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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WEMU News
7:21 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

18 Warming Centers in Washtenaw County Help Keep Homeless Warm

Credit Shelter Association of Washtenaw County

18 warming centers have been established throughout Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti to give the homeless a place to come in out of the cold.

 

Executive Director of the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County, Ellen Schulmeister says shelter is available to anyone who needs it, and the Delonis Center is operating under relaxed amnesty standards through Wednesday.

 

Those in need of shelter can also stay during the day if needed.

 

Shelters will remain open to the public through Wednesday, although specific hours of operation vary from one location to another.

 

If you need housing or shelter call 734.961.1999

 

 

— Bob Eccles is a reporter and the host of 89.1 WEMU's All Things Considered. Contact him at 734.487.3363, email him reccles@emich.edu, or follow him on Twitter @BobEcclesWEMU

Ann Arbor
7:18 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

University of MIchigan Cancels Classes for first time since 1978

Credit University of Michigan

The University of Michigan Tuesday canceled classes for the first time in 36 years.  School officials based the decision on the extremely low temperatures forecast, and the danger they pose to students traveling across campus to attend classes.     University of  Michigan spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald says other parts of the university, such as the Health System, remained open. The cancelation of classes was a departure from Michigans's controversial decision earlier this month to remain open during a similar cold spell.

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Safety
7:10 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Keep your Pipes from Freezing with these Cold Weather Tips

Credit YCUA

When temperatures dip this low, frozen pipes are a frequent problem for homeowners.   

Click to hear a report from WEMU's Bob Eccles.

Jeff Castro is Director of the Ypsilanti Community Utilitites Authority.  He says it's good for homeowners to be aware of the danger.

 Castro says the pipes most likely to freeze are those running along an exterior wall, or near a window. In cold weather, water meters can freeze, too.     

The American Red Cross suggests taking preventative steps, such as keeping garage doors closed if there are water supply lines there, opening kitchen and bathroom doors to allow heat to circulate around the plumbing, and letting cold water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes.     

If you need to thaw pipes, the Red Cross suggests wrapping them with an electric heating pad, or apply heat using a hair dryer or portable space heater - so long as its kept away from flammable material.  Never use an open flame to attempt to thaw frozen water pipes.

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WEMU News
7:08 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Ypsilanti Uses Federal Grant to Hire More Firefighters

Credit OfficerGreg/CC BY-ND/ Flickr

The ranks of Ypsilanti fire fighters are growing, thanks to an $800,000 federal grant.

City Manager Ralph Lange says the money will allow the city to hire five fire fighters this year and next.  He says the first five must be on board by April 8th.

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Community
2:08 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

U-M Program Receives Award for International Education

Credit umji.sjtu.edu.cn/ / University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute

A University of Michigan program that sends engineering students to China has picked up one of the highest honors in international higher education. 

The University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute has won an Andrew Heiskell Award from the Institute of International Education. 

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Michigan News
7:54 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Campaign to seek Minimum Wage Hike in Michigan

Credit Jesse f/2.8 / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Campaign will try to raise minimum wage
By Rick Pluta

A ballot campaign is organizing to give a pay raise to the roughly 90 thousand Michigan workers who make the state minimum wage of $7.40.

The Raise Michigan coalition says it's looking to boost the state minimum wage to somewhere between $9 and $10.10 and index it to inflation. Tipped employees, such as restaurant servers, would also see a raise.  

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Michigan News
7:52 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Fewer Caregivers but Record State Revenues from Medical Marijuana in Michigan

Credit “Caveman Chuck” Coker / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

State sees record revenues from medical marijuana program, but fewer caregivers
By Jake Neher

State officials are reporting record revenues from Michigan's medical marijuana program last fiscal year. They say the state took in almost $11 million dollars. That's up about $1 million from the year before, and $7 million more than it costs the state to oversee the program.

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Ann Arbor
11:27 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Ann Arbor Non-Profit gets $25,000 from Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan

Credit Girls Group.org

  A local non-profit that helps young women in middle and high school become first-generation college students has received a $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan. 

Girls Group provides assistance such as help with homework, ACT preparation and filling out college applications. 

Executive Director Sue Schooner says a pilot program in Pioneer High School has Girls Group visiting every week to offer help.

Girls Group is based in Ann Arbor, and since it's creation in 2003, all of it's high school seniors - 51 of them - have graduated from high school and gone on to college.

— Bob Eccles is a reporter and the host of 89.1 WEMU's All Things Considered. Contact him at 734.487.3363, email him reccles@emich.edu, or follow him on Twitter @BobEcclesWEMU

 

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Exclusive Interview
7:25 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Malcolm Gladwell talks to Bob Eccles about his new book, 'David and Goliath'

Credit Bill Wadman

Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell is came to the Michigan Theater Monday evening.

89.1 WEMU's Bob Eccles spoke with Gladwell about his latest book, "David and Goliath - Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants."

— Bob Eccles is a reporter and the host of 89.1 WEMU's All Things Considered. Contact him at 734.487.3363, email him reccles@emich.edu, or follow him on Twitter @BobEcclesWEMU

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Michigan News
7:19 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Push for Part-Time State Legislature Begins

Campaign launches effort to make the state Legislature part-time

By Jake Neher

Michigan voters could see a question on the November ballot this year asking them to make the state Legislature part-time.

The Committee to Restore Michigan’s Part-Time Legislature has turned in petition language to the state Bureau of Elections.

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WEMU News
7:25 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Brighton Post State Trooper Honored

Credit State of Michigan

A Brighton Post State Trooper has received his department's Bravery Award for his actions in a potentially fatal situation. 

On February 18 2013, Trooper Matthew Keller responded to a report of a break-in, which turned into a vehicle pursuit. The suspect drove onto the yard of a residence, and fled on foot into the home. Inside, the suspect fired at Keller and a fellow officer. The officers returned fire, and Keller fatally wounded the suspect.

First Lieutenent Joel Allen is the Brighton post Commander. He said he is very proud of Keller's quick and decisive action.

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Michigan News
7:20 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

State Legislators Considering Federal Balanced Budget Amendment Push

Snyder breathes new life into balanced budget amendment efforts

By Rick Pluta

It took a push from Governor Rick Snyder, but efforts to put Michigan on record as supporting a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution are moving again at the state Capitol. Governor Snyder supported the idea last week in his State of the State address. Today (Thu.), a state House committee held its first hearing on two resolutions calling on Congress to convene a convention of the states to draft a balanced budget amendment. 

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Michigan News
7:18 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Lawyers May Not Have To Pay State Bar Membership Dues

“Right-to-work for lawyers” bill introduced in Lansing

By Jake Neher

Attorneys would no longer be required to pay membership dues to the State Bar of Michigan under a new bill in Lansing.

In 2012, the state made it illegal to require workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment, making Michigan the 24th right-to-work state.

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WEMU News
11:29 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Homeless Ask Washtenaw County Commission for Help

Credit Vlastula / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The homeless and their advocates filled the Washtenaw County Administration Building Board Room Wednesday night, asking the County Commission to help improve services available to them. 

Bob Eccles reports

Commission chair Yousef Rabhi says a task force is going to be convened in the next few days. It'll be made up of various stake holders, and will examine the best ways to fill gaps in services.

SEE ALSO:  Issues of the Environment: Habitat For Humanity Stewards Energy Savings

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Michigan News
11:24 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Statewide Teacher Evaluations Debated in Lansing

Bipartisan legislation in Lansing would create a statewide system to evaluate teachers and school administrators. The evaluations would be based partly on student growth and standardized tests.

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Michigan News
11:22 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

State Jobless Rate Drops

Credit pjbaldes / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped four-tenths of a percentage point last month to eight-point-four percent.

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Michigan News
11:21 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Governor Snyder Announces Plan to Protect DIA Assets in Detroit Bankruptcy

From the DIA's InsideOut program

Snyder announces plan to shield DIA assets from Detroit bankruptcy

By Rick Pluta

Governor Rick Snyder has proposed committing up to $350 million to help mitigate cuts to Detroit pension benefits – as well as keep assets of the Detroit Institute of Arts off the auction block.

The state’s offer would play out over 20 years and would match money raised from private donations to make sure DIA paintings, sculptures, and other works of art don’t get sold off to pay pension benefits that are central to the bankruptcy negotiations.

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WEMU News
3:42 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Washtenaw County Road Commission spends 20 percent of its Budget on Storm Cleanup

The Washtenaw County Road Commission spent $565,000 - one fifth of its budget - to clear snow and maintain roads during the severe weather earlier this month.

Nearly 3000 tons of salt and sand were dumped onto roads, and plow crews and other road personnel worked non-stop for five days to make sure the roads remained clear.

Washtenaw County Road Commission DIrector of Operation Jim Harmon says costs generated so far this season will not affect services going forward. He says the cost of cleaning up from a storm of that size is not unusual.
 

Michigan News
1:27 am
Wed January 22, 2014

State Transportation Director Blasts Lawmakers for Shunning Road Repairs

Credit lynnefeatherstone / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Michigan’s top transportation official is blasting state lawmakers for all but giving up on passing a long-term road funding fix this year.

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WEMU News
1:14 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Ypsilanti City Council Approves Letter of Intent for Water Street Housing Development

Credit Bob Eccles

Ypsilanti City Council has approved a letter of intent to sell a parcel of land in the Water Street Re-Development Area to a company that wants to build a 76-unit affordable housing project there. 

Michael Rodriguez is Development Director for Herman and Kittle Properties.  He says the  3.13 acre parcel on the southern edge of the re-development area is attractive for several reasons, including proximity to the Huron River and Michigan Avenue.

The housing development wasn't welcomed by everyone. 

Downtown businessman Dave Heikkinen expressed concerns that the city needs more market-rate housing rather than housing that caters to low-income residents. 

The city would sell the land for $157,000, with the developer performing about $750,000 worth of infrastructure improvements.  The plan is to have a purchase agreement back before city council in March.

Click here to hear a report from WEMU's Bob Eccles.

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Ann Arbor
2:13 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Michigan's Black Student Union says Lack of Contact from the University is Unacceptable

Credit @THEBSU/Twitter

The University of Michigan's Black Student Union says it's unacceptable that it has not yet been contacted by the university regarding seven demands presented Monday by the Union and the group Being Black at U-of-M. 

Geralyn Gaines is Secretary of the Black Student Union, which has threatened "physical actions" if its demands are not met in seven days. She says the actions will be non-violent, but declined to be more specific.

The demands made Monday include making affordable housing for low-income students available on the main campus, giving black students experiencing financial difficulty emergency scholarships, improving the university's multicultural center, and giving black students an equal chance to effect change. 

The group’s full demand:

  • We demand that the university give us an equal opportunity to implement change, the change that complete restoration of the BSU purchasing power through an increased budget would obtain.
  • We demand available housing on central campus for those of lower socio-economic status at a rate that students can afford, to be a part of university life, and not just on the periphery.
  • We demand an opportunity to congregate and share our experiences in a new Trotter [Multicultural Center] located on central campus.
  • We demand an opportunity to be educated and to educate about America’s historical treatment and marginalization of colored groups through race and ethnicity requirements throughout all schools and colleges within the university.
  • We demand the equal opportunity to succeed with emergency scholarships for black students in need of financial support, without the mental anxiety of not being able to focus on and afford the university's academic life.
  • We demand increased exposure of all documents within the Bentley (Historical) Library. There should be transparency about the university and its past dealings with race relations.
  • We demand an increase in black representation on this campus equal to 10 percent.

University Provost Martha Pollack said Monday the school is focusing on three areas: Improving the Trotter Multicultural Center, improving the climate on campus, and increasing enrollment of under-represented minorities as allowed by law. 

Gaines says the Provost's comments were "comforting," but fall short of what the Black Student Union expects from the university.

— Bob Eccles is a reporter and the host of 89.1 WEMU's All Things Considered. Contact him at 734.487.3363, email him reccles@emich.edu, or follow him on Twitter @BobEcclesWEMU

Statewide News
8:07 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Major Boost in Road Funding Not Likely in Michigan in 2014

State lawmakers return to Lansing this week with Governor Rick Snyder’s policy goals for 2014 in hand. But few are optimistic they’ll be able to pass legislation to boost road and infrastructure funding before the November election.

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Statewide News
8:06 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Governor calls for Civility in Martin Luther King Day Address

Snyder renews call for “civility” in MLK Day address

By Rick Pluta

Governor Rick Snyder used a Martin Luther King Day speech to call for more public civility. His remarks come as a state Republican leader continues to roil his party with comments about gay people and Muslims.

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WEMU News
1:51 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Weather Delays Washtenaw Avenue Repairs

It's going to take a little longer to get the center turn lane and eastbound lanes of Washtenaw Avenue open again in Ypsilanti. 

Crews working to repair damage caused by last weekend's broken water main were hoping to have the road completely re-opened by today, but the weather is pushing that back to Saturday afternoon. 

The Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority has been working to fill in voids below the pavement caused by water that gushed from the main. 

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