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

Flickr - Mercy Health

Now that the Affordable Care Act has more or less settled into place, people may be in the position of choosing new doctors for themselves. A recent book by Dr. Leana Wen looks at ways to improve communication between doctors and patients.

http://msutoday.msu.edu

With more daylight and the end of school, lots of kids will have the opportunity to play outdoors more in the coming weeks and months if they choose to. Outdoors time has decreased drastically for children. A new MSU study indicates that there are benefits to outdoor free play besides the physical exercise.

Wikimedia Commons

Pig farmers in Michigan and around the nation are losing piglets to a virus that is easily spread and almost always lethal to very young animals. So far, it’s killed over six million piglets.

http://www.ceri.msu.edu/

As the university school year winds down, many students are preparing for summer unpaid internships, hoping to improve their employability.The practice of not paying interns has become increasingly widespread.

Happy graduates in cap and gown
Michigan State University

Commencement season is upon us. MSU is sending new graduates into the world this weekend in East Lansing. The only thing more ubiquitous than caps, gowns, and cameras is a military march written by a British guy in 1901. 

Seriously, why do Americans graduate to a tune that across the Atlantic Ocean essentially has become an unofficial English National Anthem? Current State’s Melissa Benmark explores the song that’s helped “commence” graduates for over a century.  

courtesy of helenveit.com

A new book from the MSU Press looks at the cookbooks and foodways of Americans in the 1860s. “Food in the Civil War Era: The North” is officially out this week. It’s  part of a planned food history series from the MSU Press.

Flickr - texasgurl

The Lansing Symphony Orchestra closes out its regular season with an unusual Wednesday night concert tomorrow. It features Brahms’ final symphony, a near-viral modern composition, and a piano concerto played by Andrew Hsu, a Gilmore Young Artist competition winner.

Flickr - USFWSmidwest

From now through early June, some volunteers will be standing guard over the Black River in Northern Michigan. They’ll be on the banks of the river making sure that the lake sturgeon, a rare and threatened species in the state, are able to leave their homes in Black Lake and successfully spawn in the Black River. Why do the fish need guarding?

Wikimedia Commons

Here in mid-Michigan we’re finally starting to see signs of spring after the long winter. Current State’s Melissa Benmark has been enjoying the humor, and hopefulness, of a spring ritual she’s been witnessing in her back yard.

Courtesy of www.dukemedicine.org

April is Autism Awareness Month. It’s a condition that’s much examined by the medical community, but still elusive in its causes and treatments. 

Flickr - Paul Goodman

The 2014 Boston Marathon is being run today. This longstanding tradition in the running world is even more significant to its participants this year, in light of last year’s bombing of the event. A number of people from mid-Michigan are participating, and Current State's Melissa Benmark catches up with one of them.

Flickr - Wigwam Jones

As you drive west from Ionia, Michigan, you’ll come to the little town of Saranac. Its streets are lined with a bountiful number of large old maple trees. And this time of year, it’s not uncommon to see many of them with pails and spouts attached to collect sap for maple syrup.


Video courtesy of www.mobileinblackandwhite.org

 

The Capital City Film Festival starts tomorrow and runs through the weekend. On Saturday, a film about race relations in America will air at Dart Auditorium in Lansing. It’s called “Mobile in Black and White”. The film, which originally featured four shorter segments broken up by discussions, is directed by Robert Gray.

Flickr - Jared Kelly

The Michigan State University Science Festival continues through this weekend. A familiar voice will speak at Kellogg Center as part of the festival: Robert Krulwich. Current State’s Melissa Benmark spoke with him earlier this week.

People who really got into reading “The Millenium Trilogy” are going to have to face up to the truth: most likely no more Stieg Larsson books are coming out in the future. But if you still have a fever for Swedish crime fiction, our book reviewer Lev Raphael has your prescription. The book is “A Darker Shade: 17 Swedish stories of murder, mystery and suspense including a short story by Stieg Larsson.”

Flickr - Alexandra MacKenzie

A new exhibit at the MSU Museum focuses on the plight of turtles around the world. “Turtles in Trouble” is meant to boost awareness of the impact humans have on turtles populations worldwide.

Flickr - Greater Lansing Convention & Visitor's Bureau

The Lansing Symphony Orchestra’s next MasterWorks concert is Saturday night at Wharton Center. It features music from American composers Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland.

Flickr - oh estelle

Art, like life, goes through phases and changes. A longtime mid-Michigan artist who relocated to New Mexico a few years ago is exploring the inspirations there and has just come out with her first short film. Many listeners will be familiar with Jane and Dick Rosemont. He was one of the forces behind Flat Black and Circular, an East Lansing record shop, and she was a fine arts photographer.

Flickr - neoporcupine


Drunk driving has been a public safety problem for years across the United States. A similar and growing threat is that of drugged driving. Some new law enforcement programs are targeting people who get behind the wheel under the influence of various drugs, sometimes in combination with alcohol.

Flickr - Martin Cathrae

We take the safety of our food supply as a given. We expect the food will contain what’s on the label and not contain other things that might be harmful. But globalization and new technology can sometimes compromise these expectations.

Here are school closings for Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties:

Wikimedia Commons

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments today on what should be done with more than 350 prison inmates sentenced to life with no chance of parole as juveniles.  The Michigan case follows a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring life without parole sentences for minors violates the U.S. constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. 

Current State speaks with the Michigan Public Radio Network’s statehouse bureau chief, Rick Pluta.

Flickr - Vlad Archic

There’s probably never been a time in history when there wasn’t war and conflict going on somewhere in the world, but amid the Arab Spring and the situation between Russia and Ukraine, right now seems like an especially good time to talk to an expert on international conflict.

Flickr - Rocky Romero

We all know people in our community who we feel are extraordinary for their memorable life experiences or their sacrifices.  Maybe for their success or their service, and for the insights that result from those experiences.

Getting better acquainted with extraordinary people is the focus of Current State’s ongoing series, Voices of Experience.

Rabbi Morton Hoffman was the head of Congregation Shaarey Zedek from 1983 until 2000, and then again for a few years until 2003 when he re-retired.

Flickr - SalFalko

The U. S. Supreme Court hears arguments today that will help determine the scope of what kinds of emissions the Environmental Protection Agency can regulate. The outcome could have a big effect on industrial facilities nationwide.

Here are the school closings and 2 hour delays for Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton counties.

University of Michigan CLASSES CANCELED

Other Mid-Michigan school closings:

Clinton County

DeWitt Public Schools    
Fowler Public Schools    
Meadowland Preschool    
Ovid-Elsie Area Schools

Pewamo-Westphalia Schools    
St. Johns Public Schools   
St. Peter Lutheran    

Eaton County

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

INGHAM COUNTY:

Dansville, East Lansing, Haslett, Holt, Lansing, Leslie, Okemos, Stockbridge, Webberville, Williamston

WKAR book reviewer Lev Raphael has “The Great Gatsby” on his mind…especially the fashions of that era. He recently read “Fashion in the Time of the Great Gatsby” byLaLonnie Lehman. He spoke with WKAR's Melissa Benmark.

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