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.

Elkhart, Ind., is known as the RV capital of the world. The city suffered badly when the recession hit and demand for recreational vehicles all but screeched to a halt. That's when local and state leaders started looking for ways to bolster the area's manufacturing industry.

The unemployment rate in the city along the Michigan border eventually soared to 20 percent — the highest in the nation at the time.

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It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

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And I'm Audie Cornish. Deadly tornadoes swept through the Midwest overnight and this morning, killing at least eight people. The storm system hammered parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky, where it still poses a threat.

As NPR's David Schaper reports, hardest hit is the small city of Harrisburg in southern Illinois.

Losing a loved one in any circumstance can be a painful experience, but for some families in Chicago, that pain is being compounded by what's been happening at the Cook County morgue in recent weeks. In the words of one observer, it's "a moral travesty."

Walk into a typical Walgreens, and see cosmetics, greeting cards, and candy and snack aisles. Not so at a new, huge version of the drugstore in the heart of Chicago's Loop.

At a new downtown Walgreens, customers can get a fruit smoothie while they wait for their prescription — or even a manicure. Walgreens opened the new upscale version of its drugstore Tuesday on State Street to try to distinguish itself from the competition.

Newt Gingrich is making his closing arguments to voters in the Mississippi River towns of Muscatine and Burlington in advance of Tuesday's Republican party caucuses and that argument boils down to this: Gingrich is better, smarter and more experienced than the rest.

The Newt Gingrich campaign bus is rolling again Monday morning, leaving Waterloo, where the candidate spent the night and heading straight east to the small town of Independence. The venue? Heartland Acres Agribition Center, a modest-size exhibition hall for small, regional agribusiness conferences with a lot of interesting old farm implements on display, and a shop with some pretty cool toy tractors.

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Newt Gingrich says, when it comes to his campaigning, he has been conducting an experiment. The former House speaker says he's been running a positive campaign as he competes for the Republican nomination. And if voters who say they hate negative campaigning practice what they preach, Gingrich says he'll do better than expected in Iowa.

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But Gingrich also says he needs to set the record straight, and that means firing back at Mitt Romney.

Another strong turnout this morning for Mitt Romney at a restaurant in Cedar Falls, though the small place wasn't quite as packed as yesterday's breakfast stop in Muscatine. Romney spent a lot of time shaking hands and posing for pictures with customers, supporters and restaurant staff, after he spoke for about 20 minutes. He usually takes a couple of questions from the crowd but did not today, preferring to spend more time than usual glad-handing.

Before the sun was even up here in Iowa this morning, the Mitt Romney campaign bus was rolling on its way to a stop at J's Homestyle Cooking in Cedar Falls.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney took a swipe at GOP rival Ron Paul and his isolationist foreign policy positions while campaigning in Iowa Wednesday, but he later told reporters he would support the outspoken Texas congressman if he were the Republican Party nominee for president.

On Wednesday morning, Mitt Romney was getting an early start to campaigning in eastern Iowa, meeting and greeting voters having breakfast or just getting a caffeine boost at Elly's Tea and Coffee in Muscatine.

Campaign buses loaded with Republican presidential hopefuls and their entourages are rolling across Iowa as the candidates hope some face time with GOP voters will help boost their chances in the Jan. 3 caucuses.

The main issue for many Iowa voters is the economy. But there's a sleeper issue emerging: immigration reform.

Iowa's Hispanic population is surging and Republican candidates are struggling with how best to deal with voter concerns.

Thousands of jobs are on the line in a competition between states over the corporate headquarters of Sears. Several states are offering tax incentive packages to try to lure the company away from Illinois, including one bid from Ohio that's worth up to $400 million.

The Sears Holding Corp., parent company to Sears and Kmart, says it is seriously considering the offer after Illinois lawmakers failed this week to approve a package of tax incentives aimed at keeping Sears and another corporate giant from leaving.

Part of a monthlong series

The Great Recession has hit the industrial Midwest especially hard in recent years, from big cities to small factory towns. But now, in at least one small Illinois city, local leaders believe the worst is finally behind them.

Sitting across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis, Granite City, Ill., has certainly seen better days. In its downtown, there are more boarded-up and empty storefronts and vacant lots than there are businesses.

Part of a monthlong series

Alice Eastman, a single mother living in Wheaton, Ill., is one of many Americans who, after losing her job, tried to make ends meet on unemployment while she hunted for a job in her field. Then after a long, fruitless search, she took a lower-paying job in retail.

Eastman had a pretty good job making $75,000 a year at the park district in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, heading up its Department of Natural Resources.

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The sluggish economy means fewer travelers will be heading home for Thanksgiving this year, although it hasn't brought down prices. And as NPR's David Schaper reports, those who do fly will still find their flights packed.

Chicago recently ranked as the city with the second-worst traffic congestion problem in the country, but it doesn't have a lot of money to invest in other transit options. Mayor Rahm Emanuel's solution? A $2 "congestion fee" on weekday parking in public lots and garages downtown.

Other cities have had some success with congestion pricing for parking, but some Chicagoans are skeptical of the plan.

We fans of the Chicago Cubs rarely hear good news in October, so there's a little buzz of excitement around Wrigley Field these days about the possibility of Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein reportedly coming to Chicago to take over a similar or expanded role with the hapless Cubs.

In 2004, Epstein helped guide the Red Sox to their first World Series title in 86 years and to another title in 2007. In Chicago, he'd be trying to end a Cubs' championship drought dating back to 1908; the Cubs haven't even been to the World Series since 1945.

(This report is part of the Morning Edition series "2 Languages, Many Voices: Latinos In The U.S.," looking at the ways Latinos are changing — and being changed — by the U.S.)

One place the Hispanic population is growing is in the overwhelmingly white state of Iowa. The latest census figures show the Hispanic population, while only 5 percent of the state, has almost doubled since 2000.

And one small town — West Liberty — is the first in Iowa to have a majority Hispanic population.

As Hurricane Irene makes its way north, insurance companies are scrambling to get claims adjusters and other personnel in place up and down the East Coast and into New England.

Companies will be assessing the damage once Irene is through battering the northeastern states. If the hurricane hits as wide an area as is predicted, insured losses could be in the billions of dollars.

On the boardwalk of Ocean City, Md., Tony Russo Jr. is boarding up the windows of his family's restaurant, Tony's Pizza.

For most people, their biggest investment is their home. Following Standard and Poor's downgrade of U.S. credit, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, there may be even more uncertainty about buying or selling a home right now.

Russell Zanca, 47, has a three bedroom, one and a half bath vintage brick Georgian house on the market. The anthropology professor's home is on a quiet tree-lined street on Chicago's North Side.

"It's just a nice solid house," Zanca says.

Construction projects at airports around the country have stopped and 4,000 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration are furloughed, all because Congress couldn't agree on an extension of the agency's authority to operate.

Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who chairs the subcommittee that oversees the FAA, indicates he will offer a plan as soon as Monday night to end the shutdown. Rockefeller's plan includes cuts in air service subsidies to some rural communities.

Those subsidies keep commercial aviation service in rural areas that would otherwise be isolated.

Another hot and muggy day is forecast for much of the country again Friday, as the dangerous heat wave moves to the East. Thirty-two states issued excessive heat warnings Thursday.

Illinois lawmakers are re-examining the state's business tax climate, just six months after raising the corporate income tax rate. The move comes as some corporate giants threaten to move out of Illinois. Some wonder how far the state should go to keep them.

Doug Whitley, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, says his members aren't happy with the state's approach towards businesses.

"Big-name, household-name companies that are long-standing Illinois businesses have begun to rattle the cage and say, you know, this isn't the best environment," he says.

There is still no end in sight to the state government shutdown in Minnesota. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders remain far apart on how to balance the state's budget for the next two years. With the shutdown in its ninth day, unemployed state workers are increasingly anxious, and residents who rely on shuttered state services are increasingly frustrated. NPR's David Schaper reports.

In Minnesota, the state government shutdown is in its second week, with no end in sight.

The state's Democratic governor, Mark Dayton, and Republican legislative leaders remain divided over how to balance the budget. The two sides did not meet today and no new budget negotiations are scheduled.

Among the many state facilities that are closed are state parks, in the midst of peak season for camping, fishing and swimming. Outdoor enthusiasts in Minnesota aren't happy about it.

A federal jury in Chicago convicted former Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich on 17 wide-ranging corruption charges Monday. Bagojevich was accused, among other things, of trying to sell President Obama's former Senate seat for personal gain.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is betting a downtown casino would help boost the economy and fill holes in the city's budget.

Illinois lawmakers approved a bill last month that would give Chicago a casino and add others around the state, but the plan has hit a snag with Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who's threatening a veto.

Meanwhile, many Chicago residents continue gambling across the state line in Indiana.

From Montana to Missouri, thousands of people have had to evacuate their homes and businesses to escape the floodwaters of the Missouri River. Over the weekend, the Army Corps of Engineers closed nearly 200 miles of the river to boating traffic.

The flooded shops and idled vessels along the Missouri are just the latest businesses hurt by weather-related disasters across the country this spring. Violent tornadoes, widespread flooding and even droughts have taken their toll.

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This time is different. After several years and one hung jury, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has taken the stand for the first time. He began testifying last week in his retrial on 20 federal corruption charges. Blagojevich talked about everything from politics to love. And then, late yesterday, the fireworks began when prosecutors were finally able to cross-examine him.

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