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State of Opportunity

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Economy
2:56 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Gov. Snyder's approval rating improving

The approval rating for Gov. Snyder stands at nearly 40%. The numbers have been going up for about a year, and are about as high as they were when the first survey was done after he took office in 2011.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

About 40% of Michiganders think Gov. Rick Snyder is doing a pretty good job, according to survey results released today by Michigan State University.

His approval rating in the State of the State Survey has been improving for close to a year, say the folks behind the survey, and they come as Gov. Snyder throws his hat back in the ring for re-election. Survey director Charles Ballard says Gov. Snyder's numbers are similar to those of his immediate predecessor, Jennifer Granholm, around the time she decided to run for re-election eight years ago.

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Environment & Science
12:58 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

What you can do to help Michigan's bats

A little brown bat with symptoms of white-nose syndrome.
Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters / U.S. government

Things are not looking good for Michigan’s bats.

As Michigan Radio's Rebecca Williams reported earlier this week, bats infected with the deadly white-nose syndrome have been found in Michigan.

The disease, which has killed more than six million bats in North America since 2006, wakes up bats during hibernation once a week – twice the normal amount of hibernation disturbance.

According to Allen Kurta, a biology professor at Eastern Michigan University, when the fungus keeps the bats waking up, they use up their stored fat too quickly:

“So, by arousing much more frequently, they’re using up their fat much more frequently; they are then running out of that fat come February and March, and essentially they will die of starvation because there are no flying insects out there to give them food.”

And in short, the spread of the disease is threatening the livelihood of the state's bats. 

“I think that this is one of the worst wildlife calamities ever in the history of North America,” said Kurta. “You’re looking at potential extinction of multiple species of bats.”

Luckily, there are a few things we can do to help out the little guys.

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Business
6:08 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Detroit businesses vote to pay for supplement city services

Credit Peter Martorano / Flickr

Business owners in downtown Detroit voted this week to collectively contribute $4 million a year to keeping the downtown clean and safe.

The vote means a new Business Improvement Zone will be established downtown between the freeways and the Detroit River. Commercial property owners in the zone will pay an additional fee on top of their property taxes to pay for supplementary services.

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Environment & Science
7:06 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Deadly pig virus reported on 93 Michigan farms

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus dehydrates and kills baby pigs.
Credit Steve Sawyer / Flickr

If you eat bacon, prepare for higher prices at the grocery store soon.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus is deadly to piglets, and it’s shown up on at least 93 Michigan farms. The virus was first seen in the U.S. about a year ago. It causes severe diarrhea in baby pigs that eventually dehydrates and kills them. It is extremely infectious  and so far little is known about how it spreads.

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Newsmaker Interviews
5:20 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Flint's Amir Hekmati retried and sentenced to 10 years in Iranian prison

Amir Hekmati has been convinced and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Credit Hekmati family

Amir Hekmati is a former Marine from Flint, Michigan.

More than two and a half years ago, while visiting family in Iran, Hekmati was arrested and charged with espionage. His initial death sentence was overturned, but now reports have surfaced that Hekmati was secretly retried in December 2013.

He was convicted of "partial collaboration with the American government," and sentenced to 10 years in prison. 

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Politics & Government
8:57 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Where your federal tax dollars go

Credit stockphotosforfree.com

Tax Day is here, and as many Michiganders are racing to meet Uncle Sam's deadline, how many really know where their tax dollars are going?

Jasmine Tucker, research analyst with the National Priorities Project, encourages taxpayers to use the Tax Receipt Calculator, which breaks down the average taxpayer's federal return from last year and shows how the government spent those funds, down to the penny.

"This really gives people the opportunity to see, in numbers that they understand, what they paid in taxes and where those taxes went," Tucker said.

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Weather
12:38 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Power outages plague Southeastern Michigan

Downed power lines create outages across the state.
Credit Christoper Sessums / Flickr

Just when you thought the weather was finally getting better, Michigan proves you wrong. 

As of 11:00 a.m., high winds and downed power lines Monday morning have left more than 100,000 DTE consumers in the dark. 

DTE's Outage Map, below, shows the outages that have been reported across the state. 

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Environment & Science
11:26 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Rouge River cleanup to happen in May

Volunteers build birdhouses in Canton as part of the 2013 Rouge Rescue clean-up event. This year's event will take place on May 17 and surrounding days.
Credit Cyndi Ross / Friends of the Rouge

An annual project to clean up the Rouge River is happening early this year because a federal grant that helps fund the event is coming to an end.

Aimee LaLonde-Norman, executive director of the conservation group Friends of the Rouge, says the Rouge Rescue will center around May 17 rather than the first weekend in June, as it has been for 27 years. The change comes because the grant they use for the event ends this May.

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That's What They Say
8:05 am
Sun April 13, 2014

Old vocabulary “segueing” into new vocabulary

Segues are unrelated to segments, although the two words sound similar and are both about parts.

On this week’s edition of That’s What They Say, host Rina Miller and University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan look into the etymology of segue.

Curzan first explored the origins of the word segment. In the late 16th century, segment comes into English from Latin, meaning “a piece that’s cut or broken off” or “a part of a circle.” Centuries later, segment also becomes a verb, meaning, “to divide into segments.”

The term segue, however, is completely unrelated to the term segment. Rather than Latin, segue finds its way into English through Italian as a musical term.

“Segue first shows up in English in 1740,” Curzan describes. “But for almost 200 years, it’s used primarily as an Italian term, to refer to proceeding from one movement to another in a musical piece without a break.”  

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Health
4:50 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

South Lyon pharmacist fined for selling tainted meds

A South Lyon pharmacist has lost his license and his business after selling medicine contaminated with fungus to Henry Ford Hospital.
Credit Megha Satyanarayana

A South Lyon pharmacy has been shut down and the lead pharmacist fined for selling contaminated goods to a Detroit hospital.

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Weekly Political Roundup
5:31 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy case, bondholders and the future of the DIA

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

This week, host Jennifer White discusses the latest developments in the Detroit bankruptcy case and examines the implications.

There was a significant breakthrough yesterday. A settlement was announced between the city of Detroit and three major bond insurers. The insurers will get about 74 cents on the dollar, a significant increase from what emergency manager Kevyn Orr originally offered, and the roughly $50 million in savings will go to support retirees.

The question now is whether retirees will accept further cuts to their pensions, given the fact that Gov. Rick Snyder has stated that the state will not put any money forward unless the retirees agree to cuts. Ken Sikkema says it's imperative that retirees back the plan.

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Politics & Government
6:16 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Mullins throws hat into race for John Dingell's congressional seat

Raymond G. Mullins
Credit Courtesy Raymond G. Mullins

A long-time Washtenaw County attorney plans to run in the Democratic primary for Michigan's 12th Congressional District seat.

Raymond G. Mullins is challenging Debbie Dingell in the race to succeed her husband, U.S. Representative John Dingell.

Mullins says his biggest concerns are fighting poverty, income inequality, and improving public education at all levels.

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Business
2:20 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

A new law allows local investment in small business

Kyle DeWitt and Tim Schmidt, both 32, are trying to become the first people in Michigan to use a new crowdfunding law passed by Gov. Snyder in December. They want to open a brewery in Tecumseh.
Credit Megha Satyanarayana / Michigan Radio Newsroom

Kyle DeWitt has spent three years trying to open a brewery in Tecumseh. He's a veteran brewer, and he owns the building where he plans to brew his beer. But, he still needs money for equipment.

Despite his experience and a solid business plan, banks think of breweries as restaurants, he says. He’s a risky investment in the eyes of traditional lenders.

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Environment & Science
4:43 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court won't review UP mining dispute

Kennecott Eagle MIne in September, 2011
Credit Kennecott Eagle Minerals

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take a case trying to stop the development of a new copper and nickel mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The high court let stand a lower court's rejection of the Huron Mountain Club's arguments that the mine needs federal permits.

The Club owns a 19,000-acre wildlife and nature preserve that includes an 11-mile stretch of the Salmon Trout River.

The Eagle Mine is located a few miles upstream, and some mining will take place under the river.

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Arts & Culture
2:26 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Arts in Motion Studio uses art for inclusivity

Delight Lester, right, teaches students.
Adam Bird Issue Media Group

It is easy to feel like an outsider when facing a mental, emotional, or physical disability. Anything that sets you apart or makes you different can seem alienating or isolating. 

Delight Lester has harnessed that feeling and aims to make outsiders feel like insiders through the healing power of the arts. Her non-profit Arts in Motion Studio in Grand Rapids offers ballet, tap, and interpretative dance, as well as guitar, visual arts, and drama classes to people of all ages in an individualized and inclusive way. 

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Soccer
8:58 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Big-time soccer coming to The Big House

University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon, center, and Manchester United Communications Director Phil Townsend, far left, pose with event organizers.
Credit Steve Carmody

Two of the world's biggest soccer teams are officially coming to Ann Arbor. English champions Manchester United will play Spanish giants Real Madrid in the Big House on Aug.  2. The match is part of an off-season tournament that follows the World Cup in Brazil.

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Arts & Culture
2:30 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

U of M a cappella group in final 4 in international competition

The G-Men
Credit Virginia Gordan

A University of Michigan group is one of four finalists  – and the only team from the state – in the 2014 International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA). 

The 14-member group is called the G-Men, short for "gentlemen."

Apoorv Dhir is the group's president and a pre-med U of M junior. "The best thing about this group is how close we are, and how much we love each other," he said. "We're good at singing and we enjoy performing. But the best thing about this group is that we are best friends."

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Politics & Government
10:04 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Oakland Co. takes step toward ditching DWSD

Relations between Detroit and its suburban water customers have long been strained, a dynamic that's continued under Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.
Credit Bart / Flickr

A resolution making its way through the Oakland County Commission would set aside $3 million to research alternatives to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

Right now Oakland County is one of several counties that uses Detroit's system.

But cost issues have strained relations between the department and its suburban customers.

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Weekly Political Roundup
4:41 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Schauer selects Lisa Brown as running mate; Camp decides against seeking re-election

Credit user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

Each week we take a look at what’s happening in Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Earlier today, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer announced that Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown will be his running mate for the upcoming 2014 election. Brown served two terms in the state House of Representatives and has served as the Oakland County Clerk since 2012, a position long held by Republicans.

Susan Demas indicates the selection of Brown will bolster the ticket because of her name recognition with voters in Southeast Michigan and she resonates well with female voters. 

“Lisa Brown...gained a lot of attention in 2012 with the debate over the controversial abortion legislation, and was known for the ‘vagina-gate’ scandal when she was not allowed to speak on the floor.”

Meanwhile, a fourth member of Michigan’s congressional delegation announced he will not seek re-election. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland), the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, will step down, along with Mike Rogers, Carl Levin and John Dingell.

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Education
3:33 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Michigan's public universities making decisions in private

The Michigan Union on the University of Michigan's main campus in Ann Arbor.
Credit Andrew Horne / Wikimedia Commons

When University boards meet to vote on certain issues, the vote almost always goes through smoothly with little discussion and even littler debate.

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