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
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.

Education
3:07 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

WISD Superintendent Menzel Talks About Making Up Snow Days

As the state debates how best to have school district make up snow days, there's no question how the superintendent of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District would prefer to address the issue.  

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Ann Arbor
2:48 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Ann Arbor Plow Crews seek Help from Residents

The City of Ann Arbor is asking for some help from residents this weekend in clearing snow from residential streets.  

Folks who live on Iroquois between Stadium and Packard are asked to have their cars off the street Saturday from 6am to 2pm so plow crews can come through.  

Same thing for people who live on White between Stimson and Stadium, South Boulevard between Packard and Ferdon, Baldwin from Packard to Stadium, and Cherokee between Baldwin and Ferdon.

On Tuesday of next week, overnight plowing is planned on some other streets.

Residents on Norfolk and Suffolk Avenues are asked to have their cars off the street by 10pm Tuesday. Same for those living on Saxon street, and Dicken from Kent to the end of the street.

WEMU News
1:07 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Certified EMU College of Business Students offer Free Tax Preparation

Credit Bob Eccles

If you earned $52,000 or less in 2013, students from Eastern Michigan University's School of Business will do your taxes for free. 

WEMU's Bob Eccles reports.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance or VITA service is staffed by student volunteers who are certified by the IRS. 

VITA program coordinator Umar Rabbimov says offering the tax help is a great way for students to give back to the community, and for community members to get some relief from the cost of having their taxes done. 

Your next chance to take advantage of the free tax assistance is Saturday from ten a.m. to five p.m. at the College of Business. 

You can find other dates, times and locations here.

Michigan News
8:23 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Michigan Corrections Director takes responsibility for Prisoner Escape

Michigan Department of Corrections Director Dan Heyns testifies in front of a state Senate budget panel Thursday on a recent prisoner escape in Ionia.
Credit Michigan Public Radio Network

MI corrections director: Ionia prison escape "had nothing to do with" budget cuts
By Jake Neher

The head of the state's prison system blames a murderer's recent escape from an Ionia prison largely on human error. That prisoner escaped earlier this month, and was caught in Indiana the next day.

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Education
3:19 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Count Day appears to have been Kind to Ypsilanti Community Schools

Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education President David Bates (l) and Superintendent Scott Menzel (r).
Credit Bob Eccles

Student count day appears to have shown a substantial rise in the number of students in Ypsilanti Community Schools.  

Superintendent Scott Menzel says unaudited numbers from Wednesday's count showed 4547 students in class - 55 more than in the fall.  

It's possible some students who may have been out sick or not in school for another legitimate reason could be added to the total.  

Similarly, not all the students counted Wednesday may be the "full-time equivalent" students the state uses to determine funding for school districts.  

It'll be several weeks before the official numbers are known.  

Wednesday's count represents 10 percent of the funding equation, while the fall count represents 90 percent.

WEMU News
8:53 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Area Auto Repair Shops Seeing Results of Nasty Crop of Potholes

Some nasty potholes are gobbling up wheels and tires, and Washtenaw County drivers are paying the price. 

One tipster told WEMU last night that a pothole on Packard Road just west of Platt had a line of cars pulled over to the side of the road with flat tires. 

Jason Gary has seen the damage first-hand.  He's parts manager at AutoMotion in Ann Arbor, where they've seen a lot of bent rims.

Gary says if a wheel can't be balanced or repaired, it's sent to a wheel straightener in the Detroit area.  He says they usually make two or three trips a week to Detroit, but lately they've been sending two or three wheels a day to the vendor.

Gary says the potholes in our area are the worst he's seen in almost 20 years of living in Michigan.

That's consistent with a warning earlier this week from the state transportation director, who warned the pothole season may be the worst drivers have experienced.

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Education
8:43 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

EMU says Lecturer Layoffs Enrollment Driven

Eastern Michigan University says it had to lay off a number of full-time lecturers in its College of Education due to declining enrollment. 

Pam Olech and six fellow full-time lecturers in her department are being laid off effective at the end of August. 

She says she worries about the quality of student teacher supervision if she and her colleagues are not recalled, and hates to see the university lose the relationships the College of Education has with areas school districts.

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Michigan News
8:38 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Report Says Parole System costs Taxpayers Millions

Report says parole systems costs taxpayers millions
By Rick Pluta

A new report says Michigan's parole system is too stingy when it comes to releasing prisoners with sentences of up to life in prison.

The report by the Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending says there are 850 lifers in Michigan prison for second-degree murder and other violent crimes who could be paroled. In many cases, they're older and the report says very unlikely to re-offend.

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Michigan News
8:34 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Backyard Farmers Upset with State Proposal

Backyard farmers blast proposal to exclude them from "Right to Farm" law
By Jake Neher

A state board is expected to decide next month whether to strip protections from Michiganders who raise chickens and other livestock in residential areas.

Dozens of "backyard farmers" and their supporters blasted the proposed rule change Wednesday at an agriculture commission meeting in Lansing. It would exclude them from Michigan's Right to Farm Act, which protects farmers from nuisance complaints and lawsuits.

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WEMU News
10:30 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

EMU Laying Off nearly All Full-time Lecturers in College of Education

Almost all of Eastern Michigan University's full-time lecturers in the College of Education have received layoff notices.   College of Education Dean Jan Joseph says declining enrollment in the program means fewer lecturers are needed.   She says EMU is not unique in seeing enrollment for education students dropping. She says it's a trend that most teacher training programs have seen over the past decade or so. College of Education lecturers teach student teachers and place them in area school districts for hands-on training.

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WEMU News
10:27 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Ypsilanti City Council Rates City Manager's Job Performance

Ypsilanti City Council last night approved City Manager Ralph Lange's first performance evaluation.   Council member Brian Robb chaired the committee that oversaw the review.

Michigan News
10:24 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

State School Board Putting School Funding Front and Center in Election Year

The Michigan State Board of Education hopes public school funding will be a top priority for voters when they head to the polls in November.

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Michigan News
10:23 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

State Agriculture Commission Weighing Backyard Livestock Question

MI agriculture commission closer to decision on backyard livestockBy Rick Pluta The Michigan Commission on Agriculture and Rural Development is about to hold its final hearing on a controversial new rule. It would end Right to Farm protections for people who raise chickens and other livestock in residential areas.  The 1981 Right to Farm Act is the state's effort to preempt nuisance lawsuits filed against farmers as more people moved from cities and suburbs to rural areas.

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Ypsilanti
7:57 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Amanda Edmonds launches Ypsilanti Mayoral Bid

Credit Bob Eccles

Growing Hope Executive Director Amanda Edmonds Tuesday night launched her bid to become Ypsilanti's next mayor with a party for supporters in Depot Town.

Edmonds said she believes her leadership skills are what the city needs to help it to continue to move forward.

Among those in attendance was current Mayor Paul Schreiber, who has announced he won't seek re-election.

Also on hand were former Mayor Cheryl Farmer and Washtenaw County Commissioners Yousef Rabhi and Conan Smith.

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Michigan News
7:31 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Democrats call for Independent Probe of Prison Escape

Democrats say state attorney general not fit to investigate prisoner escapeBy Jake Neher 

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Health
7:13 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Washtenaw County Public Health Recognizes Healthy Workplaces

Washtenaw County Public Health is accepting applications for its Healthy Workplace Awards. The awards honor businesses and organization that promote a healthy living environment in the workplace.  Kathy Fellabaum is  a Health Educator with Washtenaw Public Health.  She says businesses that promote healthy living in the workplace are a real benefit for employees. Fellabaum says you can nominate a business or organization for the Healthy Workplace Awards by filling out an online nomination survey. Businesses can also nominate themselves. Nominations are due by 5:00 pm March 15 and awards will be announced the week of April 7. 

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Winter
7:10 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Washtenaw County Road Salt Supplies Dwindling

Local supplies of rock salt are dwindling as the snow continues to fall in Washtenaw County.

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Education
7:07 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

U-M Scientists Take Steps Toward Possible West Nile, Dengue Fever Vaccine, Treatment

The external face of the flavivirus NS1 protein (sugars in grey balls) is exposed on infected cell surfaces where it can interact with the immune system. This face is also exposed in secreted NS1 particles present in patient sera. The background image shows artificial membranes coated with the NS1 protein.
Credit David Akey, Somnath Dutta

WEMU's Bob Eccles reports.

  University of Michigan researchers have taken a big step toward the development of a treatment or vaccine for illnesses such as West Nile virus and Dengue Fever.

Lead researcher, Janet Smith is a faculty member in the U-M Life Sciences Institute and Medical School.  She says she and her colleague were able to create a 3-D image of a protein that helps the viruses spread.

Smith says being able to study the protein in this new way will lead to more experiments to examine it at the molecular level, which could lead to development of new ways to attack illnesses such as Dengue Fever and West Nile Virus, which currently have no vaccine or treatment.

The protein, NS1, is produced inside infected cells, where it plays a key role in replication of the virus. NS1 is also released into the bloodstream, where it may help disguise the infection from the patient's immune system and may play a role in the hemorrhage that is seen in severe dengue virus infection.

The research done with scientists at Purdue University appears online in the journal Science.

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WEMU News
7:38 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Study says far more Gay and Bi-Sexual Teen Boys use Steroids than Straight Boys

An Eastern Michigan University expert thinks he knows the main explanation for new study results that show that gay and bisexual teenage boys use steroids at a rate almost six times higher than do straight kids.  The study out of Chicago says that 21 percent of gay or bi male teens claimed they have used steroids, compared with four percent of straight boys.  Michael Tew is the Director of the Center for the Study of Equality and Human Rights at Eastern Michigan University.

Community
7:34 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Ypsilanti Hikes Fines for Illegal Dumping

Fines for illegal dumping are going way up in Ypsilanti, in the hopes that it'll help curb a problem that's been costing the Downtown Development Authority money to clean up after.   Mayor Paul Schreiber says one spot in particular has become a haven for illegal dumping. He says people have been leaving things like sofas at the Dumpsters behind businesses along Michigan Avenue. Fines that used to start at $50 for illegal dumping will now start at $2,500 and could go as high as $5,000.

WEMU News
12:21 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

WISD Superintendent Glad to see K-12 Funding Increase in Governor's Budget Plan

The Superintendent of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District says he's glad to see an increase in funding for K-12 education in Governor Rick Snyder's budget proposal. Scott Menzel says the proposal would bring an increase of $83 to $111 in per-pupil funding to school districts in the county. Menzel says with several county districts working with small fund balances, and one district operating at a deficit, it's difficult to determine the actual impact the additional state money will have on students. 

Click here for a report from WEMU's Bob Eccles.

Menzel believes the most important part of the Governor's education funding plan is a $65,000,000 investment in the Great Start Readiness Program for low-income Pre-school students.

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Eastern Michigan University
7:47 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

'Gamers for Giving' Charity Gaming Tournament comes to EMU

Between 600 and 800 video game enthusiasts will take over the Eastern Michigan University Student Center Ballroom this weekend for "Gamers for Giving", a charity gaming tournament. WEMU's Bob Eccles spoke with event founder Zach Wigal about the event. 

Listen below for the interview:

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