Our annual list of all the people who make Kansas City a great place to live
Morning commutes are just not the same without a fresh cup of coffee and the soothing voice of NPR’s Michael Byars.
As the announcer—or self-proclaimed “time and weather guy” on KCUR’s Morning Edition, Byars has been a local radio personality for more than a decade, but it’s the things he does off the air that really make him a Kansas City staple.
Each semester, Byars and Gregg Todt, the music producer on 98.9 The Rock’s Johnny Dare Morning Show, speak with students in former KMBC meteorologist Joel Nichols’ radio and television class. Held at Johnson County Community College, they discuss their experiences in broadcasting and why they chose radio for a career. “I’d wanted to be in radio ever since high school,” Byars admits, “thanks to ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’ and my devotion to the late, lamented KY-102.”
Byars is a huge supporter of the local music scene. Aside from being a fixture at shows and a dear friend to many bands here, he volunteers for the Midwest Music Foundation, a nonprofit focused on helping musicians gain access to affordable healthcare.
“Fundraisers, benefits large and small, bands helping bands, the music community rallying around one of its own who is down and lifting that person up and letting that person know that we’re in this together…Kansas City gives a damn. Pure and simple. That’s my city. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” he says.
Chris Meck – Musicians following their dreams of a career doing what they love are often underemployed and uninsured. This became all too real for Meck and his wife, Abby Henderson, when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. The couple founded the Midwest Music Foundation (MMF) in response, to help empower and educate local musicians, promote their talents in the community and support their career development. MMF’s Abby’s Fund, which assists musicians with costs related to emergency medical situations, is named for Henderson, who passed away last year.
John McDonald – Boulevard Brewing Company helped put Kansas City on the map and launch the craft beer craze. Thanks to a merger with 130-year-old Belgian brewer Duvel Moortgat, the company McDonald founded is staying local while extending its reach to Europe, an accomplishment worth toasting.