A Notice From Changing Gears

The economic transformation of the industrial Midwest will continue to be a principal reality in the communities served by our stations, WBEZ, Michigan Radio, and WCPN ideastream, and the coverage of that change will continue to be our priority.

But change, as our project name implies, is inescapable, and we are not immune. This blog will continue to be a repository for coverage about this topic, However it will not continue to be updated with the frequency it has for the past two years.

Join Us TODAY 3 PM ET/2 PM CT For “Hidden Assets,” A Call-In Show And Live Chat On Immigration

Throughout the past two years, Changing Gears has looked at the role that newcomers play in the Midwest. This afternoon, we’ll be talking about them — and talking with you. 

Join us at 3 pm ET/2 pm CT for “Hidden Assets,” a call-in show airing on WBEZ Chicago, Michigan Radio and ideastream Cleveland. We’ll also be holding a live chat here at ChangingGears.info.

WBEZ’s Steve Edwards will host with a variety of scheduled guests, including Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, and Changing Gears reporter Niala Boodhoo. The Changing Gears team will chat with you here during the show.

Midwest Memo: GE Jobs, Nobel Laureates, Obama Campaign, CG Events

GE Adds Jobs, Faces Protestors: General Electric said Tuesday it is adding 300 jobs in Van Buren Township, Mich., at an advanced engineering center that it announced in 2009. That’s on top of 850 jobs for which the company is still hiring. But GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt faced protests at a meeting of the Society of Automotive Engineers in Detroit. Members of the 99% Spring movement are planning to protest Immelt’s pay and other issues at GE’s annual shareholders meeting, which will be held in Detroit on Wednesday. Read our coverage of the 99% Spring here

Nobel Laureates In Chicago: Former presidents, activists and actors are in Chicago for a three day meeting of the world’s Nobel Laureates. It’s one of the high-profile efforts by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to stake Chicago’s claim as a world-class city. On Monday, students in a Chicago classroom got a visit from former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, one of many visits paid by the laureates to Chicago schools.

Obama Campaign Blankets Ohio: The president was just at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio last week, talking about job retraining. Now, Barack Obama’s campaign plans to blanket the state in coming weeks, with the auto bailout as a main topic. Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers, says the number of auto workers in Ohio has increased from 105,000 to 120,000 since the administration rescued General Motors and Chrysler. However, Ohio’s biggest automotive employer is Honda, which has announced a series of new investments in the state.

Changing Gears Live Tomorrow: Make sure to mark your calendars tomorrow for a Changing Gears live call-in show and chat. It’s at 3 pm ET/2 pm CT. Read more here.

Where Did Everybody Go? – A Changing Gears Special

Former Detroiter Alex Ozark on the Hyundai-Kia proving grounds in California / Credit: Charla Bear

Many of us have friends or family members that have moved away from the Midwest.

In the Changing Gears special “Where Did Everybody Go?” we’re talking with some of those people who have moved out of the region – asking them why they left, what they found, and if they’ll ever come back.

We also take a look at what their departure means for the region.

You can listen to some of those stories here.

Part I: What’s So Great About Austin? Plenty, According To Former Midwesterners

Part II: The Appeal Of Portland

Part III: Detroit Coney Dogs On The Sunset Strip

Part IV: A Generation Moves Off The Farm

You can listen to the hour long Changing Gears special “Where Did Everybody Go” Sunday, 9 pm ET, on Michigan Radio; Monday, 10 am CT, on WBEZ Chicago; or Tuesday, 8 pm, on ideastream Cleveland.

Beginning This Weekend, A Changing Gears Special: “Where Did Everybody Go?”

Over the past few months, you’ve been reading and listening to Changing Gears’ special reports on Midwest Migration — the people who moved away.

Beginning this weekend, tune in for Changing Gears’ hour-long documentary, “Where Did Everybody Go?”

Hosted by Richard Steele of WBEZ Chicago, “Where Did Everybody Go” tells the stories of people who left the Midwest, and some who came home.

We’ll visit Portland, Austin, New York City, upstate New York and Los Angeles. We’ll talk with Jim Russell, a geographer who writes the Burgh Diaspora blog, and Dan Moilanen, a Flint, Mich., native who went to Austin to work for Apple, and came back to help his hometown.

Changing Gears senior editor Micki Maynard will also be part of the special, which was produced by award-winning journalist Kate Concannon. The special is informed by the Public Insight Network.

“Where Did Everybody Go” airs at these dates and times:

Or you can come back here to listen to the show. Be sure to join us, for “Where Did Everybody Go?”

Detroit Has Tons Of Vacant Land. But Forty Square Miles?

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Vacancy is easy to see, hard to quantify

DETROIT – Forty square miles.  That’s how much of Detroit lies vacant, nearly a third of the city.  You could fit Miami or San Francisco inside all that emptiness.  At least, that’s what we’ve heard for years.  The thing is, it might not be true.

This is a story about a number – an estimate, really – and how it became a fact illustrating Detroit’s decline. I’ve read about 40 square miles in the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian and The Washington Times. I’ve heard it on Fox and I’ve said it on the radio. That’s why Margaret Dewar called me out.

“Wait, this can’t be true.”

Dewar is a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan. She thinks there’s tons of vacant land in Detroit. Just not 40 square miles, dramatic as it sounds.

“It’s too good a number to let go of,” she said. “It’s such a wonderful number, it’s so shocking.” Continue reading “Detroit Has Tons Of Vacant Land. But Forty Square Miles?”

Changing Gears Wins A Regional Edward R. Murrow Award

For many of us in journalism, Edward R. Murrow is an icon.

Edward R. Murrow

He was a ground breaking foreign correspondent, investigative reporter and program host who had an enormous influence on our profession from the 1940s through the 1960s. You might also know him as the central character in the movie, “Good Night and Good Luck.”

So, it’s with great pride that we let you know that Changing Gears has won a regional Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association, for our series on manufacturing. (This is the same series that was awarded a National Headliner Award.)

We were the winner in the audio news series category in RTDNA’s Region 7, which includes entries from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

Winners from each region go on to compete in the national Murrow Awards, which will be announced this summer.

Thanks to members of the Changing Gears team — Dan Bobkoff, Kate Davidson, Niala Boodhoo,  our former colleague Pete Bigelow, and our colleagues Sarah Alvarez, Meg Cramer and Dustin Dwyer.

Changing Gears Wins A National Headliner Award

Last fall, Changing Gears devoted a month of reports to exploring how manufacturing has changed. We’re happy to let you know that we won a National Headliner Award for that series. 

Changing Gears took home the third place award for Broadcast Radio Networks and Syndicators. We had good company: the other winners in our category were Bloomberg Radio and CBS Radio. (See the entire list of winners, including our partner WBEZ Chicago.)

Congratulations to all the members of the Changing Gears team: Chicago reporter Niala Boodhoo, Cleveland reporter Dan Bobkoff, Ann Arbor reporter Kate Davidson, and Sarah Avarez, our Public Insight Network Analyst. (Pete Bigelow, who was Changing Gears’ Web editor when the series ran, is now with AOL Autos.) Thanks also to teammates Dustin Dwyer and Meg Cramer.

You can listen to our series here. The stories included:  Continue reading “Changing Gears Wins A National Headliner Award”

Measuring The Costs And Benefits Of Retraining

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Todd Debenedet is starting over. He's retraining in Jackson, Mich.

Measuring the success of retraining programs used to be straightforward. You just looked at how many people got better paying jobs. Now the emphasis is shifting from how job seekers benefit to how taxpayers benefit too. That’s because some federal funds for workforce development are shrinking, and local agencies have to do more to make their case.

In the Midwest, we hear a lot about retraining. A lot of the money for retraining and other job services comes from the federal government, through the states, to local programs like this one in Jackson, Michigan.

Sparks fly as Ron Waldon grinds the surface off a steel block. Soon he’ll learn to be a CNC operator– someone who can program computerized milling machines. It’s a hot skill for a guy who’s had a rough few years. Continue reading “Measuring The Costs And Benefits Of Retraining”

Small Churches: Detroit’s Got ‘Em, Now Tell Us Where They Are

If you live in Michigan, you might be mulling over the big economic news from Detroit. Namely that not-yet-consensual consent agreement that could alter city governance for years to come.

Kindof a big deal. But economic stories come in small packages too. Like this:

In Good Faith Missionary Baptist Church
In Good Faith Missionary Baptist Church -- photo by Kevin Bauman

Kevin Bauman is the photographer behind this picture project on Detroit’s small churches. We’ve been curious about small churches here at Changing Gears, and what happens to their buildings when services stop.

(No offense to the big guys; you deserve your own story, Archdiocese of Detroit.)

But right now we want to learn about the little pop-up and store front churches in your neighborhoods. Are they still active? Or have they fallen into disrepair … and off the tax rolls? What’s the story behind the church on your block?