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
4:58 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Washtenaw Community College Enrollment Bucks Trend

Credit Facebook.com/WashtenawCC

Years of effort to bring more students to Washtenaw Community College are starting to pay off.

WCC is reporting an increase of 2 percent in the number of students attending class fall.

It is one of only five community colleges in Michigan to report increasing enrollment for the upcoming semester.

Linda Blakey is WCC's Vice President of Student and Academic Services. She says multiple demographics are seeing a rise in enrollment.

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WEMU News
2:50 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Family Dollar Construction Begins On Water Street

Work has begun at the site of the Water Street Family Dollar store.
Credit Bob Eccles

Construction has begun on the site of a Family Dollar store on the Water Street re-development area.

An official groundbreaking will he held after the August 5th primary election, but construction machinery was busy at work on the site Tuesday, maneuvering around wooden stakes topped with pieces of fluttering fluorescent tape. 

The sidewalk along Michigan Avenue is also marked with fluorescent spray paint. 

The Family Dollar project is the first on Water Street to see construction begin since 1999. 

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Elections
5:00 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Washtenaw County Commission District 5 Candidates Discuss Public Safety

Credit eWashtenaw.org

Roland Sizemore's announcement that he would not seek re-election to the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners in District 5 prompted four Democrats to file to replace him.

Keith Jason, Wilma Gold-Jones, Ruth Ann Jamnick and Victor Dobrin each would like to represent Ypsilanti and Augusta Townships on the board. Listen to thee candidates' thoughts on crime and public safety in the audio above.

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WEMU News
6:44 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Ypsilanti Mayoral Candidates Talk Pubic Safety

Credit Bob Eccles

Three Democrats are seeking to replace Paul Schreiber as Mayor of Ypsilanti.

Growing Hope Executive Director Amanda Edmonds, current city council member and former mayor Pete Murdock, and community activist Tyrone Bridges appear on the August 5th primary election ballot.

WEMU's Bob Eccles reports on the  candidates' thoughts on crime and public safety.

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WEMU News
12:43 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Washtenaw County Gauging Affordable Housing Need

Credit eWashtenaw.org

Washtenaw County wants to get a better idea of how great the need is locally for affordable housing, and has launched an online needs assessment to help make that determination.

Paul Montagno is the Sustainable Communities Coordinator for Washtenaw County's Office of Community and Economic Development.

He says this survey will be very helpful in providing policy direction.

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Elections
6:20 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Interview: 12th Congressional District Candidate Debbie Dingell

Credit debbiedingellforcongress.com

As the August 5th primary election draws near, Debbie Dingell, one of two Democrats seeking to fill her husband John's 12th Congressional district seat, stops by the WEMU studios to talk about the campaign.

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WEMU News
4:35 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Survey: Candidates Recognize Value Of Arts And Culture

Credit A3Arts.org

Candidates running for office in Washtenaw County show a good understanding of the important role that arts and culture play in setting a sense of place and improving the local economy.

That's according to Arts Alliance Director Deb Polich, whose organization hosted a candidates forum Wednesday morning.

"I think the challenge that comes up often is that they don't know the opportunities that exist in other cities and other states that actually make it possible to invest dollars and make public policy that can change the current circumstances," Police says.

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WEMU News
3:26 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Red Cross Aims To Avoid Emergency Blood Shortage

Credit twitter.com

Blood is not like drinking water - you can't stockpile large supplies for use in emergencies.  It has to be fairly fresh.  And so the American Red Cross finds itself in its usual summertime bind of critically needing donations.

Red Cross Communications Manager Angie Bermudez says it's tough when 20 percent of blood drives take place on college campuses and at high schools.

She says with summer vacations, this is the time of greatest need.

"We're missing a large percentage of our regular donations," Bermudez says.

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WEMU News
1:55 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Focus On Fun, Involvement In Heritage Festival Parade

Credit ypsilantiheritagefestival.com

Organizers of this year's Ypsilanti Heritage Festival want the festival parade to spotlight the fun, creative side of the community.

"We really want to foster a little bit of that New Orleans spirit," festival director Andrew Clock says, "where neighborhoods come out and put together floats and acts just to say 'look how cool our neighborhood is'.  We've got a lot of that spirit in Ypsilanti, so we want to make the Heritage Festival parade the opportunity to do that."

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WEMU News
4:20 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Mayoral Forum Draws Crowd To Downtown Ypsilanti Library Branch

Ypsilanti mayoral candidates (closest to farthest) Tyrone Bridges, Pete Murdock and Amanda Edmonds.
Bob Eccles

The three Ypsilanti mayoral candidates addressed a packed house Monday night at the downtown library branch.

Among the questions the candidates addressed at the public forum was how to tackle the Water Street debt that threatens to swamp the city's financial boat. 

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-Michigan News
4:13 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Former Treasury Secretary Says Foreign Investment Key To Michigan Economy

Paulson (l) and Governor Rick Snyder speak to reporters Monday at Ford Field in Detroit.
Credit Michigan Public Radio Network

Henry Paulson tells Michigan to seek out Chinese investment

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says foreign investment and immigration will be critical to turning around Michigan's economy.

The former aide to President George W. Bush spoke before the Detroit Economic Club (DEC) Monday afternoon with Gov. Rick Snyder.

"Make Michigan attractive for investment, period. OK? Make it attractive," said Paulson.

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WEMU News
5:16 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Ypsilanti Mayoral Forum Monday Night At Downtown Library

Credit Bob Eccles

Three Democrats are running to be Ypsilanti's next mayor, and they're all scheduled to appear at a public forum Monday night.

The gathering at the Ypsilanti District Library's downtown branch will feature community activist Tyrone Bridges, Growing Hope Executive Director Amanda Edmonds and current city council member Pete Murdock, who all want to replace Paul Schreiber as mayor. 

Organizers say the forum is a chance for voters to hear what the candidates have to say on a variety of issues. 

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WEMU News
5:16 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Got Burger! Receives Warm Welcome In Ypsilanti

Got Burger! at 301 W. Cross St. in Ypsilanti.
Credit Bob Eccles

The owner of the new Got Burger! restaurant on Cross Street in Ypsilanti says the community has really welcomed him, and he looks forward to being an even bigger part of the community.

Haroun Mohammed says he'll be looking for ways to reach out.

"Getting involved in the community, getting involved at EMU and other schools, and just trying to do what we can to give back," Mohammed says.

He says he chose the Cross Street location mainly because there weren't any other burger places around.  

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WEMU News
4:32 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Group Sues Michigan DEQ, Oil Developer Over Proposed Scio Township Well

Credit oilfreebackyards.org

Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards has filed suit in Washtenaw County Circuit Court, seeking to derail plans for an exploratory oil well in Scio Township.

The suit alleges the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality doesn't abide by its own permitting rules, and that the public was only involved in the process in a superficial manner. 

The MDEQ says its permitting process has a great record of prevailing in such cases. 

West Bay Exploration Company wants to drill the well.  It says the suit will delay the process, but looks forward to moving ahead with drilling.

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WEMU News
6:25 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Milestone For Yankee Air Museum Bomber Plant Purchase

The portion of the former Willow Run bomber plant the Yankee Air Museum will call home.
Credit Bob Eccles

The effort to convert a section of the former Willow Run bomber plant into a new home for the Yankee Air Museum is moving forward.

Yankee Air Museum founder and Michigan Aerospace Foundation president Dennis Norton says a milestone was reached on Tuesday.

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WEMU News
6:25 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Over Half Of Eligible Washtenaw County Residents Enrolled In Healthy Michigan Plan

Credit eWashtenaw.org

Since open enrollment began on April first, more than 7,400 Washtenaw County residents have successfully enrolled in Michigan's expanded Medicaid plan.

Kristen Nordberg is Washtenaw Health Plan's Director of Enrollment and Advocacy Services.  She says an estimated 13,000 county residents are eligible for the Healthy Michigan Plan.

 "So there are still many, many people in the county that we need to get enrolled in the Healthy Michigan Medicaid plan," Nordberg says.

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WEMU News
6:24 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Ypsilanti Township Approves Truancy Ordinance

Credit ytown.org

If your kid is skipping school in Ypsilanti Community Schools and the Lincoln Consolidated School District, you could be held legally responsible.

Ypsilanti Township has passed an ordinance that holds parents in the Ypsilanti Community Schools and Lincoln school districts legally responsible for their children's chronic truancy.

Under the law, parents of children aged 6-13 who accumulate 10 or more unexcused absences can be punished with fines or jail time.

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WEMU News
4:59 am
Wed July 16, 2014

State Seeks Public Comment On Proposed Fracking Rules

Credit michiganlcv.org

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters says now is the time for those concerned about how the state regulates hydraulic fracturing to speak up.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is holding public hearings to get input on proposed rules regarding "fracking". 

Jack Schmitt is deputy director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.  He says the rules as proposed fall far short.

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WEMU News
4:54 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Group Suing Over Scio Township Oil Drilling

Credit facebook.com/citizensforoilfreebackyards

The group Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards is taking the effort to prevent an exploratory well from being drilled in Scio Township to court.

The group would not say who it's targeting with the suit, but president Laura Robinson says the state Department of Environmental Quality failed when it issued a permit to West Bay Exploration Company. 

Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards holds an informational meeting at 7 tonight at the Scio Township hall.

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WEMU News
4:53 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Better Farming Practices Needed To Avoid Algae Blooms

Satellite image of Lake Erie shows algae blooms.
Credit noaa.gov

If you've spent anytime boating on Lake Erie over the last few summers, you may very well have been diverted by huge patches of algae blooms.

It would appear you'll have the same issue later this summer.

Scientists predict another large toxic bloom will appear on the western side of Lake Erie this summer. The blooms are caused by excessive amounts of phosphorus and other chemicals typically found in agricultural run-off.

Don Scavia is Director of the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan.

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WEMU News
4:51 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Research Park Drive Development Could Include Tennis Courts

Credit a2gov.org

Things could soon look a lot different on Ann Arbor's Research Park Drive near State Street.

City Council has approved a zoning change that will allow the currently vacant land to be developed for mixed-use purposes.

Developers have already submitted a plan for the area that includes an 8-court indoor/outdoor tennis facility as well as two five-story buildings for research, office or limited industrial uses. City Planner Jeff Kahan says the developer's plan for the other lots in the area is less detailed, but will be used for office and research buildings.

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WEMU News
11:20 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Environmental Groups Warn Of Potential Pipeline Problems

Credit nwf.org

Environmentalists are calling for additional safety measures to protect the Great Lakes from a 61 year-old oil pipeline located under the Straits of Mackinac.

A new model created by the National Wildlife Federation and the University of Michigan Water Center predicts Lakes Huron and Michigan would suffer significant damage if the Enbridge-owned pipeline were to rupture.

National Wildlife Federation Regional Executive Director Andy Buchsbaum says a spill there would be a deathblow both ecological and economical to the Great Lakes region.

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WEMU News
11:18 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Disabilities Advocacy Group Seeking Volunteers

Credit facebook.com/washcoricc

A group that advocates for Washtenaw County's disabled residents is looking for some new volunteers to help advance its mission.

The Washtenaw Regional Inclusive Community Coalition is one of more than 50 similar organizations across the state helping to increase awareness of issues important to those with developmental or other disabilities. 

The coalition holds regular meetings, and has a leadership training session scheduled for July 25th.
Find out more about the RICC on Facebook:

http://facebook.com/washcoricc

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WEMU News
11:18 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Rolling Sculpture Car Show Friday

Credit mainstreetannarbor.org

The 20th annual Rolling Sculpture Car Show comes to downtown Ann Arbor Friday.

More than 300 vehicles will be shown, including some historic electric vehicles. 

DJ Surfer Joe will be spinning hot rod tunes and the Ann Arbor District Library will have activities for families on Liberty between Fourth and Fifth. 

The Rolling Sculpture Car Show takes place Friday from two to 10 p.m. along Main, Liberty and Washington Streets.

Find more information on the event online:

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WEMU News
3:49 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

July 20-26 Gun Safety Week In Washtenaw County

Gun safety locks and information will be available at law enforcement agencies during Gun Safety Week.
Bob Eccles

Law enforcment agencies across Washtenaw County hope to help prevent gun deaths by offering free gun lock kits during Gun Safety Week, July 20th through the 26th.

County Prosecutor Brian Mackie says he's seen far too many senseless deaths in his thirty-plus years on the job.

"One would be too many, but it happens over and over again with otherwise responsible citizens who think that they're protecting themselves by having a loaded gun, then there's death or serious injury in the family, usually when children go to the guns," Mackie says.

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