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.


1:15 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

New housing market improves, but builders say financing still difficult

matthew_hull Morguefile

New home sales rose slightly across the nation and in Michigan this year. But one industry group says lenders are still keeping a tight grip on their money.

More than 7,000 new homes will be built in Michigan this year, but that’s still far below construction numbers from just a decade ago.

Michigan Association of Home Builders CEO Bob Filka says more than 25,000 homes were built every year in Michigan before the housing bubble and the economy collapsed.

Filka says the buyers are there, but the banks are still reluctant to finance.

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5:13 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Michigan lawmakers to work on new autism coverage plan

tangle_eye Morguefile

Michigan lawmakers will try again to come up with legislation to make autism treatment available under employer-sponsored health plans.

Business and insurance groups opposed earlier attempts because they said it was an unfunded mandate that would raise their costs.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says the plan will probably include a tax credit to employers who offer autism coverage.

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1:11 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Newly unemployed can apply for benefits online, even during holidays

State offices will be closed the next two Fridays and Mondays for the Christmas and New Year's holidays, but people who’ve lost their jobs can still apply for unemployment benefits online.

The automated system --  known as MARVIN  -- is available for people who need to file unemployment claims.

Applicants  must first create a free online account, and they can do that from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday  and and from eight to three on most Saturdays.  Those already in the system can track their account at the same site.

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5:29 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

For sale: Pontiac City Hall, golf course and cemeteries


Pontiac’s emergency manager says he wants the option to sell some of the city’s assets, including city hall, the golf course, police station and two fire station.

And, if the state changes its law, a couple of cemeteries.

Leon Jukowski is still the city’s mayor. He says while there’s sentimental value attached to some of the places, the city needs all the financial help it can get.

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4:59 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Michigan sees 4th-highest increase in poverty in the nation

Greengobbler Morguefile

Michigan had the second-highest drop in median income in the nation over the past four years.

It also had the fourth-highest increase in family poverty.

That’s according to the Michigan League for Human Services.

President Gilda Jacobs says homelessness is increasing --  in part because rental costs have gone up more than 25 percent over the past decade.

Jacobs says the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is now about $745 -- out of reach for many Michigan residents.

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4:17 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Michigan's Hartland Township ends its water fluoridation program

Xenia Morguefile

Hartland Township in Livingston County has voted to immediately stop adding fluoride to its water system.  The decision came after a long debate over rumored health risks and government control of water additives.

Trustee Glenn Harper brought the issue to the board. He called it a health hazard and says people should decide individually whether to use it.

Trustee Joe Colaianne voted against stopping fluoridation. The final vote was 5-2.

Hartland Township’s water system serves fewer than 400 private customers. But one of those customers is the school system, which has more than 3,100 students.

"They'll be in a situation where their dentist will prescribe fluoride supplements, which of course is additional costs to the patients," says Tom Kochheiser of the Michigan Dental Association.

Kochheiser says studies show communities without fluoridated water show a 20 to 40 percent increase in tooth decay.

He also says rumors about health problems caused by fluoride -- such as kidney problems -- are based on what he calls “junk science” and have been refuted by the Centers for Disease Control.

The federal government says fluoridation is one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. But earlier this year, the government said a new review shows some Americans may be getting too much fluoride.

Kochheiser says most communities are limiting fluoride at .7 parts per million, down from a previous recommendation of 1.2 parts per million.

1:00 am
Sun December 18, 2011

Farmers markets: Not just fair-weather fare anymore

kakiski Morguefile

Winter farmers markets are growing in popularity in Michigan.

In 2010, there were 19. This year, there are 33 winter markets.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan says Michigan is one of the top 10 states leading the trend.

She says more farmers are using hoop houses to extend their growing season. Hoop houses can be full-sized greenhouses or simple row covers.

"They protect the crop. A farmer can get in earlier in the season and stay in later," Merrigan says. "That  helps with the farmers markets in the winter, by the way. They're also important with pest management and nutrient management, so they're good for the environment."

Merrigan also says more food assistance recipients are using their benefits at farmers markets to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

The USDA offers a farmers market locator tool on its website.

The law
4:45 pm
Fri December 16, 2011

Livonia settles suit challenging teen's alcohol breath test

The city of Livonia has settled a lawsuit involving a 13-year-old boy who was forced by police to take a Breathalyzer test.

The middle-school student was with classmates on a field trip to a Livonia park in June. Some of the kids went into the woods for a walk. They were followed by an assistant principal, who accused them of drinking after he found an empty liquor bottle on the ground.

The students denied drinking, but police were called and the teens were forced to take a breath test, without their parents' consent.

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Dan Korobkin says that should not have happened.

"They blew a zero," Korobkin says. "But they should  never have had to prove their innocence at all, because under the Constitution, you can't be made to take a Breathalyzer test without a court order."

Korobkin says Livonia  has agreed to issue a policy for their police officers that clearly spells out the law and to remove the boy’s name from police records.

He adds, however, that suspected drunken drivers can be made to take breath tests.

2:03 pm
Fri December 16, 2011

Palisades Nuclear Plant restarted; water pump valve malfunction blamed for shutdown

The Palisades Nuclear power plant in Van Buren County, Michigan.

The Palisades nuclear power plant in Van Buren County is operating again after a problem with its water pumps prompted a shutdown this week. It’s the fifth time the plant has shut down in the past year.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says a valve on the Palisades’ main feed water system opened unexpectedly on Wednesday. Operators had to take the reactor off line.

NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng says the Palisades plant is under investigation for three serious safety violations this year.

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5:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Red Kettle donations down in Metro Detroit

The Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign is running short of its goal in metro Detroit.

The charitable organization's Eastern District has a goal of $8.2 million. It’s raised about $3 million with only a week and a half left to go in the campaign.

Major Curtiss Hartley is a youth officer with the organization.

"We at the Salvation Army are seeing greater numbers of our neighbors coming in needing the basic: food and shelter, warm coats for the winter, not to mention gifts for the kids under the trees," Hartley said.

The Salvation Army’s West Michigan group is faring better.

Spokesman Roger Snider said kettle donations are up about one percent in Kent County, where the goal is $1.6 million.

He said overall donations in Kent County are up nearly five percent.

The organization accepts donations on its Web site as well.

11:41 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Animal welfare group tracks, rates Michigan animal shelters

More than 100,000 cats and dogs are euthanized at Michigan animal shelters annually.
Nino Morguefile

A non-profit group that promotes a no-kill animal shelter philosophy says there are big winners and big losers among the state’s facilities.

The Michigan Pet Fund Alliance tracks the performance of the state’s animal shelters.

Chairwoman Deborah Schutt says The Humane Society of Huron Valley is the best large shelter in Michigan. In 2010, it reported a nearly 81 percent save rate of the animals it took in.

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5:17 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

Michigan lawmaker makes new call for mandatory, self-paid drug tests for welfare applicants

The debate of drug testing for welfare recipients is heating up again.

It’s been tried before: A welfare drug-testing program enacted under former Gov.  John Engler was never implemented because of a challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union.

State Rep. Jeff Farrington (R-Utica) is trying again. He wants to require substance abuse tests for people before they get welfare benefits.

Michigan League for Human Services President Gilda Jacobs says  the law would be discriminatory, unless it applied to everybody getting money from the state.

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5:00 am
Mon December 12, 2011

Global investment scandal hits Michigan farmers

Michigan farmers will be in Washington D.C. Tuesday to tell a Senate committee how a multi-billion-dollar international trading scandal has affected them.

Jim Byrum is president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association. He says the collaspe of MF Global in October touched many of the state's grain operations and milk producers.

"They were doing the kinds of things they should have been doing," Byrum says about Michigan investors. "They were managing their risks. Those companies that they dealt with actually did clear through MF Global, and their money is gone."

Byrum says everybody in the industry believed their were protected.

"We have folks all the way from small family owned grain operations -- and we're going to have one of those testify Tuesday morning -- all the way to some very large grain operations. It is a multi-million dollar issue in the state of Michigan."

Byrum says a $2 billion transfer approved by a bankruptcy judge Friday will not restore all of the farmers' money. He says they want full restitution.

MF Global was led by former Goldman-Sachs CEO and New Jersey Governor John Corzine.

The law
9:31 am
Sun December 11, 2011

Michigan State Police search dogs go high-tech

Bane, a four-year-old member of the Michigan State Police canine team, disappeared last year during a search for a missing person.
Michigan State Police

In November 2010, Michigan State Police helped search for a 70-year-old dementia patient in Northern Michigan.

One of the MSP's tracking dogs,  a four-year-old shepherd named Bane, disappeared after it chased a deer.

Sgt. David Yount commands the canine unit. He said it was an emotional loss, but an expensive one as well.

"You're talking about an investment of about $35,000 -- by the time you put the man hours in that it takes to train the dog -- and purchasing the dog is anywhere from $6,000 to $8,000 for an untrained dog," he said.

Yount said a group called Friends of Canines and the Riverview Firefighters Union recently donated $5,000. It was enough to outfit all of the department's 32 dogs with GPS collars.

Yount says the devices will help protect the dogs, but more importantly, help find and rescue missing or injured people.

"If we locate them in a thick forest area, we can look on this mapping system and see the easiest way out, and get them to medical attention a lot sooner or to an area to pick up a helicopter," he says.

9:43 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Meth production in Michigan changing

More meth "cooks" are mixing batches of the highly addictive drug in containers like 2-liter soda bottles.
robspiegel flickr

More methamphetamine cooks in Michigan are turning to what’s called the “one-pot” method, and they’re no longer just producing the highly addictive drug only in remote, rural areas.

Michigan State Police Lieutenant Detective Tony Saucedo said the drug can be made in something as simple as a two-liter plastic bottle, but he said the residue is just as dangerous.

"It creates chemical reactions, toxic fumes, it can cause fires," said Saucedo, who heads MSP's meth investigation team. "You’re dealing with acid and bases. So once they’re done with their meth cook, now you have this hazardous waste.”

Federal funding for meth cleanup was put on hold until the state completes a storage system for the waste.

Saucedo said Michigan spent more than $1 million on meth clean-up last year.

9:17 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Legislation targets payroll deductions for PACs

sushina flickr

The Republican-led Michigan House has passed a bill that would ban public employers from allowing paycheck deductions for political contributions.

It would reinforce a state Supreme Court decision made earlier this year.

Supporters say the legislation isn't anti-union. They say it’s about using government resources fairly.

State Rep. Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake) says there's "a long list of private, politically oriented organizations who would love to have the elegance and access to employee deductions of public workers.”

12:23 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Toyota could lose "world's largest automaker" title

Could Toyota lose its crown?
user danielctw Flickr

Toyota has sharply downgraded its expectations for what it will earn in the fiscal year that ends in March.

Toyota expects a net profit of $2.3 billion for the fiscal year. That’s less than half the profit it predicted in August.

The automaker is blaming a strong yen, which makes its vehicles less competitive on prices, outside of Japan.

It’s also blaming recent heavy flooding in Thailand, which disrupted the distribution of auto parts.

Ford recall
10:55 am
Fri December 9, 2011

Ford recalls some Fusion, Milan models

Ford has issued a recall for two of its models because of wheel problems. The recall includes more than 128,000 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan models from 2010 and 2011. Ford says only cars with 17-inch steel wheels are affected by recall.

5:19 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Retailers call for enforcement of Internet sales tax

Michigan store owners say shoppers who don’t pay sales tax on Internet purchases are cheating the state and themselves.                                

There’s already a state law that requires a six percent sales tax on online purchases.

Shoppers are supposed to keep track of what they buy and pay the tax on next year’s tax return.

But there’s no real enforcement.

Jim Hallan is president of the Michigan Retailers Association.

He says the state’s brick-and-mortar stores can’t compete and he says that hurts everybody.

Read more
5:14 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Fire destroys 8 Detroit buses

A fire at a Detroit bus facility destroyed eight newer buses Wednesday morning.

The fire was more bad news for a city that’s been struggling with a fleet of broken buses. Many passengers have complained about hours-long waits at bus stops.

Steve Serkaian  is the city’s communications director.

He says the fire started under a bus in a storage bay.

Serkaian denies reports that the facility’s sprinkler system didn’t work.

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