Motor City Muckraker’s Steve Neavling, Ypsi’s new IB elementary school, the campaign for the Riverside Park playground, and Pointless Brewery & Theatre… on episode 41 of the Saturday Six Pack


Tonight’s episode of the Saturday Six Pack will be in four parts.

During our first segment, we’ll have on Cassandra Sheriff and Karla Graessley to discuss the recent announcement that Ypsilanti Community Schools, building on the successes of the International Baccalaureate (IB) middle school and high school, will be opening an IB elementary school. [Graessley is the director of elementary education for Ypsilanti Community Schools, and Sheriff, it’s been announced, will be the principal of the new school.] For those of you who, after our interview, want more information, there’s going to be a public meeting the evening of March 15 at Cultivate Coffee and Tap House.

Then, during our second segment, we’ll be calling independent, Detroit-based investigative journalist Steve Neavling. For those of you unfamiliar Neavling’s Motor City Muckraker website, here’s a clip from a recent piece by Patrick Dunn in Metromode about our region’s best independent journalists.

…Neavling pursued other avenues in reporting after being cut loose by one of Detroit’s journalistic institutions. The Detroit Free Press fired Neavling from his reporter job in 2012 after then-Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh complained about Neavling’s decision to print a dismissive remark Pugh had made to him during a break from a council meeting. Neavling started the Muckraker two months later as a way to continue reporting until he found a new job. But he says he was thrilled with the new freedom he had found.

“I can’t emphasize enough how liberating it is to be able to write about what I find important by living in Detroit, versus editors from the suburbs telling me what they think are the most important issues in Detroit,” he says.

Neavling has been fascinated by the power of journalists to expose corruption and mismanagement since he took a job at a rural weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania, his home state, after he graduated college with a philosophy degree. He moved to Michigan in 2001 and has spent the past 10 years in Detroit. He and Muckraker publisher Abigail Shah now live in a 500-square-foot apartment in what Neavling describes as “a relatively dangerous part of the Cass Corridor.” In addition to their work on Muckraker, Shah works three jobs and Neavling works part-time writing for a law enforcement news website. Neavling’s currently planning a crowdfunding campaign to hire a business manager to develop strategies for monetizing the site. He’s also exploring grant funding opportunities.

Neavling says he doesn’t see a bright future for the mainstream local media. He cites the way the Flint water crisis came to light as the latest example of traditional outlets serving as “mouthpieces” to elected officials rather than watchdogs. But he says independent journalists have the advantage of aggressive reporting and a dogged commitment to their work. He believes that a collaborative mindset can help them succeed where a competitive mentality has caused traditional local outlets to falter…


[above: Photo of Neavling courtesy Doug Coombe.]

And, during our third segment, we’ll be joined in the studio by Tori Tomalia, the co-founder of the improv comedy space Pointless Brewery & Theatre. In addition to just catching up on how things have been going at Pointless since we last spoke with her, I imagine we’ll also be talking with Tomalia about her upcoming 40th birthday, and how she plans to mark it by hosting an event to raise money for research into the rare cancer subtype that she has. The event, if you’re interested in attending, is called Laughing at Cancer, and it’s going to take place at Pointless on March 19.

And, finally, during out fourth segment, we’ll be talking with Cara Talaska and Teresa Gillotti about their awesome new campaign to get a playground back in Ypsilanti’s Riverside Park. Here, if you’re unfamiliar with the campaign, is a video taken during a recent public meeting.

And, here, thanks to AM 1700 senior graphic designer Kate de Fuccio, is this week’s poster, in case any of you want to print copies and distribute them in outside the Governor’s Ann Arbor condo.



Unless you live inside the AM 1700 studio, chances are you won’t be able to pick the show up on your radio. As that’s the case, I’d recommend streaming the show online, which you can do either on the AM1700 website or by way of

And for those of you who aren’t yet familiar with the show, and need to get caught up, you can listen to the entire archive on iTunes.

One last thing… If you’d like to tell your friends and neighbors about the program, feel free to share the Facebook event listing.

And do call us if you have a chance. We love phone calls. So please copy down this number and slide it into your sock… 734.217.8624… and call us between 6:00 and 8:00 this Saturday evening. The show is nothing without you. Sure, sometimes it’s nothing even with you, that’s true, but usually you make it better.

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  1. Peter Larson
    Posted March 5, 2016 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    People will have an interesting time listening to your show.

  2. Posted March 5, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I know there’s a bit time difference, but you should try to call in from Kenya and play this week’s song live, Pete.

  3. Katherine
    Posted March 5, 2016 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Be sure to ask Steve about his work looking into the Detroit Fire Department.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted March 5, 2016 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    There was a playground near the Cross Street entrance to Riverside Park back in the 90s. Why was it removed?

  5. Peter Larson
    Posted March 5, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    People stopped playing.

  6. Eel
    Posted March 5, 2016 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Whatever it was that happened, it had to have been awful. People kept fucking another play structure in town and no one removed it.

  7. Kim
    Posted March 5, 2016 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    In case anyone missed Eel’s reference, he’s likely talking about the “Ypsi Pooper”.

  8. Lynne
    Posted March 5, 2016 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    FWIW, I was the person who made the dog comment on facebook. It wasn’t made in anger though nor was it in opposition to the playground. I was just voicing a concern.

    You see, when I first moved to Ypsilanti, I lived in a small studio apartment on College Place. When I got a dog, I started going to Riverside Park and found an informal dog group who met every day from around 6-8pm. It proved to be a really valuable thing to me. It helped my young dog get a lot of exercise. Talking to the other dog people helped me learn how to train her. It was social in a time of my life when I needed that kind of socialization. It really made me feel part of the Ypsilanti community. It got me outside and walking. And it allowed me to continue living in my small affordable apartment with an active young dog. Basically, Ypsilanti’s general laid back attitude about dogs in the park was just really valuable to me.

    You are right that there was playground equipment in the park back then. Most of the people and kids there were great. However, at some point there was a small group of parents who just hated that there were off leash dogs in the park even though the dogs were on the complete opposite end of the park and were well behaved. There were no incidents of dogs going anywhere near the playground or harassing children. Nevertheless, this group started harassing the dog group sometimes. One time they came over and ordered everyone to either put their dogs on a leash or leave the park. Mostly they called the police. They also didn’t like it that sometimes some of our local group home residents would sit under the shelter smoking cigarettes. They were just assholes really.

    When the city removed the playground equipment and built that really nice new playground at Prospect Park, the entire conflict went away, at least from my point of view.

    So my concern is that the playground will attract more similar assholes to the park.

    However, a little bit after I wrote that comment, I kind of decided that it was pretty likely that my concern was unfounded. Just because there was a small group of assholes at the park 20 years ago doesn’t mean that will happen again and even if it does, there is no reason to think that such a group would be able to get the YPD to crack down on people. I probably should have thought it out more before I spoke up.

    I don’t even have a dog in this so to speak because my current dog is just not obedient enough to be allowed off leash at that park. Also, these days, I don’t live in a studio apt, I live in a house with a really big yard. My only concern is that while we are making our city more attractive to families with children, I hope we will continue to be permissive about dogs in the park because that helps make young people feel more a part of the community.

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