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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Education
9:37 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

All But One Ypsilanti Community Schools Building to Open Friday

Credit Patrik Holubik / WEMU

Problems that have forced the closure of Ypsilanti Community Schools the past couple of days have for the most part been resolved. 

Associate Superintendent Laura Lisiscki says only Ypsilanti Community Middle School - Willow Run Campus remains closed Friday as they wait for heating system parts to arrive. 

Lisiscki says district staff has been working around the clock to get buildings ready to re-open, with some staffers so focused on their work that they had to be ordered to go home and get some rest. 

Again, only Ypsilanti Community Middle School - Willow Run Campus is closed Friday in the Ypsilanti Community Schools district.

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Statewide News
6:40 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Bolger, State House GOP Stands Firm Against Repealing Tax on Pensions

Bolger, state House GOP stand firm against repealing tax on pensions
By Jake Neher

State House Republicans on Thursday formally unveiled their priorities for 2014 - and an election-year tax cut is near the top of the list.

Jake Neher reports

The big question is, who will get that tax cut?

Democrats say it should be retirees. A couple years ago, the state stopped allowing people to exempt pension income from their taxes. Democrats say that policy unfairly burdened retirees and needs to go.

But state House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) says he's not open to that idea.

"If you're going to tax income, all income should be treated the same," Bolger said.

"I would be very resistant to undoing the reform we did last time. That is a reform that makes our tax system more fair."

Many Republicans in Lansing favor reducing the state's income tax rate.

Bolger says improving Michigan's roads and bridges and overhauling the state's controversial auto no-fault law are also among legislative priorities in the new year.

Local News
6:40 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Ann Arbor Schools Employees Prepared for Return to School

Credit AAPS

All signs point to a return to classes Thursday for most if not all schools in the area. 

Ann Arbor Public Schools Director of Communications Liz Margolis says district staff have been working since before the snowstorm to make sure buildings will be ready to re-open. 

That includes custodians checking on the heating systems.

Margolis says district staff have been working to shovel snow since it started falling in preparation for classes resuming.

Some area schools are cancelling classes for Thursday.  

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Local News
2:42 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

U of M Cleaning Up after Pipes Burst, Flooding Dorms

A clean-up contractor is working to repair flooding damage at a couple of University of Michigan dorms where pipes burst during the extreme cold weather. 

Peter Logan is Director of Communication for University Housing.  He says most students had not yet returned from winter break when the pipes bust in the Oxford and East Quad dorms. 

Affected students were contacted, and arrangements made for those who need temporary housing.

Community
2:00 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Ypsilanti City Manager names new Chief of Police

Ypsilanti City Manager Ralph Lange has chosen interim Police Chief Tony DiGiusti to serve as Chief on a permanent basis starting next month. 

DiGiusti was hired as Deputy Chief about a year ago, and has served as interim Chief since Amy Walker retired to take a job in the private sector in October of last year. 

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Capitol News
6:24 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Hunters Miss Target for historic First Wolf Hunt

Wolves on Isle Royale
Credit J.A. Vucetich and R.O. Peterson

  Hunters fall far short of killing 43 wolves in historic first hunt

By Jake Neher

The end of 2013 also marks the end of Michigan’s historic and controversial first wolf hunt. The state had allowed 43 wolves to be killed during the 46-day hunt. But hunters only killed a little more than half that amount.

“We didn’t even come close to that, obviously,” said Ed Golder with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “But it’s important to remember that was a ceiling, not a target.”

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Capitol News
6:39 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Federal Government Holds Key To Whether State Pharmacies Can Sell Medical Marijuana

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

Michigan pharmacies will be able to sell medical marijuana if feds reschedule

By Jake Neher

Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill into law Monday that clears the way for pharmacies to sell medical marijuana in Michigan. But that’s only if the federal government reclassifies cannabis as a legal prescription drug.

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Education
2:51 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

EMU Alum and Commencent Speaker, Wesley Coller Discusses Career in the Arts

Producer Wesley Coller, who graduated from Eastern Michigan in 1999, gave the Dec. 21 commencement address.
Credit Clay Enos

This week, Bob Eccles had the opportunity to interview movie producer and EMU grad Wesley Coller, who's giving the commencement speech this weekend at Eastern Michigan University. They discussed how Coller's educational journey led to a career in the arts.

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Commencement
8:56 am
Fri December 20, 2013

EMU Winter Commencement Saturday at Convocation Center

Eastern Michigan University's winter Commencement ceremony takes place Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center.

EMU's Director of Media Relations, Geoff Larcom  tells WEMU News that EMU's graduation numbers are up slightly from last year, when 1,715 students made the trek across the stage. More than 1,800 students are expected to graduate Saturday.

Larcom adds that the percentage of students graduating from Eastern has been in the high 30% range over the past ten years or so and that EMU has a graduation and retention program in place to help bring those numbers up.

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Hunger
5:00 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

As SNAP Benefits Decrease, Food Gatherers Ramp up for the Holiday Season

Credit Food Gatherers

WEMU's Bob Eccles talks with Food Gatherers CEO, Eileen Spring about the greater need for food assistance in the region and their plans moving forward into 2014.

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Arts
11:31 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Cinema Chat: Saving Mr. Banks, American Hustle, It’s A Wonderful Life, and more!

Credit Michtheater.org

 In this week's installment of Cinema Chat,WEMU's Bob Eccles and Michigan Theater Director Russ Collins look into what's playing downtown and around town.

 

Cinema Chat is a regular feature heard each Thursday during Morning Edition on 89.1 WEMU.

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Local News
11:06 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Corner Brewery now Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery

Ypsilanti's Corner Brewery is now Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery. 

Arbor Brewing Company co-owner Renee Greff says the name change came about out of concerns raised by the former Corner Brewery's general manager that the business wasn't getting the benefit of  the Arbor Brewing Company brand.

Greff says not everyone knows that Arbor Brewing Company's beer is made at the Ypsilanti location.

She says new logos were designed, and word of the name change was spread through the Arbor Brewing Company blog and Facebook page. 

Community
7:01 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Mittenfest VIII to Benefit 826Michigan

MIttenfest will be held December 27th - 31st
Credit Mittenfest

Mittenfest, a massive three-day music festival featuring 40 state and local bands, benefits 826Michigan.  WEMU's Bob Eccles spoke with 826Michigan Executive Director Amanda Uhle about her organization and what the December 27th-31st event means to it.

ABOUT MITTENFEST

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Education
2:42 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

YCS Board urged to adopt 'Solutions not Suspensions' Pledge

The Ypsilanti-based Student Advocacy Center of Michigan wants the Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education to adopt a pledge to use student suspensions and expulsions only as a last resort. 

The "Solutions not Suspensions" pledge asks the state to roll back its discipline code so that it's in line with the federal Gun Free Schools Act.  It also asks districts to prioritize keeping kids in school and investing in preventative efforts. 

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Ypsilanti
7:54 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Plans Revised For East Side Rec Center In Ypsilanti

A rendering of what the proposed $12 million Eastside Recreation Center could look like.
Credit courtesy of Washtenaw County.

Ypsilanti City Council will likely have a purchase or development agreement for the East Side Recreation Center in January.  Council Tuesday night received an update on Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation's plans for the facility in the Water Street re-development area.  Park Planning Supervisor Coy Vaughn says the latest design features a smaller parcel of land and a smaller building. 

The new plans call for a 45-to-55-thousand square foot facility on four acres in the Water Street area. Originally, it was going to be a 55-to-65-thousand sqaure foot building set on 12-acres. Vaughn says, despite the smaller scale, no amenities or programs will have to be cut.

The proposed rec center would have 230 feet of frontage along Michigan Avenue, and would leave a 100-foot easement between the facility and the river for a linear park.  The purchase price is to be one dollar, with the county providing $900,000 worth of infrastructure improvements to the site and surrounding area.

Listen to WEMU's Bob Eccles full report.

Ypsilanti City Council report from it's 12/17/13 meeting

Capitol News
6:40 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

State Workers Await Board Decision on Benefits

Dozens of public employee union members protest Tuesday outside Governor Rick Snyder’s office, across from the state Capitol in Lansing.
Credit MPRN

State worker unions rally on eve of contract decision

By Jake Neher

Thousands of state employees could see their health benefits reduced Wednesday. That’s if a state board votes to approve a new contract.

Public employee unions couldn’t reach a contract agreement with the state this year, so the Michigan Civil Service Commission will vote on a compromise plan drawn up by an independent panel. 

Unions say it includes too many concessions while, at the same time, state officials are expecting a budget surplus.

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Education
8:58 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Ypsilanti Community School Board Approves Graduation Requirements

Ypsilanti Community Schools Trustees (l-r) Dan Raglin, Celeste Hawkins and Tony VanDerworp study a presentation at Monday night's meeting.
Credit Bob Eccles

Click here for a report from WEMU's Bob Eccles.

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education Monday night approved graduation requirements that include senior projects designed to pique students' interest in  what they might like to do after graduation. 

Board President David Bates says senior projects are a lot of work, both for the student and for the staff who assist them, but the effort is worthwhile.

Bates says it's a chance for seniors to show what they can do with an Ypsilanti Community Schools education.

Ypsilanti Community Schools graduation requirements also dictate that students earn 23 credits, including 4 Math and English credits and 3 Science and Social Studies credits. 

Staff who put the requirements together worked to find a "happy medium" that will allow seniors from the former Ypsilanti and Willow Run districts graduate.  Their previous requirements didn't match up perfectly.

Local News
6:02 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Ann Arbor Teachers Union Joins Boycott of EMU Student Teachers

The Ann Arbor teachers union is refusing to hire any student teachers from Eastern Michigan University due to the college's involvement with with Michigan's Education Achievement Authority. 

The EAA is a state school system tasked with improving consistently under-performing school districts. It currently runs 15 schools in Detroit and receives student teachers from EMU. 

EAA opponents say it removes too much control from local government. 

EMU's Head of Media Relations, Geoff Larcom  says EMU has no intention of terminating its contract with the EAA.

Local News
5:57 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Friends of the Freighthouse Continue Rehabilitation of Historic Facility

Friends of Freighthouse is well on its way to transforming Depot Town's historic structure into a community hub. 

The organization recently secured $40,000 in funding from a variety of sources, including the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority.

The plan is to turn the Freighthouse into a venue where people can host local events, with long-term plans to have a small cafe.

Friends of the Frighthouse chair Corrine Sikorski says along with basic maintenance, the building needs some major renovations, including ADA-compliant restrooms.

Local News
5:54 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Bike Ypsi Annual Holiday Lights Ride Tuesday

Bike Ypsi holds its annual Holiday Lights Ride Tuesday night. 

Bike Ypsi's Bob Krzewinski says they scout the area for nice light displays beforehand, then take a fairly liesurely eight to 10 mile ride around Ypsilanti to check them out.

The Bike Ypsi Holiday Lights Ride starts at seven Tuesday night at the Corner Brewery. 

For more information visit bike,ypsi.org

Community
2:41 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

U-of-M Institute for Social Research Continues Giving Tradition

U-of-M ISR staffers (l-r) Bridgitte Wyche McGee, Donnalee Grey-Farquharson, Jeannie Baker, Robert Choate, Wendi Fornoff and Becky Bahlibi.
Credit Emma Jackson, WISD

Homeless students in the Washtenaw Intermediate School District will have something to smile about this Christmas thanks to a generous donation from the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research's ISR Feeds group. 

The group dropped off about 150 gift bags Friday. 

WISD Communication Specialist Emma Jackson says this is the fifth year the ISR has helped out.

The donation will benefit kids in the Education Project for Homeless Youth, a non-profit organization that provides supprot to students who are homeless.

Capitol News
10:01 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Issues Ads Legislation headed for Governor's Desk

Bill doubling campaign contributions, shielding issue ad donors goes to Gov. Snyder

By Jake Neher

People who pay for so-called “issue ads” would be able to stay anonymous under a bill that has cleared the state Legislature. It would also double the amount of money people can give to campaigns and political action committees (PACs).

The state Senate gave SB661 final legislative approval Thursday.

It would also block Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s proposal that would require issue ads to disclose their donors.

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Local News
9:57 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Ypsilanti Police Chief Finalists Meet the Public

Deputy Ypsilanti Police Chief Tony DiGiusti
Credit Bob Eccles

About 50 people turned out last night for a public forum introducing the two finalists to be Ypsilanti's next Chief of Police. 

Deputy Chief Tony DiGiusti is one of the finalists.  He said his 13 years of experience as a deputy chief and administrator have prepared him for the job.

DiGiusti's been interim Chief since Amy Walker left to take a job in the private sector in October. 

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Local News
4:38 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Thunderbirds to Headline 2014 Thunder over Michigan Air Show

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will headline next year's Thunder over Michigan air show at Willow Run Airport. 

Yankee Air Museum Public Relations Director Bob Hynes says the show is scheduled for August 9th and 10th.

Hynes says if you have an aviation buff on your holiday gift list, there's a special code you can enter to save big on tickets to next year's Thunder over Michigan show. 

Go to YankeeAirMuseum.org, click on Thunder over Michigan Air Show and enter the code TOMINSIDER to get a discount on tickets.

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Community
8:51 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

ReImagine Washtenaw Right-of-Way Plan Presented

Meeting attendees check out the plan and ask questions.
Credit Bob Eccles

ReImagine Washtenaw presented its right-of-way plan to the public at a meeting Tuesday night. 

The plan covers the corridor from the water tower in Ypsilanti to the Washtenaw-Stadium split in Ann Arbor.

Ypsilanti city council member Pete Murdock says the city is dealing with a lot of traffic issues as part of its master plan revision, and those will have to be coordinated with ReImagine Washtenaw.

The ReImagine Washtenaw right-of-way plan includes improvements such as refuge islands to help pedestrians safely cross the street, buffered bike lanes, and eight "super stops" for Ann Arbor Area Transportation busses along the corridor. 

The next step in the implementation process is to have municipalities along the corridor adopt the plan.

Click here for a report from WEMU's Bob Eccles.

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