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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Science
5:11 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

UM professor consults on Disney film "Chimpanzee"

John Mitani, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan.

The movie Chimpanzee from Disney Nature opens in theaters today.

It follows a young chimp, Oscar, who is separated from his troop, and is adopted by an alpha male named Freddie.

John Mitani was a scientific consultant on the film. He's a primate behavioral ecologist and University of Michigan Professor of Anthropology. Mitani’s research centers on the behavior of male chimps and why males co-operate.

According to Mitani, it's not uncommon for young chimps to be separated from their parents. Often they are adopted by close relatives. But what's unusual in this story is that Oscar was adopted by an adult male chimp "which rarely or never has been seen," Mitani says.

“It’s not as if male animals, male primates, male chimps are generally helpful to others. Why he should go out of his way to help this poor little helpless infant who was not obviously his own is really the thing that is quite interesting and unusual in this.”

The film took three years to make, and actually follows two main groups of chimps, one filmed in west Africa and one filmed in east Africa. Through the magic of movie making we get one story. Mitani recognizes the film has two qualities. One scientific and the other purely entertaining.

You can see the movie trailer here:

Politics
4:16 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

Financing presidential and state races

The Michigan State Capitol.
Jimmy Emerson Flickr

Every Thursday we speak 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.

This week it’s all about campaign finance. Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White discusses the money behind presidential and state races.

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Newsmaker Interviews
5:23 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

Congressman Clarke says suspend foreclosures, keep homes occupied

Congressman Hansen Clarke represents Michigan's 13th Congressional District.

Although Michigan’s foreclosure activity declined in the first quarter of 2012, Michigan still has the 7th highest foreclosure rate in the country.

Democratic Congressman Hansen Clarke represents Michigan’s 13th district. This week he's in Washington D. C. and hopes to introduce a bill that would suspend home foreclosures nationally for up to three years.

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Political Roundup
9:39 pm
Thu April 12, 2012

Immediate effect sheds national light on Michigan, so what?

Michigan Legislature.
Michigan Municipal League flickr

Every Thursday we speak 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.

This week it’s all about the politics and policy behind immediate effect, and why it's gotten some national attention.

Hundred of bills have passed in the Michigan legislature with immediate effect tacked on. Democrats have cried foul, and issued a court challenge accusing Republicans of not taking required roll call votes.

This gets into a lot of procedural specifics and we’ve been reporting on this for a couple of weeks. Then suddenly, it hits the national stage when Rachel Maddow, a MSNBC host, picked up the story. Maddow called it “revolutionary and radical beyond radical.”

Demas says, “I think Maddow needs to calm down and maybe spend a little time in Michigan before she starts reporting on the intricacies of legislative procedure here.”

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Science/Medicine
5:32 pm
Wed April 11, 2012

Living with autism

Michelle Bouchard (left) and Nicole Bouchard (right).
Photos courtesy of Nicole Bouchard.

This week we’ve been talking about autism, what we know about it, and how autism coverage is changing in Michigan.

Twenty-two-year-old twin sisters Michelle and Nicole Bouchard both have Asperger’s syndrome. It’s commonly thought to be at the milder end of the autism spectrum.  

Michelle says school wasn't easy. "There was a list of things they told me I couldn't do. I couldn't go to college, I couldn't find a job...it was a big struggle for me," she says.

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Newsmaker Interview
4:58 pm
Tue April 10, 2012

Lt. Governor Calley, advocate for autism coverage

Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley (R)
User: Michigan Works! Association / Flickr

The Michigan Legislature passed a series of autism coverage bills that have been sent to Governor Snyder for his approval.

Lt. Governor Brian Calley was been a central advocate of the bills. He also has a 5-year-old daughter with autism.

The bills would change Michigan insurance code, which would require that certain evidence-based therapies be covered, up to certain limits.

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Science/Medicine
5:58 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

Understanding autism

User: Sam Hames / Flickr

This week we’ll be taking a closer look at autism.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control found that about 1 in 88 children are diagnosed with autism or a related disorder – a significant increase in diagnosis.

Dr. Richard Solomon is a Medical Director of the P.L.A.Y Project at The Ann Arbor Center of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

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Food
6:03 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

Reviving a family tradition

Sisters Holly Godbey (left) and Dianne Johns (right).
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Many of us have family traditions that are linked to our ethic or cultural roots.

Earlier this year we asked listeners to share a special family tradition or family recipe. We got recipes from listeners that tie back to their ethic roots, some from Trinidad, Holland and Poland.

And, there was also a little contest. Our winners were sisters Dianne Johns and Holly Godbey. They revived their Lebanese family tradition of baking Easter cookies.

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Political Roundup
5:33 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

Financial stability agreement "huge step" for Detroit

User: Fabienne Kneifel/Flickr

The Detroit City Council signed off on a consent agreement with the state of Michigan Wednesday afternoon.

Mayor Dave Bing signed the agreement from his hospital bed. Bing is being treated for acute pulmonary embolism.

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Author Interview
6:00 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Dog Heart: A book of poems by Alison Swan

Alison Swan

Alison Swan is a poet and an award winning environmentalist. She's adjunct professor at Western Michigan University.

Not too long ago Swan published her first collection of poetry, Dog Heart. Michigan Radio's Jennifer White sat down with Swan to talk about the new book.

Swan says she finds her inspiration from the wild places of Michigan.

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Newsmaker
5:47 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

Discussions continue, no vote yet on Detroit Consent Agreement

User: jpower65/flickr

Gov. Snyder's administration and Detroit officials have been working towards a consent agreement to address the city's financial crisis. Legal challenges have stalled the Detroit City Council’s ability to vote on an agreement with the state.

Tuesday afternoon Detroit City Council decided there are too many unresolved legal questions about the consent agreement and decided not to vote, but they try again on Wednesday.

Michigan Radio's Detroit reporter Sarah Cwiek explains those uncertainties and what we might expect to see happen next.

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Author Interview
4:45 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

Scott Martelle's new book, "Detroit: A Biography"

Scott Martelle is a journalist and author. His new book Detroit: A Biography chronicles the history of the city from the 17oo's to the present day. He was also a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit News.

Martelle believes there was a point in history when Detroit had an opportunity to diversify its manufacturing.

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Politics
5:33 pm
Thu March 29, 2012

Political Roundup: Republican agenda moving forward?

User: mattileo / flickr

Every Thursday we speak with political analysts Ken Sikkema and Susan Demas to get a better understanding of what's happening in state politics.

Last week we focused on Detroit's financial situation. This week it's all about what's going on in Lansing.

The repeal of the helmet law is on Gov. Snyder’s desk. Republican lawmakers recently created a measure that allowed Oakland County to redraw district lines, it was challenged in court, but the Republican Majority Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Republican lawmakers.

So, it this politics as usual? Susan says "It's certainly has had a political tinge to it that I think perhaps we might have expected from a Republican-led legislature." Demas adds, "There hasn't been a lot of day light between Gov. Snyder and the legislature. One exception is on domestic partner benefits for universities, but that's one of the rare few."

Sikkema agrees, "The governor has pretty much stuck with his Republican colleagues and hasn't had much controversy."

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Newsmaker
4:42 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

A conversation with Detroit Council member Saunteel Jenkins

Detroit City Council member Saunteel Jenkins.

At an open meeting of the financial review team in charge of evaluating the city of Detroit’s finances, protesters on Monday afternoon interrupted the meeting chanting, “No take over.”

The financial review team reaffirmed that a financial emergency does exist in the city and that a consent agreement was their preferred approach to fixing the city’s finances.

The city of Detroit and Michigan have yet to come to an agreement on how to stabilize the city’s finances.

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Culture
10:13 am
Tue March 27, 2012

Trayvon Martin supporters rally in Ypsilanti (photos)

Heather Mapstone holds the sign "Justice for Trayvon," at a rally on March 26 in Ypsilanti.
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

A crowd wearing hooded sweaters of all colors gathered in downtown Ypsilanti Monday afternoon, one month after the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin of Florida.

The unarmed black teenager was wearing a hoodie when he was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community in Sanford, Florida. The man who shot Martin has not been arrested.

 Jeff Clark lives in Ypsilanti, and helped organize the event.

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Film
4:55 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

Ann Arbor Film Festival: A conversation with director Donald Harrison

Screenshots from Ann Arbor Film Festival website.

The Ann Arbor Film Festival is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The range of films and videos are diverse. They can be bizarre, funny, or beautiful. It's "art for art's sake," says Donald Harrison, the festival's executive director.

"We're most interested in ideas, and techniques and concepts, and engaging audiences in something that might be outside of their normal viewing experience," he says.

Harrison says the festival will highlight some of the best independent films from years past as well as new films.

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Politics
4:37 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Race and politics in Detroit financial crisis

user: jpowers65 / flickr

Every Thursday we talk Michigan politics 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.

We can't ignored Detroit’s fiscal crisis and where things stand right now.

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Weather
3:22 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Spring is here, feels like summer

user: q8 /flickr

The vernal equinox, or spring equinox marks the end of winter today, and the beginning of spring.  But don't rule out the possibility of another snow fall - after all this is Michigan.

Record highs across the state are expected to continue through the rest of the week in Michigan.

The Associated Press reports:

The weather service office in suburban Detroit says there's been six consecutive days of 70 degree temperatures that started March 14 and continued through Monday. It says the last time there was such a stretch of warm weather in the area around this time of year it was April 16-24, 1886.

The weather service forecasts several more days of 70 degree temperatures. In southeast and mid-Michigan temperatures are expected to reach 85 tomorrow.

According to the Associated Press, the weather service in Grand Rapids says record high temperatures in West Michigan were broken on five consecutive days from March 14 through Sunday. In the northern Lower Peninsula, forecasters say high temperatures are coming in about 25 to as much as 40 degrees above average.

Dexter Tornado
11:37 am
Fri March 16, 2012

PHOTOS: Dexter Tornado

Keri Romine, co-owner of Dexter Mill stands next to a structure damaged by the tornado that hit Thursday afternoon.
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Click on the photo to see more images.

People in Dexter gathered on the streets this morning to assess the damage from Thursday's tornado, and to help clean up the mess.

DTE trucks lined Central Street in Dexter as crews worked on power lines. Nearby Keri Romine, co-owner of Dexter Mill, says two structures were destroyed on her property.

On Wilson Street, at the Huron Farms subdivision, cleanup crews like the Statewide Disaster Restoration Mobile Command Center were on site. Across the street, two cars had been crushed by a collapsed roof.

Homeowner Ricke Stauffer says he estimates the damage to his home at $20,000 to $30,000. Shingles and siding were ripped from his house, windows were blown out and the deck in his backyard was torn off.

Employees of Busch’s grocery store in Dexter were in the neighborhood giving away bottles of water.

Dexter Tornado
7:29 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

VIDEO: Tornado touches down at Hudson Mills Metro Park

This video was taken by Matthew Altruda at 5:30pm on March 15.

Warning: this video contains graphic language

 

 

 

 

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