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2020: A Year That Won't Be Forgotten

Courtesy of the Kalamazoo County Department of Health and Community Services

2020 was the year of a pandemic. In a time of many historic events, COVID-19 will be remembered for the loss of life and livelihood and a vaccine that rolled out late in the year from Pfizer’s plant in Portage. 2020 was also the year when protests intensified over racial injustice and police brutality. As people isolated during a pandemic, they also cast their ballots in an historic election.

As we look back on 2020 and ahead to 2021, here are some of the stories we brought to you during the last year.

As people worked from home and avoided large gatherings, we wondered what they were hearing, or maybe not hearing during the pandemic. Listeners responded by telling us about their experience and shared some of the sounds with us. Those included: 

Father-son donkeys on a farm in Comstock

Sandhill cranes outside of one listener’s home.

Sewing machines making masks for frontline workers.

Two different musical projects that drew inspiration from the shutdown.

And one listener told us how strange it was to hear silence outside her home near Kalamazoo College.

Kalamazoo was among the many cities where Black Lives Matter protests were held following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Earlene McMichael talked with African-American activists in Kalamazoo about their hopes and concerns over whether white allies would continue working for racial justice.

Racial minorities are more likely to feel the worst effects of climate change. But the classes at colleges and universities dealing with climate science are often mostly white. Sehvilla Mann reported on one class at Western Michigan University trying to change that.

2020 marked the 10th anniversary of a massive oil spill on the Kalamazoo River near Marshall. We took a look back in a three part series. Sehvilla Mann reported on how the spillinfluenced the debate over another pipeline, and what the spill meant for turtles along the river.

Every 10 years a Census is taken of the United States. The numbers are used for determining representatives in Congress and funding for government programs. Census workers in Kalamazoo told Andy Robins about problems that could lead to an undercount of people in the city.

In the fall, record numbers of voters cast ballots for the 2020 election. Changes in law and social distancing meant many ballots came in early. President Donald Trump refused to concede and contested the results in swing states, including Michigan. Earlene McMichael interviewed Kalamazoo Township Clerk Mark Miller the day after he cast his vote as one of Michigan’s 16 electors.Miller told our audience that while he enjoys the pageantry, the electoral college is “an anachronism.”

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.