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Stateside: Firm hired by Flint knew about lead issues; demise of department stores; noise pollution

The outside of the Crowley's department store in a black and white photo
Courtesy of Michael Hauser
Crowley's, Hudson's, and Kern's department stores were once major shopping destinations in downtown Detroit.

Today on Stateside, a new investigative report revealed that top exectutives at a firm contracted by the city of Flint knew there was a problem with lead contamination in the water system, but never alerted the public. Plus, a look at the golden era of downtown department stores in Detroit, and what their eventual demise tells us about how the retail landscape has changed. 

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below.

Internal emails show firm contracted by Flint knew about high lead levels in water and didn’t alert public

Stateside’s conversation with Ron Fonger

  • It has been more than five years since the beginning of the Flint water crisis, and city residents are still seeking answers. A joint investigation by MLive reporter Ron Fonger and The Guardian journalists Emily Holden and Jessica Glenza found that executives from Veolia, a major city contractor, knew that the people of Flint were at risk of lead poisoning and didn’t warn the public. Ron Fonger joined us to talk about what the company's internal emails revealed about who knew what, and when. 

In new book, writer Terry Blackhawk crystallizes her aesthetic vision with scientific, elegiac, and musical poems

Stateside’s conversation with John Freeman

  • Terry Blackhawk has been a force in Detroit poetry for decades. In addition to her own work, she also founded the award-winning InsideOut Literary Arts program, which teaches creative writing to young people in the city. Our reviewer John Freeman reviewed Blackhawk's newest book, One Less River, which offers ideas on life and the human condition.

Theater Talk: “Into the Woods,” “Dancing,” and “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”

Stateside’s conversation with David Kiley

  • Encore Michigan editor and publisher David Kiley joined us to talk about a mix of notable shows on stage at Michigan theaters this December. Young Michigan playwright Max Vinogradov has new a new play called Dancing at the Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck. The family favorite Into the Woods is at the Flint Repertory Theatre, and the Michigan Irish Repertory Theater is performing Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales, which blends famous Christmas music in both English and Welsh. 
  • Support for arts and culture coverage comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. 

What the demise Detroit's downtown department stores tells us about the modern shopping landscape

Stateside’s conversation with Michael Hauser

  • Sixty years ago on Woodward Avenue in December, the streets would have been crowded with shoppers and the department store windows are covered with colorful holiday pictures to amaze children and draw in customers. That era of glamorous downtown department stores in no more in Detroit. We spoke with Michael Hauser, the author of Hudson's: Detroit's Legendary Department Store, about how retail has changed since the golden era of the downtown department store. 

When does everyday noise become unhealthy? UM and Apple study aims to find out.

Stateside’s conversation with Richard Neitzel

  • Modern life is noisy. You've got passing cars, chattering people, barking dogs, fans, and even the music playing from your headphones all reaching your ears on a daily basis. Excessive noise can be harmful to human health, but there isn't much data on exactly how much "noise pollution" we experience every day. A new collaboration between the University of Michigan and Apple aims to change that. We talk to Richard Neitzel, associate chair of Environmental Health Sciences at UM. He told us what they hope to learn from the study, which allows iPhone and Apple Watch users to measure their noise exposure and send the data to researchers.

How a lock of hair unlocked one of the greatest mysteries of medical history: Beethoven’s death.

Stateside’s conversation with Dr. Howard Markel

  • One of the greatest paradoxes in music is how Ludwig van Beethoven wrote some of the most powerful and well-known music of all time while being profoundly deaf. This month marks Beethoven’s 249th birthday. Dr. Howard Markel is a University of Michigan medical historian and PBS contributor. He explained what could have caused Beethoven’s myriad health problems, including his deafness. We also spoke with Markel about his new book Literatim, which features essays at the intersection of medicine and culture.

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Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
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