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Lessenberry weighs in

Public radio voice brings ideas to SH


For the Herald-Palladium

SOUTH HAVEN — It would be easy for Detroit- born journalist Jack Lessenberry to look back on the good ol’ days of the 1970s when he was a young adult and the Motor City fueled Michigan’s status as one of the top 10 states in America for economic activity. But as Lessenberry and many other Michiganders know, those days are gone. “Now we’re 34th,” he told a group of 200 people who attended the South Haven Speaker Series on Thursday at Lake Michigan College’s South Haven campus.

It was Lessenberry’s task to talk for an hour about how to make Michigan better, and he was up for the challenge.

During a career that has spanned nearly 40 years, Lessenberry told the LMC audience that he has known every Michigan governor since G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams. Currently a commentator for Michigan Public Radio and head of journalism at Wayne State University, he used to work as a foreign correspondent and executive national editor at The Detroit News and wrote for national and regional publications, including Vanity Fair, Esquire, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe.

His career has taken him to 40 countries. “A number of those countries don’t exist anymore,” he quipped. But he’s always remained loyal to the Mitten State and Detroit.

Especially now when Michigan faces great challenges.

“Michigan is an absolutely wonderful state,” Lessenberry said. “In some ways we’re not the state we used to be. In 1979 GM had more blue collar workers in Flint then they do in the entire country today. ... We could become the best


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