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Politics
9:24 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Michigan State Supreme Court in favor of eliminating judges

Michigan Hall of Justice.
Michigan Supreme Court

Michigan’s top judicial official said the state has too many judges, and some of their positions should be eliminated. Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young has presented a plan to do that to the state House Judiciary Committee.

Chief Justice Young said a Supreme Court study found there are courts with workloads that no longer justify the number of judges they have. The report recommends eliminating 45 positions over several years.

“Some judges don’t agree with the proposed cuts. But, most have accepted the reality that courts are too expensive and have too many judges. It may not be something all members of the judiciary relish, but I think most of us recognize it’s necessary," said Young.

 Young said Michigan taxpayers are paying more than they should be. He said he wants to make cuts in ways that won’t compromise the integrity of the judicial system and assurances that people are getting fair trials.

State Representative John Walsh (R-Livonia) chairs the House Judiciary Committee. He said the Legislature appears ready to act on the recommendations, even though eliminating local elected positions can be politically difficult.

 "I would say in general this is an unprecedented accomplishment to have this degree of support. We have all seven justices of the Supreme Court who have unanimously endorsed this, all of the judicial associations and the state bar," said Walsh.

Walsh said the committee expects to hold four more hearings on the topic. He expects a vote by the committee around Thanksgiving.

- Chelsea Hagger - Michigan Public Radio Network

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Environment
3:17 pm
Wed October 19, 2011

Study predicts less Great Lakes water loss

Lake Erie
Kathy Weaver photopedia

Previous research suggested a decline in future Great Lakes water levels, but findings from a recent scientific report may paint a different picture. 

Associated Press environmental writer John Flesher reports:

New research suggests climate change might not cause Great Lakes water levels to drop as much as previous studies have indicated. In fact, it might even cause them to rise.

Scientists at the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor say they've devised a new way to predict future water levels. In a newly published journal article, they say it involves different methods of measuring evaporation of water from the soil and plants within the Great Lakes watershed.

Low water levels can cause heavy losses for shippers and other
Great Lakes businesses. They also affect the environment.

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Medicare Fraud
2:53 pm
Mon October 17, 2011

Medicare yanks licenses in Detroit and other cities, gives them right back

A review conducted by the Associated press found that regulators working to eliminate Medicare fraud (estimated at between $60-90 billion a year) often suspend Medicare provider licenses only to reinstate them in short order following appeals hearings.

More from the Associated Press:

The review also found government officials don't attend the hearings.

Federal prosecutors say the speedy reinstatements are a missed chance to stop taxpayer dollars from going to bogus companies that in many cases wind up under indictment. Prosecutors say some providers have collected tens of thousands of dollars even after conviction.

Officials revoked the licenses of 3,702 medical equipment companies in fraud hot spots in South Florida, Los Angeles, Baton Rouge, La., Houston, Brooklyn, N.Y., and Detroit between 2006 and 2009. About 37 percent were reinstated.

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Environment
12:08 am
Tue October 11, 2011

Beekeepers still struggling with colony collapse disorder

Some of Ted Elk’s hives are buzzing with bees and honey.
Photo by Julie Grant

By Julie Grant for The Environment Report

Michigan beekeepers are continuing to lose huge numbers of bees. They join beekeepers from around the country – and the world – who have been dealing with what’s called Colony Collapse Disorder. It’s been around for five years now. Julie Grant visited with some beekeepers, and reports that scientists and the government don’t agree on what should be done to help them.  Here's her story:

Ted Elk is checking out some of his hives. They’re on the backside of a corn field, tucked away in the brush. The colorful boxes are stacked on top of each other.

Some hives are buzzing with activity. He pulls out a comb and scrapes the side:

“And that is all goldenrod honey. See how yellow that is?”

I want to eat it. It’s almost irresistible. But not all the hives look this good.

“Here’s one that’s not gonna make it through winter. It’s light, there’s no bees, there’s no weight to it.”

There’s honey on the comb. But almost no bees.

Elk suspects this hive has colony collapse disorder. There aren’t dead bees around. They’re just gone.

Elk has seen this before. Last winter, he lost 250 hives – and thousands of dollars. When Elk first started keeping bees, he might lose five or six percent in the winter. But nationwide, a 30 percent winter bee loss is average nowadays.

Researchers still aren’t sure exactly what’s causing Colony Collapse Disorder. But they do know there’s a lot of stress on bees. Beekeepers take their hives all over the country – to Florida to pollinate oranges, to California for almonds, to New York for apples, and elsewhere. The beekeepers take the bees honey, and often feed them cheap high fructose corn syrup, or nothing at all. Plus, they can have mites and bacteria. And there are 28 viruses that can affect bees.

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Environment
2:31 pm
Tue October 4, 2011

More ups and downs for salmon in the Great Lakes

Dale Wilkinson with his salmon.
Photo by Lester Graham

By Tom Kramer for The Environment Report

Charter fishing in Michigan represents a $20 million a year industry. But the number of charter trips on Lake Huron declined by almost 50 percent in the last decade – as the salmon fishery on the lake took a dive. And now the state has decided to end Chinook salmon stocking in most rivers along Lake Huron. Starting next spring, Chinook, or king salmon, will be stocked in just a few places in the northern part of the lake.

Salmon are not native to the Great Lakes.

They were introduced from the Pacific Ocean in the late '60s and quickly became the most popular sport fish in the region.

Dramatic changes in the food web in Lake Huron caused by too many salmon and other exotic species like invasive mussels brought about the demise of the fishery around 2003.

That has been a huge economic blow to tourist towns along the coast but state officials say there's nothing they can do to bring it back at this point.

One place the state hopes to keep a decent sport fishery for kings is in the Cheboygan River.

Todd Grischke manages Lake Huron for the Department of Natural Resources.

He says there might be more food for salmon out in the Straits of Mackinac.

“So there is a possibility that those fish that are planted there are finding forage that is not available to other parts of the lake to the south.”

But while Lake Huron is seeing the continuing collapse of its salmon fishery, it’s shaping up to be a banner year for salmon fishing in Lake Michigan.

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Arts/Culture
1:52 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

My part of the country: Michigan on the Page

A shot of cherry blossoms in Leelanau County.
User farlane Flickr

Well, summer's over.

Over the course of the last six months, Michigan on the Page has talked with a number of Michigan writers about who, what, why, and most importantly where they write about.

And we heard from writers who work in Southeast Michigan (Christopher T. Leland) and writers who live in Western Michigan (Patricia Clark, Marc Sheehan).

Today, we hear from novelist and short story writer Phillip Sterling about a novel about Michigan which is important to him, one that takes place in Northern Michigan, in Leelanau County.

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Economy
6:38 pm
Fri September 30, 2011

An interview with Gilda Jacobs, President of the Michigan League for Human Services

New rules for the 48-month limit on welfare cash assistance goes in effect on October 1. Twelve-thousand families will lose cash assistance, that includes upwards of 25,000 children. Gilda Jacobs, President and CEO of the Michigan League for Human Services spoke with Michigan Radio's Jennifer White about what impacts the limit will in our state.

Politics
5:41 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

What can we learn from Snyder's trade misson to Asia?

Shanghai, China
user: Jakob Montrasio / flickr

Governor Rick Snyder this week embarked on a trade mission to Asia. He’ll be visiting China, Japan, and South Korea. This is the first visit to China by a  Michigan Governor since the Engler administration. Here to talk about the what Michigan can gain from a relationship with China is Tom Watkins, Former State Superintendent who is currently a business and educational consultant in the US and China.

 

Environment
1:18 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Citizens' group raises concerns about wind turbines' proximity to gas pipelines

(*We're experiencing technical problems with one of the above audio files. Please ignore the "audio processing" message above.)

By Bob Allen for The Environment Report

Officials in Mason County have given the green light to the first large scale wind farm near the Lake Michigan shore. Consumers Energy wants to have fifty-six turbines built and running before the end of next year. But some residents say in its rush to get going Consumers and the County are downplaying a serious threat to public safety.

Natural gas pipelines run through the site of Consumers Energy’s wind park south of Ludington.

A group of residents says at least half a dozen of the windmills are within falling distance of a gas line. And they say if a turbine falls it could cause a pipeline to break with the risk of an explosion.

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Science/Medicine
2:32 pm
Thu September 22, 2011

U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers receive grant

Max S. Wicha, M.D.
University of Michigan

The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center has received a $3.5 million grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure to study breast cancer and racial disparity. The money will help develop more effective treatments for an aggressive form of cancer called triple-negative breast cancer, which disproportionately affects African American women.

Max Wicha is director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

The reason it’s important is that we know that African American women who have breast cancer do worse than Caucasian women. Some of these differences are due to access to care and socioeconomic factors, with African American women having less access to the latest treatments.

Wicha says the three-year grant is a statewide collaboration.  Researchers are working with a hospital in Ghana, Africa to look at African women who are also affected by this breast cancer. 

-Traci Currie - Michigan Radio Newsroom

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Arts/Culture
8:57 pm
Tue September 20, 2011

A Michigan play receives national publicity

A Michigan play about bullied teenagers who commit suicide has received national publicity. The Bullycide Project is a play written by Fenton High School teacher Lori Thompson. It was featured on the CBS news program 48 Hours last Friday. 

Thompson says as a theater teacher, the stage is the most effective vehicle for creating social awareness.

When we hear about Tyler Clementi, the young man from Rutgers, or Phoebe Prince, the young lady from Ireland that came here and lived in Boston; I mean these are all national stories, and then there are all the stories that happen locally. 

The Bullycide Project will be performed at the Flint Youth Theatre on  September 24th.

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Health
5:32 pm
Mon September 19, 2011

Focusing on Healthy Habits

user: Ed Yourdon / flicker

Gov. Rick Snyder outlined his plan for making Michigan a healthier state. The plan includes the utilization of technology to help track health statistics and to guide people into making healthier choices.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talks with Victor Strecher, Professor at the University of Michigan’s Center for Communications Health Research. Strecher has been working with Gov. Snyder on developing the new health initiative and talks about health issues in Michigan and changes residents can make to improve their health and well-being.

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Offbeat
5:46 pm
Fri September 9, 2011

Bringing a horse to water, and water to Haiti

Brandy and Ashley Nelsey with Febero, Prince and Red.
http://horsebackforhaiti.jimdo.com/

This is not your typical road trip. Brandy and Ashley Nelsey, sisters from West Branch, will be traveling across the country on horseback and raising money for the Haiti Water Project along the way. Jennifer White spoke with Brandy Nelsey about what inspired the trip.

“We knew that we loved our horses—that’s something we really enjoy doing and that’s a passion of ours—and we also love the lord greatly. So we thought, well, why not travel the country, see if we can meet other Christians, and see what other opportunities and people are out there. ”

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Arts/Culture
3:45 pm
Thu September 8, 2011

17th Annual Flint Festival of Quilts

Quilt by Flint native Joe Cunningham Title: Up the Stream with Good Intentions
by Monica Snyder Buckham Gallery

The 17th Annual Flint Festival of Quilts is this weekend. A variety of themed quilts will be on display in eleven different Flint venues

Greg Fiedler is with the Greater Flint Arts Council.  He says some of the themes include a contemporary collection, multimedia quilts and Amish quilt making.

It’s important for Flint, because we have many famous quilters that came out of Flint, folks like Marty Lawrence whose famous for her original fabric design and dyes. We have Gwen Marston who lectures all over the world at quilting conventions.

Fiedler says there are over a thousand quilts on display. The exhibit will continue through November 3rd.

-Traci Currie - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Sports
12:00 pm
Fri August 26, 2011

The 35th Crim Festival of Races

running shoes
User: minorissues Flickr

About 15,000 people will participate in the 35th anniversary of the Crim Festival of Races on August 27th. People from all over the world come to Flint to run or walk in the festival.

Deb Kiertzner is with the Crim Fitness Foundation. 

"This year the headline is that we’re bringing in the legends of the Crim. These are four really good solid American long distance runners that have set records at the Crim. We have the last American male and female to have won the Boston marathon. That’s Greg Meyer and Lisa Rainsberger."

The festival has eight different races ranging from the teddy bear trot to the 10 mile run.

Kathy Gomez is a first-time runner in this year’s Crim race. She explains why the race is so important to her.

"My dad had heart disease and he had got me a little red dress, which is for healthy heart. And once he started doing his stuff before he died, once he started doing his exercise, he always encouraged me to get my cardio stuff in. So from a health benefit that’s a really great way to have cardio."

The Crim festival draws about 50,000 people to Flint and generates over $10 million a year for the local economy.

-Traci Currie, Michigan Radio Newsrooom

law
2:08 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Wayne County jurors must explain why they skipped jury duty

User: steakpinball flickr

250 jurors have been called before a Wayne County judge today and tomorrow to explain why they skipped jury duty. The jurors had a choice to either reschedule the missed day or appear at a show-cause hearing.  

Peter Henning is a law professor at Wayne State University.

"What will be lurking behind all of this is the threat that if you agree to come in on another day and simply refuse to come in, now you have been warned.  And you know that penalties may be assessed."

Henning says the penalties can lead to fines. He says urban areas, like Wayne County, have difficulty getting juries that reflect the broader community. Jury pools tend to have fewer minorities and people with low incomes.

Roughly a thousand people are called each week for criminal, civil and probate cases in Wayne County.

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Education
2:25 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Pilot program offers free meals in Detroit Public Schools

A new pilot program will offer all Detroit Public Schools students free breakfast, lunch and snacks starting this fall. Michigan is one of three states selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture program.

Kisha Verdusco is spokeswoman for the Detroit Public Schools.

"The plan is to roll this out nationally across the country. We are among the first, and more states will be added each year, and in the year 2014 to 2015 the entire nation will have this program."

Other Michigan school districts can qualify for the program if 40 percent of their students are from low income families.

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Economy
1:21 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Creating a master plan for Ecorse

Ecorse has received $40,000 in private grants to help the city develop a master plan for its future. The city is under state control because of its deficit. Partners like the Michigan Municipal League, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, and C.S. Mott Foundation are investing in the project called Envision Ecorse.

Joyce Parker is the emergency manager for Ecorse.  

"Part of what we would like to do is, as we move forward towards eliminating the deficit and getting the city stabilized, to work with elected officials and the community to sustain that success."

Parker says some of the money will help develop a plan for the city’s greenways. The planning project could serve as a model for other cities under emergency managers.

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Education
5:03 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

New federal mandate requires online aid estimators for colleges

A new federal mandate could make it easier for families to budget for college. Net price calculators will be required by all colleges and universities starting October 29th. At a minimum, net costs are based on a student’s income, how big their family is and their dependency status.

Keith Williams works in the financial aid office at Michigan State University. He says MSU’s net price calculator has been around for several years.

"It just allows a student to make a real, realistic comparison as to what the net price will be at one school versus another school," Williams said.

Margaret Rodriguez works in the financial aid office at the University of Michigan. She says the mandate is a good thing.

"The more information that we can make available to families about the availability of financial aid, the better it is," she said.

Schools can use their own system or the generic calculator provided by the federal government.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

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Education
4:53 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

CMU start date questionable

cmich.edu Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University classes may not start as planned on August 22nd. The faculty and administration have been fighting tooth and nail in contract talks since April. The two sides have not met since last month. Union members are expected to talk about informational picketing or a strike in a meeting 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Jeffrey Weinstock is a professor at CMU. He says he feels as if the faculty is being strong-armed by the administration.

"We have never not had an extension of the current contract during bargaining and we’ve never struck and nobody really wants to but … I get the sense we’re really being backed into a corner and being dared," Weinstock said.

The administration released a statement today welcoming students back for the start of school. The statement says students are moving in and freshmen are attending orientation activities to prepare for next week.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

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