Kyle Norris

Weekend Host/Producer

Kyle Norris got her start in radio as a Michigan Radio intern. Her features have appeared on The Environment Report, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The Splendid Table, World Vision Report, Justice Talking, and The Health Show.

In 2008, she won a Division A (News Staff of 5 or more) first place award from Public Radio News Directors Incorporated for best investigative journalism.

Norris is endlessly fascinated with people and their struggles. She's also fascinated with the figurative beating of the human heart. She loves public radio because it gives her the chance to explore all of those things.

In her downtime she enjoys soccer, yoga, and coffee. Her website is at

Ways To Connect

Kyle Norris

Matthew Dawson is the kid wearing sunglasses inside, in the middle of the day. He’s in a room full of about twenty kids who flip, dip, and cat-walk in a dance style known as “vogue.” (For a quick reference, think Madonna’s “Vogue” video from 1990.)

He says this style of dancing is a powerful way for him to express himself. “One of the emotions I say I put into my vogue is anger. I feel like I put it into vogue so I won’t have to put it into other things that are not very constructive.”

Matthew Dawson says as an LGBTQ young person, if he danced like this in the outside world—or on the street—he would not be safe.  And these vogue dancers find safety in their dance community.

Several Wayne State University students started Street Medicine Detroit in May.

They’d heard about a similar program in Pittsburg and they were inspired. They partnered with a Detroit non-profit called Neighborhood Service Organization and together they created a mobile medical clinic.

Philip Ramsey is a community outreach specialist with NSO. (Rumor has it that if you’re trying to locate a specific homeless person, and you give Ramsey the vaguest of details, he can go out and find that person who might be living in a tent next to highway.)

It’s Ramsey’s job to drive the med team around the streets and back-alleys of Detroit and to help them locate homeless people who are in need of medical services.

So once a week, the van rumbles down Michigan Avenue past prostitutes on the corners and a young man pushing a baby stroller.  Ramsey helps the team find people who are lying down on the ground or sitting on the curb. He says additional clues that someone may be homeless are people with dirty clothes and uncombed hair, or people who are openly drinking.

Sean Hunter / flickr

Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris has been been spending a lot of time in Detroit lately to report on stories of people doing things to help the homeless in the city.

And this week Michigan Radio will be airing the first of her three part series on the homeless on Stateside.

Norris reported on a mobile medical clinic that works with the homeless, how a woman gives homeless shelters makeovers, and how homeless gay youth create their own families.

Norris talked about her experience reporting on these stories on Seeking Change. She says her stories are about people doing little things to make a difference for the homeless in Detroit.

cncphtos / flickr

It's a busy news week in Michigan politics. This week Kyle Norris and Jack Lessenberry discuss various proposals and happenings in Lansing:

1. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway faces allegations of fraud in a federal civil lawsuit. It accuses Hathaway and her husband of hiding assets to qualify for a short sale on a $1.5 million dollar home in Florida.

2. A proposed bill that would allow people to claim a 12-week-old fetus as a dependent for tax exceptions.

3. Another proposed bill would bring massive overhaul of Michigan's school funding system. Jack discusses some of the major changes. /

Homeless Awareness Week in Michigan is November 10-18. The idea is to highlight the causes of homelessness and the issues that homeless people face. There are events planned in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Port Huron, and other towns.

In Livingston County a group of people will live in their cars for 24 hours and eat only what they can buy with about $5 in food stamps, in order to raise awareness.

User: cncphotos / flickr

Every week Michigan Radio talks with political analyst Jack Lessenberry about what's been happening in Michigan politics.

This week Lessenberry and Kyle Norris talked about how Governor Rick Snyder is campaigning against all of the ballot proposals except for Proposal 1. Prop 1 involves emergency managers. And how Proposal 5, the proposal that deals with raising taxes, seems to be the most confusing and controversial proposal.

Norris and Lessenberry also discussed if Hurricane Sandy will influence Michigan voters, and how a recent Romney campaign ad claims the auto bailout resulted in GM using that money to hire more workers in China than in the U.S. Lessenberry says the ad isn't true.

NMU Center for Native American Studies

Imagine eating the same foods that Native Americans in the Great Lakes region ate before European settlers arrived. That’s the idea behind a one-year study at Northern Michigan University.

Bob Kolt is using a wildly popular video clip to teach future politicians the importance of knowing their lines. It’s an excerpt from the 2007 Miss Teen USA competition. In the video, Miss South Carolina is asked why she thinks 1/5 of Americans can’t find the United States on a map.

The Yard is a new center for homeless and runaway youth based in Wyandotte. It provides tutoring, food, computers, a washer and dryer, and a place for young people to hangout.

Jane Scarlett is the director of homeless programs at Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency.  She’s says school districts call the agency on a daily basis looking for organizations that can help homeless kids in their area. But Scarlett says it’s tough to know exactly how many homeless kids are out there.

Schools across Michigan have wrapped up a week of activities designed to help students better understand America’s founding principles.

Michael Warren is an Oakland County Circuit Court Judge and co-founder of Patriot Week. He started the project in 2009 because he says people have a poor understanding of American history and government.

An organization in Ann Arbor is providing independent musicians with tools and experience to help develop their careers as musicians.  The event is called “Fresh Water Musicon” and it happens Saturday, September 22.


When people find out I work in radio, there are usually a few classic questions they ask.

"How'd you get into it?" (I got my foot in the door as an intern.) "Are you related to Michelle Norris?" (Nope.) "Where do your story ideas come from?" (From different news outlets, TV Shows, books, people, press releases, conversations, and a lot of times from my own curiosity.)

But another place our stories come from is you. We read and listen to the letters and calls you send us, and occasionally, we bite.

Tom Hayden, co-author of the Port Huron Statement
user KCET Departures / Flickr

A group of university students wrote the Port Huron Statement fifty years ago at a UAW retreat center, north of Port Huron. They called themselves “Students for a Democratic Society.” One of the main participants was political activist Tom Hayden, who was in his early twenties at the time.

The statement begins with these words: "We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit."

Don Coles /

Harsens Island is known as a laid-back retirement-and-vacation community in Lake St. Clair. About 1200 people live there year-round, and that number grows to 5,000 during the summer months.

In order to visit the island you can take your own boat or you can take Champion’s Auto Ferry. But people who live there may not be able to take the ferry in the near future because the company’s owner wants to retire, and since the ferry service is a private business, it’s not clear whose responsible when it comes to maintaining service.


The Ann Arbor District is thinking outside of the box with a new collection called "Music Tools."

The small collection features quirky instruments and sound processors. It includes items with futuristic names that make sounds like hovering spaceships and funky clicks and clacks.

Flickr user Miss Lauralee

A new program in Detroit is taking a creative approach to helping former inmates improve their lives. That approach involves pairing two groups of people who often don't trust one another: former inmates and police officers.

Jessica Taylor came up with the idea for the mentorship program called New Beginnings. She’s Executive Director of Chance for Life, a non-profit that helps inmates transition back into the community after they've been released.

As part of the mentorship program, officers drive the men to counseling appointments and recovery programs. They help the men obtain birth certificates and social security cards. The pairs also take part in social activities, like going to ball games.

At first, Taylor says it was a tough sell to both groups. But after a few months of spending time together, she says the men consider each other friends, and some even consider one another family.

Taylor says if you want to make communities safer, you have to engage the people who make them unsafe, and you have to involve the police. She hopes to expand the program in the near future.

Boat on Northport Bay, Lake Michigan
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A lot of us in Michigan are passionate about going up north.

“I remember the good old days when my dad would pack us up in the station wagon and head up north. It was 80 acres in the middle of nowhere … I’m heading to Petoskey on Wednesday and on Thursday or Friday to Whitefish Point and Tahquamenon Falls… Tomorrow, I’m making my annual pilgrimage to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.”

Those are comments from Michigan Radio's Facebook fans, answering the question, “Anyone headed up north this weekend?”

But where is up north, and why do we love going?

The definition of “up north” is incredibly personal. It has to do with where you’re from and where you’re headed.  But there seems to be a general consensus, of where it begins, at least for people in the Lower Peninsula.

“In Michigan, I think the north begins right about halfway across the mitten—or you can be a little more exact and say Highway 10. Somewhere between Clare & Ludington," said nature writer Keith Taylor.  He says the world around you begins to change quickly once you cross that line.

“You suddenly start seeing white pines and white birches," he said. "So the trees change.”

Taylor says people have always craved a landscape that’s different from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives.  For people who lived in Detroit in the '20s and '30s, going “up north” just meant traveling one county over.  These days, “up north” usually means driving a couple of hours in the car.

Taylor says we’re lucky that in Michigan there are a lot of places close by.

“It’s the interesting thing about our state: there’s the major industries to the south employing all those people and we’re so close to the edge of the wilderness," he said.


Many genres of music have deep roots in the city of Detroit, including punk, rock-and-roll, blues, techno and soul music. A new organization wants to help connect people and groups that have been archiving Detroit’s musical history.  

Carleton Gholz is the president and founder of the Detroit Sound Conservancy. He’s been researching a book about the rise of DJ and hip-hop culture in Detroit. During that time, he’s come across small archiving groups, music journalists, and older musicians. Now Gholz wants to unite them.

Flickr user rawmustard

Graduation parties are in full-swing right now. If you had stumbled upon one recent graduation party in Howell, you would have found picnic food, party games, and a live DJ. But there was something unique about this celebration.

The seven students here celebrating their high school diplomas are also homeless. (An additional student earned a GED.)

Several weeks ago, The World did a story about dance clubs popping-up in Europe for one hour, during lunchtime. (Basically people can swing by an alcohol-free, make-shift dance club at noon. Organizers even provide free lunches!)

While we don’t quite have anything like this in Michigan, we do have events where people can enjoy free music and get their dance on—if they want to.

A little more than a year ago, there were four people in the Reynolds family. Today, there are three—parents Angela and Ryan Reynolds—and their four-year-old son, Tanner.                                                                               

Facebook/Chevron Houston Marathon

Nick Stanko is a small guy with a shaved head. He’s an art teacher at Haslett High School, east of Lansing, and he also coaches the track team.

Stanko is hard-core about running. He’s tried out for the Olympic team twice and even the kids on his track team admit he’s a big deal. Senior Ryan Beyea told me he likes to brag to kids at other high schools that he gets to train alongside the legend, Nick Stanko.

In January, Stanko traveled to Texas to compete in the Olympic trials for the marathon and Beyea and some of other kids went down to support their coach.

Sylvar / flickr

Michigan ranks tenth in the country, when it comes to the number of people who are overweight or obese. It's an issue that affects many of us personally, and it affects society as a whole.

A new HBO, documentary series called  The Weight of the Nation takes an in-depth look at this epidemic. It's in partnership with the Center for Disease Control & Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.

John Hoffman is an HBO producer who worked on the documentary. The documentary recently screened in Detroit. He says, "We’ve got to engage the entire nation in addressing obesity. Almost 70% of adults and a third of children are overweight or obese, and the costs are just going to bankrupt our health care system. Our national security is threatened when one quarter of recruits can’t qualify for our military service because they are overweight or obese…so, we are trying to sound the loudest possibly alarm in every community that this has got to become a priority."

Obesity seems to hit minorities and poor people especially hard. Hoffman says it's a matter of economics and not race. 

DDHS website

A new group of history lovers has been meeting to talk about Detroit’s history. The Detroit Drunken Historical Society started three months ago and the group meets at a different Detroit bar each month.

At the group's meetings, a speaker usually gives an informal presentation. Recent topics included Native American Chief Pontiac and Detroit Catholic priest and politician Gabriel Richard

Kyle Norris

Seven years ago, political science professor Ron Stockton was mentoring a student from Poland who was struggling with a writing assignment. So Stockton told her to imagine she was writing a letter to her great-grandchildren describing her life here as an immigrant. The student loved the idea, got super excited, and spread the word about Stockton’s technique.  

Flickr/York College of PA

The shootings at Virginia Tech happened five years ago this month. That event caused many colleges and universities to reevaluate safety issues on campus.

Pat Gotschalk is associate dean of students at Michigan Technological University in Houghton.  She says after the Virginia Tech shooting, her university created what they call an “early intervention team.” The team is made up of staff members who identify students who may be struggling.

Gotschalk says originally the team looked for students with academic problems. But over time, they’ve broadened their focus. She says now they deal with students struggling with behavioral, conduct, mental health, or adjustment issues.

The team reaches out to about one-hundred students each year and helps connect students with counselors or support services. Gotschalk says most large schools and universities have programs that are similar.

Flickr user alicegop

Here's another reason to pay your parking tickets: Your driver's license could be blocked.

A Michigan law kicking in on May 16 says three unpaid parking tickets can prevent renewal of a license. The current threshold is six.

Local governments notify the secretary of state when someone has too many unpaid parking tickets, although some communities are more aggressive than others. Birmingham in suburban Detroit turns unpaid tickets over to a collection agency.

The White House hosted the LGBT Conference on Housing and Homelessness today in Detroit. It explored various issues lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people face when it comes to finding housing or dealing with homelessness. This was one of four such conferences the White House is hosting around the country.

Flickr user poka0059

Organizers of a new campaign want to educate people about the dangers of distracted driving. The project is called "Remembering Ally: Distracted Driving Awareness Campaign." It was named in honor of Ally Zimmerman. She was sixteen when she was killed by a distracted driver.

Jim Santilli is executive director of the Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan. He says one simple mistake made by a distracted driver can change the lives of many people.

On Tuesday TIA will hold a conference at Zimmerman’s former high school in Romeo. The speakers will include members of her family as well as government and safety officials. A new, graphic video that details what happens in a car crash will also be shown.

The campaign is geared toward teens and young adults, but Santilli says older adults are also guilty of distracted driving.

Flickr user Ian Kath

The Arab American National Museum wants to become more than “a building filled with stuff.” That’s why it’s recording the stories of everyday people as part of an on-going project.

The museum just released three interviews it did in conjunction with Storycorps, about profiling and stereotyping after 9-11. The interviews are posted on the website But the museum regularly posts other recordings and podcasts on i-tunes & YouTube

Matthew Stiffler is a researcher at the museum.  He says one way to counter Islamaphobia is when people who don’t know Arab Americans or Muslim Americans listen to these recordings. “Listening to stories and having these personal connections is the best way to overcome this sort of bias and bigotry that is rampant right now.”

This summer the museum plans to record Arab American kids talking about how the Arab Spring has affected their lives and their ideas about democracy.