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Kevin Meerschaert returns to the WEMU news team after three decades away

Kevin Meerschaert
Kevin Meerschaert
89.1 WEMU
Kevin Meerschaert


David Fair: This is 89 one WEMU, and I'm David Fair. Now, I've been serving as your temporary All Things Considered host since October. The hiring process--well, that can be arduous. And we wanted to make sure that the people we asked to join the staff are best suited to serve you and this community in the most meaningful way possible. I'm glad to say that we've now filled one of our two open positions. We've hired Kevin Meerschaert to serve as our general assignment reporter and, at least in the short term, as our All Things Considered host. Now, Kevin is no stranger to the area. And, in fact, coming back to WEMU is a return home in a way. Today is Kevin's first day on the job and is the voice that you will hear on All Things Considered as soon as we get him fully integrated into the station in the news department. Kevin, welcome!

Kevin Meerschaert: Thank you. What goes around comes around, I guess.

David Fair: That's right. So, explain a little bit of your history. You actually went to Eastern Michigan University, and, during that time, you worked right here.

Kevin Meerschaert: I was a student reporter here and, for a short time, a part-time reporter after I graduated. That was back in 1992.

David Fair: It's been a minute!

Kevin Meerschaert: Yeah, I started in 1989 with Clark Smith and Dave Frickman and all the old gang who was here. And if somebody out there remembers, I guess they have a pretty good memory of me back 30 years ago. But that's where it started. And then I left here, got a job as the news director at a one-person station in Evansville, Indiana at WNIN and moved around to Salisbury, Maryland and spent about 20 years in Jacksonville, Florida. I also spent a couple of years in Santa Fe, New Mexico before coming back here.

David Fair: All in public radio!

Kevin Meerschaert: All in public radio!

David Fair: So, what about public radio is attractive to you?

Kevin Meerschaert: All the things. It's what public radio does. And it varies from station to station. But one thing we always get to do is to dig into interesting stories that other people may not want to touch and other things that maybe they're too complicated or they don't think there's enough controversy going on. I've had that conversation with people who said, "I'm not going to do this story because there's no controversy." And we say, "Well, that's not important." What's important is that it's important to our audience. And that's the only thing that I also think about is what's best for our audience. Do they want to know about this? Is this good news? Is this bad news? Is this interesting is what I want to talk about. And that's what we focus on.

David Fair: What is most interesting and compelling about returning to Washtenaw County, southeast Michigan, and, of course, here to WEMU?

Kevin Meerschaert: Well, a lot of this has to do with family. I still have some family here around the area and in Michigan, and I grew up in Troy. And, of course, I went to school here. And that, I think, was the big part of being able to come home and being with members of the family and being back and getting back to Michigan. I've always been a Michigan person. I've always been a Michigander at heart, and that was one of the key factors I had. I wanted to come back home.

David Fair: What kind of stories are you most looking forward to telling the people that listen to 89 one WEMU?

Kevin Meerschaert: Well, I like lots of different stories. I think what's interesting is most I have a degree in political science, so I think that's where I spent a lot of my focus: on government. That's one of the reasons that got me to Santa Fe a couple years ago. It was because Santa Fe was the state capital, and I got to learn a lot about state politics that sometimes you don't get from the outside, but you can learn a lot of things right there in the state Capitol. And, you know, actually, it's not all that different than it is inside City Hall at Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti or in a township hall that we spent so much time talking about in those many years ago.

David Fair: So, you've made your way back to the area. You've had a week or so to kind of travel around and reacquaint yourself with the area. What stands out to you most about the changes since you left WEMU some 30 years ago?

Kevin Meerschaert: You know, some of the biggest changes is that, as we talked about, you can take a little map of 30 years ago of Washtenaw County, and there are empty spaces on it that are no longer empty spaces. There's subdivisions and everything else on there, and there's different buildings and different businesses that come and go. But still, I don't think there's a big change in the people itself. I still think that who I've talked to are simply the same kind of people that we've always met.

David Fair: Well, we are looking forward to having you on board. We are looking forward to the work you can do for the community, and we are looking forward to generating a great deal of interest in the subjects that you do cover. Thank you for coming back home, Kevin, and we look forward to getting underway and getting on our way.

Kevin Meerschaert: Thank you for hiring me.

David Fair: That is Kevin Meerschaert. He is the newest member of the WEMU news team, joining us on his first day at the station today. And I hope you're going to join Team WEMU in welcoming Kevin. And we can all look forward to the great work he's going to provide in the days, months and, hopefully, years to come. I'm David Fair, and this is your community NPR station. It's 89 one WEMU.

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Contact David: dfair@emich.edu