Michigan Radio partnerships

Partners: Michigan Public Radio, ACCESS (Arab Community Center For Economic and Social Services, Dearborn, Michigan)
Course: Community Projects In the Arts and Humanities
 seminar, University of Michigan (syllabi, 20002001)


In 1999-2002, the UM Arts of Citizenship Program partnered with Michigan Radio on a series of public-radio projects.  The first was a personal commentary, "Out of the Ivory Tower," broadcast on Michigan Radio in 1999.  Using as its 'hook' a field trip to a riverfront park in Ann Arbor--part of the Students On Site education project (described here)--I reflected on the value of academic-community partnerships to both academic and community life.  (Click below to listen to "Out of the Ivory Tower.")

I also partnered with Michigan Radio on several student- and youth-led documentaries and audio memoirs.  The first grew out of another Arts of Citizenship project: a collaboration with Mosaic Youth Theatre to create a play, "2001 Hastings Street," about coming of age in 20th-century Detroit.  (For more on the play and the Mosaic partnership, read here.)  "2001 Hastings Street" centered on the experience of black teenagers in the 1940s. But in researching it, we also unearthed important stories about young people's lives in the 1960s.  I approached Michigan Radio with the idea of turning this material into a short documentary.  The result was "Coming of Age During the Riot Years."  (Click on the right to listen.) Drawing especially on two interviewees--an African-American Detroiter and a white suburbanite--it offered a complex, often surprising glimpse at how young people experienced and responded to the 1967 rebellion in Detroit. Broadcast in two segments on NPR's Morning Edition in 1999, the piece won an award from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. The following year, Michigan Radio and Arts of Citizenship produced another piece, "Jazz in the Motor City," in which professional jazz musicians recounted how they found mentors and role models as they came of age creatively after World War II.

"Coming of Age During the Riot Years" and "Jazz In the Motor City" were team projects in my course, Community Projects In the Arts and Humanities (described in the Teaching section).  Students conceived the stories, gathered interviews and other sound for them, and drafted a script.  They had generous support from Tamar Charney, a Michigan Radio reporter and producer, who trained them on how to collect high-quality sound and create engaging stories for radio.  Tamar edited and produced the broadcast segments.

In the summer of 2002, Tamar and I joined forces a third time, part of an NPR initiative on the experience of Arab-Americans after the 9/11 attacks. In partnership with ACCESS (the Arab Community Center For Economic and Social Services), a leading community association in Dearborn, Michigan, we worked with  Arab-American teens to create audio memoirs about their family and community life, their sense of ethnic and religious identity, and their experiences after 9/11. Their pieces, "Between Two Worlds," were posted on the NPR website and condensed for broadcast.  (Click on the right to listen to the full essays.)

        (Recordings reproduced by permission of Michigan-WUOM.)

Return to Past Projects.