Zak Rosen


Zak Rosen is a multimedia producer. His radio features have been heard on NPR, APM, PRI, the BBC, Deutsche Welle and Radio Helsinki. He was a staff producer on NPR/PRX's State of the Re:Union. Prior to that, he was a founding producer of WDET's Detroit Today. He has written for Yes!, The Huffington Post, Model D, and The Red Thread.

An old portrait of Richard Chang, front and center, with his five brothers.
Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio

The Detroit neighborhood where Richard Chang lives has changed. A lot.


Chang moved into the Osborn neighborhood in 1980 “because the economy in Michigan was really good,” he says.

That changed dramatically, of course. And now Chang is wondering what the future holds for his children.


Boggs Center

Philosopher, activist, and writer Grace Lee Boggs has died at her home on the east side of Detroit. She was 100.

Over the past 70-plus years, she played roles in most of the major social movements this country has known: labor, civil rights, Black Power, women's rights, and environmental justice.

It’s hard to sum up the life of someone who kept changing. But that was Grace Lee Boggs. At different times in her life, she was a Marxist, a socialist, a Black Power advocate, and feminist. 

Marc Grassi watches his daughter, Franca, eat breakfast before her first day of school at St. Clare of Montefalco in Grosse Point Park, Michigan.
Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio

On her first day of school, Franca Grassi woke up, ate a bowl of oatmeal with diced nectarines and maple syrup. She brushed her teeth with the help of a Mickey Mouse iPhone app. Then her parents, Nikki Rittenour and Marc Grassi, drove her to school in their station wagon.

A youth reporter takes you inside the huddle

Aug 27, 2015
Reporter and Detroit Community High Student, Jai'shaun Isom.
Nicholas Williams

As summer fades into fall, another season of high school football is set to begin.

Jai'Shaun Isom is a Junior at Detroit Community High in Brightmoor.

He's spent most of the summer practicing with his team in northwest Detroit.

When he wasn't on the football field, he was in school, learning how to make this radio story:


Franca Grassi, Marc Grassi, Mina Grassi and Nikki Rittenour.
Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio

Five-year-old Franca Grassi is only looking for two things in a kindergarten: She doesn't want to be forced to nap, and she wants to see her mom every day. Franca's parents, on the other hand, are a lot more discerning.

“We actually have a google doc spreadsheet of pros and cons of some of the schools,” says Nikki Rittenour from the family’s long, wooden dining room table.

Brianna and Alyssa Foster have been to three different schools since 2013.
Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio


This fall, it’s looking like Alyssa and Brianna Foster might switch to a new school.


It’s a pretty common experience in Detroit, where students switch schools 2.5 times more frequently than kids in the rest of the state.

57-year-old Christina Lumpkin heads to work at DTE Energy.
Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio


Back in March, I introduced you to 57-year-old Christina Lumpkin and her family. At the time, they were navigating a crisis. Lumpkins’s daughter, Maya, had lost her job at McDonalds, and the family didn’t have any money coming in.

Mika Chang (left) with her sisters Bea, Kallia, Shannon and her nephew, Vincent.
Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio

When we talk about immigrant communities in Detroit, the Hmong don’t usually come up in that conversation. The ethnic group from Southeast Asia began settling in Northeast Detroit’s Osborn neighborhood in the years after the Vietnam War. 

Christina Lumpkin at home with her daughter, Maya and grandson, Jahari.
Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio

Think about most of the news stories you read about kids in Detroit. What comes to mind?

Something about dysfunctional schools? Maybe a crime story?

When’s the last time you felt like a story transported you into the life of a family? Where you really got to know a child? Where you felt what it might be like to be a parent raising kids there?

Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio

A program in Detroit is pairing digital media artists with classroom teachers in a handful of city schools.  It’s called Detroit Future Schools. This year they’re teaming up with The James and Grace Lee Boggs School...a K-4 charter on the city’s east side. Reporter Zak Rosen is spending the entire year at the school. He brings us this report on how the program uses media, technology and art to help students understand and shape their worlds.