Stateside Staff

  Today on Stateside:

Habitat for Humanity volunteers constructing a house in 2007
wikimedia user Jmabel /

Habitat for Humanity’s mission statement is simple and straightforward: “a world where everyone has a decent place to live.”

And now, thanks to a special partnership between Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County and Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, graduate architecture students will be coming up with ways to make those houses really fit the needs of the people who will live in them.

Courtesy of Daniel Howes /

This week, more than 20 of Michigan's top CEOs are on what you might call a field trip.

They're visiting Israel to discover what it took to transform that nation from virtually nothing into one of the most innovative economies in the world, all in the span of just 70 years.

Gordon Young

It's no secret that the city of Flint is wrestling with huge challenges. A water crisis, high crime rates and a shrinking population.

But, despite its difficulties and dangers, international students are coming to Flint. 

The Grand Rapids Symphony is asking musicians to make more concessions in contract talks
flickr user Steven Depolo /

These are challenging times for one of Michigan’s symphony orchestras.

The Grand Rapids Federation of Musicians is still trying to come to a contract agreement with the Grand Rapids Symphony. Its  four-year contract expired at the end of August.

But the musicians continue to play as bargaining goes on. They’re trying to regain some of what they gave up to keep the symphony afloat during the Great Recession.

Sportsman Tracker / Facebook

The app Sportsman Tracker was developed in Grand Rapids by Jeff Courter, the company's CEO.

"A lot of times you just want to know what’s going on in your area," he says. "If it’s fishing, you want to know what’s biting, what’s going on, what are people catching around you.”

Today on Stateside: 

U.S. troops almost buried by parcels do their best to handle the holiday mail, ca. 1944
Public Domain

If ever there was a case of love at first sight, it happened on January 17, 1942 at a dance in Asheville, North Carolina.

On that night, 21-year-old Billee Gray met 28-year-old Private Charles Kiley, and after just a couple of weekend dates, they knew they were meant to be together.

It wasn’t long before Charles was shipped off to fight in World War II, but the two stayed in touch and forged their love through hundreds of letters.

Charles and Billee’s daughter, son, and son-in-law have brought these letters together in a book: Writing the War: Chronicles of a World War Two Correspondent.

Split Rock Lighthouse - The Annual Lighting to Commemorate the Loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald
Pete Markham/flickr /

Did you know the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in a fierce storm on November 10, 1975?

As Gordon Lightfoot wrote in his song about the Fitzgerald, which sank in the waters of Lake Superior:

That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early.

What's with these powerful winds and storms as we move from October to November?

John U. Bacon

Michigan Radio’s sports commentator John U. Bacon joins us again for this week’s sports roundup.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

There were feelings of optimism earlier this week in Lansing that the state Senate might just pass a road funding plan the House passed the week before.

But, once again, that optimism has fallen flat, as the House adjourned without a vote after about eight hours of discussion.

Lars Plougmann

Millennials are the largest generation in America, making up an entire third of the population.

They’re also the least likely to vote.

A report from Tufts University says that less than 20% of people age 18 to 29 voted in the 2014 election.

Andrew Koehlinger wants to do something about that. He’s the project director for VoteSpotter, an app that seeks to get younger voters engaged in the politics.

Today on Stateside:

  • This week there was some optimism that the state Senate might pass a road funding plan, but it didn’t happen. Rick Pluta, co-host of It’s Just Politics and Daniel Howes, business columnist at the Detroit News, joined us to talk roads.

Today on Stateside:

Armenians being deported from Turkey ca. 1915.
flickr user Narek /

Dan Yessian is one of the most prolific and respected composers of commercial music.

His Farmington Hills-based company has clients all over the world.

You’ve heard his tunes helping to sell everything from Little Caesars Pizza to Chevy, Cadillac, Chrysler, United Airlines, Lexus, Ikea, and so many more brands.

But it’s safe to say his latest musical undertaking is especially close to his heart.

Rep. Dan Kildee is part of a bipartisan group that is pushing to extend the Export-Import Bank's charter
Steve Carmody

This week, a bipartisan group of House members is  joining forces in an attempt to revive the Export-Import Bank.

The Ex-Im Bank, as it’s known, is a federal agency that finances exports. It’s been around for 80 years, but stopped doing business July 1, after House leaders let its charter lapse.

Among the lawmakers trying to get the bank up and running again is Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint.


A package of bills now being considered by the state House could bring big changes to driving in Michigan.

The bills would boost speed limits on rural freeways based on scientific studies of typical traffic flow.

Backers say allowing traffic to go 80 miles per hour on rural freeways will end artificially low limits.

It will match what drivers are doing anyway and allow more drivers to drive at similar speeds. They believe the result would be safer roadways for everyone.

"Fearless. Fresh. Made in Detroit.”

That's the motto of the Detroit Public Theatre, whose mission is to produce theater with top writers, directors, and actors in Midtown Detroit's growing cultural district.

The Detroit Public Theatre's inaugural season begins Friday at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Stateside's Cynthia Canty spoke with Courtney Burkett and Sarah Winkler, founding co-artistic directors. 

Library of Congress

One hundred years ago, three women took a cross-country road trip from San Francisco to Washington DC to collect half a million signatures demanding passage of a Constitutional Amendment giving women the right to vote.

Maine-based author Anne Gass is recreating that historic trip and blogging about it along the way.

Rachel Titiriga / Flickr

A bump in the night, a creaky floor in the attic, a scuffling sound across the room…. The causes?  Maybe the house is settling, a strong wind, a small rodent, or maybe the sounds came from an unknown realm or even, the other side.

Samantha Harris is the founder of the Michigan Paranormal Research Association, based in the Traverse City area. After an “encounter” at an early age, Harris has dedicated herself to researching and documenting the unknown. She has experience with hauntings and dealing with “entities.”

Today on Stateside:

Gov. Snyder is taking heat regarding decisions made by his Emergency Managers that lead to the Flint water crisis
Gov. Rick Snyder / screengrab

The fallout from the Flint water crisis is far from over.

Yes, the state’s top water official has been “reassigned.”  

And sure, the Department of Environment Quality director admits they bungled the testing of Flint’s water, and failed at setting up appropriate corrosion control measures. Those measures would have prevented lead from leaching from pipes in the Flint’s water.

But there is a deeper anger in Flint aimed at Governor Snyder, and the string of emergency managers he appointed to run the struggling city when it reached a financial crisis.

flickr user The National Guard /

Imagine for a moment what it's like to be a firefighter rushing into a burning home. The smoke can be so thick you can't see your own hand in front of your face.

You're searching for survivors and trying to knock down that fire while doing your best to stay safe.

The Detroit Lions prepare to take on the Minnesota Vikings.
The Detroit Lions

The Lions have won only one game this year, and in their most recent game, Matt Stafford suffered 13 hits, seven sacks, and the Lions went from a 17-6 lead over Minnesota to a 28-19 loss.

Bacon says to the Ford family's credit, they've stayed out of the way as the team struggles.

"They're pretty much everything you want in owners except an inability to hire the right coach," he says.

Faisal Akram/flickr /

After years of winning national competitions, and years of praise in major publications, there's no longer any question that Michigan does indeed make some of the finest white wines in the country.

If we've struggled anywhere, it's been with Michigan's red wines.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra
flickr user David Pinter /

General Motors CEO Mary Barra said Wednesday that, “GM is a vastly different company today than just five years ago,” and then went on to announce profits that were a little better than had been estimated.

But how much does that mean when times are good for all the car makers right now?

In the paper Thursday, Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes wonders if GM is as vastly different as Barra claims.

Today on Stateside:

Open Data is the idea that some data should be freely available to the public. But can we put that data to good use if we can't really connect with it?
flickr user jwyg /

It’s easy to feel sometimes like we’re awash in lots of numbers in the news.

There are all kinds of data about foreclosures, costs of health, poverty, you name it.

But it’s all just numbers. It can be hard to look through the data to see the real people beneath. Numbers don’t tell you about moms struggling, hungry kids, or people who sleep on concrete at night.

Alex B. Hill has been thinking a lot about the separation of big numbers and real people.

Cluster of pawpaw fruit
flickr user Wendell Smith /

There is a fruit native to North America that is plentiful and was for a long time quite popular.

But chances are, you’ve never tasted it.

Representatives Gary Glenn and Jeff Irwin
Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network

A bipartisan package of bills is being considered by the Michigan Legislature that would subsidize homes, businesses, and churches that generate their own electricity using solar power or other methods of home-grown generation.

The big power-generating companies aren’t happy. They say other ratepayers would end up paying for part of the cost of that renewable energy production.

Representatives Gary Glenn, R-Midland, and Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, are two of the co-sponsors of the package along with Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, and Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan.