Lights, Camera, Economy! Changing Gears Premieres


Changing Gears, a new series looking at the revival of the industrial Midwest, is on the air! We kicked off on Monday with a look at The Film Factory — the race to attract movie crews to the region. Here is the inaugural report from Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor, Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland and Niala Boodhoo in Chicago.

Download the audio here

Towns and cities across the Midwest are trying to look like mini Hollywoods, thanks to generous tax incentives that have attracted dozens of film crews. Some think the silver screen is a silver bullet.

But California still dominates the $57 billion film industry – and some — including Michigan’s state Senate fiscal agency — are asking whether Great Lakes states are offering too much. Continue reading “Lights, Camera, Economy! Changing Gears Premieres”

Movies Starring The Midwest


Batman, roller dames and road warriors have all starred in movies filmed in the Midwest over the past few years. Here’s a walk of fame of Midwest-made pictures, picked by Team Gears and our Facebook friends. Got more? List them in the comments and we’ll add the most popular ones.

Film incentivized

The Dark Knight, 2008 (Filmed in Chicago and other global locations) Heath Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his portrayal of the Joker, with Christian Bale reprising the main role as Batman. Easily the most successful film ever made in the Midwest, it has earned over $1 billion internationally. Continue reading “Movies Starring The Midwest”

One Week to Go! Gearing Up for Changing Gears

Next week, public radio listeners will meet the Changing Gears team for the first time on the air. Niala Boodhoo in Chicago, Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor and Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland are preparing their reports for our launch the week after next.

You’ll be hearing their voices — and mine — throughout next week, as we talk about the stories we’ll be doing about the reinvention of the Great Lakes Region.

Continue reading “One Week to Go! Gearing Up for Changing Gears”

Changing Gears Goes On the Air 9/20

Mark your calendars for  Monday Sept. 20. That’s when Changing Gears will go on the air. We’ll be reporting on the future of the Midwest industrial region from our partner stations Chicago Public Radio, Michigan Radio and ideastream in Cleveland.

You’ll hear from all the members of Team Gears — Niala Boodhoo, Kate Davidson and Dan Bobkoff — and we’ll be kicking off our special Web features. Meanwhile, our food writer Michael Nagrant is whipping up a batch of Reinvention Recipes that will give you a new view of some familiar dishes and places.

Continue reading “Changing Gears Goes On the Air 9/20”

Team Gears: Our Man in Cleveland

Dan BobkoffI’m Dan Bobkoff, and as the Cleveland reporter for Changing Gears, I’ll be holding down our fort on Lake Erie.

If you’re a regular listener to our partner station WCPN ideastream, you’ve already heard me for the past three years, doing reports on business and politics in northern Ohio. Many of those have run on NPR shows like All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Here’s one I did recently for Weekend Edition on interesting new uses for excess infrastructure.

One thing I’ve learned since I moved here nearly four years ago is that Cleveland and Northern Ohio don’t have as clear a national image as Michigan and Chicago. That’s both good and bad. Many outside the Midwest have no real conception of what’s happening here and what it’s like to live here. For some, the image is stuck in a 40-year time warp conjuring up images of a Cuyahoga River on fire and late night comics picking on Cleveland as the “mistake on the lake.” Sure, foreclosures, population loss and the decline of manufacturing have taken their toll, but Northeast Ohio is also home to a world class orchestra, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a fantastic hospital, food scene, and a downtown that’s looking better every year. Continue reading “Team Gears: Our Man in Cleveland”

From the Senior Editor: Food’s Revival Role

Can food help revive a city — and a region? It certainly can play a part.

Here’s an example. We sat outside this week for a birthday dinner at a lively bistro. Near our table, a brazier burned brightly as well-dressed guests chatted in the warm evening air.

The wine list featured a variety of intelligent choices, from crisp chilled rose to warm reds and sparkling whites. The special was pork belly, the raw bar included a choice of east coast or west coast oysters, and the frites looked fantastic.

We were not in Paris, or New York, or Chicago. We were at Zinc, on Euclid Avenue, in downtown Cleveland. Zinc, set a historic building, is one of the most recent editions to the city’s growing culinary scene, which is centered around the corner on Fourth Street. Here’s a piece that Dan Bobkoff recently did for our partner ideastream on Cleveland’s new restaurants.

I’m convinced that good food is essential not just to a city’s spirit, but to a city’s revival. Restaurant wise, Cleveland already rocks — and so can the Great Lakes region. Continue reading “From the Senior Editor: Food’s Revival Role”