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.

Robert Turney

For our series Before Technology, we asked Michigan writers to share their thoughts on life before smart phones, the internet and social media.

Keith Taylor is a Michigan poet and writer. He describes the benefits of technology when we’re far away from home.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

The North American International Auto Show opens to the public tomorrow.

The show has been a time for automakers to roll out new models and concept cars, letting consumers know what to expect in the future. The Detroit Three are heading into the year’s auto show with positive sales figures.

Joining us to take a historical look at the auto show and the Detroit Three is Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry.

You can read Michigan Radio reports and see photos and video here.

 

 

This week the The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) opened to the press and industry professionals at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Kicking off the event was the North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards.

The 2012 Hyundai Elantra took 2012 North American Car of the Year.

And, the 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque was named the 2012 North American Truck of the Year award.

Tracy Samilton reports:

The mood at the North American International Auto Show is upbeat. Sure, Europe’s debt crisis and the battered Euro have auto executives concerned, but so far that crisis isn’t stopping the U.S. economy’s improvement, albeit at a very measured (slow) pace.

You can read all Michigan Radio reports and see more photos and videos here.

On Saturday morning the show opens to the public.

Tickets are $12 each. Seniors and children are $6 each.

The show runs January 14-22.

Michigan Municipal League

The Michigan Legislature began the new session this week, and with Gov. Rick Snyder scheduled to deliver his second State of the State address, the agenda for state government is underway.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White asks, what kind of relationship might we see between the Governor and the legislature this year?

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

 

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

The Detroit Auto Show is in press preview this week. Michigan Radio’s auto beat reporter Tracy Samilton spoke with Jennifer White about her experience there.

 

On Monday, Chrysler unveiled its 2013 Dodge Dart at the Detroit Auto Show.

Sarah Cwiek reports:

Reid Bigland, President of the Dodge brand says the Dart represents a true blend of Fiat and Chrysler’s traditional strengths. “Quite simply, it is groundbreaking. It has a world-class architecture, the DNA of an Alpha-Romeo, with the unmistakable presence of a Dodge,” said Bigland. He says the Dart will make its debut in showrooms this spring with a price tag of just under $16,000.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

Auto companies use words such as "affordability", "reliability", "high performance", "style" and "fuel economy" to sell you a car.  

Ford Motor Company thinks they’ve got it all. Of course, they do have some competition.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports:

Ford Motor Company is unveiling its new Fusion, hoping to topple the traditional midsize sedan leaders, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. The Fusion will also come in hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions, with the plug-in getting the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon. 

Here's the splashy unveiling of the 2013 Ford Fusion at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

According to U.S. Census data, there are 80 million American consumers approaching 30.

And it's no surprise car companies want their business.

“Today's younger generation will be a driving force in the automotive market in the years ahead,” said Mark Reuss, President of GM North America.

Chevrolet launched its new 2013 Sonic RS at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It comes with a 138-horsepower engine, and sportier look than the non-RS models.

Reuss said rather than advertising on television, the car company has chosen to go online to promote the new 2013 Sonic, which will be available at the end of this year.

Chevrolet also revealed two brand new concept cars with traits they say young buyers want - style and performance.

The Code 130-R is a four-seat coupe. The Tru 140s is based off the same platform as the Chevrolet Cruze and the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended mileage.

Check out the new cars in this video:

Camp Take Notice is a tent community of homeless people living in Ann Arbor.

Freezing temperatures will force many of its residents to find new places to live. But more than a dozen will stay through the winter.

Michigan Radio’s Mercedes Mejia and Meg Cramer visited the camp just before the first snow fall.

You can check out what the camp looks like here:

Michigan Municipal League

This year, ushered in a new Governor, Republican Rick Snyder, and Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.

Joining us to take a look back at the year in state politics are Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

House Democrats / Michigan.gov

Governor Rick Snyder signed major changes to employer paid benefits into law yesterday.

The changes will limit how much an injured worker can be compensated based on how much an insurance company thinks that worker could make at another job, among other things.

The new law will also make it more difficult for a person to collect jobless benefits.

Courtesy of Susan Hutton

We've been asking Michigan writers to share their thoughts on life before technology, the internet and social media.

Susan Hutton is a Michigan writer and poet. Before having twins, she had some idea of what parenting would be like -- along with the fears and struggles that come with it.

In her essay, Hutton tells us about parenting in the age of cell phones.

Michigan Radio wants to hear from you. If you are a writer and have something to say about life before technology, send us an email with your idea to storyideas@michiganradio.org

 

Courtesy photo / facebook.com

Freshman Republican Congressman Justin Amash opposes a bill that would give the federal government the power to detain American citizens indefinitely, if suspected of terrorist activities.

"The federal government could come to someone’s house, pull the person out of the house and the family could ask, 'why are you taking my husband away?' and the federal government can simply say, 'we don’t have to tell you, he’s suspected of terrorism,'" he said in an interview with Michigan Radio's Jennifer White.

Courtesy of Red Tail Ring

Red Tail Ring is a musical collaboration between Michiganders Michael Beauchamp and Laurel Premo. 

The two combine traditional American music with their own modern approach. 

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with the duo about their vocal harmonies and lyrical sound.

Here's their live performance at Michigan Radio:

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The duo Red Tail Ring goes back to traditional old-time music--because that’s what they love.

Michiganders Michael Beauchamp and Laurel Premo’s interpretation of Appalachian and folk songs come from their “strong connection to the outdoors and the natural world.”

Laurel is from the Upper Peninsula and Michael from the Kalamazoo area. The music they play is what you might call “backwoods music.”

“We’re modern people reaching back to older songs and traditions; we’re interpreters and explorers of older culture. Learning from the past is an essential aspect in art, and for us it’s been formative. It’s important to show how older words and melodies can be honored, not compromised, in reinterpretation, and that the world has been doing this since the beginning of time.”

This year they released two albums - the first - Middlewest Chant, is a collection of original songs.

The second album - Mountain Shout - is a compilation of traditional songs.

Red Tail Ring performed in Studio East, here at Michigan Radio, and we were all enthralled by the vibration of the fiddle and banjo--and the eerie harmonies that Laurel and Michael create together.

Here's their performance:

user: mattileo/flickr

With the legislature set to go on winter break next week, there's a flurry of activity at the state capitol. 

In this week's political roundup we look at the state senate bill, which makes major changes to worker’s compensation, the bill to restrict public employers from offering live in and same sex partner benefits, and news about the emergency manager law.

Michigan's emergency manager law was strengthened this year with Public Act 4 which gave emergency managers more sweeping powers.

PA 4 is now facing a number of court challenges.

The group Michigan Forward is gathering signature to put the law to a voter referendum on the November 2012 ballot. As of now they have over 155,000 signatures. They need 161,304 signatures or more.

If they're able to collect those signatures and the petition is approved, the emergency manager law will be suspended until the 2012 election.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder last week appointed an emergency manager to the City of Flint.

Michael Brown got to work immediately, firing seven city staffers - four of whom were mayoral appointees. He also cut pay for the Mayor and City Council.

Here to talk about how city officials and citizens are reacting to the fast action is Bill Ballenger, Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

 

Governor Rick Snyder yesterday named Michael Brown emergency manager for the city of Flint.

Brown is very familiar with Flint. He served as Flint’s temporary mayor when former mayor Don Williamson abruptly resigned. 

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with Mr. Brown about his new appointment.

 

Every year the Michigan Humanities Council invites Michiganders to participate in a statewide initiative, the Great Michigan Read. This year’s selection, Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, explores a crucial moment in the northern Civil Rights movement—the events leading to the trial of African American physician Ossian Sweet and his family.

On September 9th, 1925 Dr. Sweet and his wife Gladys moved into their new home, crossing the color line into an all-white neighborhood on the east side of Detroit.

Two days later, a crowd of whites gathered in the street to drive the family away. Dr. Sweet and 10 others chose to stay, armed and barricaded inside the house, to defend against the mob. Tensions reached their limit and someone fired into the crowd. Two whites were shot and killed, and the 11 people inside the Sweet home were charged with first degree murder.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White spoke with Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice.

Thanksgiving will be celebrated across the country tomorrow. Many of us will spend the day with friends and family, but it’s not always time spent peacefully and harmoniously, especially when our plans for the holiday are challenged.

Michigan based writer, Wade Rouse has been bringing us stories about the holidays throughout the year. Today, he reflects on Thanksgiving traditions and how important it can be to be open to change.

Wade Rouse lives in Michigan and is the author of "It's All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays and 50 Boxes of Wine.”

If you think about it, class is a tricky word. What does it even mean? How do you define it?

Michigan Radio reporters and producers take a look at how social class impacts our lives - from the way we plan our cities and neighborhoods, to the way we’re treated in a courtroom.

We also hear from folks around the state as they share their thoughts on class.

Part 1

This idea of class – class warfare, class resentment. It’s everywhere. And yet, how are we defining class?

Ifmuth / Flickr

Detroit’s financial troubles have been in the news quite a bit recently with Mayor Dave Bing announcing a plan to lay off 1000 city workers and the looming possibility of the state assigning an emergency manager to take over the city’s finances. Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry took a look back at Detroit's history of financial problems.

Technology surrounds us. It seems we’re always connected to something…the internet, cell phones and social media. It can be difficult to unplug sometimes.

As part of our series Before Tech, Michigan writers share stories about their relationship to technology.

Today, writer Natalie Bakopoulos tells us about her college days, before the phenomena of social media.

She is an English professor at the University of Michigan.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

We've been talking a lot about class, what it means, and how we define it.

We took a trip to St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. They’re called the Twin Cities, but they're different.

In Benton Harbor forty-three percent of families live below the poverty line.

In St. Joseph it’s six percent.

And, families in St. Joseph earn more than twice as much as their neighbors across the river.

Here's a video produced by Meg Cramer and Mercedes Mejia who spoke to residents on both sides of the river.

What does Republican Paul Scott's recall mean for Michigan politics and around the nation?

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 joined Michigan Radio's Jennifer White to talk about the aftermath.

The Michigan Education Association put a lot of money behind the recall effort, but the margin for the vote was very slim.

“If you look at the money spent the pro-Scott forces like the Michigan Republican Party and the state chamber of commerce actually out spent the MEA 2 to 1,” said Demas.

According to Sikkema, Michigan is not alone when it comes to voter's discontent with Republican lawmakers.

He said, “Ohio you saw a rejection of the collective bargaining reform championed by Governor Kasich. Arizona the state senator who introduced the very controversial immigration bill was recalled. So, there’s a larger national context here where there’s a real question whether Republicans are over reaching. ”

Cars, agriculture, tourism, it’s all fair game for people who want Michigan to tap into the Chinese market.

But what does that really mean and who really stands to benefit?

Governor Rick Snyder recently led a Michigan delegation to China.

He says strong economic ties between Michigan and what is now the world’s fastest growing economy are essential to Michigan’s economic growth.

Part 1

Technology surrounds us. It seems we’re always connected to something…the internet, cell phones and social media. It can be difficult to unplug sometimes.

As part of the series, Michigan writers will share stories about their relationship to technology.

Today,  writer Wade Rouse tells us about his rather close relationship to his favorite piece of tech.

Michigan Municipal League

The Occupy movement has expanded beyond Wall Street. A number of cities in Michigan have Occupy demonstrations, including Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Lansing.

Lansing Mayor, Virg Bernero says he's been "..protesting Wall Street since before it was fashionable." He welcomes the demonstrators.

"It costs money to arrest people and to cordon off areas. And so our goal was to not arrest anybody, and we made that clear when they got here."

Michigan Municipal League

A vote on a bill to build a new Detroit to Windor bridge crossing has failed in the Senate Economic Development Committee. That means the bill won’t be presented to the full Senate. Here to look at the politics surrounding the bridge and what options the Snyder administration has now are 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.

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