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


The founder of a pizza company launched in Taylor 40 years ago has died. 

Howell Conference & Nature Center

Woody says she's sorry.

She got it wrong.

Woody lives at the Howell Conference & Nature Center and is Michigan's official groundhog. She predicted an early spring back on Groundhog Day. Spring arrived today -- with snow flurries and temperatures in the 20s.

Dick Grant is Woody's interpreter.

"It takes a big woodchuck to admit that she's wrong," says Woody's interpreter, Dick Grant. "And Woody came out today and said 'I'm sorry. I missed it. We all make mistakes.' And it looks like we have gone through six more weeks of winter."

Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry give us a round up of the week's top news stories each Saturday.

This was quite a week for Detroit!

Governor Rick Snyder appointed Kevyn Orr as the Emergency Manager of the City of Detroit on Thursday. Lessenberry says Orr is well prepared for the formidable task he's facing. Orr is an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy. Lessenberry says "he seems to know it is a tough task, but he has a winning attitude and impressed people favorably in his first press conference."

TIF mismanagement can lead to blight.

A Michigan state senator says cities need tougher laws against owners of blighted properties.

A national report found nearly a quarter of all Detroit properties were blighted in 2011.

State Sen. Virgil Smith has proposed bills to hold the landowners accountable for razing or repairing their properties.

University of Michigan Medical School

Let's say a researcher designs a product that could save someone's life. Without money and backing from the National Institutes of Health or the National Science Foundation, that invention probably won't go anywhere.

Medical innovators at the University of Michigan now have a better chance of getting their products to market with a $7.5 million joint venture with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

It's called the Michigan Translational Research & Commercialization for Life Sciences, and it's meant to help bridge what's known as "The Valley of Death."

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

Each Saturday, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry look at some of the top regional news stories of the week.

Carl Levin won't run for re-election

We got a political bombshell this week when U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) said he won't run for re-election next year. But Lessenberry says this wasn't entirely unexpected. He expects a lot of people to run for Levin's seat including Congressman Gary Peters and Congressman Mike Rodgers.

Detroit prepares for an emergency manager

The Detroit City Council says "not so fast" when it comes to the governor’s appointment of an emergency manager. Mayor Bing says it's too late to resist the appointment. It's just going to happen. Lessenberry says the City Council may well appeal, but he doesn't expect the Governor to reverse his decision. "They are doing a pro-forma thing mainly for political consumption."

A challenge to Michigan's same-sex marriage ban

The discussion of same-sex marriage in Michigan was put on hold after it looked like a federal judge might make a ruling on Michigan’s constitutional amendment. Lessenberry says "no one can really fault U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman for doing this because the U.S. Supreme Court is going to rule on a case in California on a similar law."  He says that way Friedman can craft a ruling that isn't in conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s political analyst. He joins us Saturday mornings to review the week’s top news stories.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration / Wikimedia

Dr. Kenneth Rosenman says the current federal system for reporting work-related injuries is not working.

Rosenman is chief of  Michigan State University's Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. He says a joint report with the Michigan Department of Community Health found the number of amputations resulting from on-the-job injuries were more than 60 percent higher than the official estimate from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Alviman / MorgueFile

A state lawmaker wants to automatically discontinue food assistance benefits when people die or go to jail. 

Representative Tim Kelly says he's embarrassed about loopholes in Michigan's Bridge Card program.  

A bill approved by the House this week would order the Department of Human Services to conduct a monthly computer match against the Social Security Death Index database and incarceration records.

The number of hate groups in Michigan has been growing since 2008.  

The Southern Poverty Law Center says Michigan is fifth in the nation in the number of these so-called hate groups. Spokesman Mark Potok says that includes Neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan groups.

The law center is also tracking the rapid growth of "patriot" groups, which used to be called militia.

Potok says Michigan has a large number of those.

click / MorgueFile

An organization of physicians says more isn't always better when it comes to medical tests.

A national campaign called "Choosing Wisely" looked at a list of common procedures that doctors and patients should question.

Dr. Jim Froehlich is director of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Michigan.

He says a stress test before a simple surgery is one example of an overused procedure.

"That's not always useful, especially if the planned procedure is of such low risk that if even if someone has some heart disease, it's unlikely to adversely affect them," Froehlich says.

Darnok / MorgueFile

Michigan lawmakers are looking at ways to smooth the transfer process from the state's community colleges to universities.  

More than 40 percent of Michigan students attend a community college for at least one term, but sometimes their credits can't all be transferred to a four-year institution.

Chris Baldwin is with the Michigan Community College Association.

Nicole Haley / Nicole Haley Photography

Detroit has plenty of smart, talented kids who could have a bright future in medicine. But the few who do go into the field often don’t stay in the city after they graduate.

According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, fewer than eight percent of Michigan’s doctors are black or Hispanic.

The University of Michigan School of Medicine hopes to spark a change with its “Doctors of Tomorrow” program. 

A group of ninth-graders from Detroit’s Cass Technical High School is gathered around a gurney at U of M’s Clinical Simulation Center.

katmystiry, Morguefile

Every spring, instinct tells the ruby-throated hummingbird to head from Mexico to northern states, including Michigan. But experts say it’s making that trip earlier than ever.  That early migration could be a sign of trouble for the tiny powerhouse of the avian world. 

mconnors / MorgueFile

A study from Michigan State University says it's not just people with families who have a hard time balancing work and life.

Single people have the same issues, but they may not get the same workplace flexibility as those with kids.

Ann Marie Ryan is a Professor of Organizational Psychology. She says employers need to make sure all workers get a break once in a while.

Kate Sumbler / Flickr

This week in review, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss the second attempt to overhaul Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the great potential of Detroit getting an emergency manager, and debates over what control the Detroit Public School board has when they are under the control of an emergency financial manager.

A state lawmaker says members Congress should put aside their differences  and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.  

More than 100 Michigan women were killed by an intimate partner in 2011, and more than 68,000 were victims of domestic violence.

State Sen. Rebekah Warren says the federal Violence Against Women Act was allowed to expire last year because of partisan squabbling.

She says that affects shelters, prevention programs and the women they protect.

David Defoe / flickr

This week in review Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss Detroit’s State of the City address, lawmakers conversation about abortions and Viagra coverage in Senate health plans, and the removal of Pure Michigan right to work ads.

Grafixar / MorgueFile

A surplus of hospital beds in Michigan could be pushing up medical costs. 

Paul Delamater  is a research specialist at Michigan State University's Department of Geography.

He says Michigan already has about 7,000 more hospital beds than it needs -- especially in urban areas.

"I found that the availability of beds themselves actually caused utilization to rise," Delamater says. "If a new hospital is built, there's pressure to get people into those beds regardless of the medical-based need for putting them in that hospital bed."

felixe / Flickr

A debate over health care coverage for members of the Michigan Senate has taken an odd turn. 

Democratic State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer is unhappy about the elimination of abortion coverage for her Senate colleagues. She says it could jeopardize their health.

So Whitmer challenged Republican Senator Rick Jones to eliminate Viagra as well.

Jones's response?

"I actually contacted her office and said, 'I will support you. If you want to end that coverage, draw up a petition  and ask me to be the first one to sign on,'" Jones says.

clarita / MorgueFile

Many pregnant women who visit emergency rooms may not be getting treatment for sexually transmitted infections. 

A Michigan State University study finds a small number of the pregnant women tested at three West Michigan hospitals got the medication they needed.

That's because it takes about 48 hours to get the test results for chlamydia and gonorrhea and the women often can't be reached after they leave the emergency room.

The more than 40,000 registered sex offenders in Michigan may soon be required to pay an annual fee.  

They currently pay a one-time $50 charge, but most offenders will be on the registry for 25 years to life.

State Senator Rick Jones says the database costs Michigan State Police about $1 million a year to maintain. He's working on a bill that would require sex offenders to pay $50 or $100  a year.

"I want to keep troopers on the road," Jones says. "This is not too much to ask sex offenders to pay a dollar or two dollars a week."

Dawud Walid / Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations

A Michigan group wants gun shops to stop selling targets that depict a man wearing traditional Muslim attire. 

The paper target shows the skeleton of a  bearded man wearing a turban and robe, holding an assault rifle.

Dawud Walid is with the Michigan Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He says he bought a couple of the targets at a Royal Oak gun shop.

Walid says he introduced himself to the store owner, and explained his concern that the targets could encourage violence against Muslims.

cncphotos / flickr

In this week in Michigan politics, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss Governor Rick Snyder’s upcoming budget address, the final days of the Kwame Kilpatrick trial, and how 200 administrators in Grand Rapids Public Schools got pink slipped.

mconnors / morguefile

Most Michigan doctors say they are prepared to take on a wave of new patients -- if the state approves an expansion of its Medicaid program.  

Under the Affordable Care Act, nearly 300,000 more people could be added to the state's Medicaid rolls next year.

Marianne Udow-Phillips of the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation says the nonprofit group surveyed 1,500 Michigan physicians.
"Overall, 81% of primary care physicians say they're going to expand their practices to take new patients come 2014," Udow-Phillips says.


Michigan wants the world to know about its life-sciences industry, so it's taking its show on the road -- or, in this case, overseas.    

Representatives from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation are attending a health conference in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

We make lots of technical stuff here, everything from robots to replacement body parts to medicines.

Oakland County Deputy Executive Matt Gibb will be among those pitching the state's products.

This “week in review”, Michigan Radio’s Weekend Edition host Rina Miller and political analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss proposed gun laws in Michigan, who might replace former Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway, and the new hiring rules for emergency financial managers in the state.

clarita / MorgueFile

Many Michigan residents are carrying an unhealthy amount of weight and the problem is getting worse.

Michigan is the fifth-heaviest state in the nation, according to Michigan Department of Community Health Director James Haveman.

"In 1995, 18% of the adult population was obese in Michigan. By 2010, it had increased to 32 percent," Haveman says. "Currently in Michigan, some 800,000 children and five million adults have a weight problem. If unchanged, obesity could reach 50 percent by 2030."

University of Michigan

Many Michiganders are among the more than two million Americans diagnosed with skin cancer each year. It's the most common malignancy.

The majority will discover they have basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas, but about 50,000 people will learn they have melanoma, which is particularly difficult to treat if not caught early.

A free phone application called UMSkinCheck helps people examine their skin and keep track of changes.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This “week in review” Michigan Radio’s Weekend Edition host Rina Miller and political analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss: Governor Rick Snyder’s State of the State speech, the possibility of no fault absentee voting, a positive report on Michigan’s housing market, and a possible tax amnesty program for Detroit.

Penywise / MorgueFile

People who take cancer treatments in pill form at home may not be using the medicines properly. 

A study by Michigan State University found that more than 40 percent of people took too many pills or missed doses of their oral cancer medications.

"Unfortunately, that can mean that it's not combating the cancer, or the medication is not able to work because the patient hasn't received enough of the medication," says Sandra Spoelstra, an assistant professor at MSU's College of Nursing.

Spoelstra says some oral anti-cancer agents are taken just once a day.