Series and Documentaries | Michigan Radio

Series and Documentaries

2009 Back to School
As a new school year begins in Michigan lawmakers in Lansing continue to grapple with a huge budget deficit. It's certain that many school administrators are watching what's happening very closely as they try to plan their budgets for the next year, and maybe even more importantly the year after that. "Back To School" is a series of interviews by Charity Nebbe that looks at the current state of public education in Michigan.

2009 Facing the Mortgage Crisis
Michigan Radio aired the documentary "Facing the Mortgage Crisis," narrated by Christina Shockley. We also hosted a web chat with guest panelists Kent Spencer and Gloriane Wiley of the Wayne County Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Program. 

During the week of November 16-20, 2009, we aired American RadioWorks documentaries that explore how education during these hard times in America is central to economic opportunity and social mobility -- and to our individual and collective well-being. We also rebroadcasted Michigan Radio's "Facing the Mortgage Crisis."

2009 Generation Y
Over half of all Michigan's public university graduates leave the state within one year of graduation. Michigan Radio Intern Lauren Silverman will probably be one of them. However, according to many thinkers, young college graduates are the people Michigan needs most. Generation Y Michigan takes a look at why young adults are leaving or staying in Michigan. 

2009 The Health Care Debate
President Obama wants a health care overhaul in place by the end of the year. There's intense debate in Congress over what to do. Our series "The Health Care Debate" takes a look at different aspects of health care and insurance, with interviews by Christina Shockley.

2009 How We Got Here: The Decline of Newspapers
If you have a local newspaper subscription, it probably doesn't deliver what it once did. The series "How We Got Here: The Decline of Newspapers" takes a look at the uncertain situation of the newspaper industry.

2009 Mackinac Policy Conference
Michigan Radio provided special coverage from this year's Mackinac Policy Conference. Throughout the last week of May, we aired special reports on Michigan's economy and other topics discussed at the conference. "Hybrid Economy" was co-hosted by Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett and Michigan Public Radio Network Managing Editor Rick Pluta. The program examined how alternative energy is changing what powers our cars, homes, and jobs, and how it may be the key to Michigan's economic future.

2009 Michigan's Obesity Crisis
In the Michigan Radio series "Michigan's Obesity Crisis," Charity Nebbe looks into the state's obesity crisis. She will explore whether where we live matters, how food policies effect the problem, and how the problem effects us. 

2009 The Michigan Radio Picture Project
The Michigan Radio’s Picture Project is a forum for photographs that address Michigan people, places, events, and issues. We envision a broad mixture of photo essays that expand on stories featured on Michigan Radio as well as historical photographs, fine art photography, pictures from various archives and collections, and more -– all Michigan related. 

2009 Remaking Michigan
Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep was in Detroit the week of April 20-24, 2009, to take a look at the economic crisis that has hit the state. Throughout the week, NPR featured stories on Morning Edition about how we're adapting to the economic change. Michigan Radio aired a special one hour program called "Remaking Michigan" about how the state is trying to re-set itself economically. 

2009 Up North in a Down Economy
In the series "Up North in a Down Economy," Michigan Radio will look at how the recession is affecting small towns in northern Michigan. 

2008 Finding Our Bootstraps: Americans Deal with Recession
Since late 2007 America has been in an economic crisis. From a story about a family living on a beach, to a former GM employee looking to downsize his life, to a teenager weighing options for after high school, this one hour newscast compatible documentary explores how people are finding the strength and situations that get them through economic hard times by presenting personal stories and intimate portraits alongside contextual interviews and reports. 

2008 Northern Arts

We spend a lot of time exploring the world of arts and culture from Detroit to Grand Rapids and everywhere in between. But what about up north? In our series "Northern Arts", Michigan Radio's arts reporter Jennifer Guerra takes a trip up north to spend some time around the campfire with a group of northern Michigan musicians visit to the deep woods of Mancelona for a lesson in the fine art of letter press and more. 

2008 Ashes to Hope: Overcoming the Detroit Riots

In the summer of 1967 chaos broke out in the streets of Detroit. After five days of violence 43 were dead, thousands were injured and over 4000 people had been arrested. Forty years later – Michigan Radio takes an in-depth look at the deadliest riot of the 1960s. Why did the riots begin? What fueled them? And, have we ever really recovered?

In 2008 Michigan Radio's "Grading Michigan Schools" is a multi-part series that takes an in-depth look at education in Michigan. We hear why one college student feels let down by the public school system in the state. We find out about "unschooling," an education philosophy that abandons textbooks and a curriculum. We also look at how the public school system is serving at-risk students through education for the very young and early intervention for kids with special education needs.

"Grading Michigan Schools" won a 2008 Clarion Award from Women in Communications.

The Isle Royale Queen IV
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

For some, the magic of Isle Royale doesn't necessarily reside in the boat trip to the island.

Two days before Rebecca Williams and I left on our reporting trip, a friend and I were having lunch together.

"You're not riding on the 'Barf Barge' are you?!"

"The boat from Copper Harbor?"

"Yeah, I took that trip. We were on Isle Royale for a week. The first half of the week, all we could talk about was the boat trip over. And the second half of the week, all we could talk about was the boat trip back!"

On her trip, as the ship pulled out of Copper Harbor, the captain came on the loudspeaker.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Broadcasters are fighting a new rule to disclose more about who’s buying political ads. The Federal Communications Commission wants TV stations to post information about the political ads they air on a government website.

That will make it a lot easier to find out what groups are spending money to influence voters.

Recently, I met Rich Robinson in the parking lot of his office in Lansing. He was taking me on a little trip.

It appears a superPAC and other political groups are coordinating their purchases of TV ads running in Michigan.  This means a more efficient use of secret money to influence voters.

Michigan TV stations across the state are running a series of ads critical of President Obama and his administration.

Here's an example of one of the ads.

user Biodun /

Elected state officials in Michigan can be more secretive about money than federal officials. At the state level, the disclosure laws on money and politics make it easier to hide conflicts of interest and influence on politicians.

When Governor Rick Snyder delivered his State of the State address last January, he tucked into it a quick mention about making state government more open.

MI Supreme Court

Lots of campaign money is being spent to influence the election of Michigan Supreme Court justices. That makes people wonder how judges can be impartial. After  all, some of the justices owe their position on the bench to people who have given them millions of dollars.

Every election cycle more and more money is being spent to help candidates for justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. With three seats on the court in contention this year, the amount of money is likely to break all records.

Michigan’s Republican presidential primary elections are over.  But, primary elections for federal and state legislators are in August.

Already out-of-state groups are spending tons of money to influence Michigan voters.

Big money often buys votes. Usually, that includes a lot of big money from out-of-state groups.

user tobym / Flickr

This election year, money will drive the conversation in politics more than usual because of  recent Supreme Court decisions. They opened the floodgates of cash, allowing groups called Super PACs to spend unlimited amounts in support of federal candidates. We’re getting just a small sampling during the presidential primary.  This fall, Michigan will see a lot of money from outside the state coming in to buy tons of ads—most of them negative—to sway voters here.

Money can’t vote. But it certainly can affect the outcome of an election. And that bothers voters such as William Mayor.

If you think about it, class is a tricky word. What does it even mean? How do you define it?

Michigan Radio reporters and producers take a look at how social class impacts our lives - from the way we plan our cities and neighborhoods, to the way we’re treated in a courtroom.

We also hear from folks around the state as they share their thoughts on class.

Part 1

This idea of class – class warfare, class resentment. It’s everywhere. And yet, how are we defining class?

Cars, agriculture, tourism, it’s all fair game for people who want Michigan to tap into the Chinese market.

But what does that really mean and who really stands to benefit?

Governor Rick Snyder recently led a Michigan delegation to China.

He says strong economic ties between Michigan and what is now the world’s fastest growing economy are essential to Michigan’s economic growth.

Part 1

The Cost of Creativity - A Radio Documentary

Jan 28, 2011

The Cost of Creativity

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Thanks to the following Michigan musicians, whose songs are featured in the documentary:

Ben Benjamin, Luke Winslow-King, Midwest Product, and The Red Sea Pedestrians.

Erika Celeste / Environment Report

This documentary is an in-depth look at the future of coal in this country.

The Environment Report explores the role that coal plays in our lives and in the lives of those who depend on coal mining for a living.

Can coal truly be a viable option in the new green economy?

Listen to the Documentary:


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3