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.

The 32nd Division in the World War, 1917-1919 / Courtesy of Tom George

The Red Arrow Highway runs east from New Buffalo across Berrien and Van Buren Counties. Cross into Kalamazoo, and suddenly the road is called Stadium Drive. A listener asks: why? The road is named after a storied Division of the US Army. Wouldn’t the name “Red Arrow” pay better tribute to veterans?


Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

You don’t need a green thumb to notice that Kalamazoo is full of greenhouses.

“And they aren’t small ones. They’re very, very large,” says listener Barbara Bott.

They grow bedding plants – flowers and vegetables for home gardens. Barbara wants to know: why so many? Why here?


Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

Two and a half stories underground at First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo, in a room filled with the din of air handlers, Pastor Nathan Dannison points into a recess in the wall.

“On the shelf up here you can still see some resources and materials from the Office of Civil Defense. Those are water canisters that store fresh drinking water,” he says.

That’s because, while it now serves as utility space, fifty years ago this room was intended to shelter people from the fallout of a nuclear attack.


John Todd / John Todd Collection, Portage District Library

Rosamond Robbert lived in Dublin and London, then moved to the US in the 1970s. When she got to Southwest Michigan, she wondered: why are Kalamazoo and Portage separate cities?

“Both with own taxes as far as I knew, both with their own rules, both with a board of governors and everything. And why’s that? They’re so teeny-weeny,” she says.


Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

This "Why's That?" story originally aired in August 2016. 

Years ago when Julie Allen’s son was in a stroller, she’d take him for walks on South Westnedge Avenue. That’s when a building set well back from the road caught her attention.

“I probably walked by it four or five times before I actually noticed the house,” she says.

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