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

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.

Flickr user pscf11

Forbes has just released a list of the ten best places to live cheaply, and mid-western cities made several appearances on the list.

Sandusky, Ohio took first place while Monroe, Michigan placed second. Bay City, Michigan placed fifth and Springfield, Ohio was eighth. Forbes looked at housing prices, the cost of living, crime rates, unemployment rates and school quality.

Flickr user uzvards

As many as 17 post office branches in Detroit and other parts of southeast Michigan could be closed by the financially troubled U.S. Postal Service.

The Detroit Free Press reports Saturday that the Postal Service released a list of branches that might close before the end of the year.

Terry Whitfield/Partnership for Youth

A group of teenagers in Detroit has been pounding the pavement this summer and surveying local organizations. Their goal was to find out which organizations offer jobs and internships to young people.

The teenagers surveyed 150 organizations and mapped out their results using a data analysis program. One of the things the kids learned was that transportation becomes an issue for kids who are far away from resources.

The program is run by Partnership for Youth and is affiliated with the larger organization, Southwest Solutions.

Flickr user silverlinedwinnebego

This summer Michigan teenagers faced an employment rate of 30% which meant that 84,000 teenagers who wanted to work were un-able to find jobs.

Teen unemployment is a big deal. By not working, teens miss out on acquiring new life skills which can help them move on to better-paying jobs as adults. Unemployed teens are also more likely to become unemployed adults.

Flickr user mdprovost

A Michigan State University scientist is leading a team of researchers to study how lakes, streams and wetlands are connected to their surroundings.

Associate professor of fisheries and wildlife Patricia Soranno is using a $2.2 million National Science Foundation grant to examine land use and climate change's effect on freshwater ecosystems.

The Michigan Republican Party State Central Committee has decided the state GOP will use a closed presidential primary next year.

That means voters will have to declare a party preference to participate. If Michigan sticks with a February 28 election date, the state GOP could lose half its delegates to the national nominating convention for meeting earlier than party rules allow.

Michigan GOP leaders say the early influence is worth the risk. Michigan Democrats plan to hold closed caucuses May 5, and will likely withdraw from the primary election ballot.

Flickr user SvobodaIT

Michigan State University will be a little more crowded this fall. The incoming freshman class at the East Lansing university will be the largest and most geographically diverse in the school's history.

That’s according to The Lansing State Journal.

MSU is expecting about 7,800 students.

One of the brightest meteor showers of the year happens overnight. It’s called the the Perseid meteor shower and although it happens for several days, it will peak around 3 a.m. Saturday.

The meteor showers happen as the Earth makes its annual trip around the sun and encounters a particular trail of comet dust.

Sally Oey is an associate professor of astronomy at the University of Michigan. She says as the Earth travels through this comet dust, little particles enter our Earth’s atmosphere and appear as meteors or “shooting stars.”

Andy Dolman/Creative Commons

Tons of trees felled by a spring storm that swept across Calhoun County will be used to help generate power for residents and businesses in Mid-Michigan.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reports that a two-story pile of limbs and branches will be fed into the Genesee Power Station in Flint, which uses wood fuel to create electricity.

The debris pile has been growing at the Community Compost Center in Marengo Township, about 110 miles west of Detroit.

Margaret Sutton/Creative Commons

A 78-year-old woman says a 6-mile canoe trip down a river in northeast Ohio was a dream come true. That’s despite the fact that she’s afraid of water.

Kay Riffle took her first canoe ride thanks partly to the Second Wind Dreams group. The nonprofit organization works to help grant dreams for seniors.

Kyle Norris

Cartoonist Jerzy Drozd has picked twenty-one rural and urban towns in Michigan where he knows people are having a tough time making ends meet. Drozd has been visiting those towns and offering comic-drawing workshops, free of charge, to the kids in those areas.  

At the Northville District Library, 30 miles west of Detroit, cartoonist Drozd asks a room full of kids what they might do if they were in a grocery store and they wanted to get their parent’s attention.

Photo by Kyle Norris

King Karate is a martial arts studio that’s been in the Flint area for 22 years. But in the past few years, the couple who run the studio have broadened their definition of self-defense…and that’s why they’ve added farming to their arsenal.

18 year old Hakim Gillard has a lot on his plate today.

First he’s got to harvest vegetables for tomorrow’s farmer’s market...

Kresge Foundation

Twelve fellowships have been awarded to Detroit area visual artists. Each Kresge Artist Fellowship is worth $25,000 and has a “no strings attached” policy. 

Visual artist Liz Cohen was one of the winners.

“Oh I mean it’s an honor, it’s a great organization and a great grant and an opportunity to become closer to a lot of the other artists in the city.”


Michigan utility crews are working to restore power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses.  Last night’s storms knocked out power for 125,000 customers.

The severe thunderstorms hit the southeast corner of the state, with hail and winds up to 64 miles per hour that knocked down trees and power lines.

The storms focused on metro Detroit and Michigan's rural thumb area. DTE Energy says 95,000 homes and businesses remain without service and a few will have to wait until Tuesday to get their power back.

Many teenagers convicted of having consensual sex with minors no longer will be listed on Michigan's sex offender registry. A new law took effect Friday. It exempts youthful offenders who have consensual sex with partners between the ages of 13 and 16. That’s provided the offender was not more than four years older than the victim.

The new law also requires that the most dangerous sex offenders be added to the registry for life. They must still report to the police four times a year.

Flickr user bookgrl

Millions of kids eat free or reduced-price meals at their schools during the school year. But during the summer, those numbers drop dramatically. Last year Michigan schools served 144 million free meals. But during the summer the state only served 2.6 million meals.

A University of Michigan basketball recruit is fighting for his life after surviving a second plane crash. Sixteen-year-old Austin Hatch is currently in the hospital after surviving a plane crash on Friday that killed his father and stepmother.

In 2003 Austin survived a plane crash that killed his mother and two siblings. The young man went on to become a successful basketball player and was recruited by the University of Michigan for its 2013 team.


Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed New York's gay marriage bill, starting what is expected to be a crush of gay weddings beginning in 30 days.

Creative Commons/

The summertime blues have arrived for thousands of Michigan teenagers, who face a tough job market this year. That’s despite some improvement from last year.

Teens face a 30% unemployment rate this summer. That’s a 4 percentage point drop from 2010. A spokesman with the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget says much of the improvement is because fewer teens are trying to find work this summer.

Police say longtime Flint civil rights activist and attorney C. Frederick Robinson has been fatally shot. The Flint Journal reports Robinson was killed late last night in Flint at his home. There are no suspects in the case.

Robinson was dedicated to equal rights. In addition to organizing rallies and generating support for the civil rights movement, Robinson was instrumental in the 1968 passage of the fair housing ordinance. Its approval made Flint among the first cities to pass an open-housing referendum by popular vote.

Flickr/Chris Moncus

People who have unpaid parking tickets in Detroit will be able to take advantage of a special program and pay only half the amount of money they owe. The program is called "All or Nothing Amnesty" and starts Tuesday and ends July 1st.

It also applies to people already in payment plans over parking debt, but does not apply to people whose vehicles have been clamped with a boot.  

People opposed to Michigan's financial managers law are intensifying their efforts to get a repeal on the November ballot. The law gives financial managers broad powers over financially troubled school districts and local governments.

A group called the Committee to Stand Up for Democracy has organized signature-collection efforts Saturday in 11 cities. Supporters say the law is needed to help financially troubled entities get back on their feet. Opponents say it's a power grab that let’s unelected appointees throw out union contracts and take authority away from elected officials.

Weekend comic festival

Jun 17, 2011

Michigan boasts plenty of summer festivals celebrating fruit, vegetables, music, and food.  But there’s a relatively new festival that pays homage to the creation of comics.

The third annual “Kids Read Comics” festival happens this weekend in downtown Chelsea, west of Ann Arbor. It features workshops with names like “Make Your Life Into a Comic” and “Nobody Likes a Boring Story.”

Flickr user Davichi

Sometimes getting caught can be a good thing.

A kayaker on the Manistee River in the northwestern Lower Peninsula recently was stopped by officers who were checking canoes and kayaks for safety equipment. The Department of Natural Resources says a man was adamant that he didn't need a life jacket or any other flotation device.

Just moments later, he flipped his kayak and landed in 51-degree water. Conservation officers Steve Converse and Sam Koscinski pulled him into their patrol boat and took him to shore.