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The 1964 World's Fair opened its door to an eager public 50 years ago this day at the Flushing Meadows Corona Park, in New York City.

And it is no exaggeration to say that cars ruled that World's Fair. Detroit's Big Three worked very hard to grab the world's attention.

We talk about what those messages were and how the Detroit Three weren't just selling cars, they were pushing a lifestyle and a political system.

Joseph Tirella, author of Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World's Fair and the Transformation of America, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Arsenal of Democracy book cover.
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There is no question that Detroit and the automobile industry played a major role in the Allied victory over Germany and Japan in World War II. We’ve often heard southeast Michigan described as the “Arsenal of Democracy.”

But not so well known is the struggle it took to turn the auto industry toward war production, particularly as women and African-American workers stepped up to take their places on the assembly lines.

Charles Hyde, professor emeritus of history at Wayne State University, joined us today. His new book is Arsenal of Democracy: The American Automobile Industry in World War II.

Listen to the full interview above.

When you think "Michigan," you think tourism, right? Or, for some, maybe it's Tim Allen telling you about the state's open roads, fall colors, glistening lakes. Tourism means big business for the mitten. We look at how the changing climate might impact what more than 4.4 million out-of-state visitors will be able to do and enjoy when they come to the Great Lakes State. 

 Then, we spoke with Michigan author Laura Kasischke about her latest novel, Mind of Winter. And Daniel Howes joined us for our weekly check-in, to discuss Mary Barra and the ghost of GM's past. Also, women are underrepresented in the  STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, but there is one University of Michigan student group trying to change that. And, we are one week into spring but still getting snow. Meterologist Jim Maczko spoke with us about when we can expect warmer weather.  First on the show, we are closing in on the deadline to purchase health insurance or face a penalty under the Affordable Care Act. 

Erin Knott is the Michigan Director of Enroll America, a non-profit, non-partisan group trying to get people enrolled in health insurance.

Erin joined us today to discuss the upcoming deadline. 

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You wake up on Christmas morning a bit hung over from too much spiked eggnog the night before. You woke up much later than you'd meant to and you try to shake off a lingering nightmare. You've got a houseful of guests to cook for, a moody teenage daughter sulking in her bedroom and there is a snowstorm to end all snowstorms howling outside.

Welcome to the world of Holly Judge. She's a wife, a mother, and a frustrated poet. And she's one of the central characters in the latest novel from Michigan author Laura Kasischke.  It's a psychological thriller called Mind of Winter.

Laura Kasischke joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

"Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance"

The next time you're in downtown Detroit, and you walk by the Cobo Center or the People Mover, or in Ypsilanti and you see Washtenaw Community College, or Providence Hospital in Southfield or many other buildings around Southeast Michigan — stop for a moment and remember this name: Charles Novacek.

He was born in what was then Czechoslovakia, and grew up through his country's occupation by the Nazis and then the Communists. He began training as a resistance fighter as a boy of 11, and continued the fight as he grew up. He endured prison and torture before escaping to a refugee camp and, ultimately, to a new life in Michigan.

Charles Novacek became a noted engineer in Michigan, working on many projects in the state that still stand today. And before he died in 2007, he wrote a memoir entitled "Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance".

The book has now been published by Charles Novacek's wife, Sandra. We talk with Sandra about her husband's journey. 

For more information on the book, visit www.charlesnovacekbooks.com.

Listen to the full interview above.

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(Editor's note: This story was first aired on October 2nd, 2013)

Who among us has not had the experience of plunging into something that sure sounded good on paper, but then the reality turns out to be anything but?

So, when life hands you that proverbial lemon, you could make ‘lemonade.’ Or you could write a book.

That’s what Natalie Burg did.

Michigan writer Natalie Burg had a spectacularly bizarre experience living on a farm in Sweden, working as an au pair for a spectacularly bizarre family. She has turned all of that into a new book called “Swedish Lessons: A Memoir of sects, love and indentured servitude. Sort of.”

She joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

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(Editor's note: This story was first broadcast on September 3rd, 2013) 

The mystery of who killed Daisy Zick has been on the minds of police and residents of Battle Creek since January, 1963.  Though at least three people caught a glimpse of her killer, no one has ever been brought to justice for the crime.  

Writer Blaine Pardoe's latest book is called Murder in Battle Creek: The Mysterious Death of Daisy Zick.  He joined Cynthia Canty in the studio to talk about Daisy Zick, her unsolved murder, and the possibility that the killer may still be alive.  

Listen to the story above.

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This is the week we say farewell to autumn and officially welcome winter. (Unofficially, we can all agree, winter has arrived early and seems to have settled right in for the duration.)

And one of the great pleasures of changing seasons here on Stateside is the chance to welcome back poet and writer Keith Taylor. Taylor coordinates the undergraduate creative writing program at the University of Michigan. But we like to think of him as our Friendly Stateside Reading Guide.

Listen to Keith’s book pics above.

This month marks the 100 year anniversary of one of the saddest chapters in Michigan history. It’s called The Italian Hall Disaster, a terrible tragedy that happened on Christmas Eve, 1913, in the Upper Peninsula town of Calumet. Someone yelled "Fire!" in a packed hall and the resulting stampede killed 73--60 of them children.

It happened during the Copper Country Strike, one of the most painful chapters in Michigan's labor history.

The Copper Country Strike of 1913 and the Italian Hall Disaster is the subject of new documentary called “Red Metal,” soon to air on PBS. It is drawn from a book about the disaster called Death’s Door, written by Steve Lehto. He’s a historian with ties to the Copper Country that go back to that bitter time.

Steve Lehto joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Photo courtesy of Nicola's Books

Remember "You've Got Mail," The Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan romantic comedy?

Writer-director Norah Ephron says she wanted to make a point about little independent bookstores like Meg Ryan's "Shop Around the Corner" being crushed by the big-chain bookstores, Tom Hanks' "Fox Books."

That was 1998, and many small independent bookstores were indeed fighting for their lives in the face of the big-chain stores.

Now, in 2013, the book-selling landscape has changed. Borders books collapsed in 2011 and Barnes & Noble closed many of its stores.

There is Amazon with its talk of using drones to drop your order at your door in a few years. But guess what? Independent bookstores are enjoying something of a renaissance.

Deborah Leonard, director of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association, and Peter Makin, owners of Brilliant Books in Traverse City, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

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If you live in Michigan, particularly the Eastern Upper Peninsula and the Southeast Lower Peninsula, chances are high that you’ve crossed the border into Canada. We certainly know that our Canadian neighbors are heading over here in hefty numbers. A check of license plates at Metro Detroit shopping centers makes a strong case.

Our next guest makes a case for taking these two large countries and merging them into one. She believes the two would become much stronger for joining together.

She is currently Editor at Large at the National Post, a blogger for the Huffington Post, and a Distinguished Professor at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto. Her nine earlier books focused on politics, immigration, economics and finance and white collar crime.

Her newest book is “Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country.”

Author Diane Francis joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

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Whenever you talk about the key players in Michigan's music scene, one of the names that inevitably comes up is that of Stewart Francke.

Born in Saginaw, he's made his home, raised his family and built his music career in Metro Detroit.

Writer and critic Jim McFarlin calls Stewart Francke "Detroit's workingman's troubadour," a title he's earned and maintained over decades of making his music.

But today we are going to hear about another journey Stewart Francke has been on, a journey into the world of cancer. A journey that began when he was diagnosed with leukemia that forced Stew and his family and circle of friends to join together to wage a ferocious battle.

He's now telling the story of his cancer battle in his e-book from Untreed Reads. The title says it all, "What Don't Kill Me Just Makes Me Strong."

Stewart Francke joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Royal Oak writer Pete Wurdock has just published his fourth book. It's a collection of short stories, all of them set in Northern Michigan.

 The collection is entitled "Bending Water and Stories Nearby" and it's as interesting to hear what it took for Pete to get this stories written as it is to actually read these 14 stories. Pete Wurdock joined us in the studio. *Listen to the audio above. 

Michigan is home to five national parks and there are lots of open spaces where you can camp, hunt and enjoy nature. But, yesterday, an Oklahoma Senator recently said two Michigan landmarks are a prime example of wasteful federal spending. We found out what’s behind the senator’s reasoning and whether there is some truth to his concerns.

 Then, we took a look at a new proposal by a group of Democrats in the Michigan House that would require the state to determine the actual cost of educating a public school student in Michigan. That got us thinking, shouldn't we already know?  We also spoke with Michigan writer Donald Lystra about his new collection of short stories. And, Ann Arbor now has its own Death Café, organized by funeral home guide Merilynne Rush. She stopped by to tell us more about it. But, first on the show, ever since the government unveiled its healthcare.gov website, the headlines surrounding the Affordable Care Act have been about the problems with the way the site was designed and the extreme difficulty Americans have had in getting on the exchange. But what about the Americans that don't need healthcare.gov? The ones who already have plans? To those consumers, President Obama has been saying this since 2009:

“If you like your current insurance, you will keep your current insurance. No government takeover, nobody’s changing what you’ve got if you’re happy with it.”

So why, then, then are some 2 million Americans - about 140,000 in Michigan - getting cancelation letters from their insurers over the past couple of weeks?

Marianne Udow-Phillips directs the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, a non-profit partnership between the University of Michigan and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan. She joined us today.

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Short stories are in the spotlight in the literary world after Canadian writer Alice Munro recently won the 2013 Nobel Prize in literature. She's widely considered to be the "master of the short story."

The Michigan writer Donald Lystra is just out with his collection of short stories called "Something That Feels Like Truth."

Donald Lystra is an engineer who turned to writing later in life. His debut novel "Season of Water and Ice" won the Midwest Book Award and the Michigan Notable Book Award.

Donald Lystra joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Robert Turney

We've welcomed autumn here in Michigan, many of us with open arms. It is a beautiful season in our state.

And one of the pleasures of changing seasons is being able to talk with poet and writer Keith Taylor.

Keith joined us today with his picks for our autumn reading, books set-in Michigan written by Michigan authors. This time, he focused on writing from the Upper Peninsula.

A recent report from Moody's suggests the future is very uncertain for public universities. Today we talked about the future of public universities in Michigan.

And, poet Keith Taylor stopped by the studios to introduce us to some Michigan must-reads for the month of October.

Also, despite our troubled economy, Michigan franchises are going strong. We spoke to DBusiness editor R.J. King about the 2013 Michigan Franchise Report.

First on the show, it’s Day Seven of the partial government shutdown.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is warning that lawmakers are “playing with fire” and he’s asking Congress to pass legislation to re-open the government, and to increase the nation’s debt limit.

Lew says President Obama has no intentions of linking either bill to Republican demands to change the health care law.

This comes as Republican House Speaker John Boehner rules out a House vote on a temporary spending bill without concessions from the President.

So, that’s where things stand as the government shutdown moves into its second week. Michigan Democratic Representative Dan Kildee joined us from D.C. to discuss the issue. 

Some thirty years after the County Jail Overcrowding Act was passed, Michigan is still dealing with overcrowding emergencies in jails across the state. On today's show: How do we fix the problem of jails filled to the brim? Do we reduce bonds? Increase rates of early release?

And, when it comes to scrap metal theft, anything goes, from manhole covers to copper Jesus statues. What can Michigan lawmakers do to crack down on these thefts?

Also, Michigan writer Natalie Burg joined us to talk about her new book. It's a memoir of her experience living on a Swedish farm.

First on the show, it’s day two of the government shutdown.

Democratic Congressman Gary Peters joined us today. He represents Michigan's 14th Congressional district. 

And former Congressman Joe Schwarz joined us to give us his perspective on the issue as well.

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Corruption. Political shenanigans. Murder. 

That may sound like life in a big city in 2013. 

But Kalamazoo-based writer D.E. Johnson says think again. His latest novel is set in the Detroit of 1912. From his research, there was plenty of crime and corruption happening in those good old days. 

This year’s Great Michigan Read selection is Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret, by Steve Luxenberg.

The autobiographical memoir tells the story of one man’s surprising discovery of his aunt, Annie, who he only learns of after his mother’s death. This is a fascinating read: its part mystery story, part family history and part exploration, as the author relearns who his mother and aunt really were.

This week, host Jennifer White talks with the author, Steve Luxenberg about why it was important for him to write such an intimate story about his family.

“My mother had a secret, which she kept her entire life. She didn’t tell her children that she had a sister who was institutionalized for 31 years at a Michigan Hospital called Eloise. When we found out about this, I needed to re-imagine my mother and my entire family story because when my mom was growing up she told elaborate stories about how she was an only child. Those stories turned out not to be true," Luxenberg said.

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Anyone who's been lucky enough to be a parent has likely been unlucky enough to have had the excruciatingly embarrassing moment when your little darling lets loose with a word that he or she undoubtedly picked up at school or day care, never at home.

That universal family moment is the subject of a wonderful new children's book written and illustrated by our next guests.

It's called "The Very Inappropriate Word." It’s about a typical little boy named Michael who loves collecting words, all kinds of words.

Author Jim Tobin joined us today in the studio along with illustrator Dave Coverly, who draws the award-winning cartoon strip Speed Bump and who works out of his attic studio in Ann Arbor.

Jim and Dave will be signing copies of “The Very Inappropriate Word” and will give a short presentation, including live drawing, about the process of creating the book in November.

There will also be paper and pencils available for kids who want to draw along with Dave.

You can find more information about the event at bookbugkalamazoo.com/

Listen to the full interview above.

Some of Michigan’s preschoolers are paying the price as federal sequester cuts sink in. On today’s show we take a look at what the cuts mean to families who rely on Head Start in Michigan.

Later in the hour, we speak with Blaine Pardoe, author of the new book Murder in Battle Creek: The Mysterious Death of Daisy Zick.

But first, Congressional leaders met today with President Obama to talk about the situation in Syria. Over the weekend, the President called for the United States to take action against Syria for their alleged chemical weapons use.  But the President said he wanted Congressional support for the action first.

Also, we hear from Congressman Justin Amash of west Michigan about his thoughts on the situation in the Middle East.

Finally, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen has been in continuous operation on Detroit's East side since the Great Depression starting in 1929, and the friars' mission in the city dates back even further to 1883. Brother Jerry Smith, director of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen discusses how the face of poverty has changed over 130 years.

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“Dancing in the Street,” written by Mickey Stevenson, Ivy Jo Hunter and Marvin Gaye, and recorded in two takes, less than 10 minutes, by Martha Reeves. For many, that song is Motown.

Little did they know after slapping down Martha’s vocals in that studio in Hitsville on West Grand Boulevard, they had created a song that would come to represent a watershed moment in history--Motown’s history, Detroit’s history, and America’s history.

Writer Mark Kurlansky talks about the story of how this hit Motown song became the rallying point for these important moments in history in his newest book, “Ready For A Brand New Beat: How ‘Dancing in the Street’ Became the Anthem for a Changing America.”

The prolific author Elmore Leonard died yesterday, but his writing is still here. So are his rules on how to write well.

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When you talk about the outdoor offerings of Pure Michigan, you just cannot overlook her rivers.

For every person who can’t wait to get to the lake, put in the boat and go sailing or water skiing, there’s someone else who can’t wait to get to the river and put that paddle into the water. Some of Cynthia Canty’s best memories of Michigan summers were the days she spent canoeing along the Manistee River, thanks to the little cottage her family had right along the river’s banks, not too far from Kalkaska.

The “bible” for Michigan paddlers is, without a doubt, the book “Canoeing Michigan Rivers” by Jerry Dennis and Craig Date. It was first published in 1986. 

Now they’ve released the updated edition of “Canoeing Michigan Rivers.”

Jerry Dennis joined us today from Traverse City.

Listen to the full interview above.

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A group of Michigan writers is headed to the Upper Peninsula where they are going to spend a couple of weeks making stops to talk about books, writing, and presumably talking a little bit about Michigan.

On the tour is Bonnie Jo Campbell, a Michigan author. Her works include the bestselling novel Once Upon a River and American Salvage, a collection of short stories. Ron Riekki, is also a Michigan author and the project director of the book tour.

They both joined us today to talk about the fourth annual Upper Peninsula book tour.

Listen to the full interview above.

Still not sure what the Affordable Care Act means or what it does or doesn’t do? You’re not alone. Politics aside, we took a closer look at Obamacare and what it all means for you.

And, the unseasonable cool weather in Michigan is probably good for you, but not so good for the crops. Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joined us today to talk about what is causing it.

And, a Detroit native joined us today to tell us how he sees the city's bankruptcy as a new opportunity.

Also, the fourth annual Upper Peninsula book tour is about to begin. We spoke with a couple Michigan authors who will be participating.

First on the show, by now you’ve heard a bit about Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing. About half of Detroit’s nearly $20 billion in debt is due to shortfalls in the funds for retiree benefits. According to emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s estimates, the pension funds are behind by about $3.5 billion. Unfunded health care obligations are pegged at about $5.7 billion.

Detroit is not unique in its unfunded pension and retiree health care obligations. Other municipalities in the state are also behind.

Anthony Minghine is the chief operating officer of Michigan municipal league.  He joined us today.

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While Detroit embarks on the beginning days of its bankruptcy, the city’s Big Three automakers are reemerging from their own financial crises. It was four years ago that GM and Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

And as this month marks the 150th year after Henry Ford’s birth, we take a look at what it takes to run a big auto company, and the future of Michigan’s automakers.

Bob Lutz has held top positions at GM, Ford, Chrysler, and BMW. His most recent position was that of Vice Chairman of GM from 2001 to 2010.

His newest book gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the bosses Bob Lutz has worked for, some of the most legendary names in auto history. It's called Icons and Idiots, out from Portfolio/Penguin.

Bob Lutz joined us today to talk about his book.  

Listen to the full interview above.

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It's been nearly 70 years since the last bomb fell and the last bullet was fired in World War II, but stories from the war are still being unearthed.

One of these stories is told in the new book "The Secret Rescue: An Untold Story of American Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines" by Cate Lineberry.

A plane carrying nurses and medics crash lands in Albania behind Nazi lines, and you would not believe what it took to get these Americans to safety.

It's the kind of story that would make a powerful movie. It has been largely hidden and unknown all these years, and figuring in this story are five nurses and medics from Michigan.

Author Cate Lineberry joined us today from New Orleans.

During World War II, a plane crashed behind Nazi lines. Thirty nurses and medics, five of them from Michigan, survived. Their incredible story is finally being told.

And, we celebrated the 80th anniversary of the drive-in movie theater. Did you know Michigan once had more than 100 drive-ins? Today just a hand full are in operation. Also, Kevyn Orr canceled the bus tour he was supposed to take the Detroit's creditors on today. We spoke with Nancy Kaffer about why this happened. First on the show, this has certainly been a wet and muggy summer. Michigan farmers endured a hot and dry summer in 2012, so we wondered what the soggy summer of 2013 is doing to crops and to farmers. Is it better than the scorcher of 2012? 

Ken DeCock is a third-generation farmer in Macomb Township where his family owns Boyka's Farm Market. He joined us today to give us the farmer's-eye view of our weather.

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