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Michigan Radio is saying so-long to 2011. But what's a goodbye without a little reflection? Here you'll find a collection of stories about Detroit, the economy, arts and culture, the environment, stories from our investigative report, and stories from West Michigan. We can't list all the stories we covered, but this is a good sampling. Let us know if others should be included.

A look back: Michigan Radio's arts and culture coverage

Image by John Wilson
Michigan Radio

As part of Michigan Radio's end-of-year look back at some of the more notable stories, here's a collection of 2011 arts and culture stories that we feel deserve another look:

February 25 - October 3: Michigan on the Page

Over much of 2011, Brian Short, a writer and graduate of the University of Michigan's MFA in Fiction program, spoke with several Michigan authors for his "Michigan on the Page" series. Short interviewed these authors about the books they think best represent Michigan and about the different ways they draw inspiration from the state.

March 31: Prisoner art show

More than three-hundred works of art went on display at the University of Michigan by artists who are incarcerated prisoners. Independent producer and UM professor of art Stephanie Rowdenvisited prisons in Michigan and spoke with several incarcerated artists,documenting her experience with this audio postcard.

April 4: Detroit Symphony ends strike

When you think "worker strike" in Michigan, most people think of auto workers. But in 2011, the most contentious strike involved a strike by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's musicians. Michigan Radio covered the lengthy strike extensively led by arts reporter Jennifer Guerra. Guerra filed several pieces on the strike including a piece about the strike spilling over onto the DSO's Facebook page. The musicians reached a contract agreement with DSO officials in April, ending a strike that stretched six months.

June 1: Grand Rapids lip dub

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith went behind the scenes  and put togethera video on the making of the Grand Rapids lip dub, a music video featuring about 1,000 Grand Rapids-area residents mouthing the words to Don Mclean's "American Pie" throughout the city's downtown, shot in one continuous take. The project was organized in response to Newsweek Magazine listing Grand Rapids as one of 10 "dying cities" in America. Thelip dub video ended up going viral with close to 4.5 million views online.

August 31: Panning for Michigan gold

Gold prices skyrocketed over the summer and as a report from Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody shows, some in southern Michigan took to the region's streams and rivers with hopes of striking it rich. Carmody reported the hopeful miners waded in the water, while scientists and environmentalists remained doubtful about their chances.

July 22: Closing the book on Borders

After 40 years in the book business, Ann Arbor-based Borders Books liquidated it's  store inventories and shut its doors in the fall of 2011 following a bankruptcy announcement earlier in the year. Michigan Radio covered the Borders story since news of financial trouble started late last year. Mark Brushreported on the reactions to news of the closing from some Borders customers and Steve Carmody covered the shuttering of the bookseller's flagship store in Ann Arbor.

September 26-30: Stories from the North Woods

Michigan Radio reporter Jennifer Guerra traveled to the Upper Peninsula this summer, an area rich with history. Inher series, "Stories from the North Woods," she took listeners on a trip back in time with the sounds of the Copper Country; hopped a boat to Rabbit Island, home to a new artist residency program; heard how old downtown movie theaters are getting a new lease on life; and visited the mining town of Calumet, where artists are now setting up shop.

December 8: Bowling for social skills

In December, Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris visited a club set up to help kids with autism practice their social skills and interact with peers using bowling as a backdrop. In her report, Norris talks with one of the program's organizers and we hear from some of the kids who come to the club.

December 9: Aretha wants you

The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin is hoping to foster a new generation of opera singers. As Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra reported earlier this month, Franklin is calling for demos from performers who are 18-40 years old and classically trained. If she likes what she hears, Franklin will sign one, two, maybe even three performers to her label, Aretha’s Records and help those singers get established in the world of classical music.

What did you think were the best stories in the past year? Share them with us.

-John Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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