Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Silent letters are easily one of the more frustrating features of the English language. Just ask any elementary student.

These letters and their penchant for being seen and not heard have been making our lives difficult since we first started learning how to read.

Think about the first time you encountered the silent "k" while reading out loud. Who doesn't have at least one embarrassing story involving a "kuh-nife" or a "kuh-night"?

Lexical trappings aside, a young That's What They Say listener wanted to know the point of having silent letters in English in the first place. Great question.

In new new book, Heather Ann Thompson looks at the Attica prison uprising of 1971. and what it can tell us about today's prisons.
flickr user Jayu /


The book Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy has been getting lots of attention by the national media and is a National Book Award finalist.

The author is University of Michigan Professor of History Heather Ann Thompson.

She joined us today to talk about the 1971 prison uprising in New York and what we can learn from it today.

A tiny octopus printed using the Lulzbot Mini 3D Printer.
flickr user Maurizio Pesce /


We’ve all heard amazing things about 3D printing. The University of Michigan School of Medicine manufactured a replacement part for a patient, manufacturers discover new uses almost every day, and artists are finding innovative ways to use the fairly new technology.

The Grand Rapids Art Museum will soon hold an exhibition showcasing the work of Iris van Herpen, one of the earliest examples of 3D printing technology used in fashion design. Van Herpen has designed cutting edge designs for Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Bjork.

How do we respond to betrayal? Where do we turn when our horses bite us, our fiancés sneak into haylofts with other women, our husbands date their college students, our daughters run off with our boyfriends, our brothers place us in harm’s way? These are the kinds of predicaments Bonnie Jo Campbell confronts in her latest story collection, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters.

Members of the Roustabout Theatre Troupe joined us in-studio to perform "Worm Food."


One of the most famous radio broadcasts of all time happened on October 30, 1938.

Orson Welles, just 23 years old, and his Mercury Theater Company convinced many Americans that Martians had invaded with their radio adaption of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.

It’s a reminder of the power of a radio performance, and it’s something that Joseph Zettelmaier wants to bring to audiences in Michigan.

Zettelmaier’s Roustabout Theatre Troupe is going around Southeast Michigan bringing creepy, spooky, old-time radio plays to audiences so people can see the actors and see how the sound effects are made.

When asked how Midtown Detroit has changed in recent years, Foulkes was to the point: "Less artsy, more money."
Megan M. Canty

The "FOR SALE" sign is out on a building on Cass Avenue in Midtown Detroit. And that sign represents the end of an era.

The building houses the Big Book Store, which is one of the very last independent bookstores left in Metro Detroit.

After 80 years, the store's owner, John King, has decided to close it down. There's just not enough business to justify keeping doors open.

And that means big changes are looming for the store's manager: Bill Foulkes has worked at the Big Book Store since the 1970s.

Courtesy of Chelsea Liddy

Kicking open the door to "the boy's club,” and bringing opportunities to women who want to make their mark on the comic book and gaming world: that's the mission of ComiqueCon.

It’s a comic book convention specifically for women who create comics. And it's happening Oct. 22 in Dearborn at the Arab American National Museum.

Today, we hear a Jewish millennial explain why she supports Donald Trump for president. And, we speak with the first African-American teacher to be hired by the Lansing School District. 

To find interviews, click here or see below:

Motown Museum announces $50 million expansion

Oct 17, 2016
Conceptual Rendering of the Motown Museum Expansion from the street
Motown Museum

Since it was founded in 1985, the Motown Museum allowed visitors from around the world to visit the historic “Hitsville U.S.A.” recording studios, the first headquarters of Motown Records.

Now the museum has announced a $50 million plan to expand out from the original museum and studio, adding 40,000 squre feet of new exhibits, recording studios, a theater, and retail space for visitors.

Museum CEO Robin Terry says other developments in Detroit in recent years have created the atmosphere to go forward with a Motown expansion project.

Sometimes you stumble upon an easy, familiar word, and you just can’t remember how to say it.

Take “complex”, for example. You’ve probably heard it pronounced two ways, with stress on either the first or second syllable.

But which one is right? The answer is a bit complex.

Detroit Bike City Kendra /

Detroit's popular weekly Slow Roll bike ride was canceled for the second week in a row due to competing events.

A Nation Engaged: Fireworks

Oct 14, 2016
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio


America is changing.

Non-white kids now make up a majority of kindergartners. By the next presidential election, the Census Bureau predicts the majority of all children will be children of color.

And by 2044, no one racial group will be a majority in the country.

This cross-current of demographic and cultural change is upending traditional voting patterns and straining the fabric of what it means to be American.

The Apple Business cocktail mixes apple cider with gin. You won't believe how well it works.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

"October is my favorite month," Tammy Coxen of Tammy's Tastings said. "Do you know why? Apple cider!"

Apple cider is a popular ingredient in a lot of cocktails which seem perfect for fall. Often the cider is mixed with bourbon or rum. But this cocktail, the Apple Business, is made with gin.

"I chose Ann Arbor Distilling's Water Hill gin for this drink because of of the spicy garam masala note," Coxen said.

The distiller's website indicates the botanicals used to flavor the gin include Croatian juniper, cardamom, and garam masala.

Ann Curzan explained that things like punctuation and emojis are used to make up for the lack of conversational context in texting.
Public Domain /


Texting has become a dominant means of communication in today’s interconnected world.

Some reports suggest that large swaths of Americans prefer it to talking on their phone.

If you count yourself among the 97% of Americans who send at least one text every day, it might be time to take another look at your texting etiquette. According to University of Michigan English professor Anne Curzan, there’s a chance you’re doing it all wrong.

A Nation Engaged: Death of a Nation

Oct 13, 2016

Throughout this election season, NPR and its member stations have been having a national conversation called "A Nation Engaged." The project has looked at central themes in this year's election, including this week's question:

What does it actually mean to be American?

We put this question to some promising young spoken word artists, and we'll be sharing their poems with you all week.

This is a poem entitled Death of a Nation by Marrim Al-akashi, a graduate of Fordson High School. 

Carleton Gholz, founder and Executive Director of the Detroit Sound Conservancy.
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio


There’s no arguing that Detroit has a rich and diverse musical heritage.

There’s also no arguing that Detroit has had its challenges in preserving its history and heritage.

That’s why the Detroit Sound Conservancy came to be.

Its mission is to support Detroit’s musical heritage through advocacy, conservation, and education.

This Saturday the DSC is holding its 3rd Annual Music Conference, free and open to the public.

Devin Pedde


A new season, a new host for A Prairie Home Companion.

After 42 years, Garrison Keillor has retired. He chose his first successor, who will bring us his very first show this Saturday night, live from The Fitzgerald Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota.

He’s a mandolin virtuoso, he’s won many Grammys, and he leads the Punch Brothers.

Menachem Kaiser / Michigan Radio

Today is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It’s the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Many Jews spend the day praying and fasting, seeking forgiveness from God and fellow man.

In the days leading up to Yom Kippur, some observant Jews perform kapparot, a ritual involving live chickens.

Each person swings a chicken over their head and says a prayer. Afterward, the chickens are taken elsewhere to be processed and donated as food for those who need it.

A Nation Engaged: The Land of the Free

Oct 12, 2016
Justin Rogers / InsideOut Literary Arts Project

Throughout this election season, NPR and its member stations have been having a national conversation called "A Nation Engaged." The project has looked at central themes in this year's election, including this week's question:

What does it actually mean to be American?

We put this question to some promising young spoken word artists, and we'll be sharing their poems with you all week.

Today, we bring you a poem entitled The Land of the Free by LéAndra Gregory, a student and Citywide Poet at Detroit Schools of the Arts. 

A Nation Engaged: Kitchen, After Rumi's Guest House

Oct 11, 2016
Kyndall Flowers
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Throughout this election season, NPR and its member stations have been having a collective national conversation called “A Nation Engaged.”  The project has looked at central themes in this year’s election, including this week’s question:

What does it mean to be American?

A Nation Engaged: Apology to My Father

Oct 10, 2016
Sakila Islam
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Throughout this election season, NPR and its member stations have been having a national conversation called "A Nation Engaged." The project has looked at central themes in this year's election, including this week's question:

What does it actually mean to be American?

We put this question to some promising young spoken word artists, and we'll be sharing their poems with you all week. 

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II
Public Domain


Broadway musicals have covered a dizzying array of subjects. It may be hard to believe, but that list includes the life and trials of a young physician.

On this evening, 69 years ago, the medical musical "Allegro" opened on Broadway.

Although it’s long been forgotten, University of Michigan medical historian Dr. Howard Markel believes the lessons taught by "Allegro" are worth remembering today.

people at sculpture exhibit
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A collection of carved wooden dogs received the most votes in this year’s ArtPrize. James Mellick, a craftsman from Ohio, takes home $200,000 for Wounded Warrior Dogs.

According to the artists’ statement, Mellick hopes the installation at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel raises awareness of wounded veterans.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This is part of an ongoing series on Stateside called Artisans of Michigan.

We are at Voodoo Choppers in Aurburn Hills to talk with Eric Gorges. If that name is familiar to you, you know he’s also host of the weekly national TV show on PBS, A Craftsman’s Legacy. But, we’re here chiefly to talk about his craft: building motorcycles.

Courtesy of Ran Ortner Studio

As the Grand Rapids Artprize competition continues to grow and evolve, Stateside’s Lester Graham sat down with the very first winner of the competition, painter Ran Ortner.

Mary Whalen

After three years of writing, arranging and recording, Red Tail Ring’s Michael Beauchamp and Laurel Premo are out with their new album.

It’s called Fall Away Blues. It blends new folk songs on subjects ranging from gun violence and fracking to our deepest relationships and changing sense of place. It also features some old traditional ballads and tunes.

Wayne State University Press

Many women can relate to the witching hour. In the middle of the night, you wake up and have trouble falling back to sleep because your mind is racing. Concerns about the upcoming day, anxiety about the mounting to-do list while, oftentimes, your partner sleeps soundly next to you. The Witching Hour is the title of the first story in a collection of “flash fiction” – not short stories – by Detroit-based writer Desiree Cooper, titled Know The Mother.

Max Nussenbaum is the CEO of Castle, a company looking to make property management simpler and more efficient
Courtesy of Generation Startup

What's the barrier between you and the life you truly want to lead?

That's one of the questions Cheryl Miller Houser explores as co-director of the documentary film Generation Startup.

It follows some young entrepreneurs as they build startups in Detroit. They try, stumble, learn, and try again.

Vial told us his new album was recorded over the course of three days in a cabin in northern Michigan.
Jay Jylkka


It isn’t often you hear of an aspiring musician being encouraged to give up their day job - you know, the one that pays - and plunge head first into that musical career.

But Ann Arbor-based singer-songwriter Mike Vial was given that push as sort of a wedding gift from his wife Natalie Burg. She told him she wouldn’t marry him unless he quit his job as a teacher to follow his musical dreams.

That was five years ago. Since then, Vial has played hundreds of gigs across the United States and Canada.

Now he’s out with his fourth release: A World That’s Bigger.

What gives you solace?

Maybe it's a hot cup of tea and a good book. Maybe it's a stroll through the woods on an autumn day.

Or maybe it's cat videos. Lots of cat videos.  

What gives us solace is knowing that we have thoughtful, curious listeners who send us great questions, including one from a listener who wanted to know if "solace" can be modified by "some"?

That is, can you take some solace or do you have to take it all?