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


Michigan’s Secretary of State is urging lawmakers to support her plan to let voters use absentee ballots without needing an excuse, such as illness or being out of town at election time.

When Ruth Johnson was Oakland County Clerk, she instituted an absentee voting system. Now that she’s Secretary of State, Johnson thinks it will work just as well on a state level.


Automakers are hoping to dazzle customers at opposite ends of the world this week as the New York and Shanghai auto shows are run simultaneously.

Joel Ewanick  is General Motors’ Vice President for U.S. Marketing.

He says all automakers are taking a global approach to sales as markets like China continue to grow.

Ewanick says Chevy is unveiling a different version of its new Malibu in Shanghai, where it might be seen as more of a luxury vehicle.


A Detroit lawmaker is angry over what he calls a unilateral decision to close the Mound Road Correctional Facility in the city.

Representative Fred Durhal is a member of the House Appropriations Corrections Subcommittee, but he says he was not consulted about closing the Mound prison.

Durhal says Rep. Joe Haveman told the committee only they would close a prison in the north, south, east and west parts of the state in a budget-cutting move.

"It caught me by total surprise," Durhal says. "I have not had an opportunity to look into just where those prisons would be, if those are the criteria that he is using. I think they should have had some discussion inside of the entire committee."

The Mound Road prison is one of the state's newer facilities. It houses about 1,000 prisoners and employs about 200 people.

Benton Harbor appears to be the first city to come under a sweeping new Michigan law that allows emergency managers to take almost complete control of municipalities and school districts.

Benton Harbor emergency Manager Joseph Harris issued an order this week preventing city officials from doing anything more than calling meetings to order… adjourning them and approving minutes of meetings.

In other words, their decision-making powers have been suspended.

A financial emergency was declared in Benton Harbor in February 2010 by then-Governor Granholm after the city’s budget deficit grew by double digits.

A state board named former Detroit auditor general and chief financial officer Harris to run the city… with the power to control all spending and renegotiate union contracts.

Union leaders are critical of Harris’ move to take most powers away from city leaders. The AFL-CIO represents administrative workers and others in Benton Harbor.


Michigan homeowners whose homes are not at risk for floods are footing the bill for people whose homes are in danger. That’s according to a lawmaker from  Michigan who says that’s not fair.

U.S. Congresswoman Candice Miller wants to eliminate the National Flood Insurance Program, or at least let Michigan opt out of the system.

Miller says Michigan residents pay high rates to help homeowners in other parts of the country.

"You have a very expensive vacation home that has been ruined by a hurricane or a flood several times, and the federal flood insurance is still paying you to rebuild. If you want to have a home like that, God love you, that's fine, but I don't know why people in Michigan should have to pay high premiums."

Miller is taking part in a hearing Monday evening in Harrison Township with homeowners, realtors, insurers, builders and lenders.


Foster children in Michigan would use their state-funded clothing allowance only in thrift stores under a plan suggested by State Senator Bruce Caswell.

Caswell says he wants to make sure that state money set aside to buy clothes for foster children and kids of the working poor  is actually used for that purpose.

He says they should get "gift cards" to be used only at Salvation Army, Goodwill or other thrift stores.

"I never had anything new," Caswell says. "I got all the hand-me-downs. And my dad, he did a lot of shopping at the Salvation Army, and his comment was -- and quite frankly it's true -- once you're out of the store and you walk down the street, nobody knows where you bought your clothes."

Gilda Jacobs is CEO of the Michigan League for Human Services. She’s not a fan of the thrift shop gift card idea.

"Honestly, I was flabbergasted," Jacobs says. "I really couldn't believe this. Because I think, gosh, is this where we've gone in  this state? I think that there’s the whole issue of dignity. You’re saying to somebody, you don’t deserve to go in and buy a new pair of gym shoes. You know, for a lot of foster kids, they already have so much stacked against them.”

Caswell says the gift card idea wouldn’t save the state any money.

cbassweb / MorgueFile

Michiganders are taking the train more than they have in the past. Amtrak officials say they've seen an increase in the number of riders on all three of their Michigan lines. Two of those lines are supported by the state.

Amtrak’s Blue Water Service runs from Port Huron through Lansing to Chicago. It had one of the largest increases in ridership in the nation.

Janet Foran  is with the Michigan Department of Transportation. She says some of the growth is likely from the rise in gas prices and the interest in building high speed rail in the state:

“Because of the talk about high speed rail in the State of Michigan, this has actually been a major factor in increasing the interest of people to try passenger rails.”

M-DOT said ridership usually increases during the holiday season and summer. They expect ridership will continue to grow in the state.


All 343 teachers and 21 administrators in Monroe Public Schools received layoff notices this week.

The Board of Education took the step as it wrangles with a possible $5.5 million budget shortfall for the coming school year.

“We are a district that over the last five years has cut more than $15 million already," says district spokesman Bob Vergiels.  "We’ve been able to stay out of the classrooms so far, but with this particular budget that’s being proposed and debated now in Lansing, I don’t know if we can stay out of the classrooms.”


 Ford is expanding a recall of its F-150 pickup.

The recall now includes nearly 1.2 million trucks because of an air bag defect and covers trucks from the 2004 through 2006 model years.

The company in February had agreed to recall more than 150,000 of the trucks.

But on Thursday,  U.S. safety regulators said that Ford will add to the recall because the trucks’ air bags can go off  unexpectedly and injure drivers.

Ford had resisted expanding the recall.

The F-series pickup is the top-selling vehicle in America.

Michigan’s thumb region will soon be dotted with new wind farms.  DTE Energy says the project will cost about $225 million.

The 50 wind turbines to be built in Huron and Sanilac counties should generate enough energy to power about 100,000 homes.

DTE's Scott Simons says while two West Michigan lawmakers recently opposed building  wind farms in the Great Lakes, the Thumb plan has Lansing’s stamp of approval.

"I would think the legislature is behind these kinds of projects, and we're going full steam ahead toward meeting the renewable energy goals that have been set by the Legislature," Simons says.

 DTE customers will pay for the wind farms with a small surcharge on their monthly bills.

The so-called “Romeo and Juliet” bill is on its way to Governor Snyder’s desk for his signature. 

The measure will remove people who are on Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry because they had consensual sex with another teenager.

They’re currently kept on the list for 25 years.

State Sen. Rick Jones sponsored the bill. He says it puts Michigan in compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act.

"This law will require that you petition the judge, the judge will review the case, and only in cases where it was completely consensual -- boyfriend/girlfriend-type behavior -- will the individual be allowed to be removed from the list," Jones says.

The law also takes most peeping toms and exhibitionists – or flashers – off the list. Instead, they’ll be on a separate list monitored by the Michigan State Police for 15 years.


A bill that would ban trash burning in rural communities has been snuffed out for the time being.

A newspaper story last weekend incorrectly reported  the ban would take effect April 1.

That drew complaints from rural residents, and sponsors of a House measure to stop the ban said they would push it through.

Brad Wurfel is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

He says the agency will regroup and once again take public comments.

But Wurfel says restrictions on outdoor burning are necessary to protect public health.


Michigan’s budget problems could be helped if the state were able to collect taxes on things people buy online. But federal rules limit the state’s powers.

The U.S. Supreme Court says states can’t force a business to collect sales taxes unless it has a physical store in the state.

Terry Stanton is with the Michigan Department of Treasury.

He  says that’s costing Michigan big money.

"We estimate that's more than $300 million a year that the state will miss out on because there's no requirement for sellers to collect the sales taxes," Stanton says.


A mid-Michigan company is expanding and expects to hire hundreds of people in the next few years.

Spartan Motors in Charlotte builds chassis for fire trucks and ambulance, recreational vehicles, armored vehicles and drilling rigs.

Now it’s going into the delivery vehicle market in a partnership with Isuzu.

The van will be called “The Reach" and it’ll be used by companies like UPS and Federal Express.

Russell Chick is with Spartan Motors. He says production should begin in 2012, adding about 450 jobs.


There are fans and foes of daylight saving time, which began at 2 a.m. Sunday.

It means setting our clocks forward an hour, and for many, that means losing an hour of sleep every spring.

But for shift workers, it means working one  hour less.

Beth Skaggs is an attorney with Varnum Law in Grand Rapids.

She says daylight saving time can get a bit confusing when it comes to payroll

“For employers, it can create some headaches when they have third-shift workers who are actually working at the time when daylight saving time change occurs,” Skaggs  says.

Varnum says in the spring,  employers are not required to pay workers for the phantom hour when daylight saving time takes effect.

However, she says employers are required to pay for the extra hour worked when daylight saving time ends in the fall.


It’s no secret that air pollution can lead to breathing problems, like asthma. But a new study will look at what else pollutants may be doing to humans.

Michigan State University has been named a Clean Air Research Center by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Scientists will investigate how certain mixtures of air pollutants affect human health.

MSU professor Jack  Harkema is leading the study.

He says certain toxins may contribute to or even cause heart disease or diabetes, especially in people with other health issues.

"One of those risk groups are people who are overweight or obese," Harkema says. "And maybe you wouldn't think of that right away, but we have some evidence, just like  cigarette smoke, can affect multiple organ systems."

The study will take place primarily in the Detroit area and in rural areas.

University of Michigan and Ohio State University researchers are also taking part.


The head of a Detroit-area civil rights organization says hearings by the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee unfairly target Muslims.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., is investigating what he calls the radicalization of the U.S. Muslim community.

Dawud Walid is director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Southfield.

He says the scope of the hearings is too narrow, and ignores what he considers the biggest threats to national security.


A Michigan lawmaker says school districts that have set aside a rainy-day fund should use that money, rather than use more taxpayer funds. 

But some school administrators say  that would end up costing districts more in the long run. 

It’s common practice for Michigan school districts to aim for a 15 percent budget surplus for their rainy-day fund.

But the economy has drained those funds for about 300 districts.

About 200 traditional, non-charter districts do have reserves of 15 percent or more.


More than 160 scientists from Michigan universities and colleges  say they oppose attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to uphold the Clean Air Act.

Congressional Republicans – and a few Democrats – say the EPA has too much power. They also believe the Clean Air Act puts crippling restrictions on business.

David Karowe  is a professor of biological sciences at Western Michigan University.

He says politicians are not in the best position to make informed decisions about what is in the best interest of public health.


An Ingham County judge has continued a ban on openly carrying guns into Lansing-area libraries until June. 

A temporary restraining order was issued against the Michigan Open Carry group last month.

Now an Ingham County Circuit Court judge has granted a preliminary injunction forbidding anyone – except law enforcement – from entering a Capital Area District Library openly wearing a gun.

Dean Greenblatt is an attorney for Michigan Open Carry.

He says library management has a bigger agenda.


Women who’ve been treated for breast cancer often suffer from extreme fatique. A Michigan State University professor wants to try an ancient procedure to see if it can relieve the  symptoms.

Gwen Wyatt, a professor at MSU’s College of Nursing, says breast cancer patients who’ve undergone chemotherapy and radiation therapies often complain of being very tired -- all the time.

Wyatt will teach 300 women to try an alternative therapy and will follow their results over five years.


A Michigan-based company is being credited for detecting a shipment of chemicals thought to be part of a terrorist plan to blow up U.S. targets.

Con-way Freight of Ann Arbor has a Homeland Security program in which employees are trained to spot suspicious shipments.

That program paid off this week when a worker found a package of a chemical called phenol being shipped to Lubbock, Texas.

Con-way managers notified the FBI and a 20-year-old student from Saudi Arabia was arrested.


The Great Lakes have a bigger impact on Michigan’s economy than many people  may realize.

The Michigan Sea Grant says more than a million and a half jobs are directly connected to the Great Lakes.

Those jobs generate more than $62 billion in wages every year.

"This is the second time we've done this analysis," says Jennifer Read of Michigan Sea Grant. "And it's always surprising -- to me, at least --  the extent of the jobs that are directly related to the Great Lakes, across multiple sectors.  It's just a huge impact.

Have you forgotten about the snow already?
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

It’s not just your imagination.

We haven’t been able to get much of a break from what’s shaping up to be a very tough January and February in Michigan, weatherwise.

"It has been a horrible winter -- lately," says George Wetzel of the National  Weather Service in Grand Rapids. "I'll use Lansing as an example. The snowfall thus far this month has been 24.9 inches. That's only 18 inches less than the entire year."

 And it’s not over. Wetzel says more snow is expected Thursday night– a wet, heavy snow that will be difficult to shovel. 


In 2008, Michigan enacted a new energy law. It requires power companies to produce 10 percent of their power from Michigan-based renewable sources by the year 2015.

Now Consumers Energy is asking state regulators for permission to reduce customers’ bills by about $55 million.

Consumers spokesman Dan Bishop says the company is on track to reach that goal, with about five percent of its power now coming from renewable sources.

And that’s why Consumers says it wants to put a little bit of money back into its customers’ pockets.


Some Michiganders who buy their own health insurance will pay more for their policies beginning in May.

But the price hikes aren’t as steep as they could have been.

Blue Cross Blue Shield had planned premium increases of as much as 21 percent.

But the Michigan Attorney General intervened.

“Through negotiations we were able to slash that in most cases by about 60 percent, so the increases ended up being about 60 million dollars smaller just in the first year alone,” says John Selleck, a spokesman for the attorney general's office.


There may soon be no firefighters available in Allen Park.

The city council has voted to lay off the entire fire department.

A movie studio-deal gone bad is getting some of the blame for Allen Park’s financial troubles.

The Detroit suburb bought an old Visteon facility in 2008 for almost $25 million, banking on a plan to lease the property to Unity Studios.

The deal flopped  and now Allen Park is broke.

Last night, the city council announced all 25 of the city’s firefighters, plus its interim chief will be getting pink slips.

User sheri&brian / Flickr

Musicians of the Detroit Symphony orchestra have rejected management’s latest contract offer.  

The musicians' union says while salary cuts had been agreed upon, other issues, including employee health care deductibles were unacceptable.

Spokesman Greg Bowens says management's offer called for an 800 percent increase in their deductible.

DSO president and CEO Ann Parsons says most people have been affected by changes in health care costs.

flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Lansing library system has been granted a temporary restraining order to keep people from bringing weapons into its facilities.

The Capital Area District Library says about two months ago, people began coming into the library openly carrying guns. They claimed to have the right to do that under Michigan’s Firearms and Ammunitions Act.

Gary Bender is the library’s attorney.

He says the library is exempt from that law because it is not a local unit of government and is allowed to ban weapons at its locations.