David Cassleman

Morning Edition Host, Reporter

David Cassleman is a reporter and Morning Edition host for IPR News Radio. He got his start in public radio at WDET in Detroit, and joined Interlochen Public Radio in June 2014. He’s a graduate of the University of Michigan.

Northern Michigan's U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek has decided not to run again in 2016, months after announcing he would be seeking a fourth term.

Theater director Minda Nyquist getting acquainted with her new office at West High School in Traverse City.
Daniel Wanschura

Ready or not, it’s back to school time!

While students are cherishing their last days of summer, teachers are busily preparing for the upcoming school year.

Minda Nyquist is one of them. She’s getting ready for her new role as the theater director at West High School in Traverse City. She’s taking over for Kristie Bach, who developed the theater program at West into the renown program it is today. Minda hopes to continue to build on what Kristie started 18 years ago.

David Cassleman

A new report in Bridge Magazine this month questions how much state and federal officials know about the condition of an oil pipeline that crosses the Straits of Mackinac.

Reporter Ted Roelofs also details the inspection process governing oil and gas pipelines in the United States.

“The pipeline network in this country, which is about 2.5 million miles, it’s essentially self-regulated by the industry," Roelofs says.

"The federal agency that oversees it [Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA] essentially outsources the inspection to the industry itself.”


Students rehearse during marching band camp at Interlochen last week.
John Roddy

High school football kicks off this weekend and with it marching band season. 

Some high schoolers spent last week getting ready for the band season at band camp hosted by Interlochen Center for the Arts.

Amy Wang was in marching band in high school and college. She’s been helping out as a color guard instructor for about 10 years.

One of her favorite things about band camp, is seeing the progression of the students.

“It’s pretty amazing what they can do in one week,” she says. 

Amy says anybody wanting to be in the color guard should be prepared to work hard, have lots of spirit, but to remember to enjoy the moment.

Not only do they have to memorize all the music and choreography, but they have to perform in all sorts of weather conditions- all while carrying and playing their instruments. 

 


More and more people are putting up solar panels in Michigan. It's getting a lot more affordable to do it. And there's a payback when you get your monthly utility bill.

But a bill in the state Senate could fundamentally change the solar program in Michigan, and it has some people worried. 

How "net metering" works in Michigan

Senator Gary Peters says he's still "weighing all the issues" on President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran. Congress is expected to vote on the agreement early in September, when lawmakers return from summer recess.

“This will probably be one of the most serious votes that I will make no matter how long I’m in the United States Senate," Peters said in an interview last week with Interlochen Public Radio.

Peters also took time to discuss the controversial oil pipeline that crosses the Straits of Mackinac.

“I am not satisfied that it’s safe," Peters said.  "I’m very concerned about it. Quite frankly I don’t even believe that it probably should be in the Straits."


This week the Green Room celebrates the ukulele, a sweet sounding little instrument with a growing fan base all over the world. Plus, Kate Botello plays something unexpected.

In northern Michigan, the water problems of California seem far away. But water scarcity is a growing problem in the world, and the crisis out west has inspired a group of journalists and scientists based in Traverse City who are studying the issue.

Circle of Blue is leading a series of seven online town hall discussions about California's water crisis and what it means for the rest of the world. It's called 'Catalyst: California,' and Interlochen Public Radio is providing the group a base of operations for the project.

“What we learn in California can be applied in the Great Lakes," says J. Carl Ganter. He's co-founder and director of Circle of Blue.


An affair, cover up and alleged blackmail have shaken up what had been a quiet summer in Lansing. The Detroit News was the first news outlet to report an affair between two state lawmakers, and an alleged cover up attempt by at least one of them.

Todd Courser, a Republican state representative from Lapeer, has now admitted to trying to cover up his affair with fellow Republican Cindy Gamrat, who's from Plainwell. But Courser says he was blackmailed.

Rick Pluta, Capitol bureau chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, explains:


David Cassleman

Parts of northern Michigan are still recovering from a violent storm that hit earlier this month. County workers and residents are cleaning up.  

Now, a national emergency response group has deployed to Grand Traverse County to help – and they’re about more than just disaster relief.

Patrick Smith is part of Team Rubicon.

“I’m a disabled Marine,” he says. “So it’s like a full-time job for me. I treat it as a full-time job.”

Bob Allen

Michigan, like every other state, is trying to figure out how to keep the lights on in the future. One answer could be more homeowners producing energy for themselves using wind or solar power.

Right now, fewer than 1,800 people in Michigan participate in a program called "net metering." That's where homeowners produce electricity for themselves, and then sell surplus energy to utility companies.

The small group of energy producers faces an uncertain future under a Senate plan (Bill 438) that would rewrite the rules governing net metering.

Librettist Scott Diel (left) and composer Eugene Birman (right) pictured during their two-week residency on Rabbit Island just off the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Andrew Ranville

Throughout the 19th century, operas were written to address the social issues of their day. Some people think those operas and their traditional format don’t have much context or relevance in today’s world.

Meet composer Eugene Birman and librettist Scott Diel. They believe opera should be made to reflect the current times and shed some of the formalities that characterize traditional opera.

That’s why they’re creating “State of the Union,” a neo-opera that challenges how humans view their urban environment, the world and each other. 

The piece will feature 12 voices. It doesn’t have any instruments, but it will have a megaphone.

Aaron Selbig

UPDATED on Thursday at 1pm with statement from AT&T.

Officials in Grand Traverse County want to know why the 911 system failed during Sunday’s storm.

Emergency calls in Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Kalkaska Counties had to be rerouted for several hours after the storm. Some of the calls ended up at a dispatch center in Petoskey.

Linda Stephan

Updated: Monday at 12 p.m.

Grand Traverse County Chair Christine Maxbauer issued a local state of emergency on Monday afternoon.

Storms ripped through northern Michigan Sunday afternoon and early evening, bringing winds up to 70 miles per hour.

The wind uprooted trees, broke limbs and downed power lines, leading to widespread power outages. Fifteen thousand people in Grand Traverse County were without power as of 10 a.m. Monday morning.

U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City

Ten thousand people partied on Torch Lake over July 4th weekend this year. The sandbar on the lake has become one of northern Michigan's prime summer party destinations.

But many neighbors on the lake are upset about the trash, the trespassing and the noise.

State Representative Triston Cole (R-105th District) put together a roundtable on the issue last week, seeking a solution.

"This is a public body of water," Rep. Cole says, "and people have a right to have a great time and enjoy places like the sandbar on Torch Lake."

The 2015 Traverse City Film Festival kicked off on Tuesday and wraps up on Sunday.
Daniel Wanschura

The 11th annual Traverse City Film Festival has turned northwest lower Michigan into everything cinematic.

While it’s smaller than say, Sundance or Cannes, the Traverse City Film Festival has it’s own unique flavor. 

Paul Maritinez/Flickr

Everyone needs a vacation every once in a while and Michigan's lawmakers are no different. But in Lansing, some folks in the state Senate promised they wouldn't be taking one this summer, so they could work on a road funding deal.

The state House, however, made no such promises, and they've just started a month long break.

David Cassleman

Armed with an eight-track recorder and an eighty dollar microphone, Matt Jones travels around Michigan, recording local musicians.

So far, he’s recorded about 100 artists from all over the state. 

“Everybody I’ve recorded has been completely worth it," Jones says. "So how could I possibly stop?"

Gerrymandering is a term you hear a lot about every ten years or so, when state legislatures across the country start to redraw legislative districts after the census. It happens when districts are drawn in a way that favors one political party against another.

In Michigan, Republicans have controlled the redistricting process during the past two censuses, and Democrats have accused them of gerrymandering. Now some Democrats are pushing to change how redistricting is done, which they say would make it less political.

The "JunkYard Music Box" was made out of a rusty water tank, old car parts, leftover granite, two I-beams, and an antique meat grinder.
Tom Kaufmann

What most of us would see as useless junk, Tom Kaufmann sees potential for making instruments. 

“I love junk,” Kaufmann says, laughing. 

From a giant 25-foot tall music box made out of a rusty water tank, to glockenspiels created out of hand tools, he has spent much of his life making music out of unexpected materials.

Baldwin Community Schools

In schools throughout Michigan, students aren't the only ones who get grades. Teachers get a report card, too, and the way that teachers are evaluated could be changing in Michigan.

A bill passed the state Senate this past spring that would reform how evaluations are done, giving local school districts more power to decide how they want to grade teachers. The bill would also reduce the importance of standardized testing to teacher evaluations.

Jake Neher, Capitol bureau reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, explains the bill:

"Beaches" the musical runs through August 16 at the Drury Lane Theatre near Chicago.
Brett Beiner

"Beaches" just opened as a new musical in a pre-Broadway tryout in the Chicago area. The musical is similar to the 1988 film starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey.

 

Director Brian Nash is an Interlochen alum. He says it feels like you’re looking at the same story as the film, but focusing on different days of the girls lives. 

Harlan Coben

Novelist Harlan Coben has thrilled readers for 25 years and sold more than 50 million books, including mysteries, crime novels and books for young adults. Earlier this year, he published The Stranger, a book that one New York Times reviewer says "takes a happy suburban family and destroys it."

Coben will be in Traverse City for an event with the National Writers Series on Thursday, and IPR caught up with him earlier this week.

As he tells IPR's David Cassleman, Coben didn't initially set out to become a writer. But he says it was his love for stories that eventually moved him to become a novelist:


Peter Payette

Michigan residents have a new potential roads fix to consider, after the state Senate passed a series of bills last week. State lawmakers have been debating how to pay for fixing Michigan's crumbling roads for years. The initial plan, Proposal 1, was voted down by voters last May.

The Senate plan promises to raise $1.5 billion using a combination of tax increases and budget cuts. But as the Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta explains, the bills are controversial for both Republicans and Democrats.

“Weird Al” Yankovic has been making people laugh for more than 30 years.

On Sunday, he’s stopping by Traverse City with his “Mandatory Fun” Tour.

Hear how he came up with the idea for his song Foil, which parodies the pop song Royals by Lorde.

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