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Last Gasp Collective

Escaping for Fun

January 2018

PICKLEBALL Funny name, serious sport

The Queen of Decluttering

Meet Stephen Williams

Southwest Michigan’s Magazine


UP FRONT ENCORE

LOVE WHERE YOU LIVE

Call 269.381.4416 or visit www.kalfound.org to learn more.

2 | ENCORE OCTOBER JANUARY 2018 2015


Last Gasp Collective

Escaping for Fun

January 2018

The Queen of Decluttering

Meet Stephen Williams

Southwest Michigan’s Magazine

PICKLEBALL Funny name, serious sport

Publisher

encore publications, inc.

REGISTER NOW FOR COURSES AND TRIPS

Editor

marie lee

Designer

alexis stubelt

Photographer

OLLI at WMU offers affordable courses and exciting trips for adults. View selections and register online at wmich.edu/olli or call (269) 387-4200.

brian k. powers

Contributing Writers jason conde andrew domino lisa mackinder

Copy Editor/Poetry Editor margaret deritter

Advertising Sales tiffany andrus celeste statler krieg lee

Distribution

jakab selner mark thompson

Office Coordinator hope smith

Encore Magazine is published 12 times yearly. Copyright 2018, Encore Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Editorial, circulation and advertising correspondence should be sent to:

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www.encorekalamazoo.com 117 W. Cedar St. Suite A, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 Telephone: (269) 383-4433 Fax: (269) 383-9767 Email: Publisher@encorekalamazoo.com The staff at Encore welcomes written comment from readers, and articles and poems for submission with no obligation to print or return them. To learn more about us or to comment, visit encorekalamazoo.com. Encore subscription rates: one year $36, two years $70. Current single issue and newsstand $4, $10 by mail. Back issues $6, $12 by mail. Advertising rates on request. Closing date for space is 28 days prior to publication date. Final date for print-ready copy is 21 days prior to publication date. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by those interviewed and published here do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Encore Magazine or the official policies, owners or employees of Encore Publications.


ENCORE EDITOR'S NOTE

From the Editor It’s a new year, with the potential for new adventures and opportunites to try

new things. Lucky for you, this month’s Encore has some great suggestions for you to do just that. Let’s start with pickleball. I know, it sounds like some sort of odd cocktail or new form of condiment, but it’s actually a highly competitive sport that not only is growing in national popularity but has spawned several national champions from, yes, Kalamazoo. We introduce you to those local folks who are at the top of their pickleball game and who have been instrumental in spreading the word about this unusual paddle sport. If you’re looking for an adventure of another type, try escaping. A new Encore writer this month, Jason Conde, tells us all about escape rooms, which involve role-playing scenarios that require teamwork and strategy to complete. Not a bad way to while away a winter afternoon. Speaking of new adventures, we also introduce you to Stephen Williams, the general manager of WMUK 102.1 FM, who has been on board there for a little more than a year. He talks about what brought him from Maryland’s Eastern Shore to the snowy Mitten. And, finally, we meet the members of the Last Gasp Collective, a band of Kalamazoo musicians who are hoping to add dancers and actors to their shows, start a record label, and reach beyond their Midwest borders to bring their creative vision to a national audience. We hope when you read this issue you’ll learn something and be inspired to try something new. After all, what better way to start 2018?

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CONTRIBUTORS ENCORE

Jason Conde Jason is a new contributor to Encore and this month takes readers inside the world of escape rooms. Born in the Philippines and raised in California, Jason made his way to Kalamazoo by way of Texas and New York. He is a teacher, writer, literacy advocate and father, and, when he can find the time, enjoys running, cooking and a good short story.

Andrew Domino

Andrew, who writes about the musical group the Last Gasp Collective, says while sometimes interview subjects are reticent, that wasn’t his experience with the Last Gaspers. “The group is very comfortable, even enthusiastic, about talking about its music and its future plans,” he says. Andrew says he is looking forward to writing about the Last Gasp Collective again, once the group achieves its dreams of becoming a nationally known act. You can find more of Andrew's work at dominowriting.com.

Lisa Mackinder

Lisa gives us two wonderful stories this month. Her feature on pickleball helps readers understand this unusually named sport that is growing in popularity and can claim several area residents as national champs. In addition, Lisa introduces readers to professional organizer Rose Hathaway. Lisa says that while all the folks she talked to for her stories were engaging, she was inspired by Hathaway, owner of the Kalamazoo-based company Fly Away Clutter. “She seems to have been born with an organization gene,” Lisa says. “Speaking with Rose inspires a person to take action and tackle those unorganized places in your home or office.”

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CONTENTS

J a n u a r y 2 01 8

FEATURE Pickleball

Despite its unusual name, this ‘addictive’ sport is scoring with locals

24

DEPARTMENTS 5 From the Editor 6 Contributors 8 First Things Happenings in SW Michigan

12 Five Faves

Car Crazy — Gilmore Car Museum's Christopher Shires picks out his favorite four-wheeled vehicles

16

20 46

Up Front

Escape Rooms — The adventure and fun are in trying to get out

Enterprise

Clearing the Way — Fly Away Clutter’s Rose Hathaway gets things organized

Back Story

Meet Stephen Williams — Something’s in the air with WMUK’s general manager

ARTS 32 Last Gasp Collective — Kalamazoo jazz/ hip- hop group takes first steps to go nationwide 36 Events of Note 43 Poetry On the cover: Pickleball player Pat Sinicki of Portage gets ready to make a kill shot while playing at the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo’s Portage branch. Photo by Brian Powers.

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FIRST THINGS ENCORE

First Things Something Evocative

Bey photo exhibit opens at KIA A photographic exploration by MacArthur Fellow Dawoud Bey of everyday urban life in Harlem in the 1970s and then again 35 years later will be on display at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Jan. 13-April 11. The KIA will present two suites of Bey’s photographs, Harlem, USA (1975–1979) and Harlem Redux (2014–2017), which show the Manhattan community at two points in time, one via black-and-white portraits and the other via color images. “This is the first time that the two Bey series have been shown side by side,” says KIA Executive Director Belinda Tate. “The exhibit allows us to reflect thoughtfully on the beauty and transitions evident in our own community and how we define a sense of place.” Bey will speak at the KIA at 6:30 p.m. March 22 and will also serve as the juror for the West Michigan Area Show, the KIA’s annual exhibition showcasing the work of artists from 14 Michigan counties. It runs from May 26–Sept. 2. For more information, visit kiarts.org.

A Boy in Front of the Loew’s 125th Street Move Theatre, 1976, Dawoud Bey.

8 | ENCORE JANUARY 2018


ENCORE FIRST THINGS

Something Vocal

Baritone to present cabaret show With tunes from singer/songwriter Tom Waits

to music from the Broadway show Sweeney Todd, baritone Nathan Gunn will perform an eclectic cabaret program at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20 at Western Michigan University’s Dalton Center Recital Hall. Gunn is an internationally known concert and opera performer who has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Paris Opera and Madrid’s Teatro Real. He has recently ventured outside standard opera repertoire, singing the title role in Sweeney Todd with the Houston Grand Opera and performing in Camelot and Carousel with the New York Philharmonic. Accompanied by his wife, pianist Julie Jordan Gunn, he will give a Kalamazoo performance that will include a mix of standards and other tunes from composers as diverse as Cole Porter, Harold Arlen and Tom Waits. The Gunns’ performance is presented by Fontana Chamber Arts. Tickets are $15 and available at fontanamusic.org.

Something Comedic

Civic takes on murderously funny mystery It’s got foggy mires, murder and mystery and is funny to boot, so put your deer stalker hat on for The Civic Theatre’s presentation of Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, running Jan. 12–28. Created by Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor, Moon Over Buffalo), Baskerville is a comedic transformation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1901 classic, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Enjoy the romp as five actors portray more than 40 characters and Sherlock Holmes and Watson follow a web of clues, silly accents, disguises and deceit to figure out whodunit. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27 and 2 p.m. Jan. 14 and 21. Tickets are $15– $25 and available at kazoocivic.com.

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FIRST THINGS ENCORE

Something Country

Dwight Yoakam to rock State Theatre Lasso a chance to see a country music pioneer when Dwight Yoakam performs at the Kalamazoo State Theatre Jan. 19. Yoakam, who burst on to the country music scene in the late 1980s, is an award-winning performer with more than 20 albums and Top 10 singles to his credit. He’ll perform many of those hits, including “Guitars, Cadillacs” and “A Thousand Miles from Nowhere” as well as tunes from his latest album, “Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars … .” Regular tickets are $45–$125; VIP tickets are $225. For more information, visit kazoostate.com.

Something Natural

Event focuses on winter survival Are slippers, blankets and hot chocolate your idea of winter survival gear? Well, maybe you should find out how to really survive the winter at Winter Family Camp, set for 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Jan. 20 at Schrier Park, 850 W. Osterhout Ave. The event, hosted by the Portage Department of Parks and Recreation, will have folks from the Kalamazoo Nature Center on hand to demonstrate strategies animals and people use to make it through the cold winter. In addition, there will be nature games and crafts. Participants should bring a sack lunch and water bottle and should dress for outdoor fun. The cost to participate is $5 per person or $20 for a family of five or more. For more information, visit the department’s Facebook page at bit.ly/2k9Cn8r or call 329-4522.

10 | ENCORE JANUARY 2018


ENCORE FIRST THINGS

Something Soulful

Maze show promises ‘Happy Feelin’s’ If you’re looking for some “Happy Feelin’s,” then Miller Auditorium is where you want to be Jan. 19, when Maze performs, featuring Frankie Beverly. Combining a Philadelphia soul sound with the laidback vibe of California, Maze was among the top R&B acts of the late ’70s and ’80s. Enjoying popularity among soul and urban contemporary audiences, the group had several gold albums and hit singles such as “While I'm Alone,” “Lady of Magic” and “Happy Feelin's.” The show begins at 8 p.m., and tickets are $35–$65 and available at the Miller Auditorium ticket office or by calling 387-2300 or visiting millerauditorium.com.

Something Good

Calendar Girls bare all for good In the spirit of next month’s Civic Theatre production of Calendar Girls, the cast of the upcoming play has posed for a calendar of their own, with proceeds to go to the West Michigan Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The play, which begins its run Feb. 9, is based on the true story of a group of, um, more mature English women and their endeavor to raise money for cancer research by posing nude for a calendar. Sales of their calendar raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. The calendars featuring the cast of the Civic Theatre’s Calendar Girls production are $12 and available now at the Civic’s business office. They will also be available during the shows in February. For more information, call 343-2280.

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FIVE FAVES ENCORE

Five Faves

Gilmore Car Museum director picks favorite vehicles by

CHRISTOPHER SHIRES

When I walk through the Gilmore Car Museum, my list of favorite cars changes day-to-day. There is always something new to discover at North America’s largest automobile museum, which has more

1929 Duesenberg J111 The automotive industry is a story of innovators, tinkerers and geniuses such as the Duesenberg brothers, who were renowned mechanics, building some of the fastest automotive engines in the world. They were engineers rather than businessmen, however, and when the Duesenberg Motor Co. failed, it was purchased by E.L. Cord. Together they developed one of the fastest and finest-looking automobiles in history, prompting the expression “It’s a Duesy.” Its design caused a revolution that would impact automotive design through the 1930s. Only the very wealthiest could afford a Duesenberg, and it truly would have been a treat to see one drive down the street. Our particular Duesenberg was built for the 1929 New York Auto Show and used as a demonstrator to entice the Hollywood elite.

1940 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet This beautifully designed car was exhibited by the Museum of Modern Art in 1951 as a piece of moving sculpture and was what architect Frank Lloyd Wright declared the “most beautiful car in the world.” The Lincoln Continental Cabriolet was truly a partnership between designer E.T. Gregorie and Edsel Ford. While not a designer by training, Ford had an eye for design and worked with Gregorie to develop a clean, aerodynamic design with limited adornment. Its sleek styling is hallmarked by a distinctive wave-breaker grill, since boating was a shared passion of Ford and Gregorie. This vehicle was originally owned by Irving S. Gilmore.

12 | ENCORE JANUARY 2018

than 400 vehicles on display in changing exhibitions and permanent galleries. Here are just some of my favorite treasures among our collection:


ENCORE FIVE FAVES

1948 Tucker #47 The story of Preston Tucker and the Tucker Corp. is legendary. Tucker’s car was innovative, incorporating a bold design, the ability to travel at more than 120 mph and new safety features such as the first pop-out windshield, padded dash, passenger crash chamber and a center headlight that pivoted with the turn of the wheels. Tucker’s automobile sent shock waves through Detroit, leading to a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and negative press. Though Tucker was exonerated of any wrongdoing, the impact was too much for the fledgling company to survive. The Gilmore Car Museum’s Tucker is the 47th of 51 produced and has less than 70 miles on the odometer.

1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser The 1950s was a period of prosperity and production. The nation’s infrastructure was developing, and state-of-the-art interstate highways were being built. The Turnpike Cruiser was built for this new high-speed venture and mirrored the nation’s fascination with airline travel. We think of today’s cars as having “all the bells and whistles,” but this car had gadgets galore, including its “Twin Jet” fresh air intakes, a rear power window, a push-button Merc-O-Matic transmission, a Seat-O-Matic memory-adjusted seat, and a Monitor Control Panel with tachometer and an average speed computer. Among the amazing aspects of the Gilmore Car Museum are the personal stories shared by our visitors. Everyone has a car story, and this car had special meaning to my father, who shared his memory of it during a visit with me.

1982 A-11 Checker Taxicab This list wouldn’t be complete without Kalamazoo’s iconic Checker taxicab. These hardy workhorses were found everywhere. From 1923 to 1982, an untold number were built in Kalamazoo, but only 300 to 400 survive today. While the cabs were usually painted a striking yellow, our Checker cab mirrors the green and cream of the first Checker produced and has the classic post-war body style introduced in 1956. This cab, donated by the Markin family, owners of Checker, was completed on July 12, 1982, and was the last Checker to roll off the company’s assembly line. The Checker legacy remains as a proud symbol of our community.

Christopher Shires has been executive director of the Gilmore Car Museum since January 2017. Prior to this, Chris has held a variety of museum positions, including executive director of the Holland Museum in Holland, Michigan, and director of interpretation and programs at the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan. He also served as the director of exhibit, education and programs at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Chris has a bachelor’s degree in history from Marshall University and a master’s degree in history from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Chris and his wife Greta have two young children.

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UP FRONT ENCORE

Escape Room Adventures The fun is in trying to get out JASON CONDE

Brian Powers

Brian Powers

by

H

avana, 1962. An American spy plane has just been shot out of the sky, and the Cuban Missile Crisis is underway. You and other CIA operatives sent to infiltrate Fidel Castro’s palace locate a secret KGB office and must determine if a peaceful resolution is possible or if the only option is war. Hmmm, was that mission too easy? OK, now you are traveling by train through Europe with fellow detectives, and en route a murder occurs that you must solve before the murderer can escape at the next train station. This, too, might be too simple.

16 | ENCORE JANUARY 2018

How about being aboard a World War II U.S. Navy submarine that has been sabotaged, possibly by German secret agents. The sub’s engines are dead, oxygen levels are descending as quickly as the submarine, and unless you locate the missing oxygen silos and restore power, you and the submarine’s crew are doomed to a watery grave. Ah, now that’s more like it. Welcome to the choices, challenges and mysteries of escape rooms. Getting out Escape rooms are physical adventure games that combine role playing, puzzles, treasure hunts and interactive mystery theater.


ENCORE UP FRONT

Opposite page: Joel Flutie, owner of The Final Clue, plays the part of Sherlock Holmes in looking for clues in an escape room adventure. Above and at left: Escape rooms are decorated with themes that correlate with the mystery visitors will undertake.

Participants, in groups as small as two or as large as eight, are locked in rooms with various historical themes and must work together to avoid capture, prevent the spread of a deadly chemical virus or bring criminals to justice. And all this just to get out of the room. “It’s a big rush when you rip the door open, the light turns green, and everything’s done, you got out, especially when you’ve got 30 or 20 seconds left,” says Josh Powers, venue manager at Escapology at the Airway Fun Center in Portage. “The less time there is when you get out, the more the adrenaline is rushing.” Escapology, at 5600 Portage Road, is a franchise of an Orlando-based escape room business and one of two escape room

venues in the Kalamazoo area. The other is The Final Clue, at 505 E. Kalamazoo Ave., an independent venue owned and operated by local contractor and entrepreneur Joel Flutie. The cost to participate in an hour-long session runs between $25 and $35 per person, depending on the time and day chosen. “People are looking for something new,” says Flutie, “and escape rooms provide that. It’s a unique way to view things from a different perspective.” First developed in Japan in 2007, escape rooms spread quickly across the globe. Escape room developers found inspiration for their scenarios from adventure and horror movies like Indiana Jones, Cube and Saw, where the stakes are high, time is crunched and adrenaline is racing. Escape rooms rely on team members’ abilities to communicate, delegate, pay close attention to detail and think critically and laterally. They are democratic in their accessibility to different ages and genders, says Scott Nicholson, professor of game design and development at Wilfrid Laurier University and director of the Because Play Matters game lab at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. “The most successful teams,” Nicholson writes in his essay Peeking Behind the Locked Door: A Survey of Escape Room Facilities, “are those made up of players with a variety of experiences, skills, background knowledge, and physical abilities.” James Baynes, of Mattawan, participated with co-workers in a western-saloon-themed escape room at Escapology as a company team-building exercise. “Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses,” he says, “and you become very self-aware of where you fit and how everyone fits around you. You can figure out puzzles very quickly once you figure out who does what very well.” The lure Because of the relative novelty of escape rooms, most participants are first-time

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UP FRONT ENCORE

players and start with easier experiences that allow them to figure out the escape room experience while also being able to escape within the one-hour time limit. “They are set up as statistically easier rooms,” says Powers, “so you’re not thrown into a more difficult experience. We try to introduce them that way, and then they graduate onto Th3 Cod3 (a computer hacker scenario), where things get more complicated, and then onto Budapest Express (the railway murder mystery), Shanghaied (escaping captivity on a 19th century Chinese ship before it sets sails across the Pacific), and Under Pressure (the WWII submarine disaster), which are really, really hard.” Each escape room is decorated thematically. Examples include a hacker’s minimalist apartment filled with sterile fluorescent light and a diplomat’s regal office in Cuba’s Presidential Palace. There is an air of artifice, but players aren’t evaluating the replications; they’re looking for clues. Numbers, colors and symbols as well as stage props such as wine bottles, telescopes, chess pieces and oxygen tanks play into the puzzles, A gamemaster, who monitors the game from outside the room via TV screens, can determine what level of difficulty will result in the most fulfilling scenario for players.

Brian Powers

This page: Joel Flutie of The Final Clue says customers like the “different perspectives” escape rooms provide. Opposite page: These locks are just a few obstacles in participants’ efforts to solve the mystery and escape.

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ENCORE UP FRONT

The rush

“The complexity of these puzzles — they’re not common sense,” Baynes says. ”You can’t just walk in and get lucky. There’s a gamemaster who’ll give you clues, but you actually have to work through these problems and figure out a solution together.” The rooms themselves are designed in a way that makes it difficult to just stand around and observe, since every detail in each room is a potential clue. “You can’t just stand off to the side,” Baynes says. “There’s always something around you that you can be working on. Everyone participates.”

The pressure of a time limit adds to the excitement, and, since it’s an experience shared with others, players are able to bond with their team members in “figuring out their surroundings … running from place to place, calling out discoveries, and hunched over puzzles in small groups,” Nicholson writes. Baynes agrees. “It was a great bonding experience,” he says. “Afterwards, you have your story of what you were trying to work through and how quickly you were able to work it out.” After time is up, players are able to discuss their experiences with one another as well as with the staff before taking a team photo, and this discussion, Baynes says, is what remains to be shared long after the experience itself. “That’s kind of like the trophy piece,” he says. “You get to talk about your experience.” And what about the groups that don’t succeed in their missions? “We’re finding that if groups don’t make it, people have a blast trying to figure things out,” Powers says. “It’s not a frustrating thing. People do get frustrated, but in the end, whether you make it or you don’t, you still had a great time.”

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ENTERPRISE ENCORE

Clearing the Way

Fly Away Clutter’s Rose Hathaway gets things organized LISA MACKINDER

Brian Powers

by

Growing

up, Rose Hathaway loved organizing and folding the clothing at her parents’ Bellevue clothing stores, but she never dreamed that activity would lead her to someday create order in the lives of others. “Who knew that I would use those skills later on when I’m doing somebody (else’s) closet?” says Hathaway, a professional organizer and owner of Fly Away Clutter, a Kalamazoo company that helps organizations and businesses recapture lost time, organization and opportunities. A lifetime of preparation Prior to opening their side-by-side stores, Maxine’s and Jerry’s, Hathaway’s parents, Maxine and Jerry Groesbeck, owned Groesbeck’s, a Bellevue store selling everything from hardware to home goods. There, Hathaway threw herself into sorting nuts and bolts in the hardware department, creating displays in the toy department and showcasing kitchen items in the home goods section. Hathaway says she comes by her organizational skills naturally. 20 | ENCORE JANUARY 2018

Clockwise from above: Rose Hathaway is a professional organizer who helps people downsize and declutter resulting in tidier spaces like this closet and important papers in accessible places.

“It’s in the genes,” she says. “We say, ‘Either you have it or you don’t,’ and we help the people who don’t.” For more than 25 years, Hathaway applied that aptitude in medical and law office settings, where she was “always the organizer,” purchasing supplies, organizing supply closets and planning parties. She went on to work for the speech, pathology and audiology clinic of Western Michigan University’s Unified Clinics and became a senior administrative assistant in WMU’s planning department, from which she retired in 2010. Both jobs further honed her organizing skills. “You have to be organized in the paperwork and understand it,” Hathaway says, but her work experience also gave her a skill she didn’t know she would need. In the clinic, Hathaway worked with individuals struggling with aphasia, a condition that affects their ability to communicate. Many


ENCORE ENTERPRISE

Evaluation starts with a phone conversation and then a face-to-face meeting. Hathaway always starts with one question: “What does being organized look like to you?” Everyone has a different idea of what organization looks like, she explains. Hathaway encourages clients not to clean up before her arrival because she “wants it real,” to determine the issues and arrive at solutions. “People are always embarrassed,” Hathaway says. “They ask, “Have you ever seen anything as bad as this?” and my response is always, “Everybody’s different.” I don’t gauge on how bad something is. We all have something in all of our houses, including mine, or an area in our life we feel like we’re not the best at.” of these patients were senior citizens and stroke victims. “Now I work with a lot with seniors who are downsizing, and that has helped me in dealing with people with dementia, Alzheimer’s, physical problems,” Hathaway says. “I learned a lot from those years in the medical setting.” Five years before retirement, Hathaway began looking up information about organization and stumbled upon something intriguing: careers in professional organization. “I thought, ‘Really? It’s a profession?’” Hathaway discovered the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO), an organization with 3,500 members whose mission focuses on education, business connections, furthering industry research and increasing public awareness. Hathaway trained with The Organizing Specialists, a Grand Rapids-based company that provides organizational training. The clear path After retiring, Hathaway launched Fly Away Clutter, adopting the mission “Because

everyone needs a clear path and I help them get on that path — no matter what it is.” Her clients include those seeking ADD/ADHD support, chronic disorganization support or help with moving and relocation, downsizing, garage and estate sales and more. Hathaway’s expertise extends into both the office and home realms, and she has helped people of all ages and walks of life.

Hathaway and her clients key in on problem areas, prioritize them, set goals and timelines, and identify roadblocks. Then they get to work. Benefits of organization In both home and office settings, Hathaway says, two things are victims of disorganization: time and productivity. At work, when people can’t locate items such as

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ENTERPRISE ENCORE paper, folders or paper clips, they will often repeatedly purchase the same items. And not being able to locate important paperwork is a significant problem. “Whatever the business is, that’s costly,” Hathaway says. At home, disorganization reduces the ability of people to properly function and feels burdensome to them, Hathaway says. While working through rooms with clients, she routinely hears similar feedback. “They always feel like it has lifted their energy,” she says. “The energy flow in the house with clutter and extra things is burdensome, so I really try to have people get in touch with their feelings and visualize what they want their life to be in their office, in their home, and that’s why I say, ‘What does being organized look like to you?’” Hathaway has witnessed transformations. Many times clients’ disorganization has been prompted by a sudden loss, she says, such as a divorce, death, loss of a job or another event that triggers “getting lost.” One of Hathaway’s clients lost his wife three years before he began using Fly Away Clutter’s services. When the man went to bed, he couldn’t look at his bedside. His wife’s clothes and purse remained there — where they had been for three years. After the process of clearing everything away, he was able to move on and now even travels. “For some people,” Hathaway says, “it makes them feel like they’re just buried in it, and (they wonder,) ‘How do I get out?’ And once they’re out, it just lightens the load and they move forward.” Organization obstacles Hathaway says there is a common element that makes homes and offices inefficient: flat surfaces. “People kind of fill them up,” she says, “and the other thing — people tend not to go vertical. Everything is horizontal.” Her advice: Look up at the walls. Hang things — maybe a cabinet or mail slots for mail.

Hathaway also suggests to clients that they view their spaces from another perspective by sitting where a client or friend or co-worker would sit in their home or office. “Look around your space,” Hathaway says. “What would that look like to somebody else? I tell people to do that in their homes. Go to a corner of a room that they never go to. They always come through the door and look the same way. If you stood in another corner of the room, what would you see?” Once a space has been organized, Hathaway says, one technique in particular will help it stay in order: putting things back where you

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Hathaway is well versed in the topic of downsizing. Many of her clients are moving from a house to a condo, senior apartment or assisted-living facility. She works with her client to whittle down their belongings and then brings in a team to pack everything. While the client stays in a hotel for a couple of days, Hathaway and her team unpack the clients' items in their new residence and put everything away. An interior designer lays out the floor plan. With everything complete,

the client then enters the home — stress-free. “They can come in and feel comfortable the first night,” Hathaway says. Though Hathaway has always loved organizing, she says the people she works with provide even more enjoyment. “I’ve met some of the most interesting people that I never dreamed that I would meet,” Hathaway says. “And for each client I work with, I maybe learn as much from them as they learn from me.”

Expertly trained for this exact moment.

Rose Hathaway, at left, works with a client to sort through and organize important papers.

found them. “There’s a home for everything, and everything has a home,” Hathaway says, citing a common saying. Teaching tidiness Besides working one-on-one with clients, Hathaway gives seminars and has spoken at places like the Comstock Community Center; the Cass County Council on Aging, in Cassopolis; the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center, in Battle Creek; NorthPointe Woods Senior Living Community, in Battle Creek; and to a women’s legal marketing group in Kalamazoo and a mom-to-mom group for mothers with children with disabilities. Topics have included organizing, downsizing, archiving files, setting up functional offices, moving, providing safe living arrangements in the home for seniors, going to and taking notes at medical appointments, and retaining medical and home information. For the past four years, Hathaway has offered a seminar through WMU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute called “The Art of Downsizing.” Last month she added another component called “Moving On,” bringing in a professional mover to talk about preparing for a household move.

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PIC K 24 | ENCORE JANUARY 2018

L

A L B L E


Despite its name, this ‘addictive’ sport is scoring with locals by

LISA MACKINDER

W

Brian Powers

hen someone new walks onto the pickleball court at the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo’s Portage branch, they are met with waves, smiles and greetings of “Hey, you here to play?” There are even hugs from 92-year-old Minnie LaPoint and 89-year-old Clara “LuLu” Gamble — doubles partners who are set to play pickleball in the 2019 National Senior Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Amid a background of rhythmic pip, pop, pip, pop sounds of plastic Wifflelike balls bouncing off paddles, Gamble leans toward the newcomer with a twinkle in her eye and whispers, “It’s addictive!” Pickleball is a combination of tennis, badminton and pingpong. Fifty-two years after it began in a backyard on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, pickleball has become one of the fastest-growing games in the country, according to an April 2014 report by NBC News. The Sports & Fitness Industry Association reports that pickleball had 2.5 million players in 2016. That same year, the USA Pickleball Association’s membership increased by nearly 540 members per month. The number of places to play pickleball has more than doubled in recent years, and clubs are forming worldwide. The 2016 USAPA Nationals in Casa Grande, Arizona, drew 858 players from 36 states and two Canadian provinces. The 2017 U.S. Open Pickleball Championships in Naples, Florida, attracted 1,300 participants from 42 states and 15 countries. Even in Southwest Michigan, people are succumbing to pickleball fever. When Kalamazoo resident Jim Hackenberg, a USAPA Nationals Pickleball Tournament repeat gold medalist, is asked how often he and his wife, Yvonne — also a repeat gold medalist — play pickleball, he responds, “How many days are there in a week?” All joking aside, his answer isn’t far from the truth. The Hackenbergs play pickleball five or six times per week, and they aren’t alone. Recognizing the sport’s popularity, the city of Portage added eight dedicated pickleball courts — four at Ramona Park and four at Lakeview Park. And those are still not enough to keep up with demand, Hackenberg says. So, what’s so great about pickleball? It’s easy to learn, it’s a game for all ages and it’s composed of elements that make for a fun game, Hackenberg says. But there’s something even greater, he says — it’s a social game. “My wife and I have been playing tournaments for nine years,” Hackenberg says. “You go out there and you want to beat your opponents — and beat them soundly. But at the end, you’re the Syed Habib Fawaz, 31, plays pickleball on the courts at the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo’s Portage branch.

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Brian Powers

best of friends. When we come out here to Utah and Arizona, we’re hooking up again with friends we’ve made through the game. The social aspect is probably one of the key reasons the game has exploded.”

Born from bored kids According to the USAPA, pickleball was started in 1965 by three fathers — Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum — who sought to pacify their bored children. Pritchard and Bell grabbed a Wiffle ball and pingpong paddles and lowered a net on an old badminton court in Pritchard’s backyard. The following weekend McCallum came on board and the men created rules. Not only did the kids love it, so did the adults. Now for the burning question: Why is it called pickleball? Pritchard’s wife, Joan, says that, because the game combined sports, it was named for a “pickle boat,” which has a rowing crew made up of leftover oarsmen from other boats and is usually the slowest boat.

26 | ENCORE JANUARY 2018

When Hackenberg first heard about pickleball in 1999 from an aunt and uncle who suggested he and Yvonne would like it, he dismissed it, partly due to its “sillysounding name,” he says. “Unfortunately, the name is one reason people kind of pooh-pooh it initially,” he says. He got over the name eventually, and the Hackenbergs participated in an introductory pickleball session at the YMCA’s Maple Street branch, where they met USAPA ambassadors for Kalamazoo and Portage, Bob Northrop and Melissa Muha. “They were very welcoming and showed us the nuances of the game,” Hackenberg says, “and we never stopped playing.”

Soaring popularity In 2008, the YMCA’s Portage branch jumped on the pickleball bandwagon, adding the sport to its schedule. “There was an interest, and we had the courts available,” says John Howson, Portage branch health and wellness director. They utilized basketball courts that they re-

lined for pickleball boundary rules. The court is now used for both basketball and pickleball at different times throughout the week. Howson attributes the low equipment investment needed for the game — just a ball and a paddle — along with its minimal body impact and less running around the court than tennis as the reasons pickleball’s popularity has skyrocketed. In 2010, the YMCA’s Portage Branch added a beginner’s pickleball class to its roster. “It’s been popular,” Howson says. “People don’t want to look silly out there playing, so they get some instruction.” Locally, the number of places to play pickleball keeps growing, from churches to gyms to parks. “The game has just exploded over the last four, five years, and I mean exploded,” Hackenberg says. To get an idea of just how popular the sport has become, Hackenberg asked gate attendants at Ramona Park to track pickleball players versus tennis players using the courts over a six-week period.


known at pickleball competitions across the country as “Gator.” “There’s people that know me in Florida and Arizona as Gator,” Allgaier says. “They don’t have any idea what my first name is. I show up and they’re like, “Hi, Gator!” Allgaier calls the Hackenbergs “pickleball royalty,” but his skills aren’t too shabby either — he placed sixth in mixed doubles at the 2016 National Senior Games. “I do OK, ” he admits. Allgaier knows paddle and racquet sports, having played racquetball, handball and paddleball. While stationed in Okinawa, Japan, with the U.S. Army, he was the 1971 Okinawan Island Pingpong Champion of the U.S. Armed Forces. He competed in paddleball tournaments on the national level, he says, until one fateful Sunday in 2010. Allgaier and his paddleball partner had just finished practice at the Portage YMCA when a nearby pickleball match caught his attention.

Clockwise from opposite page: Teams of doubles spar in a pickleball match at the YMCA; Larry Allgaier teaches novices pickleball’s techniques and rules; Syed Habib Fawaz, and his uncle, Irshad Sharief, often play as a doubles team; and pickleball equipment includes a paddle and plastic ball.

“We came out with some outrageous numbers,” Hackenberg says. “Something like 500-and-some player hours for pickleball versus 50 for tennis.”

Go see Gator When someone wants to learn to play pickleball in the Kalamazoo area, it’s a good

bet they start with one man: Larry “Gator” Allgaier, 67, of Portage. On Wednesday mornings, he teaches the beginner’s pickleball class at the YMCA’s Portage branch. Allgaier picked up the nickname “Gator” as a youngster because of the similarity of his last name to the word “alligator.” The name stuck, and now he is

“I hadn’t even heard of pickleball at that time,” Allgaier recalls. “I just meandered down there and was standing by the court. Lucky for me, our national champions (the Hackenbergs) happened to be playing that day.” Yvonne Hackenberg handed him a paddle to try. “I walked onto the court and learned how to fly!” he says with a chuckle. “The w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 27


Courtesy

first day I played pickleball was the last day I played paddleball.” Allgaier proudly calls himself a “pickleball nut” who has trained more than 100 other “pickleball nuts.” “And they just keep coming,” he says. When playing or instructing, Allgaier is dressed in his signature color of orange. Many competitive pickleballers have a certain color or other designation on their clothing for which they are known, he explains, and he chose orange because of his Dutch ancestry (the Dutch royal family hails from the House of Orange, and the Dutch wear orange in the Olympics). All that’s needed to play the sport is a Wifflelike ball and a paddle. The paddle is made of a composite material and is a cross between a pingpong paddle and a paddleball paddle, Allgaier says. “The pingpong paddle is smaller and lighter,” he says. “The paddleball paddle is bigger and heavier.” Pickleball is played on a 20-by-44-foot court. The net stretches across the court, as it does in tennis, and the non-volley zone, or the “kitchen,” is seven feet back from the net.

Allgaier jumps right onto the court to play with his students, providing encouragement while still pointing out mistakes. One of the biggest errors: stepping into the “kitchen.” “You can’t run up to the net and volley the ball,” Allgaier explains. “You have to be behind that line.” Although some players have paddle and racquet sports backgrounds, the game’s

creators designed it to be simple enough for everyone to play, according to the USAPA. “It doesn’t take particular skills to play,” Allgaier says. “I play at the 4.0/5.0 level, which is one step underneath top level. Jim and Yvonne are both 5.0-level players. We have several 5.0 players in our club (Pickleball Outreach, on Facebook known as Kalamazoo Pickleball). But you can match up with people of your own ability, just go out and have a fun game.” A person does not have to be a member of Pickleball Outreach to play pickleball in the area locales.

Getting hooked For the Hackenbergs, pickleball has been “life-changing,” says Jim. It propelled the couple to winter in Arizona because it is the top state in the nation for pickleball

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Opposite page, bottom: National champions Jim and Yvonne Hackenberg of Portage on the medal podium at the 2017 championships. Top: The Hackenbergs playing in Surprise, Arizona, where they spend the winters. This page, left: Doubles partners Minnie LaPoint, left, and Clara “Lulu” Gamble, practice every Wednesday together and have paddles with their names emblazoned on them. Pat Sinicki, center, plays against a pair.

players, followed by Florida and Michigan, according to Allgaier. After getting hooked on pickleball, the Hackenbergs played at the Michigan Senior Olympics, performed well, and then learned about the USAPA Nationals Pickleball Tournament. “So, it was ‘Hey, let’s go to the nationals!’” Hackenberg says. “That’s what brought us out to Arizona — and the rest is history.” In nine years of playing at the USAPA National Pickleball Tournament, Jim and

Yvonne have won a combined total of 30 gold medals. Partners for the mixed 65-69 doubles, they took home gold in November from the 2017 USAPA National Pickleball Tournament, where Jim also won gold in the men’s 65-69 singles and a bronze in the men’s 65-69 doubles and Yvonne took the silver medal in the women’s 65-69 doubles. They also participate and have medaled in the USAPA U.S. Open Pickleball Championships held each year. Both tournaments are so popular, he says, that players have to be

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online at midnight when registration opens to sign up. “Within five to seven minutes the entire field is filled,” Hackenberg says. Considering their athletic backgrounds, the Hackenbergs’ pickleball success is not surprising. Jim ran marathons and Yvonne was a tennis professional before eventually switching to platform tennis, a game played on an aluminum deck that is one-third the size of a tennis court and surrounded by a 12-foot chicken wire fence. Yvonne won five national platform tennis tournaments, including three consecutive titles with Hilary (Hilton) Marold. In 1998, Yvonne and Marold were inducted into the Platform Tennis Museum and Hall of Fame. When Jim and Yvonne attended their first national pickleball competition, Yvonne looked at him and said, “You know who would be good at this game?” Jim immediately knew: Marold. They called Marold, and even though she had never played the game before, she arrived the day before the tournament began and Yvonne taught her to play. “The very first tournament they titled,” Jim Hackenberg says, “and the next year they won the national championship.”

A game for all ages Clara “LuLu” Gamble has played pickleball for seven years. Before that, the retired Western Michigan University dance and


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Clara “Lulu” Gamble competes in the 90-plus age division for pickleball.

kinesiology professor played tennis and badminton. As with Allgaier, it was a pickleball competition that caught her eye. “I got captured,” she admits. “That’s what happens to a lot of people. You start (playing) and before you know it … ” Four years ago, Gamble’s partner, Minnie LaPoint, was introduced to pickleball by her daughter Yvonne Hackenberg. LaPoint, still a professional seamstress, learned to play tennis at age 52 and played tennis five days a week. She finds that pickleball provides a good workout, she says, without the pressure of a tennis match. Gamble and LaPoint became teammates last spring, when Yvonne Hackenberg introduced the pair. They practice together every Wednesday. “I couldn’t have a better partner in the world,” LaPoint says. “She likes me because I’m vicious,” Gamble teases, with a cat-like grin. The doubles partners raise their paddles to display the crowns and their names, Minnie and LuLu, emblazoned on them. The pair, who will compete in the 90-plus bracket, say they think they have a chance for success in the 2019 National Senior Games. “If they give us a couple of 5.0 players, we’re toast,” LaPoint admits. “If they give us some neophytes, we’ll do pretty well.”

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ARTS ENCORE

First Steps for Last Gasp

Kalamazoo jazz/hip-hop group poised to go nationwide by

ANDREW DOMINO

32 | ENCORE JANUARY 2018


ENCORE ARTS

"I did a Google search for cool images and

a religious article popped up with the words ‘Last Gasp,’” recalls Jay Jackson. “I thought, ‘I could make a cool poster out of this.’” But Jackson made more than a poster with that phrase — it sparked the name of the Last Gasp Collective, a Kalamazoo-based band founded by Jackson that’s breaking genre conventions and pushing hard to stretch its reach far beyond West Michigan. The Last Gasp Collective, which released its first album, Agape, last spring, could be described as a hip-hop, soul and jazz group with flourishes of rock and gospel music. On its website, the band compares itself to The Roots and Arrested Development. Its music

Putting the band together Jackson wants the Last Gasp Collective to be a true collective, with band members coming and going as different projects get underway. He says there was a lot of turnover when the group started two years ago, as musicians realized the vision for the group was widerreaching than just being a band. Jackson saw Last Gasp as a collective of artists from actors and musicians to videographers. But first, there would be the band. In the last few months, the roster has become more steady, featuring cellist Jordan Hamilton, vocalists Ashley Hicks and Venezia Jones, keyboardist Jonathan Boyd, bassist Joel Pixley-Fink, saxophonist Xavier Bonner,

Something Somewhere Photography

Opposite page: Members of the Last Gasp Collective perform. Above: Last Gasp Collective members include, from left, Nezi Jones, Andrew Mubita, Jon Boyd, Joel Pixley-Fink, Nic Baxter, Jordan Hamilton, Jay Jackson and Jesse Lemons.

features lyrics spoken and sung over guitar, keyboard, drums and more. Most bands, after releasing a first album, start touring and working on a second. Jackson’s vision for the Last Gasp Collective is a little different, he says. Another album isn’t in the works yet — first will be a music video and after that, he hopes, will come nationwide exposure.

drummer Terrence Smith, percussionist Nick Baxter and trumpeter Jesse Lemons, along with Jackson on guitar and vocals. “I’m very content with the lineup,” says Jackson. “It’s a family environment. Even if we didn’t play, we’d still go out and have drinks together. (The group) will grow as long as we have people who have the same goal in mind.”

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ARTS ENCORE

“The only way you can follow your passion is by earning a living,” Jackson says, “but you’re not going to make a living doing one thing.” Jackson’s first gigs were performing as a rapper and guitarist with his brother, singer Andrew Mubita, at small shows at local bars. Mubita now lives in Buchanan, Michigan, but joins the Last Gasp Collective on occasion when the band needs a singer, Jackson says. The genesis for the Last Gasp Collective came in 2014, during a “Put Up or Shut Up”

See Last Gasp Collective Upcoming performances: Courtesy

Jan. 5, 8 p.m., Vegetable Buddies, 129 N. Michigan St., South Bend, Indiana

This page, Last Gasp Collective members, from left, Jesse Lemons, Nezi Jones, Nic Baxter, Andrew Mubita, Jordan Hamilton, Jay Jackson, Jon Boyd, Joel Pixley-Fink. Opposite page: The cover of the band's first album, Agape.

Jackson, 26, grew up in Kalamazoo listening to church music and hip-hop. His first experiments with music were creating hip-hop beats on computers, uploading them to the music hosting site SoundCloud and publicizing his work among friends via Facebook. He says he realized that to have a career in music he’d have to combine his love for the art with a “business mindset,” and that

34 | ENCORE JANUARY 2018

prompted him to study ways of promoting his music. He’s a fan of popular actors/rappers like Jamie Foxx and Donald Glover and says he wants to be involved in every part of his career, not just performing. That means, for example, making sure everyone in Last Gasp shares his goal of making the group a national success and researching other aspects of the business, such as video production.

Jan. 20, 8:30 p.m., Bell's Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., Kalamazoo Feb. 2, 9 p.m., Old Dog Tavern, 402 E. Kalamazoo Ave., Kalamazoo Feb. 23, 8:30 p.m., Pyramid Scheme, 68 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids See the video Find “Small Town” at bit.ly/2kEqIlY


ENCORE ARTS

open-mic show at The Mix, a club near Western Michigan University that closed earlier this year. The show offered musicians a chance to perform whatever they wanted, and it led to Jackson meeting several early members of the Last Gasp Collective. Since then, promotion through media stories, as well as YouTube videos and a consistent series of local performances, has kept the group alive. ‘Small Town’ on a big stage Now, Jackson says, the group is poised to reach beyond its local boundaries. The band shot a video for its song “Small Town,” from Agape, last March. In it, every member of the Last Gasp Collective plays someone in a nightclub bar — a bartender or a gambler, for example — and performs his or her part of the song as the camera moves past. Jackson believes the video, which the band plans to release on social media this month, will get the group attention from those outside the Kalamazoo region. It was already highlighted in a Huffington Post article in November, and the group is planning to do a national “press push” for it, with appearances on YouTube, in blogs, and on TV and other national media sites, introducing the band in places it hasn’t yet played. The group will also be touring. In 2018, the Last Gasp Collective will be performing in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Cleveland, and smaller cities in between in two-week tours. During the winter, as the video is readied for release, Jackson anticipates that the Last Gasp Collective will perform two to three times a month, in Kalamazoo, Jackson and

other cities in Michigan, just to stay visible among music fans. Last Gasp shows haven’t gone beyond music (and the “Small Town” video) yet, but Jackson expects they will. It’s part of his vision for the group to be a true collective of artists, and he is open to adding actors, dancers or other kinds of artists if they add to a Last Gasp Collective performance. He even calls the Kalamazoo-area production studios that put together the “Small Town” video — Roguebotic Media, Three Goats Moving Pictures, and Zac Clark — “part of the group, when needed.” “The long-term goal is to include drama, include dance, have a Broadwayinfused show,” he says. “If you see us in a year, we could have an orchestra or a choir. I like it all. I don’t want to be confined to one thing.” Jackson says his ultimate plan is to make the Last Gasp Collective not just a musical group but a tool for others. He wants to make music with the group but also operate a record label to manage the work of other musicians. Jackson wants to make sure Kalamazoo-area musicians can create and promote their music following a path Last Gasp blazed for itself. “There’s always been a goal for something bigger,” Jackson says. “It’s going to be a full (record) label, a media conglomerate. If you come from a small town, there’s just no way you can be heard by the mainstream. I want to give people that opportunity.”

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PERFORMING ARTS THEATER Plays

Sunset Baby — Face Off Theatre Company presents Dominique Morisseau's story about a former political prisoner trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 4–6, 2 p.m. Jan. 7, Jolliffe Theatre, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, 359-0908. Baby Snooks — All Ears Theatre radio theater production, 6 p.m. Jan. 6, First Baptist Church, 315 W. Michigan Ave., 342-5059. Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery — A farcical comedy based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic murder mystery, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 & 27; 2 p.m. Jan. 14 & 21, Civic Theatre, 329 S. Park St., 343-1313. Escape from Christiana: Bickering Before the Border — All Ears Theatre radio theater production, 6 p.m. Jan. 20, First Baptist Church, 342-5059. Lucky Stiff — An offbeat murder-mysterymusical farce, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 26, Feb. 2, 8, 9 & 10; 2 p.m. Jan. 28, Feb. 4 & 11, York Arena Theatre, WMU, 387-6222. Musicals

The Wizard of Oz — Broadway classic about the Land of Oz, 8 p.m. Jan. 5 & 6, 2 p.m. Jan. 6, 1 p.m. Jan. 7, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300. Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Live: King for a Day — In this musical based on the PBS children's TV series, Daniel learns what it takes to be king, 2 p.m. Jan. 20, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300. Rock of Ages — Broadway musical parody about 1980s heavy metal rockers, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 26 & 27, Feb. 2, 3, 9 & 10; 2 p.m. Jan. 28,

36 | ENCORE JANUARY 2018

Feb. 4 & 11, Parish Theatre, 426 S. Park St., Anne Erlewine and Brian Koenigsknecht 343-1313. — Folk and country musicians, 9 p.m. Jan. 19, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Miscellaneous Big Mean Sound Machine — Afrobeat, Stomp — Percussion group using ordinary funk and Latin band, 8:30 p.m. Jan. 20, Bell's objects to perform rhythms, acrobatics Eccentric Café, 382-2332. and pantomime, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300. Orchestra, Chamber, Jazz, Vocal & More COMEDY

KSO Brass Quintet — Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra members perform works of Crawlspace Eviction Improv Comedy: Ewald, Ewazen and Walker, 7 p.m. Jan. 9, Aggravation — Improv and sketch First Presbyterian Church, 321 W. South St., comedy show inspired by the board game 349-7759. Aggravation, 8 p.m. Jan. 19 & 20, Jolliffe Theatre, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, 599-7390. Second Sundays Live: Kalamazoo Classical Guitar — Classical and acoustic MUSIC guitar concert, 2 p.m. Jan. 14, Parchment Community Library, 401 S. Riverview Drive, Bands & Solo Artists 343-7747. Delilah DeWylde — Vintage country and rockabilly singer and band, 9 p.m. Jan. 5, Pianist Réne Lecuona — Guest artist recital, Bell's Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. 382-2332. organissimo — Jazz trio, 8:30 p.m. Jan. 6, Baritone Nathan Gunn and Pianist Julie Jordan Gunn — Fontana presents the duo in Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. a cabaret program, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20, Dalton Rebirth Brass Band — New Orleans-based Center Recital Hall, WMU, 359-7311. brass, funk and hip-hop band, 9 p.m. Jan. 11, Sarkozy Brunch Concert — Flutist Yukie Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Ota and KSO artists-in-residence perform, Flobots — Alternative hip-hop band, 8:30 11 a.m. & 12:30 p.m. Jan. 21, Sarkozy Bakery, p.m. Jan. 12, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. 350 E. Michigan Ave., 349-7759. The Werks — Rock and electronic funk Duo Tierra Fria — Guest artist recital by the band, 9 p.m. Jan. 13, Bell's Eccentric Café, percussion duo and oboist Andreas Oeste, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 22, Dalton Center Recital Hall, 382-2332. WMU, 387-4667. Big Head Todd and the Monsters: Winter Tour — Colorado-based rock band, 7:30 p.m. Advanced Jazz Ensemble with Christopher Jan. 18, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., Biggs, Electronics — Bullock Performance Institute concert, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24, Dalton 345-6500. Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300. Dwight Yoakam — Country music singer/ songwriter, 8 p.m. Jan. 19, State Theatre, Classics Uncorked: Winter Evening — Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra members 345-6500. perform works of Brahms, Walker and Maze — American soul, R&B and funk band, Coleridge-Taylor, 8 p.m. Jan. 26, Kalamazoo featuring Frankie Beverly, 8 p.m. Jan. 19, Institute of Arts, 314 S. Park St., 349-7759. Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300.


ENCORE EVENTS Tom Rainey Trio — Drummer Rainey performs with saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and guitarist Mary Halvorson, 8 p.m. Jan. 26, Dalton Center Lecture Hall, WMU, 387-4667.

VISUAL ARTS

SPLICEfest — Two-day festival blending live performances with new technologies, Jan. 26–27, Dalton Center Recital Hall and Room 2008 in the Richmond Center for Visual Arts, WMU, 387-4667.

Exhibits

Circular Abstractions: Bull's Eye Quilts — Twenty-six quilts in the Bull's Eye pattern, through Jan. 21.

Kontras Quartet — Guest artist recital by the string quartet, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27, Dalton Center Lecture Hall, WMU, 387-4667.

Round & Round: The Circle at Center Stage — Works from the KIA collection presenting the circle in myriad manifestations, through March 4.

Classics on Tap: Winter Evening — Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra members perform works of Brahms, Walker and Coleridge-Taylor, 8 p.m. Jan. 27, Bell's Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., 349-7759.

Rhythmic Vitality: Six Principles of Chinese Painting — Works from the collections of the KIA and Joy and Timothy Light featuring concepts established by early Chinese art critic Xie He, through March 25.

Pianist Yu-Lien The — Bullock Performance Institute concert, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300.

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., 349-7775

Dawoud Bey: Harlem, USA and Harlem Redux — Photography of Harlem in the 1970s and 2014–16, Jan. 13–April 11. Events

DANCE Ballet Kalamazoo's Rapunzel — An original ballet based on the classic tale, 7 p.m. Jan. 27, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., 337-0440.

ARTbreak — Programs about art, artists and exhibitions: Henri Matisse: The CutOuts, documentary, Jan. 2 & 9; Artist's Talk: Southwest Michigan Art Quilters, Jan. 16; We Are Edison Photography Project, discussion of a photography installation and a neighborhood rebuilding, Jan. 23; Were You

a Hippie?, talk focusing on the Volkswagen Microbus, Jan. 30; sessions begin at noon, KIA Auditorium. Sunday Tour — Docent-led tours: Off the Wall, KIA sculptures, Jan. 7; Round & Round: The Circle at Center Stage, Jan. 14; Circular Abstraction: Bull's Eye Quilts, Jan. 21; Dawoud Bey: Harlem, USA and Harlem Redux, Jan. 28; all tours begin at 2 p.m. Unreeled: Film at the KIA — View the comedy/drama Last Summer in Paris, by Kalamazoo filmmaker Chuck Bentley, 6:30 p.m. Jan. 11, KIA Auditorium. Book Discussion: A Piece of the World — Karen Trout leads a discussion of Christina Baker Kline's novel, 2 p.m. Jan. 17, KIA Auditorium. Richmond Center for Visual Arts Western Michigan University, 387-2436

17 Days (Volume 10) — One artist's video work per day is played on 50-inch plasma screens, through May 1, Atrium Gallery. Site & Survey: The Architecture of Landscape — Featuring three international artists: Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson and Lina Puerta, Jan. 18–March 11, Monroe-Brown Gallery.

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Sniedze Janson-Rungis: Altars & Myths — Abstract, anthropomorphic sculptures in an environment recreating the sensation of walking through an enchanted forest, Jan. 18–March 11, Netzorg and Kerr Gallery. Rita Grendze: Signs for Those Seeking Light — Cast-off books that have been cut by hand, mounted and suspended, give voice to writing as a powerful visual language, Jan. 18–Dec. 16, Atrium Gallery.

MARK YOUR 2018 CALENDAR SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 18 | 4 pm 2017 Bronze Medalist Karisa Chiu, violin and the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra

Other Venues

Ducks and Dresses: Hanji Artwork by Aimee Lee — Two Korean traditions come together using hanji, Korean paper, through January, Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave., Suite 103A, 373-4938.

Chenery Auditorium

FRIDAY, MAY 18 | all day – evening 43rd Stulberg International String Competition Dalton Center, WMU, daytime semifinals and evening finals Judges Aaron Dworkin, Anthony Ross, and Scott St. John Breaking News: NPR’s From the Top with host Christopher O’Riley will be on site during the 2018 Competition, creating a documentary episode to be broadcast at a later date.

Art Hop — Art at various Kalamazoo locations, 5–8 p.m., Jan. 5, 342-5059.

SATURDAY, MAY 19 | 12:30 pm Stulberg Master Classes Dalton Center, WMU Judges Aaron Dworkin, Anthony Ross, and Scott St. John

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Solo Gallery Artist: Sudi Rouhi — Digital prints and traditional arts, Jan. 8–Feb. 23, Portage District Library, 300 Library Lane, 329-4544. LIBRARY & LITERARY EVENTS Kalamazoo Public Library Food Fit for Kings — Maria Hernandez shows how to make traditional Mexican food to celebrate Día de los Reyes (Day of the Kings), 6:30 p.m. Jan. 3, Washington Square Branch, 1244 Portage St., 553-7970. First Saturday @ KPL — Family event with stories, activities, special guests and door prizes, 2 p.m. Jan. 6, Central Library, 315 S. Rose St., 342-9837. Animals and Society Book Club — Discussion of Chapters 1–3 of How to Create a Vegan World, by Tobias Leenaert, 7 p.m. Jan. 11, Central Library, 342-9837. Friends of KPL Bag-of-Books Sale — 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Jan. 13, Central Library, 3429837. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration — Family event with a story, a short film and activities, 4:30 p.m. Jan. 15, Eastwood Branch, 1112 Gayle Ave., 553-7810.

38 | ENCORE JANUARY 2018


ENCORE EVENTS Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. — Kalamazoo's Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity presents a special tribute, 6:30 p.m. Jan. 15, Oshtemo Branch, 7265 W. Main St., 5537980.

Front Page: Donuts and Discussion: Evicted and Homeless — Legal Aid of Western Michigan and Habitat for Humanity discuss the problem and possible solutions, 10:30 a.m. Jan. 20.

A Novel Idea Book Club — Discussion of Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly, 6:30 p.m. Jan. 22, Oshtemo Branch, 553-7980.

Cook with The Cheese Lady — Learn about the world of cheese, 6:30 p.m. Jan. 24; registration required.

Ordinary Men? Perpetrators, Bystanders, and Victims in the Holocaust — Eli Rubin, WMU professor of history, discusses this topic in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, 6:30 p.m. Jan. 29, Oshtemo Branch, 553-7980.

Portage District Library 300 Library Lane, 329-4544

Dating Photographs Through Clothing — Learn how to use costume dating and facial recognition techniques, 7 p.m. Jan. 29, Van Deusen Room, Central Library, 342-9837.

Top Shelf Reads — A young professionals' book group discussion of the Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, 7 p.m. Jan. 8, Latitude 42 Brewing Co., 7842 Portage Road, 585-8711.

Urban Fiction Book Group — Discussion of Wrong Place, Wrong Time, by Silk White, 6 p.m. Jan. 30, Alma Powell Branch, 1000 W. Paterson Ave., 553-7960.

Open for Discussion — Discussion of When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, 10:30 a.m. Jan. 16.

Let It Snow — Full-dome video images choreographed to classic Christmas music, 1 p.m. weekdays, through Jan. 5, Planetarium.

Parchment Community Library 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747

Must Be 21+ #Adulting: Life Skills — Discussion of personal credit and credit cards, 6:30 p.m. Jan. 22.

SpacePark 360 — Travel through an amusement park that spans the solar system, 2 p.m., through Jan. 5, Planetarium.

10 Easy and Delicious Ways to Add More Plants to Your Diet — Vegan Kalamazoo organizer Hillary Rettig shares healthy tips, 6:30 p.m. Jan. 24.

Mystery of the Christmas Star — A scientific explanation for the star the Wise Men followed, 3 p.m., through Jan. 5, Planetarium.

Mystery Book Club — Discussion of Hounded, by David Rosenfelt, 6:30 p.m. Jan. 15.

SciFi/Fantasy: Mid-Year TV Watch List — Discussion of fall TV programming and preview of the new season, 7 p.m. Jan. 8.

Other Venues

Voyages into Michigan's Past — Talk and book signing with local historian Larry Massie, 7 p.m. Jan. 18, Richland Community Library, 8851 Park St., Richland, 629-9085. MUSEUMS Air Zoo 6151 Portage Road, 382-6555 Winter Break Family Fun Days — Superhero Training Camp, Jan. 3; Rockets Rock, Jan. 4; Winter Wildlife, Jan. 5; 11 a.m.–3 p.m. each day. Kalamazoo Valley Museum 230 N. Rose St., 373-7990

Season of Light — Find out how candles, Christmas trees and Santa Claus became part of holiday traditions, 11 a.m., through Jan. 5, Planetarium.

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EVENTS ENCORE Journey to Space — Learn about the future of space flight and missions, 4 p.m., through Jan. 5, Planetarium. Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked the World — Exhibit with hands-on experiences, through Jan. 7. Hateful Things — Exhibit examining the history of racism to help promote racial healing, through Jan. 14. Winter Break Performances — Steve Barber, storyteller, singer and guitarist, Jan. 3; Jenifer Strauss, storyteller, Jan. 5; both performances begin at noon.

NATURE Kalamazoo Nature Center 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381-1574 South Kalamazoo Christmas Bird Count — Join an organized excursion or observe on your own, Jan. 1. Winter Discovery Programs — Different nature programs each day, with children's program at 11 a.m. and a program for all ages at 2 p.m., Jan. 2–5. Hibernation Exploration — Take a hike to explore adaptations and habitats of hibernating animals, 2 p.m. Jan. 7.

Inscribed Lineage — Dr. Michelle Johnson discusses her American genealogy and history to identify instructive lessons that reposition critical social issues from 1617 to the present, 1:30 p.m. Jan. 14.

Discover the Habitat Haven Trail — Listen for birds, search for tracks and look for plants surviving the cold, 2 p.m. Jan. 14.

Golden Legacy: Original Art from 75 Years of Golden Books — This special exhibit showcases 65 original illustrations from these classic children's stories, Jan. 27– April 15.

Winter Night Hike — Learn about nocturnal animals and look at the night sky, Jan. 18.

Top Secret: License to Spy — Explore the science and technology of the undercover world of spying and espionage, Jan. 28–April 29.

40 | ENCORE JANUARY 2018

Explore Outdoors Hike — Join a naturalist on the trails, 2 p.m. Jan. 15.

Winter Birds of Prey — An indoor program on Michigan's birds of prey, 2 p.m. Jan. 25. Winter Prairie ID — Join a naturalist on a hike through the Willard Rose Prairie, 2 p.m. Jan. 28.

Boomers & Beyond: Seed Bomb Workshop — Make seed bombs to take home for spring planting, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Jan. 30. Other Venues Birds and Coffee Walk — A morning bird walk and discussion over coffee, 9–10:30 a.m. Jan. 10, Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, 12685 East C Ave., Augusta, 671-2510. Winter Family Camp at Schrier Park — Practice winter survival skills with the family, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Jan. 20, Schrier Park, 850 W. Osterhout Ave., Portage. Winter Wellness Nature & Snowshoe Hike — Take a winter hike and discuss the benefits of nature to your health, 2 p.m. Jan. 21, Schrier Park, 329-4522. Audubon Society of Kalamazoo — Craig Sherwood speaks on "Relationship Between Ravens and the Desert Tortoise," 7:30 p.m. Jan. 22, People's Church, 1758 N. 10th St., 375-7210. MISCELLANEOUS One One Run — A 2.2- or 4.4-mile walk/ run to raise money for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kalamazoo, 1–3 p.m. Jan. 1, Spring Valley Park, 2600 Mt. Olivet Road, 616-648-0232.


ENCORE EVENTS Kalamazoo Indoor Flea & Antique Market — New and used items, antiques and handcrafted items, 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Tues. & Wed., Jan. 2–31, and 8 a.m.–3 p.m. Jan. 13, Kalamazoo County Expo Center North, 2900 Lake St., 383-8761. Kalamazoo Reptile & Exotic Pet Expo — Buy, sell or trade reptiles, amphibians and small mammals, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Jan. 6, Kalamazoo County Expo Center North, 779-9851. Walking Tour of Downtown Kalamazoo Breweries — Learn about the local beer culture, noon–4:30 p.m. Jan. 6 & 20, starting at Old Burdick's Bar & Grill, 100 W. Michigan Ave.; Jan. 13 & 27, starting at Shakespeare's Pub, 241 E. Kalamazoo Ave., 350-4598. Adult Painting in the Park — A wine and canvas event, 6 p.m. Jan. 11, Schrier Park, 850 W. Osterhout Ave., Portage, 329-4522; registration required.

Healthy & Fit Expo — Information on all facets of health and wellness, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Jan. 13, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 517-706-1011. Southwest Michigan Bridal Show — 11:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Jan. 14, Wings Event Center, 3600 Vanrick Drive, 345-1125. MLK Community Celebration — A celebration with highlights of the week and local entertainment, 5 p.m. Jan. 15, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., 341-8323.

Kalamazoo's Vintage Market — Antiques, shabby chic, salvaged items, boutique clothing and home decor, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Jan. 20, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Jan. 21, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 903-5820. OutFront Kalamazoo Winter Gala and Awards Ceremony — Celebration for LGBT people and their allies, with dancing and community recognition awards, 7–11 p.m. Jan. 20, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, 314 S. Park St., 349-4234.

Harlem Globetrotters 2018 — Basketball artistry and family entertainment, 7 p.m. Jan. 18, Wings Event Center, 345-1125.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail — View the 1975 film about the Knights of the Round Table, 8 p.m. Jan. 20, State Theatre, 345-6500.

Connect Kalamazoo — Community conversations about inclusion and belonging, noon–4:30 p.m. Jan. 19, Westwood Fire Station, 1310 Nichols Road, 254-8224.

Pulp Fiction — View Quentin Tarantino's 1994 film dealing with violence and redemption, 8 p.m. Jan. 27, State Theatre, 345-6500.

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Pickleball (continued from page 31)

Gamble and LaPoint qualified for the 2017 National Senior Games, but an injury sidelined Gamble. LaPoint picked up a different partner and, at the urging of others, went on to play in a singles match. She “came back with these big medals,” Gamble says. But pickleball isn’t just popular with the gray-haired set. Across the country people of all ages are rapidly catching onto the game. Take Kyle Yates, a 22-year-old from Fort Myers, Florida, and his 24-year-old sister, Sarah Yates, for example, who teamed up to win gold in the 2017 U.S. Open Pickleball Championships. Kyle has racked up more than a dozen pickleball titles and earned sponsorships, including one from paddle maker Paddletek. He is one of only 265 men rated 5.0 by the USAPA and has been featured in USA Today. His matches can be seen online, as can his online video, “Pickleball Isn’t Just for Old Folks.” Or take a look at 37-year-old Naples, Florida, resident Simone Jardin, who left a job coaching tennis at Michigan State University to become head instructor at the U.S. Open Pickleball Academy in East Naples. Jardin was the 2017 U.S. Open Pickleball Women’s Pro Single Champion. The USAPA even has junior men’s and women’s brackets for those 18 years and younger.

For more information Kalamazoo Pickleball: facebook.com/ search/top/?q=kalamazoo%20pickleball USA Pickleball Association: usapa.org (lists places to play around the country, rules, etc.) International Federation of Pickleball: ifpickleball.org “You’re seeing many younger players come in, and a lot of them are former tennis players,” says Hackenberg. “Their hand speed and quickness and athleticism has taken the game to a new level altogether.” The Hackenbergs know this firsthand. Their daughter Kristy Lingerfelt, 47, plays the sport and even built a pickleball court in the yard of her North Carolina home. Lingerfelt’s daughters Tyler, 18, and Riley, 16, and her son J.R., 14, all play pickleball. “If they’re not playing baseball or softball, my daughter usually has friends over on the weekend and they play (pickleball) out there,” Hackenberg says.

‘A Field of Dreams thing’ In May 2014, the first annual Pickleball Fever in the Zoo Bob Northrop Memorial Tournament was held at Wings West Ice Arena in Texas Township. It was held in

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honor of Northrop, who died in 2012 from complications of diabetes. It has since been renamed the USAPA Great Lakes Regional, and the 2017 tournament, held in July, drew 470 players. Hackenberg says, if space allowed, that number would likely increase. Wings West has room for only 14 courts, so the number of participants has to be limited, Hackenberg explains. “This year we did our mixed doubles at seven in the morning, and we weren’t done until almost midnight,” Hackenberg says. “We (aren’t) going to do that again. Mixed doubles will be two days. We’ve added on another day of the tournament so we can try to get done at a reasonable hour every day.” The tournament draws people from across the country and Canada. Event planners have entertained the idea of renting Wings Events Center, Hackenberg says, but the rental fee is out of their price range — unless a wealthy sponsor steps up. Allgaier has an even bigger dream. “My dream is to find a nice, big donor and have our own building here in Portage where we’d have enough courts to run our own tournament,” Allgaier says. “You could just come and play pickleball anytime you wanted. And I see that coming down the road someday.” Maybe Allgaier is onto something. As Hackenberg says, “It’s a Field of Dreams kind of thing: If you build it they will come.”

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A Cardinal Comes — for Marie This morning the snow is new and deep. The sunlight's sharp and so rare in Michigan that I walk a long while down a path where deer are a possibility. The sky is high and blue, shadows another kind of blue. Trees are piped in white, their twigs a filigree. Iced over, rusted chain-link seems fresh as bleached fishing net. Far from here children dive and slip down a hill. A cardinal lands nearby. Not the scarlet one but his mate whose tawny and rose are complicated and quiet, like a plum's flesh. And, my friend, it may come to you that I think you're like this sweet bird. No. What I am trying to say is you are the snow, the sun, the blue, the whole white morning. — Marion Boyer Boyer is a poet and professor emeritus from Kalamazoo Valley Community College. She wrote this poem to honor fellow poet and critique group member Marie Bahlke on the occasion of her birthday. Boyer says that Marie is a dear friend who inspires her as an example of how a woman may continue to live her best self and shine even as she ages into her nineties.

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Western Michigan University Department of Dance . . . 40 WMUK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Zooroona . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

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BACK STORY (continued from page 46)

What challenges does WMUK face?

a communications major. I was interested in broadcasting, particularly international development and broadcasting for something like the BBC or Voice of America. I figured I needed to see the world before I could talk to it, so I joined the Peace Corps. I lived in French-speaking northern Cameroon (in Africa) as an English teacher at a school that encompassed grades 6–12. When I came back, I bounced around Washington, D.C., for a while and applied for a position at WESM, a public radio station on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I was hired there as a news director, which really wasn’t an accurate title because there wasn’t anyone to direct. I was a news director of one. When my boss there moved on, I became the station’s interim manager and learned a lot of things very quickly. It was a very intense time. I became the station’s general manager, and I helped WESM grow more efficient and develop a major strategic plan. When the station was much stronger, I was ready to move on and the job at WMUK came up. Normally the first job you apply for is not the one you get, but I applied thinking it would be good practice even if I wasn’t going to get the job. But, lo and behold, they called me and kept calling me back. When they flew me out here, I thought it was a perfect situation for me. I know the challenges this station is facing — I dealt with them at my last station — and I believe I know what to do.

One is the economy. Our membership has not grown as much as we’d like it to. There is more competition for us today because there’s digital media, podcasts, satellite radio, the internet, and other public radio stations in our region. People have options. They don’t have to solely rely on WMUK for their info needs. Another problem is figuring out whether our programming is serving our audience in the best way possible. We are looking at trying to answer the question of “What is WMUK here to do?” We are in the process of undergoing a strategic planning process, and that will be a real big undertaking. I don’t know what the future holds, but I believe there are a lot of opportunities for this station to grow and thrive.

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Do you think the public has a good understanding of what public radio is? I think a certain demographic of listeners do, but I think there are a lot of people for whom education about it is still necessary. The thinking sometimes is that as a university-licensed station, you don’t have to think about revenues as much. That’s not the case. Western Michigan University supports us to a very large degree, but 45 percent of our budget still has to be generated by us. Most of it comes from member support and through business underwriting. What do you like to do in your off time? I love going to the movies. I love science fiction, westerns, action, comedy, but my

favorite are historical epics like Ben Hur and Spartacus. What do you miss about Maryland? I miss the roads (he laughs). I was driving to see family in Ohio recently, and as soon as I crossed into Indiana I was like, “Wow, it’s so smooth.” What do people say when you tell them what you do? They say, “I can tell you are a radio guy by your voice.” I still cringe when I hear my own voice, though. In my head I sound like Sean Connery, but when I listen to my recorded voice I think I sound like Mickey Mouse. Who has had the most influence on your life? My parents. My father was a selfemployed barber in Washington, D.C., for 50 years. He dropped out of school when he was rather young, but he always had a thirst for knowledge, as did my mother. They both had a deep interest in the world and to understand why things were the way they are. My mom instilled in me a love for music and an expectation not to be like everyone else. To rise above and to understand if you’re going to do a thing, know why you’re doing it. My dad used to say, “Whatever you set your hand to do, do it with excellence.” That has always stayed with me and is one of the things that drives me forward here.

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BACK STORY ENCORE

Stephen Williams General Manager WMUK

S

tephen Williams wanted to be a composer. He had played the piano and trombone since he was a child and went to the University of New Hampshire on a full scholarship to study music theory, but an audition to attend a conservatory changed his mind. “I had to play an entire Beethoven sonata, a Brahms interlude and a couple of other pieces from memory, which is no small feat,” the 40-year-old Williams says. “After my performance, the evaluators were complimentary and applauding, and I walked out of there thinking, ‘I nailed this thing.’ “Then the next guy goes in there and plays the most complicated, fiendishly difficult piece that I’ve ever heard by heart to perfection, and I hear even more thunderous applause. And he comes out beating himself up because he missed a note I didn’t even perceive. I realized then that there were a lot of people more talented and dedicated than I was willing to be.” Williams gave up studying music and turned instead to communications. Williams’ musical background still comes in handy, however. As the general manager of WMUK 102.1 FM, Williams oversees a 65-year-old public radio station that plays a wide repertoire of music, from classical to jazz to acoustic, in addition to offering news and public affairs programming. How did you end up where you are today? In college, when I realized I wasn’t cut out for the music industry, I spent a year as an undecided major, took some rhetoric courses and, thanks to a very influential professor, became

Brian Powers

(continued on page 45)

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Southwest Michigan's Magazine: Pickleball! Escape rooms, professional organizer Rose Hathaway, Last Gasp Collective, WMUK's Stephen Williams...