Max Johnston

Reporter/producer

Max came to IPR in 2017 as an environmental intern. In 2018, he returned to the station as a general assignment reporter. 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 and WDBM and WKAR in East Lansing.

Noah Fortson / NPR

Special counsel Robert Mueller is making a statement about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Watch his remarks at the Justice Department live.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

There are more than 1.2 million drivers over the age of 65 in Michigan, and statistically they are safe on the road.

But a county in northern Michigan has one of the highest rates of car accidents for senior citizens.


U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.)

Newly released images from Enbridge Energy show damage sustained to the Line 5 oil pipelines from an anchor strike last April.

The video and photos given to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation show a gash across the east pipeline, and several dents and scrapes on the west pipeline. In written testimony Enbridge identifies three dents on the pipelines caused by the anchor strike, the longest was more than 23 inches.

Enbridge also provided all this information to the U.S. Coast Guard who is investigating the strike.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital is closing their maternity unit on May 31. Many residents criticized that plan at a town hall on Saturday.

Jessica Cracraft is 28 weeks pregnant and says she planned on giving birth at the hospital.

"I don't want to have to go to a new hospital. I don't want to have new nurses, and I don't want to have a new doctor," Cracraft said. "I only have 11 weeks left."

State Representative Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann) said the closure will make Manistee less attractive to young people.

Dan Wanschura

Elections were held across Michigan on Tuesday, and school bonds were on many ballots.

Unofficial election results show that school bonds in Ludington and Leland passed, but a $47.8 million proposal for Benzie County Central Schools narrowly failed by 114 votes, or just under 2 percentage points. Another proposal in Kingsley Area Schools overwhelmingly failed with 73 percent of voters saying ‘no.’

Up North Pride

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel will be the grand marshal for an LGBTQ+ pride march in Traverse City next month.

The Visibility March will be held by Up North Pride, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group. Founder Jonny Cameron says they chose Nessel because she has fought for LGBTQ+ rights during her career.

“She’s making sure that we are protected, as parents, as families, in the state of Michigan,” Cameron says.

Up North Pride says Nessel is the first openly gay candidate elected to state office.

GREGORY VARNUM

Electrical cables in the Straits of Mackinac were severed when an anchor struck them last year. More than 400 gallons of mineral oil, acting as a coolant, leaked out.

The Line 5 oil pipelines were damaged during the same incident.

A proposed tunnel would house Line 5 and the electrical cables to avoid more damage, an idea Enbridge Energy supports and Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she is open to.

But in a letter, Vice President of American Transmission Company Tom Finco says that plan could be dangerous.

GREGORY VARNUM

The Line 5 oil pipelines in the straits of Mackinac were struck by an anchor last April. Then at a hearing held by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) in August, Enbridge Energy Vice President David Bryson pledged to release information on the strike.

BRIDGE MAGAZINE/MICHIGAN HEALTH & HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION

The hospital in Manistee will close their maternity unit on May 31. In a statement, the CEO of Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital James Barker says providing maternity services is a challenge for rural hospitals.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Dollar General is a chain of convenience stores that sell a variety of cheap goods. They have more than 15,000 locations across the United States, that’s more branches than McDonalds.

Dollar General says they offer customers an affordable and convenient shopping choice, but some small communities in northern Michigan say they undercut local business.

Wikimedia Commons

Judges say Michigan’s 1st Congressional District was gerrymandered and needs to be redrawn. It was part of a federal court ruling announced Thursday.

Michigan's 1st Congressional District streches over most of northern Michigan and the entire Upper Peninsula. In their decision, the judges said the district was drawn to benefit Republican candidates.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, after school bonds fail, some districts keep asking taxpayers again and again to change their minds. One small district in northern Michigan is renewing their attempt. Plus, more religious discrimination allegations against Bay View and local musicians play a violin that made it through the Holocaust.


Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Dozens of school districts across the state will put bond proposals to voters next month. They are asking residents to pay for improvements in schools, but in some small communities in northern Michigan, a tax hike for your schools can be a tough sell.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

U.S. cherry farmers filed a legal case against the country of Turkey on Tuesday. They say Turkey subsidizes their cherries so much that they can sell some products for half the price of domestic ones.

Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio

A controversial plan for a wind farm in the Upper Peninsula has been cancelled. Renewable Energy Systems was behind the project which aimed to put 49 wind turbines across 28,000 acres in L’Anse Township.

In a statement, RES said the project was no longer financially or logistically viable.

Steve Baker

This week on Points North, millions of people cross the Straits of Mackinac each year. But it’s also a highway for thousands of raptors - or birds of prey - that migrate over the Straits each spring.

Plus, after beating his own addiction to drugs, an advocate trains others to respond to an overdose.

MARK BRUSH / MICHIGAN RADIO

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in an interview with the Detroit News that she is considering a tunnel for an oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. A tunnel is one of several proposed alternatives to the Line 5 oil pipelines.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Recreational marijuana was legalized in Michigan this year, but many cities across the state aren’t letting marijuana businesses operate. Some officials argue that the state hasn’t figured out how to regulate them yet.

But a small community in northern Michigan is in the middle of a legal and political debate that could set a precedent for the rest of the state.

MDNR

A popular fishery in northern Michigan was charged with illegally buying and selling lake trout. John Cross of Cross Fisheries in Charlevoix was sentenced to a year in prison and will pay a fine of more than $1 million.

Lake trout is heavily protected by state, tribal and federal agencies. A press release says Cross bought almost 50,000 pounds of the fish that was harvested by a trap net, but he reported that he got it via gillnet.

Fisheries Biologist Mark Ebener says what Cross did is more common than you would think

Munson Healthcare

Nurses at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City officially have their first labor contract. It was "overwhelmingly" approved by a vote this weekend, according to a press release from the Michigan Nurses Association.

The contract includes a 13 percent pay increase, limits mandatory overtime and will last three years. Representatives from the the Nurses Association and Munson said they were pleased with the deal. 

Erin Iafrate

This week on Points North, March Madness is here. But for some in northern Michigan that means practicing their musical instruments – not college basketball. Plus, we meet the Upper Peninsula Poet Laureate and take a look at counterfeit money in northern Michigan.


Peter Payette

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will buy $15 million of tart cherries from domestic farmers, according to Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet.)

Munson Healthcare

Nurses at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City have their first labor contract. They reached a tentative agreement with the hospital last weekend.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

For the past decade, Americans have been buying tart cherries from Turkey for cheap. Tart cherry farmers in Michigan say that’s hurting their bottom line. Now they’re hoping a new bill in Washington will balance the scales.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

As part of his budget proposal announced Monday, President Trump wants to slash funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by 90 percent. 

Pages