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KPR airs comments, essays and book and movie reviews from a bevy of regular contributors. Those commentators include William Jennings Bryan Oleander (aka Tom Averill - Writer-in-Residence at Washburn University), Cheryl Unruh (columnist for the Emporia Gazette), Rex Buchanan (Interim Director of the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas) and John Richard Schrock (Emporia State University biology professor).

How Science Saved Us from Screwworm Flies

Typical screwworm fly, a parasite all but eradicated from the U.S. and Mexico, thanks to a couple of smart scientists. (Photo by USDA)

Screwworm flies used to be a deadly plague on cattle and other livestock in the United States and Mexico until a couple American scientists came up with a brilliant strategy to fight the parasitic insect.  As Commentator John Richard Schrock explains, it was science to the rescue once again.


Lawrencian Pens Work of Transgressive Fiction

Have you ever heard about a violent species of beings called "jellyheads?" You will, if you read a new work of "transgressive fiction," written by Lawrence author David Ohle (OH-lee). Commentator Roger Martin read Ohle's latest novel and recommends it... to readers who enjoy a taste for the strange and unusual.


Commentator Roger Martin is a writer and retired communicator for the University of Kansas.

David Ohle's new book is called The Old Reactor.

Roger Martin, David Ohle and Susan Brosseau edited Cows Are Freaky When They Look at You: An Oral History of the Kaw Valley Hemp Pickers.

KS Lawmakers May Fiddle with Judicial Selection

In January, Kansas lawmakers will return to Topeka for the start of a new legislative session. Their first order of business will be fixing a huge hole in the state budget. Of course, lawmakers will take up other issues as well -- and one of them could affect the way Kansas Supreme Court Justices are selected. Commentator William Jennings Bryan Oleander expects a renewed effort to change the current judicial selection process.

The comments of William Jennings Bryan Oleander, otherwise known as Tom Averill, Writer-in-Residence at Washburn University. Find this commentary - and others - on the KPR website.


KS Water Vision Plan Not Strong Enough?

(Flickr Photo by Eren Eris)

What's the future of water in Kansas? That's a big question. But the state of Kansas has been working on a 50-year plan to address this complex issue. The Kansas Water Office has been soliciting public input on its latest proposal and not everyone is pleased. Guest Commentator Julene Bair thinks the plan doesn't do enough to conserve water, especially out west, in the Ogallala (OH-guh-lah-lah) Aquifer.

Guest Commentator Julene Bair is a native Kansan and author of the book, The Ogallala Road: A Memoir of Love and Reckoning


The Kansas Water Office is taking public comments on its latest water plan through next Wednesday (October 15). Click this link to find where you can leave your comments


Kansas Water Plan Video.

Sunset Alert!

A Kansas sunset northwest of Lawrence. (Photo by J. Schafer)Of all the natural beauty that can be found in Kansas, perhaps the most spectacular vision is also the most elusive: sunsets. What we see in the evening on the western horizon is transitory, ever-changing. And we never know from one day to the next what we'll get. It could be gloriously grand... or modest and ordinary. Commentator Cheryl Unruh has seen her share of Kansas sunsets and encourages others to keep their eyes on the western skies.


Commentator Cheryl Unruh is a writer and author who lives in Emporia. Her latest book is titled "Waiting on the Sky."

You'll find more of her essays online, at





New Book Explores Kansas Fishes

Most fishermen can probably name at least a dozen different kinds of fish that can be found in Kansas waters. But few anglers can name a hundred of them. Now, a new book called Kansas Fishes not only identifies the 140-some different species of fish found in Kansas rivers, lakes and streams, it also includes detailed and colorful illustrations to go along with them. Commentator Rex Buchanan took a look at this new book, fished-around for something to say, and came up with this.


Commentator Rex Buchanan, recording a commentary, at the KPR studios.Our book review today comes from Commentator Rex Buchanan, the interim director of the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas. You'll find more musings from Rex on the KPR website at

More information on this book can be found at the University of Kansas Press website.


And here's even more information!



Kanza: The Forgotten Kansas Natives

The Native American people known as the Kanza Indians are mostly gone from Kansas. But here, in the state that bears their name, you can still find remnants of when the Kanza called this place home. The tribe lived here for generations before they were forced to move south into present-day Oklahoma. Commentator Rex Buchanan says a new book on the history of the Kanza provides insight into this group of people, about which most modern-day Kansans know so little.

Commentator Rex Buchanan is the interim director of the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas. He's also a frequent contributor to KPR's Morning Edition. You'll find more of his work on the KPR website.

The new book from Ron Parks is called: "The Darkest Period: The Kanza Indians and Their Last Homeland." It's available from the University of Oklahoma Press.



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