ELi’s first-ever telethon will go LIVE on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, at noon and run until midnight, eastern time!
To watch live: Tune in at ELi’s YouTube channel by clicking here.
To donate to ELi: Find all your options here.
To send a question or comment to the on-air hosts: Use this form.
Live Telethon Schedule (Eastern Time)
12pm: To kick things off, we’re bringing on Cody Harrell, Director of ELi’s Summer Youth Journalism Program and an awesome force for good in our community. Cody teaches English and journalism at East Lansing High School and directs Portrait, the student newspaper. He’s the educator behind East Lansing programs that have collected over a hundred state interscholastic press awards.
12:30pm: Public-health pediatrician and former East Lansing School Board member Dr. Jane Turner will be joining us to talk about how the pandemic is impacting health and life in the East Lansing area. She’ll converse with ELi Managing Editor Emily Joan Elliott – ELi’s lead reporter for Covid-19 – about getting vaccinated, the problem of distance learning (especially for young kids), and more. You can send in your pandemic-related questions!
1:30pm: ELi City Desk Editor Andrew Graham and Publisher Alice Dreger will be talking live with former EL mayor Mark Meadows to get his take on various issues facing the City and on the role of ELi in the community. Council member Lisa Babcock will be joining the call. You can bet we’ll be talking Center City.
2pm: We’ll be sitting down with ELi Board President (and former journalist) Sam Hosey Jr. and his son, Alex Hosey, an East Lansing High School senior and graduate of our Summer Youth Journalism Program, to get their take on the movement for civil rights in East Lansing since Alex’s actions about three years ago resulted in the City formally apologizing for its history of racist housing discrimination. We’ll be talking, too, about the question: How does local news matter?
2:30pm: We’ll shift the conversation over to another aspect of Alex’s life – ELHS football – as Andrew chats with guests about this year’s team and the disrupted season. For this segment, recently-appointed City Council member Ron Bacon will be joining us in his capacity as a football coach.
3pm: We’re joined by Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s wildly popular news quiz, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! Peter will talk with us about his memoir, The Incomplete Guide to Running, which begins with the story of being frighteningly close to the first bomb at the 2013 Boston Marathon. We’ll also see if we can bluff Peter, who lives in Chicago, about East Lansing news. You can get his memoir autographed specially for ELi donors for a $50 donation through this Keep ELi Running link while supplies last!
4pm: Political commentator, co-founder of the “It Gets Better” project, and internationally-syndicated sex advice columnist Dan Savage joins us from the west coast to talk about what makes news in America today, and why the dying-off of local news matters. We’ll hear some great stories from Dan, and Dan and ELi Publisher Alice Dreger will tell the story of what happened when he amplified her live-tweeting of her son’s ELHS sex ed class back in 2015.
5pm: Journalist Emily Yoffe of The Atlantic will be talking with us about how American media has changed over the course of her career and the challenging problem of bringing uncomfortable news. She’ll also discuss national efforts to create public spaces for difficult conversations and the uphill battles reporters can face when dealing with highly divisive topics.
6pm: Our editorial team will ask New York Times reporter John Schwartz to give us an inside view on how he thinks life in American journalism has changed over the last two decades. John is currently on the national Climate Change beat for the Times but, for that paper, he has also covered the Supreme Court, NASA, public infrastructure, and lots more. We are looking forward to learning from his chops.
7pm: Pulitzer Prize-winning cultural observer Emily Nussbaum, long-time TV critic for The New Yorker magazine, joins us to consider what the hope is for real news in terms of audience when there is just so much good entertainment available in America today. We’ll get her take on “Parks & Rec” (and give her ours), and ask what it means for East Lansing’s democracy to have necessarily moved entirely online for the pandemic, where it’s basically become a never-ending TV serial.
8pm: This is the hour where we take a silly-break. Inspired by the reception of Emily’s Bronx accent in Michigan – an accent that has caused some Michiganders to ask if she is from Ireland or Scotland – Emily and Alice have invited on their New York-based relatives to share the craziest family stories. Emily’s sister also plans to regale us with her funniest anecdotes while Emily repeatedly mentions all the famous people she just got to host on the telethon.
9pm: This is one you won’t want to miss, as we meet up with ELi Board Vice President Jiquanda Johnson, founder of Brown Impact Media Group and of our sister publication, FlintBeat. Jiquanda and Alice will compare sometimes painful, sometimes comical notes on covering the Flint and East Lansing city governments, respectively, and Jiquanda will give us an insider view of national attempts to rescue of local news.
10pm: County Commissioner, political consultant, and lawyer Mark Grebner will join us to share a few stories about his quotidian attempts to do things like get the City of East Lansing to arrest itself. We’ll also ask Mark about local polling and politics, including what he thinks of having a City Council of five people. Time to change the City Charter?
10:30pm: If you’ve ever been an ELi City reporter, you know that every late-night meeting ends with an incredibly difficult-to-follow discussion of the zoning code. So to wrap up our fun, we’re pulling a costume change to fancy dress and bringing on Lansing-area zoning attorney David Pierson for a segment we’re calling: “Eccentricities of the East Lansing Zoning Code, with Fancy Cocktails.” You think you can’t laugh at a zoning code? Join us with a drink and find out just how wrong you are.
11:30pm: We wrap up our crazy day with a conversation about what just happened, and bring you the final tally on our fundraising attempts as midnight approaches.
We hope you’ll join us, and remember, you don’t have to wait to donate! You can donate right now! Find all the ways here.