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.

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Around the Nation
2:52 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Drought's Effects Keep Expanding

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 3:23 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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Around the Nation
3:51 am
Sat August 4, 2012

Soaked In Drought: Lessons From The Dust Bowl

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

Originally published on Sun August 5, 2012 9:43 am

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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Business
2:25 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

As Strikes Wane, Caterpillar Workers Hold The Line

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

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 4:35 pm

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

Read more
Election 2012
3:41 pm
Wed June 6, 2012

Walker Moves Forward As The Right's Newest 'Hero'

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (center) is greeted by his Cabinet and staff Wednesday at the state Capitol in Madison, a day after defeating Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in a recall election.
Andy Manis AP

Originally published on Wed June 6, 2012 5:29 pm

Republican Gov. Scott Walker triumphantly returned to the Wisconsin Capitol Wednesday, fresh off of his decisive victory in Tuesday's bitter recall election.

The governor appears to be emerging from the tough recall fight stronger, and with his national profile rising.

Read more
Politics
3:29 am
Fri June 1, 2012

Gubernatorial Recall Election Polarizes Wis. Voters

Originally published on Fri June 1, 2012 7:04 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's been more than a year since Wisconsin Democrats began talking about recalling the state's governor, Scott Walker. Next week they'll get their chance to do it. Last night, Walker and his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, traded barbs in their final debate before Tuesday's vote. Turnout is expected to be very high, as the recall is sharply dividing voters in Wisconsin, so much so, some have just stopped talking to each other. NPR's David Schaper has the latest from Milwaukee.

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Law
4:16 am
Sat May 26, 2012

Chicago Outsider Busted Crime With Apolitical Flare

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald speaks to reporters during a news conference Thursday in Chicago. Fitzgerald announced he would step down.
Brian Kersey Getty Images

Originally published on Sat May 26, 2012 12:16 pm

Patrick Fitzgerald, the federal prosecutor who went after the Gambino crime family, al-Qaida and even the White House in court — not to mention several Illinois politicians — is leaving his job as U.S. attorney in Chicago.

The career prosecutor, known as "Eliot Ness with a Harvard degree," will leave a legacy as a tenacious corruption buster, though some criticize his style as overzealous.

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Around the Nation
10:22 pm
Sat May 12, 2012

Lack Of Support Puts The Brakes On High-Speed Rail

California's Legislative Analyst's Office said the latest proposal to build a $68.4 billion high-speed train system is still too vague and the state legislature should not approve funding it for it this year.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Sun May 13, 2012 10:09 am

Three years ago, President Obama was rolling out an ambitious vision for high-speed rail in America. "Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 mph," the president said at the time.

Today, there are a few Amtrak trains going that fast, but for the most part, the president's plans for high-speed trains have slowed considerably.

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Politics
2:22 am
Wed May 9, 2012

Milwaukee Mayor To Face Gov. Walker In Recall Election

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 2:42 am

Voters in Wisconsin Tuesday, chose the Democrat who will face Republican Governor Scott Walker in next month's gubernatorial recall election. The winning Democrat was Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Politics
4:26 am
Tue May 8, 2012

Wis. Primary To Choose A Candidate To Face Walker

Tom Barrett and Kathleen Falk chat before the start of a live debate for Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates Friday at the Wisconsin Public Television studio in Madison. The front-runners vying for a chance to take on Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a June recall election bashed the governor during the debate. Not pictured are fellow candidates Doug La Follette and Kathleen Vinehout.
Rick Wood AP

Originally published on Tue May 8, 2012 12:00 pm

Shortly after he took office last winter, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and fellow Republicans in the Legislature enraged Democrats and public employee unions by cutting collective bargaining rights, and Wisconsin has been on fire politically ever since. A protest movement forced a recall election, scheduled for June 5, and now, voters in Tuesday's Democratic gubernatorial primary will select Walker's challenger.

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Education
1:38 am
Mon April 23, 2012

Chicago Wants Longer School Day; Foes Want Details

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sits with South Side first-graders in October. Emanuel's plan to lengthen the school day and the school year has met with resistance.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 7:39 am

Most kids in Chicago's public schools spend just five hours and 45 minutes in school a day. It's one of the shortest school days in the country.

That's why more than half of the city's public elementary schools have no recess. At those that do, it's shockingly short.

"We have a 10-minute recess and a 10-minute lunch at our school," says Wendy Katten, mother of a third-grader at Burley Elementary School in Chicago. "It's not sufficient."

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Around the Nation
11:02 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

Alleged $30M Theft By Comptroller Stuns Ill. City

This November 2011 photo provided by The American Quarter Horse Journal shows Rita Crundwell of Dixon, Ill., at the 2011 American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show in Oklahoma City. FBI agents arrested Crundwell, the Dixon comptroller, on charges she misappropriated more than $30 million since 2006 to finance a lavish lifestyle.
AP

Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 6:52 am

The top financial official for the small city of Dixon, Ill., is accused of stealing more than $30 million from city coffers over the past six years. It's a staggering amount of money for the city of just 15,000 residents in northwest Illinois, and federal prosecutors allege she used the funds to finance a lavish lifestyle that included horse farms and a $2 million luxury motor home.

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Election 2012
2:00 am
Fri March 30, 2012

Negative Political Ads Work On Undecided Voters

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Ask almost anyone about negative political ads, you'll likely get a negative response. They're widely disliked, yet campaigns keep airing them over and over and over again. That's especially true right now in the state of Wisconsin, ahead of next week's Republican primary.

NPR's David Schaper reports that as hated as these ads are, they are seen as effective.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Flip on the TV anywhere in Wisconsin this week and it won't be long until you hear this...

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

Read more
Election 2012
2:00 am
Wed March 21, 2012

Kinzinger, Jackson Jr. Among Ill. Primary Winners

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Mitt Romney won the Illinois Republican primary convincingly yesterday, as we've been reporting elsewhere in the program. Illinois voters were not just voting for presidential candidates, though, there were congressional primaries as well. Redistricting made things very interesting. Two Republican incumbents had to run against one another, and a high-profile Democratic incumbent got a challenge from a former colleague. NPR's David Schaper runs down the results.

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Election 2012
3:18 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

In Illinois, Candidates Make A Final Delegate Dash

Standing in front of a statue of Ronald Reagan on horseback, Rick Santorum speaks at a campaign rally Monday in Dixon, Ill.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Mon March 19, 2012 10:04 pm

It's another furious dash to the finish line as delegate-rich Illinois holds its Republican presidential primary Tuesday.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is looking to increase his delegate lead. And he's still searching for that decisive win over his main rival, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Read more
Election 2012
3:55 pm
Fri March 16, 2012

Incumbents Face Off In Illinois After Redistricting

Rep. Don Manzullo, a 10-term veteran, campaigns in Belvidere, Ill., on March 5.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Fri March 16, 2012 9:20 pm

Redistricting is forcing a handful of congressional incumbents of the same party to run against each other in primaries. On March 6, Rep. Marcy Kaptur defeated fellow liberal Democrat Rep. Dennis Kucinich in Ohio.

And next Tuesday, two conservative Republicans square off in Illinois.

The scene is the newly drawn 16th Congressional District, which covers mostly rural territory in the northern part of the state, curving around the suburbs and exurbs of Chicago, from the Wisconsin border north of Rockford to the Indiana border east of Kankakee.

Read more
Around the Nation
10:01 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

As Elkhart's Electric Dreams Fizzle, RVs Come Back

Clinton Lehman, who had been unemployed for nine months before being called back to work, assembles a recreation vehicle at the Jayco factory in Elkhart, Ind., in 2011.
Mira Oberman AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 10:13 am

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.

Read more
Around the Nation
2:53 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Severe Storms Leave Nine Dead In Midwest

Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 6:34 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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.

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U.S.
3:50 pm
Thu February 2, 2012

Families Suffer Through Chicago Morgue Backlog

Workers fill a pauper's grave at Homewood Memorial Gardens, south of Chicago, with remains from the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, which is now catching up on its backlog of indigent burials.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 2, 2012 5:08 pm

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."

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Around the Nation
1:00 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Illinois' Quinn Pressured To Roll Back Tax Increase

Last year this time, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn was pushing a big income tax increase to help balance the state's budget. This year, Quinn is being pressured to roll part of that increase back. But the state is still months behind in paying its bills, with a pension shortfall looming.

Business
4:03 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Sushi, Smoothies, Manicures: Walgreens Goes Upscale

Walgreens' new 27,000-square-foot downtown Chicago location has a wine collection of more than 700 bottles, including one that sells for $500. The company says its flagship store with a European market feel is meant to be a destination to distinguish the chain's brand.
David Schaper NPR

Originally published on Tue January 10, 2012 8:47 pm

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.

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It's All Politics
1:03 pm
Tue January 3, 2012

In Final Pitch To Iowa Voters, Gingrich Stresses Experience

Gingrich with one of the many pieces of farm equipment he encountered on a last-minute campaign swing through Iowa. This tractor was on display at the Heartland Acres Agribition Center on Jan. 2 in Independence, Iowa.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

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.

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It's All Politics
8:58 am
Mon January 2, 2012

In Final Iowa Push, Once-Sunny Gingrich Says Romney 'Will Lie To You'

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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Election 2012
2:00 am
Mon January 2, 2012

Gingrich Pushes Back Against Negative Ads

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 5:24 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

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It's All Politics
10:26 am
Thu December 29, 2011

At Romney Rally, Iowa's Moderate GOP 'Silent Majority' Voters Start Talking

A young Mitt Romney supporter holds yard signs Thursday at a campaign event at J's Homestyle Cooking in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 4:26 am

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.

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It's All Politics
6:58 am
Thu December 29, 2011

Romney Rolling In Iowa, With Large Crowds And Growing Optimism

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.

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It's All Politics
4:13 pm
Wed December 28, 2011

Romney Jabs Rival, But Says He'd Take A President Paul Over Obama Part 2

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.

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It's All Politics
7:13 am
Wed December 28, 2011

In The Hunt For Votes, Romney Heads East To 2008 Iowa Stronghold

Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop Wednesday at Elly's Tea and Coffee in Muscatine, Iowa.
Chris Carlson Associated Press

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 8:18 am

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.

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It's All Politics
6:55 am
Wed December 28, 2011

Immigration Emerges As Key Issue For Some Iowa Voters

Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at a campaign event at Clark Electric Co-op on Dec. 27 in Osceola, Iowa. Perry's stance on immigration has troubled some Iowa voters.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 8:33 am

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.

Read more
Business
3:37 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Sears Considers Leaving Illinois For Better Tax Deal

Sears Holding Corp., parent company to Sears and Kmart, is considering a move from its corporate headquarters after a tax incentive package failed to pass the state House of Representatives. More than 6,000 employees work at the Hoffman Estates, Ill., campus.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 2, 2011 5:00 pm

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.

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Hard Times: A Journey Across America
10:01 pm
Tue November 29, 2011

A Steel Town Looks At Its Future, And Sees Rebirth

The old Granite City Steel Mill is now owned and operated by US Steel.
David Schaper NPR

Originally published on Wed November 30, 2011 10:07 am

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.

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