WUOMFM

Rebecca Kruth

Weekend Host / Reporter

Rebecca Kruth is the host of Weekend Edition and a reporter at Michigan Radio. She first came to the station in 2014 and worked on Morning Edition. After earning degrees in English and American Studies from Michigan State University, Rebecca began her radio career as a newsroom intern at WKAR in East Lansing. She completed additional news internships at WBEZ Chicago and KAJX Aspen.  When she’s not on the airwaves, Rebecca enjoys hiking, Korean food and wandering the country with her husband James. She's also Bruce Springsteen's number one fan.

It's no trifle that we received two emails within two weeks about the word "trifle." The first one came from a listener named Matt who writes:

"Something insignificant is often described as 'a mere trifle.' At the same time, something that could be very challenging is said to be 'nothing to trifle with.' How did we end up with such different meanings for the same word?"

As English Professor Anne Curzan was researching Matt's question, a colleague who also wanted to know more about trifle sent her an email with the subject line "Because I'm triflin'." 

Coincidence or kismet? We're pretty sure it's the latter.


Michigan State Capitol
David Marvin / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Pretty soon, Medicaid recipients in Michigan who are able-bodied may have to choose between finding a job or losing health insurance. That's under a bill the state Senate passed Thursday. Democrats opposed to the bill say it punishes the poor, while supporters say most people on Medicaid already work -- this would give incentive for others to do so.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the bill, which heads to the House next, and whether Gov. Rick Snyder will sign if it ends up on his desk.


Flint water bottle station
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal judge won't force the state to immediately resume giving out bottled water to Flint residents affected by the city's lead-tainted tap water crisis.

The decision Friday concerns the case of Flint resident Allen Bryant Jr. A recently filed lawsuit says that Bryant and other residents still have dangerous levels of lead in their tap water. It asks a judge to compel the state to continue funding bottled water distribution.

Kids at a public school in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Fewer children in Michigan lived in poverty in 2016, but the numbers are still grim.

The latest Kids Count Data Book says between 2010 and 2016, the state's child poverty rate dropped from 23 percent to 21 percent. However, that still means nearly half a million children lived below the poverty line in 2016.

Rates also remain particularly high for children of color. The report says in 2016, 42 percent of African American children and 30 percent of Latino children lived in poverty.

Three female Mariachis
Anahli Jazhmin / Courtesy of Mariachi Femenil Detroit

If you close your eyes and picture a Mariachi band, you might see something like this -- sombreros, ornate black suits, stringed instruments -- all worn and played by mustachioed men.

A group called Mariachi Femenil Detroit is working hard to broaden that image and bring gender equality to the genre.

An eggcorn is a word or phrase that occurs when someone re-interprets a word in a way that makes sense and allows them to understand its components.

The Cobo Center in Detroit
Richard Landskroener / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan Democrats will gather at the Cobo Center in Detroit on Sunday for their party's state endorsement convention. These conventions are generally pretty drama-free, but this one could be different.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about the bitter race between Dana Nessel and Patrick Miles, who are both seeking the nomination for Michigan's next attorney general.


As designated word nerds, we here at That's What They Say whole-heartedly admit that sometimes we do things in our spare time that are a bit, well, geeky. But also pretty fascinating.

For instance, English Professor Anne Curzan has been been working on a project that traces changes in the New York Times style guide. She's been perusing stylebooks from the beginning of the 20th century to the present to see what has changed over time.


A box of Ice Mountain brand water bottles
Steven Depolo / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has approved a permit for Nestle to increase the volume of water it pumps from its well in Osceola County from 250 gallons per minute to up to 400 gallons per minute.

More than 80,000 people spoke out against Nestle's permit request, but the MDEQ said it cannot base its decision on public opinion.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss potential political blow-back that could stem from the state's approval of Nestle's permit.


Michigan State University
John M. Quick / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Larry Nassar's former boss Dr. William Strampel has been charged with a felony and three misdemeanors. Strampel denies the charges. Michigan Radio's Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss new developments in the Michigan State University sex abuse case.

We use contractions such as "can't" or "shouldn't" all the time in our writing. There are a few though that we use in speech but probably wouldn't write down.

For example, if you read that last paragraph out loud, do you actually say "there are" or do you squish the words together as a contraction -- "there're"?

Here's another question: Would you ever use "there're" in writing? Probably not, but many of us wouldn't have a problem using contractions like "can't" and "won't.  

So why do some contractions get a pass but not others?


Road in need of repair.
Peter Ito / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder says it's time to raise the federal gas tax to fix Michigan's disintegrating roads. Snyder says the state has done its part by increasing fees and fuel taxes, and local governments have come up with their own ways to increase revenue. Now, he says its the federal government's turn to step up.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether that's a realistic expectation.


When was the last time you asked for a rain check? 

Maybe a store gave you a rain check for a product you wanted that was out of stock. Or maybe you invited a friend out to lunch, but they were busy and asked for a rain check.

If you've ever asked for a rain check, you're actually using a phrase that we can trace back to baseball and, surprisingly, chess.


Former Governor John Engler
WikiCommons

Michigan State University interim president John Engler accused state lawmakers of interfering with negotiations to settle out of court with victims of former sports doctor Larry Nassar. Engler's comments came in response to a set of bills adopted by the senate this week that give victims more time to file lawsuits. The former governor also said the bills could subject universities to more lawsuits and drive up tuition.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about Engler's reaction to the legislation.


Employee perks have become increasingly elaborate over the years.

Some jobs come with unlimited vacation time and months of paid parental leave. There are companies that offer a constant supply of free food. This place has on-site car wash facilities, bicycle repair, haircut services and spa treatments. 

It's a far cry from stale "all-you-can-drink" break room coffee and the occasional Hawaiian shirt day. 

Your job may not have the perks you crave, but don't worry. This edition of That's What They Say has several "perks" and zero detriments.


Gratiot construction site
Tony Brown / Michigan Radio

It looks like Wayne County may finally have a solution for its long-stalled jail project. The county has reached a tentative agreement with Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures. Gilbert's company will construct a brand new $533 million "criminal justice center," pending approval from the county commission and building authority.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about the plan and what it could mean for Wayne County.


Our goal here at That's What They Say is to answer our listeners' burning questions about language. But here's an interesting question -- why are those questions burning in the first place?

Obviously, a question is not a physical object. You can't douse a question with gasoline, throw a match at it and watch it burn.

However, that's not to say there isn't something about a burning question that's hot.

Someone shooting a gun at a gun range.
Peretz Partensky / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Democrats in Lansing want a state law that requires background checks for all firearm purchases. This is one of a number of ideas lawmakers have floated since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. But the House Republican leader says he’s focused on improving mental health services, while other Republicans have proposed allowing certain teachers to carry weapons.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about the divide in the Capitol over how to keep kids safe from gun violence.


The courtroom may not be the best place to ponder grammar and language issues. If you do find yourself in a courtroom, it's likely you've got bigger problems on your hands -- especially if you're the defendant.

Assuming you're a word nerd like us though, you may find yourself distracted by a grammatical question regarding the verb "to plead." 

There's no mystery when it comes to the present tense -- "I plead not guilty." But if someone asks you about your plea later, do you tell them you "pleaded" not guilty or "pled" not guilty?


Former Michigan Gov. John Engler speaks at Hillsdale College on on January 25, 2009.
Chuck Grimmett / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Former Governor John Engler will donate his salary while serving as Michigan State University's interim president. Engler took over the role after Lou Anna Simon resigned amid criticism over MSU's handling of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

Engler's appointment has drawn both praise and criticism. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about how he's doing so far. 


Bill Wild
Courtesy of Bill Wild campaign

Westland Mayor Bill Wild has officially added his name to the growing list of candidates to replace former Congressman John Conyers.

Wild is a Democrat who's served as Westland's mayor since 2007. He says he views Conyers' vacant U.S. House seat as "a call to service."

There was a Sunday not so long ago when a listener noticed our own Professor Anne Curzan say "the days where" instead of "the days when." 

Judy wrote to us that she enjoys listening to the show and, for the most part, agrees with Curzan's approach to language and usage.

However, she goes on to reference our show about muckety-mucks and big wigs. Curzan said big wigs went back "to the days where in court, lawyers and the judge would have big wigs."

Judy was not impressed.


A nurse administers a vaccine.
Rhoda Baer / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state is looking to pharmacists to help combat elevated cases of hepatitis A in Michigan.

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services sent a letter to pharmacies across the state. It outlines how the virus is transmitted and lists symptoms associated with the disease. 

The letter also reminds pharmacists that there are preventative services they can provide that are covered under Michigan Medicaid, including prevention counseling and vaccinations.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (left) and Special Counsel Todd Flood, along with Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton and the Flint Water Investigative Team have been investigating the Flint water crisis for most of the year
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State Attorney General Bill Schuette faced questions this week over whether the state's inquiry into Michigan State University's handling of the Larry Nassar scandal is truly independent. In a newly released letter regarding his appointment of Bill Forsyth to lead the investigation, Schuette says Forsyth will "serve under my direction and at my pleasure."

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss Schuette's role in the investigation.


scales of justice
North Charleston / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A federal lawsuit alleges that a Michigan sheriff made insulting remarks against blacks, women and Hispanics and mocked a lieutenant for his work-related hearing loss.

Jackson County Lt. Tommy Schuette filed a federal lawsuit against the county and Sheriff Steven Rand on Monday. The lawsuit states that many of Rand's derogatory comments were recorded.

There are a few different ways to talk about retaliating against someone in equal terms. There's "an eye for an eye," "a tooth for a tooth," and "measure for measure," among others. 

These phrases are all pretty transparent. If you take my eye, I'll take your eye. If you make that move, I'll make this move.

But what about "tit for tat?" One of English professor Anne Curzan's colleagues recently asked us about this one, and it's no wonder -- the meaning isn't nearly as obvious.


money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder presented his final budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year to the House and Senate this week. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle found things they did and didn't like about the governor's spending plan, which includes increased spending for roads and education.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what else stood out in Snyder's budget.


Let's say you're sending someone an email, maybe to thank them for visiting you in the hospital. Would you say "I appreciate you taking the time to stop by" or "I appreciate your taking the time to stop by"?

Believe it or not, some people have pretty strong feelings about which of these sentences is correct. For many of us though, it's the kind of thing that gives us pause.


Plaque on the door of the MSU Board of Trustees
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

State Attorney General Bill Schuette wants the governor to be in charge of appointing board members at Michigan State University, Wayne State University and the University of Michigan. Board members at those schools are currently chosen through statewide elections.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss Schuette's call to eliminate the elections, which comes as MSU's board faces public scrutiny over its response to the Larry Nassar scandal. 


Syringe with drip
ZaldyImg / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A pharmacist at a Massachusetts facility responsible for the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

The outbreak killed 76 people, including 19 from Michigan. Hundreds of others were sickened.

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