Archive for January, 2012

Long-range transportation plan charts new course

In June 2010, MARC’s Board of Directors approved an aspiring new long-range transportation plan that guides how the Kansas City region will manage, operate and invest $18 billion in its transportation system over the next 30 years. Transportation Outlook 2040 responds to many pressures we are facing. How can we grow more efficiently, maintain a competitive economy and preserve the health of the environment, while enabling everyone to access opportunity?

The plan lays out a broad set of goals — from decreasing the use of fossil fuels and creating quality public spaces to taking care of existing transportation infrastructure. Central to Transportation Outlook 2040 is a new vision for how transportation investments will relate to land use in the future. It focuses development in activity centers connected by key transportation corridors that accommodate walkers, bicyclists and high-capacity transit in addition to cars. For the first time, the landmark plan also establishes performance measures that will help assess how the region is making progress toward its goals over time.

“This was, by far, the most extensive attempt to look into the future that we have ever done for the Kansas City region — not just within each of our individual communities,” said John Rod, planning and development manager for the city of Overland Park, and co-chair of MARC’s Technical Forecast Committee.

“As messy as it sometimes can become, the effort of identifying and discussing the factors that have and will likely influence our region’s growth will also help each of our communities to see where we might need to begin discussions that would help us achieve the future our community wants to see happen.”

MARC committees and staff worked with area planners, elected officials and residents to develop Transportation Outlook 2040, sparking the broadest range of participation yet in developing a long-range transportation plan for Greater Kansas City. The results reflect common themes of sustainable development found in local government comprehensive plans.

Mid-America Regional Council
2010 Annual Review

Wi-Fi on area buses helps riders work while commuting

Commuters often grumble about losing valuable time while they travel to and from work. Last year, Johnson County Transit conducted a pilot project to test wireless Internet performance on several of its buses. The Wi-Fi system enabled riders to use laptop computers and other wireless mobile devices to access the Internet for free. Riders appreciated being able to make more use of their commute time, which led the agency to install equipment and deploy Wi-Fi permanently on 15 of its buses — including ones that travel the K-10 Connector route between Overland Park and Lawrence.

Since August, riders on Wi-Fi-equipped buses have been able to use their wireless-enabled devices to surf the Web, check e-mail, and work while commuting at no charge, which is especially helpful on longer trips. Scott Caldwell, The JO’s technical services manager, said riders are overwhelmingly pleased with the amenity, and they are clamoring for Wi-Fi on more buses and with faster connections.

Jeff Arterburn from Overland Park rides the K-10 Connector from the University of Kansas – Edwards Campus to Lawrence once a week for graduate school. He chooses to take the bus because “it saves on my fuel and car wear and tear.” On those days, his combined commute to Lawrence and back lasts about an hour and 40 minutes. Sometimes he uses the Wi-Fi service to be more productive on his way to and from school, but more often he spends his commute catching up on sleep. Arteburn says the Wi-Fi service is pretty easy to use. “I think it is a good move,” he says of The JO’s newest passenger amenity.

Wi-Fi is currently provided through a partnership with Sprint Nextel Corp. and SinglePoint Communications. Buses equipped with Wi-Fi are identified by signs inside, and most rotate between The JO’s various routes to maintain vehicle wear and tear.

Outfitting an entire bus fleet with Wi-Fi is an expensive undertaking, but The JO is looking at advertising sponsorship as a model to cover the cost of deploying service on more buses in the future. Arterburn says he wouldn’t mind being exposed to more ads as long as they’re not obtrusive and the service doesn’t collect user information.

To access Wi-Fi on the bus, a rider must open an Internet browser on their laptop or wireless mobile device, which will detect the Wi-Fi source. Once the rider has accepted the terms of use, they can access any site by typing in a Web address directly into the Internet browser’s address bar.

The JO believes it is the first transit agency in the four-state area to offer this amenity to passengers, and it hopes it will help attract more riders. Metro buses operated by Kansas City Area Transportation Authority don’t offer Wi-Fi, though the agency is looking into ways to provide this at some point in the future.

For more information about how to use The JO’s onboard Wi-Fi service, and which buses offer it, visit http://www.thejo.com/riders/wifi.shtml.

KC Commuter e-newsletter
November/December 2010

The art of hosting a talk show: Walt Bodine’s 20 years with KCUR

Anyone who has tuned in to the Walt Bodine Show with regularity must feel as if they intimately know its host, the venerable Walt Bodine. With that unmistakably familiar voice and nearly six decades of work in broadcasting, it seems that Bodine has always reigned supreme as king of talk radio in Kansas City. This year marks Bodine’s 20th anniversary hosting the Walt Bodine Show at KCUR — his favorite paying job to date.

I’ve watched it grown and have grown alongside it,” says Bodine of KCUR. Bodine seems surprised at how much time has passed since he began working for KCUR. “All of a sudden I got a letter from the university saying I have a choice of a medal or a fancy clock,” he quips.

When it comes to hosting talk shows, few people have more experience to draw on than Walt Bodine, who was one of the first to make use of the live call-in radio show format in Kansas City. Before his KCUR days, Bodine hosting programs on KMBZ, WDAF, as well as the popular Night Beat show on WHB.

He has covered unusual pets, renowned politicians, where to find the more scrumptious chocolate malts in town, and everything in between — all of which helps account for his unflappable demeanor and quick humor.

So how does he keep the show fresh and relevant to local audiences day in and day out? Walt Bodine has a theory about that.

“A good talk show, if it wants to stick around, had better have variety — lots of it,” he insists.

At KCUR, Bodine has the luxury of being able to choose his guests and the freedom to roam over a vast body of ideas and subject matter that might strike a chord with listeners.

Many elements go into the blend of crafting a compelling talk show, not the least of which include controversy, timely guests and subjects, deep human interest, and a hearty dose of fun. Over the years, Bodine has come to the conclusion that some topics fare better on certain days of the week. For example, medical-related shows go over well on Mondays to match listeners’ sober mood, whereas Fridays are best devoted to things recreational in nature.

Bodine also firmly believes that everyday people often make more appealing interviews than head honchos of organizations or celebrities who are known to all and often over-interviewed.

“If I had my choice, I’d rather have a show which had nothing but strangers calling the whole time,” he says.

The Walt Bodine Show has garnered enough of a following around the country that traveling guests clamor to be on the program, sometimes even rerouting themselves through Kansas City for the opportunity. Bodine stresses that what makes the program distinctive is that, “We’re a talk show that treats people respectfully and enjoys their company.”

He’s into serious discussions with serious people, and that’s what the show attracts.

The host never wields the show as a forum for pushing a personal agenda, nor does he steer his guests in that direction. “There are guys in the world who have an opinion every single day on everything,” Bodine says. “And I have discovered that I am not one of those… In fact, I can’t tell you how many opinions I had that I’ve thrown out in favor of either no opinion or a different one.”

He invites guests and listeners to speak their minds and he clearly respects their viewpoints, which is what keeps people coming back.

A tactic frequently employed by the Walt Bodine Show is that of the listener line, which is when host and producer comb through the day’s newspapers and select major stories or topics they think will resonate with the audience. Amid discussion, listeners call in and voice their comments on the topics of the day.

Bodine is quick to point out the different between a listener line and an open line. “An open line goes on the theory that the host knows everything and you can bring up anything you want and the host will know about it, “he explains. “We don’t try to say we know everything about everything.” It is the observations that arise from commentary with Kansas Citians that make up the heart of the show.

The most rewarding thing for Walt Bodine about hosting a talk show is that he is seldom bored (and never jaded). “A talk show is wonderful because it’s a constant variety of people,” he explains.

After so many years in the business of radio, Bodine can sum up his profession in a sentence. “My main job is to try to extract interesting stuff from people.”

Ho hum indeed.

89.3 KCUR-FM 2003 Year in Review
The Art of Good Radio