The Spartan Podcast


DThornton.jpg Hear the Conversation 13:04 min – 7.5 mb mp3

“I’m really honored to be in this new position. I’m looking forward to being a part of the great community here at MSU and working with our outstanding students,” new Spartan Marching Band director David Thornton tells MSU Vice President and Secretary of the Board of Trustees Bill Beekman and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis on MSU Today.

Thornton says developing the halftime shows for Spartan football games is a year-long process.

“We get feedback from students at the end of each season with their ideas, and we brainstorm throughout the winter on show themes. It’s 7 to 8 shows each fall; so there’s a lot of planning involved. And the music drives the visuals.

“It’s a big process. It’s definitely an artistic process. It takes time. And sometimes we have five days to get a show on the field. But generally our preparation is about two weeks in advance.”

Thornton highlights members of his staff and the roles they play in making everything come together.


22242.jpg Hear the Conversation 26:41 min – 15.2 mb mp3

It’s time for another school year at MSU, and President Simon is looking forward to it.

She’s hoping to spur more civil discourse around difficult issues within Team MSU while the university develops more citizen scholars.

“We open the school year with a lot of issues swirling around us,” says Simon. “At the same time, we have to realize that ideas can have rough edges. I’m excited about how this will unfold for the year. Ultimately, we have to learn and grow together.”

President Simon highlights the many physical and facility enhancements to the campus this year. And she says the new Food at MSU initiative being led by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has MSU rethinking food more broadly and listening to consumers about how it impacts them and the planet. Read more »


holmes2.jpg Hear the Conversation 10:06 min – 5.8 mb mp3

(Please note: My interview with Cpt. Keith Holmes aired on WJR 760 AM—Detroit just hours after the iconic power boat racer died following a crash July 30 during the St. Clair River Classic Offshore Powerboat Association race. Out of respect for his family, I decided to wait before posting the interview. I had never met Keith previously, but it was clear from just one conversation that he was a gracious gentleman, a passionate competitor, a strong advocate for family farms and an ardent Great Lakes environmentalist. Russ White and I extend our heartfelt sympathy to Keith’s family.)

Captain Keith Holmes is the owner and throttle-man of the 40-foot, offshore racing catamaran, Cat Can Do. A veteran of over 160 races, Holmes has become a legend not only among power boat devotees, but even NASCAR racing drivers and fans. Read more »


contag2.jpg Hear the Conversation 24:09 min – 13.8 mb mp3

Chris Contag joined Michigan State University in November 2016 as the inaugural Director of the Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering and the Chair of the new Department of Biomedical Engineering.

The new research institute, IQ, is a collaboration between the Colleges of Engineering, Human Medicine and Natural Science, but there will be numerous investigators from other disciplines. The Biomedical Engineering department and graduate program will be housed in the College of Engineering.

“I describe the work we’ll be doing as a group of biologists asking interesting biological questions, and if we don’t have the tools we need to answer those questions, we’ll build them,” says Contag. “Our goal is to watch biological processes happening in real time, and then leverage that knowledge to improve life.” Read more »


dssp.jpg Hear the Conversation 21:44 min – 12.4 mb mp3

“The Dairy Store is only part of the dairy program at MSU,” Zey Ustunol tells Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis on MSU Today. “We have two stores and a trailer. Our dairy foods complex consists of our dairy plant, where we manufacture products that we sell in the stores. That’s where the cheese and ice cream is made.

“But more importantly the dairy foods complex is a teaching, research, and outreach facility. And part of our job is to serve the industry to provide our expertise in food safety and other issues they may encounter when running their own operations.”

Ustunol is a professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and she oversees research and student engagement at the Dairy Store. Brekelle Wiedenmannott is the Dairy Store Manager. She joins the conversation, too. Read more »


rfournier.jpg Hear the Conversation 29:24 min – 16.8 mb mp3

“It’s the greatest decision I’ve made since I married my wife,” Crain’s Detroit Business publisher and editor Ron Fournier tells Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis on MSU Today in describing his return to his hometown of Detroit. “It was a great experience working in Washington covering the White House and national politics, but Detroit was always home for my wife and me. And we were determined to get back.

“Working at Crain’s is great, but the truly great thing is being back with our families and being part of the state and what I hope will be a resurgence in Detroit.”

The group discusses the Detroit Homecoming event that aims to reconnect Detroit expats with their hometown by providing news, events, and opportunities to live, work, or invest in Detroit. Read more »


msutsp.jpg Hear the Show 52:54 min – 30.3 mb mp3

“Supply chain, particularly from a Michigan State perspective, means the end to end movement of product from the raw material from a mine or the ocean, through all the production processes, and to the consumer,” Professor David Closs tells Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis on MSU Today. “So we view it all as a very end to end process and try to manage that to meet the needs of the consumer and at the same time keeping cost and waste down.”

This MSU ethos “is what companies tell us differentiates MSU students. They understand end to end and they can communicate well to the executives.” Read more »


denae.jpg Hear the Conversation 12:12 min – 16.7 mb mp3

Denae Friedheim is the interim director and farm manager at the Student Organic Farm at Michigan State University.

Denae majored in biology and sociology, yet ended up running the show at the Student Organic Farm. “I came to food through the lens of public health. When I was in college, I was actually pre-med and I was very interested in medicine. I think food has come to be synonymous with medicine to me, over the last several years.”

Friedheim believes her work on the Student Organic Farm helps people. “We have a lot of students who work here in different capacities. Some come to us as volunteers, other undergraduates work as part of our farm crew and it’s their paid job while they’re in college. And then we have a lot of customers. We have several hundred people who come to our farm each week and we get to interact with them. We get to give people tours out here and tell them about where their food comes from, and it’s very fulfilling.”

What exactly is the purpose of the Student Organic Farm? Denae mentions two things. “A lot of people think our focus here is growing food organically and becoming experts in that, and that’s true in some respects. We definitely want to develop standards of practice and to teach beginning farmers and existing farmers to learn with them the best ways to grow food on this scale and the best ways to grow food year-round. That’s really our specialty.” Read more »


fowler.jpg Hear the Conversation 13:36 min – 7.8 mb mp3

“We’ve started building 25 tiny homes, 250 to 400 square feet each on lots from 30 to 100 feet, for formerly homeless people, low-income senior citizens, and students who have aged out of foster care,” Reverend Faith Fowler tells Kirk Heinze on Greening of the Great Lakes. “The idea is that they’ll rent the homes for seven years based on the home’s square footage – a dollar per square foot per month.”

Fowler is senior pastor of Cass Community United Methodist Church and founder and executive director of Cass Community Social Services. In 2016, she was inducted into the 33rd class of the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.

“They [renters] have to make at least $10,000 per year. If they stay in the home and participate in the program for seven years, we’ll ask them to join a new homeowners association and give them the deed to the property and the house.

“It’s about helping people who are poor to have an asset. This really changes things now and generationally and helps give people economic mobility.” Read more »


sheril2.jpg Hear the Conversation 15:17 min – 8.8 mb mp3

“Michigan State University has launched a new food education initiative that aims to help consumers become better educated about food production and food choices,” says host Kirk Heinze as he welcomes Sheril Kirshenbaum to Greening of the Great Lakes.

Kirshenbaum is helping MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources with the development and roll out of Food @ MSU: “Our Table.”

“There’s so much misinformation about food—much of it online and from social media.” says Kirshenbaum. “We aim to foster dialogue and listen to consumers to help us all become more informed about where our food comes from and how it impacts our health and our planet.”

Kirshenbaum says “a big piece of what we’re doing is called Our Table. That’s a series of conversations around an actual table – built from refurbished wood from the MSU campus – that are going to take place first on campus and in the Lansing area but then across the state and nation.” Read more »

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