Offbeat

Stateside
11:24 am
Wed July 23, 2014

President of GVSU looks back on the clean-up of the Exxon Valdez oil spill

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
Credit ARLIS Reference / Flickr

We've just marked the 25th anniversary of one of the most catastrophic man-made environmental disasters, the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

It was just after midnight on March 24, 1989 when the Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Prince William Sound. 11 million gallons of crude oil gushed into the pristine waters.

The clean-up effort was staggering. Among those called to help was U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Commander Thomas Haas. He was a chemist and an expert in hazmat cleanup. Twenty-five years later, that Lt. Commander is the president of Grand Valley State University.

“We had to figure out what clean meant,” Haas said.

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Stateside
12:16 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Retired FBI agent appears in PBS' new documentary "Who Killed Jimmy Hoffa?"

Credit WEWS-TV / YouTube

Thirty-nine years ago this month, Jimmy Hoffa was last seen having lunch at a restaurant in Bloomfield Township in Oakland County.

Retired FBI agent, Greg Stejskal, will appear in the new PBS documentary “Who Killed Jimmy Hoffa?”

He joined us today on Stateside to revisit the mystery of the Jimmy Hoffa disappearance.

Stejskal was a new agent with the FBI in Detroit in the summer of 1975 when Hoffa disappeared. The investigation into his disappearance was declared a Bureau "Special," which meant most of the agents in the Detroit office became involved.

One of Stejskal’s duties was to conduct neighborhood interviews around the Machus Red Fox restaurant, the last place where Hoffa was seen.

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Offbeat
5:37 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

This Michigan-bred musician did zero out of 29 celebrity impressions. I was punked.

Credit screen grab from Rob Cantor on YouTube, Microsoft Paint by Dustin Dwyer

I should have known. 

Two weeks ago, I was making a rare visit to our Ann Arbor office (I live in Grand Rapids), and I stumbled across a video I thought would be great for our website. The video featured a singer named Rob Cantor as he performed – or at least claimed to perform – 29 celebrity impressions in one song. And they were good impressions, crazy good. 

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Offbeat
8:31 am
Fri July 4, 2014

The search begins for Michigan's official Christmas tree

It may only be July, but Michigan has already begun its search for this year's official Christmas tree.

People can nominate their picks for trees that could fit the bill.

Usually 10 to 15 trees are nominated, and the one that's chosen must be easy to access.

But the process isn't a quick one.

The search begins in the summer to allow enough time to prepare, choose, harvest, and transport the tree to the Capitol.

Lauren Leeds is a spokeswoman for the state. She says cutting down these trees often also helps the surrounding area.

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Stateside
5:20 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

University of Michigan professor uncovers surprising history of "The Star-Spangled Banner"

U of M School of Music, Theater and Dance Professor Scott Piper and pianist Michael Carpenter at Stamps Auditorium, performing "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Credit Courtesy of Mark Clague

It’s one of the most stirring and glorious melodies ever sung – and it can be one of the easiest tunes to sing badly.

But did you know that our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” started out as an English club song? And it has officially been the national anthem for less than a century?

Mark Clague is a musicologist with the University of Michigan. He’s been working on a project, “Poets and Patriots: A Tuneful History of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’” 

Today, he shared some of that history with us.

* Listen to the full interview above. 

This segment originally aired on February 12, 2014.

Offbeat
2:12 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

This Michigan-bred musician nails 29 celebrity impressions in one song

Credit montage of screen grabs from robcantor's YouTube page

Update: Rob Cantor has posted a new video showing how he faked every one of the 29 celebrity impressions, using the voices of 11 different impressionists. I'm a fool.   

How's your work day going? Productive? Ready for a break? Good. 

Rob Cantor is a Los Angeles-based musician who grew up in Michigan.

You might know him as the guy in the yellow tie from Tally Hall, a band that formed while Cantor and his band mates attended the University of Michigan in 2002.

Tally Hall took a run at stardom after signing with Atlantic Records. They had some appearances on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and, as the band's Wikipedia page claims, Tally Hall continues to have a "relatively significant cult following."

More recently, Tally Hall's band members have been working on solo projects, and Cantor is promoting a new solo album.

That brings us to the crazy video Cantor posted today.

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Stateside
6:26 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Are you a Yooper looking for love? Find your lumberjack here

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The Pew Research Center tells us that 1 in 10​ Americans has turned to online dating sites.

Some are very general, such as eHarmony or Match.com.

And some get very specific, such as JDate for Jewish singles, or farmersonly.com for ... well, you get the picture.

Bugsy Sailor, a born-and-bred Yooper, realized that finding love in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is challenging.

So he founded yoopersingles.com.

It started off as an April Fool’s joke. But on the first day, nearly 1,000 people had signed up. Sailor realized that this might be something to look into.

“Yoopers are a unique breed,” Sailor said. “We have a culture that is one of its own and it’s a remote area. It’s different meeting people here than I would say in the city.”

Sailor said one of the main challenges is finding someone with the same interests. A Yooper would have to find someone who can handle the mosquito bites and the cold winters.

“If you find love in Florida, it’s kind of difficult to convince them to move to the UP,” Sailor said.

Subscribers list their interests. Some are simple, like kayaking, hiking, or basketball. Sailor said home brewing is big in the UP.  

“Interestingly enough, a large number of users have selected bear wrestling as a potential interest,” Sailor said.

Another question: “How do you like your pasty? With ketchup, gravy or naked?”

*Listen to interview above.

Made in Michigan
2:57 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Found in kitchens nationwide, Jiffy Mix is made in Michigan

Credit Andrew Filer / flickr

When you think of Jiffy Mix, you may think biscuits and corn muffins. But did you know they are also Michigan made?

Howdy Holmes is the president and CEO of Jiffy Mix. His grandmother is the one who started it all.

When Howdy’s father and uncle, Howard and Dudley, were young, they had a friend who was being raised by a single parent. The young boys invited their friend over for lunch, and he arrived with a bag lunch made by his dad. Howard and Dudley’s mother was concerned about what the father had made for his son.

“She opened the bag and right on top was a biscuit, which she said looked more like a white hockey puck,” Howdy said.

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Offbeat
6:14 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Detroit Public Schools system is auctioning off jets

Credit Wikimedia Commons

If owning a jet is something you've always dreamed of, the Detroit Public School system is auctioning off a couple of them.

An online auction being held today by Biddergy.com gives you the chance to bid on a T-39A North American Sabreliner mid-sized business jet. The U.S. Air Force had donated the plane to the school's aeropsace program. Biddergy says it's in fairly rough shape, which is why the starting bid was $500. 

There's also a 1969 American AA –minus its wings. Starting bid is just $50.

Another auction on June 19 will include vintage items from aircraft engines to propellers and more, dating all the way back to World War II.

Biddergy is helping the DPS sell off stuff it just doesn't need anymore. So far, the auctions have brought more than $370,000 to the district.

Stateside
4:31 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

How to ensure your job application is social media savvy

A well developed LinkedIn profile and a professional social media presence could make all the difference in the job hunt.
Credit user: Chris Messina / Flickr

The graduation ceremonies are over, the caps and gowns stored in the back of the closet, and the photos of college grads and proud family members are posted on Facebook. 

Now comes reality for new college grads: the job search. 

And in this digital world packed with social media, the old-fashioned one-page resume and cover letter might not cut it anymore. 

What do recruiters and companies want to see from applicants? 

For advice, we turned to someone who has been a career counselor for 13 years at the University of Michigan School of Information. Joanna Kroll is the director of career development, and she joined us on Stateside. 

*Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
4:47 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

New program helps families communicate with loved ones in prison

Family Participation Program helps families contact loved ones behind bars.
Credit Derek Key / Flickr

There's a new effort underway to help the families of Michigan inmates cope with having someone they love in prison. 

It's a pilot program that centers on having someone serve as a liaison between prisoner's families and officials at three Michigan prisons. That someone brings hard-earned insight to what it's like to have a loved one behind bars. 

Lois DeMott's son was a prisoner, so she learned firsthand how difficult it can be to navigate the prison system. 

Now, she hopes to help other families with the new Family Participation Program. She joined us on Stateside. 

*Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
4:45 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

ASSEMBLE aims to bring the Mackinac Policy Conference to everyone

Credit XGamesDetroit / YouTube

Imagine the streets of Detroit running rampant with car races, motocross competitions, skateboarding, and other insanity. 

That's what the organizers of ASSEMBLE pictured when they created this video to convince ESPN to choose Detroit as the new home for its summer X Games. 

Despite the epic video, ESPN chose Austin for the games. But the energy and the spirit of the campaign lives on in ASSEMBLE, a group that aims to use community engagement to rebuild Detroit.

One of the recent efforts of ASSEMBLE is offering a way for new voices to become a part of important policy conversations in Michigan – the kinds of conversations that happen at the upcoming Mackinac Policy Conference put on by the Detroit Regional Chamber.

For those of you who can't afford the $2,700 ticket, ASSEMBLE@Mackinac(ish) could be for you. 

Garret Koehler and Kevin Krease, the co-creators of ASSEMBLE, and they joined us to share what exactly ASSEMBLE@Mackinac(ish) hopes to accomplish. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

– Paige Pfleger, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Stateside
6:10 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Group wants you to "escape for good" from New Orleans to Detroit

Escape for Good promotional photo.
Credit Escape for Good.

Here's the challenge: Get yourself from New Orleans to Detroit. In 36 hours. No cash. No credit cards. Just your charm and ingenuity.

Oh, and one other thing: You'll be dressed up as your favorite hero.

It's the Escape for Good charity race, and if making your way from New Orleans to Detroit wearing your Batman suit or Forrest Gump beard, trucker hat and sneakers sounds like your thing, you can sign on now for the race that begins Friday.

Rocco Gardner is the creator of Escape for Good and he joined us today.

*Listen to the interview above.

Offbeat
10:45 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Better late than never? A Transformer reveals himself in Ann Arbor

Car or human? This "transformer" street performer wants to reassure the kids he's human.
Credit Mark Brush

We in the media world go crazy for anything that might get shared by thousands... nay millions of people around the Internet. 

Entire sites like Gawker, Buzzfeed, and ViralNova are dedicated to getting these shares. The New York Times gazed at its navel and didn't like what it saw. "More shareable content!" they said.

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Offbeat
1:55 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Amazon: Ann Arbor ranks in top 10 most well-read cities

What books do you plan to read this summer?
Credit Open Books

It's finally summertime – time to relax on that lawn chair out in the sunshine and read a good book. 

Amazon.com has published its fourth annual list of the most well-read cities in America, and Ann Arbor is ranked sixth.

The ranking is determined by compiling sales data of all books, magazines, and newspapers,  published in print or online. 

At the top of the list is Alexandria, Virginia, followed by Miami, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee. Ann Arbor is followed by other college towns, like Berkeley, California, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

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Made In Michigan
3:16 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Gerber has roots in Michigan

Gerber baby food fill the shelves of most baby food aisles.
Credit user: ParentingPatch / Wikipedia

One of the longest lasting durable brands on the store shelves in America is Gerber. 

Its Michigan's roots have been strong since the very beginning, in the town of Fremont.

The Gerber family came to Michigan in the mid-1870s, and by 1928 they began manufacturing baby food under the name Gerber Products Company. 

Aileen Stocks, head of integrated marketing for Gerber, joined us today to explore the company's Michigan roots.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Stateside
1:30 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Michigan's War Dog Memorial honors 4-legged heroes

U.S. Marine Raiders and their war dogs in World War II.
Credit Photo by T.Sgt. J. Sarno / Wikimedia Commons

When you think of a war hero, what image comes to your mind?

Most likely, you think of a man or a woman dressed in desert camouflage, or a wounded warrior learning to walk again after being wounded in battle.

But there is another group of war heroes: the four-legged heroes. War dogs. 

Their history in the U.S. military is long and proud. They were used as messenger dogs, scout or patrol dogs, and in the cases of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have been used as explosive detection dogs. 

Unbeknownst to many of the locals, Michigan has one of the few war dog memorials in the nation, located between Milford and South Lyon in Oakland County. 

Phil Weitlauf is a U.S. Army veteran, as well as a champion of the Michigan War Dog Memorial. He joined us on Stateside. 

*Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
4:32 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

The chances you will lose your job to a robot are growing

ASIMO is a humanoid robot designed by Honda. ASIMO could take your conducting job.
Credit user: Vanillase / Wikimedia Commons

A recent Oxford University report estimates that robots could replace nearly half of the current U.S. workforce.

The report found that office administrators, sales personnel, and those in the service industry are among those at risk of losing their jobs to robots.

Robots have become common in many workplaces since General Motors installed the first robot at a plant in New Jersey in 1961 ("Unimate," as it was called, could weld and move parts that weighed up to 500 pounds).

So can humans keep up, or at least keep ahead of the technology that is changing the workforce?

These are especially important questions here in Michigan, with its historic ties to the auto industry that makes up about 40% of the global supply of industrial robots. 

Stephen Spurr, Chair of the Department of Economics and professor at Wayne State University, joined us today to explore the possibilities (You can listen to our interview with Spurr above.)

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Stateside
4:11 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

Frogs used to rule the menus in Detroit

Frog legs on the grill.
Credit Tomas Castelazo / Wikimedia Commons

Treating yourself to a good restaurant meal in Detroit these days might mean biting into some great Coney Islands, or a plate of flaming souvlaki in Greektown, or barbeque, or soul food.

Now roll the clock back about 90 or 100 years.

How about frog leg salad? Frog ravioli? Frog leg pie? Pickled or poached frog leg?

It seems early 20th century foodies just loved frog legs, and Detroit was happy to provide them.

As one New York columnist gushed in 1905: "If you have never eaten frog legs in Detroit, you have something to live for, something for which to strive."

Food historian Bill Loomis wrote about this often-overlooked period in Detroit's culinary history for the May issue of Hour:Detroit magazine.

The piece is called "When Frogs Were King."

Loomis joined us today on the program.

*Listen to our interview above.

Offbeat
3:37 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Riverfront site of Joe Louis Arena may see an overhaul

Joe Louis Arena will no longer be the home of the Detroit Red Wings.
Credit user: jacdupree / Flickr

Now that the Detroit Red Wings are going to get a new home in 2016, Joe Louis Arena seems destined for the wrecking ball. 

And that is focusing fresh attention on Detroit's riverfront, as the city searches for a new use for that riverfront site. 

There could be some valuable lessons Detroit could learn from Buffalo, which is doing more than just about any Great Lakes City to reconnect with its waterfront after generations of industrial abuse and neglect. 

Writer Edward McClelland spelled out the story of the ongoing process of reclaiming Buffalo's waterfront in a story for Belt Magazine. He joined us to discuss what Buffalo is doing, and what Detroit could do. 

Listen to the interview above. 

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