Melissa Benmark

Morning Edition Host

Melissa Ingells Benmark is the host for Morning Edition and also produces features and interviews for the program, with an emphasis on the arts.

Melissa came to WKAR from WCMU in Mount Pleasant.

Ways To Connect

Fireworks over Lansing
Flickr - Betsy Weber

For some veterans, the sound of fireworks brings back disturbing memories. Now, there's an effort to subdue the noisemaking aspects of Fourth of July celebrations.


Kevin Noe
MSU College of Music

Music legend Gunther Schuller died this week. MSU Director of Orchestras Kevin Noe studied under Schuller and offers this remembrance.


Baby doll wrapped in TheraB blanket
TheraB Medical

A partnership between a Michigan State University start-up company and a Michigan-based medical sector investment firm is bringing a new treatment for infant jaundice closer to market.

http://medicine.umich.edu/

A preliminary study suggests a connection between a common hospital infection and a very serious one, and indicates that healthy bacteria may make a positive difference. Dr. Hallie Prescott is a clinical lecturer at the University of Michigan, and one of the lead authors of the study. It looked at how older people do in the first 90 days after they are released from the hospital.

http://marcusbelgrave.net/

Detroit jazz trumpeter Marcus Belgrave died just over a week ago. Early in his career he backed many Motown musicians, and was in Ray Charles’ band. He later worked with many jazz greats including Max Roach and Charles Mingus. He also was a mentor to many of today’s best jazz musicians, including bassist Rodney Whitaker, who is the director of Jazz Studies at Michigan State University.

Here on Current State we have devoted a lot of air time to people and groups looking to encourage small business startups in Michigan. Current State’s Melissa Benmark has the story of the founder of a small West Michigan startup, and his thoughts on how it became successful.

Courtesy Chateau Grand Traverse

There’s a unique new partnership between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and one of the state’s best-known wineries. Chateau Grand Traverse is launching three wines with labels related to Michigan’s park experience, and will be donating part of the profits to one of three projects selected by people voting online.

Courtesy Whites Bridge Historical Society

A historic Michigan landmark in Ionia County is set for restoration soon. For close to 150 years, Whites Bridge near the small town of Smyrna in Ionia County served both a practical and picturesque function. Practical as a way for travelers in the area to cross the Flat River, and more recently as a scenic area popular with shutterbugs and young people getting their engagement photos taken. Two years ago, someone burned it down. But bridge lovers have raised enough money now for a complete rebuild.

Courtesy/Lansing Symphony Orchestra

The Lansing Symphony Orchestra closes out its season this Friday at Wharton Center. This concert features music from Stravinsky’s "Firebird" and pieces by Ravel and Rossini. It also features a new piece for piano and orchestra that area audiences haven’t heard yet.

Courtesy University of Michigan College of Engineering

Think about an everyday substance like pollen. There’s lots of it floating around right now. It’s probably on your car windows. Botanists think of pollen’s role in the world as helping propagate new plants. Allergists think of pollen’s role as being something that causes sneezing.

Flickr - jpowers65

Workers Memorial Day was last week in the U.S. If you’ve never heard of the observance, it’s something labor unions worldwide conceived to raise consciousness about fatalities on the job. This week, there’s news of a Detroit man crushed to death in a stamping plant accident. There are about 5,000 workplace deaths around the country each year, and Michigan State University has a role in keeping track of those that occur in Michigan.

This just in from the Ingham County Homeland Security and Emergency Management: "A magnitude 4.0 earthquake occurred southwest of Battle Creek just after noon today. While on the low end of the scale, it is still quite rare for Michigan. There has been a report of one structure damaged in East Lansing - if you have additional information or see any damage please contact our office." 517-676-8223 for non-emergencies, 911 for emergencies.

Courtesy MSU Today

For a while now, medical professionals have thought there was a connection between abdominal fat and high blood pressure. Turns out, that belly fat may be more or less talking to the body’s blood vessels. The National Institutes of Health has given a grant to some MSU researchers who want to listen in on what that conversation might be.

We think of Michigan as the center of the auto industry, but there have been times in our history when production of recreational boats was a thriving industry as well. In fact, many of the best known boat names like Chris-Craft originated here.

A mid-Michigan author has published a book that examines the connection between childhood’s imaginary worlds and adulthood creativity. Michelle Root-Bernstein is an historian, independent scholar, and educator affiliated with Michigan State University, and she is very interested in what makes people creative. Her recent book is called "Inventing Imaginary Worlds: From Childhood Play to Adult Creativity Across the Arts and Sciences".

The Lansing Police Department will soon add a controversial new tool to its equipment list: 100 body cameras. Some law enforcement agencies in mid-Michigan are already experimenting with the devices. The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office has 25 body cameras on hand. In Ingham County, officers are testing a few cameras at the county jail, and the department is preparing to receiving more. The East Lansing and Michigan State University police departments are also planning to use body cameras. The device has evolved from a technological novelty to the centerpiece of a new front in the struggle for racial harmony and civil rights.

Flickr - Rachel McBee

Fifty years ago today, people in six midwest states including Michigan were still in shock from a massive tornado outbreak April 11th and 12th. The 1965 Palm Sunday outbreak was the third deadliest on record in the U. S., and it helped to usher in the modern system of watches and warnings to inform people about severe weather.

Joan Young

WKAR book reviewer Lev Raphael has a look at "Under the Channel" by Gilles Pétel.

Clay Junell/Flickr

Baby animals are making their way into the world as the weather gets warmer.  Here in mid-Michigan we might see fawns, newborn birds and rabbits and more.  But what if you see one without an obvious parent nearby?  Current State's Melissa Benmark talks with MSU professor of zoology Jim Harding.

davemaddensbowlingshoes.com

Remember "The Partridge Family", the iconic 1970s singing TV family? Their manager, Reuben Kincaid, saw their potential and his guidance allowed them to travel around in a converted bus, making music. Well, that manager, Reuben Kincaid, was played by actor Dave Madden. Today we’ll hear from a West Michigan man who saw the potential in a pair of shoes that once belonged to Dave Madden.

Flickr - Public Affairs

A new study out of MSU finds that some additives that supposedly help plastic bags biodegrade really aren’t effective. Issues of biodegradation and recycling are a lot more complicated than “good plastic vs. bad plastic".

www.lsa.umich.edu/psych

A new study from the University of Michigan indicates that there may be something to those fast food cravings you get. The findings indicate that highly processed foods heavy in fat, salt, and sugar are among the most addictive foods out there.

The MSU Department of Theatre’s production of “Bug” starts tonight and runs this weekend and next. It’s a psychological thriller by Tracy Letts, who wrote “August: Osage County.” The show deals with themes of trauma, paranoia, and trust.

Courtesy - Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Scientists are noting increased numbers of a zooplankton in some inland lakes that are just plain slimy. Holopedium glacialis is a mucus-coated microorganism that, in groups, makes a ball of slime something like clear tapioca pudding. The slime can clog water pipes and disrupt the food web.

Courtesy University of Michigan Health System

March is colorectal cancer awareness month. Health professionals will tell you that kind of cancer can be treated quite successfully, but first it has to be detected. And to be detected, people have to know to get screened for it. That’s why this Saturday you may notice a giant inflatable colon at Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor.

In the natural world, it’s fair to say that if amphibians aren’t happy, then nobody’s happy. Frogs and toads are incredibly sensitive to water quality, and an upcoming volunteer survey in Michigan aims to check on amphibian well-being in the state.

http://music.msu.edu/

The next Joanne and Bill Church West Circle Series concert from the MSU College of Music happens on Monday. It’s called “Maurice Ravel, Man of Mystery", and features a number of MSU faculty musicians, including the head of the College’s piano area, Deborah Moriarty.

Courtesy - MSU College of Music

The MSU Federal Credit Union Jazz Artist in Residence program with the MSU College of Music has another feature artist working with students on campus this week. Current State talks with guitarist Peter Bernstein of New York City.

Michigan’s expanding brewing culture will be well-represented today and tomorrow in Grand Rapids. The 10th Annual Winter Beer Festival will feature more than 100 Michigan breweries with over 1000 different craft beers available to sample.

http://www.mlui.org/

Earlier this month, the Michigan Land Use Institute floated the idea of a new passenger train service from Ann Arbor to Traverse City. It’s a complicated process, but it appears that one of the biggest components is getting people excited about it.

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