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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SXSW 2014
12:33 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

WATCH: Gov. Rick Perry Talks Pot on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' in Austin

Jimmy Kimmel is broadcasting his late night show from Austin the week of South by Southwest.
youtube.com/JimmyKimmelLive

Governor Rick Perry appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night.

The talk show has relocated to Austin for the week of South by Southwest. Gov. Perry got a mix of cheers and boos when introduced. He hinted he may run again for president, saying “America is a great place for second chances.”

Perry and Kimmel also talked about efforts towards decriminalizing marijuana.

"For over a decade we’ve lowered the penalties," Perry told Kimmel. "We’re trying to be smart about it. You don’t want to ruin a kid’s life for having a joint.”

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SXSW 2014
6:30 am
Wed March 12, 2014

SXSW Traffic is Terrible. This Street Closure Map Might Help.

Update: Starting today, it’s going to get even tougher to get around downtown. That’s because the music portion of South by Southwest is now underway.

The City of Austin is closing off several exits from I-35 to downtown. Starting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday:

  • The I-35 NB and SB exits at  Cesar Chavez will be closed.
  • The I-35 SB exit at 8th Street will be closed.
  • The I-35 NB exit at 6th Street will be closed.

Original Story (March 6, 2014): SXSW provides a great opportunity for people to see bands, films and hobnob with bigwigs in the tech industry.

But road closures in downtown Austin may pose a problem for some travelers.

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SXSW 2014
8:48 am
Tue March 11, 2014

SXSW Filmmaker Spotlight: Finding El Chapo in 'The Legend of Shorty'

Authorities arrested Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman just over two weeks before the premiere of the documentary in which two filmmakers try to track him down.
"The Legend of Shorty"

In a film that premieres at SXSW Film, two filmmakers set out to do what authorities could not: find Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Authorities eventually did catch up with Guzman – just last month.

But directors Angus Macqueen and Guillermo Galdos were hot on his trail in their documentary “The Legend of Shorty."

KUT talked with Macqueen and journalist Anabel Hernandez about the film, El Chapo and what they say is the real danger in Mexico.

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SXSW 2014
11:48 am
Sun March 9, 2014

SXSW Filmmaker Spotlight: A Slacker Scam Artist Goes Too Far in 'Buzzard'

"Buzzard" features a character who feels at home in a devil mask.
Courtesy of Sob Noisse

Adam Minnick came to Austin from Michigan about nine years ago to work in the semiconductor field – after his photography plans did not take off.

"Buzzard" is his first step into the film world. A world he entered when an old college buddy asked him to be the director of photography in the feature film he was working on. "Buzzard" debuted at SXSW Film.

KUT talked with Minnick about the film and his unlikely path to filmmaking:

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SXSW 2014
3:58 pm
Sat March 8, 2014

SXSW Filmmaker Spotlight: The Summer of 1985 is Alive in 'Ping Pong Summer'

Susan Sarandon plays a "Miyagi-like" character in "Ping Pong Summer" – à la "Karate Kid."
Jess Pinkham

It’s the summer of 1985 – when teenagers carried boom boxes on their shoulders and poured pop rocks into soft drinks. For Austin-based writer/director Michael Tully – that summer is also all about table tennis – or ping pong.

“Ping Pong Summer” premiered at Sundance this year – and has been picked up for theatrical release. But before it hits movie houses, it hits SXSW Film.

Michael Tully talked with KUT about his film:

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SXSW 2014
10:03 am
Fri March 7, 2014

SXSW Film Preview: Trends, Ones to Watch And Avoiding Long Lines

Latham Smith, a tugboat captain who works for the oil industry, is featured in "The Great Invisible."
Courtesy of Participant Media

The annual South by Southwest film festival kicks off in Austin today. The 10-day fest features more than 89 world premieres and a total of 133 feature films. Janet Pierson heads SXSW Film. And it’s ultimately her job to weed through the thousands of submissions to come up with the slate of film offerings.

Janet Pierson stopped by KUT to talk about this year’s lineup.

On What Makes a Good SXSW Film:

"It's a total picture that we're looking for. You know, you look for a lot of things. Original voices is a big deal, something that surprises you, something that really works - that has a depth. We look for a transformational experience. We want to be moved somehow."

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SXSW
7:27 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Lady Gaga to Perform at SXSW (Update)

Flickr user Jason H. Smith, http://flic.kr/ps/2pqMoZ

Update: South by Southwest announced this morning that Lady Gaga will perform at this year's festival. She's set to take the stage Thursday, March 13. The City of Austin had originally denied a request to have Lady Gaga perform, citing concerns that the Doritos venue wasn't big enough.

So, SXSW is moving that venue for one night to the Stubb's Waller Creek Amphitheater at Eighth and Red River streets.

Click here for details on how to get tickets.

Here's @SXSW's announcement on Twitter:

Original Story (Feb. 26, 2014): The city of Austin is denying a request to have Lady Gaga perform in a downtown parking lot during South by Southwest.

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Politics
11:21 am
Wed March 5, 2014

On to November: The Winners in the 2014 Texas Primaries

Attorney General Greg Abbott delivers his primary acceptance speech in San Antonio.
David Martin Davies, TPR

The results are in for the 2014 Texas Primary Elections. We now know who most of the candidates will be in the November general election, but several statewide races are headed to a runoff on May 27.

We've compiled a list of the top vote earners for the major statewide and Travis County races. The percentage of votes received (as of this writing) is shown next to each candidate's name. Races with an asterisk are heading to a runoff.

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Primary Election Day
3:10 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

You Can Now Vote Until 9 p.m. in Travis County Primaries. Here's Where.

Primary voters can cast their ballot at any polling place with a "Vote Here" sign.
KUT News

Update: It's worth noting that ballots accepted from 7 to 9 p.m. will be provisional ballots. A press release from Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir has more: 

Pursuant to Texas election laws, ballots cast by individuals who arrive at a polling place after 7 p.m. but before the polls close, will be voted as provisional ballots.  Ballots cast provisionally are reviewed by a ballot board and will be accepted as long as the voter is otherwise qualified.  Votes casts by eligible voters during extended hours will be counted and included in the final tally, however, results from these ballots will not be included in this evening’s unofficial vote totals. 

“We appreciate the dedication and stamina of our election workers who will be working long into the night.” said DeBeauvoir.  “Elections wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of these steadfast and faithful citizens who conduct elections under extraordinary circumstances.” DeBeauvoir added.

Some observers are already discussing what effect those ballots could make – especially in one Travis County race. Jim Henson, director of UT-Austin's Texas Politics project, tweets "That ringing sound you hear? Calls from[Andy] Brown, [Sarah] Eckhardt to election lawyers." 

Update (2:40 p.m.): A judge has granted a request to keep Travis County polling places open an extra two hours tonight - until 9 p.m. - after icy weather caused voting officials to delay opening polls until 11am this morning.

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Weather
7:12 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Winter Storm Warning for Monday Evening, Tuesday Morning

While the National Weather Service is forecasting sleet and freezing rain, accumulation is not expected.
National Weather Service

The Austin area could see freezing rain and sleet tonight and tomorrow. There’s a Winter Storm Warning in effect from 8 p.m. on Monday until noon on Tuesday.

Many Texans may be cranking up their thermostats to fight the cold. But the operator of the state’s electric grid hopes people won’t turn the heat up higher than 68 degrees.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas – or ERCOT – is asking Texans to conserve so that there’s enough energy to meet the increased demand.

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Life & Arts
7:05 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Prodigies or Not: Menuhin Competition Inspires Young Austin Musicians

Parent Daniella Sideh says she finds music is a place where she can bond with her children and understand how they learn.
Laura Rice, KUT News

The best young violin players in the world are in Austin right now for the Menuhin Competition. It’s the first time the prestigious contest featuring players under 22 years old has been held in North America.

UT’s Butler School of Music is hosting the 10-day competition. And it’s a rare opportunity for aspiring young string players in the area to see what’s possible with a lot of hard work.

“It’s considered the Olympics of the violin. It’s also called the F1 of the violin," Butler School of Music Interim Director Glenn Richter says. “We’re getting an international and a national exposure and flair that is very special for Austin.”

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Special Coverage
6:28 am
Thu February 20, 2014

#GoneToGhana: A Trip in Tweets

Jessica Opare Saforo, left, is a popular radio presenter at Citi FM in Accra, Ghana. I spent a few days at the station during my trip to Ghana.
Laura Rice, KUT News

I spent two weeks in the West African country of Ghana in late January and early February. The trip was part of an exchange program through the International Center for Journalists and was sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

The goal of my journey was to learn about the media climate of an another country and to collect stories to share via KUT. Along the way, I tweeted.

Here's a look at the story my tweets tell:

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Education
12:46 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Austin Drivers Should Slow Down in School Zones Today Though Lights May Not Flash

City crews are working to program lights to flash today.
commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Lan56

Many area school kids are in class today despite the Presidents' Day holiday. They’re making up for a day missed due to winter weather.

City of Austin Transportation crews are working to manually re-program flashing school zone lights warning drivers to slow down. But only about one-sixth were ready before the start of school this morning.

“If a driver comes up to a school zone and they know that the school is in session and the flasher aren’t going, they should use that same level of caution, drive slower and be aware of students in the area," city spokesperson Samantha Park said.

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Special Coverage
1:03 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Gone to Ghana: Answering Your Questions

The American journalists visiting Ghana are (left to right) Zoe Fox with Mashable, KUT's Laura Rice and Gwendolyn Glenn with WYPR. Vivian Affoah (far right) is with the Ghana-based host organization Media Foundation for West Africa.
Radio XYZ

My two-week visit to Ghana has come to an end. I was in the West African country with a program through the U.S. State Department and the International Center for Journalists.

The exchange program brought journalists from Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya to the U.S. Then, a group of American journalists is visited those African countries. I'm grateful I was chosen to visit Ghana and in my short time there I learned much about the people and culture.

Along the way, I invited you to send me questions about things you'd like to know about Ghana. Here are the answers to a few of your questions:

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Special Coverage
9:06 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Gone to Ghana: Journalism's Not a Dirty Word

Citi FM Director of News Programming Bernard Avle (left) practices interviewing skills with a young journalist at a workshop.
Laura Rice for KUT.

The purpose of my journey to Ghana is to learn about the media industry and the daily lives of journalists. The exchange program I'm on through the International Center for Journalists also sent Ghanaian journalists to the United States. Three other countries (Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda) are also part of the exchange.

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Special Coverage
6:05 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Gone to Ghana: Stories Worth Exploring

For the most part, my journey so far to Ghana has been smooth sailing.
Laura Rice, KUT

As I begin my journey to Ghana, I'm thinking about the conversation topics I'm interested in broaching with my journalist hosts and the other Ghanaians I meet.

 As I mentioned in my first post, I'm most drawn to issues that connect Ghana with the U.S. and with Texas - but I also want to explore stories unique to this unique West African country.

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Life & Arts
6:00 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Austin PBS Series Showcases Texas, 'One Square Mile' at a Time

The Austin city limits sign on Highway 71. Austin is one of nine cities profiled in “One Square Mile: Texas,” a new series from KLRU Austin PBS.
One Square Mile: Texas

What does Texas look like one square mile at a time? That’s the question producers of a new series airing on PBS stations across the state are asking.

Texas is made up of more than 268,000 square miles. A new series produced by KLRU Austin PBS, “One Square Mile: Texas,” focuses on just nine of them – from the Texas Panhandle to the Gulf Coast and several places in between, including Austin.

The 26-minute documentaries follow eight to 10 people in each place: teachers, police officers, pastors and artists. And it does so with the requirement they all live or work within one square mile of each other.

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Special Coverage
12:53 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Gone to Ghana: KUT's Laura Rice Heads to West Africa With Journalism Program

Rice, left, with Ghanian journalist Lorrencia Nkrumah.
Bob Branson, KUT

KUT hosted a Ghanian journalist late last year as part of an exchange program through the International Center for Journalists. To complete the exchange, I'm heading to Ghana  for a couple of weeks.

While I'm there, I'll be meeting with journalists at a variety of media outlets, taking lots of pictures and gathering information on stories that are unique to Ghana as well as those that tie West Africa to the U.S. and, specifically, Texas!

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Education
12:39 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Only 15 Percent Pass English I Writing in Latest STAAR Tests

A sample English I writing question, released from the 2011 STAAR test.
Texas Education Agency

The English I writing exam is giving Texas students trouble.

According to the Texas Education Agency, only 15 percent of students who took the writing exam in December – part of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR test – passed. And most of those students were taking it for the second time.

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Transportation
1:22 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Blocking One of Austin's New Bus Lanes Could Cost You $500

MetroRapid's 60 foot articulated buses hold up to 100 people at a time.
Spencer Selvidge for KUT News

The Austin City Council is considering an ordinance that would set rules for the city’s new transit lanes.

Bus-only lanes for Capital Metro’s new MetroRapid service are on Guadalupe and Lavaca streets between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Cesar Chavez Street. Other vehicles are only allowed to use the lanes to make right turns.

The new ordinance would make it against the law to stop or park in the lanes. Currently that could be punished with a $25 dollar parking ticket – but the city wants to up that fine to as much as $500 dollars.

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