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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Ballot
12:59 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Ypsi City Council Approves Medical Marijuana Restrictions

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

Ypsilanti City Council has voted to limit the number of medical marijuana licenses it accepts or renews in a given year. The second and final reading of an ordinance to that effect was approved Tuesday night.

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Community
12:54 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Ypsi Property Owners Protest Proposed Streetlight Fees

Residents voiced their objections to the Ypsilanti's plan to charge land owners a fee to replace the some of the city's street lights with new LED models at Tuesday night's city council meeting.

Under the proposal, each parcel of land was to be charged a $98 fee for the first year, with the fee steadily declining over the following years to around $70 by 2031.  AnnArbor.com says council amended the proposal so that residents would not have to pay to power the streetlights during that period, and instead would pay about $58 a year for just two years.

The most commonly-voiced objections to the plan included its cost, the perceived value attained from the switch, and having to pay an additional fee for something that has previously been payed for by property taxes.

Ypsilanti City Manager Ralph Lange says the city has worked hard to make the project as affordable as possible. 

The cost over converting older, less efficient streetlights to LED's over the 2013-14 and 2014-15 fiscal years is estimated at over $555,000.   Converting the lights is expected to save the city over $100,000 a year.

Public discussion about the street lights will continue at the at the next council meeting, scheduled for August 20.

Local News
10:03 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Ypsi Twp Voters Approve Millage Requests

Voters in Ypsilanti Township said "yes" to all four millage requests on their ballot Tuesday.

Millage increases to support police, fire and refuse collection services each passed with roughly 70% of the vote.  A recreation millage renewal also passed, but by a narrower margin.

Township Supervisor Brenda Stumbo says voters realized the importance of their township being able to continue to provide important services in tough economic times. 

Join David Fair for the complete wrap-up of un-official election results Wednesday during Morning Edition.

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Local News
9:58 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Ann Arbor City Council Primary Results Find One Incumbent Out

Voters in Ann Arbor's fourth City Council ward went with the challenger over the incumbent in Tuesday's Democratic primary.

Un-officials results showed Jack Eaton with 60% of the vote, to incumbent Marcia Higgins' 40%.   Eaton is not expected to be challenged for the seat in November.

Third ward voters narrowly favored incumbent Stephen Kunselman over challenger Julie Grand, 52% to 48%.  Kunselman will take on independent candidate Samuel DeVarti this fall.

Local News
9:35 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Whitmore Lake Voters Reject Bond Issue

Whitmore Lake Schools voters soundly rejected a $12.3 million bond issue Tuesday.  Superintendent Kim Hart says the un-official tally wasn't close: 690 "no" votes to 310 "yes" votes.

She says the main complaint the district heard from voters was that their taxes were already too high, particularly in Northville Township and Washtenaw County.

Hart says some tough decisions will have to be made going forward, because at this point any money needed for things the district needs to repair, remodel or replace will come directly out of the classroom.

Local News
9:19 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

YCS Board Approves Bell Time Changes

Ypsilanti Community Schools Trustees (l-r) Maria Sheler-Edwards, Tony VanDerworp and Greg Myers.
Credit Bob Eccles

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education Monday night approved changes to district bell times that'll see students released earlier than originally planned. WEMU's Bob Eccles has the story.

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Taxes
7:27 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Ypsilanti Township Voters to Decide Four Ballot Issues Tuesday

Ypsilanti Township voters will find four millage issues on the ballot Tuesday - one renewal and three increases.  

As WEMU's Bob Eccles reports, township officials say approval of the issues is critical to maintaining important services.

Preview of Tuesday's ballot issues to be decided on Tuesday

Education
6:27 am
Mon August 5, 2013

YCS Board of Education To Consider Some Changes to Class Start Times

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education tonight will consider tweaking the start time for classes at its meeting tonight.  The district planned to have each student to spend seven-and-a-half hours in school every day, but it's being proposed to reduce that by fifteen minutes. 

Currently, classes at Ypsilanti Community High School are set to begin at 8 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.  Under a proposed change, the high school would let out at 3:15 p.m.  instead.  Ypsilanti Community Middle School would have the same bell times.  Classes in district elementary schools would start at 9:10 a.m. and let out at 4:25 p.m, rather than 4:40 p.m.  The school day at Ypsilanti New Tech would run from 7:50 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.

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Education
6:09 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

GM To Donate $900,000 To EMU STEM Training Program

General Motors has announced it will be donating $900,000 over the next three years to Eastern Michigan Uuniversity's Project Lead the Way program - a national program that encourages U.S. middle and high schools to teach STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math curriculum materials, and the development of engineering and biomedical programs for their students.  

Professor John Dugger is the director of EMU's Project Lead The Way affiliate program. He says the program continues to grow, and EMU has helped train many of its teachers.

Dugger says the program contributes in other ways; holding annual conferences and acting as a recruiter and advisor for schools interested in the teaching STEM material.

Local News
2:34 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

Livability.com Ranks Ann Arbor 2nd Among College Towns

For the third time in as many years, Ann Arbor has been rated as one of the ten best college towns in America by Livability.com - this year placing second, its best rating to date. 

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Local News
10:15 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Non-Motorized Advisory Committee Working With EMU On B2B Trail Safety

Credit Bob Eccles

Ypsilanti's Non-Motorized Advisory Committee is working with Eastern Michigan University to help improve awareness of and safety along the Border-to-Border Trail where it runs past the EMU Convocation Center. WEMU's Bob Eccles has the story.

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Health and Education
3:05 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

U-M Study Suggests Death from Cancer Could Be a Thing of the Past

Credit fotosinteresantes / Foter / CC BY

New research from the University of Michigan shows promise in someday being able to help the human body better withstand the rigors of chemotherapy and radiation.

Jian-Guo Geng is an associate professor in the University of Michigan  School of Dentistry.  He's found that in mice, injecting stem cells into the intestinal tract makes the mice much better able to survive high doses of chemo-radio therapy.

Geng says the discovery may someday make it possible to cure late-stage, metastasized cancers.  He says "People will not die of cancer, if our prediction is true." 

The study found that 50 to 75 percent of mice treated with a stem cell injection survived what should have been lethal doses of chemotherapy. 

Results of the research appear in the journal, Nature.

WEMU's Bob Eccles has the story.

Local News
6:13 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Ann Arbor School Board Will Offer Swift Superintendent Job

The Ann Arbor school board has voted four-to-three to offer a contract to Jeanice Swift to be the district's next superintendent. 

The board held a special afternoon meeting Wedneday to decide how to proceed after South Orange Maplewood, New Jersey Superintendent Brian Osborne turned down an offer for the job. 

Swift is currently Assistant Superintendent for Instruction with Colorado Springs District 11. 

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports that board President Deb Mexicotte will negotiate a contract with Swift.

Community
2:42 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Yankee Air Museum Fundraising Deadline Extended

This is the section of the former Willow Run bomber plant that the Yankee Air Museum wants to save from the wrecking ball. Newly-built B-24 bombers rolled out of the plant through these doors during World War II.
Credit Bob Eccles

The Yankee Air Museum has a little more time to raise the money needed to buy a section of the former Willow Run bomber plant for its new home. 

RACER Trust, the company handling the disposition of former General Motors properties, including the Willow Run plant, says the campaign's "success and momentum" warranted a 60-day extension. 

Thursday was supposed to be the deadline for the Yankee Air Museum to raise $8 million to buy a 175-thousand square foot section of the plant. 

To date, $4.5 million has been raised.

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Education
10:52 am
Wed July 31, 2013

The Newly-formed Ypsilanti Community Schools Launch Marketing Campaign

Credit Patrik Holubik / WEMU

If you haven't seen an ad for the new Ypsilanti Community school on an 

AATA bus or billboard yet, chances are it won't be long before you do.  

As WEMU's Bob Eccles reports, the district is assertively marketing itself in the community.


Community
3:05 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Junior Olympians Descend on Eastern Michigan University

Credit www.aausports.org

Nearly 50,000 athletes and spectators are expected at Eastern Michigan University now through August 3rd for the Amateur Athletic Union's National Junior Olympics, which got underway Tuesday. 

WEMU's Bob Eccles and Taylor Pinson take a look at this event.


Local News
3:48 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

YCS Approves Agreement For Extended State Debt Repayment

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

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education Thursday night approved entering into a contract with the state that will allow the district more time to pay off debt and remove Ypsilanti Community Schools from the ranks of Michigan's "deficit districts". 

The district has $18.8 million in state aid notes from the former Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts that are due August 20th.  The state will give the district 13 years to pay off the debt. 

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Education
7:47 am
Fri July 26, 2013

Ypsilanti Community Schools Set Pay Ranges for Non-instructional Staff

Credit Bob Eccles

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education has approved pay ranges for non-instructional staff. Some employees could earn bonuses up to ten percent of their pay, based on their performance.  The board last night approved a pay structure for employees such as paraprofessionals, instructional assistants, occupational and speech therapists, psychologists and social workers.  WEMU's Bob Eccles has a full report.

WEMU's Bob Eccles provides a report on Thursday night's meeting of the Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education meeting.


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Politics
5:56 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Pam Byrnes Challenges Tim Walberg In 7th Congressional District

Credit Pam Byrnes/Facebook

Former Democratic State Representative Pam Byrnes is taking on Republican Tim Walberg for his 7th Congressional District seat this fall.  

WEMU's Bob Eccles spoke with Byrnes about her background, her campaign, and why she's running.

Hear the interview here.

Arts and Culture
7:57 am
Fri July 19, 2013

The Shadow Art Fair Set To Make Its Last Stand

Saturday is likely to be a bitter-sweet day at the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti. That is the site of what will be the last-ever Shadow Art Fair. WEMU's Bob Eccles has this report.

Founders of the Shadow Art fair in Ypsilanti calling it quits after one more run.

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Education
10:15 am
Thu July 18, 2013

EMU Science Complex Wins Gold LEED Certification and Critical Acclaim

Eastern Michigan University's Science Complex
Credit Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University's Science Complex  is winning acclaim and awards. As WEMU's Bob Eccles reports, kudos come from the US Building Council and the Engineering Society of Detroit.

EMU shoots for Silver LEED certification for new Science Complex and wins GOLD LEED status.

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Aviation
8:35 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Yankee Air Museum Takes to Skies to Raise Awareness of Bomber Plant Campaign [Photo Gallery]

Bob Eccles mans the .50 caliber machinegun.

The Yankee Air Museum has until August 1st to raise just under $5 million to buy a section of the Willow Run bomber plant for its new home.  As WEMU's Bob Eccles reports, the museum on Wednesday gave donors and members of the media flights on its B-17 bomber to raise awareness of the campaign.

Hear Bob's report here.

Learn how you can take a once in a lifetime ride on the B-17 Yankee Lady here : 

http://www.yankeeairmuseum.org/yam/fly/

Community Service
6:50 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Local Volunteers Finalists For 2013 Governor's Service Awards

A couple of local volunteers are finalists for the 2013 Governor's Service Awards.  Both volunteer at Arbor Hospice, and WEMU's Bob Eccles had the chance to speak with them.


 

  

Volunteer of the Year
When it comes to solving community problems, individuals really make things happen. These everyday citizens are very special people who go the extra mile for their community. This award is reserved for an individual who strives to improve the lives of neighbors, friends, community, or congregation.  Individuals nominated for this award could be adults, national service members, educators, and more. 

Hear Bob's interview with Fritz Schafer here.

From the Michigan Community Service Commission

  • Fritz Schafer of Ann Arbor has a unique skill that he voluntarily provides to hospice patients and their families: photography. As an award-winning photographer, Fritz decided to volunteer his gift to the community and approached the Hospice of Michigan Volunteer Coordinator in 2004 about taking photos of hospice patients and their families free of charge. Together they implemented a program where patients could request a photographer to come to their home or facility to take photos and then receive a free framed and edited copy of the pictures. In 2007, Fritz relocated to the Ann Arbor community and began volunteering with the Arbor Hospice program, helping them to create a similar program called Treasured Memories. This program produces more than 20 photos for hospice families each year, and until just recently receiving a grant, Fritz covered the complete costs of the photograph printing and framing himself. In his five years with Arbor Hospice, Fritz has accumulated more than 335 volunteer hours and nearly 1,700 volunteer miles.  

Hear Bob's interview with Helen Buccella-Costa here.

From the Michigan Community Service Commission

  • Helen Buccella-Costa of Ann Arbor has been volunteering with Arbor Hospice since 2009. Originally providing comfort to patients as a member of the Threshold Choir and later as a By Your Side volunteer, Helen found a new volunteering passion in 2011 when Arbor Hospice acquired a therapy dog, Alpine. With a seven-county service area, Alpine has many visit requests across the region and Helen quickly stepped up to become Alpine's scheduler and manager. She coordinates Alpine's visits to different facilities and patient homes and trains staff and volunteers on how to properly handle the dog. In addition, Helen frequently takes Alpine on her visits and has amassed nearly 900 volunteer hours and 9,500 miles in her service with Alpine. Aside from her direct service in relation to Alpine, Helen has also helped to secure donations of veterinary attention, food, and toys for Alpine and even created a Facebook page for the canine so patients can stay connected with the beloved dog between visits.

Government
7:27 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Ypsilanti Moves Forward With Plan to Limit Medical Marijuana Facilities

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

In the City of Ypsilanti, there are currently six medical marijuana dispensaries and one grow-operation. As WEMU's Bob Eccles reports, City Council is moving forward with a plan to officially limit the number of these kinds of facilities.

Ypsilanti City Council takes the next step in putting a cap on medical marijuana facilities in town.

Arts and Culture
6:16 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

54th Annual Ann Arbor Art Fair Preview

Credit artfair.org

The Ann Arbor Art Fair runs Wednesday through Saturday. WEMU's Bob Eccles has a preview.

Hear Bob's report here.

More info at: Artfair.org

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