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Why Michigan Radio matters

Jack Lessenberry


Albert Einstein was born on this day in 1879. He died, after a lifetime of discoveries that transformed the world, in 1955.  National Public Radio wasn’t around in his lifetime, but I have to believe he would have loved it. After all, he spent his later years searching vainly for a “Grand Unified Theory” that explains everything.

Michigan Radio, with support from its national partner, does indeed try to explain everything, or at least everything we can, to our listeners.  

This station was the first to bring news of what had happened in Flint to our listeners. It is the only station that attempts to explain things that are happening across this large and amazingly diverse state of Michigan.

Our colleagues and competitors recognize this. What I just told you is a big part of the reason why the Michigan Association of Broadcasters just recognized us as the public radio station of the year for the third year in a row.

That’s why my family contributes to Michigan Radio, and why I think you should consider doing so too. So does my friend Stanley Levy, who knew Einstein at Princeton, and probably has the largest collection of Einstein material in the Midwest.

Let’s face it.  Nobody likes to listen to people ask you to send them money. But that’s the price of benefiting from some of what I think is the best broadcast journalism in the nation. And frankly, I would much rather listen to a civilized appeal from our staff than be inundated with rib shack and similar commercials every day – and I would imagine you feel the same way.

I’ve been a journalist for more than 40 years. And for nearly 13 of them, I’ve had the privilege of sharing my thoughts and insights with you every day. Recently, a listener wrote to me that she enjoyed my essays, but that she couldn’t figure out what my ideology was, except that it seemed to revolve around common sense.

Well, I don’t know that lady, but she figured it out. My ideology is that it is: better to be informed than ignorant. And my goal in writing and broadcasting is twofold. First, I hope that some people hear me every day and say, “Wow, I didn’t know that. That’s interesting.” And I also hope to give you a different common sense perspective on public policy. 

Some years ago, I reported that it would cost less to raise taxes to properly fix the roads than we are paying now in sheer wear and tear, destroyed tires, broken wheels, and bad gas mileage. Frankly, I hoped that fact might help lead to more sensible behavior on the part of our lawmakers. I was wrong, and not for the first time. But I do believe the superb reporting of Lindsey Smith and our other reporters made a difference in environmental awareness in the state.

Michigan is facing major and crucial statewide elections this year, and our reporters and editors intend to help you make sense of the players, the policies, and what’s going on behind the scenes.  By supporting this station, you help us do that.

So I hope you won’t mind if I thank you in advance.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s Senior Political Analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.

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