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.

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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.

Here are the school closings for Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton counties for Friday, 2/20/15.

The 46th Annual Spartan Stampede starts tomorrow at the MSU Pavillion. It’s presented by the MSU Rodeo club and features much of the stuff you’d expect at a rodeo.

The MSU Department of Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s "Scottish play" begins tomorrow night at Fairchild Theatre. Full of abuses of power, political wrangling, and outright murder, it hits home for audiences even 400 years after Shakespeare wrote it.

Here are the school closings for Ingham, Eaton and Clinton Counties:

Courtesy photo

EDITOR'S NOTE: This interview has been edited from its original airing on 90.5 FM and AM 870 WKAR.

He was born in Harlem, but he had a voice that came straight from Haiti. He’s won three of the entertainment industry’s Big Four: three Grammys, an Emmy and a Tony. A star of the stage and the studio, and a confidant of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He's the legendary Harry Belafonte. Today, he’ll speak at Michigan State University about his passion for civil rights.

Evolutionary biologists at MSU have determined that a spouse in the hand is better than one that might be more suitable down the road.

Melissa Benmark/WKAR

The MSU Symphony Orchestra and several University choruses are taking on the epic Mahler Third Symphony on Saturday.

The next guest at East Lansing’s Ten Pound Fiddle is well-loved singer-songwriter John Gorka. He’ll be performing this Friday night.

Flickr - hilaryhiggins

Never mind the Super Bowl, the Spartans beat Michigan in men's basketball yesterday. It took overtime for MSU to defeat the Wolverines 76-66.

Updated 2/2/2015 6:20 a.m.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has declared a snow emergency in Lansing, according to Ingham County emergency officials.

Some downtown Lansing residents are being watched intently for signs of courtship. The saga of the peregrine falcons who live at the Lansing Board of Water and Light’s Eckert Power Station continues with some new twists.

MSU’s Residential College in the Arts and Humanities continues its Wednesday Night Live series tonight. Candacy Taylor is an award-winning author, photographer and documentarian for the Library of Congress. She owns Taylor Made Culture, a company that produces multimedia projects that examine culture and identity in America.


WKAR's next Community Cinema event is tonight, featuring a preview of “A Path Appears". This three-episode series is journalist Nickolas Kristof’s latest collaboration with his wife, Sheryl WuDun, and is a follow-up on the book and movie “Half the Sky.” The subject of both is human trafficking, but “A Path Appears” focuses on the subject here in the United States.

Companies sometimes try to look more environmentally friendly than they are, but a new study indicates they might also downplay their “green” achievements, depending on who’s listening to their message.

Flickr - Eric E Castro

An essay that recently appeared in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine asks the question, was Beethoven literally composing "from the heart"? Could some of Beethoven’s rhythmic inspiration come from the arrhythmia of his own heart?

Joan Young

Our book reviewer Lev Raphael has a timely book for us this month. It's "The French Intifada: The Long War Between France and Its Arabs" by Andrew Hussey.

Lev Raphael is our book reviewer. When he isn’t writing novels or teaching, he occasionally blogs for the Huffington post.

WKAR file photo

The Lansing Symphony Orchestra’s next Masterworks concert is this Saturday at Wharton Center in East Lansing. The program includes works by Haydn, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven.

You’ve heard of blood banks, tissue banks and organ donation, But are you aware of breast milk banks? Likely not, because they are not widespread in the U.S.

A display at the state Capitol sponsored by a group called “The Satanic Temple” is raising eyebrows, even though it hasn’t been put up yet.

Courtesy Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota Duluth

The populations of an invasive snail in the Great Lakes may be increasing, according to a new study. Researchers from ten universities including Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University have found “faucet snails” in more areas along the Great Lakes coastline than experts previously thought.

A new Michigan study looks at what we eat in the context of its environmental impact. Every few years, the U. S. Department of Agriculture puts out guidelines on how Americans should eat to maintain good health. The balance between fruits and vegetables, protein, and other nutrients has been the topic of much debate.

Flickr - Doug Kerr

The Michigan Department of Transportation this month released its draft 2015-2019 Five-Year Transportation Program. MDOT will be taking public comment on the draft plan until January 5.

Wikimedia Commons

How many times have you heard the words “lame duck” in the last few weeks? You have a little while longer to be tired of the term. The Michigan Legislature’s lame duck session lasts for just over two more weeks.

The medical challenges associated with stroke have been in the news lately with hockey great Gordie Howe suffering both strong and mild strokes over the past few months. A new MSU study aims to improve the recovery of stroke victims.

A new computer tool is helping official planners and even just people who are interested in the Great Lakes actually see what varying water levels do to the shoreline.

The MSU Symphony Orchestra and MSU Jazz Orchestra I are joining forces for a concert tonight at Wharton Center. It’s an Ellington and Beethoven concert, a meeting of the great composers.

Dead bodies are not completely dead. Bacteria and insects live on and near corpses, and what kind of organisms are there can tell scientists lots of useful things, including how long a body has been dead. To learn from what’s called the “microbiome,” though, researchers need access, unfortunately, to dead bodies, and the more recent, the better. Bodies that are donated to research institutions are kept in cold storage for long periods of time which means the results are different.