Rebecca Kruth | Michigan Radio
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Rebecca Kruth

Weekend Host / Producer

Rebecca Kruth is the host of Weekend Edition at Michigan Radio. She also co-hosts Michigan Radio’s weekly language podcast That’s What They Say with English professor Anne Curzan.

After earning degrees in English and American Studies from Michigan State University, Kruth began her radio career as a newsroom intern at WKAR in East Lansing. She completed additional news internships at WBEZ Chicago and KAJX Aspen.

Kruth first came to Michigan Radio in 2014 as a producer for Morning Edition. She served as a general assignment reporter and fill-in host before becoming the station’s full-time Weekend Edition host in 2016.

When she’s not on the airwaves, Kruth enjoys hiking, Korean food and hunting for vinyl records with her husband James. She’s also Bruce Springsteen’s number one fan.

striped safety cones on a road
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A massive $110 million road construction project kicks off Monday on a nine mile stretch of I-94 in the Jackson area.

The Michigan Department of Transportation plans to reconstruct 1.4 miles of freeway between Lansing Avenue and Elm Road, resurface 3.5 miles between Lansing Avenue and M-60, and resurface four miles between Elm Road and Sargent Road.

There are also plans to redesign the I-94/Cooper Street interchange and replace a bridge that runs over the Grand River.

When it comes to the internet, seemingly innocuous topics are often the grounds for heated debates. Is the dress blue and black or gold and white? Is this voice saying "yanny" or saying "laurel"?

A writer at Buzzfeed recently asked readers to help settle a workplace debate over whether IMHO means "in my humble opinion" or "in my honest opinion."

Since this is the internet, where people will fight about literally anything, things quickly devolved into what will likely be a centuries-long blood feud.

Of the nearly 200,000 people who took part in Buzzfeed's poll, 57 percent voted that the "H" stands for honest. The Detroit Free Press conducted its own poll and got similar results.

So does that mean people in the "humble" camp are wrong? Not necessarily. 

For several months now, English Professor Anne Curzan has been combing through various editions of the New York Times Manual of Style and Usage to see how usage rules have changed over time.

This project is the quintessential labor of love for a language geek and has yielded some interesting ideas for That’s What They Say, including this week’s highly “sensitive” topic.

As it turns out, the New York Times  is sensitive about using “sensitive” to describe things like documents or issues.

The 1999 edition says, “'Sensitive’ means easily hurt or having keen sensibilities. Its use to mean secret, important or diplomatically fragile is jargon.” The 2015 style manual includes the same meaning, but it goes on to say that “in the sense of secret, important or diplomatically fragile, ['sensitive'] is overused.”

When it comes to "insure" and "ensure," do you find it necessary to keep them distinct from one another?

For some people, this may not be much of an issue, since "ensure" and "insure" sound so similar. But things get trickier when it comes to writing. 

English Professor Anne Curzan says she runs into this question of distinction all the time when she's editing other people's work.

"Nonplussed" is one of those words that historically doesn't have a particularly complicated meaning, but it's one that people frequently misuse. 

In fact, the definition of "nonplussed" has become so muddled over time, people often use it to mean the complete opposite of its actual meaning.

Again, the definition of "nonplussed" is pretty simple, so why all the confusion? You could say there's a prefix to blame. 


damaged road and car
Vicky Ingram

Storms moving across the Upper Peninsula washed out several roads in the Houghton and Hancock areas and created dozens of sinkholes across the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Leave it to a political reporter to come up with a question that's both intriguing and extremely relevant to an election year. Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta, who also co-hosts It's Just Politics, came to us with this question:

"I see how we get from 'president' to 'presidential,' from 'congress' to 'congressional' and from 'legislator' to 'legislative,' but how do we go from 'governor' to 'gubernatorial'? Are governors historically 'goobers' or is it something else?"  

Considering that Michigan voters will head to the polls this November to elect a new governor, this question about one of the many oddities of English couldn't be more timely.


Robert Couse-Baker / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Manufacturers Association is warning that a proposal for mandatory paid sick leave could lead to stalled job growth in the state. 

On Tuesday, the group Michigan Time to Care turned in more than 380,000 signatures for a petition to create an "Earned Sick Time Act." Under the proposal, workers would be guaranteed one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.

Idioms generally don't get clearer the longer you think about them. They simply mean what they mean.

For instance, have you ever thought about the phrase "get someone's goat"? You may already know that it means to annoy or anger someone, but why?

Our advice is don't spend too much time on this phrase -- it'll just get your goat.


A copper mine in the Upper Peninsula.
Richie Diesterheft / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Some environmentalists are worried a bill moving through the state Legislature would give mining companies too much leeway.

Under the bill, mining operators would be able to make certain changes to their permits without going through an amendment process or public review. Instead, they’d be required to give written notice of modifications to the Department of Environmental Quality.

When you write emails, what are your preferred greetings and sign-offs?  There are a lot of options, and your choice probably depends on the nature of the email. 

The four Republican governor candidates on the stage together for the debate
Screenshot from WOOD-TV's stream of the debate / WOOD-TV

The four Republicans running for governor held their first debate this week. It was the first time Attorney General Bill Schuette, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Dr. Jim Hines have appeared together on one stage.

There were arguments over the handling of the Flint water crisis and who's the biggest Trump supporter. One thing they all agreed on is that Michigan should not legalize recreational marijuana, but they said they'd respect the wishes of the voters. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what else stood out in the debate.

marijuana leaves
user eljoja / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan voters have some pretty strong feelings when it comes to recreational marijuana.

On the Kalamazoo River just downstream from the confluence of Talmadge Creek. Around 1 million gallons of tar sands oil spilled into the river in 2010.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A new study says Michigan's economy would take a big hit if there was an oil spill in the Mackinac Straits. A Michigan State University professor estimates a spill could cost the state's economy more than $6 billion. Enbridge Energy says the study is "flawed" and based on "unrealistic estimates." This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the study's potential impact.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Almost one in seven children living in Highland Park in 2016 had high levels of lead in their blood, according to a new report from the state's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

The study looked at nine different cities with historically higher-than-average rates of children with elevated blood lead levels (EBLLs), including Highland Park, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint and Lansing.

Federal guidelines state that for children under six,  five micrograms per deciliter is considered a high blood lead level, though no amount is considered safe.

Sunday can be an excellent time to stay home and potter about. But not everyone is a potterer. 

Some of us are putterers who'd rather spend our spare time puttering around the house. And some of us like to putter about but are open to pottering around.


The Ford Taurus at an auto show
Dave Pinter / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Ford this week announced plans to stop making almost its entire line-up of cars by 2022. That means we can say farewell to the Fiesta, the Taurus, the Focus, the Fusion, and the C-Max hybrid. Only Ford's iconic Mustang and a small crossover will remain in production in the North American market. 

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss Ford's decision to focus on its better-selling lines of trucks and SUVs, and whether GM might follow suit.

A factory next to a harbor
Jacob Szetela / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A trio of bills making their way through the state legislature would change how environmental regulations are determined in Michigan.

It's no trifle that we received two emails within two weeks about the word "trifle." The first one came from a listener named Matt who writes:

"Something insignificant is often described as 'a mere trifle.' At the same time, something that could be very challenging is said to be 'nothing to trifle with.' How did we end up with such different meanings for the same word?"

As English Professor Anne Curzan was researching Matt's question, a colleague who also wanted to know more about trifle sent her an email with the subject line "Because I'm triflin'." 

Coincidence or kismet? We're pretty sure it's the latter.


Michigan State Capitol
David Marvin / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Pretty soon, Medicaid recipients in Michigan who are able-bodied may have to choose between finding a job or losing health insurance. That's under a bill the state Senate passed Thursday. Democrats opposed to the bill say it punishes the poor, while supporters say most people on Medicaid already work -- this would give incentive for others to do so.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the bill, which heads to the House next, and whether Gov. Rick Snyder will sign if it ends up on his desk.


Flint water bottle station
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal judge won't force the state to immediately resume giving out bottled water to Flint residents affected by the city's lead-tainted tap water crisis.

The decision Friday concerns the case of Flint resident Allen Bryant Jr. A recently filed lawsuit says that Bryant and other residents still have dangerous levels of lead in their tap water. It asks a judge to compel the state to continue funding bottled water distribution.

Kids at a public school in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Fewer children in Michigan lived in poverty in 2016, but the numbers are still grim.

The latest Kids Count Data Book says between 2010 and 2016, the state's child poverty rate dropped from 23 percent to 21 percent. However, that still means nearly half a million children lived below the poverty line in 2016.

Rates also remain particularly high for children of color. The report says in 2016, 42 percent of African American children and 30 percent of Latino children lived in poverty.

Three female Mariachis
Anahli Jazhmin / Courtesy of Mariachi Femenil Detroit

If you close your eyes and picture a Mariachi band, you might see something like this -- sombreros, ornate black suits, stringed instruments -- all worn and played by mustachioed men.

A group called Mariachi Femenil Detroit is working hard to broaden that image and bring gender equality to the genre.

An eggcorn is a word or phrase that occurs when someone re-interprets a word in a way that makes sense and allows them to understand its components.

For example, someone might say "all intensive purposes," when what they really mean is "all intents and purposes." Or "escape goat" instead of "scape goat."

Anne Curzan has been thinking about an eggcorn she heard on the radio recently. During an interview, a person said "halfhazard" instead of "haphazard." 

It's an it's easy mistake to make. Does anyone actually know what a "hap" is?


The Cobo Center in Detroit
Richard Landskroener / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan Democrats will gather at the Cobo Center in Detroit on Sunday for their party's state endorsement convention. These conventions are generally pretty drama-free, but this one could be different.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about the bitter race between Dana Nessel and Patrick Miles, who are both seeking the nomination for Michigan's next attorney general.


As designated word nerds, we here at That's What They Say whole-heartedly admit that sometimes we do things in our spare time that are a bit, well, geeky. But also pretty fascinating.

For instance, English Professor Anne Curzan has been been working on a project that traces changes in the New York Times style guide. She's been perusing stylebooks from the beginning of the 20th century to the present to see what has changed over time.


A box of Ice Mountain brand water bottles
Steven Depolo / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has approved a permit for Nestle to increase the volume of water it pumps from its well in Osceola County from 250 gallons per minute to up to 400 gallons per minute.

More than 80,000 people spoke out against Nestle's permit request, but the MDEQ said it cannot base its decision on public opinion.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss potential political blow-back that could stem from the state's approval of Nestle's permit.


Michigan State University
John M. Quick / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Larry Nassar's former boss Dr. William Strampel has been charged with a felony and three misdemeanors. Strampel denies the charges. Michigan Radio's Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss new developments in the Michigan State University sex abuse case.

We use contractions such as "can't" or "shouldn't" all the time in our writing. There are a few though that we use in speech but probably wouldn't write down.

For example, if you read that last paragraph out loud, do you actually say "there are" or do you squish the words together as a contraction -- "there're"?

Here's another question: Would you ever use "there're" in writing? Probably not, but many of us wouldn't have a problem using contractions like "can't" and "won't.  

So why do some contractions get a pass but not others?


Road in need of repair.
Peter Ito / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder says it's time to raise the federal gas tax to fix Michigan's disintegrating roads. Snyder says the state has done its part by increasing fees and fuel taxes, and local governments have come up with their own ways to increase revenue. Now, he says its the federal government's turn to step up.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether that's a realistic expectation.


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