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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U.S.
6:46 am
Sat May 16, 2015

Red Tape Slows Control System That Could Have Saved Speeding Train

Officials attend the launch of a Positive Train Control system for Los Angeles' Metrolink commuter trains in February 2014 at Los Angeles Union Station. Congress mandated the technology after a Metrolink engineer ran a red light while he was texting and crashed head-on with a freight train in 2008.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Originally published on Sat May 16, 2015 5:35 pm

National Transportation Safety Board investigators say Positive Train Control — a system of satellites, communication towers and complex software that makes sure trains' safely follow their routes — would have prevented Tuesday's Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia, which killed eight passengers.

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The Two-Way
4:04 am
Wed May 6, 2015

Chicago Creates Reparations Fund For Victims Of Police Torture

Stanley Wrice pauses in December 2013 as he speaks to the media with his lawyer, Heidi Linn Lambros (left), and his daughter, Gail Lewis, while leaving Pontiac Correctional Center in Pontiac, Ill. Wrice was released after serving more than 30 years. He claimed for decades that Chicago police detectives under the command of then-Lt. Jon Burge beat and coerced him into confessing to rape.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Wed May 6, 2015 11:43 am

Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET.

The city of Chicago has become the first in the nation to create a reparations fund for victims of police torture, after the City Council unanimously approved the $5.5 million package.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the abuse and torture of scores of mostly black, male suspects in the 1970s, '80s and early '90s by former police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his detectives is a "stain that cannot be removed from our city's history."

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Europe
5:39 am
Sat March 28, 2015

Safety Experts Question Mental Screenings For Pilots

Originally published on Sat March 28, 2015 8:56 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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It's All Politics
4:49 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

Chicago Mayor's Race Reveals Deep Divide In Democratic Party

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to capture a majority of the vote last month, forcing him into a runoff. It's highlighting a divide among Democrats playing out nationally.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 5:39 pm

One of the nation's savviest politicians is in an unexpected fight.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's former White House chief of staff, is in an unprecedented runoff election next month.

The challenger, Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, contends that Emanuel favors the rich and powerful over working-class Chicagoans. But Emanuel is firing back, attacking Garcia for having no plan to deal with the city's deep financial problems.

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All Tech Considered
4:08 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Silicon Prairie: Tech Startups Find A Welcoming Home In The Midwest

Lincoln, Neb., is home to several startups, which use the city's low cost of living and high quality of life to attract workers.
Nicolas Henderson Flickr

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 5:50 am

Some startup entrepreneurs are leaving the high tech hot spots of San Francisco, New York and the Silicon Valley for greener pastures in a place that actually has greener pastures: Lincoln, Neb.

In fact, one of the secrets to the economic success of Lincoln, a city with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, is a surprisingly strong tech startup community that is part of what some in the region are calling the Silicon Prairie.

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U.S.
1:58 am
Mon March 2, 2015

A Nearly Recession-Proof City Is Not Slowing Down

Lincoln has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in revitalizing its downtown, a historic area called Haymarket, to create a more culturally vibrant urban center that is helping the city keep and attract young adults.
David Schaper NPR

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 6:15 am

At 2.5 percent, Lincoln, Neb., has one of the lowest jobless figures in the country. But that's nothing new — the city has ranked at or near the top of the nation, with one of the lowest unemployment rates for years, even during the Great Recession.

But on a recent visit, it's clear that Lincoln is not resting on its laurels. It's working hard at keeping and drawing talent to this city of nearly 300,000.

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The Two-Way
1:16 am
Thu February 5, 2015

U.N. Agency Sets New Standards For Tracking Aircraft In Flight

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 6:11 am

The United Nations' aviation organization is endorsing a new standard meant to keep air traffic authorities and airlines from losing track of a jetliner, such as Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

That plane disappeared into the Indian Ocean almost a year ago with 239 people on board.

Under the new policy, commercial airliners would be required to transmit their location every 15 minutes and every minute if in distress.

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Around the Nation
2:10 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Winter Storm Snarls Air Traffic Throughout Northeast

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 7:20 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Politics
3:01 am
Mon January 19, 2015

Private Sector Included In Plan To Finance Infrastructure Repairs

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 5:37 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Around the Nation
2:16 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

NTSB: D.C. Metro Incident Highlights Need To Improve Transit Safety

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 4:45 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Around the Nation
1:20 am
Wed December 24, 2014

The Year In Air Travel: Packed Planes And More Perks — For A Price

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 8:37 am

It's been a good year for commercial airlines.

With the economy recovering, more people are getting on planes and flying for both business and pleasure. And the cost of fuel, one of the airlines' biggest expenses, is dropping.

But as anyone traveling for the holidays can tell you, airfares remain high. And many frequent fliers at Chicago O'Hare International Airport say they wouldn't give the airlines perfect grades this year.

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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 Mon December 22, 2014 10:12 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Chicago Gets Out From Under Its History Of Political Patronage

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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