Sean Sandefur

Reporter

A photographer by trade, Sean got his feet wet in broadcast news as an intern at St. Louis Public Radio. It is here, he says, where he caught "the NPR bug."

A graduate of Webster University in St. Louis, Mo., Sean joined KMUW in January of 2014.

He often covers the intersection of government and citizenry. His story about chemical contamination in a west Wichita neighborhood won a national Society of Professional Journalists award for investigative journalism. His coverage of Wichita's "No Ferguson Here" movement won a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for hard news.

Sean also has experience in television, completing an internship at KTTC-TV in Rochester, Minn., where he covered massive flood damage as a multimedia journalist.

Outside of work, Sean has an addiction to baseball and has a cat named after his literary hero, Huckleberry Finn.

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Health
5:00 am
Fri April 24, 2015

SPJ Award Winner: Dangerous Chemical Invades West Wichita Drinking Water

A small portion of a map provided by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. It illustrates the plume of tetrachloroethylene that sits underneath many homes in west Wichita.
Kansas Department of Health and Environment

 

This story originally aired during Morning Edition on 05/04/2014. 

Residents of a West Wichita neighborhood learned in March that their private water wells had been contaminated with a chemical likely to cause major health defects. They’ve also learned that the contamination could be decades old.

Ron Barnhart owns a well groomed, one story home in west Wichita.

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Aviation
2:16 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

NTSB Completes Preliminary Investigation Into Mid-Continent Crash

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board at the site of a deadly plane crash at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport
Credit National Transportation Safety Board

 

The National Transportation Safety Board has completed their preliminary investigation into last month's plane crash at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport. 

The report included a number of witness accounts, including one who stated the plane’s landing gear was down shortly before impact. Another witness said the plane was only 150 feet above ground when a “left turn was initiated.”

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Environment
4:50 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Kansas Expands Effort To Stop Emerald Ash Borer

Credit Don't Move Firewood, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas is expanding efforts to keep an invasive beetle from spreading throughout the state.

The emerald ash borer hasn’t made it to Sedgwick County yet, and the Kansas Department of Agriculture is doing what it can to make sure the pest, which is effective at killing ash trees, doesn’t spread throughout the state. More than 150 traps will be installed in 23 counties, in the hopes of tracking the bug’s migration.

Beth Gains is with the Kansas Department of Agriculture and says residents can play a big role in keeping the bug at bay.

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Science
5:00 am
Mon April 20, 2015

K-State Salina Program Tests The Boundaries Of Drone Use

At the Kansas State Salina Unmanned Aircraft Systems lab, drones come in all shapes, sizes and prices.
Sean Sandefur

At Kansas State University’s campus in Salina, aviation is a big deal. Students can learn how to fly planes and helicopters, or how to manage an airport. They can also study unmanned aircraft, often called drones. 

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems program at the college tests the boundaries of drone use. KMUW’s Sean Sandefur visited their facilities and has this report…

The Salina campus is a bit rough on the outside, but impressive on the inside. A number of weather-beaten hangars and unassuming buildings house the latest in aviation technology, including drones.

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Education
4:15 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

WSU Foundation Receives Sizable Donation For Honors College

Dorothy and Bill Cohen made a quick stop at the Rhatigan Student Center construction site during a visit to the WSU campus.
Credit foundation.wichita.edu

The Wichita State University Foundation has received a sizable donation from longtime donors. As KMUW’s Sean Sandefur reports, the funds will go towards the school’s honor college…

A gift of $5 million has been given to the WSU Foundation from Dorothy and Bill Cohen.

According to university officials, most of the funds are earmarked for the Honors College, which will be renamed the Dorothy and Bill Cohen Honors College.

The money will be used for student scholarships, fellowships for faculty and an annual program focused on student leadership.

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Government
5:39 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell Sworn Into Office

Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell, with wife Susie beside him, is sworn in at Tuesday's Wichita City Council Meeting
Credit City of Wichita

The City of Wichita officially has a new mayor. Jeff Longwell was sworn in at Tuesday’s Wichita City Council meeting after soundly defeating advertising executive Sam Williams in the April 7 elections. KMUW’s Sean Sandefur has more…

It was an emotional day at City Hall, where Carl Brewer, reaching his term limit, stepped down after eight years as Wichita’s mayor.

“Thank you, everyone, for allowing me to serve you,” Brewer said to applause.

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Government
5:00 am
Fri April 10, 2015

Voter-Approved Marijuana Initiative Fraught With Unknowns

Credit TMartin_33 / Flickr

 

Voters in Wichita have approved a referendum aimed at lessening the penalty for first-time possession of small amounts of marijuana. State law enforces a $2,500 fine and up to one year in jail. The new city ordinance would only impose a $50 fine and no jail time. But it’s not clear whether the city is able to move forward with the change. KMUW’s Sean Sandefur reports…

On a bright, clear afternoon—just days before the general election—a handful of state officials gathered in front of the Sedgwick County Courthouse in downtown Wichita.

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Politics
11:32 pm
Tue April 7, 2015

Jeff Longwell, Marijuana Initiative Successful In General Election

Credit City of Wichita

 

Voters in Wichita have chosen their next mayor: Current Wichita City Council Member Jeff Longwell easily defeated retired advertising executive Sam Williams, collecting nearly 60 percent of the vote. 

Money spent during the campaign didn’t translate to votes at the polls. Williams out-raised opponent Jeff Longwell by more than $70,000, but, it was Longwell who cruised to an easy victory. 

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Weather
4:22 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

Report: 69 Percent Of Kansas Under Moderate Drought

A new report issued by the National Drought Mitigation Center says 69 percent of Kansas is under a moderate drought, and 22 percent is under a severe drought.

    

The thunderstorm that took out trees and left thousands without power in Wichita last week brought a lot of wind and hail, but not a lot of rain, which won’t help the persistent droughts active throughout Kansas.

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Government
4:20 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

State Lawmakers Encourage A 'No' Vote On Wichita's Marijuana Initiative

Credit Sean Sandefur

A group of state lawmakers are encouraging voters in Wichita to defeat a marijuana initiative appearing on next Tuesdays ballots. KMUWs Sean Sandefur has more...

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