Stateside with Cynthia Canty

Monday through Thursday @ 3:00 p.m. & 10 p.m.

Conversations about what matters in Michigan.

Stateside with Cynthia Canty covers a wide range of Michigan news and policy issues — as well as culture and lifestyle stories. In keeping with Michigan Radio’s broad coverage across southern Michigan, Stateside with Cynthia Canty focuses on topics and events that matter to people all across the state.

Sticky note with "find job" written on it.
user Flazingo Photos / Flickr -

What will it take to get Michiganders into good jobs?

The Center for Michigan has spent the last year asking questions of more than 5,000 Michiganders for its "Getting to Work" public engagement campaign.

This is the sixth such public engagement campaign conducted by the non-profit and nonpartisan Center for Michigan.

The Michigan House of Representatives
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

In a turn of events that surprised many, Rep. Todd Courser resigned his position on Friday, while Rep. Cindy Gamrat became the fourth state legislator in Michigan’s history to be expelled.

John Lidstrom was one of the veteran Lansing political observers watching that expulsion vote, and based on the editorial he wrote about the episode, it’s clear he did so with a sense of dismay.

Our hearts are in the right place when we use the word "innovation," but we may have ruined it for ourselves
flickr user Missy Schmidt /

The Next Idea

It’s not too hard for many of us to think of words that are just used so much that instead of summoning up a powerful image, they trigger a bored eye roll.

One such word is actually a very big part of The Next Idea: “innovation.”

When used correctly, “innovation” means so much. For companies and universities, entrepreneurs and inventors, it means everything.

But the word is now so overused it tends to get lost in the white noise of corporate buzzwords.

Courtesy of Maia Williams /

There's a comic convention happening this weekend in Detroit that will spotlight artists and writers of color, and women.

"MECCAcon: the Midwest Ethnic Convention for Comics and Arts" runs September 18-19 . The two-day event is the brainchild of organizer Maia "Crown" Williams.

"I feel like diversity is very important for our city to succeed and progress.... You can draw and create many black characters in mainstream comics ... but are you paying people of color to create them, to write them."

Quentin Kruger / Wikimedia Commons

Robert "Steve" Miller is back in town.

The former Chrysler exec known as "The Turnaround Kid" is running International Automotive Components. 

It's been nearly 10 years since Miller and the Delphi directors decided to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy - making Delphi an American company in name only. 

The reaction at the time was instantaneous and loud. 

Today on Stateside:

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon joins us for this week’s sports roundup.

Wolverines moving forward

Bacon tells us that despite the 24-17 loss to the Utah Utes last week, the Wolverines played “far better football on both sides of the ball than I’ve seen in a long time.”

He tells us he didn’t anticipate a win for Michigan, but he did expect to see 60 minutes of honest, fundamental football, and it looks like that’s what we got.

The Winter 1988-89 issue of The Fifth Estate
reddit user Crispin777 /

1965 was a big year for many Americans.

We saw a 700% increase in the number of American troops in Vietnam.

The U.S. began bombing North Vietnam with Operation Rolling Thunder.

Former Vice President Richard Nixon rejected any talk of ending the Vietnam War, writing, “There can be no substitute for victory when the objective is the defeat of communist aggression."

Rebuilding Michigan's theatre legacy one artist at a time

Sep 10, 2015
Flickr/Lee Carson /

The Next Idea

Theatre has immense power to build community, although its power is often overlooked.

As a live art form, theatrical storytelling relies on the presence and engagement of both performers and spectators — a rarity in today’s media-saturated world. The immediacy of theatre provides us with intimate human connection and a subjective experience that cannot be replicated. You walk into a theatre, settle in your seat, and as the lights begin to dim, you realize you are about to be transported into another world.

The Friends of the Historic Masonic Temple /

Grab your wizard's hat and wand, Bay City is the place to be this weekend.

It's the first-ever Wizard Fest, A Harry Potter Fan Festival running this Friday through Sunday around Bay City.

Culture Lab Detroit

An annual design and urbanism symposium begins tonight in Detroit. 

The focus of Culture Lab Detroit is to look at the city's 23 square miles of vacant land and figure out how to use that land in ways that enrich the lives of long-time and new residents.

Synthetic drugs are designed to mimic conventional drugs while avoiding prosecution

The latest designer drugs are just a few mouse clicks away, easily ordered from Chinese websites.

Powerful synthetic drugs like bath salts and Flakka are making their way into the country.

Victor Fitz, president of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, explains that designer drugs are created in response to the country’s stringent drug laws.

For decades, volunteers have been stepping up to battle the blight in Detroit
flickr user Charlie Wollborg /

Since Detroit emerged from its history-making bankruptcy, much of the city’s attention has been focused on blight.

The city is making efforts to reduce blight by knocking down or rehabilitating derelict buildings, and by finding creative uses for the growing amount of empty land in Detroit’s 140 square miles.

At last count, we’re up to 23.4 square miles of vacant land, more than the size of the entire island of Manhattan.

But for John George, the battle against blight began in 1988.

Today on Stateside:

Map showing the location of Waukesha, WI.
Screencap from Google Maps / Google

The city of Waukesha, Wisconsin has a contamination problem in its aquifer, and the federal government has ordered the city to find a new source of drinking water by 2018.

Waukesha is just a mile and a half outside the Lake Michigan watershed, so tapping Great Lakes water seems like the most obvious solution to the city’s problem.

Today on Stateside:

Efrain Zamudio in front of his backyard coop in Allen Park. The Mexican community in Metro Detroit might help carry on the tradition of pigeon racing.
Michael Jackman

That question might surprise those who didn't realize pigeons are "a thing" in the Metro Detroit area.

Immigrants from Belgium came to Detroit and brought their national passion of pigeon racing with them and it spread from there.

See this clip of an old pigeon race from the Detroit News:

Unlike traditional playgrounds like the one pictured, playscapes aim to incorporate more of a landscape-based design.
flickr user Takuma Kimura /

Instead of letting the adults decide how to overhaul a school playground, why not go to the consumers?

Why not ask the kids who will be using it?

That’s the idea behind the design and upcoming construction of a new playscape at Ann Arbor’s STEAM at Northside school, and the organizers think what they’ve learned can help other schools.

This political cartoon was printed in 1812 in reaction to the newly drawn state senate election district of South Essex created by the Massachusetts Legislature to favor the Democratic-Republican Party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry.
Elkanah Tisdale / Boston Centinel, 1812

Michigan Radio and Public Sector Consultants conducted a poll of 600 likely voters from Aug. 4-8 about how they felt financially, possible changes in redistricting, and the potential legalization of recreational marijuana.

In terms of those saying they're better off, Jeff Williams, CEO of Public Sector Consultants says things look relatively "rosy" for Michigan. More than half say they're "about the same," and around a quarter of them say they're "better off."


In our selfie-happy world where we can take a photo anytime of anything we want, it’s difficult to conceive of life in which photography is completely banned.

No photographs, ever – or face severe punishment.

From 1996 to 2001, that was life in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

After the Taliban fell from power, free press and photojournalism were born.

Jindong Zhang, Michigan State University Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability

There's just something about the panda that captures our imagination.

The recent birth of panda twins at the National Zoo caused much excitement, although that was tempered somewhat when the smallest cub died last month.

And pandas have captured the interest of a research team from Michigan State University, which has discovered that pandas truly "march to the beat of their own drum."

Today on Stateside:

  • Just a week and a half from now, the UAW contracts with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will expire. Daniel Howes points out some major differences in these contract talks in his recent column for The Detroit News.
  • AAA Michigan expects 1.2 million Michiganders to take to the road this Labor Day weekend, and the Michigan State Police say that it’s the deadliest holiday weekend of the year. Lt. Michael Shaw joins us to talk about driving safely this weekend.
UAW President Dennis Williams chats with GM CEO Mary Barra at the kickoff of the 2015 contract negotiations
Jeffrey Sauger / General Motors

Just a week and a half from now, the United Automobile Workers contracts with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will expire.

In a recent column for The Detroit News, Daniel Howes points out some some things that set these talks apart from years past.

AAA Michigan estimates 1.2 million Michiganders will take to the roads this weekend
flickr user Jeff B /

Labor Day weekend is at hand, and as gas prices slide back down many of us are prepping to get on the road.

AAA Michigan expects 1.2 million of us to be driving somewhere this holiday weekend, the most since 2008.

The Michigan State Police have been tracking road accidents and deaths for some 40 years, and the numbers say that Labor Day is our deadliest holiday.

An average of 20 people die in traffic over the three-day weekend.

Let's stop with the Silicon Valley comparisons

Sep 3, 2015
Flickr/Scott Lewis /

The Next Idea

In Detroit and across Michigan (and just about anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere, for that matter), there is often talk about becoming the next Silicon Valley.  This comparison gets pretty tiresome. If innovation is about new and different, why would we want to be something that already exists?

Detroit has its own set of unique challenges and opportunities, and we should strive to be something new, something different.

The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

When it comes to keeping American industry up and running, it's hard to overstate the importance of the Soo Locks.

The big ships carrying iron ore from northern Michigan and Minnesota on Lake Superior must pass through the Soo Locks to get to the steel mills that are on the lower lakes.

So when there's a problem at the aging locks, you can bet that business and shipping interests are sounding the alarm bells.

Lloyd Hartnett assembly line in 1957.
flickr user John Lloyd /

We may be several years past the Great Recession, but the shockwave of pain and job loss of those years is still being felt in many homes around the country.

That’s especially true for autoworkers.

Since the mid-20th century, those well-paid jobs on the auto assembly lines built not only cars and trucks, but the American middle class as well.

Today, entry-level jobs in auto plants pay around $16 an hour.

But many unlucky autoworkers have seen their jobs go away, never to return.

Today on Stateside:

  • When it comes to keeping American industry up and running, it’s hard to overstate the importance of the Soo Locks. Detroit Free Press Capitol Hill reporter Todd Spangler joins us to talk about what’s been a worrisome year at the locks.
  • College football begins this week. The University of Michigan kicks off the Jim Harbaugh era at Utah tomorrow night, and Michigan State will play Western Michigan in Kalamazoo Friday night. John U. Bacon gives us a peek at the upcoming NCAA season.
Mark McCulloch / Washtenaw County

People who live in Europe know what to do when they’re driving along and come to a roundabout.

They've been a fixture in road design there for many years.

Michigan drivers are starting to get more familiar with roundabouts. And now, there’s a new kind to get used to: the urban roundabout.

Martin McClain

The recent demolition of Detroit's Park Avenue Hotel to make way for the Red Wings arena put the historic preservation community in the spotlight as they fought to save the hotel.

That preservation battle got writer Amy Elliott Bragg thinking about the woman hailed as the founder of Detroit's historic preservation movement, Beulah Groehn Croxford.