Stateside Staff | Michigan Radio

Stateside Staff

corktown sign
Robert Duffner / Wikimedia Commons /

It’s St. Patrick’s Day. While the bars may be emptier than usual, you can still enjoy some Irish history over a socially distant Guinness here at Stateside.

The day is usually marked by large festivities in Detroit’s Corktown, the tradition continues, although smaller. Pat Commins and Elizabeth Rice are the authors of the new book Irish Immigrants in Michigan: A History in Stories.

gary peters headshot
Gary Peters for Senate

Today on Stateside, a chat with Senator Gary Peters. Plus, how the pandemic changed the workplace and what it will look like if and when we get back in the office. And, Michigan’s history as a stronghold of the so-called “Reagan Democrat” and the new swing voters taking their place. And to top it all off, a St. Patrick’s Day cocktail. And no, it isn’t green.

user penywise / morgueFile

It’s a big week for many Americans. While we may not be able to go out in search of a pot of gold for St. Patrick’s Day, many adults will receive a nice $1,400 stimulus check.

It’s part of the recently passed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, the third of its kind since the pandemic began just over a year ago. A hefty sum, more than $10 billion, is coming Michigan’s way. Here’s a bit of how it breaks down, according to Detroit News reporter Melissa Nann Burke:

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Today, on Stateside, beginning April 5th all Michigan residents aged 16 and up will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. But are health departments ready for this new wave? Plus, so many of us looking forward to life after the pandemic, but how exactly do we return to normal?

sign that says "COVID-19 Keep apart"
Phil Hearing / Unsplash

Most of us have had some sort of bubble throughout the pandemic: a small group of people we limited ourselves to seeing while a novel virus spread among the masses. For some of us, that’s been the family members we already live with. For others it was a few, select friends we gathered with— many of us call them our “pods.”

So what happened over a year of being cut off from a larger, more interactive group of humans?

Bruce-Michael Wilson, who owns Groundswell Farm, a USDA Certified Organic Farm in Zeeland, says he wants to help teach the next generation of Black farmers how to be stewards of the land.
Courtesy of Bruce-Michael Wilson

Bruce-Michael Wilson, was raised on 160 acres of farm land in Hopkins—a small town in Allegan County, Michigan. As a child, Wilson loved the ample space to roam and passed the time by helping his family with farm work. But as one of the only Black families who owned land in the area, Wilson knew they stood out.

“It wasn't necessarily an inviting place, you know, to begin with. But, with all that said, it turned out to be the best thing and the best place that we could have ever moved to,” Wilson said.

Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Today on Stateside, longtime U.S. Senator Carl Levin tells us about his decades of public service, as well as his new memoir, Getting to the Heart of the Matter: My 36 Years in the Senate. Also, a Black organic farmer from West Michigan discusses continuing a family legacy in agriculture.

pads and tampons
Michigan Radio

If you’re a person with a period, you’ve likely experienced the feeling of realizing it’s that time of the month, but you don’t have what you need, whether it’s a pad or a pack of Midol. For some people, this is a common problem — not because they aren’t paying attention to the calendar, but because they can’t afford menstrual products. Being unprepared for your period can mean you miss work, school, or other essential activities, because of something specific to your biological makeup.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION (CDC)

Today on Stateside, more than 15,700 Michiganders have died due to COVID-19. A funeral director discusses how the ongoing pandemic has impacted the mourning process for so many Michigan families. Also, the effort to rebuild community trust through free water testing in Flint. Plus, a look at the “tampon tax” in Michigan — and its uncertain future.

The Capital Dome in Lansing, Michigan.
Joe Dearman / Flickr

Today, on Stateside, federal money is still trapped in a deadlock over Michigan’s budget. Plus, there’s an unconventional ring to wedding bells this past year. Stateside talked to two folks planning nuptials in an ever-changing pandemic.

Produce in a supermarket
Gemma / Unsplash

Governor Whitmer announced this week Michigangers age 50 and up are eligible for the vaccine. But there are still many younger essential workers who still can’t get vaccinated, despite constant interaction with strangers. 

Front-line workers in Michigan’s food processing facilities, grocery stores, and big-box stores have had no choice but to show up for work, interacting with customers that are sometimes physically distanced, and sometimes not. 

Marijuana plant
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Michigan just marked its first full year of legal recreational marijuana sales. As the cannabis business continues to grow in the state, some Michiganders are wondering: how can I get a job in this booming industry?

a person holds a vaccine vial
Adobe Stock

Today on Stateside, a third type of vaccine to prevent COVID-19 will be available to qualifying Michigan residents in the coming weeks. A journalist discusses how the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could help local health officials get more vulnerable populations vaccinated. Also, a look at what it takes to find work in Michigan’s booming cannabis industry. Plus, the path to some kind of normal after a year of pandemic living.

congressional map of Michigan
Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan’s independent redistricting commission is seeking more time to redraw the state’s political maps, citing expected delays in the release of the 2020 Census data. 

Clay Banks / Unsplash

Today, on Stateside, Michigan’s redistricting commission asks for more time. Plus, one writer considers personal and public tragedies while delivering water to folks in Flint. 


Today on Stateside, how the pandemic is delaying parole for people who are incarcerated in Michigan, even as prisons continue to have outbreaks of the virus. Also, two grocery store workers discuss waiting for a vaccine after a year of being on the front lines of the pandemic. Plus, why the United Auto Workers corruption scandal isn’t over yet.

a person holds a vaccine vial
Adobe Stock

Today on Stateside, Wayne State University has a low COVID-19 infection rate among Michigan’s major universities. We talk with the school’s president about how the institution has been keeping case numbers down. Also, an activist discusses the ongoing effort to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to people with disabilities in Michigan. Plus, the co-founder of one homegrown restaurant chain talks reopening at a limited capacity.

Wayne State University
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Many college campuses have been sources of community spread of COVID-19 over the past year. Big schools like the University of Michigan and Michigan State University have at times struggled to curb spread and socialization among the student body. University of Michigan recently struggled with the first cases of the U.K. variant spreading through the state, and the school community currently represents about two-thirds of the total infections in Washtenaw County.

U of M has had more than 5,000 cases to date, with MSU not far behind that number.

congressional map of Michigan
Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan’s new Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, which was approved by voters in 2018, is continuing its work of drawing new congressional and legislative districts for the state. In recent weeks, the commission has encountered some challenges related to timing and funding, especially as 2020 Census data needed for the process won’t be available until July. As the group continues meeting virtually — which members of the public are encouraged to get involved in — Stateside took a look at the history of the representation Michigan has now, and why there’s been a movement to change the state’s legislative map.

Hand holding rainbow LGBTQ flag
Stavrialena Gontzou /


Today on Stateside, a major Michigan-based adoption agency is opening up adoption to LGBTQ parents. We spoke with Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who has spent years fighting for LGBTQ families. Plus, a conversation with artist Elizabeth Youngblood about how learning to weave inspired the delicate lines of her sculptures and drawings. 


Today on Stateside, what is the role of primary care doctors in Michigan’s vaccination plan? Plus, one family talks to us about starting a podcast during the pandemic. And, some advice for adults trying to help kids through the mental health challenges of the moment.

Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash



Whether the kids in your community are back in the classroom or not, the pandemic has had some serious mental health consequences. There is stress and uncertainty at home, limited contact with friends, and the loss of a school routine. It all takes a toll. That's especially true for the kids who are already in more vulnerable situations. 

Fred Upton's official 113th US Congress photo
US House Office of Photography/Wikimedia Commons

Though former president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial has ended, difficult conversations and divided politics have not, particularly among conservative leaders. The Cass County Republican Party has again censured Michigan Congressman Fred Upton (R-06), this time for his vote to remove conspiracy theorist and Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments.

Pevos / MLive

Today, on Stateside, an update on the dramatic turn of events on Thursday as gymnastics coach John Geddert died by suicide rather than face charges of human trafficking. In other news, some in the state Legislature want to change the rules around which communities get more COVID-19 vaccines.

The University of Michigan football stadium
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, two-thirds of Washtenaw County's COVID-19 cases are affiliated with the University of Michigan. A campus health official discusses efforts to curb the spread of the virus. Also, a look at Michigan’s possible future as a haven for those escaping the worst effects of climate change.

Spectrum Health

Today on Stateside, the state and Michigan’s counties try to get on the same page, tracking who’s getting vaccinated by race. Also, naming the violence - and the fear - Asian Americans are living with during the pandemic. Plus, a snapshot of what college life is like during this pandemic year. 

A sign of the University of Michigan Central Campus
Anna Schlutt / Michigan Radio

During the past year, many universities have seen high rates of COVID-19 on or around their campuses. Academic institutions in Michigan and throughout the U.S. have faced challenging questions and criticism with regard to their decision-making in an unprecedented public health crisis. And often, university students and their behaviors — like attending social gatherings or even simply living in group housing — have played a role in spreading the virus at their schools.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Afrourbanism, Detroit's Black history and future

A bustling area of the country’s most chocolate city razed to make way for Highway I-375. An idyllic “Black Eden” designed as a safe haven of relaxation and entertainment in rural Yates Township. Remembering Idlewild and Detroit’s Black Bottom is an important part of contextualizing Michigan’s Black history, and they can provide the blueprint for creating  future spaces with black people in mind.

Portrait of US Rep Deb Haaland
U.S. House Office of Photography / Wikimedia Commons

The Senate confirmation proceedings for President Joe Biden’s pick to head the U.S. Department of the Interior began Tuesday. Democratic Congresswoman Debra Haaland (NM-01), if confirmed, will make history as the first Native American member of the Cabinet. It's also particularly important that she will likely be the leader of a department with a long record of mistreatment of Native people. Many tribal leaders are watching Haaland and the new Biden administration to see if they’ll implement changes in the federal government’s relationship with Native peoples.

a nurse holds a vial of one of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Spectrum Health

Today on Stateside, Congresswoman Debra Haaland (D-NM) begins Senate confirmation hearings as President Joe Biden’s pick to head the U.S. Department of the Interior. A Michigan tribal chair discusses what Native leadership in the Cabinet could mean for tribes, going forward. Also, the new head of Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services weighs in on the next pandemic battlegrounds. Plus, reimagining Idlewild, where generations of Black Michiganders went for vacation and respite.