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
12:58 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Ypsilanti Community Schools Considering Balanced Calendar, Elementary Reconfiguration

Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education trustees (l-r) Dan Raglin, Celeste Hawkins and Tony VanDerworp.
Credit Bob Eccles / 89.1 WEMU

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education is considering three options for re-configuring district elementary schools, a move tied to plans to offer a balanced calendar at one school building next school year.

 The board Monday night was briefed on the options, which include three options.

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Ypsilanti
4:15 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Ypsilanti Attorney Challenging Debbie Dingell

Ypsilanti Attorney Raymond Mullins.
Credit attyraymullins.com

Ypsilanti Attorney Raymond Mullins wants to be elected to John Dingell's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and part of the reason he's running is that Dingell's wife Debbie is running.

"I think that we should have a chance of giving the public a different choice," Mullins said. "I don't believe in straight out inheriting a position."

Mullins says if elected to the 12th Congressional District seat he'll work to improve educational opportunities for everyone, and fight for a criminal justice system that's equitable for all.

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WEMU News
1:23 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Ypsilanti City Council To Ask State of Michigan To Withdraw Appeal Of Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Credit Bob Eccles

Ypsilanti City Council is poised to send a message to the state on the issue of same-sex marriage.

Council Tuesday night will consider a resolution asking Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette to withdraw their appeal of a federal judge's ruling that Michigan's ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.

 If adopted, copies of the resolution will be sent to the offices of the Governor and Attorney General.

Ypsilanti City Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, One S. Huron St., downtown. 

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WEMU News
12:04 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

WISD Helping To Mark Autism Awareness Month

Credit liub.autismspeaks.org/welcome

April is Autism Awareness Month, and the Washtenaw Intermediate School District will be helping to "Light It Up Blue" to spread the word.

High Point School and the Teaching and Learning Center on the WISD campus are participating in the campaign this year.

High Point teachers are posting information on bulletin boards to raise awareness of the Autism Speaks campaign, and the standard light bulbs in the building's main conference room - which are visible from the outside - will be switched out with blue bulbs.

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Transportation
11:35 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber Backs Transit Millage

Credit www.a2ychamber.org

The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber is throwing its support behind the Ann Arobr Transportation Authority transit millage.

AAATA is asking voters in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township to approve a .7 mil issue in May to expand service.

In a statement supporting the millage, the A2Y Chamber said it has been its policy for many years to support increased regional mass transit.

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WEMU News
8:57 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Ypsilanti Community Schools Board To Consider Balanced Calendar And Elementary Re-Alignment

Credit Patrik Holubik

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education holds a special meeting Monday evening to consider a preliminary balanced calendar recommendation and three proposals for re-configuring district elementary schools.

The district wants to institute a balanced calendar - basically year-round school - in select buildings next school year.  The Balanced Calendar Study Team will present its preliminary recommendation to the board Monday evening.

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WEMU News
8:45 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Health Plan Enrollment Deadline Approaching

Credit flickr.com

Monday is the deadline for enrolling in a health care plan under terms of the Affordable Care Act.

Locally, Washtenaw Health Plan has been helping people sign up for health insurance for several months. 

Program administrator Ruth Kraut said she hopes folks not already enrolled try to sign up on their own over the weekend.

"If you have trouble signing up," Kraut said, "you'll be able to testify to that and get a special enrollment period. But you need to have at least started the process."

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WEMU News
8:36 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Study Points To Need For More Affordable Housing In Washtenaw County

Credit nlihc.org

A report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition says Washtenaw County renters pay more than renters in any other Michigan county toward their housing.

The "2014 Out of Reach" report says the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the county is around $740, while a typical full-time worker can only afford to spend $665 a month toward rent without forking over more than 30 percent of their income. 

Carole McCabe is Executive Director of Avalon Housing, which operates low-income housing projects like Pauline Apartments in Ann Arbor.

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Minimun Wage
1:21 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

President Obama To Visit Ann Arbor Wednesday

President Barack Obama
Credit en.wikipedia.org

President Barack Obama will visit Ann Arbor next week to tout his plan for hiking the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

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WEMU News
8:42 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Washtenaw County Tops in 'Health Factors' among Michigan Counties

Credit eWashtenaw.org

Washtenaw County finds itself at the top of the list of Michigan's healthiest counties for the fifth straight year.

The "health factors" rankings compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute consider things like the availability of parks and recreational facilities, along with social and economic factors. 

Susan Cerniglia is Public Information Officer for Washtenaw County Public Health.  She says they know there's a strong foundation for good health in the county.

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Environment
7:36 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Study To Help Residents Of Great Lakes Region Deal With Changing Water Levels

Donald Scavia, Director of the University of Michigan's Graham Sustainability Institute.
Credit graham.umich.edu

The University of Michigan's Graham Sustainability Institute is launching a study to determine how best to help people in the Great Lakes region deal with changing water levels.

Institute Director Donald Scavia said two main areas of concern came out of this week's conference of the Environmental Law and Policy Center at U-of-M:  If lake levels keep dropping, how to stop that; and, how to help residents deal with changing water levels.

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WEMU News
3:02 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

WISD Holding Playground Improvements Fundraiser

Credit wash.k12.mi.us

The Washtenaw Intermediate School District is holding a charity event to raise money for upgrades to the playground equipment at High Point School.

The first annual Run, Walk and Roll event takes place April 19th on the WISD campus, 1819 S. Wagner Road in Ann Arbor.

Katrina Stewart, a teacher for special needs students and avid runner, is organizing the event.

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WEMU News
1:17 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Grant to help Ypsilanti Community Schools with STEM Education

Ypsilanti Community Schools Superintendent Scott Menzel
Credit twitter.com

Ypsilanti Community Schools is getting a $1,000,000 grant to help prepare students for careers in science, technology, enginnering and math.     Superintendent Scott Menzel said the money from the U.S.

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WEMU News
12:40 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Ypsilanti Adds Three Fire Fighters Through SAFER Grant

Credit cityofypsilanti.com

The city of Ypsilanti has used a grant received in January to hire three more fire fighters.

The $800,000 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER grant has helped the city hire five dire fighters this year. It had been seven years since any new hires were financially possible.

The most recent additions to the Ypsilanti Fire Department include Justin Massey, who graduated from Eastern Michigan University this past winter and has worked part-time with the city of Riverview's fire department.

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WEMU News
8:27 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Water Street Development Plans Coming Along

River Street entrance to the Water Street redevelopment area.
Credit Bob Eccles

Interest in Ypsilanti's Water Street redevelopment area continues to grow, as the three projects currently proposed  make their way through the process.

City Planner Teresa Gillotti says most of the interest lately is from residential developers. 

She says the Family Dollar store is close to closing, with construction beginning in April or May.  The Water Street Flats developer finds out in July whether they've received the state tax credits needed to move forward.  And a purchase agreement for the Washtenaw County Recreation Center is expected in the next month or so.

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Sports
7:59 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

EMU Football Coach marks 100 Days in New Job

Credit emich.edu

YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) — First-year Head Football Coach Chris Creighton came into Eastern Michigan University with the goal to "close the gap," and has been doing so in his first 100 days coaching the Eagles.  Creighton, along with the rest of his staff, has already set high standards for the Green and White going into the 2014 campaign.

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WEMU News
7:50 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

EMU Football Players Help Promote Literacy

EMU football players read to students at Adams Elementary School.
Credit Erin Burdis, EMU Athletic Department

Eastern Michigan University football players scored a touchdown with kids at Adams STEM Academy Friday.

The athletes visited the school as part of a joint effort between EMU and the 2nd & Seven Foundation to promote literacy among young children.

EMU Assistant Athletic Director for Academics Erin Burdis says the kids get a lot out of these visits, and learn about the importance of reading and being a good citizen.

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WEMU News
2:42 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Legislative Breakfast to focus on No-Fault Proposal

Credit mbipc.org

St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor hosts a legislative breakfast Monday at which the topic will be the effort to change Michigan's no-fault auto insurance system.

The meeting is the latest in a series sponsored by the Michigan Brain Injury Provider Council.

Attendees will hear from families who have benefited from no-fault insurance coverage for catastrophic auto accident injuries, along with health care professionals, including Dr. Owen Perlman, Medical Director of Rainbow Rehabilitation Centers.

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WEMU News
7:17 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

As Wait Continues, Gender-Neutral Marriage License Applications are Ready

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The waiting continues for same-sex couples who'd like to marry in Michigan.

A judge is expected to rule soon on whether the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage should be overturned. 

Mary Larkin is Director of Eastern Michigan University's LGBT Resource Center.  She says the tension has been growing since last week.

"I think people are starting to get a little keyed up right now," Larkin said.  "It feels like we're waiting for lottery numbers."

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WEMU News
3:29 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

UnitedHealthcare adds St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston as Providers

Credit UnitedHealthcare

St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and St. Joseph Mercy Livingston are joining the list of health care providers for people enrolled in UnitedHealthcare plans.

The expanded relationship means UnitedHealthcare participants will have access to Saint Joseph Mercy Health System's six hospitals, outpatient health centers and urgent-care facilities, and more than 25 specialty centers.

"We are thrilled to be able to help expand access to care for those in the local community," said Rob Casalou, President and CEO of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston hospitals.

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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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