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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Transit
5:54 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Get Downtown Launches 'Conquer the Cold' Commuter Challenge

Credit Getdowntown

Just because the weather's turning cold doesn't mean it's time to give up on your alternative method of commuting. 

The Get Downtown Program is encouraging people to register to participate in this year's "Conquer the Cold" winter commuting challenge. 

Get Downtown Program director Nancy Shore says "Conquer the Cold" aims to keep alternative commutes going.

Downtown Ann Arbor employees can sign up for winter bike commuting classes and register for the commuting challenge, which offers a $500 Bivouac gift card as its top prize. 

WEMU's Bob Eccles reports on the Getdowntown program's Conquer the Cold Commuter Challenge

Community
3:39 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Ann Arbor City Council Requests U-of-M toTake Billboard Down

Marquee rendering
Credit University of Michigan Athletics

Ann Arbor City Council has adopted a resolution asking the University of Michigan to decommission its electronic billboard outside Michigan Stadium. 

The sign is the largest billboard in Ann Arbor and city officials say it's too large, too close to the road, and is distracting to motorists.

3rd Ward council member Christopher Taylor acknowledges he and his colleagues can't actually influence U-of-M's decision on this matter. The most they can do is ask the university to take the sign down.

Taylor doesn't expect council to spend much more time discussing the issue, instead focusing on other issues of mutual interest with U-of-M.

WEMU's Bob Eccles' report can be heard here.

Community
3:24 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Growing Hope Executive Director Announces Ypsilanti Mayoral Bid

Growing Hope's Amanda Edmonds

Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber hasn't said whether he'll run for re-election in 2014, but if he does, he'll face a challenge from Amanda Edmonds. 

The Growing Hope Executive Director is also vice-chair of the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority. She's vice-chair of the Washtenaw Food Policy Council, and was appointed by the Governor to a similar organization at the state level.

The 36 year-old is running as a Democrat.

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Sports
2:59 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

EMU Football Coach Ron English Fired

Former Eagles head coach, Ron English
Credit Eastern Michigan University Athletics

Eastern Michigan University has relieved head football coach Ron English of his duties. 

"At this time, I have decided that a change in the leadership of our football team is necessary", EMU Athletic Director Heather Lyke said in a statement.

English's record in 57 games at the helm of the Eagles football program was 11-46.  The team is 1-8 this season.

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Local News
1:46 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

U-of-M Launches $4 Billion 'Victors for Michigan' Fundraising Campaign

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman announces the Victors for Michigan fundraising campaign
Credit Bob Eccles

The University of Michigan has launched the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the history of public higher education. 

President Mary Sue Coleman announced the Victors for Michigan campaign, which aims to raise $4 billion.  Coleman says she’s confident the university’s alumni and friends will come through.

The Victors for Michigan campaign will focus on three priorities, the highest of which is student support.  It will also raise money for areas described as engaged learning and bold ideas. 

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Education
3:34 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

U-of-M Merges Human Resources and Financial Services Departments

The University of Michigan is condensing its human resources and financial services departments into a Shared Services Center.  

University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald says the new center will improve efficiency and cut costs. The center is expected to save U-of-M $5 to $6 million in its first three years of operation.

It should be operating at full capacity by October of 2014.

Fitzgerald says employees currently working in the affected departments will be considered first for employment in the new center, but are not guaranteed a job.

For more information: http://ast.umich.edu/

Community
3:16 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Washtenaw County Trying 'Peacemaking Court'

Credit Morgue File

The Washtenaw County Circuit Court is getting some state funding to try a new - or actually very old - brand of justice.  

State grants will help create a "peacemaking court", which uses Native American principles to help resolve disputes. 

Circuit Court Judge Tim Connors says it gives the court more options, with an emphasis on the importance of admitting wrongdoing and apologizing for it.

"Peacemaking courts" will find everyone involved in the process working together to make things right and re-integrate offenders into the community. 

They'll follow what they call the three R's: respect, responsibility, relationships and re-direction. 

If successful, "peacemaking courts" could be expanded to other jurisdictions.

Local News
10:34 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Local Election Results (Un-official)

Un-official election results have Saline Township voters saying "yes" to a road maintenance millage renewal.  The one-mil issue generates revenue to take care of the township's gravel non-primary roads. 

School district voters appeared generous with their support Tuesday, approving an operational millage renewal for Saline Area Schools.  Ann Arbor schools voters also approved a sinking fund millage renewal.

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Safety
2:51 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Local Pedestrian Safety Advocate Pushing for State Crosswalk Law

A local pedestrian safety advocate has launched an online petition drive to prompt state lawmakers to pass a Michigan crosswalk law. 

Former Ann Arbor school board member Kathy Griswold says crosswalks in her city lack the proper infrastructure, such as good lighting, to be safe to use.  She points to a new mid-block crossing on Huron east of State as an example where lighting has been an issue.

Griswold says a state crosswalk law would mean standardized, safe pedestrian crossings across Michigan. 

You can find her petition at www.Change.org.

Environment
9:36 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

League of Conservation Voters on Governor's Renewable Energy Report

Governor Snyder has released a new report that shows that Michigan has the ability to move towards more usage of renewable energy.  

Jack Schmitt is the Deputy Director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.

He says the Snyder Administration's report shows we have the potential to triple our current renewable energy goal.

Schmitt also says wind energy could be an alternative for renewable energy in Michigan, reducing our dependency on the environmentally destructive method of burning coal.

Public Transportation
9:34 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

The Ride Seeking Public Input on its Performance

Credit Facebook/TheRide

The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority wants your opinion on its overall performance in a series of public meetings. 

Marketing Coordinator Don Kline says The Ride is seeking public feedback for it's five-year transit improvement program.  The program aims to increase transit access in under-served areas with more destinations, and more frequent and direct service.

There are several public meetings planned.  Find the meeting schedule at MovingYouForward.org.

Local News
9:31 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Graham Sustainability Institute marks Climate Adaptation Week

The University of Michigan's Graham Sustainability Institute is marking Climate Adaptation Week. 

Two free events highlight ongoing climate change adaptation projects at the institute. 

Beth Gibbons is Project Manager of Great Lakes Adaptation and Assessment for Cities at the Graham Institute.

She says a Sustainability Town Hall event takes place Wednesday from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery.  There is also a climate-change related tour at the Nichols Arboretum Thursday from 10 am until 12pm, starting at the Reader's Center. 

More information at graham.umich.edu.

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Education
9:27 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Report Says Many 3rd Graders Don't Meet Proficiency Standards

A new national report says only one in three children who started school in the late 1990's had the necessary cognitive skills by the third grade to go on to be successful adults.

Jane Zehnder-Merrell is the Director of the Kids Count in Michigan project. She explains that the study helps to chart the trajectory of kids' lives.

The report followed 13,000 kids who began kindergarten at the end of the 1990's. Children from lower-income families had the lowest rate of sufficient cognitive development.

Zehnder-Merrell says funding programs that support these families, such as cash assistance or food stamps, would positively affect these rates.

Education
9:21 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Ypsilanti Community Schools Early Childhood Group Addresses Learning at Earliest Levels

Early Childhood Advisory Committee addresses the Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education
Credit Bob Eccles

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Early Childhood Advisory Committee is working on ways to improve education at the earliest levels, going as far as finding ways to give parents pre-natal help in making education choices. 

The committee presented a draft plan to the school board last night. 

Margy Long co-chairs the group.  She's also director of the Success by Six Great Start Collaborative.

Long says achievement gaps happen when every child isn't ready to learn by the time they enter kindergarten.

She says the Early Childhood Advisory Committee is trying to expand on what's been done in the area before. 

She says teachers can't do everything, so a Family Resource Center could help. 

The committee will make its formal report to the school board in early 2014.

Education
9:17 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Ypsilanti School Board Adopts Anti-Gun Resolution

Ypsilanti Community Schools trustees Tony VanDerworp, Greg Myers and Vice-President Don Garrett, Jr. (l-r)
Credit Bob Eccles

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education has adopted a resolution asking the state legislature to change the laws on the open carrying of firearms to specifically prohibit the practice on school property. 

Board President David Bates says students need a safe environment to thrive, and staff need safe schools to properly do their jobs.

The resolution adopted Monday night is similar to one adopted last month by the Rockford, Michigan school board.  

Also Monday night, the Ypsilanti Community Schools board approved a six-month contract with Margolis Companies for snow removal services.

Click here to listen to Bob Eccles' report.

Elections
11:01 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Washtenaw County Election Preview

There are a handful of ballot issues being decided in Washtenaw County tomorrow.

WEMU's Bob Eccles has more on elections throughout the county:

2013 Washtenaw County election preview

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Local News
5:40 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

ACA Symposium set for Monday

The public is invited to a free symposium where the Affordable Care Act will be discussed by media and policy experts. 

Marianne Udow-Phillips is Director of the Center for Health Care Research and Transformation, which is hosting Monday's event. 

Udow-Phillips says journalists from the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the New York Times will discuss how the Affordable Care Act has been portrayed in the media. 

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Sports
3:28 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

EMU E-Club Alumni Chapter Announces 2013 Athletic Hall of Fame Class

Credit Eastern Michigan University Athletics

Eastern Michigan University's E-Club Alumni Chapter says seven former school athletes are being added to its Athletic Hall of Fame. 

Men's basketball stars Earl Boykins and Derrick Dial are being honored, along with women's basketball stand-out Wondella Devers, women's track and field star JoyAnn Clark, swimmer Dennis Betts, football and basketball player Donald Stewart, and former EMU Athletic Director Gene Smith, who currently serves in the same capacity at Ohio State. 

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Holidays
2:54 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Workshops Promote Meaning over Consumerism in Holiday Celebrations

Credit Timo Kirkkala / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

The University of Michigan Credit Union is hosting a couple of workshops designed to steer people towards a life of meaning rather than a life of consumption this holiday season.  

Washtenaw County Treasurer Catherine McClary is a co-sponsor of the "Tis The Season to Hang Onto Reason" workshops. She says the program provides alternative ways to celebrate the upcoming holidays, not based on consumerism. 

The workshops are taught by Kathryn Greiner, Director of Education at the U-of-M Credit Union and a renowned speaker and budget guru. 

The workshops are free of charge, but pre-registration  is required.

The first is scheduled for Saturday from 10 to 11:30 a.m.  The second is Thursday, November 7th from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Both take place at the University of Michigan Credit Union. 

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Health
3:37 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Participants Sought for Long-Term Cancer Prevention Study

Ann Arbor's St. Joseph Mercy and University of Michigan hospitals are partnering in a nationwide cancer prevention study, and they'd like to enroll at least 500 Ann Arbor residents to participate. 

John Stout is Oncology Services director at St. Joseph Mercy.  He says this is a great opportunity to take part in an important long-term study.

Stout says to take part in the study you must be between the ages of 30 and 65 and never have been diagnosed with cancer.

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Education
3:24 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Teacher Preparation Summit Friday at EMU

Eastern Michigan University is hosting a day-long summit in the EMU Student Center ballroom Friday on the state of teacher preparation in Michigan.

The event is called, "Educator Preparation: A Call to Action in Michigan", and will include keynote speaker Marilyn Cochran-Smith, a Boston College Professor. 

Regina George is Director of Urban Community and International Outreach at EMU's School of Education.  She says the conference is for K-12 educators, students of education, instructors, and administrators.

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Halloween
2:55 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

DTE Energy warns of High Winds during Trick-or-Treating

A little rain might be the least of your worries during trick-or-treating this evening.

DTE Energy warns of the potential for high winds, and suggests people who will be out trick-or-treating this evening get their goodie-grabbing done earlier rather than later, when winds will pick up.

High winds can lead to downed power lines. 

DTE spokesperson Erica Donerson  says if you come across a downed power line, stay away from it.

She says if the winds become strong in your area, it may be better to stay inside rather than risk coming across a downed power line.

Education
2:52 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

EMU Flash Mob performs Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' [Video]

Laura Heffner WEMU

A flash mob at the Eastern Michigan University Student Center re-enatcted Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video at lunchtime today.  

Dinah Nasari is Director of Student Relations for EMU's Student Government, and also participated in the spur-of-the-moment performance.  She says the idea came from members of student government:

Nasari says part of the reason for organizing the flash mob was to help take students' minds off recent serious events, including the death of an EMU student-athlete.

Environment
7:12 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Environmental Group says U.S. is Distorting Coal Reserves

Credit Clean Energy Action

An environmental group lists Michigan among a dozen states in which the cost of delivering coal for use in energy production has grown at two to three times faster than inflation over the past decade.

Clean Energy Action Director of Research and Policy Leslie Glustrom says the government is also over-estimating the amount of affordable coal reserves. 

Bob Eccles reports

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Local News
7:10 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Trick-or-Treat Hours for Local Communities

Credit therapycatguardian / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

It's Halloween, and while many communities in the area are holding trick-or-treat hours from six 'til eight tonight, there are a few exceptions. 

  • In Chelsea and Dexter, trick-or-treating takes place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. 
  • Manchester's trick-or-treat hours are 5 p.m.  to 7 p.m.. 
  • Kids in Ann Arbor get an hour more than ghosts and goblins in most other communities to gather treats: five 'til eight. 
  • In Ypsilanti, trick-or-treating starts at dusk, with no specific end time.

Special events planned tonight include:

WEMU's Bob Eccles reports

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