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 kylenorris.wordpress.com.

Ways To Connect

GOP Senatorial Debate

Jan 14, 2012

Five men hoping to challenge U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow in November spoke to Tea Party members Saturday afternoon in Mount Pleasant. The candidates included libertarian activist Scotty Boman; former Hillsdale College vice president Clark Durant; and Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association.

The debate was sponsored by Michigan for a Conservative Senate and CMU Campus Conservatives.

Former congressman Pete Hoekstra was not at the event. The GOP front runner has said he won’t participate in forums that are attached to a straw poll. The same tea party groups that sponsored the debate will participate in a straw poll next month to endorse a candidate.

Groundcover News

If you walk around downtown Ann Arbor you may have spotted people selling something called Groundcover News. The paper is what’s known as a street newspaper. That means homeless people sell the paper for $1 and they make a profit on every issue they sell. 

Groundcover News has articles about all kinds of topics written by the staff and other volunteers. But a growing number of the articles are being written by homeless people.

user will_cyclist / Flickr

Promoting winter sports may be a way to attract more tourists to Michigan, and more tourists mean more money. 

“Snow in Michigan is really white gold,” said Mary Dettloff with the Department of Natural Resources.

Snowmobiling is already a huge industry for the state. It attracts people from around the country, and Dettloff says it has an economic impact of more than $1 billion.

Michigan currently has 99 state parks and recreation areas where people can experience the great outdoors and do things like cross-country ski, snow-shoe, and hike. 

State parks also host special workshops and classes. One of the most popular programs is a “make-your-own-snowshoe” workshop. Some state parks also have dog-sled demonstrations and lantern-lit, nighttime skiing and hiking. (For the truly brave there’s a public luge in Muskegon State Park.)

Dettloff said the state has the potential to become a destination for winter sports but she said the state needs to do a better job promoting itself to tourists.

The Marvelettes have been nominated for a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
billboard.com

"Please Mister Postman" by The Marvelettes hit number one on Billboard Magazine's Hot 100 the week of December 11th, 1961. The group was formed by five high school students in the Detroit suburb of Inkster, originally going by the name The Casinyets (short for “Can’t Sing Yet").

"Please Mister Postman” featured lead vocals by Gladys Horton, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 66. It was the biggest hit The Marvelettes would have. The group also scored with classics like "Beechwood 4-5-7-8-9", "Too Many Fish In The Sea", and "Don't Mess With Bill".

Kids with autism struggle with reading non-verbal cues, like facial expressions. They also have a tough time knowing the right words to say. That’s why there are social skills clubs for kids with autism.

One such club meets regularly at Bel-Mark Lanes in Ann Arbor. There are three different groups based on age, and this particular group includes kids in junior high and high school.

After a little bowling, and cheering each other on, everybody heads back to a side room.

Campaign to End Homelessness website

The state is half-way through a ten year project called Michigan’s Campaign to End Homelessness. The project focuses on “housing first” or “rapid re-housing.” (That means reducing the amount of time people spend in shelters and trying to quickly find them permanent housing.)

Last year the state helped 40,000 people find stable housing.

Janet Irrer is the state’s homeless programs manager. She says housing first is a more humane way to help people make changes in their lives.

“You can’t deal with life in a shelter,” she says. “You can’t reach self-sufficiency there.”

The state is required to focus on housing first programs in order to get federal funding. Irrer says housing first programs are less expensive to run and help the state save money.

The Interlochen Center for the Arts is creating a program that will teach young musicians the "discipline of popular music songwriting."

Interlochen has traditionally been a mecca for classical music, but in recent years the institution (which hosts both a summer camp and a year-long school) has embraced more contemporary art forms.

For example, students can major in "motion picture arts" and study the latest filmmaking techniques.

Interlochen has just posted a job opening for a lead instructor for its new singer/songwriter program.

From Interlochen's website:

This program will lead students to creative approaches to popular musical composition by developing skills in melody, harmony, arranging, and lyric writing, while seeking to nurture a distinct individual writing and performance style.

The northern Michigan institution has taught many young musicians who've gone on to become successful singer/songwriters, including

  • Norah Jones,
  • Rufus Wainwright,
  • Sufjan Stevens,
  • and, most famously, Jewel Kilcher.

Flickr notladj

About 2.3 million people volunteer in Michigan each year. But the state wants even more people to lend a helping hand.

Paula Kaiser VanDam is the executive director of the Michigan Community Service Commission. Even though the holidays are a time when people are feeling especially generous, Kaiser VanDam hopes people will share their time and their selves throughout the year.

“There are volunteer opportunities all year long and we hope people would consider that kind of giving as well.”

Ozone House website

The holidays often highlight family and special meals. But those can be delicate issues for some people, including homeless kids.  Pam Cornell-Allen is Associate Director of Ozone House, a non-profit that helps homeless youth in Washtenaw County. She says the holidays focus on a sense of family, and that can be a tender subject for homeless kids.

DJ Urbn

On the dance floor at Stiletto’s nightclub in Inkster you will find nurses, hair stylists, factory workers, fast food employees, students, professors, and business people. They come from tight-knit neighborhoods in Detroit, ritzy enclaves in Royal Oak, and from university campuses.

People in their twenties dance next to senior citizens, and there is every shade of skin tone in this place.

The club’s personnel manager Carolyn Sopko calls the crowd diverse and inclusive.

Mark Bowers

Two Michigan psychologists have created a smart phone app to help kids with autism develop better social skills. Kelly Bowers and her husband Mark are both psychologists who work with kids. They watched their patients learn social skills in workshop settings, but noticed the kids had a harder time applying those skills to real-life situations.

Operators of the Palisades nuclear plant say they've restarted the power generator on the Lake Michigan shoreline after a one-week shutdown following a mechanical problem.
    

Authorities say the plant shut down automatically September 25 when two small pieces of metal inside the breaker panel touched, causing a short circuit.
    

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said last week that the plant would remain offline until workers determine what happened and fixed the problems.
    

Flickr bfishadow

Ohio's minimum wage will increase by 30 cents to $7.70 an hour at the start of 2012. Officials at the state Department of Commerce said Friday that the increase is part of a constitutional amendment voters approved in 2006, which says minimum wage will increase each year at the rate of inflation.

The $7.70 rate applies to workers 16 and older who don't get tips. The wage for tipped employees will be $3.85, a 15 cent increase.

The wage will be required from employers who gross more than $283,000 annually, up from the current $271,000.

Department of Defense

A Marine from Genesee County has been reported killed during combat operations in Afghanistan.
    

The military says Friday that 28-year-old staff Sgt. Nicholas Sprovtsoff of Davison and 27-year-old Sgt. Christopher Diaz of Albuquerque died Wednesday in Helmand Province.
    

Sprovtsoff was assigned to the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command at Camp Pendleton, California.  Diaz was assigned to Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California.
    

Flickr/stovak

The ongoing debate in churches regarding homosexuality is being argued on 10 billboards in northwest Ohio. The Toledo Blade reports that Toledo's Central United Methodist church posted a single roadside billboard in April that said that being gay is a gift from God. That has led the minister at Church on Strayer to offer an opposite view.
    

Flickr/lavocado

One Michigan library wants to help clear up the confusion many people have about the legal issues concerning medical marijuana.

Chelsea Hagger / MPRN

Texas Governor and Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry addressed Michigan Republicans Saturday on Mackinac Island. Perry used the opportunity to try to win over a crowd that has some affection for Michigan native Mitt Romney.

Perry made sure the audience knew right away that he knows his way around Michigan, telling a brief story about his father buying a truck in Fenton. He also told Michigan Republican Party faithful that he is proud of the state’s voters for electing a Republican-led Legislature and a Republican governor.

user krossbow / Flickr

Eastern Michigan University's Board of Regents has approved a contract that will bring more job security and better wages to part-time faculty at Eastern Michigan University.

The regents unanimously approved the agreement on Tuesday. The contract takes effect immediately.

user gomich / Flickr

Central Michigan University and its faculty are waiting for a report from a fact-finder appointed by a state agency that could help settle their contract dispute.

Meetings with the fact-finder wrapped up last week. A report is likely sometime in late October or early November.

Members of the Central Michigan University Faculty Association went on strike for most of Aug. 22, which was the first day of classes for the fall semester. A judge ordered faculty members back to work but they are still allowed to demonstrate on campus.

Flickr/Vampire Bear

A pilot with the Monroe County sheriff's office spotted many marijuana plants Saturday while flying over two corn fields in Milan Township, 60 miles west of Detroit.

Deputies counted 55 mature plants worth at least $25,000. The discovery is under investigation.

Federal drug agents from Toledo, Ohio, are also part of the case.

The state is holding a series of workshops to get the public’s feedback about historic preservation. A meeting is planned in Traverse City on September 21 and in Detroit on October 12. Another meeting will take place in Lansing in January.

People have already attended workshops in Kalamazoo and Midland. Their biggest concern so far is the lack of funding for preservation programs.

Laura Ashlee is with The State Historic Preservation Office.

“As part of the governor’s restructuring of taxes in Michigan for businesses he eliminated the tax credits for historic preservation. There will be a new program, we believe, and we’re going to work with the governor to implement that program.”

Ashlee says historic preservation also makes economic sense. She says people are employed when working on restorations. She also says historic buildings attract people and businesses to that area. 

The State Historic Preservation Office is in the process of writing its plan for the next five years. And the public’s feedback will help shape its plan.

Part-time instructors at Eastern Michigan University are voting on whether to approve a tentative contract agreement between the union and the university. The agreement would raise the minimum salary and provide more job security and protections.

Zachary Jones is a lecturer in geography and geology at EMU. He says part-time instructors end up teaching at many different schools, and do not earn a decent living wage. Jones says this contract represents a change in attitude of how the university treats its part-time instructors, and he says it boils down to an issue of respect.

user rkramer62 / Flickr

An invasive insect may wipe out the ash trees at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The emerald ash borer has infested up to 90 percent of the ash trees on the lakeshore's mainland in the northwestern Lower Peninsula. The first case was discovered in June and the tree-killing pest has spread quickly.

Lakeshore officials are considering their options to try to control the ash borer, but things look bleak.

Flickr/Jaymi Heimbuch

A job training center for people with disabilities starts its fall session on Monday. The Michigan Career and Technical Institute is in Plainwell, about 20 miles north of Kalamazoo.  It's the second largest program of its kind in the country.

Up to 350 students live on campus while taking classes. The institute offers 14 training programs to people with various disabilities.

Flickr/Ohio University Libraries

Two Michigan universities have reported more students on campus as the new academic year gets under way.
 

Michigan State University said Friday that preliminary enrollment is about 47,800 students, up from 47,131 last year. The East Lansing school says they had a record 28,547 applications this year.
    

Meanwhile, Saginaw Valley State University in University Center has broken its enrollment record this year with 10,790 students. That's up from 10,656 during the last school year.

(Associated Press)    

A double dose of bad news for Republican state Representative Paul Scott this weekend. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has formally approved a question to recall him for the November ballot. She says a teacher union-backed effort turned in enough valid petition signatures of registered voters to qualify for the ballot.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

When something big happens in your life, sometimes you just have to get it out.

Talk to a friend. Share it with your family, or just shout it out loud.

You know, express yourself a little.

Expression through song writing and production are skills that the organizers of Studio on the Go hope to teach kids in Michigan.

Kyle Norris reports the program "travels to schools and community centers in Flint, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo":

Kids use computers and keyboards to make music and beats and then they write lyrics about their lives, and finally record the songs. Kids are given a topic to write about, like "education," “making it” and "family"... The results are songs about their personal struggles along with heartfelt tributes. Some kids sing about what it’s like to have someone they love die or to have a family member in jail. Instructors say the kids learn a combination of technical skills along with life skills.

Michigan Radio's Multimedia Producer Mercedes Mejia and Reporter Kyle Norris put this video together about the program:

 

 

 

 

If Studio on the Go came to your town, what would your "making it" or "family" song be about?

Mercedes Mejia

A program based out of Flint teaches kids the fundamentals of songwriting and music production. But the songs kids write are not your typical bubble-gum pop. The program is a professional music studio that travels to schools and community centers in Flint, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo. It's called Studio on the Go.

About a quarter of Michigan's 43,000 state prisoners are mentally ill, and new Michigan Corrections Director Dan Heyns says he wants to shift responsibility for their treatment from his department to other agencies.
    

Heyns says in an interview with The Detroit News that his department "has had a kind of mission creep over the years." He says the department needs to return to its original mission.
    

Central Michigan University says there’s been some progress involving contract talks with the faculty union this weekend. The progress has been related to non-economic issues, but there’s still a big gap having to do with pay and benefits.

Talks took place Saturday. Classes are scheduled to start Monday on the Mount Pleasant campus.

The faculty union has a meeting planned Sunday afternoon to discuss whether or not to hold a job action. A job action could include a strike over the failure to reach a labor contract. The professors have been without a contract since June.

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