Mercedes Mejia


Mercedes Mejia produces interviews for Stateside and All Things Considered. She's also and arts and culture reporter. Mercedes relocated to Michigan from New Mexico, where she earned her BA in Journalism and Latin American Studies. She began in public radio as a reporter at KUNM in Albuquerque. She brings extensive video production skills from her work at Univision and Edit House Production.

Courtesy of Flint Eastwood

Flint Eastwood has a new EP out this week. It’s called Small Victories.

The music was recorded at Assemble Sound, a repurposed church in Detroit.

Bandleader Jax Anderson says the studio played a huge factor in determining the sound of this new collection of songs.

On Assemble Sound

Michigan Footgolf Club

A combination of soccer and golf, the new sport of footgolf is gaining popularity across the nation.

According to the American FootGolf League, there are more than 250 footgolf courses across the United States, with 25 courses right here in Michigan.

“I’ve been playing soccer my whole life, and I also enjoy golf so it was just a perfect fit,” says Jon Aron, president and founder of the Michigan FootGolf Club.

HMN Photography

A year ago, Ypsilanti singer-songwriter Chris DuPont found himself coping with depression and questioning his faith.

DuPont spoke with Michigan Radio's Mercedes Mejia about his renewed outlook on life and the stories that inspired his new album, Outlier.

DuPont is also the music director at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Ypsilanti. 

Holding it Together

Mercedes Mejia

The barbershop has long been a place for conversations about life, politics and neighborhood gossip.

Now, there’s a group in Detroit using that forum to get kids to think about college. The effort is dubbed the Barbershop Chats, and it's gaining recognition for the way it engages young African American boys and men.

Don Harrison/flickr /

  One of the most striking features of the waterfront in Marquette is the Upper Harbor ore dock. Built in 1912, the pocket dock is still in use today.

Maritime historian Frederick Stonehouse says the city of Marquette began because of the discovery of iron ore back in 1844 in the Ishpeming and Negaunee area, about 20 miles west of Marquette. The city developed as the shipping port for the delivery of iron ore.

Jo Christian Oterhals/flickr /

Divorce is complicated. Even more so if there are children involved. But, for Carter Cortelyou there was another layer to his divorce that made it difficult for him to talk to about it, until now.  

In 2009, his wife came out to him — told him she is a lesbian. Since then, Cortelyou has gone through grief, isolation, financial challenges and re-entering the dating world unexpectedly.

“My first thought was there goes our 25th wedding anniversary (laughs), we were 24-years-married at the time and…there goes our 25th.”

With VHS camera in hand, Michigan native Jerry White Jr. and friends recorded over 400 hours of experimental video art and comedy sketches in a Detroit-area public access TV show they called 30 Minutes of Madness.

Ara Howrani

Jill Jack has been making albums for more than two decades. This year she was named "Americana Songwriter of the Year" at the Detroit Music Awards.

She will be performing at the Ark in Ann Arbor as part of the venue's 50th anniversary Made in Michigan showcase happening on Saturday, July 25.  

Jack talks with Stateside's Mercedes Mejia about her first gig at The Ark, about her latest music and how giving up playing at bars actually helped her career.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Ahya Simone doesn’t particularly like the word transition when she describes being a transgender woman.

Simone was born and raised in Detroit. From an early age she was drawn to the performing arts, singing in church choir and, eventually, while attending Cass Technical High School in Detroit, learning to play the harp.

But it wasn’t until she was in college at Wayne State University that Simone decided it was time to get real, and start living her truth.

Here's a video of Ahya Simone performing with her harp. 

Jinx! / Flickr

Our special series "Poetically Speaking" highlighting poets and poetry in Michigan continues. 

Julie Babcock grew up in the late 70's and early 80's when playgrounds were full of sharp, hot metal and asphalt. 

Costa Sirdenis

When the City Meets the Sky is the latest album from the Marcus Elliot Quartet, dedicated to Detroit and to the leaders who helped shape the next generation of jazz musicians. 

Stephanie Baker (left photo)

Maureen Abood left her big-city job in Chicago to follow her heart to culinary school.

After training in San Francisco, Abood came back home to Michigan and has dedicated her life to cooking and writing about Lebanese food.

Christine Rhein is the author of Wild Flight (Texas Tech University Press), a winner of the Walt McDonald Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in many literary journals, including Michigan Quarterly Review, and have been featured at Poetry Daily and The Writer’s Almanac

"I wrote this poem in response to the heroic work accomplished at Gene Codes Corporation, in Ann Arbor, following 9/11," she says. "The poem, a weaving of programming language with poetic language, explores the event’s impact on the software developers and beyond."

Troye Fox / UWM Photography

Margaret Noodin has made it her life’s work to fight for the future of the ancient Native American language Anishnaabemowin.

This is the language of “the People of the Three Fires”—the Odawa, Potawatomi and Ojibwe. These people came to the Great Lakes thousands of years ago.

As part of our series Poetically SpeakingScott Beal brings us “American Spring,” his brand-new poem that explores the current tensions surrounding police violence in America.

Sara Schaff

Our series "Poetically Speaking," highlighting Michigan poets, continues. 

Benjamin Landry completed his MFA in creative writing-poetry at the University of Michigan and is a research associate in creative writing at Oberlin College. His collection Particle and Wave (University of Chicago Press), was shortlisted for the 2015 Believer Poetry Award.

Brenda Fitzsimmons / The Irish Times

As part of our series "Poetically Speaking" we're highlighting Michigan poets. 

Thomas Lynch is the author of five collections of poems and four books of essays.  His essays, poems and stories have appeared in The Atlantic and Granta, The New York Times and Times of London, The New Yorker, Poetry and The Paris Review and elsewhere.  

Owen Carey

As part of our series "Poetically Speaking" we're highlighting Michigan poets. 


Crystal Williams is a Detroit native. She is the author of four collections of poems, most recently Detroit as Barn, finalist for the National Poetry Series and Cleveland State Open Book Prize. She is the Associate Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Bates College. She is also a Professor of English.


About her poem Enlightenment Williams says:

"The poem is about resilience, acknowledging the turmoil around us and is about, ultimately, finding a more enlightened way of considering our failings, challenges, and opportunities for growth."

Mercedes Mejia

The 12th annual World Ice Fishing Championship kicks off in Kuopio, Finland this week.

Michigan native Myron Gilbert is there, representing the USA. Gilbert is part of the USA Ice Team. The team won the World Championship in Wisconsin back in 2010. Now it’s in Finland to reclaim that title.

Mercedes Mejia

While best known for her self-portraits portraying death and dark subjects, Frida Kahlo also had a love for life, and she loved to cook.

The Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit exhibit will open at The Detroit Institute of the Arts this month. In the same spirit, three Detroit-area chefs are paying tribute to the renowned Mexican artists. They’re guided by a book written by Guadalupe Rivera, Diego Rivera’s daughter, called Frida’s Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo.

Chez Chloe

Detroit-made mini lava cakes will soon be featured on Air France flights starting March 1.

Parisian-born Chloe Sabatier is the owner of Chez Chloe in Detroit where she specializes in traditional French lava cakes. She was stunned to learn her cakes would be on-board flights Air France flights from Detroit to Paris.

Abigail Stauffer has a new album out this week called Where I'm Going. There's an album release show on Thursday at the Ark, in Ann Arbor.  

A state wide teacher evaluation system is finally seeing some movement in the legislature. The plan would rate teachers and administrators based on student growth on standardized tests and in-class observations. If teachers and administrators are found to be ineffective for three year in a row, they would be fired.

Representative Lisa Posthumus Lyons is the Chair of the House Education Committee. She joined us today.

Andrian Clark / Flickr


Healthy Michigan” is available to more than 470,000 low-income Michiganders between the ages of 19 and 64.

Joining us today is Krista Nordberg, director of enrollment at the Washtenaw Health Plan.

Nordberg says the Healthy Michigan Plan is “extremely comprehensive health care coverage” for low-income individuals. The kind of coverage available includes medical benefits, prescription coverage, dental, vision and mental health services.

But under the new plan, people will be responsible for some of the cost of their health care.

“The co-pays range from about $1 to $3 for the dental and the vision and the prescriptions. And for people with higher incomes – incomes between 100-133% of poverty – they will be asked to contribute to a health savings account, and that is still something being worked out with the state as to how that would be administered through their health plan, and how they will pay into that,” said Nordberg.

For more information about Healthy Michigan click here, or call 1-855-789-5610. 

kconnors / morguefile

  A vote is expected on a final version of a bill that would expand the Education Achievement Authority into a statewide district. 

The EAA was created by the Snyder administration to initially oversee the lowest performing schools in the Detroit Public School system where it currently oversees 15 schools. Supporters say the EAA will give troubled schools the opportunity to turn things around, but critics say the EAA hasn’t proved that its model for education is a successful one. 

Brian Smith, the statewide education reporter for joined us today. 

Mercedes Mejia

Starting a business can be hard. How about starting a business with a mission to help end homelessness? Well, that’s even harder.

Stateside’s Mercedes Mejia tells us about the Empowerment Plan. It’s a business with a social mission.  The company makes coats that double as sleeping bags, and gives them away to homeless people.

After nearly two years, its mission is the same. But its business model is evolving.

Wikimedia Commons

The city of Benton Harbor is no longer in a financial emergency. Gov. Snyder today announced the appointment of a Receivership Transition Advisory Board.

Behind the turnaround is Benton Harbor’s former emergency manager, Tony Saunders II. He spoke with the host of All Thing Considered, Jennifer White.

  As Detroit continues to move through the bankruptcy process, an outstanding issue is a plan to protect artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts. A group of foundations and private donors have pledged over $300 million that would help cover city pensions and offset the need to sell the artwork. 

A recent op-ed in the Chronicle of Philanthropy questions the wisdom of this plan. William Schambra is the director of the Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal in Washington D.C. and he joined us today.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

What do Olympic ice dancers who train in Michigan have to do with Michael Lee?

He's a professional mime and physical acting coach. Lee has worked with 10 of the 24 figure skating ice dance teams at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. That includes Michigan natives Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who won a gold medal this year. Lee also works with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, who won silver. 

“These are professional skaters," said Lee. "They move beautifully, but at the beginning they don’t move as if they are performing, and that’s what I’m about."

Lee helps the skaters become performers by teaching them how to animate their bodies. He himself learned miming from the late Marcel Marceau, an acclaimed French mime. 

To learn more about Lee click here.

Watch as Lee explains the physical acting techniques he shows the ice dancers.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It's a question Michigan voters may have to answer this November.

The Board of State Canvassers yesterday approved petition language put forward by Raise Michigan, a coalition that wants to increase Michigan’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017, and also index the minimum wage to inflation.

To get the question on the November ballot, it needs to collect 258,000 signatures by May 28.

Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants spoke with All Things Considered Host, Jennifer White.