Lindsey Smith

West Michigan Reporter/Producer

Lindsey Smith is Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Lindsey has worked as a reporter at radio stations in both West and Southeast Michigan, and her work has been recognized by both the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and Michigan AP. She's a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and Specs Howard School of Media Arts.


What has been your most memorable experience as a reporter?
Reporting from a hot air balloon was one of the scariest. Trying to bubble-wrap my recording equipment to come with me down a giant waterslide took the most preparation and ingenuity. Mostly I remember people; so many downtrodden, truthful, funny, inspiring, regular-everyday people. Nearly everyone I meet and talk to shapes how I view life in at least the slightest way.

What is your favorite program on Michigan Radio?
"Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me." It's hilarious. "On the Media" is a very, very close second.

What do you like best about working in public radio?
Mostly, I'm proud of what we do and the stories we produce.

What modern convenience would it be most difficult for you to live without?
The internet! What did anyone do without it! I mean, I remember life without it, but it's amazing how much I rely on it every day.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
It depends on the season. I love wakeboarding in the summer, hanging out on the beach, going on long walks with my dog Lola, grilling. In the winter I wish I could hibernate. I do enjoy snowboarding and movies and warm drinks indoors then.

What are people usually very surprised to learn about you?
If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise!

Courtesy photo / Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center

More Michigan veterans are trying “telehealth” appointments.

It’s sort of like seeing your doctor through a computer online, but the computer can also relay a heartbeat, the sound of a person's lungs, or detailed pictures of an injury.

Courtesy photo / Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center

The VA hospital that serves 26,000 veterans in the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin is having trouble recruiting healthcare providers.

Plus, almost one in five employees at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center is eligible for retirement.

Brad Nelson is a spokesman for the Iron Mountain based clinic. He says they’ve compiled a list of providers they’re expecting to be short on in the next decade.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People could soon pay more to ride the bus in Grand Rapids.

A proposal to help balance The Rapid’s operating budget would hike regular fares from $1.50 to $1.75. That’s what regular fares cost in Flint, but more than it costs to ride the bus in Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Lansing or Detroit.

The Rapid spokeswoman Jennifer Kalczuk says staff compared prices with systems in Michigan and beyond. “We’re comfortable that the proposal keeps us within that peer group range,” she said.

Scott Schopieray / Flickr

This weekend cherry growers in southwest Michigan will begin to harvest their crop.

Despite a hard freeze in late May, Michigan is expected to produce 134 million pounds of tart cherries, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  That’s about a third less than last year, but still, more than any other state.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Under current state law, utilities in Michigan must get 10% of their power from renewable sources, like wind and solar, by the end of the year.  

After a year of work, Republican lawmakers have outlined an energy policy to replace Michigan’s renewable energy standard.

State Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, says the new policy wouldn’t require utilities to have a certain amount of renewable energy, like wind or solar.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Ottawa County has a new weapon in the fight against invasive plants. This week, I got a chance to check out the weapon in action at Burr Oak Landing, a 260-acre natural park about 20 miles west of Grand Rapids.

“These are what we call our ‘prescribed browsers,’ aka, goats,” said Melanie Manion, Natural Resources Management Supervisor for Ottawa County.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Starting today, the Export-Import Bank can't offer new loans to foreign customers.

The bank helps American companies sell their goods overseas when regular banks won’t take on the risk. Congress did not reauthorize the 80-year-old bank before leaving for the Fourth of July recess, allowing it to expire.

cincy Project / Creative Commons

The landlord association in Kent County is teaming up with Grand Rapids police to try and reduce crime. They’re offering a new training program for their 1,400 members on how to react to, reduce, and even prevent crime at their properties.

Courtesy photo / Kalamazoo Growlers

The flooded Kalamazoo River that winds around Homer Stryker Field forced the Growlers to cancel games over the weekend. The field was inundated with water Saturday morning.

“The outdoors truly got the best of Homer Stryker Field on Outdoorsman’s Night,” read a post on the Kalamazoo Growlers’ webpage published Saturday morning.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

One week after a white gunman killed nine people at a black church in South Carolina, hundreds of people gathered in Grand Rapids to show solidarity.

“I want you to take somebody by the hand,” the Rev. Gerry Moore motioned to the crowd before bowing his head in prayer. “Take somebody by the hand.”

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Decades after they were laid to rest, a marker has been placed at a mass grave in South Haven for the victims of a plane crash. The grave was only discovered a few weeks ago.

Northwest Airlines flight 2501 crashed in Lake Michigan on June 23, 1950. All 58 aboard people died. At the time, it was the deadliest commercial airline crash in U.S. history.

The wreckage and their bodies were never fully recovered. Human remains washed ashore that whole summer, briefly closing the beaches in South Haven. The remains were buried the next summer in an unmarked mass grave.

Peter Payette / Interlochen Public Radio

If Michigan were to allow commercial fish farms in the Great Lakes, how would they affect the environment? That’s the question a state panel will consider beginning this week.

There are some fish farms in the lakes already, but they’re based in Canada.

Although at least a couple of people are interested, Michigan hasn’t allowed them yet.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People living in Kalamazoo can hear what federal regulators have to say about a plan to secure an old landfill full of toxic material.

The Allied Site once served as a dumping ground for the paper mill industry. There’s 1.5 million cubic yards of wood pulp laced with toxic chemicals at the site.

Many in Kalamazoo want the pile completely removed, but there’s not enough money. The paper company that caused the pollution went bankrupt.

Michigan owes severance pay to eligible nursing aides who were laid off from a state-run home for veterans.

The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans is one of two state-run long-term care facilities for veterans in Michigan. More than 400 veterans are housed there.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Treasury started reviewing Wayne County’s financial situation Friday.

The state review comes after Wayne County’s top administrator asked for it, earlier this week.

In a letter to the state, County executive Warren Evans wrote this week the deficit is $9.9 million. 

Beachgoers on a Lake Michigan beach in the Upper Peninsula.
Joseph Novak / Creative Commons

Health officials close beaches when levels of E. coli bacteria are too high. But it takes 24 hours to get test results.

A new test identifies E. coli DNA. You don’t have to wait a full day to grow a bacteria culture in a dish, so the new test produces results in a few hours.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Last summer Benton Harbor schools won a three-year, $18 million grant to improve student success. But the district is having major financial problems.

Now the district says it doesn’t have the staff it needs to put the grant money to work, so it’s giving up the grant after one year. The district hopes to be able to get the grant back for the 2016-17 school year.

Courtesy photo / Ranir

A company near Grand Rapids will make toothbrush heads here instead of China.

The move is indicative of a trend; some manufacturing jobs are coming back to Michigan, especially when machines do most of the labor.

Prayitno / Creative Commons

A group that's estimating demand for a commuter rail line between Detroit and Grand Rapids is looking for input.

Technically, you can buy a train ticket from Grand Rapids to Detroit, but you have to ride a bus to Kalamazoo first. This rail line would be direct, from Detroit to Holland, with stops in Lansing and Grand Rapids.

An empty hallway lined with lockers.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Benton Harbor’s school board is working to please Michigan’s Department of Treasury so it can get an emergency loan.

The school board approved plans to let Berrien County’s intermediate school district run its business office Tuesday night. Plante Moran currently runs the office. But the switch to the county district is expected to save around $125,000 a year.

People are back enjoying the Kalamazoo River. This spot in Marshall is just down river from where the spill occurred.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Enbridge Energy will pay nearly $4 million in a settlement with the federal government and tribal leaders. The agreement announced Monday is one of a number of legal settlements related to the company’s 2010 oil spill. 

Five years ago, an underground pipeline carrying heavy crude oil burst in mid-Michigan, creating one of the biggest inland oil spills in U.S. history. 

One of Benton Harbor’s old emergency managers is expected to head to federal court next month.

Tony Saunders was Benton Harbor’s emergency manager from January 2013 until he declared the financial emergency over, in March 2014.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Parents and students in Highland Park will get a chance to hear what options they have for next year now that the high school is closing.

A couple weeks ago, the state-appointed emergency manager of Highland Parks schools announced the district would be a K-8 district only. He says there are just too few students to make it feasible.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

In order for parents to make the best decisions for their children, they need to know what’s going on. So do taxpayers and voters.

In my years of writing about school districts all over the state, I’ve learned everyone wants to brag about the successes. No one is in a hurry to admit when things aren’t working for students.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A federal judge has ruled against a man who was demonstrating his right to openly carry a gun in a Grand Rapids neighborhood.

One Sunday morning last year, Johann Deffert decided to exercise his free speech rights. He put on some camouflage pants, put his tactical pistol in its holster, and started walking around a neighborhood.

Someone called 9-1-1.

The former Carstens Elementary School building, on Detroit's east side, is one of many, many schools that have been shuttered in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The Leona Group has agreed to run the Highland Park school district for less money, and shorten its contract. The revised contract runs only through the end of next school year, one year short of the original five-year deal.

A state-appointed emergency manager decided last week Highland Park couldn’t afford to offer high school next year. Still, the charter school company that’s operated the Highland Park school district for the last three years says it’s committed to the community.

Courtesy photo / Dutch Royal House

The king and queen of the Netherlands are planning a visit to Grand Rapids this week.

Back in the 19th century, many Dutch immigrants took off for West Michigan looking for work and religious freedom. There’s still a huge population of Dutch immigrants and their descendants living in Holland, Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Kalamazoo.

Adventure George / flickr

Federal regulators plan to mix more renewable fuel into gasoline over the next few years, but it’s a whole lot less than Congress wanted.

In 2007, Congress passed a law to increase biofuels. It was part of an effort to lower greenhouse gas emission and dependence on foreign oil and boost the renewable fuel industry. The law set mandates for how much renewable fuel is produced and mixed into gasoline.

flickr user Motown31 /

Highland Park schools can’t afford to offer high school next year, only grades K-8.

There are about 160 kids at Highland Park High school now. That’s only a third of the number of students there three years ago. That’s when district finances got so bad an emergency manager was appointed.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A program that’ll offer students in Grand Rapids free college is getting a big boost. A group of 400 donors has raised more than $33 million in one year.

Sixth-graders who commit to come to school regularly and get good grades can go to college for free. The scholarships target middle schoolers who funnel into a low-performing Grand Rapids high school.