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.

Ways To Connect


A Wayne County Commissioner says he was unaware of a six-figure severance deal given to the new head of Detroit Metro Airport.

Turkia Mullin left her $200,000-a-year job as Wayne County’s economic developer so she could run the airport for $250,000 annually.

She also got a $200,000 severance check.

Bernard Parker is a Wayne County Commissioner who’s also a member of the airport authority.

Parker says Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano chose Mullin. Parker says he didn’t know about the severance deal.

jschumacher / Morguefile

Activists are pressuring U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow to implement new rules to support small and medium-sized farms.

A group called Food and Water Watch says corporate farming dominates America’s food system.

Spokeswoman Lynn Kaucheck says the 2008 Farm Bill has rules designed to level the playing field, but they haven’t taken effect yet.

They want Sen. Stabenow, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, to do something about it


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is conducting a second special inspection within two months at Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in South Haven.

NRC inspectors were at the 40-year-old Palisades plant in August after a water pump part failed, leading to a plant shutdown.

The team is back in South Haven, after workers performing maintenance on an electrical panel caused the plant to shut down again on Sunday.

“Did it involve maintenance issues, human performance issues, design concerns? What happened? Why did the plant trip after that electrical arc?"

Those are some of the the questions the inspectors will ask, according to NRC spokeswoman Victoria Midlyng.

The inspection could take up to two weeks.

Palisades spokesman Mark Savage says the plant and its owner, Entergy, are conducting their own investigations. He says employees and the public were never in danger.

nancybechtol / Morguefile

More than 2,900 convicted criminals in the U.S. illegally were arrested in a week-long sweep.

All of the men arrested in Michigan were  from countries including Mexico, Iraq, Serbia, Poland and India.

Khaalid Walls is with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcemen, known as “ICE.”

He says the seven-day operation was the largest of its kind and had help from state and local law enforcement.

A former Highland Park school official is accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from his union.

Samuel Craig was assistant principal at Highland Park Community High School. He was also treasurer of the union representing the district’s administrators.

Joy Yearout is with state attorney general Bill Schuette’s office.

She says Craig is accused of stealing more than $36,000 from the union.

Michigan Radio

State Representative Paul Scott is getting help in his recall fight from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

Scott is a two-term Grand Blanc Republican who chairs the House Education Committee.

A group backed by the state’s largest teachers’ union wants to remove him from office because he supported cuts to schools and a law that makes it easier to fire teachers.  

Now Scott has a powerful ally.

Jim Holcomb is an attorney with the nearly 8,000-member Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

ameestauffer / Morguefile

Michigan State University wants the public’s opinion about whether blood samples taken from newborns should be used in other research.

Every newborn baby in Michigan has spot of blood taken from its heel. The blood is screened for genetic or metabolic diseases.

The state has samples stored in its bio-bank dating back to 1984.

Ann Mongoven is an assistant professor in MSU’s Center for Ethics and the Humanities in the Life Sciences.

She says the proposal raises ethical questions.

earl53 / Morguefile

An expert in economic trends says Michigan needs more people with mid-level skills, not advanced degrees. 

Author Joel Kotkin says too many people in Michigan go to four-year colleges and come out with a lot of debt and no marketable skills.

He says that’s created another problem:

"Even in Michigan, with all the unemployment that you’ve had, skilled workers are in short supply, in manufacturing, in medicine, these sort of what we might call middle-skilled jobs, jobs that might take a certificate, maybe a couple years in community college,” Kotkin says.

moare / Morguefile

A Michigan lawmaker says teachers should be able to claim some of their out-of-pocket costs for classroom supplies on their state tax returns.

Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) says teachers aren’t getting the respect they deserve – or the financial support.

Irwin has introduced a bill that would let them claim a tax credit of up to $2,000 for items they buy for their classrooms.

It would include everything from books, computers, and art supplies – even prizes and awards for their students.

rollingroscoe / Morguefile

Michigan’s county sheriffs would be given more leeway in how they run their jails under a bill passed by the state House this week.

The bill targets jail overcrowding by subdividing cells. The required 52-square-feet per inmate would be cut nearly in half.

It also allows for an inmate with no prior criminal convictions to be double-bunked with a convicted felon.

State Representative Matt Lori co-sponsored the bill.

"It’ll make things a lot easier for the sheriffs to keep inmates behind bars as opposed to releasing them when their population gets to the point they have to declare an overcrowding emergency," Lori says.

John Walsh is an assistant professor of criminal justice at Grand Valley State University. He says smaller jail cells could increase safety risks for inmates and staff and lead to lawsuits.

ronnieb / MorgueFile

A bill in the state House would ban public employees from using most government property or services for political or union purposes. 

 Under the bill, anything that belongs to the government would be off-limits for public employees to use for fund-raising, lobbying  or campaigning -- including e-mail, phones and copiers.


The latest Republican candidate to challenge U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says it’s time for regular citizens – like him -- to get into politics.  Clark Durant says he’s running for office because he’s tired of government getting in the way of citizens trying to build their dreams.

"I tremble for my country," Durant says. "Our government is overspending, has grown too fast and taxes too much. Ordinary people are having a hard time putting bread on the table and making ends meet, and our government is extravagant.”

Durant says there’s a danger of inflation unless the U.S. stops expanding its money supply.

The Grosse Pointe charter school executive has the endorsement of several influential Michigan Republican party officials. However, Gov. Snyder has thrown his support to former Cong. Pete Hoekstra.


U.S. Congressman Thaddeus McCotter from Michigan is in New Hampshire this weekend.

He’s one of several Republican presidential candidates campaigning in the state that traditionally holds one of the nation’s first primaries.

McCotter finished at the bottom of last weekend’s Iowa straw poll, getting just 35 votes out of more than 16,000.

But he says Iowa was just an introduction, and he’s not discouraged.

“We’ve had many people that have been running much longer, some on their second time, and they’ve spent millions of dollars, and they’re actually declining in the polls," McCotter says. "In fact, we’ve already seen one drop out. So after a month of not spending a million dollars, I think there’s room to grow.”

McCotter says he’ll focus on how to restructure the economy, and on China, which he calls a strategic threat to U.S. prosperity.

ddaimage3.jpg / Google images

Pontiac residents could soon pay more for fewer service as the city tackles a projected $12 million deficit. 

Emergency manager Michael Stampfler's plan would  add more than $6 million  to Pontiac’s tax rolls.

Leon Jukowski is Pontiac’s mayor. He no longer has power, but says he monitors the actions of the emergency manager.

“These are some pretty significant obligations: $4.6 million for the pension and VEBA contributions, Jukowski says. "$1 million tax appeal for General Motors. So this could be a significant tax increase.”


A Genesee County Commissioner says a portion of a hotel excise tax should be spent on police protection, rather than promoting area attractions and county parks.

Commissioner Joe Graves says nearly$1 million is generated every year by the five percent hotel tax in Genesee County. Most of it goes to the Flint Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. The rest goes to the County Parks and Recreation Commission.

Graves says it would make sense to take $250,000  get a matching federal grant, and put more police on the streets.


More than a half-million people in Michigan are out of work.

About 33,000 fewer Michiganders had jobs in July compared to the month before.

"The state jobless rate has now edged up for three consecutive months," says Bruce Weaver of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. "It rose by four-tenths of a percentage point in July to 10.9 percent."

It’s still better than a year ago, when the unemployment rate was 12.4 percent.

Clarita / MorgueFile

University of Michigan Health System nurses rallied in Ann Arbor  Saturday to protest concessions they’re being asked to give.

The 4,000 members of the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council have been working under the terms of an expired 2008 contract since July.

Katie Oppenheim is chair of the union. She says the health system is profitable and shouldn’t be asking the nurses to pay more for health insurance, or to work longer before they can retire.

Michael Kaufman / Michigan State University

It’s not your imagination: The mosquitos are really bad in Michigan right now, and they’re not going away anytime soon.

It’s been a hot summer, with lots of rain, some dry spells in between, then lots more rain.

Perfect, if you’re a mosquito.

Mike Kaufman is a Michigan State University entomologist. He says not only do we have our usual crop of mosquitos, we’ve got psorophora ciliata, a big mosquito with a big bite. It’s native to Michigan, but fairly rare.

jusben / MorgueFile

Business is about to get much better for a Port Huron Company -- and it needs about 275 workers, fast.

GMA Cover Corp. makes cargo netting and parachutes.

The company just got a big military contract to make about 20,000 parachutes in the next six months, so GMA needs people with sewing experience.

imelenchon / Morguefile

Two Michigan lawmakers have been named to a powerful committee that will work on a plan to reduce the nation’s budget deficit.

Michigan Congressmen Dave Camp and Fred Upton -- both Republicans -- will be on the 12-member bipartisan panel charged with creating tax and spending policies.

The panel was created from a compromise reached by last week’s debt-ceiling legislation, and it has to come up with a plan by November 23.

Rep. Camp admits it’s a huge undertaking:

moare / MorgueFile

From The Associated Press

Hundreds of new Michigan teachers are leaving for positions in other states, a reflection of Michigan's shrinking number of students, wealth of teaching colleges and budget cuts that are forcing schools to cut staffs.

 Since peaking in the 2004-05 academic year, the number of Michigan public school teachers has shrunk by nearly 9 percent, a loss of around 10,000 jobs, according to the Center for Educational Performance and Information.

The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the sentences of five Michigan residents who were jailed because they could not pay their court fines.

Michael Steinberg of the ACLU of Michigan says judges are supposed to hold a hearing to prove whether an individual is too poor to pay a fine.

Steinberg says in the five misdemeanor cases they’re challenging, those hearings didn’t happen and the people were locked up. They’re called “pay or stay” cases.


A federal appeals court has overturned a death sentence for a Michigan man  convicted of drowning a young woman. He killed her to prevent her from pursuing a rape case against him.

Marvin Gabrion was convicted in 2002 of killing 19-year-old Rachel Timmerman.

Her body was found in a lake in Manistee National Forest in 1997.

Gabrion was sentenced to death because the body was found on federal property. Michigan does not have a death penalty.

David Moran is clinical professor of law at the University of Michigan.

Another Republican has announced he will run against Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow in next year’s election.

Gary Glenn is president of the Michigan chapter of the conservative American Family Association.  

The 53-year-old from Midland says his views on a variety of issues are very different from Senator Stabenow’s.

imelenchon / MorgueFile

State health officials say three cases of tetanus have been reported in Michigan recently. The disease is serious, but it’s also preventable. 

Tetanus – also known as lockjaw --  is caused by a bacteria found in the soil and can also be spread through feces and saliva.

Pat Vranesich is with the Michigan Department of Community Health.

She says most years there are no cases reported. But in 2010 two cases were found, and there has been another increase this year.

mensastic / MorgueFile

If Michigan voters were asked today whether they approve of the state’s new emergency manager law  the majority would say “no.”

That’s according to a poll released this week by Gongwer News Service.

Bernie Porn is with EPIC/MRA,  the Lansing-based firm that conducted the poll.

“A 53-34 percent majority would reject the law, except for Republicans who would support that. Democrats overwhelmingly said they would reject it," Porn says. " And even independent voters, by a 58-29 percent vote – a fairly solid majority – said they would reject it as well.”

jdurham / MorgueFile

 Never mind the recession or the near collapse of the auto industry just a couple of years ago.

A report in the Wall Street Journal finds that Detroit and its suburbs have plenty of people whose bank accounts are very healthy.

Michigan Economic Development Corporation spokesman Joe Serwach says Michigan is holding its own.

“Detroit came in at No. 9, ahead of San Jose, which surprised me," Serwach says. "I would have thought Silicon Valley would have had more. But we had 92,100 millionaires.”

earl53 / Morguefile

You have to have a job in order to get a job at some companies in America -- and it’s not against the law for them to say that right in their employment ad.

State Rep. Jim Ananich, D-Flint, has proposed a bill that would forbid discrimination against the unemployed.

“I just assumed that was something that wouldn’t be held against somebody," Ananich says. "Usually when you’re applying for a job, it’s because you don’t have one. So to tell someone that they can’t even be an applicant just doesn’t seem fair.”

mconnors / MorgueFile

Michigan has banned the sale of a highly addictive drug known as “bath salts.”

Dave Wade is with the Michigan Department of Community Health.

He says the substance is a type of amphetamine and probably comes from China.

It’s sold at smoke shops and online.

Wade says it’s a gray powder that may also be labeled “plant food” or “pond scum remover.”

He says it’s very dangerous to people who smoke, inject or inhale the drug.

gladtobeout / MorgueFile

Michigan’s older foster children can stay in the system until they're 21 -- an extra year under bills passed  by the state Senate.

Part  of the plan is to help them pay for college with about $1.8 million dollars in state funding and about $6 million in federal matching funds.

Vivayk Sankarin is the director of the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy. He says it’s a step in the right direction.