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.


3:07 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Chemical in bathtub refinishing products blamed in 13 deaths

A chemical used to refinish bathtubs has been linked to 13 deaths – three of them in Michigan.

More people are having their bathtubs refinished or doing it themselves to save money. Many are using products that contain methylene chloride, available at home improvement stores and on the Internet.

The chemical is marketed to the aircraft industry, to strip paint from airplanes. It's also used as a degreaser.

Methylene chloride is colorless, highly volatile and toxic.

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5:02 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

Michigan Senate passes tax on roll-your-own cigarette shops

A bill to increase taxes on Michigan’s roll-your-own cigarette retailers was passed today by the State Senate. 

The bill would require the shops to pay a $2 per-pack state tax – the same as packaged cigarettes.

It would also classify the shops as manufacturers.

Patrick Brazil owns the “That’s How We Roll” tobacco shop in Lansing.

He says the bill will cost jobs and lose revenue for the state.

Brazil also says such a law would force him out of business  because he couldn’t become a manufacturer, even if he wanted to.

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The law
1:35 pm
Sun February 19, 2012

U-M Regents call for external investigation into child pornography reporting delay

Steven Jenson is a former University of Michigan Hospital pediatric resident. He was charged in federal court with receipt and possession of child pornography.

The University of Michigan Board of Regents has ordered an external investigation into the case of a former pediatric resident accused of having child pornography.

In May of last year, a University of Michigan Hospital resident found child pornography on a computer in an employee lounge. She reported it to hospital security, but a hospital attorney -- who no longer works for the university -- did not pursue the case.

It wasn’t reported to police until six months later.

Steven Jenson, 36, is facing federal charges of receipt and possession of child pornography.

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6:02 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Michigan officials unsure how federal changes to unemployment benefits will affect state residents


State officials are looking into how Congress’s changes Friday to jobless benefits will affect unemployed people in Michigan. 

The maximum length of federal unemployment benefits in Michigan will gradually fall from 99 weeks  to 77 weeks by September.

Chawn Greene-Farmer is with the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.

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5:07 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

State Police still struggling with Detroit rape kit backlog

Michigan State Police say it will take millions of dollars to process thousands of rape kits found in an abandoned Detroit crime lab.

John Collins is State Police Director of Forensic Science. He says Michigan State University researchers are helping to identify the kits but the procedure takes time and money:

“What we hope to have eventually is some federal support to help us supply resources to test as many of these kits as possible, and to assist with the prosecutions that we think will come later on down the road,” said Collins.

Collins says about a thousand rape kits will be analyzed for DNA in the next year.  The results will be submitted to a national database to look for matches from other cases.

That leaves a backlog of another 10,000  kits .

The Detroit Police crime lab was shut down in 2008 after it was learned that firearms cases had been improperly handled.

4:45 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Michigan ACLU fights anti-begging law

Annie Green Springs Flickr

Michigan’s law against peaceful begging in public was challenged in federal court this week by the American Civil Liberties Union. 

ACLU attorney Miriam Aukerman says peaceful begging is protected speech under the First  Amendment.

“Begging is not a crime, asking for help is not a crime, being poor is not a crime. There’s been so much economic turmoil, and penalizing poor people because they need help is wrong….and unconstitutional.”

James Speet says he’s been arrested at least eight times in the Grand Rapids area for holding up a sign that reads “Need job… God bless.”

Speet, who’s often homeless, says he never hassles people.

“I don’t approach anybody unless I’m called over to them, by them. That way there’s never no people feeling like I’m being aggressive toward them, or anything like that. I let them come to me.”

The ACLU of Michigan says the Grand Rapids Police Department has arrested nearly 400 people for peaceful begging since 2008.

5:52 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Super-PAC boosts Santorum spending in Michigan


The candidates in Michigan’s Republican presidential primary are expected to pour a lot of money into advertising in the state.

Polls show Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are evenly matched in popular support.

Romney and his political action committee are expected to spend millions in Michigan.

But a super-PAC behind Santorum reportedly will spend $650,000 in the state.

Bill Ballenger is editor of Inside Michigan Politics.

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5:09 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

"New-car smell" could be hazardous to your health

bluescreen Morguefile

An environmental watchdog group has released a report about toxins found inside new cars. It says that “new-car smell” can be harmful to your health. 

The Ecology Center in Ann Arbor says the interiors of the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander, Chrysler 200 S and the Kia Soul had the highest level of hazardous chemicals.

The Honda Civic, Toyota Prius and Honda CRZ had the lowest level of chemical hazards.

Jeff Gearhart of the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor says flame retardants and chemicals in plastics generate gases that can cause health problems.

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1:27 pm
Sun February 12, 2012

Fisher Music Center damaged in explosion; music event relocated to Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor

Updated  at 2:10 p.m.

A DTE Energy spokesman says it appears an underground electrical cable malfunctioned, and may have ignited a build-up of methane gas.

Len Singer says the explosion blew off some manhole covers outside the Max M. Fisher Music Center.

He says blast also caused some damage to the basement walls of Orchestra Hall. The area has been evacuated while repairs are under way.


The Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit was damaged in a gas explosion this morning. No injuries were reported.

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12:28 pm
Sun February 12, 2012

Bill tackles tobacco smuggling, counterfeiting, roll-your-own shops

alvimann Morguefile

A Michigan lawmaker says counterfeit tobacco products and smuggling have cost the state up to $1 billion over the past five years. The state Senate is now considering a bill that would require a digital tax stamp and stronger tobacco enforcement.

State Sen. Roger Kahn says his bill tackles more than illegal activity.

It would also require small tobacco shops that provide so-called "roll-your-own" cigarette machines for customers' use to pay a state tax of $2 per pack.

Some tobacco shop owners oppose the bill because it would label them as cigarette manufacturers.

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3:39 pm
Thu February 9, 2012

Ficano announces ethics reforms in wake of FBI probe

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano has announced changes in how the county deals with ethical issues. The county is under a federal corruption investigation into cronyism and influence peddling.

The Wayne County Executive’s troubles began when it was learned Detroit Metropolitan Airport’s new boss was given a $200,000 severance package when she left another county job.

The FBI is looking into that payout. It’s also investigating allegations of special deals with contractors and political pressure on employees to support Ficano.

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4:47 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Proposed law would ban public officials from remote voting

A bill in the State House would ban elected and appointed officials from voting by teleconference or the Internet.

Representative Richard LeBlanc says technology like Skype is great for a lot of things, but replacing in-person voting isn’t one of them.

LeBlanc says Michigan’s Open Meetings Act does not address remote voting because the technology wasn’t around when the act was drafted.

He believes state lawmakers, school board members, city and township councils need to participate in person.

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The law
4:38 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Teen who confessed rape says minister was wrong to tell police

The Michigan Court of Appeals will hear a case Thursday about whether clergy can to testify about what parishioners confess regarding crimes.

The case involves a Belleville Baptist minister who questioned a then-15-year-old parishioner about the rape of a nine-year-old girl.

The boy confessed. The minister told police and later testified at trial.

The boy’s lawyer says that was a violation of Michigan’s priest-penitent privilege,  and a circuit court judge agreed.

Robert Sedler is a Constitutional law professor at Wayne State University.

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2:00 pm
Sun January 29, 2012

Banned "bath salts" back on the market, with slight revisions

The deceptively named "bath salts" are sold in smoke shops and some discount stores. Health officials say it's a dangerous drug that's in the same category as heroin, amphetamines and methamphetamine.
cnpickett76 Morguefile

Michigan banned a designer drug known as “bath salts” last August.

But the highly addictive substance has returned, with slight chemical modifications, to skirt the law.

The crystalline powder is classified in the same category as amphetamines and methamphetamine.

In other words, it’s not for the bathtub.

Although Michigan lawmakers outlawed bath salts, it’s back – and it’s valuable.

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11:54 am
Sat January 28, 2012

Justice: Court lingering too long on emergency manager decision

A Republican on the Michigan Supreme Court says a legal challenge to the state’s emergency manager law is dragging on too long.

Justice Steven Markman is part of a four-judge Republican majority on the court. Markman says the state’s highest court should take over the case and make a decision.

The Michigan Supreme Court has yet to rule on Governor Rick Snyder’s request to bypass lower courts and make a decision on whether the emergency manager law violates the state constitution. That request was made last summer.

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4:13 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Exoskeleton robot helps spinal cord patients stand and walk

A Michigan hospital is working with a robot that’s designed to help people with spinal cord injuries walk again.

DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan in Detroit is one of 10 hospitals in the nation trying out Ekso – a battery-powered exoskeleton.

Patients with spinal cord injuries fit entirely into the robotic frame, which helps them stand and walk.

Diane Patzer was one of three RIM physical therapists who worked with patients during the initial trial of the Ekso.

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3:48 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Expelled EMU student's bias suit revived by appeals court

Julea Ward.

Update: 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28:

Eastern Michigan University issued this statement:

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2:22 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Bill would require cash assistance recipients to do community service

Republican State Sen. Joe Hune represents the 22nd district, which covers Livingston County, Shiawassee County, and a portion of southern Ingham County.

A state lawmaker says people who get cash assistance from the state should be required to perform community service. 

Sen. Joe Hune  says his bill would give people “some skin in the game.”

He gives some examples of what kinds of community service he has in mind:

“Helping out at a local library, your school district, your local government, highway cleanup, the local 4H program,  MSU Extension, your local food bank, at the senior center,” he says.

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12:04 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Lawyer says ex-inmates fell victim to predatory loan company

Several former prison inmates who received a multi-million dollar abuse settlement from the state may never see the money. Some may actually owe more than they would have received.

In 1996, more than 800 women filed a class action suit against the Michigan Department of Corrections. The women said they’d been repeatedly raped and abused while in prison.

In 2009, they were awarded a $100 million settlement.

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4:11 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Study: Revoked breast cancer drug increased tumor-forming cells

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor, MI.

University of Michigan researchers say a drug used to treat advanced breast cancer actually led to an increase in the number of tumor-forming cells.  The FDA revoked its approval of the drug last year.

The drugs Avastin and Sutent were used to shrink tumors and slow the progress of breast cancer.  But the effects didn’t last and when the tumors returned, they were more aggressive.

Dr. Max Wicha is director of U-of-M’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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