Jazz Hound Steve Paul Calls Kansas City Home

Erin Melrose

Senior editor for the Kansas City Star, Steve Paul graduated in 1974 as a communications major in radio, television and film.  Though he calls Kansas City home, Paul encourages future journalists to explore.

“People who want to be reporters should have a wide curiosity about the world outside their own head,” Paul said. “Spend some time in other departments: English, history, the sciences. Learn a foreign language or two, be curious, read widely and well, pay attention to what’s happening in the world, find a mentor.”

While a helpful mentor can be hard to find, Paul said he believes his advice on Twitter is useful (@sbpaul). Followers can stay up to date with occasional public talks on Hemingway, architecture and other topics.

Paul posts a plethora of Royals, restaurant and jazz links and articles related to all things Kansas City, which, according to Paul, is “a vibrant cultural scene, including the arts and writers.”

With a self-proclaimed Ernest Hemingway fascination, he studied the author’s work since 1998 and is considered a  Hemingway scholar.

“I hesitate to use the word scholar since I’m not attached to an academic institution, but I have written scholarly papers, participated in the biennial international conferences of the Ernest Hemingway society and I was also published in the Hemingway Review,” Paul said.

The scholarly journal is published twice each year and showcases the work of many authors.

“What it means to be a scholar, I think, is a deep interest in the details and discoveries that remain possible by studying a subject intensively and with a certain passion,” Paul said.  “I have had some great experiences at UMKC.”

After Henry W. Bloch gifted UMKC with $32 million toward the UMKC Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Paul immersed himself in the project.

“[I spent] an extended period watching and reporting on the construction of the Bloch building at the Nelson-Atkins, resulting in a three-part series and contributing to my self-education in architecture,” Paul said.

Paul’s experience includes many projects, one of his favorites involving the artwork of Georgia O’Keeffe.

“[It was] a year-long investigation into the art world, involving deception, fakery and the legacy of Georgia O’Keeffe,” Paul said.

In this series, Paul, along with fellow reporter Mike McGraw, discovered the lack of authenticity behind the $5 million phony Georgia O’Keeffe paintings hanging in Kansas City’s Kemper Museum.

Between Hemingway readings and investigations, Paul said he immerses himself in the harmonic tranquility of legends such as John Coltrane and Charles Mingus.  The self-proclaimed “jazz hound” was a classical DJ at KCUR-FM.

“That’s where I got some of my education in music,” Paul said.