Why's That?

Second Friday of the month at 6:44 am, 8:44 am and 5:44 pm

Why's That? explores the things in Southwest Michigan – people, places, names  – that spark your curiosity. We want to know what makes you wonder when you're out and about. 

Maybe it's a question you've had for years, or maybe it's just come up. Perhaps it rests on a subtle observation, like this one about ABC streets in Kalamazoo. Or maybe you just saw something, found it strange, and wanted to know more about it. That's what happened in "A Tiny Park with a Tragic Story."

From train signals to watersheds, from unusual houses to water hardness, we hope you'll let us know what in Southwest Michigan makes you ask "Why's That?" It could be the start of a great radio story.

Large silver-colored pipes run just off the ground amid greenery.
Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

Western Michigan University’s Robert M. Beam Power Plant is easy to miss in the summer when leaves obscure the view from Kalamazoo’s Stadium Drive. But earlier this year, when the trees were bare, Paul Toth of Kalamazoo noticed something curious about big metal pipes that come out of the plant near the road.


Courtesy photo / Allegan County Historical Society

Dean Knuth noticed it years ago: a marker on Douglas Avenue in semirural Kalamazoo County, in the front yard of an old brick house near the Allegan County line. A metal plaque on a stone remembers the "old toll gate” on the road to Grand Rapids.

This wasn’t just any toll road. It was a plank road - one of hundreds of wooden roadways built in the U.S. in the 19th century. The plank roads made travel quicker and easier (if not always safer), and yet they struggled to stay in business.


A blue sign with white lettering that says "Kalamazoo," at the train station downtown.
Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

Raven Britt was at a fundraising dinner a couple of years ago when a fellow guest made a prophecy that startled her. Raven had just moved to Kalamazoo, and she was telling the other guest about it.


Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

“If we get all the way to Decatur I’ll know we’ve passed it, but I think this might be it right here. Yep, that’s it right here!”


Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

Recently you shared what you would like to know about climate change in our region. (If you have not reached out yet, we would love to hear from you!) In our first report, we'll tackle these questions: “What are the primary sources of greenhouse gases in Southwest Michigan, and what can we do to cut our emissions?”


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