David Schaper

David Schaper is a NPR National Desk reporter based in Chicago.

In this role, he covers news in Chicago and around the Midwest. Additionally he reports on a broad range of important social, cultural, political, and business issues in the region.

The range of Schaper's reporting has included profiles of service members killed in Iraq, and members of a reserve unit returning home to Wisconsin. He 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 tornadoes, storms, blizzards, and floods in the Midwest.

Prior to joining NPR, 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 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. Additionally, he served as 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 worked at commercial stations WMAY-AM in Springfield, IL; and WIZM-AM and FM in La Crosse, WI; and at public stations WSSU-FM (now WUIS) and WDCB-FM in in Illinois.

Schaper earned a Bachelor of Science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and an Master of Arts from the University of Illinois-Springfield.

Pages

Latin America
7:36 am
Sun December 21, 2014

Ready To Hit The Cuban Beach? Americans Still Have To Wait

A couple walks on the beach in the resort area of Varadero, Cuba. Varadero is home to upscale hotels and resorts that cater to foreign tourists, but there aren't yet enough to handle a potential influx of Americans.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Sun December 21, 2014 10:58 am

With President Obama beginning the process of normalizing relations with Cuba this week, many may envision soon soaking up the sun on a warm Cuban beach, sipping a refreshing rum drink.

In reality, that's not likely to happen for quite a while. But just the increased opportunity for travel between the two countries has those with longtime ties to Cuba already thinking about the possibilities it will bring.

Read more
Business
2:32 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

GOP Leaders: Gas Tax Hike Could Fuel Fixes To Bad Roads And Bridges

Thomas Harden of Chicago pumps gas into his truck. He says he wouldn't support a gas tax increase.
David Schaper NPR

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 11:57 am

Gasoline prices are at their lowest level in four years. The price at the pump in many states is almost a full dollar cheaper than it was last spring.

So some politicians think this is a good time to raise gasoline taxes. Several states are tired of waiting for Congress to fix the federal highway trust fund, so they're considering raising gas taxes themselves to address their crumbling roads.

Read more
The Two-Way
7:53 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Jane Byrne Dies: No Woman Has Led A Larger U.S. City

Jane Byrne savors her victory in the previous night's Democratic primary in 1979, when she defeated incumbent Chicago Mayor Michael Bilandic. She became the city's first female mayor.
Carl Hugare MCT/Landov

Originally published on Sat November 15, 2014 6:48 am

Jane Byrne, who stunned Chicago's powerful political machine in becoming the first and still only woman elected mayor of the nation's third-largest city, died today at the age of 81.

She is being remembered as a trailblazer for women in politics who cracked the glass ceiling in a city whose political oligarchy 'don't want nobody nobody sent.' *

A product of the machine herself and a protege of late mayor Richard J. Daley, Byrne bucked party leaders to topple their annointed candidate, incumbent mayor Michael Bilandic, in the Democratic primary in February of 1979.

Read more
Business
3:22 pm
Sun November 9, 2014

Holiday Travelers Should Expect Packed Planes, Higher Fares

The airline industry is predicting more people will take to the skies this Thanksgiving than in any year since the start of the recession.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Sun November 9, 2014 4:21 pm

With gas and oil prices plunging, among those benefiting are airlines. With fuel prices down, profits are up, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to find cheap airfares, especially over the holidays.

The airline industry is predicting more people will take to the skies over Thanksgiving than any year since the start of the recession.

The weather in Chicago is not quite frightful yet, but the snow and cold is coming; so warm weather destinations for the holidays sound appealing.

Read more
Around the Nation
4:31 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

As Infrastructure Crumbles, Trillions Of Gallons Of Water Lost

A water maintenance crew works on leaky infrastructure in Skokie, a Chicago suburb. The area loses almost 22 billion gallons of water a year because of ailing infrastructure.
David Schaper NPR

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 5:13 pm

Imagine Manhattan under almost 300 feet of water. Not water from a hurricane or a tsunami, but purified drinking water — 2.1 trillion gallons of it.

That's the amount of water that researchers estimate is lost each year in this country because of aging and leaky pipes, broken water mains and faulty meters.

Fixing that infrastructure won't be cheap, which is something every water consumer is likely to discover.

Read more
Around the Nation
8:43 am
Sat October 4, 2014

FAA Chief: No Quick Fix To Prevent Another Fire Like Chicago

Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta answers questions Friday after touring the Chicago air traffic control center with Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill. (left), and city aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP

Originally published on Sat October 4, 2014 11:50 am

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration is trying to deflect criticism over an arson fire at an air traffic control center that shut down Chicago's airports last week.

Administrator Michael Huerta toured the fire-damaged Chicago air traffic control center in suburban Aurora on Friday with members of the Illinois congressional delegation.

Huerta admitted the agency has no quick fix to prevent a similar shutdown of a control facility from paralyzing air traffic across the country.

Read more
Around the Nation
3:53 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Health Officials Trace Travels Of First Ebola Patient In U.S.

Originally published on Thu October 2, 2014 1:26 pm

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

The Two-Way
9:52 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Lights, Camera, Drones: Hollywood's Lens Gets A Little Larger

A Parrot Bebop drone flies during a demonstration in May in San Francisco.
Jeff Chiu AP

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 2:08 pm

Hollywood is getting the green light to fly its own drones.

The Federal Aviation Administration is giving approval to six movie and TV production companies to use drones for filming. And the move could pave the way for the unmanned aircraft systems to be used in other commercial ventures.

The FAA will permit the six companies to use remote-controlled drones to shoot movies and video for TV shows and commercials, but there will be certain limitations.

Read more
Business
2:32 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

At 'World Routes,' Airports Court Airlines To Bring In More Flights

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 7:44 am

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

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

What happens when 3,000 airport and airline executives from around the world gather in one place? Lots of wining and dining, schmoozing and sales pitching, and there's one more night of it in Chicago.

Read more
Business
3:10 am
Wed September 17, 2014

United Airlines Offers Buyout Packages To Flight Attendants

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 5:50 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Read more
Business
2:33 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Freight Delays Causing Great Pain Across Plains

Originally published on Thu September 11, 2014 7:54 am

Grain elevators, auto manufacturers and Amtrak passengers are still facing lengthy delays on rails, as freight train congestion continues to be a drag on the economy all across the country. Many blame the delays on the huge increase in Bakken crude oil shipped by rail from North Dakota to refineries in the south, Midwest and on both coasts. The railroads deny they're favoring oil shipments over other products.

Read more
Around the Nation
3:14 pm
Sat August 23, 2014

Generation Gap Divides Local Opinion On Ferguson Protests

Demonstrators protest the death of Michael Brown on Friday in Ferguson, Mo. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Sat August 23, 2014 8:52 pm

Police in Ferguson, Mo., are bracing for the possibility of a large protest Saturday night, as the community marks two weeks since a police officer shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Racial tensions have cooled considerably in the St. Louis suburb, after nearly 10 days of loud, raucous and sometimes violent protests. During those demonstrations, some protesters would throw rocks, bottles and Molotov cocktails at police, who responded with rubber bullets, smoke bombs and tear gas.

Read more
Around the Nation
2:23 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

In The Absence Of Answers, Protests Fill Ferguson's Silence

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 7:14 pm

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Read more
Around the Nation
2:05 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

In Ferguson Shooting's Tumultuous Wake, Leaders Call For Peace And Protest

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 7:45 pm

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

Europe
6:05 am
Sat July 19, 2014

Airspace Over Ukraine Was Not Considered Unsafe

Originally published on Sat July 19, 2014 6:39 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Most airlines are now diverting their planes away from the Ukrainian-Russian border to avoid the area where the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot-down. The Federal Aviation Administration banned U.S. operations in the air space around Crimea back in April. Aviation authorities in other countries warned about flying through parts of the region, too. But those restricted flight zones are some distance away from where flight 17 went down. NPR's David Schaper reports.

Read more
Around the Nation
5:55 am
Sun July 6, 2014

First Responders Unprepared For Another Train Disaster

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 10:50 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Ever since that Canadian train derailment, first responders all across North America wonder, what if it happens here? And as NPR's David Schaper reports from this side of the border, many say they don't have the training, the equipment or the manpower necessary to respond to an oil train disaster in their cities and towns.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: The images of that fiery blast that incinerated much of Lac-Megantic's downtown last summer still haunt many first responders.

Read more
Around the Nation
2:01 am
Wed July 2, 2014

For Sale: Vacant Lots On Chicago Blocks, Just $1 Each

Sonya Harper picks peppermint she's been growing in a vacant lot on her block in Chicago. With her neighbors, she's hoping to acquire two adjacent overgrown lots under the city's "Large Lot Program" so they can expand the community garden.
David Schaper

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 12:08 pm

Chicago is practically giving away land: vacant lots for just $1 each. The catch? To buy one, you must already own a home on the same block.

Like many U.S. cities, Chicago has struggled with what to do with a growing number of empty lots in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. Efforts to develop affordable housing or urban farms have had some mixed results.

So Chicago officials and community development advocates hope the vacant lot program can help spark a renewal in some of the city's most blighted areas.

Read more
Around the Nation
1:16 am
Thu June 26, 2014

Rainstorms Pummel Upper Midwest, Drowning Resources

Flooding across the Upper Midwest, including Iowa, over the last couple weeks has soaked homes and fields and left local governments scrambling.
Dirk Lammers AP

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 12:28 pm

Heavy rains over the past couple of weeks have rivers rising all across the Upper Midwest, flooding homes, swamping fields and washing out roads.

Fans hum 24/7 as Laura Westra tries to dry out her sopping-wet basement in the small town of Rock Valley, Iowa.

The nearby Rock River, in the northwest corner of the state, swelled last week wider and deeper than anyone can remember.

"We've lived here 45 years, and this is the first time we had water in the basement," Westra says.

Read more
Around the Nation
2:07 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Chicago Gets Out From Under Its History Of Political Patronage

A court-appointed federal monitor will no longer oversee hiring in the city of Chicago. A federal judge ruled that the city has put in place enough safeguards to minimize patronage in Chicago government jobs. It took 45 years of court orders and consent decrees, but political reformers say that patronage, which once built a powerful democratic machine, is slowly becoming a thing of the past.

The Two-Way
2:23 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Chicago 'Heroin Highway' Bust Shows A 'New Face Of Organized Crime'

Authorities say the drug operation allowed customers to pay at one location, pick up the heroin at another and be back on the expressway within minutes.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 3:56 pm

Authorities say they've broken up a major heroin and crack cocaine distribution ring in Chicago.

A joint federal and local task force that includes the DEA, FBI, Chicago police and other law enforcement agencies arrested and charged more than two dozen gang members who allegedly supplied a significant amount of heroin to customers coming from the city and suburbs.

Read more
The Two-Way
3:27 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Illinois Lawmaker Found Guilty Of Accepting $7,000 Payoff

Illinois state Rep. Derrick Smith (center) speaks to reporters at the federal building Tuesday after a jury convicted him of bribery.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 4:17 pm

In a case in which some observers suggest the FBI may have gone too far to snare a politician in a bribery scheme, a jury has convicted an Illinois lawmaker of corruption.

The verdict against State Rep. Derrick Smith relates to the then-freshman representative's acceptance in 2012 of a $7,000 payoff from an FBI informant.

The jury agreed with the prosecution that Smith abused his office for personal gain. The defense had argued that the representative repeatedly refused the bribe before finally relenting and that the undercover sting amounted to entrapment.

Read more
The Two-Way
6:41 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Chicago's Latest Case Of Political Graft Has A Twist

Illinois Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago, at the state Capitol in Springfield last month. A jury is deliberating a verdict in Smith's trial on bribery charges.
Seth Perlman AP

It's the kind of political corruption allegation that makes even hardened Chicagoans roll their eyes and exhale a heavy sigh that says, "here we go again."

A state representative is caught on tape secretly meeting with a shady character, pocketing an envelope full of cash. The politician in question laughingly refers to the $7,000 alleged bribe as "cheddar," as he talks about being paid off in a way that won't come back on him.

Read more
The Two-Way
1:57 pm
Sun June 8, 2014

Trump Stamp Has Chicagoans Irked At The Donald

Chicagoans aren't annoyed by The Trump International Hotel and Tower so much as by the New Yorker who's having his name emblazoned on its side.
David Schaper NPR

Leave it to a wealthy New Yorker to raise the ire of the citizens of the Second City.

And it's not because of something he said, or wrote, as a former New Yorker living here did last year. It's just five letters, the huge letters of this man's last name lit up for the entire Midwest to see: T-R-U-M-P.

Read more
Around the Nation
5:33 am
Thu May 29, 2014

NPR Reporter Witnesses One Of Chicago's Latest Shootings

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 12:33 pm

Gun violence in Chicago is so common in some neighborhoods that the daily reports of shootings can seem like little more than numbers. Our reporter saw the dangers of Chicago's South Side firsthand.

Around the Nation
2:58 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

NTSB Raises New Concerns About Dreamliner's Lithium Ion Battery

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 4:04 pm

The National Transportation Safety Board is calling on the FAA to take another look at the safety of the battery used in its Dreamliners. The recommendations issued by the NTSB on Thursday call on the FAA to evaluate whether additional requirements and independent testing outside the aviation industry are needed on the lithium ion batteries used in the Boeing 787s. Incidents involving the batteries' failure caused the fleet to be grounded last year.

Read more
Business
3:39 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Summer Travel Season Expected To Heat Up

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 11:46 am

AAA predicts that more Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend than any other since the start of the Great Recession. Those who do may find higher air fares but gas prices have leveled off.

Business
3:18 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Oil Industry Blamed For Freight Rail Delays

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 5:46 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And here in the U.S., in the upper Midwest and Northern Plains, many grain bins and silos are still full, long after last fall's harvest. This is because the railroads are months behind in shipping.

A huge slowdown in rail service is delaying deliveries of grain and other commodities as well, like corn, coal and cars. Many of those affected are blaming the booming domestic oil industry for tying up the rails.

NPR's David Schaper reports.

Read more
News
2:22 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Northwestern Players Cast Union Vote — But Results Will Have To Wait

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 5:15 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

It's a historic day on the campus of Northwestern University. Football players there became the first college athletes in this country to vote on whether to unionize. The results may not be known for some time. The National Labor Relations Board is reviewing Northwestern's appeal of an earlier ruling to allow this union vote to take place. NPR's David Schaper reports.

Read more
Business
2:56 am
Tue April 22, 2014

For Short Trips, Intercity Buses Horn In On Airline Customers

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 10:18 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK. It's hard to imagine a bus getting you some were faster than a plane. But for travelers planning relatively short trips, a new study shows bus companies are gaining on the airlines.

NPR's David Schaper reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF STREET TRAFFIC, HONKING HORNS)

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Here on a downtown Chicago sidewalk, a few dozen people are standing in the Midwestern spring air, waiting for a Megabus to take them out of town.

JOE SCHWIETERMAN: A whole new demographics are taking the bus.

Read more
Around the Nation
2:15 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

The Long Wait On Safety Rules For The 'Soda Can' Of Rail Cars

Safety advocates have been pressuring Canadian and U.S. officials to create new safety standards for tank cars and to make old DOT-111s like this one more puncture-resistant.
Nati Harnik AP

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 3:29 pm

Freight trains roll through the Chicago suburb of Barrington, Ill., every day, many pulling older tank cars known as DOT-111s. They're known as the "soda can" of rail cars, says village President Karen Darch, because their shells are so thin.

Many of the DOT-111s are full of heavy Canadian tar sands crude oil. Some carry ethanol. And more and more of them are loaded with light Bakken crude oil from North Dakota.

Read more

Pages