Bob Eccles

Host

Bob Eccles has followed an interesting path to - and through - the radio business. After graduating from Howe Military School in Howe, Indiana in 1980, Bob went to Michigan State University for one year. He transferred to Central Michigan University the following year for the school’s Radio and TV program, and landed a shift at the campus radio station, known then as "Rock Stereo 91". Unfortunately Bob focused more on his radio shift than his studies, and CMU asked him to take his 0.00 grade point average and go to school somewhere else. So Bob joined the U.S. Army.

Bob spend three years in the Army, serving in the Military Police in what was then West Germany. The first half of his tour was spent as a tower guard at a nuclear physical security site. Bob then was chosen to be the chauffeur for the commanding general of the 59th Ordnance Brigade. This gave him the chance to see much of West Germany from behind the wheel of an armor-plated and bullet-proof BMW 733i. Bob was honorably discharged from the Army in early 1985, and enrolled at the Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts to continue his pursuit of a career in radio.

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A couple of months before graduating from Specs Howard, Bob landed a job as a disc jockey at WBRB radio in Mt. Clemens. The 500 watt AM station had been off the air for several years, and was put back on the air with a staff consisting entirely of Specs Howard grads. The owner of the station had a background in real estate, not radio, and is said to have chosen the people he would hire by playing their audition tapes for his kids and asking them which ones they liked most. Bob is glad the kids liked his tape.

Bob’s next job came at Tower 98 in Monroe. It was at Tower 98 that Bob made the transition from DJ to news guy. Tower 98 was also where he met his wife, Tina, who worked as Traffic Director at the station.

Next on Bob’s resume is a stop at WSPD/WLQR in Toledo. It was there that Bob covered stories like the mayor’s tearful apology for having suggested that the city’s deaf population might enjoy living near the airport. Toledo is also where Bob discovered Mudhens baseball and Tony Packo’s Cafe. Ask Bob sometime about how he nearly knocked Jamie Farr over once in the hallway at WSPD/WLQR.

From Toledo, Bob went to Detroit, where he worked at all-news station WWJ for six years. While he was working there, he also nearly knocked over Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, but that’s another story.

One day Bob was sent to the home of a Detroit police officer who had been killed in the line of duty. His WWJ bosses wanted him to interview the officer’s friends and family who were coming to the house to grieve. Bob told his bosses he felt uncomfortable sticking his microphone in the faces of grieving friends and family members. This was considered insubordination by his bosses, and he was fired. But that’s OK, because that's when Bob found WEMU and public radio.

Bob joined the wonderful staff of WEMU in May of 2003. He really enjoys not having to chase ambulances and fire trucks all the time. He loves having the flexibility to spend seven-and-a-half minutes telling a good story if he needs the time. And he is thrilled to be able to serve WEMU listeners in the amazingly personal way that working in public radio makes possible.

Bob, his wife Tina and their daughter Samantha live in rural Monroe County.

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Michigan News
9:12 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Gay Marriage Opposition Speaks Out in Detroit

Jubilee City Church founder Ellis L. Smith speaks at a rally with dozens of pastors Monday in support of Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.
Credit Michigan Public Radio Network

Pastors rally in opposition to gay marriage ahead of federal court case in Detroit
By Jake Neher

A federal judge will hear arguments this week over whether Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional.  The trial begins Tuesday in Detroit.

Ahead of the arguments, dozens of Michigan pastors rallied in support of the ban Monday in Detroit.

"We're not standing here against anybody. We're standing here for the biblical principle and foundation of marriage," said Ellis L. Smith, founder of Jubilee City Church in Detroit.

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WEMU News
8:51 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Reflections on Congressman John Dingell's Career

Congressman John D. Dingell on Monday announced he won't seek re-election when his current term is up.

WEMU's Bob Eccles has local reaction to the announcement, along with some words from the Congressman himself.

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Michigan News
7:48 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Lansing Seeks Long-Term Medicaid Funding Fix

State lawmakers look to patch Medicaid shortfall, say long-term solution criticalBy Jake Neher Michigan's Medicaid program faces a budget shortfall this year of more than $100 million dollars. That's because a new tax on health insurance claims is not producing as much revenue as state officials expected. This week, the state Senate passed a mid-year budget bill that would patch that hole in the Medicaid budget.

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WEMU News
5:55 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Ypsilanti Hires Two Fire Fighters with SAFER Grant Money

Credit Bob Eccles

There were a couple of new faces on the Ypsilanti Fire Department this week.

The city brought two fire fighters on board using money from the federal SAFER grant it received last month.

Bruce Van Gemert comes to Ypsilanti with experience as a Paramedic Technician at St. Joseph Hospital. He has also been an on-call fire fighter for Van Buren Township.

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WEMU News
2:45 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

A2Y Chamber Opposes EAA Expansion

Credit annarborchamber.org

The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Chamber is opposed to expansion of Michigan's special district for struggling schools.

The A2Y Chamber today issued a statement opposing expansion of the Education Achievement Authority.

The EAA is currently running 15 schools in Detroit, but lawmakers are proposing an expansion to allow the EAA to control up to 50 troubled schools.

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WEMU News
12:03 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Public Invited to Forum on Year-Round School for Ypsilanti Community Schools

Credit Bob Eccles

The public is invited to an open forum Saturday on Ypsilanti Community Schools' plan to move to a balanced calendar for the 2014-15 school year.

The district had planned to go to year-round school this year, but didn't have enough time to make the necessary adjustments.

Saturday's forum is being held in the Ypsilanti Community High School auditorium, at 2095 Packard Road, starting at 9 a.m.

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Michigan News
9:20 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Former Governor Milliken Joins Debate over Parole for Juvenile Lifers

Milliken joins effort to win parole hearings for juvenile lifersBy Rick Pluta Former Michigan Governor William Milliken says more than 350 prison inmates sentenced to life without parole as juveniles deserve a chance at freedom. Milliken - along with more than 100 law school deans and retired judges and prosecutors -- filed a brief today with the state Supreme Court. The Michigan Supreme Court holds oral arguments in the case next month. The court will decide whether a US Supreme Court decision that struck down automatic life without parole for juveniles applies retroactively - or only to current and future cases. The Milliken brief says justice demands that the decision should apply regardless of when a juvenile was sentenced.  It says juveniles sentenced before the decision have the same protections against cruel and unusual punishment as teens sentenced today. It also says Michigan's indigent defense system is particularly unfair to juveniles.   Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says families of murder victims deserve to know the rules will not be changed in their cases.  Michigan's adult-time-for-adult-crimes law was signed 18 years ago by Governor John Engler. William Milliken served as governor from 1969 to 1983.  

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WEMU News
4:15 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Rain, Melting Snow Cause Flooding

Rain and melting snow has caused widespread flooding across Washtenaw County.   County Road Commission Operations Director Jim Harmon says crews worked hard Wednesday to clear storm drains, but as the rain fell and snow melted, those same drains clogged again. Harmon says flooding is reported anywhere from a few inches to several feet.   He urges motorists to expect flooding, and not to try to drive through areas where you can't tell how deep the water is.   Harmon welcomes reports of flooding at 734-761-1500, and if residents can safely do so, trying to clear neighborhood storm drains would be a big help.

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WEMU News
4:12 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

EMU Students, Faculty Protest Education Achievement Authority

Credit electablog.com

A group of about 30 people gathered at Eastern Michigan University today to protest the university's affiliation with the Education Achievement Authority. 

Samir Webster is a member of the group "Students for an Ethical and Participatory Education", which organized the protest.  He says they've met with the Board of Regents and EMU President Susan Martin, but they feel their voices aren't being heard.

 Critics of the EAA says it's failing in its mission to turn struggling schools around.  Area school districts have been boycotting EMU student teachers because of the school's ties to the EAA. 

 Eastern Michigan University officials say they respect the right of faculty members to share their concerns, but the school has no plans to end its affiliation with the EAA.

WEMU's Bob Eccles reports.

Michigan News
6:23 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

EAA no longer Only Option for Struggling Schools

State ends contract with the Education Achievement AuthorityBy Jake Neher This time next year, the Education Achievement Authority will no longer be the only entity that can take over failing schools in Michigan.  State Superintendent Mike Flanagan has notified the EAA that the state is ending its exclusive contract with the authority.

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WEMU News
5:39 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Washtenaw County Property Values Rise

Washtenaw County home owners are seeing a rise in their property values for the first time in five years. Values are rising all across the county and properties are spending less time on the market before selling. Catherine McClary is Washtenaw County's Treasurer. She says the rising values is good news overall, but the county still faces challenges, especially when it comes to making sure there is enough affordable housing.  McClary says the area's homeless are often families.

WEMU News
5:36 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Bald Eagles call Monroe Power Plant Home

Close to 200 bald eagles have made D-T-E Energy's Monroe power plant home for the winter.   Utility spokesperson Randy Barret says the property makes for a great nesting area, with shelter from the elements, seclusion and plenty of fishing. Barret says up to 180 bald eagles have been counted at the plant on Lake Erie, which has a warm-water discharge that prevents ice from forming and gives the eagles a prime spot for catching fish. 

WEMU News
3:12 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Man Accused of Shooting at Plow Driver charged with Assault with Intent to Murder

The man accused of shooting at the driver of a front end loader who was clearing snow in Pittsfield Township is now facing charges including assault with intent to murder.  

Bevan Wilson was being held in the Washtenaw County jail on $45,000 cash bond.  He's accused of firing a handgun at the driver of a front end loader who was clearing snow from the parking lot at the Valley Ranch Apartments Tuesday morning. 

The wind shield of the vehicle was damaged, but the driver was not injured.

WEMU News
12:02 am
Wed February 19, 2014

City of Ypsilanti to Convert Old Lights and Fixtures

Ypsilanti City Council has approved replacing old lights and fixtures in city buildings and parking lots with more energy-efficient LED lights.  

Changing the lights in City Hall, the police and fire departments and their adjoining parking lots is expected to cost $48,000, but will save the city between $8,000 and $12,000 a year in energy costs and about $8,000 a year in labor costs.  

Rebates from D-T-E will save the city an additional $3,000 to $4,000 a year.

WEMU News
12:00 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Ypsilanti City Council Won't Consider Surveillance Camera Policy

Ypsilanti City Council won't be considering the issue of surveillance cameras in public places - at least not for now.  

City Manager Ralph Lange asked council whether they'd like him to start working on a policy that would cover cameras in areas where crime has been a concern, like along LeForge Road.  

The cameras would supplement surveillance equipment being installed by apartment complexes in the area.  

Mayor Paul Schreiber and council member Pete Murdock said they were skeptical of the effectiveness of cameras in fighting crime.

WEMU News
11:58 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Ypsilanti City Council votes down Special Events Policy

Ypsilanti City Council Tuesday night voted down a Special Events Policy designed to go after fees and charges the city hasn't been collecting.  

In voting "no", council member Brian Robb said if the city hasn't been collecting the fees, maybe it doesn't need to.  

Mayor Paul Schreiber said he didn't think the public has had enough time to examine changes in the policy, which is available on the city's website.  

The policy will likely be back before city council at its first meeting in March.

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Michigan News
11:56 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Lawmakers Consider Emergency Road Funding

Emergency road funding could be coming after nasty winterBy Jake Neher  A monster pothole season is upon us - and state lawmakers say they want to help.  A state Senate panel on Tuesday added $100 million for road repairs and maintenance to a mid-year budget bill to help communities fix potholes and plow roads. Lawmakers say local governments need the help to offset the costs of constant snow removal and efforts to fix potholes caused by the nasty winter weather. "That warming and freezing will add to the problems that our counties, our villages, and townships, and state ha

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Michigan News
11:55 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Lawmakers encourage Year-Round School

State lawmakers look to encourage year-round schoolsBy Jake Neher Some at-risk schools in Michigan could soon get more state funding if they agree to go year-round. A state House panel heard testimony on the idea Tuesday. In his budget address this month, Governor Rick Snyder called for a state pilot program to encourage year-round schooling.

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Michigan News
11:55 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Lawmakers encourage Year-Round School

State lawmakers look to encourage year-round schoolsBy Jake Neher Some at-risk schools in Michigan could soon get more state funding if they agree to go year-round. A state House panel heard testimony on the idea Tuesday. In his budget address this month, Governor Rick Snyder called for a state pilot program to encourage year-round schooling.

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Michigan News
11:54 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Legislation would allow Landlords to ban Medical Marijuana Growing and Smoking

Landlords could ban tenants from smoking or growing medical marijuana under billBy Jake Neher  Some Michigan medical marijuana patients and caregivers could soon be banned from smoking or growing cannabis where they live.  A state Senate panel approved a bill on Tuesday that would let landlords decide whether to allow tenants to grow or smoke medical marijuana. "We've had a lot of apartment owners that have people smoking marijuana or growing marijuana, doing damage to the apartments, creating danger for other residents," said state Sen.

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Ypsilanti
8:09 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Ypsilanti City Council approves Speed Humps For Three Residential Streets Near Prospect Road

Ypsilanti City Council Tuesday night approved the installation of speed humps on several residential streets near Prospect Road, streets that neighbors say drivers use to avoid Prospect, which is in bad shape and scheduled for re-construction. 

Several residents of Dwight Street spoke in favor of the temporary speed humps, which would be placed on Dwight, Hemphill and Stanley.  The speed humps – on in each block, for a total of six – will cost the city $18,000

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Education
3:22 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

U-M Students, Faculty and Staff to attend Speak Out Protest

University of Michigan students plan to hold an all-night protest over what they say is low minority enrollment and inclusion on campus.   The 12-hour "Speak Out" event is being hosted by the United Coalition for Racial Justice, a group comprised of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff.

WEMU's Bob Eccles reports.

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Michigan News
7:49 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Campaign Sets Sights on Higher Minimum Wage

Minimum wage campaign sets its sights at $10.10
By Rick Pluta

The campaign to increase Michigan's minimum wage has upped its goal to $10.10 an hour in four years.

The petition drive had initially set its sights on raising the state minimum wage from its current $7.40 an hour to $9.50 by 2016, and then indexing the wage to inflation. The new wage target is part of an amended filing with the state.

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Michigan News
7:46 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Federal Report on Asian Carp to go Under the Microsope in Lansing Tuesday

Lawmakers to probe Army Corps of Engineers report on invasive species Tuesday
By Jake Neher

State lawmakers want to know whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is inflating the cost and time it would take to keep invasive species out of the Great Lakes.

Army Corp officials will face questions from legislators Tuesday about a report it released last month. It says separating the lakes from the Mississippi River would take more than two decades and up to $18 billion to complete.

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WEMU News
3:42 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Michigan Legislative Democrats propose New Way for Students to pay for College

Michigan's college students could soon have a new way to pay for school. Democrats in the state legislature are proposing a pilot program that would completely pay for a student's college tuition. State Representative Jeff Irwin says students who use the program would pay back a percentage of the their yearly income for the next 20 years, rather than a fixed amount of money like with a typical student loan. If approved, the 53rd District Democrat says the pilot program would assist 200 students, divided evenly between 2-year community colleges and 4-year universities.

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