Mercedes Mejia

Reporter/Producer

Mercedes Mejia produces interviews for All Things Considered, including the music segment Songs from Studio East. She also produces content for Stateside. Mercedes relocated to Michigan from New Mexico, where she earned her BA in Latin American Studies and Journalism. 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.

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Politics
6:51 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

A conversation with David Hecker, Pres. of AFT in Michigan

The Republican-led legislature approved a measure that would prohibit schools from automatically deducting union dues from the paychecks of school employees last week.

Those in support of the measure say it puts more money in the pockets of employees who can then choose to write a check to their union. Opponents say it’s another attempt at union busting.

David Hecker, President of the American Federation of Teachers in Michigan spoke with Michigan Radio's Jennifer White.

Politics
5:15 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

The politics behind a Detroit consent agreement

user: Patricia Drury / flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder presented a proposed consent agreement to City of Detroit officials. Snyder wants to use a consent agreement rather than appoint an emergency manager to fix Detroit’s finances.

Stephen Henderson is the Free Press’ editorial page editor and of “American Black Journal.” He spoke with Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White.

“The whole idea of the consent agreement is about control and power, and this agreement would ask the Mayor and City Council to give up a lot of that,” Henderson says.

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Cancer & Environment
11:05 am
Mon March 12, 2012

Infographic: Cancer in our lives

Last week, we brought you a series on cancer and the environment.

I put together this visual representation of some of the statistics we learned about cancer and our lives.

Religion
5:50 pm
Fri March 9, 2012

Gospelfest celebrates unity and diversity through music

If you like gospel music you might want to check out the 20th Annual Gospelfest in Ann Arbor.

The idea behind the event is to celebrate the diversity of music among different communities and faiths in southeast Michigan. Participants seek to bridge cultural, racial, and religious gaps between different churches, and develop friendships.

Jean Wilson is the co-founder of Gospelfest, and choir director at St. Paul United Church of Christ in Saline. She sat down with Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White to talk about the event’s 20-year history.

Wilson says the event offers a variety of music, from traditional black gospel to contemporary Christian, pop-rock, and more. And she says the event is about diversity and unity.

“Although we are so diverse in our different ways of worship, we are all headed in the same direction; we are all children of the same creator. Although we have so many differences, we do have that thing at the core of our very being that really says that we are all related and are one, and we get to celebrate it.”

On Saturday March 10, choirs from Ann Arbor and Detroit will come together for the 20th Annual Gospelfest at Bethlehem United Church of Christ in Ann Arbor.

The gospel choir of New Prospect Baptist Missionary Church in Detroit will also participate in this year's event. Here's a video of the choir during a Saturday morning practice.

*This story was informed by the Public Insight Network. Share your story here.

Political Roundup
5:02 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

State politics and public safety

Gov. Rick Snyder delivered a special address on public safety this week. His plan calls for fighting crime in some of the state’s most violent cities.

The 34 point plan includes hiring 180 additional state troopers, increasing staffing at crime labs, decreasing urban blight, and linking welfare benefits to school attendance.

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Newsmaker Interviews
5:38 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Michigan State Police seek to combat rising crime

Colonel Kriste Etue, Director of the Michigan State Police

The FBI ranks Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw among the ten American cities with the highest violent crime rates.

Kriste Etue is the Director of the Michigan State Police.  She says the lack of good jobs and the decline of police officers in the state has an impact on crime.

"The state of Michigan has lost nearly 3,400 police officers, so I’m sure that has some impact on the crime in our various cities."

The Michigan State Police is reaching out to returning veterans to join the state police force.

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Political Roundup
5:30 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Enough signatures to suspend emergency manager law?

A group seeking repeal of Michigan’s emergency manager law has submitted 226,000 petition signatures to place a referendum on the issue in November.

If 161,305 signatures are verified by a state elections panel the emergency manager law will be suspended until the vote comes up in November.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White spoke to Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service about the implications.

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Newsmaker Interviews
4:21 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Sen. Bert Johnson talks alternative to emergency manager law

Democratic Senator Bert Johnson represents Michigan’s 2nd District.
Photo courtesy of Senate Democrats.

At the beginning of the year Governor Snyder appointed an emergency manager, Jack Martin, for Highland Park public schools. Shortly after that Martin was “de-activated” from the position. And now it’s unclear when he might be reinstated.

Democratic Senator Bert Johnson represents Michigan’s 2nd District, which includes Highland Park.

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History
4:18 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Michigan primaries, fascinating and bizarre

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry describes the history of Michigan’s primary as both fascinating and bizarre.

According to Lessenberry, Michigan held its first presidential primary in the early part of the 20th century. At that time people voted for Henry Ford in two separate primaries. To be exact, those primaries took place in 1916 and then in 1924, according to the Michigan Department of State Bureau of Elections.

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Newsmaker
4:29 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Michigan GOP looking for a leader

Robert Schostak, Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.
Photo courtesy of Michigan GOP.

Michigan is just a week away from its Presidential Primary. The GOP candidates are campaigning across the state in preparation for the February 28 event.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White spoke with the chair of the Michigan Republican Party, Robert Schostak.

Mitt Romney is from Michigan, so a lot people believe he will win in his home state, but  Rick Santorum was leading in the polls over Romney. Schostak is  not surprised Santorum is doing well in the state.

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Political Roundup
5:51 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Will Gov. Snyder's endorsment help Romney?

User: dailyfortnight / flickr

Governor Rick Snyder gave his endorsement to Mitt Romney today.  The question is whether or not that endorsement will help Romney.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White spoke with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

Here’s what Susan Demas had to say about the Snyder endorsement:

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Newsmaker
4:08 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Presidential Primary, Democrats casting "crossover" vote?

Mark Brewer, chair of Michigan's Democratic Party.
User: Jeremy Peters / flickr

Michigan’s Presidential Primary is only two weeks away.

On February 28, Republicans and Democrats can go out and vote for their nominee for President. That’s because Michigan is what you’d call an “open state.” Once you get to the polls all you have to do is request either a Republican or Democrat ballot.

Eleven Republican presidential candidates are on the ballot so far. President Barack Obama is the only Democrat.

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Arts/Culture
4:27 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

Naomi Long Madgett, awarded 2012 Kresge Eminent Artist

Detroit Poet Laureate Naomi Long Madgett.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Madgett.

Listen to the interview.

The 2012 Kresge Eminent Artist Award goes to Naomi Long Madgett.

She’s an award winning poet, editor, and educator. She’s often called the godmother of African-American poetry.

Dr. Madgett says the award came as a complete surprise because she didn’t even know she was being considered for the award.

“So it means a great deal to me that I can be alive to realize that my life’s work has had some positive effect on other people’s lives,” she tell Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White.

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Seeking Change
10:54 am
Mon February 13, 2012

Honoring veterans of American wars

Jeffs4653 Flickr

Every Monday, we're checking in with people who are  trying to do what they think is needed to improve life for people in Michigan. This morning we speak with Sean Tracy. He’s a truck driver and World War II buff, and he’s working to show gratitude to the nation’s veterans—especially World War II vets. He builds models of the planes or ships the veterans served on while they were on active duty and gives them as gifts to the vets he finds.

*This story was informed by the Public Insight Network. Add your story here.

Music
1:53 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Songs From Studio East, with music from Seth & May

Photo courtesy of Seth Bernard and May Erlewine.

Listen to the interview.

Michigan natives Seth Bernard and May Erlewine have a new album inspired by their journey across Ethiopia.

Last year they were invited to join the project “Run Across Ethiopia," of the Michigan-based non-profit On the Ground. A group of eight eventually ran 240 miles across southern Ethiopia and raised over $200,000 to build schools in the coffee growing region of that country.

The album New Flower is based on that experience.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White interviewed Seth & May. You can see them perform in Michigan Radio's Studio East.

Produced by Mercedes Mejia and Cade Sperlich. Our audio engineer is Bob Skon.

State Budget
6:04 pm
Thu February 9, 2012

A conversation with Governor Snyder about his budget proposal

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.
Governor Rick Snyder's website

Governor Rick Snyder spoke to Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White about his budget proposal for fiscal year 2013.

In the proposal are some funding increases for education, public safety and infrastructure.

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Human Trafficking
5:37 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Survivor of sex trafficking tells her story

Screenshot from Gracehaven's video.

Theresa Flores is a social worker, and director of education and training for Gracehaven House, in Ohio. It's a long term faith based care and rehabilitation home for young girls who have been victimized by human trafficking.

Flores grew up in an upper-middle class catholic home. Many years ago she found herself in the same situation as some of the young women she now helps.

Flores says she moved around a lot. Her father had a good job, and her parents were very strict. They landed in Birmingham, Michigan.

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Human Trafficking
5:50 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

Helping victims of human trafficking

user: isabel bolinn / flickr

We continue our series on human trafficking.

Identifying victims of this crime can be difficult. But as Amy Allen tells us, there are signs we can watch out for.

Allen is a victim and witness specialist from Homeland Security Investigations. She is stationed in Michigan and travels locally and abroad to help victims of human trafficking.

Politics
5:15 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

Congressman Mike Rogers on worldwide threats

Republican Congressman Mike Rogers on NBC's 'Meet the Press' in 2011. Rogers represents Michigan’s 8th District.
Congressman's website.

Republican Congressman Mike Rogers represents Michigan’s 8th district. He also serves as the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Recently, he held the annual Open Hearing on Worldwide Threats Facing the U.S. Congressman Rogers spoke to Michigan Radio's Jennifer White.

Human Trafficking
4:54 pm
Mon February 6, 2012

Human trafficking, modern-day slavery

UM Law School's Human Trafficking Clinic.

Human trafficking is a growing crime in Michigan, and the U.S.

At its most basic level, even identifying victims of this crime can be difficult.

In the first of our three part series we’ll look at the challenge of providing assistance to victims.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White spoke with Elizabeth Campbell, Staff Attorney at the University of Michigan Law School’s Human Trafficking Clinic.

Campbell says there are mostly two categories of human trafficking.

Read more

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