In the Beginning there was Freeform, or “One time, at a party in Ann Arbor…”
On March 13, 2008, sometime between twelve and two pm, Fela Kuti’s tune Let’s Start began to play on 88.3 WCBN | FM | Ann Arbor. Unbeknownst to everyone, It’s Hot in Here was born.Placing the wealth of knowledge at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) in conversation with Ann Arbor and the World, It’s Hot in Here ushered in “a new era in environmentally themed, musically diverse college talk radio.”
Over two hundred live shows later, a seed that started off as a joke at a party has grown – and is still growing – into a family of friends, colleagues, experts and artists. Remember an episode from long ago? Check out archives. Have a story to tell? Join us.
Rebecca Hardin: Faculty Producer, Co-Host (est. 2008)
Rebecca Hardin, Associate Professor in the School of Natural Resources and Environment, has been a regular “pinch hitter” in the studio. Rebecca has loved learning about the broadcast process, contributing to one of the hippest, coolest, MOST independent radio communities on the planet. She loves convening conversations under the oh so maize and blue first floor of the student activities building. We don’t know what we’d do without her. Some of her favorite hours from the archive include:
- house-greening with Mat Grokoff and Joe Trumpey (two totally different and dynamite models for rethinking residential environmentalism, a good excuse to play “brick house” on air)
- environment, information, and development on the African continent with Bilal Butt, Omolade Adunbi, and Joyojeet Pal (talking about the Africa/Asia nexus when they were all brand new faculty but check what they all be up to now!)
- a special holiday episode on consumption with Ross marketing prof Scott Rick and Dept of Psychology prof Stephanie Preston(the soundtrack you might predict, from madonna to erykah badu)
- and who can forget their debut in that hot room (with the requisite hazing from WCBN Program Director Kristin Sumrall, in the form of random vinyl snippets for a live reaction)?
Ed Wäisänen: Editor, Engineer, Mad Genius
Ed is nA2tive, growing up more or less in the shadow of the Big House, and often listening to WCBN FM. He studied
anthropology at Earlham, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, and came back to complete a Master’s Degree at SNRE, where he fell in with the radio personalities. He also plays ultimate frisbee, drinks more green tea per day than anyone we know, and writes, produces, records, edits and reviews podcasts for the Michigan Sustainability Cases.
Harry Rice: Host and founder/producer of “It’s Hot out There” (2015)
I studied in the Program in the Environment. I come from a very rural town in Pennsylvania that has a large Amish population; in fact, Lancaster county, where I live, is often referred to as “Amish Country.” Being surrounded by agriculture helped me to understand the beauty of nature, except for the awful smell of manure, and the importance of food in our world. These are the reasons I joined It’s Hot in Here; everyone needs to understand nature’s importance in order to stop the destruction of our planet, and the case studies of this show do a great job in illustrating those.
Apart from being involved in this show, I was also a part of a student organization that raises money for need-based student scholarships, Appreciate + Reciprocate, and another group that uses nature to give families at Mott’s Children’s Hospital a way to ease their minds, Wild About Nature. I am also a huge advocate for study abroad programs, as I spent winter 2014 in Rome, Italy. The picture above was actually taken during a sunrise over the Roman Forum. My favorite hobby has to be photography, and several of the IHIH posters have used my images!
Jim “Tex” Manheim: Engineer (Est. 1990)
Tex was first exposed to classical music in his Toledo, Ohio family home, where reigned the belief that the family that plays recorders together, stays together. He went on to sing in a really good high school choir that performed Mozart’s “Coronation” mass, but he always had the most enthusiasm for the earlier eras of the classical tradition. So he took a lot of music history classes and ended up with a history and theory music degree from Amherst College — one of the few such undergraduate degrees offered in the U.S. He did a written honors thesis entitled The Point of Counterpoint in Mozart’s Piano Sonatas.In Ann Arbor, MI, Tex studied music some more at the University of Michigan and worked for various publications, including the Ann Arbor Observer. Somewhere along the way he stopped being an academic and started being a writer. He joined AMG the day the company opened its doors in Ann Arbor, February 8, 1999.
Tex continues to enjoy reviewing album releases from the sphere of what’s known as “early music” — a rather broad category covering music written between about 400 and 1750. In his spare time he hosts a historical and eclectic country music radio program on WCBN-FM, Ann Arbor (try wcbn.org from noon to 3 Eastern time on Saturdays) and is usually found hanging out in a concert space or restaurant somewhere. Tex recently celebrated his 25th anniversary on WCBN, sharing the country and bluegrass shows on Saturdays! Off the air, he is a writer. Tex proclaims that “Although I’ll write anything if you offer to pay me, a day on which I get paid to write about music is a good day!” Tex has been to Indonesia three times and is thinking about moving there even with all its ecological problems — Tex says that he gains new perspectives on those almost every time he engineers for It’s Hot In Here!
Cameron Bothner: Engineer and Wizard (Est. 2014)
Cameron is Ann Arbor raised if not born, and studied Linguistics, Computer Science and Japanese at the University of Michigan. He has headed development at WCBN FM, and his freeform program, Surrealist Radio, is Tuesdays from 1pm to 4pm in the afternoon. He is an incredibly talented audio engineer and helps to keep our shows sounding great. He is also a talented software engineer who is building new engaged learning platforms for sustainability science through the Michigan Sustainability Cases. Cameron is a DJ and self proclaimed musician, artist, philogist, writer, attentive audience, explorer and thinker.
Leana Hosea: Coach, Mentor, Collaborator (est. 2016)
This year we are lucky to have in residence on the UM Ann Arbor campus a working radio and digital media journalist, Leana Hosea of the BBC. Check out her reportage on rhino poaching here. During her time as a Knight Wallace Fellow, Leana is working to document and analyze similar water crises unfolding in different sites within the U.S.–Flint, Michigan and Navajo territory. In the meantime she is has offered us training resources, constructive critique of our live broadcasts and podcasts, as well as convivial time on the mic and in studio. We love you Leana!
On-Air (Once upon a time)
Hugh Stimson: Co-Founder, Co-Host, Co-Producer, Chief Archivist (2008–infamy)
Hugh Stimson is a geoinformatics consultant in beautiful Vancouver, Canada. One time at a party in Ann Arbor he told Jennifer Johnson and Sarah Cweik they should come on his radio show and play some music, and instead they showed up planning to do an environmental talk show, so he went with it.
Hugh has a background in ecology and environmental GIS, and now likes to work with progressive organizations on projects that muddle together science, politics, policy and public communication. And maps. But not, unfortunately, radio broadcast. He sure does miss radio. (And we sure miss him, too).
Jennifer Lee Johnson: Co-Founder, Co-Host, Co-Producer (2008–2014)
Long before I had a concept of time, I was tuning into solid records and stories from my dad’s pirate radio-ed youth in Poland, Ohio. Much later in 2008, as I began transitioning from a M.S. to a Ph.D. student at SNRE in Ann Arbor, this (likely) latent dream of mine – of making my own radio memories – came true.I am proud to work – and have worked – with everyone who’s been a part of the It’s Hot in Here family. We started out silly and strong with our first pseudonyms (derived from imaginary ancestors and the NPR name generator) and our first print feature with his Holiness, the Dali Lama (in SNRE Steward’s Magazine). Today, the shown has grown into something we never could have anticipated.
At the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, I studied fish, people, and ideas about fish and people in and around Nyanja Nalubaale (Lake Victoria) where I conducted fieldwork since 2007. My dissertation focused on women’s vernacular work in Uganda’s fisheries to provide fresh perspectives and theoretical insights on this Great African Lake. I have worked professionally on fisheries issues for the Marine Fish Conservation Network, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, and the Blue Ocean Institute, and hold a Ph.D. from SNRE, as well as an M.S. in Environmental Policy and Planning from the same school. I earned a B.A. in International Political Economy from the Colorado College. When I’m not nerding out, or eating fish on an island in Lake Victoria, there are few places I’d rather be than WCBN-FM Radio Free Ann Arbor. But, for now, I’m Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Sarah Cwiek:Co-Founder, Co-Host, Co-Producer (and actual radio expert)
Pearl Zhu Zeng: Producer, Co-Host and Web Design Wonder (2014)
Pearl Zeng was a graduate student in SNRE’s Behavior, Education & Communication program. Currently she is working as the Learning Platform and Web Manager for a curricular innovation project Michigan Sustainability Cases. Pearl is interested in promoting environmental sustainability through effective communication and education, ideally, in fun and engaging ways.
“Interactive radio shows have always been fascinating to me and carries a history with me. During my undergraduate program in China, I worked as a campus radio host where I presented a bi-weekly program that interviewed people and organizations that were in the public spotlight. It was so exciting to help honored guests share their unique stories! Now with the IHIH family, the interactions with our guests and the positive dynamic between co-hosts and DJs make it an incredible atmosphere to be a part of. Receiving responses from the listeners also brought a great pleasure and made me fall in love with the show even more. ”
Arman Golrokhian: Producer and Host (2014)
Arman Golrokhian was a dual degree MS/MPP candidate at the University of Michigan, studying Public Policy at the Ford School and Sustainable Systems at SEAS. With a background in mechanical engineering, he seeks interdisciplinary solutions to sustainability challenges. He sees research, creative business models, smart policies, and effective communication as the critical building blocks for unlocking potential solutions to sustainability challenges. He is interested in interdisciplinary research and engaging wide range of stakeholders through various means of communication and multimedia. Right now he is pushing the envelope with audio components to our Michigan Sustainability Cases, and starting a job at DTE in Ann Arbor.
Arman has been engaged with the United Nations Climate Change negotiations and coordinated the University of Michigan’s delegation attending the Conference of Parties in Lima, Peru in December 2014. He also took the Fall 2015 semester to serve as the Youth Co-coordinator for the UN Sustainable Development Education Caucus during the climate negotiations in Paris.
Arman joined the IHIH family from Iran, where he was born and raised. In his free time he loves traveling and learning about people and cultures. He also takes IHIH team members with him to cultural shows, festivals, and other venues where we can learn about Iran, reminding us that even though we started at “a party in Ann Arbor” we will grow best if we are a moveable feast.
Chris Askew-Merwin: Host, Writer (2016)
From early childhood in Tanzania to being a teenager right here in A2 Chris has lived across cultures, disciplines, and models for engagement to create positive social and environmental change. On air during fall 2016, Chris has also drawn his classmates at SNRE into IHIH, and made us a stronger team. Having graduated from the UM Program in the Environment, and worked last summer on a coalition of Michigan universities coordinating responses to the Flint, Michigan water crisis, he is now enrolled in the Environmental Justice track at SNRE for a Masters Degree. Here is Chris’s first show, The Oregon Trial, recorded the week that the trial began for those involved in the armed standoff at a wildlife reserve in Oregon last year. His music shows are great too. Search the archive for Chris’s smooth touch and listen on!
Andrea Kraus: Producer and Co-Host (2013)
Thanks to a geographically unusual childhood, I was raised by fantastic storytellers from both the Texas-Mexico border and small-town Bavaria. Their diverse stories taught me early on how much people across the world have in common, and how powerfully the spoken word highlights our shared humanity. Given the currently divisive nature of the conversation around climate change, it’s more important than ever to promote inclusive dialogue that extends a mic to people from all walks of life. I joined It’s Hot In Here because it provides an amazing grassroots platform for just that sort of positive, unifying exchange.When I’m not in the WCBN studio, I earned a dual MBA/MS at Ross and the School of Natural Resources and Environment. In years past, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama, worked on a global CRM team for Siemens in Munich, interned at StoryCorps in Brooklyn, and earned a BBA/BA in International Business and Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin
Malavika Sahai Host and Social Media Manager (2016)
Malavika’s radio debut was in Blacksburg, Virginia, as a student at Virginia Tech. There she founded and regularly broadcast a show called “Pop of Thought” featuring critical reconsiderations of mainstream media from the vantage point of various identity groups who don’t qualify as “dominant” in U.S. pop culture.
Now, as a student in the Environmental Justice track at SNRE, Malavika keeps us current on social media and slides on and off mic with the ease of an experienced radio personality. Welcome to IHIH Malavika! We loved your first time on the mic with Appropriate Tech Collaborative. And we are all catching up on back episodes of your previous show (still running! you go!) here: https://soundcloud.com/malavika-sahai
Michael Burbidge: Producer, Host (2015)
Mike is a human, much like those reading this text. More specifically he is a long, tall, Texan with a variety of income generating and leisure experiences. He prefers exchanges through voice over other communication avenues. Postcards are a close second. Burbidge served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cameroon (11′-13′) before returning to the U.S. to earn his Masters Degree from SNRE. He conducts research on human/animal interactions and landscape management in sites in Gabon, in Kenya, and even Oregon.
Mike will eat pretty much anything because he cannot grapple with starvation and massive food waste coexisting in similar landscapes. Storytelling, resource sharing, and community growth are pique pillars in his life. Check out his shows on the militarization of conservation in Africa, lasting conservation strategies, and B-school student engagement in D-town.
Dania Gutierrez: Co-Host (2014–2015)
When I first came to Ann Arbor, it was such a wonderful surprise to find a student-run radio show focused on the environment and all about conversing with community members. There is incredible value in simply getting others to share their experiences and passions as a form of learning. I could not pass up an opportunity to learn how to use a new form of communication as a way of engaging students and community members. I’m thrilled to have joined the IHIH family and spent my last year at U-M sharing and learning on the radio!
Outside of the WCBN studio, I wrapped up my MS at the School of Natural Resources and Environment. My studies focused on environmental education, public policy, and program evaluation. I also have a degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida (Go Gators). Prior to UM, I worked as an environmental educator at Everglades National Park and Hudson River Park. After UM I moved to the Los Angeles area where I work as a Project Manager at Green Sports Alliance.
Gus Turner: Engineer (2013–2014)
I worked with WCBN for more than two years, both as an audio engineer and a radio host for freeform music shows. My final semester, I devoted the majority of my time with the station to working on “It’s Hot In Here,” a position that was passed down to me by the show’s former engineer, Paul Stromberg. During my time with IHIH, I’ve learned more about the environment from Jennifer, Andrea, and Rebecca than the public education system was ever able to teach me. And what’s more, they’ve been fun and hilarious teachers all the way through.
Aside from WCBN, my interests include writing, writing, and writing. Also, writing. Currently, I’m a Managing Editor for Content Strategy at COMPLEX Media, providing coverage and commentary in areas including music, tech, sports, and video games. In May 2014, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English Language & Literature. I moved to New York. The city has many amazing things, but I have my doubts that it’ll ever be able to find me a suitable replacement for IHIH. Truly, working with “It’s Hot In Here” is a privilege, and it’s one that I hope many others after me will be able to enjoy.
Paul Stromberg: Engineer (est. 2013)
I was with WCBN for two years and managed to work on many cool projects while there. Of all those projects, engineering sound for It’s Hot in Here has been the most interesting. During my short time with IHIH, I have learned more about the environment and radio than I have in my previous two years at the station. Listen and we can learn together!
Shannon Brines: Engineer and Voice from the Booth (2009-2012)
A lecturer and research support staffer managing the Environmental Spatial Analysis Laboratory at the School of Natural Resources & Environment, Shannon Brines was tapped to help host and engineer It’s Hot In Here toward the end of the Hugh Stimson era. He still assists on occasion. Shannon is a true local, having grown up in Dexter, Michigan before attending and working at the university. He has an 80 acre farm in north-central Washtenaw County and is very active in the local food system. It should not surprise you that Shannon’s favorite It’s Hot In Here episodes are the ones that feature anything to do with food, sustainable design, and environmental informatics.
Rachel Chadderdon Bair: What’s in Season? and Former Co-Host and Co-Producer (2011)
Laura (Smith) Cole: Co-Host, Co-Producer (2011–2012)
Owen Johns: Co-Host, Co-Producer, Thresholds (2009)
Owen Johns had the great pleasure to be co-co-host and intermittent contributor to the show in 2009. He introduced more sound effects to the show and created the now-defunct “thresholds” segment. Some of his fondest memories from the show include interviewing Confessions of an Economic Hitman author, John Perkins, covering the Bay City coal plant public hearings, and digging through the vaults for environmentally-friendly grooves. He currently works for the US State Department in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Kerry Duggan: Our Washington Correspondent (2008–2011)
Kerry Duggan is Deputy Director for Policy, Office of the Vice President, Executive Office of the President at the White House. Her years on Its Hot in Here trained her well for her current role as a Senior Administration official moving fluidly between policy and implementation with expertise in clean energy technology, the environment and climate smart cities. She loves getting extensive leadership experience in public-facing roles across all levels of government and the nonprofit sector, with the unique ability to build and manage teams to solve complex social challenges and make communities resilient for all citizens.
Kerry previously served as the Director of Stakeholder Engagement in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at the U.S. Department of Energy. That office promotes EERE policies, programs, and initiatives through liaison, communications, coordination, and interaction with state, tribal, city, and county governments, other federal agencies, and stakeholders working in close coordination within EERE and with DOE’s Offices of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs and Office of Energy Policy and System Analysis.
She also served as the DOE representative for the City of Detroit under the President’s Executive Order establishing a White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities. Prior to this role, she served as the Director of Legislative, Regulatory, and Urban Affairs. Before joining EERE, she worked on the federal campaigns team and as PAC coordinator for the national League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and served as Deputy Director at the nonpartisan Michigan LCV. She interacted directly with hundreds of candidates and campaigns in support of a clean energy future at the local, state, and federal level, including major candidates for U.S. House, Senate, and Presidential races.
She earned her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont and her Master of Science in Natural Resource Policy and Behavior from the University of Michigan. We miss her here!
Kat Superfisky: Co-Host, Co-Producer (2011-2013)
Paul Mansoor: Occasional Contributor aka “Paul Explains it All” (2009–10)
A student at SNRE from 2008-10, Paul was fortunate to meet Jennifer almost immediately. Lovingly invited to contribute, segments like “Paul Explains it All” allowed him to introduce and explain new developments in science and sustainability. He fondly remembers his days in the WCBN booth as some of the finest moments of his Michigan experience, and he’s grateful to the entire IHIH family for their efforts, originality, and soul. (day-bow-bow!)
Aviva Glaser: Co-Host, Co-Producer, Toxic Tangent(ialist)
Rebecca Baylor: Co-Host (est. 2014)
Sam Molnar: Co-Host (est. 2014)
Bailey Schneider: Undergraduate Host and Media Manager (est. 2015)
Hi all, I am an LSA student majoring in the Program in the Environment. After my undergraduate degree, I aspire to obtain either a Ph.D or an M.D, (or both if I’m lucky enough). I have particular interests in sustainable agriculture, food science and environmental policy. I grew up in the beautiful Sonoran desert in Scottsdale, Arizona before my father moved me to the island of Kaua’i, Hawai’i for high school. I was raised by a very environmentally and socially conscious retired doctor so I have an extensive background in activism, environmental and social justice, and environmental radio talk shows. Throughout high school, I participated in the Kaua’i Has The Right to Know movement and Bill 2491 activism against GMO and Agrochemical companies. I also worked at Metamorphose Yoga Studio in Kilauea, Hawai’i.Outside of It’s Hot in Here, I am involved in several organizations at the University of Michigan, including the Beta Delta chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, Kids Without Cancer, and Maize Rage. I am a Michigan legacy so I was born wearing Maize and Blue and singing the fight song. I am an avid yogi, and I love to explore all the amazing places that Ann Arbor has to offer.