansas’ past.

Max McCoy recently wrote in the Kansas Reflector about the Bloody Benders. If you’re anything like me, you didn’t know the notorious Benders, who are said to have murdered at least 11 people in a ploy that combined supernatural and blunt trauma and the Osage Trail.

Why raise Bender’s murderous family now? Bob Miller recently bought the land where the Bloody Benders lived and presumably killed. He explains during the interview how he hopes to call in academic experts to uncover clues as to how this family murdered travelers – and then got away with it.

Much like a bloated family tale (“Did Great Uncle Josiah Really Wrestle a Moose Every Thanksgiving?”), McCoy wonders aloud if the now-mythical Bloody Benders story could be “ruined” With the truth.

“I want to know from a journalistic point of view what happened to the Benders,” says McCoy. “But there’s a certain intrigue in not knowing what happened. It moves the story forward. It keeps the new generations of people interested in Kansas. The fact that we don’t know what happened. to the Benders is an integral part of popular culture in Kansas. I’m not saying I don’t want to know. But I’m afraid that will diminish the interest in this story a bit. On the other hand, it would be good to find out what happened to this family of mass killers. I will take the facts about folklore every time, but I would miss folklore over time.

What did we miss? E-mail [email protected] to tell us about a Kansas-based audio program that would be of interest to Audio Astra players.


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