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
2:39 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Next Step for Thompson Block: Brownfield Tax Credits

Credit Bob Eccles

Developers of the Thompson Block in Ypsilanti's Depot Town have secured a 12-year Obsolete Property Rehiabilitation Act tax credit from city council.

Project partner Tyler Weston said the city also approved a Brownfield plan for the project, so the next step is to ask Washtenaw County for Brownfield tax credits.

"What Brownfield allows us to do is essentially get paid back for site improvements at the property" Weston explained.  He said those improvements include things like added parking space and structural improvements to the building.

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WEMU News
2:31 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Impaired Driving Crackdown Underway

Credit eWashtenaw.org

Washtenaw County drivers are on notice: if you drive drunk, you will be arrested.

The Washtenaw County Sherrif's Office is leading a drunk-driving crackdown that runs through the first week of April. 

Derrick Jackson is Director of Community Engagement for the Sheriff's Office.  He said it's a team effort.

"We have partnered with Pittsfield Township and a couple other agencies throughout the county to really focus in on looking for drunk drivers and traffic enforcement around this time of year," Jackson said.

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WEMU News
1:35 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

EMU Swears In Six New Public Safety Officers

YPSILANTI – Six new police officers were sworn in this month as the Eastern Michigan University Department of Public Safety took another major step in its plan to expand off-campus patrols and collaboration with other area law agencies.

Chief of police Bob Heighes, far left, swears in new officers (l-r): Ermir Vila, Michael Richardson, Michael Harhold, Kevin Dorsey, Bridget Bofysil and Helaina Bell.Credit Eastern Michigan UniversityEdit | Remove

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Ypsilanti
12:06 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Growing Hope Opening Pop-Up Gardening Supply Shop

Credit Facebook.com/YpsiPlanti

Growing Hope is interested in finding out how much interest there is in a local garden supply store, and will open a pop-up shop for a couple of months this spring to find out.

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WEMU News
7:49 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Road Conditions Won't Improve Soon, warns County Road Commission

Credit Andrew Cluley

The Washtenaw County Road Commission is warning that area roads will continue to be in rough shape for a while, as long as the weather continues to freeze and thaw.

Jim Harmon is the road commission's Director of Operations.

"We're experiencing rough road conditions s county-wide at this time," Harmon said, "both on our paved roads and un-paved roads, and our crews are working each day to try and patch and hold these roads together until things completely thaw out and stabalize."

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Business
1:06 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Eastern Michigan University Honors Businesses of the Year

Credit wikimedia commons

YPSILANTI  – Ford Motor Company, Crain’s Detroit Business and Bearclaw Coffee are among the best-run businesses in Michigan, according to students in the Eastern Michigan University College of Business.

Those businesses and 11 others were honored during an Academy-Award style event Friday, March 14 at the EMU Student Center. Ford won in the large business category, Crain’s won for medium-sized businesses and Bearclaw Coffee earned top honors for small businesses. Ford also won in the manufacturing category.

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WEMU News
10:58 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Thompson Block Developers Secure First Commercial Tenant Letter of Intent

The Thompson Block in Ypsilanti's Depot Town
Credit Bob Eccles

With developers of the Thompson Block securing their first commercial letter of intent, City Council tonight will consider a tax exemption to help move redevelopment of the property forward.

Thompson Block partner Tyler Weston says a local restaurant entrepreneur has taken the first step toward becoming a tenant, and a coffee shop has also expressed interest. 

Weston says the development plan has improved greatly since he came on board a year ago, with parking space now included for commercial and residential tenants, along with patio space for commercial tenants.

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Education
3:08 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Ypsilanti Community Schools Considers Future of Vacant Buildings

Credit Patrik Holubik

Ypsilanti Community Schools has several buildings it isn't using, and the district is considering its options on what to do with them.

Superintendent Scott Menzel says a lot depends on enrollment.

"We know that 3,000 students for Schools of Choice made other options in prior years," Menzel said.  "Our hope is that we truly become a first choice for exceptional cradle to career education and that perhaps some of these buildings will be brought back on line."

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Community
7:19 am
Sun March 16, 2014

Wandering Child Re-United with Mother

Credit eWashtenaw.org

The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office says a child found wandering along Washtenaw Avenue early this morning had been reunited with his mother.

Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the 2000 block of Washtenaw Avenue around 1:52 a.m. Sunday after someone called, worried the child was going to be struck by a vehicle.

Deputies found the 6 or 7 year old boy walking toward a Taco Bell restaurant.  The child was unharmed, but was wearing nothing but a diaper.  He was taken to a local hospital to be checked out.

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WEMU News
3:41 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Ypsilanti Community Schools to go after School Improvement Funding

Credit ycs-insprired.org

The state of Michigan is getting $16.7 million in U.S. Education Department School Improvement Grant funds, and Ypsilanti Community Schools hopes to be able to put some of that money to good use.

Superintendent Scott Menzel said a grant would be used for teacher professional development to improve achievement and outcomes for students at Holmes Elementary School.

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Health
12:21 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor Inflates Giant Walk-Through Colon in Lobby

Dr. Robert K. Cleary, Program Director of Colon and Rectal Surgery at St. Joe's, speaks with a reporter inside the Super Colon.
Credit Bob Eccles

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor's lobby was home to a 20-foot inflatable walk-through Super Colon Wednesday to mark National Colorectal Awareness Month.

The hospital and the American Cancer Society want the public to know that colon cancer is preventable with proper screening, and it's extremely curable if found early.

St. Joe's President and CEO Rob Casalou says the health system is a major provider of care, both in treatment and screening, and performed over 10,000 colonoscopies last year.

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WEMU News
8:05 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Saline Residents Speak Out on Dispatch Outsourcing Proposal

Credit cityofsaline.org

Saline residents had a couple of chances this week to find out more about a proposal to shift overnight police dispatch to a third party.

Mayor Brian Marl says the first of two public forums took place Monday evening.

"We heard a lot of legitimate concerns," Marl said. "A lot of excellent questions were articulated by our community members".

Marl says a forum Wednesday morning wasn't as well attended, probably due to the weather.

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WEMU News
7:59 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Ypsilanti Snow Removal Ordinance Features Shorter Grace Period, Lower Fine for First Offense

Cross Street businesses clear snow Wednesday morning.
Credit Bob Eccles

If you got a ticket in Ypsilanti after our latest round of snow, it's because you didn't clear your sidewalk within the required trimeframe.

City Planner Teresa Gillotti says the grace period for clearing snow is shorter this year than it was last year, "to try and keep the sidewalks clear sooner rather than later". The city now gives residents and business owners 24 hours to clear snow, as opposed to 48 hours.

Fines for first offenses have also been reduced from $50 to $15.

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Michigan News
4:08 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Snow makes for a Busy Morning for Motorists, AAA Michigan

Credit michiigan.aaa.com

Our snowy morning commute made for a slow drive for motorists, and a busy time for AAA Michigan.

AAA Michigan spokesperson Nancy Cain said the auto club had assisted close to 2,300 motorists as of 4pm Wednesday, and was still pretty busy.

Cain said she expected that as the weather cleared up things would slow down a bit.

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Community
1:52 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

More Snow is Good News for Snow Removal Businesses

Credit facebook.com/simplelawnsypsi

One sector of the local business community that probably doesn't mind all the snow we've had this winter is snow removal.

Justin Brown owns Simple Lawns in Ypsilanti, which has been in business since last spring.  He says the snow has kept him extremely busy.

"Seems like every week, you know, we're out and about doing snow plowing," Brown says. "Haven't really caught much of a break."

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Weather
11:47 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Ypsilanti Residents Taking Snow in Stride

Snow falls on Cross Street in Ypsilanti Wednesday morning.
Credit Bob Eccles / 89.1 WEMU

While this latest winter storm found Ypsilanti residents out shoveling snow this morning, they seemed to be trying to find the positive side.

Jennifer Hackett was clearing snow on South Huron Street. She said the snow fell on a day when she didn't have to make her usual drive into Detroit's northern suburbs, so she was happy for that.

Along Harriet Street, Anthony Scott  was shoveling a driveway and sidewalk for a little extra cash.  He said this has been an excellent winter for making money shoveling snow.

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Ypsilanti
8:25 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

First Fridays Ypsilanti Gets $1,000 Grant from A2Awesome

Credit A2Awesome.org

An Ypsilanti organization that puts on art shows on the first Friday of each month has received a $1,000 grant from micro-philanthropic group A2Awesome.  

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Community
7:18 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

State Attorney General Officers Talk About Human Trafficking During Visit To EMU

(l-r) Carol Isaacs, Chief Deputy Attorney General; Kelly Carter, Assitant Attorney General; and John Lazet, the Attorney General's Director of Crime Victim Advocacy.
Credit Bob Eccles

When you think about crime in Michigan, human trafficking may not leap to mind.  But three high-ranking officers in the state Attorney General's office say it probably should.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Carol Isaacs was among those who participated in a discussion on human trafficking at the Eastern Michigan University Student Center Tuesday. 

She says human trafficking - both sexual and labor trafficking - is prevalent in Michigan.

"We think it is under-reported," Isaacs said. "Mis-labeled, un-reported and hidden in plain sight."

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Ypsilanti
8:23 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Depot Town Businesses Hopeful for Thompson Block Redevelopment

The Thompson Block in Ypsilanti's Depot Town.
Credit Bob Eccles

Businesses in Ypsilanti's Depot Town are looking forward to something happening with the Thompson Block, but opinions vary on what should happen to the former Civil War barracks and adjoining properties.

Ryan Glowacki offers his thoughts on the Thompson Block.

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Ypsilanti
7:48 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Ypsilanti Residents Appear to be Bucking Texting and Driving Trend

Credit Wikimedia Commons

A recent Michigan Office of Highway Safety Patrol survey showed more people than ever admit to texting and emailing while driving, but the people WEMU news spoke with  Monday evening in downtown Ypsilanti appear to be bucking the trend.

Andrea says she has good reason not to text and drive.  "I have a nine month-old daughter," she says. "I just can't see risking her life for it."

A January survey showed 16-point-three percent of respondents admitted to texting and emailing behind the wheel.  That was twice the number in a similar survey conducted in 2012.

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Government
7:36 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Deadline for Appealing Property Tax Assessment Nears

Credit ewashtenaw.org

Washtenaw County property owners have until next week to appeal their 2014 property assessment.

Assessments are one of the factors used to determine the taxable value of a property.

Washtenaw County's Treasurer, Catherine McClary  says property values are starting to go up, and her office has made a brochure available to help property owners decide whether they'd like to appeal their assessment.

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Politics
2:12 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Congressman John D. Dingell Addresses Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber

Congressman John D. Dingell speaks at the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber luncheon meeting.
Patrick Campion 89.1 WEMU

Retiring Congressman John Dingell headlined today's Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber lunch meeting.

Dingell says organizations like chambers of commerce are an important part of the community, offering the chance for people to speak with elected officials and make sure government is running as it should.

Congressman John D. Dingell speaking after the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber's lunch meeting.

Dingell has announced he won't seek re-election when his current term is up.  His wife, Debbie, is running to replace him in the 12th Congressional district, as is Ypsilanti resident Terry Bowman who's running as a Republican.

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WEMU News
7:41 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Ann Arbor Staffing Agency says Hiring Reflects Decline in State Unemployment

The state says Michigan's unemployment rate is the lowest it's been since May of 2008, and the Ann Arbor office of Manpower, Incorporated says that certainly appears to be the case locally.

Ann Arbor Manpower President Susan Carlson says they're businesses are definitely hiring.
 
She says her office sees the most requests for hiring in the manufacturing sector, but areas such as information technology, health care and customer service are also looking for employees.

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WEMU News
7:30 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

U-of-M Study Finds Cost of Care Related to Quality of Care

Credit MVictors.com

University of Michigan researchers have found that the cost of treating children with congenital heart defects varies greatly across U-S Hospitals. Sara K. Pasquali is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan.

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WEMU News
2:42 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Kiwanis Grant to help Education Project for Homeless Youth

Credit wash.kis.mi.us

The Washtenaw Intermediate School District's Education Project for Homeless Youth (EPHY) has received a $2,500 grant from the Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor Foundation.

The money will help the program buy vouchers from local shoe vendors that students can exchange for footwear.

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