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
2:32 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Web Hosting Firm Opening Office In Ann Arbor

Credit liquidweb.com

A Lansing-based Web hosting company hopes to open shop in Ann Arbor later this year.

Liquid Web would like to hire 75 people to work in Ann Arbor over the next three to five years.

"We do have some property that we have just purchased in Ann Arbor that we are looking to hire some new people to work with us over there," says Liquid Web spokesperson Cale Sauter.

Liquid Web will move into property at 315 West Huron Street in Ann Arbor. 

Sauter says they'll start with about 20 people who'll mainly handle 24/7 web and technical support. 

Apply online:

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Community
1:56 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Healthcare Leaders Back Transit Millage

University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Ora Pescovitz.
Credit uofmhealth.org

The campaign to win approval of a 0.7 mil transit issue in Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township and Ann Arbor has picked up a couple of key endorsements.

University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Ora Pescovitz has endorsed the ballot issue, as has Saint Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston Hospitals President and CEO Rob Casalou.

Pescovitz says she believes many University of Michigan medical center staff, visitors and patients would benefit from the expanded service the millage is designed to pay for.

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WEMU News
1:35 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Salvation Army Store Possible Tenant For Former Farmer Jack Property

Credit salvationarmyusa.org

A new store could soon be moving into the old Farmer jack site near the corner of Washtenaw Avenue and Golfside Road.

Ypsilanti Township Planning Coordinator Joe Lawson says several businesses have approached them about the property, but it has remained unused for the last seven years.

"We've been approached by the Salvation Army out of Detroit to purchase the building outright," Lawson says, "and to open a family store similar to the ones located in Ann Arbor and in Canton."

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Community
11:42 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Yankee Air Museum To Sign Purchase Agreement For Bomber Plant

Credit savethebomberplant.org

The Yankee Air Museum’s fundraising effort has been successful enough to move forward with a purchase agreement for a portion of the former Willow Run bomber plant.

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WEMU News
7:30 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Pierce Withdraws From Ward One Ypsilanti Council Race

Steve Pierce.
Credit twitter.com

Ypsilanti businessman Steve Pierce has withdrawn from the race to represent Ward One on Ypsilanti city council.

Pierce says he filed essentially just to make sure there was a name on the ballot.  Incumbent council member Ricky Jefferson announced he wasn't running again just days before the filing deadline. 

Pierce withdrew to clear the way for the other person who filed on time - Nicole Brown - to run.

"I think she's going to do a fabulous job in representing Ward One," Pierce says, "so I'm looking forward to having her as my next  city council member."

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WEMU News
3:35 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Ann Arbor 5th Grader Michigan Winner In Google Doodle Contest

Hannah Hu's "Ocean Cleaner".
Credit google.com

An elementary school student from Ann Arbor is the Michigan winner in a nation-wide contest for K-12 students to design a "Google Doodle" using the theme "If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place..."

Hannah Hu is a 5th grader at Logan Elementary School.  She says she and her dad saw a news report about pollution in the world's oceans, and that's how she came up with the idea for her "Ocean Cleaner".

"I thought then maybe I could invent something to clean the ocean," Hu says, "and let the sea animals live happily in the water."

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WEMU News
1:44 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Toyota Announcement Has York Township Officials Smiling

Credit twp-york.org

News that Toyota plans to move about 250 jobs from Kentucky to its Technical Center in York Township has township officials smiling.

Township Supervisor John Stanowski says his community will benefit from the new jobs, but so will Washtenaw County.  He says engineers like to live in nice homes, and that should help the housing industry.

"That's always good," Stanowski says, "because if the housing industry is booming that creates more jobs.  There's a trickling effect all the way down to the lumber yards providing the lumber, so it'll be good for the county as a whole".

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Michigan News
8:19 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Toyota Moving 250 Jobs From Kentucky To York Township

Credit wikimedia commons

As part of Toyota's plan to establish a new world headquarters in Plano, Texas, its Ann Arbor-area Technical Center will absorb about 250 jobs currently based in Kentucky.

Toyota says the direct procurement positions will be housed in a new facility to be built at the Technical Center in York Township. 

Toyota plans to move its manufacturing, sales and marketing, and corporate and financial services operations to a new world headquarters in Plano over the next three years.

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WEMU News
8:16 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Clean Energy Coalition Sets Renewable Energy Goal

Credit cec-mi.org

The Executive Director of Ann Arbor's Clean Energy Coalition thinks generating 100 kilowatts of renewable energy in town in the next year is highly achievable.

Sean Reed says teamwork should make it possible to aim even higher - perhaps one megawatt of clean energy.

"Our team here has been focusing pretty strongly on trying to look at the different types of business models that might be out there for trying to see solar have a bigger footprint in the Ann Arbor community, but also across the state," Reed says.

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Minimum Wage
8:09 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Some Michigan Lawmakers Critical Of Republican Minimum Wage Bill

Credit wikimedia commons

A Republican state Senator's legislation to raise Michigan's minimum wage from $7.40 and hour to $8.15 an hour is drawing criticism from local lawmakers.

Legislation introduced by Rick Jones of Grand Ledge would also raise the minimum wage for tipped employees ten cents to $2.75 and hour. 

Democratic State Representative David Rutledge says he'd rather see the minimum wage issue decided by voters, because people recognize fairness.

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Michigan News
7:58 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Gift From Alumnus Creates Congnitive Science Institute At U-M

Credit wikimedia.org

The University of Michigan is creating an institute to study congnitive science, thanks to the generous donation of an alumnus.

Marshall Weinberg is giving the school $7.7 million for the creation of the Weinberg Institute for Congnitive Science. 

Professor Sam Epstein is Director of the institute.

"I personally, and the university, owe a lot to Marshall," Epstein says, "and are indebted to him for his generosity."

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WEMU News
7:51 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Michigan League Of Conservation Voters Applauds Great Lakes Mutual Aid Compact

Credit mlcv.org

Leaders of states and Canadian provinces that border the Great Lakes have agreed to a mutual aid agreement in which staff and expertise will be shared to fight invasive species like the Asian Carp.

Patty Birkholz is Director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.  She says working together is good.

"I think it's very important because the Great Lakes belong to all of the Great Lakes region, not just one or two states or provinces," Birkholz says.

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WEMU News
7:45 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Save It or Shave It; Benefitting Good Cause Either Way

Credit heart.org

An Eastern Michigan University student who's been growing his beard for about 20 months is holding a charity "save it or shave it" contest to benefit the American Heart Association.

Ryan Huntington is collecting donations for the May 10th Heart Walk at EMU.  Donors vote on whether he should keep or shave his fourteen-and-a-half inch long beard.  He'll be accepting donations until midnight Wednesday.

"And then we'll be closing donations," Huntington says, "and we'll be contacting people after that, and the reveal is on the 10th."

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WEMU News
7:29 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

EMU Holds Spring Commencement This Weekend

EMU graduates at 2012-13 Commencement.
Credit Randy Mascharka

Eastern Michigan University holds spring commencement ceremonies at the Convocation Center this weekend, with close to 3,000 students eligible to participate.

Sarah Kersey Otto is EMU's Director of Career Development and Outreach.  She says these grads face a "modestly good" job market, with the business fields doing more hiring lately.

Kersey Otto says information technology grads are in high demand.

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WEMU News
8:21 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

U-of-M Health Expert Warns Of Dangers Of E-Cigarettes

An electronic cigarette.
Credit wikimedia commons

State legislators and the federal government are moving toward regulation of electronic cigarettes, and a local health expert says it's important to know the potential dangers of "vaping".

E-cigarettes heat up liquid nicotine to create the vapor that's inhaled. 

University of Michigan dietician Sue Ryskamp says liquid nicotine can be harmful.

"If it comes out too quickly it can result in acute nicotine toxicity, from either the direct skin contact, eye exposure, ingestion or inhalation," Ryskamp says.

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WEMU News
8:14 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Menzel To Step Down As Ypsilanti Community Schools Superintendent At End Of June

Ypsilanti Community Schools and Washtenaw Intermediate School District Superintendent Scott Menzel.
Credit twitter.com

Ypsilanti Community Schools will be in the market for a new Superintendent at the end of June.

That's when Scott Menzel steps down from that position - a transition that was part of the plan when the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts merged. 

Menzel says the school year isn't over, but he thinks Ypsilanti Community Schools is in pretty good shape.

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WEMU News
3:28 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

All Lanes Of Eastbound Washtenaw Avenue In Ypsilanti To Be Restored Friday Morning

Repairs have been made to broken storm water pipes and the roadway on eastbound Washtenaw Avenue at College Place.
Credit Bob Eccles

Eastbound Washtenaw Avenue at College Place in Ypsilanti should be back to three lanes of traffic sometime Friday morning.

That's according to the Michigan Department of Transportation, which worked with the city to repair damage to the roadway caused by broken storm water lines. 

The right and center lanes had to be closed in order to make the repairs. 

MDOT says it will have to come back at some point in the future and apply lining to the storm water pipes, which will require a lane closure.

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WEMU News
12:15 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Ann Arbor Eyeing Backlog Of Tree Maintenance

Credit A2Gov.org

Ann Arbor City Administrator Steve Powers is suggesting city council approve $1 million to attack a backlog of tree pruning and maintenance in his 2014-15 fiscal year budget.

Powers says high-priority tree pruning would be done with the funding, along with dead tree and stump removal.

Powers says the funding will help "to maintain Ann Arbor Tree City's urban forest, and to reduce risks to public safety."

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WEMU News
8:22 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

2014 Ypsilanti Heritage Festival Loses, Adds Attractions

Ypsilanti Heritage Festival board chair David Nickerson addresses Ypsilanti City Council in early December, 2013.
Credit Bob Eccles

This year's Ypsilanti Heritage Festival will look as bit different than in past years, as new attractions are added and others decide to strike out on their own.

Among the elements that won't be part of the festival this year is Chautauqua at the Riverside, which is moving to October this year. 

David Nickerson is chair of the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival board.

"With that being primarily presented at Riverside Arts, especially this last year we noticed that people weren't necessarily flowing up out of the park and to that event and to the venue," Nickerson says.

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WEMU News
5:25 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Washtenaw County Places Three Schools In Top 20 List

Credit aaps.k12.mi.us

Washtenaw County has some of the best high schools in Michigan, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Ann Arbor Public Schools' Pioneer and Huron High Schools, along with Saline High School, made it into the organization's list of top 20 schools for 2014.

Liz Margolis is Director of Communications for Ann Arbor Public Schools.

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WEMU News
4:42 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

State Of The Huron Conference Thursday

Credit hrwc.org

As the Huron River Watershed Council prepares to open its State of the Huron Conference Thursday, the watershed is enjoying generally healthy conditions.

That's according to Huron River Watershed Council Executive Director Laura Rubin, who says the watershed has seen improvements since the last State of the Huron gathering in 2009.

 "Before we had been sort of holding steady," Rubin says, "and we now are seeing some improvements ikkn the overall health and ecological health of the watershed."

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WEMU News
4:27 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Uber Now Operating In Ann Arbor

Credit blog.uber.com

The Uber on-demand motor transportation company is now operating in Ann Arbor.

Michael White is General Manager for Uber in Michigan.  He says Uber is partnering with licensed limousine companies in Ann Arbor.

"And they're going to provide kind of a luxurious service," White says. "So imagine a luxury sedan or black car, something like a Lincoln Town Car or Cadillac DTS, with professional chauffeur."

White says the lower-cost Uber-X service pairs passengers with drivers of standard sedans in a ride-share model.

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WEMU News
4:14 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Ann Arbor Council Member Surveying Community On Park Options

Ann Arbor City Council member Sabra Briere.
Credit SabraBriere.org

The city of Ann Arbor is moving ahead with plans for a 12-thousand square foot park on the Library Lot, and one city council member wants to know what the community's envisions there.

Sabra Briere is conducting an online survey.  She says those who get her regular email updates will find the link in her message going out the first weekend in May.

"I'll also post the survey results, and the raw data, on my website," Briere says, "which is www.SabraBriere.org."

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Construction
5:53 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Washtenaw Avenue At College Place To Re-Open Friday

Sinkhole on eastbound Washtenaw Avenue at College Place in Ypsilanti.
Credit Bob Eccles

The right and center lanes of eastbound Washtenaw Avenue should re-open sometime Friday, as repairs are made to a sinkhole caused by failure of a storm water line.

The city of Ypsilanti assisted M-DOT with the repairs Tuesday.  M-DOT says concrete will be poured Wednesday, and the road should be back to three lanes of traffic on Friday.

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WEMU News
5:45 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Washtenaw County Commission District Five Race Shaping Up As Among The Most Interesting

Credit Bob Eccles

In Washtenaw County, the race to replace Roland Sizemore in the County Commission's fifth district now features five candidates - four Democrats and a Republican.

Among the Democrats who submitted nominating petitions before Tuesday's deadline: Ruth Ann Jamnick, a former Ypsilanti Township Supervisor and former State Representative; Wilma Gold-Jones, who serves on the board of the non-profit Mentor2Youth; Keith P. Jason, an Ypsilanti Township Park Commission member and Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority Commissioner; and Victor Dobrin. 

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