Mark Brush

Reporter/Producer

Mark is a senior reporter/producer at Michigan Radio where he's been working to develop the station's online news content since 2010.

From 2000 to 2006, he worked as the technical director and senior producer for Michigan Radio's regional environmental news service known as the Great Lakes Radio Consortium.

From 2006 to 2010, as the unit's co-manager and senior producer, Mark helped transition the GLRC into an award-winning national news service known as The Environment Report. The service was heard on more that 130 stations around the country including WBEZ in Chicago, WAMU in Washington D.C., KUOW in Seattle, and KWMU in St. Louis.

Mark is a graduate of the University of Michigan ('00 MS in Environmental Policy and Planning & '91 BA in Political Science) and has been "a board certified public radio junkie" since 1992. He discovered public radio on his commutes to work in his trusty 1984 VW Rabbit. Much of Mark's storytelling philosophy was influenced through his close work with veteran CBC "réalisateur" David Candow.

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Politics & Government
5:01 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

3 things that have Republicans calling for Dave Agema's resignation

Then-State Rep. Dave Agema (left) reacts after a woman stood and demanded Agema "speak to us in a professional manner."
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Dave Agema served from 2006 to 2012 as a state representative in the Michigan Legislature. He hit his term limit and moved on to other things in 2012.

Now he represents Michigan as a member of the Republican National Committee. Many Republicans wish he weren't.

Some are naming names and calling for his ouster. Others aren’t calling him out by name but are “asking for more civility,” as MPRN’s Rick Pluta reported:

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Environment & Science
12:16 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Student captures video of Lake Michigan ice with a drone and a GoPro camera

Ice sheets on Lake Michigan shot with a drone.
screen shot from WZZM video

Spend a little over a thousand bucks and you too could capture some images that will grab the attention of your local TV station.

WZZM-TV in West Michigan featured a story about Hope College sophomore Jeff Zita.

Zita was curious about the ice forming on the lake and sent up his chopper. Here's the news segment (Click here if you can't see the video):

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Culture
3:52 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King Jr.'s forgotten visit to the University of Michigan's campus

Martin Luther King speaking at UM's Hill Auditorium in 1962.
Bentley Historical Library

The University of Michigan celebrates the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. by holding annual symposiums on campus.

But it seems no one knew of King’s visit to campus in 1962 until an enterprising person at the Bentley Historical Library combed through their collection.

The Michigan Daily picks up the story from here (Haley Goldberg wrote about the discovery in 2012):

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Business
1:29 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

The end of 'net neutrality' and what it might mean for you

Erik Hersman Flickr

State of Opportunity's Kimberly Springer tells us how "the specter of an exclusive, our boutique, access internet looms" after the recent U.S. Court of Appeals decision striking down many of the FCC's "net neutrality" rules.

For the privileged, the demise of net neutrality might mean paying even more for broadband access to Netflix or YouTube---no more buffering...buffering...buffering? But for the less privileged, losing net neutrality puts all of the world's information further out of reach and condemning some to "pay to play" deals. 

Go here to read more.

Environment & Science
12:42 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Managers at Sleeping Bear Dunes want take down more diseased Beech trees

A beech tree in Michigan killed by beech bark disease.
Joseph O'Brien U.S. Forest Service

For a beech tree, the end comes in two parts.

It starts with the wooly beech scale opening up a wound, then a fungus gets into that wound and can eventually kill the tree (either by girdling it or by weakening it until it falls over).

The disease has been around in Canada and parts of the U.S. for more than a century. It was discovered in Michigan in 2000.

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Politics & Government
1:12 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Gov. Snyder proposes $350 million in state aid for Detroit

Gov. Rick Snyder delivering a State of the State address.
gophouse.com

Foundations and individuals have stepped up to pledge big dollars to the struggling city of Detroit, and now Gov. Rick Synder is floating a plan to send Detroit $350 million over 20 years.

The Detroit Free Press named an anonymous source when reporting the plan this morning.

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) confirmed today that Snyder has floated the plan.

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The Environment Report
9:38 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Can sewage treatment plants protect fish from the chemicals in the water?

The USGS found that a third of all the male smallmouth bass they sampled had intersex traits.
micropterus_dolomieu Wikimedia commons

So you know the saying, right? Stuff flows downhill? Myron Erickson knows a lot about that "stuff."

He heads up the sewage treatment plant that sits along the Grand River in Wyoming, Michigan (right next to Grand Rapids).

The screening room is where they take out the "grit." Erickson calls them "knick knacks."

"It's a small particle like sand, and also all things that come to us in sewage, like peas, and corn, and peanuts," says Erickson.

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The Environment Report
9:05 am
Tue January 14, 2014

What should we do about the trace chemicals found in drinking water?

Lack of funds threaten to shut down a monitoring system for southeast Michigan's drinking water.
user william_warby Flickr

The radio version of this story.

Before I talk about the small bits of chemicals often found in drinking water, I want to direct some attention to the national water contamination story going on now because I think it reveals something.

The water is bad in West Virginia

The nation has its eyes on a nine-county area in West Virginia that’s under a state of emergency. A coal-processing chemical leaked into a river and poisoned the drinking water there. Cleanup is ongoing. As they attempt to flush the chemical out of their drinking water systems, officials are trying to determine what level of the chemical is safe.

Ken Ward Jr. of the West Virgina Gazette reports that local and federal officials are saying that "1 part per million" of  crude 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (the coal processing chemical) is safe for people to drink.

But Ward is having a tough time finding out what they based that number on:

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Environment & Science
1:38 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Wolf researchers keeping an eye on a potential ice bridge to Isle Royale

The ice forming north of Isle Royale on Jan. 1, 2014.
MODIS NASA

Update: Friday, February 7, 2014

The ice bridge to Isle Royale has formed. See our post here.

Original post: January 9, 2014

Wolves first came to Isle Royale in Lake Superior by crossing an ice bridge in the late 1940s, but these ice bridges have not been forming as often in recent years and the wolf population on Isle Royale has been suffering as a result.

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Offbeat
11:23 am
Wed January 8, 2014

World notices that a) it's cold, and b) Michigan has a city named Hell

The headline makes it in print. The photo behind the headline is not of Hell, Michigan. It's the lighthouse at St. Joseph, Michigan.
Steven Clark Twitter

Hell, Mich., got down to 13 degrees below zero Fahrenheit during the deep freeze, and headline writers around the web jumped for joy.

The BBC has a short video describing how "Town of Hell Freezes over in the US."

Time Magazine declares, "It's Official: Hell Has Frozen Over."

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Environment & Science
1:56 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Could the extreme cold weather be tied to a warming climate?

Purple signifies the extreme cold in the U.S.
Credit NWS

The temperatures certainly are extreme. Last night, it was colder in Michigan than it was at the South Pole.

Parts of the state saw temperatures reach 16 below zero with wind chills exceeding 40 below zero.

The "polar vortex" has brought air to the Midwest that normally stays way up in the arctic.

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Opinion
10:50 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Fun inside the polar vortex, throwing boiling water in the air

Lester Graham with a cup of boiling water.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

If you haven't been online in the last 24 hours, or you didn't watch it being done on Anderson Cooper's show over and over last night, then you're in for a treat.

It used to be a something kids in Alaska or in Canada's Northern Territories did for fun.

But with the combination of cold weather and social media, those of us in the Lower 48 can play too (and some of us are burning ourselves).

Life in the polar vortex allows you to do this:

So why does the boiling water suddenly turn into what appears to be a cloud of steam?

Well, it's not steam. They're just tiny ice crystals. LiveScience had Mark Seeley, a climatologist at the University of Minnesota, explains:

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Offbeat
5:08 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Even the Fairy Garden Village of Ann Arbor couldn't escape the snow

Fairy Garden Village of Ann Arbor evacuated due to heavy snow.
Credit Mike Perini / Michigan Radio

No word on the whereabouts of the fairy village warming centers... or whether fairies have water pipes in their houses.

Weather
12:24 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Flint area gets 'Top 10' record-breaking snowfall, Detroit... not so much

Digging out of the record-breaking snow in Flint.
Taryn Nitz Instagram

People are digging out from the snowstorm in much of Michigan today. 

So did this snowstorm break records in Michigan?

In Detroit, 10.6 inches fell during the storm, not enough to crack the top-10 list for snowstorms in this area.

Here are the biggest snowfalls recorded in the Detroit area according to the National Weather Service. Most of these storms occurred prior to 1930.

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12:04 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Part of the Fifth Third Ballpark north of Grand Rapids is on fire

Lead in text: 
The ball park is in Comstock Park, Michigan. This from MLive.
PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, MI -- Dispatchers are requesting a full fire response to Fifth Third Ballpark on a report of a fire inside one of the guest suites inside the stadium area. Arriving firefighters found "a heavy column of smoke" and flames showing from the outside of the suite just after 11 a.m.
Arts & Culture
12:24 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

What's more valuable, 5% of the DIA collection, or Detroiters' pensions?

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s 16th-Century painting “The Wedding Dance” is worth up to $200 million, according to Christie's.
DIA

That's one of the sad questions people are asking themselves in the face of Detroit's restructuring under Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Detroit pensioners stand to lose their quality of life, and the community stands to lose a significant source of culture and pride.

All the interested parties are working closely with federal bankruptcy mediators to find a solution to the prickly question, but they needed information first.

Part of that information arrived this week.

Christie's delivered its final evaluation of part of the art collection in the Detroit Institute of Arts. The estimated value is somewhere between $454 million and $867 million - a fraction of Detroit's $18 billion debt.

The auction house only looked at part of the collection.

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Arts & Culture
11:30 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Heidelberg Project surpasses fundraising goal for security

The Clock House is no more. It was burned along with several other structures in the world-renowned Heidelberg Project.
The Heidelberg Project via Facebook

The world-renowned urban art installation in Detroit's east side has met its fundraising goal for additional security.

Five houses in the Heidelberg Project were burned down in the last year - three remain.

The Project's effort to raise money for lighting, security cameras, and security patrols has exceeded its goal of $50,000. As of this writing, they've raised $51,330 in their online campaign.

There have been no arrests related to the fires dating back to May, but local and federal officials are investigating.

Tyree Guyton founded the project in 1986 as a response to urban decay in his neighborhood. The city initially attempted to stop the project by tearing buildings down, but once the area gained national and international attention, and attracted tourists, the city embraced the community art project.

Law
12:33 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Man who shot Renisha McBride will find out if trial is next

Last month (November 15), Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced her office would charge 54-year-old Theodore Wafer with second degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride.

Wafer shot McBride in the face while she stood on his front porch in the early morning hours of November 2.

Today, there's a preliminary hearing in a Wayne County district court to determine whether there's enough evidence against Wafer for a trial. Judge David Turfe could make his determination at the end of today's hearing.

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Culture
11:12 am
Wed December 18, 2013

A friendship starts after radio story touches Ann Arbor woman

Keisha had never had a real Christmas tree until she met Judy.
user myeyesinthemirror deviantart

For the next few days we're featuring stories of ordinary listeners who read or heard a story on State of Opportunity and decided to give some of their resources or time as a result. We know many of you have done the same. If you've got a story to share or an idea of how people could help let us know here. If you need ideas of what you could do, check out the resources page. We'll update it with  listener suggestions as they come in.

One of the big reasons people pause in their lives and reach out to someone else is because they feel emotionally moved by someone's story.

That happened to an Ann Arbor woman after hearing the story of Keisha Johnson on Michigan Radio.

In her piece "Life on public assistance, a personal story," Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra introduces us to Johnson who is working hard to create a good home for her children - something Johnson didn't always have as a child.

Judy and her husband were getting ready for their day in their home. But they paused to hear the story: 

"After I heard that, I said to him, you know, something really is motivating me to try to meet this woman."

And so she did. Head on over to the State of Opportunity site to hear more about Keisha and Judy's friendship.

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