Hearne: Star Politcal Writer Steve Kraske Heading for the Exit Door

kraske_smHere we go again…

Last one out the door, turn out the lights. Kansas City Star lead political writer Steve Kraske is outward bound. As in, bailing from the rocky realm of print journalism for the far calmer seas of UMKC.

Check it:


Steve Kraske, our longtime political guru, has decided to leave his full-time role at The Star so he can teach journalism as an associate professor at UMKC.

With this change, Steve will continue as a part-time member of our staff, writing his Saturday column and contributing to the The Buzz blog he co-authors with Dave Helling. He also will be available to us to provide expertise and, at times, reporting on political topics near and far.

Steve is a franchise player for us, and his contributions to our success over the years have been vast and varied. Even better, he’s a terrific ambassador of The Star and a deeply respected member of our team.

We wish Steve all the best in his new adventure and look forward to our continued relationship.”

So why would Kraske walk away from a healthy (for print journalism) paycheck for a far smaller one?

Trust me, it’s not like he’s in the chips, and unless I’m missing something the part time KCUR money is not going to come close to keeping Chez Kraske in Westwood afloat.

And at a rate of $100 to $300 a pop – unless something else is negotiated – freelancing for the Star is hardly a lucrative venture.

So there are two things at play here, at least on the surface.

During the time in which the decision 008First, Kraske wanted out.

There’s not a soul (still) alive at 18th and Grand that doesn’t lament their sad state of affairs and unpleasant work atmosphere. Especially veteran reporters like Steve who experienced the way things were in “the good old days.”

It’s just not a very fun place to work anymore, almost all agree.

And trust me, Steve had it good.

I hesitate to say he had a cushy job, but outside of specific news events and election seasons, Kraske’s work pace was a fairly calm one. That’s why he was able to devote so much time to doing five radio shows a week at KCUR. And Steve played it pretty conservatively, he wasn’t out there on the cutting edge or anywhere close in his political reporting and commentary.

jopoSecond, the Star did not want to lose Kraske. 

That’s clear from editor Greg Farmer‘s whimpy, submissive farewell memo to the newsroom above.

It almost reads like a missive to some guy’s wife or girlfriend who just dumped him, making clear that the door would always be open to future conjugal visits or whatever – don’t be a stranger, we still care.

You may recall the same thing went down when sports scribe Joe Posnanski bailed four years back. Remember that headline?

Posnanski to Sports Illustrated: Going … but not really leaving

I dunno, last time I checked Joe actually did leave.

My hunch is that Steve plans to join a long list of Kansas Citians – refugees from other industries in difficult straits – who quilt together their existences via several small paychecks as opposed to one big one.

Take KCC movie guy Jack Poessiger.

At one point Poessiger was a highly paid movie biz executive with a company that went bye-bye. But by the time I met Jack in the early 1990s he was a freelance marketing guy, a part time travel agent and a radio movie reviewer. He still is.

Kraske will likely get a far smaller check from UMKC for teaching young people how to get jobs in a low paying biz with a highly uncertain future. And another from KCUR for batting for the ghost of Walt Bodine. And a third from the Star for allowing the newspaper to retain the semblance of having an experienced political correspondent until they can find somebody younger and cheaper.

And that’s kind of the way the cookie crumbles these days at the Kansas City Star.

This entry was posted in Hearne_Christopher. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Hearne: Star Politcal Writer Steve Kraske Heading for the Exit Door

  1. paulwilsonkc says:

    “So why would Kraske walk away from a healthy (for print journalism) paycheck for a far smaller one?”

    One, he’s smart enough to know the only light at the end of the tunnel was a layoff, not the KC Star train wanting to take him on an even better journey.

    Second, in the words of my grandfather, “there are times when $50,000 forever is better deal than $100,000 for a day.”

    And third, maybe he’s like a lot of us who have had a long, enjoyable, successful career and think it’s time to change gears to take on a new form of enjoyment.

    It’s not always about the money, and his was short lived from here forward, if he stayed in place. I say congrats to him.

    • Orphan of the Road says:

      Being in a toxic environment would wear Jesus out.

      I only know Kraske by his vanilla writing. He could be tired of writing what people want him to write and want to express his thoughts.

      Or maybe he wants to hit that 401k before the next bankruptcy?

      Or maybe he is going to do PR for the Right-Reverend Councilman?

  2. Kevin Albert says:

    Likes rats on a sinking ship! “teaching journalism”…theres something left to teach?

    • Orphan of the Road says:

      A great many professors and instructors in journalism have never published anything nor worked in the field other than teaching.

      Professor Hayes asked us why we were pursuing a degree in journalism. Political Science, English, History were all better for getting a job in the industry. He told us you could learn everything you learn in school in six-months on the job.

      Of course there were real jobs paying real money back then too.

  3. Drinky McDrinkerson says:

    There’s a lack of leadership at The Star and an utter lack of direction in the newsroom unless you’re looking for directions to the nearest watering hole. He can help you there.

  4. JayhawkTony says:

    I find it hard to believe (but not out of the realm of possibility, considering it is UMKC) that he is starting out as an “associate professor”…To my knowledge, Kraske doesn’t have a master’s degree, and most colleges/universities require their full-time faculty to have at least a master’s, especially for the rank of “professor” or “associate professor”. Without a master’s, most would only give the full-time faculty member the rank of “instructor” or “lecturer” and some might give the “assistant professor” rank…

    As for his pay, I seriously doubt he is hurting too much, assuming he took a pay cut…If he really is at the “associate professor” level, I can tell you that he’s making at least $60,000, and probably $10-$20K more. At two KC area private colleges I’m familiar, starting salaries at the “associate professor” level are at $60K, and most faculty at the same level at public institutions in the Midwest make anywhere between 10 and 25 percent more.

  5. Jerry LaMartina says:

    Steve’s that rare breed of talent and kindness that makes him so valuable. Another big hit to the star.

    Who will step in?

    • John Altevogt says:

      “Who will step in?” Good question. Helling has potential, but also a habit of joining in when the Star piles on some poor unfortunate and indeed leading some of the lynching parties. Brad Cooper is a slug with a reputation of being owned by the sleaze wing of the Yohnson County mods. Judy Thomas is also a little on the vicious side and has a bad reputation with conservatives and people of faith, particularly Catholics. So there’s not anyone currently doing politics that can replace his institutional memory and contact book. The guy who writes their energy stuff is awesome, but who knows if he wants to sully himself doing PR work for The Star’s political masters.

  6. mark smith says:

    I don’t read the star, never read kraske or it wasn’t memorable if I did. I do know him from his public radio program. If his writing is anything like his swollen of a radio program, then his future lies in slow pitch. The guy throws more softballs than a lesbian pitcher. He has had cleaver and mccaskill on several times, not once did he ever ask hard questions about their scandals or policy failures. He is a journalist like glazer is a scribe. It’s a term used in derision.., not to be taken seriously.

    • mark smith says:

      Swill not swollen, auto correct sucks.

    • Orphan of the Road says:

      I demand you stop insulting lesbian softball teams. I’ve seen the Queen and Her Court whiff a lot of men in fast pitch.

      You might say a Prius or Fiat sofball team and even then you are on thin ice.

      Perhaps whiffle ball?

    • John Altevogt says:

      There is some truth to that, but one of Kraske’s charms is that he didn’t tend to join in The Star’s usual hateschrifts. One could count on him to give a fair rendition of what was conveyed to him and not be savaged in the process.

      • Orphan of the Road says:

        Nothing wrong in holding on to a paycheck and being dullish.

        There is a big tendency at The Star to p*ss in the cornflakes and wonder why no one wants to have breakfast with them.

      • HATE WATCH says:

        Why John you didn’t toss in a reference to Stalinist Miriam Pepper! You’re slipping.

        1959 called. They said “c’mon back anytime.”

        Also Paul Mirecki says “hi.”

        • John Altevogt says:

          I wasn’t aware that Miriam Pepper did anything. I think you’re thinking of Yael Abouhalkah and Derek Donovan. And by all means tell Paul I said “Hello”. Is he still the faculty adviser for that batch that thought there were too many black people and hated Jews and Catholics?

  7. That sad story kinda makes a J-School grad want to go to law school or something.

  8. Pingback: Steve Kraske leaves KC Star | MediaKC

  9. Rick Nichols says:

    I really dislike Mr. Farmer’s use of the phrase “franchise player” in describing Mr. Kraske. Enough of this corporate crap! You’re not running a ball team down there, Ms. Parrish and Mr. Fannin (the paper’s former sports editor), you’re running a daily paper with a rich history in a major U.S. city on the strength of the skills of many people (though not nearly as many as there used to be), all of whom should be valued as the unique individuals they are (that possibly wasn’t the case with the late Mr. Manley, however) and yet none of whom should be considered irreplaceable. “Franchise player”. Give me a break! Go work for the Chiefs, Mr. Farmer!

  10. CG says:

    Steve is not only a talent but a nice person. I have done his radio show several times as did my father, Stan, Steve was always very pleasant to work with, will miss him at the Star. I hope he continues to write special reports for the paper. In fact I am on his show tomorrow with Chris Kattan from Saturday Night Live and Night at The Roxbury…Kattan is at Stanfords this weekend, should be fun I think at 11 AM…ish.

  11. Rocky Pete says:

    Jealous much, Hearne?

  12. TigerJohn says:

    I’m a journalism grad and former star employee – 10 years. I’m going to nursing school. There’s life after the Star and it’s good. I’ll write journal articles if I want to practice my love of writing. A lot of us got out before we were shown the door, and I imagine that’s what Kraske is doing.

Comments are closed.