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Stateside Podcast: Scratching the surface with Harvey Ovshinsky

jmanzel, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons, Resized

Peabody Award-winning writer and producer, Harvey Ovshinsky became part of Detroit’s media landscape in 1965. At 17, he founded the storied underground newspaper, The Fifth Estate.

That was only the beginning of a long career in media. He subsequently covered news at several local radio stations and produced TV documentaries and advertisements. He’s been present for most of Detroit's significant moments in modern history: the uprising, the bankruptcy, the renaissance.

“Detroit has always been since the earliest days, my address, my muse, and my inspiration,” Ovshinsky said.

Ovshinsky has now put himself under the microscope for his memoir, Scratching the Surface: Adventures in Storytelling. His new book covers everything from his childhood as the son of monumental scientist and inventor, Stanford Ovshinsky, to his own illustrious career.

After years of interviewing other people, Ovshinsky said it was only fair to apply the same scrutiny and inquiry into his own life.

“How unfair is it of me to ask it of them and not to scratch my own [surface].”

Admittedly this sort of self-attention is no easy feat.

“Know that the surface is very tough…It’s a protective surface,” Ovshinsky reflected. “I think we all have a need on one level to spill our guts, so to speak. But it takes courage and it takes bravery. And it’s going to upset some people. And it’s going to upset yourself.”

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Rachel Ishikawa joined Michigan Public in 2020 as a podcast producer. She produced Kids These Days, a limited-run series that launched in the summer of 2020.