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
3:01 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 1:08 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
2:16 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 1:28 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
3:07 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
3:23 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 4:56 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
4:27 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 5:17 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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The Two-Way
7:41 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.

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Around the Nation
6:03 am
Thu May 29, 2014

NPR Reporter Witnesses One Of Chicago's Latest Shootings

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 1:33 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
4:14 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

NTSB Raises New Concerns About Dreamliner's Lithium Ion Battery

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 5:04 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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Business
4:01 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Summer Travel Season Expected To Heat Up

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 12:46 pm

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
4:18 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Oil Industry Blamed For Freight Rail Delays

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 6:46 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.

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News
3:22 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

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

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 6:15 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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Business
3:56 am
Tue April 22, 2014

For Short Trips, Intercity Buses Horn In On Airline Customers

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 11:18 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.

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Around the Nation
3:15 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 4:29 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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Business
4:19 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Fewer Complaints Help To Boost Airline Quality Ratings

Originally published on Tue April 8, 2014 7:09 am

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.

Sports
4:39 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Chicago Celebrates A Century Of Baseball At Wrigley Field

The view inside Wrigley Field during a 1959 Cubs game. The stadium was built in 1914 and celebrates its centennial this year.
AP

Originally published on Fri April 4, 2014 7:22 am

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.

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