Peter Payette

Executive Director

Peter Payette is the Executive Director of Interlochen Public Radio. He was previously the station's News Director. For many years, he hosted the weekly program Points North and has reported on a wide range of issues critical to the culture and economy of northern Michigan. His work has been featured on NPR, Michigan Radio, Bridge magazine and Edible Grande Traverse. He has taught journalism and radio production to students and adults at Interlochen Center for the Arts. He is also working on a book about the use of aquaculture to manage Great Lakes fisheries, particularly the use of salmon from the Pacific Ocean to create a sport fishery in the 1960s.

Peter has vacationed in Benzie County his entire life. His wife Sarah is his biggest fan. They have three children, Isabelle, Amelia and Emmet, and live happily in Traverse City's Kid's Creek Neighborhood. 

Many of his favorite stories are about obscure fish in the Great Lakes or the new arrivals changing the food web.  He also admires the people keeping the rock 'n' roll revolution alive in the woods of northern Michigan and enjoys any story that reconnects the past to the present.

Ways to Connect

Pure Michigan

A longstanding trademark dispute over the use of the M-22 highway route marker has expanded into federal court. The issue already pending before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board will now also be the subject of a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.

A fatal car crash in August of 2015 near Buckley has resulted in lawsuits against the State of Michigan. Family members of the victims, Anthony and Deanna Erving, say the stretch of M-37 with two 90-degree curves was not safe, and highway officials ignored the problem.

The Ervings died when a car crossed the centerline and struck their motorcycle.

George Thompson is representing the son of Anthony Erving in one of the lawsuits against the Michigan Department of Transportation. He says the Ervings were not the first people killed on that stretch of road.

An administrative law judge will consider accusations that Northwestern Michigan College froze its teachers’ pay as punishment for forming a union.

Judge Travis Calderwood denied a motion by the college to dismiss the case and said a two-day hearing with witnesses will be scheduled for October.

Faculty members and NMC have been bargaining over a first contract for more than a year. Teachers formed a union in March of 2015.

Peter Payette

Jerry Coyne was bored with classic rock on the radio. As a teenager in the 1970s, he saw bands like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones when they were in their prime and he listened to WABX, a rock station in Detroit that introduced a lot of the music that came to define his generation.

Jerry says it changed the entire culture in the U.S.

“Rock ’n’ roll was revolutionary,” he says. “It stopped the Vietnam War.”

Women make up a small fraction of directors producing movies today. This Traverse City Film Festival panel discussion features women directors. They talk about their work and what has to change so more women can direct movies.

Peter Payette

Republicans in Michigan’s 1st Congressional District have nominated a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general to run for U.S. Congress.

Jack Bergman was unknown in northern Michigan political circles until about six months ago. Yesterday, he prevailed in a three-way race against two well-known members of the Republican Party: state Senator Tom Casperson from Escanaba and former state lawmaker Jason Allen from Traverse City.

Bergman, who lives in the Upper Peninsula town of Watersmeet, took more than 33,000 votes out of about 86,000.

NORTHWEST MICHIGAN HORTICULTURE RESEARCH CENTER

The tart cherry harvest has begun in northern Michigan. The cherry crop is large this year, but growers are dealing with rising numbers of spotted wing drosophila as they harvest.

Drosophila is a tiny insect that originally came from Asia. The bugs have found a home in Michigan in recent years, and their numbers have been growing.

Nikki Rothwell is coordinator of the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center. She’s been studying spotted wing drosophila.

Jim Nugent says growers are spraying a lot more this year.

Peter Payette

Police in Traverse City are investigating a pair of attacks on homeless men this week. The victims were kicked, and had firecrackers and stones thrown at them. 

Two were injured badly enough to be taken to the hospital. David Whitney has a broken nose and 27 stitches on his forehead, above his eye and, he says, inside his mouth. His left eye is swollen and blue. 

"They came back in here three times to continue," Whitney says of the attacks. "[They] dragged me down there ... kicking the stuffing out of me.

A proposal to reduce salmon stocking in Lake Michigan has upset some sport fishermen. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is polling members of an advisory committee to see how strong opposition is to the plan.


Peter Payette

Tom Doak thinks most new golf courses are “way too hard.” He says designers are driven to match the abilities of players you see on TV.

“Nobody who pays to play golf plays anything like that," he says, "but that’s where all the attention goes.”

Doak’s firm, Renaissance Golf in Traverse City, has built courses around the world, and he says they strive to make them enjoyable for all players. If his team gets carried away creating obstacles like sand bunkers, Doak says it’s only to make the course pretty.

The Ticker is reporting on Facebook that a sewage spill has led health officials in Grand Traverse County to suggest staying out of the water at some beaches in Traverse City.

Ohio DNR

Colonies of Caspian terns are becoming harder to find in Lakes Michigan and Huron.

James Ludwig is an ornithologist who has studied migratory birds in the region since the 1960s and just finished a trip across the Canadian waters of Lake Huron. He says he found about 100 Caspian tern nests where he found more than 1,900 in 1995.

Ludwig says the situation for Caspian terns is similar in the Michigan waters of the upper Great Lakes.

Peter Payette

 

Northwestern Michigan College will combine the humanities and social science departments into a single department. The reorganization will mean the elimination of one academic chair position and an office manager.

NMC is trying to eliminate a $1.9 million gap in the coming fiscal year.

Vice President Steven Siciliano said the change would not reduce any humanities programs.

“It is simply an administrative change in order to find some economies for the sake of the budget,” he said.

There’s a lot of complaining these days that youth sports are too expensive and competitive. And, in fact, kids are dropping out and most sports are on the decline in the U.S.

One sport that is not losing players is hockey, which has also changed the way it trains young athletes. The approach has been so successful that the U.S. Olympic Committee recently adopted it.

The harbormaster in Leland says the federal government needs to spend emergency funds to dredge the channel there. The channel is about six feet deep, the minimum needed for large yachts and the Mishe-Mokwa, the largest ferryboat that takes visitors to the Manitou Islands.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ district office in Detroit has recommended that emergency funds be used to dredge the channel between Lake Michigan and Leland, but that decision will be made at the national level.

Peter Payette

Fruit growers have a new problem: they can’t buy enough young trees to plant in their orchards.

This is especially true for cherry farmers in Michigan who depend on nurseries in the Pacific Northwest. It could get worse, and some farmers are preparing for a day when they can’t buy any trees.

Ben LaCross was supposed to be planting 6,000 sweet cherry trees this spring at his farm near Maple City. He ordered the trees from a nursery in Oregon three years ago, but there was some unusual weather there that fall.

Teachers at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City say they’re being punished for forming a union. Faculty pay has been frozen while teachers bargain for their first union contract. The group filed a complaint with the state over the issue in late April.

The complaint addresses two types of pay increases that have been typical at NMC for teachers in the past.

It says increases for teachers based on seniority, called step increases, should continue because NMC is required to maintain “status quo” during contract negotiations.  

Pure Michigan

An effort to change rules for protecting historic buildings in Michigan appears to have failed. House Bill 5232 would have made it more difficult for cities and other local governments to create historic districts and maintain them.

Supporters of the proposal say these districts can be a burden on homeowners forced to comply with historic standards. The proposal would have required two-thirds of property owners in a proposed historic district to approve of the idea before it could be considered.

Peter Payette

There’s a lot of complaining these days that youth sports are too expensive and competitive. And, in fact, kids are dropping out and most sports are on the decline in the U.S.

One sport that is not losing players is hockey, which has also changed the way it trains young athletes. The approach has been so successful that the U.S. Olympic Committee recently adopted it. The hockey club in Traverse City was a pioneer in this effort.


Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Salmon had been planted in the Great Lakes many times before but unsuccessfully. The fish planted in 1966 came back to the Platte and Manistee Rivers the next year and turned Lake Michigan into a sport fishing paradise that drew anglers by the thousands.

The man who led this effort was in Benzie County today to celebrate it.

“I could have been the biggest bum in the world if I screwed up the Great Lakes,” Howard Tanner told a crowd at the Platte River State Fish Hatchery. “Some people think I did.”

Peter Payette

Students at Northwestern Michigan College are buying fewer books these days. That's because of an effort to use more online resources in place of textbooks, which can cost more than $100 each.

A report on the project suggests the college administration take steps to promote the concept. But college officials say there are no plans for that.

The issue comes up at a time when some instructors at NMC say the administration does not listen to their ideas.


Sara Kassien

We might not know exactly what a changing climate will mean for northern Michigan. But Joe VanderMeulen says we can prepare for it.

“Preserving species diversity and preserving natural areas will give us the greatest shot at retaining some of the beauty of this area,” he says.

VanderMeulen has launched a new media project that focuses on climate change and related issues like development and invasive species.

U.S. Forest Service

In the 1970s, people complained the Pine River had become a “canoe freeway.”

Mark Miltner owns Pine River Paddlesports Center and says people like the river because it’s fast.

“It’s just a little livelier than most Michigan rivers,” he says. “It has more personality, has more push, has more fun factor.”

Peter Payette

Instructors at Northwestern Michigan College say union negotiations are at an impasse, and at issue is how much say the faculty has in how the college operates.

The faculty formed a union last year and is negotiating its first contract.

Members voiced their frustration on Monday night at a meeting of the board of trustees.

The Pine River is one of the fastest flowing rivers in Lower Michigan and one of the most popular. But its popularity created a problem the U.S. Forest Service wants to fix.

The project would mean the end of a sandy bank, about 160 feet high, that attracts crowds of paddlers.

The issue pits people’s enjoyment of the river against the river’s health and even public safety.

Pages