Rina Miller

Weekend Edition host

Rina Miller got her start in radio on accident when she was sent to WCAR in Detroit as a temp employee. Since then, she has gained many years of experience in print and broadcast journalism, including work as a producer and program host at Radio Netherlands and as a reporter for ABC Radio News in New York. She enjoys working in public radio because the listeners are "interested, involved, and informed."

Outside the studio, Rina enjoys watching movies from the 1930s and '40s and absolutely hates karaoke. She has a deep love for animals and urges people to spay or neuter their pets, adopt from shelters and rescues, and purchase only from reputable, responsible breeders.


What three people, alive or dead, would you like to have lunch with? Why?
Dorothy Parker, because her one-liners were the best.
Kurt Vonnegut, because he was the first writer who made me laugh out loud.
Bella Abzug, because she put her courage where her mouth was.
And if there could be a No. 4? George Clooney. You know why.

How did you get involved in radio?
By accident. I was sent to WCAR in Detroit as a temp employee, and loved the environment.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
Watching 1930s and '40s movies, especially those with Joan Crawford, Bette Davis or Rita Hayworth.

What has been your most memorable experience as a reporter/host/etc.?
Covering the crash of a cargo jet into a high-rise apartment complex in Amsterdam in 1992. The story was more complex than the obvious; many victims were illegal immigrants whose families were reluctant to come forward because they feared deportation. There were many substories that arose from this tragedy.

What one song do you think best summarizes your taste in music?
Leonard Cohen's Famous Blue Raincoat, sung by Jennifer Warnes.

What is your favorite program on Michigan Radio? Why?
Fresh Air. Terry has an amazing range of guests, so the show's never predictable or stale.

What is one ability or talent you really wish you possessed?
To sing like Etta James.

What do you like best about working in public radio?
The listeners. They're interested, involved and informed.

Is there anyone in the broadcasting industry you find to be particularly admirable or inspiring? Who?
Jon Stewart. He's fearless without being cruel.

If you could interview any contemporary newsmaker, who would it be?
Vladimir Putin

Is there a T.V. show you never miss? If so, which one?
Mad Men

What would your perfect meal consist of?
An Indonesian rice table

What modern convenience would it be most difficult for you to live without?
The Internet

What are people usually very surprised to learn about you?
That I despise karaoke.

What else would you like people to know about you?
That I have a deep love for animals. I urge people to spay or neuter their pets, adopt from shelters and rescues, or purchase only from reputable, responsible breeders.


12:18 pm
Sat March 31, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court to rule on suspects' silence issue

The Michigan Hall of Justice, home to Michigan's Supreme Court.

The state Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether police officers in Michigan must end the conversation once a suspect asserts the right to remain silent.

Kadeem Dennis White was brought in for questioning after a man was gunned down in what appeared to be a robbery attempt. White said he wanted to remain silent and the detective stopped asking questions -- but he did not stop talking to White.

Eventually, White responded to the detective's statements, saying he didn't mean to do it and it was an accident. White was charged with first-degree murder.

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2:03 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

Michigan Red Cross workers on strike

user Waldszenen wikimedia commons

More than 200 American Red Cross workers in Michigan went on strike this morning.

Staff members represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 459 and Teamsters Local 580 walked out because of a dispute over health care benefits.

The strike affects blood collection centers in Kalamazoo, Jackson, Lansing, Flint and parts of northern Michigan.

Monica Stoneking is communications manager for the Great Lakes Region of the American Red Cross.

She says the strike will impact an already-low blood supply.

"That's about 700 units of blood every day that the Great Lakes region needs to collect," Stoneking says. "And if our staff members are on strike, we are limited as to the  number of blood drives we are able to hold."

Stoneking says blood donations are also lower because fewer people donated during Michigan's recent nice weather, because students have been been on spring break.

4:39 pm
Thu March 29, 2012

Michigan halts health policy sales by New York-based insurer

A New York-based insurance company that allowed unlicensed agents to sell health plans in Michigan has been suspended.

American Medical and Life Insurance Company marketed the limited health plans to customers with specific illnesses, such as cancer. About 2,500 policies were sold in Michigan.

"They're not typically required to provide the same level of coverage, so they cover fewer types of medical expenses than a comprehensive policy," says Michigan’s Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation spokesman Jason Moon.

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3:59 pm
Thu March 29, 2012

Economist: Michigan making steady progress in recovery

The “Michigan Economic Activity Index” consists of nonfarm payrolls, exports, sales tax revenues, hotel occupancy rates, continuing claims for unemployment insurance, building permits, and motor vehicle production.
Comerica Bank

Things looked bleak in Michigan in January 2009, when the state’s economic activity index fell to 60 points.

But in January of this year it was up to 98 points.

The index looks at payrolls, exports, sales tax revenues, unemployment claims and other factors.

"We're starting to see some sustainable progress in coming out of the depths of the recession, says Robert Dye, chief economist with Comerica Bank. "And in January, we really see evidence of this resurgence of the auto industry permeating into other parts of the economy."

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5:14 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Consumers Energy offers $10,000 reward to help nab copper thieves

Duboix MorgueFile

Consumers Energy is offering a reward to help catch thieves who’ve been stealing copper from the utility’s substations.

Copper is expensive right now, and that’s driving thieves to strip wire from abandoned homes and buildings.

Thieves have also struck 20 Consumers Energy substations since January.

Dan Bishop is the utility’s spokesman. He says the utility is fighting back.

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4:53 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Sneezing, coughing, itching? Thank Michigan's early spring

Jusben MorgueFile

Doctors’ offices in Michigan are filled with people suffering from acute allergies, thanks to the early bloom of trees and shrubs.

Some types of pollen are three to four times higher than normal for this time of year.

Mark Zacharek  is an associate professor of otolaryngology -- ear, nose and throat disorders -- at University of Michigan Hospital.

He says tree pollen and outdoor mold counts are making people miserable.  For people who already have respiratory problems, that can be dangerous.

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1:43 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Michigan license plate to fund, promote organ donation registry

This is a draft version of the new organ donor registry license plate.
Michigan Secretary of State

Michigan drivers now have the option of buying a license plate that will support the state’s organ donor registry.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley has signed a bill meant to encourage organ donation.

The initial plates will cost an extra $35 and renewals will cost $10 more per year.

Richard Pietroski is CEO of Gift of Life Michigan, a nonprofit organ procurement group.

He says about 2.5 million Michigan residents are already registered to become organ donors, but many more are needed.

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12:45 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

Michigan fruit crops threatened by prolonged warm weather

The unseasonably warm weather could jeopardize Michigan’s fruit crops.

While it's not unusual to have warm spells in early spring, it is unusual is for temperatures to average 40 degrees higher than normal for several weeks.

Matthew Grieshop  is an assistant professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Entomology.

He says this heat wave, along with a bumper crop of insects that didn’t die over the winter and an eventual freeze, pose a triple threat to the state's fruit farmers.

"This is pretty much unprecedented," Grieshop says. "It was back in the early 40s that we last had weather like this, and based on our experience, it looks pretty grim for the fruit growers."

Grieshop says fruit trees are blooming almost a month early, but without cool nights, the fruit won’t mature.

Fruit farmers closer to the Great Lakes, Grieshop says, are typically somewhat insulated from the threat of a heavy freeze because the thermal mass of the water moderates the temperature shifts.

12:01 am
Sun March 18, 2012

Amtrak travelers should expect delays over next several weeks

Travelers who plan to take Amtrak trains between Kalamazoo and Detroit can expect significant delays for at least the next three weeks.

Less than a month ago, Amtrak announced it was increasing train speeds to 110 mph in some areas.

But Norfolk Southern now says those trains will to have to slow to 25 to 30 mph on some segments of track because it’s upgrading ties and rail.

Janet Foran is with the Michigan Department of Transportation. She says the news came as a surprise, because MDOT spent millions of dollars to upgrade the line at the state's expense last year.

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11:52 am
Thu March 15, 2012

Bill would cut auto insurance rates for Michigan's working poor

A Senate bill would give the state’s working poor access to less expensive auto insurance.

Detroit residents pay an average of $4,500  a year for auto insurance – the highest in the nation.

The bill, introduced by State Sen. Virgil Smith, D-Detroit, would cut insurance premiums for some people to about $1,000 a year.

The rate would apply to people who earn $32,000 or less, have good driving records, and who own a vehicle valued at less than $20,000.

Butch Hollowell is with the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault.

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6:13 am
Thu March 15, 2012

Kettering University guarantees fixed tuition for undergrads

Kettering University in Flint will guarantee a fixed tuition rate beginning in the 2012-2013 school year.  The plan also eliminates many extra fees.

Kettering University specializes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Kettering president Robert McMahan says the fixed tuition guarantee will help full-time students know exactly how much their undergraduate education will cost.

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12:06 pm
Sun March 11, 2012

MSU study: Citizenship tests aren't good measure of civics knowledge

A Michigan State University researcher says the United States citizenship test does not reliably measure an applicant's civics knowledge.

Paula Winke, an assistant professor of second language studies at MSU, says citizenship of some half-million immigrants may have been determined randomly.

Immigrants must correctly answer six of 10 questions on a verbal naturalization test. Winke says those questions are randomly selected by an immigration officer from a pool of 100 questions.

She says some questions may be more difficult than others.

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1:00 am
Mon March 5, 2012

Scientists lobby Congress for MSU nuclear science facility

Brad Sherrill, chief scientist of MSU's Facility for Rare Isotope Beams
Courtesy MSU

Scientists from across the nation are in Washington today. They’re asking Congress to support Michigan State University’s $600 million nuclear science facility.

The scientists want lawmakers to declare MSU’s Facility for Rare Isotope Beams a national priority, and to keep funding intact.

Brad Sherrill is chief scientist of what’s called F-RIB. He believes the facility will bring $1 billion into Michigan – including hundreds of new jobs and thousands of scientific visitors

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9:10 am
Sat March 3, 2012

Strong winds leave 80,000 Michigan customers without power

Strong winds overnight caused power outages throughout the region.

A Consumers Energy spokesman says about 10,000 customers lost service, with the majority in Genesee, Livingston and Oakland Counties and scattered outages elsewhere.

About 70,000 DTE customers are without power this morning.

"The winds covered our entire service territory, so we do have outages pretty much everywhere," says DTE spokesman John Austerberry. "The concentrations are in Oakland County, with 29,000 out, Wayne County with about 18,000 out, and Washtenaw County with 13,000."

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3:38 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Michigan maple syrup producers say season is extra early this year


The mild winter has Michigan’s maple sugar producers keeping a close watch on their trees.

Larry Haigh’s family has been making maple syrup since 1958 on their farm near Bellevue, northeast of Battle Creek.

"Some of the soft maples and those in people's yards and along the roads may have started to bud," Haigh says. "And when the buds come out, it changes the sugar content and carbohydrates in the sap, and it doesn't make good syrup."

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11:20 am
Fri March 2, 2012

Gov. Snyder reappoints Highland Park Schools emergency manager

Jack Martin when he was the CFO for the U.S. Department of Education.
U.S Department of Education

After several weeks of legal arguments, Governor Snyder has reappointed an emergency manager for Highland Park schools.

A Highland Park Schools board member challenged the actions of the state’s financial review team, claiming it violated Michigan’s Open Meetings Act.  Robert Davis said the review team’s decisions were made illegally behind closed doors.

A judge agreed and suspended the appointment of Jack Martin as the Highland Park Schools emergency manager.

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10:16 am
Thu March 1, 2012

"Kelsey's Law" would ban teen drivers from talking on cell phone

Young drivers in Michigan already have restrictions while they’re behind the wheel. Now there’s a bill that would allow police to stop teen drivers if they see them talking on a cell phone.

State Sen. Howard Walker says the bill is called “Kelsey’s Law." It's named after a teen who died in 2010 while trying to pass another vehicle.  She was talking on her cell phone at the time.

"Her mother has been a crusader to educate young people and legislators about the concerns of being distracted while you're learning how to drive," Walker says.

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7:04 am
Sun February 26, 2012

Michigan mental health advocates ask for insurance parity

anitapatterson Morguefile

An effort is under way to require autism coverage by insurance companies in Michigan. But mental health advocates want coverage to be mandated for all mental illness.

The autism coverage issue has gotten a lot of attention because Lt. Gov. Brian Calley’s daughter has autism, and he supports the insurance mandate.

But others say lawmakers need to go further.

Dr. Leigh White is assistant director for the Olin Student Health Center at Michigan State University.

She says people are often blamed for their mental illness.  

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11:26 am
Sat February 25, 2012

Task force: Michigan's foreclosure crisis cost $63 billion so far

anncam Morguefile

A new task force says $63 billion dollars of Michigan’s housing value was lost between 2006 and 2010.

The Michigan Foreclosure Task Force teamed with Grand Valley State University’s Community Research Institute. They've launched a new Web site that shows the impact of the crisis, county by county.

Steve Tobocman is with the task force. He says more than 400,000 Michigan properties were touched by foreclosure in the five-year period they studied.

"The impacts were truly historic," Tobocman says. "We haven't seen anything like this since the Great Depression."

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1:39 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

E. coli cases in Michigan linked to sprouts in fast-food sandwiches


Michigan health officials are warning people not to eat raw clover sprouts, because they may be contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

The Michigan Department of Community Health says two people were hospitalized after eating the sprouts at sandwich shops in mid and southeast Michigan earlier this month.

Five other people became sick.

Health officials say two confirmed cases of E. coli in Michigan had the same genetic fingerprint as cases in other states. All were  linked to raw clover sprouts eaten at Jimmy John’s restaurants.

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