WDET’s Top Story, News and Issue of 2019

Here are the stories and news events that 101.9 WDET’s audience clicked on, listened to or shared with their communities in 2019.

2019 has been a marathon of a news year. And it wasn’t just impeachment. 

This past year, 101.9 WDET reported at a marijuana industry convention in Detroit, on the migrant crisis at the Southern border of the U.S., and down the street from our Midtown studios on a racial discrimination lawsuit against Founders’ Brewing taproom.

Our online audience may digest our news in different ways — streaming and reading stories at wdet.org, on NPR One, over a Google Home or Amazon Alexa or through our podcasts like MichMash and Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson, but there were some clear stories and local news events that stood out no matter the medium.

Here’s our top stories, news and issues of 2019. 

Related: The 10 Most Interesting People WDET Met In 2019



Rising Tides Cause Flooding, Property Damage and Climate Grief

Eli Newman
Eli Newman

In 2019, WDET’s listeners and readers zeroed in on the dramatic effects of a warming planet

This summer, WDET’s Pat Batcheller reported on Great Lakes water levels reaching historic highs, after fluctuating for years, threatening homeowners along Lake Erie and Lake St. Claire with flooding and property damage.

Ellen Rutt
Ellen Rutt

Elsewhere, WDET’s Eli Newman saw what flooding looks like in Jefferson-Chalmers, where residents saw water flowing into basements and homes. Residents said city officials were not doing enough to address the problem.

“My issue is blame,” says Caroline Hardy-Grannum, a longtime resident of the area whose basement has about two feet of water in it. “We all recognize what the canals are going to do. It has been predicted. But not what the drains are going to do.”

For people around the world, standing up against climate change became a political moment. But others, Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson found, suffered from “ecological grief” brought on by wildlife loss and environmental change.

Read More

Here’s How Rising, Warmer Oceans Will Affect You

Rising Water Levels in Great Lakes Bring Flood Concerns to Shore

Jefferson-Chalmers Residents and City Clash Over Flooding

Cass Tech Student, Local Artist Team Up For Global Climate Strike

Nearly 400 Bird Species At Risk Due to Climate Change

Ecological Grief: Learning to Deal with Climate Change and Species Loss



Historic Center Line Church, Known for its Radical Design, Could be Closed or Sold

“I don’t want the church to go away. It’s broken everybody’s heart.”

Mike Grobbel
Mike Grobbel

WDET’s Quinn Klinefelter reported on how Center Line’s St. Clement Church could face closure due to budget concerns. He attended mass one Sunday to hear what parishioners thought.

“It’s a beautiful church, everybody’s friendly,” Kelly Kannan said, her voice stained with tears. “Beautiful church, I don’t want the church to go away. Stay here. [The thought of it closing,] it’s broken everybody’s heart.”

It was one of our most-listened to and read stories of 2019, sparking discussions around architecture, faith, community and the preservation of historic spaces. 

Read the story



From automotive mergers to legal marijuana and budget stalemate in Lansing, WDET’s airwaves wasn’t short on local news to bring to our listeners. Here are the top news events and trends of 2019, as determined by our audience through page clicks, listens and shares. 

Gov. Whitmer’s First Term

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has had a memorable first-term, with her signature .45-cent gas tax increase to fund road improvements getting caught up in budget haggling, the threat of a state shutdown, and eventually leading to her issuing nearly a billion dollars in line-item vetoes in a Republican-passed state budget.

She also exercised executive authority through a ban of flavored-vaping product and a controversy at Wayne State University (Editor’s Note: WSU owns WDET’s license). 

Read more

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Talks Roads, Budget Impasse at State Capitol

Michigan Budget, Road Funding Impasse Has Big Impact on State Workers and Schools

This is How Whitmer’s (Nearly) Billion Dollar Budget Cuts Affect You


Waiting for Legal, Recreational Marijuana

Shiraz Ahmed / WDET
Shiraz Ahmed / WDET

Legalization of recreational marijuana may have passed at the ballot box last year, but it quickly became apparent that customers would have to wait for the industry to get set up.

Municipalities got to vote on what recreational marijuana would like in their backyard, and many turned down the offer.

But the first establishments did open up in Ann Arbor, and even medical marijuana is continuing to grow in the state.


Read more

All the Questions on Michigan’s Legal Marijuana You Were too Afraid to Ask

Pot Proposal Failures Not Harshing Advocates’ Mellow

Recreational Pot is Legal in Michigan, But Medical Dispensaries Are Still Opening Doors

What’s Greener in Michigan’s Marijuana Industry — The Bud or the Money?


Gerrymandering and Redistricting Commission

Despite an anti-gerrymandering ballot measure that creates a redistricting commission to draw political maps passing last year, the practice continues to threaten representation in Michigan.

First, a US Supreme Court decision passed down said that federal courts cannot intervene in partisan gerrymandering cases. The decision involved cases out of Maryland and North Carolina, but it had a major impact on a case that was waiting appeal in Michigan.

Meanwhile, the redistricting commission began taking applications to serve on the board, but funding for the commission was threatened during state budget negotiations.

Read more

Here’s Where Michigan’s Redistricting Effort Stands After SCOTUS Gerrymandering Ruling

How to Apply to Serve on Michigan’s New Redistricting Commission

In State Budget Haggling, Anti-Gerrymandering Commission Comes Up Short


FCA Merges with Peugeot

The announcement of Fiat Chrysler’s merger with French automaker Peugeot turned heads around the world, but particularly here in metro Detroit. 

One expert thinks the merger is representative of the future of the auto industry.

Read more

FCA To Merge With French Automaker: What Does It Mean?

Fiat Chrysler, Renault Merger Talks Hint at Future of Auto Industry


UAW Goes On Strike

Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

The historic UAW strike against General Motors was one of our top news events of the year. It drew attention nationwide, and caught the glance of various Presidential candidates.

WDET’s Laura Herberg wanted to show the human side of what a labor action looks like. She reported on what strikers do in their spare time and spoke to workers striking outside GM’s Warren Transmission Operations facility.

The strike ended up lasting a month and costing the state $18.5 million in lost income tax and wages.

Editor’s note: WDET reporters are members of the Professional and Administrative Union, Local 1979, UAW

Read more

UAW Strike Cost Michigan $18.5 Million In Lost Income Taxes, Wages

This General Motors Worker Had Worked for 35 Years When His Plant Was Shut Down. Now, He’s Striking.

Why You Should Care About UAW Contracts



Of course, no listing of news events in 2019 would be complete without the impeachment of President Donald Trump, only the third president to be impeached in U.S. history. 

The President’s first stop after being impeached was Battle Creek, Mich. for a planned rally. The vote draws attention to Michigan’s Democratic Congressional delegation, specifically Reps. Elissa Slotkin and Haley Stevens, two red-to-blue 2018 swing districts.

But this story will continue in 2020, as the Senate tries Trump on the two articles of impeachment. 

Read more

How Impeachment Will Affect Michigan’s 2020 Congressional Elections

Sen. Stabenow On Impeachment: Trial An ‘Opportunity’ for Trump to Cooperate

Debate Impeachment Like a Constitutional Law Expert with Detroit Today’s Guide




  • Shiraz Ahmed

    Shiraz Ahmed served as Digital and Audience Engagement Editor for 101.9 WDET from 2019-2020. His favorite salsa is Marco’s Mexican salsa, a now-defunct chain that produced the salsa of his childhood.