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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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.

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This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Much of the South is going through a devastating week. Tornadoes struck Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee last night. At least 11 people were killed.

GREENE: And all that came a day after a tornado struck Arkansas, leaving 15 people dead there. The National Weather Service estimates it carved a 40-mile long path through an area west of Little Rock.

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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.

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.

The nation's airlines are running late more often and losing more suitcases. But passengers are complaining less, that's boosted airline quality ratings to their highest level ever.

When the first pitch is thrown between the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, it will mark the start of the 100th professional baseball season at iconic Wrigley Field.

The ball park on Chicago's North Side, known as the Friendly Confines, opened as the home of the Chicago Federals 100 years ago this month.

The Cubs moved there two years later, and in all that time the Cubs have never won a World Series. There hasn't even been a World Series game played at Wrigley since the end of World War II.

A Chicago law firm is taking the first legal action against Malaysian Airlines and Boeing, the maker of the 777 that disappeared over the Indian Ocean, on behalf of the families of the passengers.

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A major ruling by a federal agency could turn the multibillion dollar business of college sports upside down. The top National Labor Relations Board official in Chicago says college football players on scholarship at Northwestern University can unionize.

NPR's David Schaper reports.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

A ruling by the National Labor Relations Board today could really shake up big-money college sports. The board took the first step in favor of allowing Northwestern University's football players to unionize. A regional director for the board ruled that these college athletes meet the definition of university employees under federal law.

Bitter cold has returned to parts of the Midwest, mid-Atlantic and Northeast, following another heavy snowstorm that left 1 to 2 feet of snow from Ohio to New England.

And when all this snow finally melts, it'll expose the physical toll of this brutal winter: potholes, broken water mains, collapsed catch basins and other infrastructure problems.

"This winter's crazy, crazy busy," says John Polishak, a foreman for the Chicago Department of Water Management. "Everybody's been working 16 hours a day, seven days a week. It's exhausting."

Delta is making radical changes to its Sky Miles frequent-flier program. It is rewarding the customers who buy the most expensive tickets instead of giving miles equally based on miles flown.

After several lean years of cutting budgets to the bone, states hit hard by the deep recession finally have good fiscal news: Many states are now projecting budget surpluses.

But in an election year for three dozen governors, these surpluses are setting up potential political battles over what to do with the extra cash.

The first salvos are coming from governors themselves, in their annual State of the State addresses, as many of them take credit for bringing budgetary warmth to states that suffered through long, bitterly cold economic winters.

Oil business in North Dakota is creating some big headaches for Amtrak travelers. Trains on the popular Empire Builder route between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest are often delayed for hours.

One reason for the congestion is an influx of trains hauling crude oil across the Northern Plains.

The delays are becoming so bad that a passenger group now wants the U.S. transportation secretary to intervene.

Frozen Before Ice Fishing

The National Transportation Safety Board is calling for the swift enactment of tough new standards on trains carrying crude oil. And in an unprecedented move, the NTSB made its recommendations jointly with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

With the huge increase in oil shipped by train across North America, the agencies warn another major disaster could be looming.

Newly released internal church documents indicate that for decades, top leaders in Chicago's Catholic Archdiocese tried to hide allegations of sexual abuse by priests. The documents were released on Tuesday as part of a settlement agreement with victims of 30 abusive priests. Those survivors now accuse church leaders of orchestrating a cover-up.

While many of us may prefer to never again see temperatures drop below zero like they did earlier this week across the country, the deep freeze is putting warm smiles on the faces of many entomologists.

That's because it may have been cold enough in some areas to freeze and kill some damaging invasive species of insects, including the tree-killing emerald ash borer.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Imagine being on a quiet fishing trip and suddenly coming face-to-face with creatures who are huge and can leap out of the water. And, by the way, they reproduce in big numbers. They are Asian carp. They have already invaded parts of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Now there are fears Asian carp could take over the Great Lakes. Researchers believe they know how to slow this invasion but it could be costly and it could take decades.

Here's NPR's David Schaper.

(SOUNDBITE OF A MOTOR BOAT)

North Dakota and western Canada are producing crude oil faster than it can be shipped to refineries.

Rail car manufacturers can't make new tank cars fast enough, and new pipeline proposals face long delays over environmental concerns. So energy companies are looking for new ways to get the heavy crude to market.

One proposed solution is to ship the oil by barge over the Great Lakes — but it's a controversial one.

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.

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.

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.

The cleanup continues across the Midwest, where dozens of tornadoes struck on Sunday. The Illinois town of Washington appears to have been hardest hit. The mayor says as many as 500 homes were damaged or destroyed by a tornado that cut a path about an eighth of a mile wide from one side of the town to the other.

Scores of tornados touched down across the Midwest on Sunday, leveling homes and killing at least eight.

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.

It is still as dark as night as Jim Rix steps out of his red brick Chicago bungalow and gets into his car, parked on the street. It's 6 a.m., and the 53-year-old engineer is getting an early start on his 35-mile commute out to Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago's southwest suburbs.

"Depending upon weather and time of day, it can take 45 minutes to two hours to get to and from work," Rix says.

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.

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.

Chicago police have charged four men — including two suspected gunmen — in the shooting injuries of 13 people. Police said the two suspects opened fire in retaliation for an earlier shooting, in which one of them was slightly wounded.

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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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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A late summer heat wave has much of the Midwest broiling. Temperatures today soared into the 90s in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Iowa, Illinois, as well as other states. And the heat forced some schools that are more accustomed to closing for snow days, to call off classes because of the heat.

From sweltering Chicago, NPR's David Schaper reports.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Riding up the elevator to the fourth floor of Chicago's Josephinum Academy with school president Michael Dougherty, you can just feel the air get hotter and thicker.

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