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

An entire generation of  fifth graders is contemplating a big decision as the school year comes to an end: "What instrument should I play next year in band?"

But plenty of kids don't even know what instruments they can choose from. They may have seen Kenny G jamming on a saxophone on TV, or heard about an instrument they think might be called the "ter-bon," but they've never had the chance to actually hold one (a trombone, that is) and try blowing into it.

That's where "instrument fittings" come in.

Ten years ago, two women from west Michigan started something called the "Best Prom Ever." They were Sparta High School special education teacher Renne Wyman, and a mother of one of her students, Rhonda Carlisle.

Fifteen students came to their first event. In April, 900 people attended the Best Prom Ever.

The basic idea is to give young people with disabilities the chance to socialize and dance in an environment that is safe and fun.

LEG Management

The first federally-funded housing projects for African-American families were built in Detroit in the 1930s. They were the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects, located on Detroit’s near-east side.

If you want to hear why they were built, listen to our recent story here. Mary Wilson from The Supremes tells us about what she learned from growing up in the projects, in a story you can listen to here

For the most part, former residents who lived in the area in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s speak highly of their time in the projects. But life in the Brewsters got much tougher in the 1970s and '80s.

Nationaal Archief (Dutch National Archives)

Today on Stateside, we’re getting the inside scoop from former residents of the Brewster-Douglass housing projects about what it was like growing up in the Detroit projects. 

Their answers are overwhelmingly positive.

Ruby Straughter lived in the Brewster-Douglass projects from 1957 to 1972. She remembers people in the projects taking good care of each other.

“If a family couldn’t pay rent, neighbors would throw a rent party and they’d give the money to whomever needed the rent paid.”

She says no one ever went hungry or made fun of anyone else for being poor. Straughter remembers parents were strict with their own kids, and looked out for other people’s children as well.

There was also lots and lots of singing in the Brewsters. People sang four-part harmonies on street corners, in the parks, on porches and in the stairwells, where the echo was best.

But why was music such a huge part of living there? 

Emil Lorch collection/Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan

All this week on Stateside, we’re looking at the history of the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects in Detroit. If you’ve ever wondered about why they were created or what it was like to live in them, we’d love to fill you in with our three-part series. Here's part one:

If you remember the projects, you might picture the six identical high-rises on the city’s near east side. Those were the Frederick-Douglass Towers, and they were built in the 1950s and finally destroyed in 2014.

Michigan Opera Theatre

The Michigan Opera Theatre is performing the opera “Frida” by American composer Robert Xavier Rodriguez. It's about the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

Here’s why that’s a smart idea for an arts organization:

1. Tapping into Frida Kahlo’s broad appeal

Lots of people love Frida Kahlo. Latinos love her. Women love her.  Artists love her. Gay people love her.

Why we must grieve

Feb 12, 2015

All this week on Stateside, in our series Living with Death, we're talking to people about how the process of death and dying has changed. Today we talk about why we must grieve when someone we love has died.

Imagine if your friends referred to you as “the death lady.” That’s what Kim Parr’s friends like to call her and honestly, she has mixed feelings about the nickname.

We originally aired this story on Valentine's Day, 2012.

It packs a lot into three minutes: young love, religious intolerance, small town bigotry, and the difficult life decisions we all have to make. 

It ends with a high school reunion that changed everything.

73-year-old Judith Narrol and 74-year-old Ed Storement were married on Valentine's Day, 2012.  They tell us they couldn't be happier. 

Laura Sprague

Laura Sprague is a personal trainer in Kalamazoo with a unique take on physical wellness. Her clients are aged 13-84 and she has worked with people who are obese, able-bodied, recovering from illnesses, or who are in wheelchairs.

When Sprague initially meets a client, she asks them to describe their relationship with their body. She finds the answers can be deeply revealing.

Hovercrafts float on air and are used in ice rescues
Flickr user Eric Bégin

Next weekend, firefighters and rescue personnel can brush up on their ice rescue skills at an event called the Ice Rescue Conference and Education in Muskegon.

The ZR2 concept features a 2.8 liter duramax diesel that will be going into the Colorado later this year.
Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Kyle Norris discuss a Republican plan to repeal the state's prevailing wage law, and whether things are looking up after a rough year for the auto industry.


Pat Ibbotson/"Eloise: Poorhouse, Farm, Asylum and Hospital 1839-1984"

We recently stumbled across some cool, old photographs of life at one of the most well-known psychiatric hospitals in Michigan: Eloise.

Celebrating the holidays was an important part of life for the people who lived and worked at Eloise, which was located a few miles outside Detroit in Wayne County. 

Bradley S. Pines/www.bonniejocampbell.com

Bonnie Jo Campbell is a big-deal writer who has won some fancy awards, including a Pushcart Prize, and she was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award in fiction. Poor and working-class rural women are at the heart of many of her stories. Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris recently got a chance to ask her why she writes about these women.

Campbell is putting the finishing touches on her next book of stories. It will be called "Mothers, Tell Your Daughters," and will be published next fall.

Heather Merritt / etsy

Lots of people daydream about ditching their jobs and doing something they truly love.

Heather Merritt is someone who did just that.

Merritt’s workday used to happen inside of a jail. She worked as a substance abuse therapist helping inmates with their addictions. These days her “work” happens at thrift stores, at artisans markets and inside her art studio.

But the leap from therapist to artist happened accidentally. Kind of. Michigan Radio’s Kyle Norris has this profile:


You could say Mary Vick Spaulding has spent her entire life in the death industry.

Her father, Harold, was a funeral director in Mount Clemens and he began teaching her the trade when she was in first grade. Back then they would spend time together in the embalming room as he began showing her the ropes. Spaulding says death has been something that’s been normal to her for her entire life.

Spaulding became a licensed funeral director 38 years ago, and for 25 years she worked alongside her father. He died in 2001 and these days she manages the family business, the Harold W. Vick Funeral Home.

I asked her to share what she knows about life and death that the rest of us might not know. Here’s what she said:

Anatomy is beautiful.

People will be watching their old home movies, all over the world, on "Home Movie Day." The big event happens Saturday, October 18th. Organizers call it "an annual, worldwide celebration of amateur films."

Abir Ali

When you invite the public to carve messages into a giant table you've spent four months crafting by hand, the result is that a LOT of people take you up on it, and the end product looks something like this:

Professional and personal partners Abir Ali and Andre Sandifer are furniture makers based in Detroit. They built a 30-foot table, made from walnut trees from the Midwest. They took inspiration from the biblical story of the Last Supper, and they were especially moved by the story's themes of trust and forgiveness.

96fix/Facebook

I-96 will open tomorrow (Monday, September 22), more than two weeks ahead of schedule.  The stretch was closed between Telegraph and Newburgh Roads in Livonia. The announcement was made today as Governor Rick Snyder and others gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and walk on the freeway. I-96 was closed in April to allow crews to reconstruct the 7-mile stretch. Crews rebuilt 56 miles of freeway, repaired 37 bridges, and reconstructed 26 ramps. The project area runs through Redford Township and Livonia. 

Tiffany Tuttle has been called a combination of Sarah Silverman and Don Rickles – which she takes as a big compliment. The clinical psychologist just self-published a book called "Being and Awesomeness: Get Rad, Stay Rad."

She told Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris that the book is for people who want to learn more about the internal workings of their minds. Listen to that interview here:

The book is available for $5 or you can download it for free at Tuttle's website, drtifftutts.com.

Metro Detroit Ethnic Communities Collection/Walter P. Reuther Library

There’s a joke that historical organizations are stuck in the past when it comes to how they do things. You know, like they don’t have a grasp on using social media, and their museums and events are outdated and uninspiring.

And that joke might extend to the people who run historical organizations – many of whom are senior citizens and have often run their group in the same way for a long time.

Veronica Riddle ran away from home as a teenager. She wants people to know that spending time and talking with troubled youth can be a big deal. Here's why.

Doug Coombe

Eighteen-year-old sculptor Austen Brantley makes some pretty impressive art. But don't take our word for it, check out these photos of Austen's work, at the Michigan Radio Picture Project.

Professionals in the art world agree. "It's just amazing to see the amount of talent that he has at 18 years old. He’s right up there with some of his peers that are in their 30s and 40s," says Garnette Archer, owner of Jo’s Gallery in Detroit.

Racine Boat Manufacturing Company Plant, Muskegon, MI
Flickr user Wystan/creative commons

It’s probably pretty stressful being a high school principal, for all kinds of reasons.

But Eric Alburtus, principal of Portage Central High School, spends a big chunk of his time worrying about the arts. He’s specifically worried about the kind of human beings our schools are producing, when kids must fulfill heavy requirements in math and science, yet they barely have a chance to study music, choir, theater, or the visual arts.

(For a more complete look at the state’s requirements, click here.)

Alburtus says arts classes give kids a chance to discover new worlds and different ways of thinking and creating.

Courtesy of Megha Satyanarayana

This week, you may have heard me on the radio asking people a question.

What song saved your life? It's not something people are asked very often, but I've found that it gets some pretty intense responses

So, here's the last piece in the series. Megha Satyanarayana is a reporter with State of Opportunity. 

Even though today is the "official" last day in the series, I want to hear from you. Do you have a song that saved your life? Tell us the story! Call and let us know at 248-962-3806. And you can also use the #songsavedme on Twitter.

Katy Perry / Facebook

All this week I'm doing a special series about music. 

Why? Read this.

I'm asking people a pretty personal question: What’s the song that saved your life?

So far, people have told us why R. Kelly, Bryan Adams (he sang "Summer of '69") and Billy Joel are so important to them. 

Disa Grove's song helped her see herself in a new way. Grove grew up near Los Angeles and moved to Michigan last fall.

Bryan Adams Official / Facebook

There's a reason I've been asking this question.

I do a lot of reporting where I interview artists and people in the arts communities about why the arts matter.

I believe there is great value in these kinds of stories. But I realized I wasn’t talking nearly enough with non-artists about how and why the arts have mattered to them. I felt that if I couldn’t highlight why the arts mattered on an everyday level to everyday people, then I wasn’t serving our listeners very well.

Then I remembered a quote. 

“We all have a song that saved our lives in junior high,” someone great once said. (It may have been said by a famous person or by one of my friends – I really don’t remember, so apologies to the person I should credit.)

When I heard that quote I immediately knew my song. It was “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure in seventh grade at Holland Woods Middle School in Port Huron, Michigan. The sound of squeaky shoes in hallways came instantly flooding back and so did memories of my crushes at the time. I remembered my fierce love for my friends, and snapshots of what worried me. That's to say, a lot came back, by simply remembering one song.

GLSRP.org

Swimmers and boaters in Michigan need to be more careful on the water.

"We're at 23 fatal drownings on the five Great Lakes so far this year. It's about 50% up from last year at this time," says Bob Pratt, the director of education at The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. He says many recent deaths have been boaters who were swimming or they ran into trouble while boating on the lakes. 

What stories should we tell about the arts?

That's a question we sometimes ask on our Facebook page. Jason Towler suggested we profile Ypsilanti music teacher Crystal Harding and he had a good reason to suggest her.

Harding was Towler's music teacher back in 1988, when Towler was a first-grader at Erickson Elementary School.  Harding is all about having a good time through music, singing, and dancing. Here she is in action:

Harding made a big impression on the shy young man, and that's what this story is about.

Kyle Norris/Michigan Radio

St. Henry’s in Lincoln Park held its first Mass on June 3, 1923 and its last Mass on March 2, 2014.

At the end of the church’s final Mass, parish members took the most important objects and walked them out the door.

The holy oils were carried by five members of the Olive family. Jackie and Bill Balmes carried out the marriage registry (they’ve been married for 65 years). Four men, including Jim Bomia and his two grandsons, lifted the crucifix off the wall (it weighed several hundred pounds), and walked it down the aisle and out the door.

sphinxmusic.org

Gabriela Frank is probably not what comes to mind when you think of a contemporary classical music composer.  For starters, she considers herself a hippie.

“I was born in the 1970s in Berkeley, California, during the Vietnam protests," says Frank. "My dad was a nice Jewish boy from the Bronx who married a Peruvian woman from the coast. I’m also a woman and I have a hearing loss, so technically I’m disabled as well.”

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