Ryan Famuliner

News Director

Ryan Famuliner joined KBIA in February 2011. Ryan previously worked as a general assignment reporter and videographer at WNDU-TV in South Bend, Ind. and as a reporter and anchor at the Missourinet radio network in Jefferson City, MO. He’s won national Sigma Delta Chi, Edward R. Murrow and PRNDI Awards for his reporting and editing work.

Ryan and his wife, Kelly, hail from the Kansas City and St. Louis areas, respectively, finding Columbia is a fantastic place to compromise. They spend an unhealthy amount of time at flea markets and junk shops, and watching Mizzou sports and Major League Baseball. They’re about a halfway through their MLB ballpark tour. 

Ways to Connect

In Columbia, more than 8 percent of the population is foreign-born, compared with just under 4 percent on average in the rest of Missouri. In Columbia Public Schools, there are 61 different languages spoken amongst the students in the English Language Learning programs. Today on Intersection we’re talking about mid-Missouri’s international communities. Why is Columbia more culturally diverse than other parts of the Midwest? What is life like in Columbia for people from around the world, and how does their presence affect the town as a whole?

KBIA's Intersection

It’s been nearly 150 years since the close of the US Civil War, but the effects, and some of the arguments, continue to be felt today. Two years ago, a petition allowing Texas to secede from the US received over 100,000 online signatures, and prompted a response from the White House. Here in Missouri, lawmakers last year pushed a bill to nullify all federal gun control laws in the state. It ultimately failed, but that hasn’t stopped legislators from introducing similar legislation in this session.

News coverage from the KBIA newsroom.

Jacob Fenston / KBIA

US Senator Roy Blunt hopes Missouri could be one of 8 states to try to make significant changes to how mental health issues are treated in clinical settings as part of a 2-year pilot program. But that program still needs to be approved by Congress, and it’s been lumped into a bill seeking to address looming cuts to Medicare payments to doctors.

News coverage from the KBIA newsroom.

News coverage from the KBIA newsroom.

The internet age has brought to us the ability to get large amounts of information, from across the globe, delivered to our fingertips within seconds. This access provides us with a powerful amount of interconnectedness, and information (not to mention entertainment!). But how should this access and interconnectedness be distributed? Should it be available to everyone equally, or should big companies - like Netflix and Amazon - be restricted because of the amount of data they are streaming? What does all of this mean for the economy, democracy and those of us just trying to stream movies at home?

In Missouri and across the nation, the process of executing criminals is becoming complicated. It’s one of our society’s most somber, and impactful, tasks. But how much do you know about the process? If you don’t know much about it, there may be a reason for that. Two of our colleagues at in public radio have investigated and found that the process is shrouded in secrecy. Meantime, four people have been executed in Missouri in as many months, after years of less frequent executions.

peter stiepleman
Columbia Public Schools

The Columbia Board of Education announced Friday that Dr. Peter Stiepleman will become superintendent of Columbia Public Schools effective July 1, 2014.

Columbia Board of Education President Christine King announced in a letter to district staff Tuesday the board has narrowed its search for candidates for superintendent to two people.

One is an internal candidate: Dr. Peter Stiepleman. Stiepleman is currently the assistant superintendent for elementary education for Columbia Public Schools. The other candidate is Dr. Dred Scott, deputy superintendent for the Independence School District.

Still from the film / Jaap Van Hoewijk

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

Ryan Murdock / Bronx Obama

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

The film Bronx Obama has the danger of becoming a novelty act – much like the subject of the film. Louis Ortiz was unemployed when someone at a bar in 2008 told them he looked a lot like that Senator, Barack Obama. When that Senator became President, Ortiz’s life changed.

Ortiz decides to try to turn his look into cash, and then into a career, at least while it lasts. The film Bronx Obama goes beyond the “gee whiz” aspect of Ortiz’s story. Director Ryan Murdock shows how Ortiz’s re-invention of himself affects his life, his family and his psyche.

Only one Missourian has ever been President of the United States, and Harry Truman used to keep a sign on his desk that read “The buck stops here.” 

Missouri School of Journalism

The dean of the University of Missouri School of Journalism plans to retire in August after 25 years at the helm of the school. In a press release Thursday, MU said Dean Mills is currently the longest serving dean on the campus.

“I think those two numbers 2 and 5, set together – explain a lot. 25 years is a very long time to be a dean, even at a wonderful place like this and I think it’s just time for somebody else to step in with some new and different ideas,” Mills said.

Chris Belcher
Kristofor Husted / KBIA

Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Chris Belcher announced his retirement plans in a letter to the Board of Education.

Belcher will retire effective June 30, 2014 and will take a job as a faculty member in the University of Missouri College of Education. Belcher says that role will allow him “to stay connected with CPS through leadership development.”

Sam Lin / KBIA

The Columbia City Council voted Monday night to increase the city’s renewable energy mandate. By 2018, Columbia Water and Light will now need to get 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources – up from 10 percent as spelled out in the renewable energy mandate passed by Columbia voters in 2004. The future goals were also increased to 25 percent by 2023 and 30 percent by 2029. The previous goal for 2023 was 15 percent and there was no goal set for 2029.

First Ward Councilmember Fred Schmidt was one of the councilmembers that voted to pass the change 5-2.

“The energy future and the environmental future calls for this – for doing something and I believe this is the right step. We don’t know what the future is going to hold, so we shoot for a multiplicity of sources,” Schmidt said.

Columbia College
File Photo / KBIA

Columbia College has named the two finalists in its search for its new President. One of them will fill the position that was vacated when Dr. Gerald Brouder retired in July after leading the college for 18 years.

The finalists are Scott Dalrymple – the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Excelsior College in Albany New York and Randall Hanna, Chancellor of the Florida College System, which comprises 28 community and state colleges in Florida.

Michael Kateman is executive director of alumni relations at Columbia College and is a member of the search committee that chose the finalists.

Kristofor Husted / KBIA

Mid-Missouri drivers are dealing with slippery roads Thursday after a winter storm that dumped two inches of snow in Columbia, according to the National Weather Service.

Across Mid-Missouri, as of 10:00am Thursday morning highways were listed as either covered or partly covered according to the Missouri Department of Transportation’s traveler information map. Check for the latest updates at this link.


As 2013 comes to a close, we’ve looked back on this year’s crop of Intersection shows as a way to get a grasp on the top stories of the year. We highlighted them in a special hour-long year-end show that you can listen to here:

But if you don’t have an hour to spare at the moment, here are some the bits and pieces.

Crime in Columbia, an effort to get more police officers, and why some of the officers we have now are unhappy

News coverage from the KBIA newsroom, including:

  • Missouri gets a $7.5 million grant to address low-achieving schools
  • Bipartisan opposition to a delay in funding for low income housing projects
  • Missouri's Attorney General warns of a scam related to the Target data breach
Tony Webster / Flickr

The Columbia Police Department says it will not charge the driver of a semi-truck that hit and killed a bicyclist on 1-70 in the early morning hours in October. Department spokesperson Captain Joe Bernhard says the driver’s statements and physical evidence at the scene suggest 36-year-old Ennis Patrick was riding his bike on the main traveled portion of the roadway, and there is no criminal offense on the part of the driver.

The investigation also looked into the department’s response to the accident: the remains stayed on the side of the highway for more than 8 hours before they were identified as human. Bernhard says two different officers drove by the scene shortly after the truck driver reported hitting something on the road, but both thought it was a deer that had been hit, and there was nothing on the roadway that needed to be cleared.

MU Hospital

The University of Missouri will use a federal grant to form a new research center for patient-centered outcomes.  

The researchers leading the project say the goal is to help doctors more easily navigate the complex web of health systems and providers, and come up with the best treatment options for patients based on their individual circumstances.

Ryan Famuliner

Jon Carney, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in St. Louis, says while drivers were experiencing patchy ice on the roads throughout the morning, that isn’t expected to last much longer.

At around noon, temperatures at the Columbia Regional Airport ticked above freezing, and Carney says in Columbia, he expects temperatures will stay above freezing until the sun starts to set Friday night. He says drivers can expect wet roads for the afternoon commute. He says the sleet and freezing rain should turn in to rain before 1:00pm, and then turn to snow in central Missouri between 5:00pm and 7:00pm.

News coverage from the KBIA newsroom, including:

  • Details on a clinical testing facility slated to open in Columbia in 2014
  • A Jefferson City man gets the death penalty for a 2009 murder
  • Two state legislators want the state education commissioner to resign
@moon_melanie / twitter

Many media and journalism-school types have been following the dustup over KPLR anchor/reporter Melanie Moon's behavior while covering the Ryan Ferguson press conference earlier this week right after his release from prison. Joy Mayer at the Columbia Missourian cataloged the exchange with Moon in this Storify, so you'll need to read that first for this piece to make much sense. As Mayer has pointed out, many news outlets and twitterers are focusing on the ethical conversation around Moon hugging Ryan Ferguson and his father Bill, and taking a photograph with Ryan at the press conference. This is an interesting conversation, and the area of journalism ethics is blurry sometimes. But the more important conversation to have here really is the area that is not blurry: one about good, responsible journalism.

Just to get this out of the way briefly here, I'm going to side with the curmudgeons on the hug, and say for a variety of reasons that is unprofessional. I'm not calling for a ban on journalist hugs, but I will summarize by saying I think intention is important. Hugs for consolation can make sense in some circumstances, for celebration, not so much. I would contend that if you're doing your job right as a journalist you will already have boundaries that make interactions like this something you'll never feel comfortable with. I also will emphasize the importance of avoiding the appearance of conflict of interest, and the Society of Professional journalists would back me up on that one.

Bridgit Bowden / KBIA

After almost 10 years of high-profile court battles and an international media campaign led by his family and friends, Ryan Ferguson is free.  The Ferguson family members and supporters greeted him at Columbia’s Tiger Hotel Tuesday night, following his release.

The Missouri Court of Appeals issued a bond order Tuesday releasing Ryan Ferguson from his near decade-long imprisonment at the Jefferson City Correctional Center.

August Kryger / Columbia Tribune

According to a press release issued Friday afternoon by Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight, Assistant Missouri Attorney General Susan Boresi has been appointed as a special prosecutor in the Ryan Ferguson case.

Knight’s office had to request permission from a circuit court to bring in a special prosecutor, and the request was granted. In the request, Knight wrote that the appointment was needed because his office had a conflict of interest in the case because of current and former employees.

ferguson ruling
Ryan Famuliner / KBIA

This week: what's next for Ryan Ferguson and what exactly is in that appeals court ruling?

Update: This article was written the week before Ryan Ferguson's release. The 30-day timeline we outline below is based on state prosecutors taking no action at all, allowing legal deadlines to stretch out and pass. For coverage of Ryan Ferguson's release, read our latest story.

Ryan Ferguson hearing
August Kryker / Columbia Tribune

The Missouri Court of Appeals Western District announced Tuesday it is granting Ryan Ferguson habeas corpus relief, effectively vacating his conviction in the 2001 murder of Columbia Daily Tribune Sports Editor Kent Heitholt.

According to the court statement (full .pdf here), Ferguson is to be released from prison in 30 days unless the state appeals or expresses its intent to re-try Ferguson. Ferguson is serving a 40-year sentence.

  News coverage from the KBIA newsroom, including: