Jennifer Guerra

Reporter/Producer

Jennifer is a reporter with Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. Prior to joining State of Opportunity, she was the station's arts and culture reporter, and the local host for Weekend Edition. She got her start in radio as a producer at WFUV, an NPR station in New York.

Her stories have won numerous awards, including a national Edward R. Murrow Award for her series on NYC’s subway system. She was named Young Journalist of the Year by the Detroit chapter of Society of Professional Journalists in 2007.

Jennifer graduated from the University of Michigan and received her M.A. from Fordham University in New York. When she's not on the radio, she's reading, practicing her dance moves (tap and ballet), playing tennis with her husband, or attempting to solve a NY Times crossword puzzle.

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Arts/Culture
5:13 pm
Thu February 17, 2011

Detroit's MOCAD, Heidelberg receive grants for community arts projects

The Heidelberg Project received a $50,000 from LINC
Photo courtesy of the Heidelberg Project via Facebook

Two Detroit arts organizations are one step closer to turning their artistic visions into reality.

Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), a national arts organization, awarded $50,000 to the Heidelberg Project in Detroit, and $100,000 to the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD).

Heidelberg will use the money to build an outdoor public art project on Detroit’s east side. MOCAD will use the money to create an outdoor space for art and community engagement.

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Arts/Culture
2:33 pm
Thu February 17, 2011

Artpod: Cost of Creativity, part 3

The Cost of Creativity looks at arts and the economy in Michigan
Dani Davis

We put together our stories about arts and the economy in the state to create an hour-long documentary called The Cost of Creativity. On today's podcast, we'll hear the final installment of the doc.

And because Artpod is about all things Michigan, all the music you'll hear on The Cost of Creativity is by Michigan artists. The musicians featured on today's podcast and Luke Winslow-King and Ben Benjamin.

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Economy
4:40 pm
Wed February 16, 2011

Borders files for bankruptcy

Borders Books

Update 4:37 p.m.

Independent bookstores are waiting to see what kind of impact Borders’ bankruptcy will have on business. Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra spoke with Nicola Rooney, owner Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor.

Rooney expects business to pick up at her store now that one of the Borders in Ann Arbor is slated to close. She said Borders’ financial problems are not emblematic of the book business in general:

"No, it’s not the death knell of bookstores by any means. They did a lot of things wrong over the years…and at any time there were things they could have done differently that they did not, and this of course from someone who knows maybe two percent of what was really going on inside, because you never know the real story," said Rooney.

Rooney blames Borders's problems on its poor website strategy, and frequent management changes.

Update 12:07 p.m.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra reports that of the stores slated for closing so far, four are in Michigan:

  • Dearborn
  • Utica
  • Grosse Pointe
  • Ann Arbor - the Arborland location.

Guerra spoke with Ann Arbor resident Jack Love about the bankruptcy:

"I’m sad. They’re nice places to go, pick up a book, look through it, of course Borders has more than just books: coffee, book readings, public gatherings," said Love.

Guerra says Love partly blames himself for Borders’ financial problems - he’s a book fiend who buys most of his books online at Amazon.

Update 11:58 a.m.

The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog has posted a list of the top Borders creditors - Who's Owed What in Borders' Bankruptcy.

Not surprisingly, book publishers top the list. Penguin Putnam Inc. is at the very top. They're owed $41,118,914.

Update 11:33 a.m.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody just spoke with Rob James, the president of EXP Realty Advisors. EXP specializes in real estate valuations for companies in bankruptcy.  James told Carmody that "no doubt about it" the Borders store closings will have a ripple effect in the retail industry:

"It's going to put a lot of strain on the shopping center industry and its going to hurt a lot of landlords," said James.

Update 11:07

Here is the list of stores Borders plans to close

Update 11:00 a.m.:

The company has released a list of stores it plans to close. We'll have that list posted shortly.

The Wall Street Journal reports the company has secured a loan that will keep the company going while it goes through bankruptcy reorganization. From the WSJ:

The Ann Arbor, Mich., company also said it has lined up a $505 million loan from GE Capital to fund its operations while in bankruptcy. Access to such a loan is subject to court approval.

In its bankruptcy petition, Borders listed assets of $1.28 billion and liabilities of $1.29 billion as of Dec. 25.

Borders' five largest unsecured creditors are the book publishers Penguin Putnam Inc., Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster Inc., Random House and Harper Collins Publishers.

AnnArbor.com has some extensive coverage of the bookseller's bankruptcy filing, including a live blog. Nathan Bomey of AnnArbor.com reports on some of the scenarios that could unfold during the bankruptcy reorganization. They also highlight some of the missteps in Borders history. From AnnArbor.com:

Among the company's biggest mistakes was allowing Amazon to manage its online sales from 2001 to 2008.

“They never really harnessed the power of the Internet,” said David Dykhouse, a manager of Borders’ Arborland store from 2002 to 2007. “As someone once said, the Internet is the comet that killed the dinosaur. I’m afraid Borders is one of those dinosaurs.

8:09 a.m.

Borders Group is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization after a long struggle to stay afloat. Borders had a difficult time keeping up as the book and music businesses changed beneath its feet.

The 40-year-old Ann Arbor company plans to close about 30 percent of its stores, or about 200, over the next few weeks. The company will receive $505 million dollars in so-called debtor-in-possession financing from GE Capital and others to help it reorganize.

Borders has recently delayed payments to its vendors, landlords and other creditors. Big-box bookstores have struggled as more people buy books online, in electronic form or at grocery stores or discounters such as Walmart.

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Arts/Culture
10:13 am
Mon February 14, 2011

And the Grammy Award goes to...

Michigan artists had a good night at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Detroit rap star Eminem, who was nominated for a record 10 Grammy Awards, took home two top honors: Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Album. Brother and sister duo BeBe & CeCe Winans won Best Gospel Performance for their song "Grace." Best Classical Contemporary Composition and Best Orchestral Performance went to University of Michigan composition professor Michael Daugherty for his piece, "Deus Ex Machina."

You can find the complete list of Grammy Award winners here.

Arts/Culture
4:19 pm
Fri February 11, 2011

U of M Music Prof up for 5 Grammy Awards

UM Composer Michael Daugherty is nominated for 5 Grammy Awards
Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan

Michigan artists will be well-represented at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 13. Here's a brief list:

  • Detroit rap star Eminem has been nominated for a record 10 Grammy Awards this year, including Album of the Year and Song of the Year.
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Offbeat
4:55 pm
Thu February 10, 2011

Detroiters raise funds for RoboCop statue

Detroiters want to raise $50K to build a Robocop scultupre in the city
"RoboCop" photo: Orion Pictures (c) 1987

Ealier this week, a guy in Massachusetts sent this Twitter message to Detroit Mayor Dave Bing:

"Philadelphia has a statue of Rocky & Robocop would kick Rocky's butt. He's a GREAT ambassador for Detroit."

Mayor Bing's response? Thanks, but no thanks.

"There are not any plans to erect a statue of Robocop. Thank you for the suggestion."

But Detroit artist Jerry Paffendorf and others are running with the idea. Paffendorf says the idea touched a "funny bone," and sparked "the kind of interest and intrigue in Detroit, and an interest in what Robocop means to Detroit."

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Education
5:01 pm
Tue February 8, 2011

State Board of Ed votes to raise 'cut off' scores on MEAP test

Michigan students will have to do better on state tests in order to be considered 'proficient'
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The state Board of Education voted in favor of raising the “cut scores” or cut off scores for what’s considered "proficient" on the state’s standardized MEAP test.

Susan Dynarski is an education professor at the University of Michigan:

"The cut score that the state has defined as indicating proficiency in math is currently set such that 95% of third graders are above that score. By moving up that score, 34 percent of third graders will be defined as proficient."

Dynarski says the new scores will give parents and schools a more accurate representation of how well students are doing and what areas need improvement:  

"The idea of the cut scores is to provide a signal about what proficiency is and what you should be aiming for, and if you set the bar at a higher level, the idea would be then that they’d be aiming for that higher level."

The new cut scores, which are still to be determined, will go into effect for the 2011-12 school year.

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Arts/Culture
11:36 am
Tue February 8, 2011

Artpod: Cost of Creativity, part 2

The Cost of Creativity looks at arts and the economy in Michigan.
Dani Davis

We put together our stories about arts and the economy in the state to create an hour-long documentary called The Cost of Creativity. On today's podcast, we'll hear the second installment of the doc.

And because Artpod is about all things Michigan, all the music you'll hear on The Cost of Creativity is by Michigan artists. The musicians featured on today's podcast Luke Winslow-King and The Red Sea Pedestrian.

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Arts/Culture
9:23 am
Fri February 4, 2011

Google launches new "Art Project"

The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA)
Photo courtesy of UMMA

Always wanted to check out the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, but couldn't afford a ticket? Well, you're in luck. Google's new "Art Project"launched this week, and it allows people to virtually explore some of the most famous art museums in the world, like the Van Gogh Museum.

You can take 360-degree tours inside the museums. On select paintings, you can zoom in so close as to see cracks, lines and brushstrokes. 

Of the 17 museums included in the project, 13 are in Europe. The remaining museums are in New York and Washington, D.C: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Frick Collection, and the Freer Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian.  Check out the full list here

Joseph Rosa is director of the University of Michigan Museum of Art. He thinks the project is a nice way to bring art to the general public, but he wishes more American museums were included. Rosa says Michigan, for example, has a lot offer -  from the DIA in Detroit to the GRAM in Grand Rapids - and he adds that UMMA has "the best collection of Korean art outside of Korea."

Rosa says if UMMA was asked to participate in the Google Art Project, the first piece he'd include would be Picasso's Young Woman with Mandolin:

"It's amazing; one of his earliest paintings. And when people come to our website or friends and the first thing out of their mouth is: 'You have that?' And I don't want that to be the response from people. They should be: 'Wow, you have that! That's fabulous.' So for us it's demystifying what a university art museum can be."

The Google Art Project is in its pilot phase, and more museums may be added to the project in the future.

Education
5:33 pm
Thu February 3, 2011

Harvard study asks: Does everyone need a 4-year college degree?

Harvard study says schools need to focus on "college readiness" and "career readiness"
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

A  new Harvard University report say high schools need to do a better job preparing students for whatever career path they choose…whether it’s becoming a doctor or an electrician.

The "Pathways to Prosperity" study finds that America’s education system is focused too much on college prep and not enough on alternatives, like vocational and career and technical education (CTE).

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke at the release of the report on Wednesday:

The Pathways to Prosperity study envisions a new system of career and technical education that constitutes a radical departure from the vocational education of the past.

The need for that transformation is pressing.  I applaud your report’s frank discussion of the shortcomings of our current CTE system and its call to strengthen the rigor and relevance of career and technical education.

I am not here today to endorse the specifics of your policy recommendations. I want instead to suggest two takeaway messages from your study and the Department’s reform efforts.

Secretary Duncan's two takeaways?

  1. CTE, the "neglected stepchild of education reform," can no longer be ignored.
  2. CTE needs to be re-imagined for the 21st century.

Patty Cantu is director of the CTE office for Michigan’s Department of Education. She's not surprised by the report:

"The pendulum swings this way in education a lot. We focus on one area, and then we say, oh, that’s right, we have this other important thing and just as valuable thing that we also have to take into consideration."

Cantu says the head of Michigan's Department of Education, Mike Flangan, is very interested in "not only embracing academic rigor, but also the rigor of [the state's] career and technical education program."

The report says students should be able to choose career paths early, like they do in Europe. Secretary Duncan says "we can’t just copy the vocational education systems of other high-performing countries. But we can learn from them about how to build rigorous educational and work-experience programs with strong links to high-wage, high-demand jobs."

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Arts/Culture
11:56 am
Wed February 2, 2011

Wayne State to launch new 'Artrepreneurship' program this fall

New program will help artists market their entrepenurial ideas
User: Sultry creative commons

Wayne State University is developing a new, free program to help artists market their ideas better. It's called the Artrepreneurship program. That's right: a hybrid of art + entrepreneurship.

Wayne State University got a $25,000 grant from the Coleman foundation to start up the new program, which will mostly consist of a lecture series and the occasional workshop.

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WEATHER
4:10 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Michigan's homeless shelters prepare for overflow

Homeless shelters from Grand Rapids to Detroit are gearing up for a busy couple of days this week.

The major winter storm that's headed our way is expected to dump around a foot of snow across the state, and temperatures will be around 20 degrees for the next several days.

The city of Lansing is coordinating with its homeless shelters to make sure no one is turned away. Joan Jackson Johnson directs the city’s Community Services department: 

"What we’re doing is providing any extra resources the shelters may need -  from food to blankets. We’ve authorized one shelter to go out and purchase some emergency air mattresses for their shelter because this is their first time expanding for the overflow population."

Johnson says they’re prepared to house people in a hotel if they run out of room at the shelters.

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Arts/Culture
3:03 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Artpod: Cost of Creativity, part 1

Michigan spends more on prison in 11 hours than it does on arts & culture in an entire year.
Danis Davis

The Cost of Creativity

We put together our stories about arts and the economy in the state to create an hour-long documentary called The Cost of Creativity. On today's podcast, we'll hear the first installment of the doc.

And because Artpod is about all things Michigan, all the music you'll hear on The Cost of Creativity is by Michigan artists. The musicians featured on today's podcast: Ben Benjamin and Luke Winslow-King.

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Education
4:48 pm
Mon January 31, 2011

Detroit Public Schools looks to open boarding school in 2012

A new DPS public boarding school could open in 2012
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools wants to open a public boarding school for the 2012-13 academic year.  But first the district  needs to find a charter operator to run the school.

Jennifer Mrozowski, a spokeswoman for the district, says the boarding school will serve high school students:

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Arts/Culture
2:02 pm
Fri January 28, 2011

Wayne State Prof named 2011 Kresge Eminent Artist

Bill Harris is the 2011 Kresge Eminent Artist
Clyde Stringer

Writer Bill Harris, a Wayne State University professor of English, has been named the 2011 Eminent Artist by the Kresge Foundation.

The award is given out to one Detroit artist every year. When writer Bill Harris found out he won the award, he was pretty surprised. No one had contacted him during the nomination process. In fact, he's not even sure who nominated him.

Harris was born and raised in Detroit and has been a fixture of the city's literary scene for decades. He's written plays, prose and poetry. The city is so much a part of him that he’s been told he writes with a ‘Detroit rhythm. ’

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Arts/Culture
6:28 am
Fri January 28, 2011

The Cost of Creativity - A Radio Documentary

The Cost of Creativity

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Thanks to the following Michigan musicians, whose songs are featured in the documentary:

Ben Benjamin, Luke Winslow-King, Midwest Product, and The Red Sea Pedestrians.

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Arts/Culture
12:52 pm
Tue January 25, 2011

Artpod: Art & Fashion

A view of the planned Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum.
Photo courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects.

Today’s Artpod is all art and fashion. There’s even a guest celebrity of sorts. (Hint: "Make it work!") You can listen to the podcast here.

We'll talk with Michael Rush, the founding director of the new Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University.

Plus, we'll meet the man behind Motor City Denim and hear why an auto supplier is now getting ready to make jeans. According to a press release from the company, the line "will begin arriving in stores in early 2011."

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Arts/Culture
1:52 pm
Wed January 19, 2011

Artpod: Ukulele helps ease the pain

A ukulele jam at Marshall Music in Lansing
Kyle Norris Michigan Radio

On today's Artpod, we'll take a look at why sales of the ukulele are doing so well.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

When times are tough, and people are losing jobs, making music can be a comfort. Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris sits in on a ukulele jam at Oz's Music in Ann Arbor, and talks to the folks at Elderly Instruments in East Lansing to see how the little instrument is selling.

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Science/Medicine
3:57 pm
Tue January 18, 2011

U of M opens new business incubator in old Pfizer facility

U of M's new venture accelerator will connect startups with talent and funding
Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan

A new type of incubator is open for business at the University of Michigan. It’s called a “venture accelerator,” and it’s located in the  sprawling research complex Pfizer built before it left Michigan a few years ago.

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