Ann Arbor

Flickr user dadblunders / Flickr

How about some respect for dads, everyone?

How about we stop with the marketing and entertainment cliches portraying Dad as a big ol' doofus who can't boil a pot of water or change a nasty diaper? And we start recognizing that men play a very active role in the home life and they are not the opposite side of the coin to the "supermommy."

This has been the mission of our next guest. Doug French been one of the nation's leading "daddy bloggers" ever since launching his blog "Laid Off Dad" over 10 years ago. And in July 2010, he created another blog, When the Flames Go Up, blogging with his ex-wife about co-parenting after divorce.

He's also the co-founder of the upcoming Dad 2.0 Summit, which aims to raise the profile of America's dads in the eyes of companies and marketers.

He does all of this as he practices the fine art of being a dad.

Doug French joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is proposing a $3,500 fine against the University of Michigan Radiation Safety Service after a routine materials inspection turned up security-related violations.

The federal agency says the inspection conducted between last June and September looked at the use of licensed materials for medical applications, research and development.

Violations were found on the school's Ann Arbor campus.

Wystan / Flickr

Dec. 10, 1971. Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor. John Lennon steps up to the microphone.

"It ain't fair, John Sinclair…” the former Beatle sings.

In his new book, "The Walrus And The Elephants: John Lennon's Years of Revolution," author James Mitchell tells the story of Lennon’s trip to Michigan, and why Ann Arbor was the perfect launchpad for Lennon's new life as a revolutionary.

Listen to the full interview above. /

A laid-off public school teacher, an evicted retiree, and a man who says he'll sleep on a park bench because he’s too drunk to pass the shelter’s Breathalyzer test tonight.  

The people at a daytime warming center in downtown Ann Arbor run the gamut. 

There's the guy with weathered skin and stained teeth who says he's been sober more than a month now.

Sherman Stennis says he lost his job at his uncle's scrapyard when it went out of business.

Zuu Mumu Entertainment / Flickr

All too often, as school districts are forced to cut spending, programs like music get the ax.

And that sorry fact robs students of the chance to learn music, to make music, and leaves one to wonder: Where are the musicians of the future going to come from?

One Ann Arbor Elementary School is teaming up with the University of Michigan School of Music for a unique approach to teaching music...and they are turning to Venezuela for inspiration.

It's called El Sistema.

The program originated in Venezuela, and the idea was to teach disadvantaged children, to help them discoverer the power of music.

I spoke with Professor John Ellis with the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance, where among other things, he is Director of Community and Preparatory Programs - and Horacio Contreras Espionoza, he is a UofM grad student studying cello, and he is an El Sistema teacher at Mitchell Elementary School in Ann Arbor.

Bruno Postigo / Facebook

That’s “Hollow and Akimbo” on their new EP “Pseudoscience” on Quite Scientific Records.

Their electro-pop is winning this Ann Arbor duo some very warm praise from critics, including some in the UK.

Hollow & Akimbo duo Jon Visger and Brian Konicek joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Sarah Kerson / Michigan Radio

Ask any kid about their favorite part of the school day and they’ll likely give you one response - recess.

But for kids with disabilities, going outside isn’t always easy.  Traditional playgrounds aren’t always safe for these kids.

Haisley Elementary in Ann Arbor just renovated its playground to specifically accommodate for students with disabilities.

The school has a large population of kids with disabilities. Most of these kids can’t talk. Many have a hard time sitting up right. Some are in wheelchairs. Some have Autism.

Driverless cars might just be a futurist's dream-no longer. The University of Michigan has announced its plans to bring a fleet of networked, driverless cars to Ann Arbor by the year 2021. We have the details on today's show.

And the temperatures are falling and parts of Michigan have snow on the ground. We asked if winter has already arrived.

Also, the Farm Bill passed last January took an important subsidy away from organic farmers. What does the loss of this subsidy mean to organic farmers in Michigan? And does a farm have to go through the trouble and expense of getting certified to be organic?

First on the show, it's been less than a week since voters in three very different Michigan cities all approved ballot initiatives allowing small amounts of marijuana for personal use on private property.

And that has pro-marijuana advocates hoping those votes will boost pressure on state lawmakers to legalize or decriminalize pot.

Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing correspondent Jake Neher joined us today to give an overview of what efforts are underway.

Peter Blanchard / Flickr

Imagine driving through Ann Arbor, glancing over at the car next to you only to realize that the driver does not have his or her hands on the steering wheel, yet the car is moving along in traffic just fine.

That could happen in just a few short years.

The University of Michigan has announced plans to bring a fleet of networked, driverless cars to Ann Arbor by 2021.

Here to talk about what that would look like in the streets of Ann Arbor and what that might mean to drivers everywhere is the director of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. Peter Sweatman joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Natural Area Preservation staff

You read that right.

A twenty pound carp that was pulled out of a pond in Ann Arbor's West park last November is making a run for city council.

The carp was initially removed from the pond because it was destroying the ecosystem.

Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation workers relocated it to the Huron River, where it is now running a write-in campaign for Ann Arbor City Council.

The carp has not yet responded to our interview requests, but it has engaged with other media outlets and even some current Ann Arbor City Council members on Twitter. (I suspect the carp has hired a social media director -- tweeting with fins seems difficult.)

The carp says the campaign is going well, and even has yard signs posted around town.


Michigan has a history of some pretty sweet music. One surprising genre that is Pure Michigan is techno. The art form was invented by three young men from Belleville in the 1980s (specifically Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May, and Juan Atkins, aka the Belleville 3, and you can listen to some classic Detroit techno here).

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Ann Arbor's historic Michigan Theater is going solar. Or at least its marquee is.

The Ann Arbor News reports that the solar energy installation marks the first renewable energy project by XSeed Energy. The U.S. Department of Energy's Solar America Cities program provided initial funding for XSeed.

The project is expected to generate enough electricity to power the marquee when light-emitting diode lamps are installed. The LEDs will replace incandescent bulbs and should use up to 95 percent less energy. / Washtenaw County

As a plume of contaminated ground water keeps expanding in Ann Arbor, the city council wants the state to move faster to protect people from harmful exposure.

To be clear: Ann Arbor drinking water is safe.

But growing swaths of the city’s ground water is no longer a good idea to ingest (and again, the city is NOT getting their water from those areas,) thanks to chemical runoff from years ago.

That chemical compound is 1,4 dioxane and it seeped into ground water between the 1960's and 1980's when a manufacturer stored it in unlined lagoons.

Steven Vance / Flickr

Okay, so we couldn't find any write-up online for it, but back in the 1980's Ann Arbor was home to the "green bike" program - an informal program set-up to share bikes.

From what we've gathered, bicycles were painted green and sprinkled throughout the University of Michigan's campus. They were never locked, and if you needed a bike you just found a green one and went on your merry way.

The "green bikes" didn't last long, and it took awhile for another bike sharing program to come to Michigan.

Last night, Ann Arbor's City Council voted to create a more formal bike share program, following in the footsteps of other cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, Miami Beach, San Francisco, D.C., and Detroit.

Adam Fagen / Flickr

The Ann Arbor City Council Thursday night approved a plan for a bike share program. It's a collaboration with the University of Michigan, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority and the Clean Energy Coalition.

Alana Holland, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Earlier this summer, some students at Ann Arbor high schools were told they would have to pay for their optional last class of the day.

Many students take music, art, drama, or additional academics during an optional seventh hour. Starting in the fall, the school district plans to charge students $100 for the seventh period class.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan is challenging that plan in court.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A lot of attention has been paid to Detroit’s mayoral primary on Tuesday. But that’s not the only election in which Michigan voters will be casting ballots this week.

Voters in more than 50 Michigan counties will be casting ballots on Tuesday.

There’s the usual mix of school and library millages.

There are also numerous local primary elections.

Voters in parts of Ann Arbor, Jackson, Grand Rapids, Lansing and other cities will be voting for local city council seats.

Want to know more about what the masses think of your region? A Google search could reveal predominant stereotypes of your area.

If you're not already familiar with it, Google’s autocomplete function makes search suggestions as you type in a search term.

Ann Arbor Skatepark / Facebook

After a long campaign to get it built, the Ann Arbor city council voted to approve a $1 million contract to build a skatepark at last night's meeting.

From the Ann Arbor Skatepark Facebook Page:

Passed unanimously. As soon as contracts are signed, & other details finalized, construction will begin. We skate before the snow flies.

And here's more from the Ann Arbor Chronicle

In the course of three studio albums, Michigan-bred soul singer Mayer Hawthorne has refined his gift for songs that emulate and update his home state's Motown sound.


Saturday night, Michigan Radio and the Ann Arbor Summer Festival welcome Snap Judgment to the Power Center. Snap Judgment is one of the newer additions to the public radio lineup and its creator calls it storytelling with a beat.

“I’m a big, big public radio head from a long time ago,” said Glynn Washington, the creator, executive producer, and host of the show. “But sometimes public radio can get a little bit boring. And I was trying to come up with an idea to get rid of the boring stuff and leave everything that I loved. What we try to do at Snap is get rid of the exposition, drop people right into the heart of the story, and the way that we do that is through soundscaping.”

Many of Washington’s personal stories and experiences have made it onto the show, sometimes even stories his family members have never heard. His mother often appears as a character in his stories.

"Sometimes Mommy doesn’t appreciate it too much," he confessed. 

Washington explained that while it has been difficult to maintain such a level of transparency on the air, it has also been very rewarding.

“It’s been interesting getting used to sort of bleeding into the microphone every week, but I do find it very, very cathartic in the end. I find that storytelling is kind of the way that I process my own issues. And, you know, stories have a beginning, middle, and end, but life doesn’t really have an end, and so putting these stops on things is helpful for me at least.”

The show on Saturday will feature some of the world’s best storytellers, and they have all been asked to tell a tale that will move the audience. Accompanying the storytellers is a live band directed by Alex Mandel. Washington expects that everyone who attends will not be disappointed.

“It’s a duet between the storytellers and the musician that really creates a new art form, and I’m really excited for everyone to hear it. You’re going to be blown away.”

Recently, The Atlantic wrote an article about Washington hailing him as “NPR’s Great Black Hope.” Washington said that while he loved the article, he felt that it was an unfortunate headline.

“I see what they were doing. ‘Let’s get the most clicks we can for our headline, let’s put something provocative out there.’ And I understand because I do it myself all the time,” he said. “I think what they were trying to say was that what Snap Judgment is doing is reaching out to audiences that public radio has traditionally left behind. If I wanted to be provocative, I would have called it This New American Life, but Ira would really be upset if I did so.”

Glynn Washington and Snap Judgment will be here Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Power Center. Tickets are on sale now. 

-Michelle Nelson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Listen to the full interview above.

Flooding in Ann Arbor after last night's rain.
user gerbsumich / Twitter

Southeast Michigan was hit with torrential downpours last night and social media was abuzz with photos and videos.

In Ann Arbor, the city turned into a bit of a water park:

Other people water skiied behind cars.

Roads basically turned into rivers for a time:

Michelle Chamuel fan page / Facebook

Last week, Michelle Chamuel was one of five remaining contestants on NBC's The Voice

Now, she's in the top three.

Chamuel was in two Ann Arbor bands, My Dear Disco and Ella Riot. She also is a graduate of the University of Michigan. 

If she wins, she'll get a record deal with Universal Music Group and $100,000. 

Alana Holland, Michigan Radio Newsroom

At a meeting that lasted until almost 2 a.m., the Ann Arbor School Board voted to cut 27 full-time teachers from schools across the district. The school board also voted to eliminate three teachers from Ann Arbor's reading intervention program.

The board had to make some tough decisions for the 2013-14 school year, according to Board President Deb Mexicotte.

Ann Arbor Restaurant Week / Facebook

"One price dining, one week, several options."

It may not be the catchiest slogan, but Restaurant Week offers some enticing deals for foodies who frequent downtown Ann Arbor.

From June 9-14, participating restaurants offer lunch specials priced at two meals for $15, or $15 each, depending on the venue. Many lunches include the option of a soup or salad, as well as a main course. 

Dinner deals are $28 for a three-course menu. Similarly, some restaurants offer two dinners for $28.


My kids love using Google Earth. With the push of a button they "fly" from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Newfoundland, the Panama Canal, the Great Barrier Reef, or some other place they're curious about.

Now Google has mined satellite images from the U.S. government that allow us to fly back in time.


When Jimmy Rhoades was 26-years-old, his father was diagnosed with cancer. Rhoades was told he would have between six months and a year left with his dad. He went home, and really got to know his father.

"I found out more about his biography in the last six months of his life than in the previous 26 years," Rhoades said.

With the loss of another family member after his father passed away, Rhoades realized the therapeutic value in having your story heard. 

Knight's / Facebook

The shell of one old Ann Arbor institution will become a new home for another, still thriving, Ann Arbor institution.

The owners of a local butcher and steakhouse, Knight's, plan to open another restaurant downtown. The new restaurant will be in the space once occupied by the Borders flagship store.

After Borders went bankrupt, the downtown space has been empty - a hole in the middle of an otherwise busy downtown.'s Lizzy Alfs has more:

“We’ve been looking for the right location for about five years,” said Don Knight, who runs the restaurant on Dexter Avenue. “When we saw this spot become available, we thought it could be really cool.”

The move comes 61 years after Ray Knight opened Knight’s Market at 420 Miller Ave., and nearly 30 years after he purchased Annie’s Dugout at 2324 Dexter Ave., opening the now-iconic Knight’s Steakhouse. Ray’s five children run the family businesses after Ray died in February.

You wouldn't know Knight's Steakhouse on Dexter Ave. is there unless you looked for the sign - a black knight chess piece. With a location downtown, you won't miss it.

Michelle Chamuel, of Ann Arbor, is one of six remaining contestants on NBC's show, The Voice. Chamuel is originally from Amherst, Massachusetts, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

This is her most recent performance:

Michigan Flyer facebook page

A federal grant to expand bus service between Lansing and Detroit Metro Airport is stalled.

The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission split nine to nine on authorizing a $600,000 grant to help the Michigan Flyer expand its daily trips from eight to twelve.    The commissioner with the potential tie-breaking vote did not attend Wednesday night’s meeting.

State and federal transportation agencies have already approved the grant, which would essentially help offset the costs for the first few months of the added service between East Lansing and Ann Arbor.