Max Johnston

Assignment Editor/Politics & Education reporter

Max came to IPR in 2017 as an environmental intern. In 2018, he returned to the station as a reporter and quickly took on leadership roles as Interim News Director and eventually Assignment Editor. Before joining IPR, Max worked as a news director and reporter at Michigan State University's student radio station WDBM. In 2018, he reported on a Title IX dispute with MSU in his story "Prompt, Thorough and Impartial." His work has also been heard on Michigan Radio, WDBM and WKAR in East Lansing and NPR.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Millions of people are relying on food pantries during the pandemic. In rural spots Up North, that means long lines at cash-strapped facilities.

And that can be especially hard for people with diabetes.

As part of IPR's new series Our Lives Have Changed, meet a man whose life has been upended by the demand on food pantries.


Congressman Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) is safe and sheltering in place in the nation's Capitol during violent clashes between far-right protestors and law enforcement, according to a spokesman.

On social media Bergman denounced the attacks from far-right supporters of President Donald Trump.

U.S. Congressman Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) says he will object to the certification of the November election results this week. He’ll join several other Republicans from both chambers that will challenge the results due to unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

Conner Desilets / Interlochen Public Radio

In a flurry of action at the end of the Legislative Session in Lansing Monday, State Rep. Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg) was let back into the Republican caucus in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Northwest Michigan Health Services

The first batches of the COVID-19 vaccine went out to healthcare workers in the state this week. It’s expected to get to northern Michigan by the weekend.

As of Tuesday, over 16,000 people in northern Lower Michigan have COVID-19. Meanwhile 300 people have died Up North since last Spring.

Interlochen Center for the Arts

The Iron Pig Smokehouse in Gaylord and Friske’s Farm Market in Antrim County have repeatedly defied health and safety protocols during the pandemic despite enforcement from their local health department.

MAXIM JENKINS / WKAR-MSU

After a lot of action in the Spring, the state legislature has been quiet on COVID-19 for months. Instead many have focused on legal and political battles.

Now legislators on both sides say that gridlock over the pandemic is likely to continue.

Kaye LaFond

 

 

 

Line 5’s days may be numbered. 

 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the twin pipelines running along the lakebed of the Straits of Mackinac must stop carrying oil and gas by May of 2021. 

 

Interlochen Public Radio

Update 11/13/20: Traverse City Area Public Schools will keep the middle and high schools listed below closed through Friday, November 20, according to the district.  

Traverse City Area Public Schools will close East Middle School, West Middle School, Central High School, West Senior High School, and Traverse City High School for the rest of the week due to COVID-19. However, all elementary schools will remain open.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Update: Antrim County has released new unofficial results that show Donald Trump took 56 percent of the vote Tuesday. Other Republicans near the top of the ticket did better than the President. Senate candidate John James received 57 percent of the vote and Congressman Jack Bergman took 60 percent. County officials say the initial problems with the count stemmed from a procedural error on Election night. 

 

There may be a problem with Antrim County’s ballots. According to unofficial results posted by the county clerk, democrats in several races got the majority of votes there.

Taylor Wizner

According to unofficial election results, voters approved a plan to pay for improvements to Benzie County schools. The proposal passed with more than 700 votes as of Wednesday morning. Voters knocked it down in three previous elections.

Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services is lowering the number of people allowed at indoor gatherings and sending the Traverse City region back to Phase 4 of the MISafeStart Plan. The move comes as the state sees record-high COVID cases.

Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

The race for northern Michigan’s 104th district could decide which party controls the state house.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

The Grand Traverse County jail has had problems for years. Now the captain who ran it faces multiple felony charges. Residents have demanded changes from Sheriff Tom Bensley, who oversees the county jail and is up for re-election against reform candidate Greg Hall.

Interlochen Public Radio

The race for Grand Traverse County's 104th district could decide which party controls the Michigan House of Representatives.

Kendra Carr / Interlochen Public Radio

More than just the presidency is at stake in November's general election. Grand Traverse County's 104th District in the state house is one of four seats that Democrats want to flip to get a partisan majority.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

The small town of Idlewild in Lake County was once called the “Black eden” of Michigan. For decades it attracted thousands of Black musicians, entrepreneurs and families every weekend.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Northern Michigan is mostly white and rural. If you’re Black, like Dilla Scott and her three children, life Up North can be hard.

They say they’ve been harassed over their 30 years living here. They’ve endured, relying on each other and their faith in God.

But now the arrest of a family member has shaken their conviction.

And they are wondering if it is time to go.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Jill Biden, wife of Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden, spoke in Traverse City on Tuesday.

A crowd of over 100 people wearing masks and sitting six-feet apart listened outside Right Brain Brewery as Biden called for early in-person and mail-in voting.

“We have to show them we’re not gonna sit by and just watch what happens. We’re going to decide what happens by voting today,” she said.

Biden said her husband would unify the country if elected. Chasten Buttigieg, Traverse City native and husband of former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, also spoke.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Most school districts Up North have returned to in-person learning in the past few weeks, and several are already seeing COVID-19 cases among students and staff.

Just days before Traverse City students return to in-person learning, the district announced a student athlete has tested positive for COVID-19.

Students across the state are going back to school this week, and most Up North will return to in-person learning. Kingsley Schools started in late August and had a student test positive for COVID-19 during the first week back.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was the keynote speaker at a campaign event in Traverse City Friday. In his speech he said he views winning Michigan as key to securing President Donald Trump’s re-election bid.

In documents filed in federal court Friday, U.S. prosecutors say they want to take State Rep. Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg) to court before he leaves office.

Inman is accused of trying to sell his vote on a piece of legislation in 2018. He’s still facing two corruption charges after a partial acquittal and mistrial last year.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Many northern Michigan schools will return to in-person instruction this fall. That has some parents and teachers worried about transmission of the coronavirus.

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