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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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."

Read more
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.

Read more
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:

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Politics & Government
4:43 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Confusion over who's affected by Michigan's new abortion law

Rick Pluta Michigan Public Radio

There’s a new law in Michigan, and insurance companies and their customers are trying to figure out who’s affected by it.

Starting March 13, 2014, women will be required to purchase additional insurance for abortion coverage. Insurance companies will not be allowed to provide the coverage as part of their normal plans.

But analysts say the new law does not affect some health care plans.

More from Chad Livengood and Gary Heilein in today’s Detroit News:

Confusion reigns about the law, said Rick Murdock, executive director of the Michigan Association of Health Plans, an industry group representing 16 health plans in the state except Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Self-insured employers, who pay directly for medical care for employees, are regulated by the U.S. Department of Labor and not subject to state rules, said Murdock, the office of Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger and some state officials.

Murdock said smaller firms — usually those with less than 150 to 200 workers — as well as companies that don’t self-fund their coverage and people buying private health insurance on their own are “fully exposed” to the law.

That amounts to one in three individuals with group or government-sponsored health plans, according to Livengood and Heilein.

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Politics & Government
10:23 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Traverse City leaders vote to limit festivals

The film festival has become quite popular in Traverse City.
Andrew McFarlane Creative Commons

The waterfront in Traverse City used to be an industrial area. Now it's open space with parks, beaches and bike trails.

With that comes festivals, and some city residents say there are too many. They complain of "festival fatigue." City leaders voted last night to lower the number of festivals allowed in the open space area from six to four.

More from the Traverse City Record-Eagle:

Commissioners said the new limitation would address resident concerns about the number of large events at the Open Space in a reasonable manner. Commissioners split on the question, reflecting the temperament of city residents who offered varying opinions on the need for more festivals.

“We are limiting one event at one park,” Commissioner Jeanine Easterday said before running through a long list of festivals and events that remain. “We are not eliminating events for Traverse City.”

Auto
4:34 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Outgoing GM CEO Dan Akerson says they've 'been trying to fix this airplane while in air'

Dan Akerson speaking at the National Press Club.
NPC screen shot from YouTube

Outgoing GM CEO Dan Akerson spoke to the National Press Club this afternoon cataloging all the changes the company has made to make it profitable once again.

The U.S. Treasury sold the last of its holdings in the company earlier this month. The government said they lost about $10 billion on its bailout of over $49 billion.

Akerson said over the last four years, the company has invested more than $10 billion in its U.S. operations, including $1.27 billion announced today.

"There's that $10 billion again. But we're investing it - that will keep paying dividends to the American public that supported this company in its darkest hour," said Akerson. 

Akerson said the company is still in the early chapters of the comeback story and that they still have a lot to prove to people who left the brand for other car companies.

Akerson will step down as CEO on January 15, 2014. Akerson was with the Carlyle Group prior to taking the helm at GM in 2010. The global auto industry will see its first female CEO when Marry Barra takes over in January.

You can watch Akerson's address to the National Press Club below:

Read more
Law
2:56 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Judge rules that his Detroit bankruptcy finding can be directly appealed

John Meiu Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

The judge in Detroit’s bankruptcy case says creditors can appeal his recent eligibility ruling directly to a higher federal court.

Judge Steven Rhodes ruled earlier this month that Detroit is eligible to proceed with its historic bankruptcy case.

He also ruled that city pensions can be cut in federal bankruptcy court — despite a public pension guarantee in Michigan’s state constitution.

City unions, pension funds and retiree groups immediately said they intended to appeal both decisions.

Read more
Auto
1:25 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

GM to invest $1.27 billion into plants in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana

GM's Flint Assembly will get an upgrade.
GM

GM made the announcement today and said the investments in the manufacturing plants "will create or retain about 1,000 jobs."

The investments will be made in these five plants:

  1. Flint Assembly 
  2. Romulus Powertrain Operations
  3. Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly
  4. Toledo Transmission Operations
  5. Bedford Castings in Indiana

GM says the investments "will support production of a new V6 engine, new 10-speed transmission and an existing 6-speed transmission. They will also fund assembly plant upgrades, including a new paint shop and logistics optimization center."

Read more
Sports
11:00 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Watch as an NHL ice rink is built in Michigan Stadium

The ice rink being built in Michigan Stadium.
screen grab from web cam Detroit Sports Commission

The NHL Winter Classic will be held in Ann Arbor's Michigan Stadium on January 1, 2014. The Toronto Maple Leafs will take on the Detroit Red Wings. Tickets will cost... a lot.

Right now, a hockey rink is being built on top of a football field.

The Detroit Sports Commission has set up a webcam so you can watch the progress. See below:

Politics & Government
3:01 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

A quick rundown of the bills passed by Michigan lawmakers in the last two days

Michigan's capitol building in December 2013.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The Legislature wasn't as busy as it was last year passing last-minute legislation, but they were busy.

Here's a rundown of the activity seen in Lansing over the last two days.

New law in Michigan

- Putting limits on abortion coverage

Read more
Politics & Culture
4:33 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Stateside for Thursday, December 12th, 2013

The state Legislature has been busy in its last week of session for the year - from increasing limits on campaign contributions, to issues regarding medical marijuana.

On today's show, we'll get an update from Lansing. Both the state House and Senate passed a voter-initiated law requiring consumers to buy separate policies for abortion coverage. What will this mean for you?

Later in the show, we’ll talk drones. Estimates show there could be some 175,000 unmanned aerial vehicles in U.S. airspace by 2025.

We'll speak to a Michigan entrepreneur who's trying to develop drones for commercial market, later in the hour.

But first, we check in with Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes. On his mind this week is a "re-tooling" of Michigan's auto industry.

Arts & Culture
2:00 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Detroit Institute of Arts praises initial work by federal bankruptcy mediators

Flickr

Leaders at the Detroit Institute of Arts praised the efforts of federal mediators today saying they're working toward a solution that protect's the museum's collection while giving relief to the city of Detroit.

The collection has been seen as a potential source of revenue by some creditors who are poised to lose a lot of money in the Detroit bankruptcy.

More from the DIA's press release:

At a meeting with the mediators on Tuesday, the DIA expressed enthusiastic support for the work that has been done to date, and pledged to help refine and implement the plan in the weeks ahead. The plan engages national and local foundations among other funding sources to create a mechanism for providing cash for the City, while ensuring the present and future safety of the DIA collection. Details of the plan are still in process, as meetings with the foundation community and others continue. The DIA has begun to mobilize its considerable public support to help implement a fundraising strategy that will satisfy the City’s needs, while ensuring the well-being of the museum for the residents of Detroit, southeast Michigan and beyond.

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