David Schaper

Based in NPR's Chicago bureau, David Schaper covers breaking news in Chicago and around the Midwest, as well as a broad range of important social, cultural, political, and business issues in the region. His reports can be heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Schaper has recently profiled service members killed in Iraq, as well as members of a reserve unit returning home to Wisconsin. He has also produced reports on the important political issues in key Midwest battleground states, education issues related to "No Child Left Behind," the bankruptcy of United Airlines as well as other aviation and transportation issues, and the devastation left by tornados, storms, blizzards, and floods in the Midwest.

Schaper brings more than 15 years of experience in radio news to NPR. Prior to joining NPR in December 2002, Schaper spent nine years working as an award-winning reporter and editor for Chicago Public Radio's WBEZ-FM. For three years he covered education issues, reporting in-depth on the problems, financial and otherwise, plaguing Chicago's public schools. In 1996, Schaper was named assistant news editor, managing the station's daily news coverage and editing a staff of six. He also continued general assignment reporting, covering breaking news, politics, transportation, housing, sports, and business. When he left WBEZ, Schaper was the station's political reporter, editor, and a frequent fill-in news anchor and program host. He was also a frequent guest panelist on public television's Chicago Tonight and Chicago Week in Review.

Since beginning his career at Wisconsin Public Radio's WLSU-FM, Schaper worked in Chicago as a writer and editor for WBBM-AM and as a reporter and anchor for WXRT-FM. He also worked at commercial stations WMAY-AM (Springfield, IL) and WIZM-AM and FM (La Crosse, WI), and in Illinois at public stations WSSU-FM (now WUIS) and WDCB-FM.

Schaper was born and raised in Chicago's western suburbs. He earned a B.S. at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and an M.A. from the University of Illinois-Springfield. Schaper and his wife Kathy, live in Chicago with their three children.

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5:33pm

Sat December 7, 2013
Around the Nation

N.Y. Train Crash Spotlights Push For Automatic Safety System

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 11:36 am

A police officer stands guard at the scene of a Metro-North passenger train derailment in the Bronx borough of New York on Dec. 1.
John Minchillo AP

A commuter train crash that killed four passengers in New York is raising questions about whether a high-tech safety system could have prevented the derailment.

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2:46am

Fri November 29, 2013
U.S. Commutes: The Way We Get To Work

Epic Commutes Face Those Caught In Public Transit Puzzle

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 11:42 am

It takes Chicago resident Sarah Hairston two hours to go 15 miles to get to her part-time job.
David Schaper NPR

It's a sign of the times: More people are commuting for more than an hour to get to work, and many of the longest commutes are at least partially on public transportation.

Take Sarah Hairston's commute from her apartment on Chicago's South Side to her part-time job at a shelter for homeless teens on the north side of town.

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4:44am

Wed November 20, 2013
Around the Nation

Early Warnings Saved Lives In Weekend Storms

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 7:34 am

The death toll from Sunday's tornado outbreak across the Midwest stands at eight. Many of those who witnessed the devastation say they're shocked that number isn't higher. Early warnings delivered by text message may have helped limit the casualties.

3:03am

Fri November 8, 2013
Architecture

Size Does Matter, At Least In The Tallest Building Debate

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 2:20 pm

The view from the Willis Tower, formerly known as Sears Tower, in Chicago.
FleishmanHillard

There's a question that's looming over the new skyscraper at the World Trade Center site in New York: Should it count as the tallest building in the country?

The developers say yes. But by some measures, the Willis Tower in Chicago — formerly known as Sears Tower — can still lay claim to the title.

Now, an obscure organization known as the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat is preparing to settle the debate.

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6:05pm

Mon September 30, 2013
All Tech Considered

FAA May Stop Making You Power Off Those Electronics

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 10:09 pm

An expert FAA advisory committee has recommended that airline passengers be allowed to use most personal electronic devices below 10,000 feet.
Leonardo Patrizi iStockphoto.com

It's news many airline passengers have waited to hear: The Federal Aviation Administration may allow smartphones, tablets and other personal electronic devices to be used throughout an entire flight — including takeoff and landing.

Frequent flier Barbara Reilly, a health care consultant from Atlanta, is like many airline passengers: She boards her flights with a laptop, an iPad and a cellphone, and "I used them all ... continuously, until the very moment I had to turn them off. And the second I could turn them back on, they were all back on," she says.

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3:29am

Mon September 30, 2013
Business

Chicago's Privatized Parking Meters Sour Airport Lease Deal

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 7:47 am

Close to 19 million passengers come through Chicago's Midway Airport each year, and many will spend a lot of cash here — on food, drinks, books, gum, parking and rental cars — not to mention the landing fees and gate fees paid by airlines.

There are a lot of opportunities to make money in a bustling hub airport like this, and the city was hoping to cash in.

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5:20pm

Fri September 6, 2013
Around the Nation

Tensions Over Syria Run High In Two Chicago-Area Districts

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 5:20 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Defending national security is one of the core arguments President Obama is using in his bid to strike Syria. Congress is expected to vote on military action next week. NPR's David Schaper takes us now to two Chicago area districts where passions on Syria are running high.

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6:05pm

Tue June 25, 2013
Sports

Chicago Blackhawks Stun Boston Bruins In Hockey Final

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Oh, what a day to be a hockey fan in Chicago. The city is celebrating its Stanley Cup champions after last night's thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Boston Bruins. The Blackhawks stunned the Bruins and all of Boston by tying the game with just a minute and 16 seconds left in the final period. Then, just 17 seconds later, the game-winning puck flew into the goal.

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6:42pm

Thu June 20, 2013
Around the Nation

Rogue Jumpers Parachute From Top Of Chicago's Trump Tower

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 11:19 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Finally, a big jump and a mystery in Chicago. Police are searching for three men who jumped off the top of the 92-story Trump Tower late last night with parachutes. They managed to land and escape before police arrived.

NPR's David Schaper has been gathering reaction in Chicago.

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4:34am

Thu June 20, 2013
Business

Founder Of Men's Wearhouse Fired By Company's Board

Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 7:07 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And let's report on some changes in the American clothing world. George Zimmer, of Men's Wearhouse, might still like the way he looks, but we can guarantee he doesn't like this. The famous face - and gravelly voice - and founder of the company, is out. The company gave no reason for the abrupt firing. But Zimmer is speaking out, as NPR's David Schaper reports.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: His graying beard is instantly familiar. And he speaks with that signature deep, gravelly voice when delivering this famous tagline:

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5:33pm

Wed June 12, 2013
Sports

Hockey's Hottest Teams Hit The Ice In Stanley Cup Final

Originally published on Wed June 12, 2013 7:03 pm

An oversized Chicago Blackhawks hockey helmet sits on one of the lion sculptures outside the entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago in celebration of the team's upcoming appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in Chicago. The Blackhawks host the Boston Bruins in Game 1 on Wednesday.
Scott Eisen AP

The National Hockey League's Stanley Cup championship gets underway in Chicago Wednesday night, with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins facing off in the first game of the best-of-seven series. It's a classic matchup between two of the NHL's original six teams.

Both teams are recent champs, which is helping passionate hockey fans and players put the bitter labor dispute that almost iced the season behind them.

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5:34am

Fri June 7, 2013
Business

Ill. Assembly Called Back To Work On Pension Fund Shortfall

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with pension problems for Illinois.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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5:47pm

Thu May 30, 2013
U.S.

Will Ill. Legalize Gay Marriage Before Legislature Adjourns?

Originally published on Thu May 30, 2013 7:04 pm

Activists rally in support of gay marriage on March 25 in Chicago. The Illinois Senate has approved legislation that will legalize same-sex marriage, but it has stalled in the state House.
Scott Olson Getty Images

The clock is ticking for those who hope Illinois will become the 13th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Illinois General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn its spring session Friday night, and the marriage equality bill still has not been called for a vote in the state House, where supporters are struggling to round up the 60 votes necessary to pass it.

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5:59pm

Thu May 23, 2013
The Two-Way

After The Storm: Students Gather For One More School Day

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 6:08 am

Students and teachers from Eastlake Elementary and Plaza Towers Elementary schools gathered Thursday to say goodbye for the summer. This was a chance to reconnect after the devastating tornado brought an abrupt end to the school year at Plaza Towers in Moore, Okla.
Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Under cloudy skies and through intermittent showers, 4-year-old Kamrin Ramirez holds in her little hands two cards, one addressed to Ms. Patterson, the other for Ms. Johnson, her two preschool teachers at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla.

"I write thank you so much," she says.

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3:34pm

Fri April 12, 2013
The Two-Way

Goat's Head Sent To Cubs Owner Not From The 'Rahm-Father'

Originally published on Fri April 12, 2013 6:54 pm

Storm clouds pass over Wrigley Field on July 1, 2011, in Chicago.
Jonathan Daniel Getty Images

While many in Chicago immediately thought of the famous "Billy Goat curse," when a severed goat's head was delivered to Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts at Wrigley Field this week, I immediately wondered if it was a message from the "Rahm-father," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

After all, Ricketts is in the midst of intense negotiations with Emanuel's administration over renovating the iconic 99-year old ballpark, as I reported last week.

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4:45am

Wed March 6, 2013
Around the Nation

Chicago Commuters Brace For Delays During Bridge Repair

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 11:18 am

Construction on Chicago's Wells Street Bridge is taking place around the clock, as crews replace the south leaf section. The north leaf section will be replaced in the spring. The double-decked steel truss drawbridge was built in 1922.
David Schaper NPR

A major artery that feeds Chicago's downtown business district has been temporarily cut off as crews work around the clock this week to replace half of the 91-year-old Wells Street drawbridge.

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4:18pm

Fri February 15, 2013
Around the Nation

Checking In On Chicago Schools' 'Safe Passage' Program

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel. President Obama was in Chicago today, promoting what he calls ladders of opportunity to the middle class. It's the latest stop of his post-State of the Union tour, fleshing out the proposals from Tuesday night's speech. At a high school near his southside Chicago home, the president said reducing urban gun violence is essential to economic development.

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5:26am

Sat January 5, 2013
U.S.

Illinois Claws At Mountain Of Unfunded Pension Liability

Originally published on Sat January 5, 2013 1:45 pm

Illinois union members and supporters rally at the state Capitol on Thursday against legislation that would try to control the state's pension-fund shortfall by, in part, reducing pension benefits.
Seth Perlman AP

Illinois' pension-fund shortfall is by far the largest in the nation, and the clock is ticking for the state's governor and lawmakers to tackle the problem before a new Legislature is sworn in next week. So far, their proposals have stoked frustration from state employees and retirees.

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6:01pm

Sat December 22, 2012
Shootings In Newtown, Conn.

Near-Replica Of Sandy Hook Made Nearby For Students

Originally published on Sat December 22, 2012 7:54 pm

A school bus drives past a welcome sign near the Chalk Hill Middle School in Monroe, Conn. Students from Sandy Hook Elementary in neighboring Newtown will attend the school in January.
Lucas Jackson Reuters/Landov

The surviving students of Sandy Hook Elementary will not be returning to their school in Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders and six educators were shot to death on Dec. 14.

Instead, when classes resume after the holidays, they'll attend a school in the neighboring town of Monroe. Parents, teachers and administrators in both towns are working to make the new school as similar as possible to the one Sandy Hook students left behind.

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3:33am

Wed December 12, 2012
Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond

N.J. Spars Over Free Beach Access Post-Sandy

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 5:58 am

Superstorm Sandy caused massive beach erosion and damage to the Jersey shore. Some people say the beach restoration work, which will largely be paid for with federal tax dollars, will mostly help to protect expensive homes for the wealthy — people who have free access to the beach — while most communities would still be charging fees for public access.
Doug Mills AFP/Getty Images

At an oceanfront park in Long Branch, N.J., Tim Dillingham looks out over the beach in awe of how much the pounding waves and high waters of Hurricane Sandy have changed the Jersey shore.

Dillingham is the executive director of the American Littoral Society, a coastal conservation group. Before the storm, he says, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent years building up the beaches by pumping sand onto them.

But that shouldn't be a solution to restoring the shore, he says.

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5:12am

Thu December 6, 2012
Around the Nation

Post Sandy: Atlantic City Wants Its Tourists Back

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 4:24 pm

Atlantic City's boardwalk, with its shops, restaurants, casinos and hotels, was mostly protected during Hurricane Sandy by a dune restoration project. But TV images of one small section that was damaged gave the impression that the whole thing was destroyed.
David Schaper/NPR

A month after Hurricane Sandy pounded the New Jersey Shore, Atlantic City is back in business. Even though most of the casinos and restaurants sustained very little damage in the storm, they're now suffering from a lack of visitors. But the city has launched an effort to change that.

As three young boys roll their skateboards down the "World Famous Atlantic City Boardwalk," it's proof that it is still here, fully in tact, and that rumors of its demise were greatly exaggerated.

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3:32am

Tue November 13, 2012
U.S.

In Chicago, Violence Soars And Witnesses Go Silent

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 8:22 pm

Paramedics treat multiple gunshot victims in Chicago in August.
Devlin Brown, Chicago Tribune MCT/Landov

It's an old problem and an old code — "don't snitch." And it exists everywhere.

But in Chicago, where homicides and shootings are up significantly this year, that old code is leaving a rising number of violent crimes unsolved. Chicago Police Department statistics show arrests are being made in about 30 percent of shooting homicides, while close to 80 percent of nonfatal shootings are going unsolved.

When police can't find and arrest the perpetrators, they worry that the shooters will soon shoot again.

Witness Protection

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5:43am

Sun November 11, 2012
House & Senate Races

Senate Win In Wis. A 'Turning Point' For Gay Rights

Originally published on Sun November 11, 2012 2:05 pm

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin greets supporters at a campaign rally for President Obama on Nov. 3 in Milwaukee. Baldwin became the first openly gay candidate to win a U.S. Senate seat.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin's sexual orientation was never really a factor in her victorious campaign against Republican former Gov. Tommy Thompson. Advocates for gay rights see that as a watershed moment for the movement.

Baldwin won a seat many thought she couldn't, defeating one of the state's most successful politicians in the process. The celebration Tuesday night in Madison was euphoric.

The enthusiastic crowd was never louder than when Baldwin acknowledged making history.

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5:43am

Sun October 28, 2012
It's All Politics

Democrats See Opportunity In Fiery Illinois House Race

Originally published on Mon October 29, 2012 3:06 am

Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh and challenger Democrat Tammy Duckworth before a televised debate at the WTTW studios on Oct. 18, 2012, in Chicago.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP

One of the most bitter congressional races is in the suburbs of Chicago, where controversial freshman Republican Joe Walsh is fighting to keep a seat he was actually drawn out of.

The Tea Party favorite's bombastic rants frequently get him into trouble, even with members of his own party, and Walsh is facing a tough Democratic opponent in Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, who lost both of her legs in combat.

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7:15pm

Mon October 8, 2012
All Tech Considered

Baseball Autographs Get A Digital Upgrade

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 11:39 am

Sarah Wagner shows off an Egraph of Kerry Wood, her favorite Cubs player.
David Schaper NPR

On her 22nd birthday this summer, Sarah Wagner of suburban Wheaton, Ill., who describes herself as a huge fan of the Chicago Cubs, opened an email to find an incredible surprise — a recorded message from her favorite Cubs player:

"Hey, Sarah! Kerry Wood here! Thanks for your message and I hope you're having a great summer!"

"When I heard for the first time, I instantly smiled," says Wagner. "I think my hands probably went over like my mouth, like, 'Oh my gosh, Kerry Wood is talking to me, even though he has no idea who I am!' "

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4:49am

Fri September 28, 2012
NPR Story

With Senate Control At Stake, Key Wis. Race Tightens

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 11:39 am

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson in Madison, Wis., ahead of the Aug. 14 Republican primary for Wisconsin's open Senate seat. He was one of four candidates.
Andy Manis AP

One of the most important seats in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate is in Wisconsin, where Democrat Herb Kohl is retiring. Early polls showed popular former Gov. Tommy Thompson might easily flip the seat to the GOP, but he's now trailing Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin. It's a race that's going down to the wire in this almost evenly divided state.

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4:52am

Thu August 23, 2012
NPR Story

Drought's Effects Keep Expanding

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 5:23 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This summer's drought is not helping the wildfire situation, and the drought is also deeply harming the nation's agricultural economy. Parched lands extend from California to Indiana, and from Texas to South Dakota, impacting everyone from farmers and ranchers to barge operators and commodity traders.

As NPR's David Schaper reports, some farmers are getting close to calling it quits.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Looking over his small, 100-acre farm near South Union, Kentucky, Rich Vernon doesn't like what he sees.

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5:51am

Sat August 4, 2012
Around the Nation

Soaked In Drought: Lessons From The Dust Bowl

Originally published on Sun August 5, 2012 11:43 am

Scorched pastures are spreading across central Illinois and the rest of the Midwest. Technology and techniques developed from previous droughts like the Dust Bowl are helping to save some of today's crops, but there's no substitute for water.
Scott Olson Getty Images

This summer's drought continues to wilt and bake crops from Ohio to the Great Plains and beyond. Under a baking, late-afternoon sun just outside of the tiny east-central Illinois town of Thawville, John Hildenbrand walks down his dusty, gravel driveway toward one of his corn fields.

"You can see on the outer edge, these are a lot better-looking ears on the outside rows. Of course, it's not near as hot as it is inside the field," he says.

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4:45am

Wed July 11, 2012
NPR Story

Secrecy Surrounds Jesse Jackson Jr.'s Illness

Originally published on Wed July 11, 2012 7:55 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a Wednesday, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Now to a political mystery in Chicago. Constituents and colleagues are demanding to know more about the whereabouts and condition of Congressman Jesse Jackson, Junior. Jackson took a leave of absence a month ago, but his office has been vague about why. And that lack of information about Jackson is the talk of the town. From Chicago, NPR's David Schaper reports.

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4:33pm

Mon July 2, 2012
Business

As Strikes Wane, Caterpillar Workers Hold The Line

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 6:35 pm

Striking workers picket outside a Caterpillar plant in Joliet, Ill. The work stoppage is now entering its third month.
Joseph P. Meier Sun-Times Media Photo

Whenever a car or truck turns off busy Channahon Road onto the long drive to the Caterpillar plant in Joliet, Ill., a handful of union workers on a picket line scream, "Scab! Scab!!"

As strikers try shaming the few workers and managers who cross the line, even a clearly marked sandwich delivery car gets shouted down.

Approximately 800 workers at this plant, which makes hydraulic systems for Caterpillar's heavy construction and mining equipment, are about to enter their third month on strike.

Negotiations Fail

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