Laura Rice

Producer, Morning Edition

Laura joined the KUT team in April 2012. She works with Jennifer Stayton each weekday morning to bring you the latest local news during Morning Edition, hosts the noon newscast and reports for on-air and online. You'll also hear Laura with the morning news headlines on KUTX and filling in for Jennifer during the morning drive-time. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.

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From Texas Standard.

Austin Police returned a pretty special Gibson guitar this week. It was one of only three produced. Willie Nelson owns one, Dan Rather owns one, and now, Walt Wilkins has his back. Wilkins is a singer-songwriter based in the Texas Hill Country.

Via Pixabay.

From Texas Standard:

The U.S. Drought Monitor puts out a map every week that updates drought conditions in Texas. This week’s map looked mostly white – which indicates no drought at all – with some peach, orange and red in the center – indicating moderate to exceptional drought.

Last year at this time, only small parts of the state were in the clear. Two years ago, 99 percent of the state was in some level of drought.

From Texas Standard:

Mega-retailer Walmart has closed five stores across the country – two in Texas – for one reason:

“They came in and announced that they were going to close the store for at least six months due to extensive plumbing issues,” says Jim Wright, City Attorney of Livingston, Texas. 


From Texas Standard:

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded. Two days later, it crashed into the ocean. By mid-May, an underwater camera showed the broken pipe constantly gushing black liquid into the Gulf of Mexico.

As the oil spread, so did the panic. Crews tried several different methods to keep it from spreading across the Gulf and into sensitive ecosystems. Engineers tried everything from a containment dome to a “top kill” – sealing the pipe with cement. Nothing worked.

This story comes from Texas Standard.

Do anti high-speed rail efforts in the Texas legislature and in DC mean it’s an idea that’s going nowhere fast?

Aman Batheja is following the issue for the Texas Tribune.

On Who is Opposed to High-Speed Rail:

“The issue here is the rural communities between Dallas and Houston … The mayors of Dallas and Houston and a majority of the elected officials there strongly support the train project – they’re very strongly behind it. It’s the rural communities that are trying to figure out what’s in it for them.”

Simon Crow/Colchester 101 Magazine

This story comes from Texas Standard.

Steven Walker has thick-rimmed glasses and full beard. He’s wearing a pearl snap shirt with a Western pattern sewn on the pockets. He looks right at home in artsy East Austin.

“People are shocked when they come in and they see all these amazing American artists on the wall and then the guy in the beard and the cowboy shirt comes up to them and says, ‘yuh alright?’ (in a British accent). It is a bit weird for them I guess,” Walker says.

Walker’s journey to Texas wasn’t direct.

Via Pixabay.

This story comes from Texas Standard.

There’s a popular kids book by Beverly Cleary titled Ramona Quimby, Age 8. It’s the sixth book in the Ramona series. In it, the struggling pre-adolescent protagonist proclaims that the best part of third grade is the time when you can “drop everything and read.”

Well that sentiment’s not just for precocious book characters or little kids, either.

This Sunday marks the first ever Drop Everything and Read Texas Day or “DEAR Texas Day” – for those of us who like acronyms.

Megan Jo Olson for Texas Standard.

This story comes from Texas Standard.

At the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon, Texas Standard volunteer Megan Jo Olson approached a handful of women and asked them an uncomfortable question: “Have you experienced stress urinary incontinence?”

The answer from a lot of the women was, “Yes.”

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons user Jonathanmallard

This story comes from Texas Standard.

For about a century, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) were caretakers of the Alamo. The group rescued parts of it from being demolished and made efforts to carefully preserve its history.

But new Texas General Land Commissioner George P. Bush ended an arrangement with the DRT last month. Bush cited multiple issues – including the DRT’s failure to keep the Alamo operating without placing significant financial demands on his office.

That’s ignited a new battle over the Alamo.


This story comes from Texas Standard.

When someone says filmmaker brothers, who comes to mind? Likely, it's the Coen brothers. But it’s another set of filmmaker brothers that have really gotten the attention of critics and film festival attendees lately, and these guys have Texas ties.

David and Nathan Zellner were born in Colorado but now live in Austin. They’ve probably spent at least half of their careers fielding comments about the Coen brothers, but their latest film “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” sort of pays homage to them.

Laura Rice, Texas Standard

This story comes from Texas Standard.

The weather is warming up and kids across Texas are finding ways to stay cool as they play outside. One longtime favorite is a good old-fashioned water balloon fight. But a Texas man may have changed the game forever.

“Where I’m from in West Texas originally, it’s very hot and dry in the summers, and there’s very much a lack of things to do,” Kendall Harter says.

It's no shock that the increased tension in the Middle East has made it tough for Western journalists to cover stories there. That trek didn’t deter Austin Tice, a former Marine from Houston turned freelance journalist, who went to Syria to cover the ongoing civil war. Now, Tice finds himself in trouble.

Via Pixabay

Texas has gotten used to topping lists about booming business and population growth. And while the headline of today’s Census Bureau data is all about Florida, don’t be fooled. Texas is still leading the way in a lot of areas.

“In a lot of cases, Texas leads a lot of the growth area statistics primarily because Texas itself is very, very large,” U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates Branch Chief Ben Bolender says.

Laura Rice/Texas Standard

About 60 percent of the water we use in Texas comes from aquifers – natural underground reservoirs that often aren’t easily replenished. In Hays County, aquifers have raised a critical question: Who has the right to draw from the Trinity Aquifer, how much they can draw – and can anyone stop them?

A private company based out of Houston – Electro Purification (EP) – plans to pump groundwater from around the city of Wimberley and pipe it to other thirsty communities. EP has contracts to pipe more than 5 million gallons of water a day from this part of the Trinity Aquifer through the year 2036.

Bernardo Ruiz

This story comes from Texas Standard.

A documentary at SXSW – “Kingdom of Shadows” – forces us to look at the ongoing violence south of the Texas-Mexico border.

The film is told through three people – a Mexican nun working to find answers about tens of thousands of disappearances, a U.S. drug enforcement agent and a former Texas drug smuggler. Bernardo Ruiz directed the film.

The Jones Family Singers is made up in part of five sisters, two brothers and their father. The gospel music band is based in Bay City, Texas – outside of Houston.

For the last several decades, the Jones Family Singers have been touring churches and winning singing competitions. But it wasn’t until recently that the group started getting some real attention.

That’s thanks in major part to music critic Michael Corcoran. Austin-based Arts and Labor produced an album last year. And now, their story is being told in a film getting its world premiere at South by Southwest: The Jones Family Will Make a Way.

Cody Rea for Texas Standard.

From Texas Standard:

The SXSW Film Conference marks a sort of homecoming for MacArthur genius and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer.

Oppenheimer’s 2012 film, The Act of Killing, looks at how the perpetrators of Indonesia’s military coup cope with their past. His new documentary, The Look of Silence, follows victims of the coup and how they continue to live alongside the people who killed their family members.

Cody Rea for Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Robert Rodriguez is one of Texas’ most high-profile contemporary filmmakers — best known for Sin City, Spy Kids and From Dusk Till Dawn among other films. So, why has he set up a temporary art museum in Austin?

Rodriguez has taken over a space near the Capitol and has lined the exposed brick walls with framed work by fantasy artist Frank Frazetta.

Rodriguez says when he was a kid growing up in San Antonio, he devoured Frazetta’s work – which showed up on the covers of comic books and paperbacks including "Conan the Barbarian," "Tarzan" and "The Death Dealer." Some of the art in the downtown space once even hung on his bedroom wall.

Micah Magee, Petting Zoo

Filmmaker Micah Magee has been all over the world – but just wanted to capture the Lone Star State in her SXSW Film "Petting Zoo."

Micah Magee directed "Petting Zoo." It's making its North American premiere at SXSW.

"When I was in film school in Berlin I’d go like sit in the cactus section at the biological gardens because I missed the way it smelled so much and you can’t really get smells to be in a film," Magee says. "So I had to find the ways to have that feeling of really being there that I really missed so much. I wanted to like transport that to everywhere else in the world where the film could and, hopefully, would go."

South by Southwest is the biggest conference of its kind in Texas. It draws in tens of thousands of people and has an economic impact of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Janet Pierson heads up SXSW Film, which is screening 150 films this year – the most ever.

“We actually really wanted to show fewer films. The last couple of years we had settled on about 130-133 features – down from 140 – and we wanted to actually pull it down to about 125, and then there was just too much work that was interesting,” Pierson says.