Shifting Gears: The Retooling of the U.S. Auto Industry

A Multi-Station Collaboration from WDET and PRX

The global economic crisis and the U.S.-based credit collapse have pushed a challenged U.S. auto industry into uncertain territory. With approximately one in ten American jobs touched by the auto industry, how are communities feeling the effect of this transition?

Over two, one-hour programs, Shifting Gears will hear from plant workers, car dealers, consumers and civic leaders in cities from Detroit to the Midwest and through the South in an exploration of the changing nature of the U.S. car business. You'll hear interviews with people on the edge of the industrial shift and how it is touching lives, careers, communities and civic life.

These fast-moving programs are anchored from WDET/Detroit and transition to hosts and guests in multiple cities. Station editorial partners include Louisville Public Media, KCUR/Kansas City and WUNC/The Story-Chapel Hill. Lead producers are Kate Hinds from WNYC, Ron Jones and primary host Craig Fahle, both from WDET. Funding for the specials comes from the EconomyStory project from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The two hours can be run back to back or on successive days. The programs are FREE to all stations regardless of PRX membership.

Shifting Gears: The Programs

Program One   |  For stations: license and download  |   Listen now:  

In this first part of Shifting Gears, host Craig Fahle examines the challenge of retraining a work force that built the US car industry. Could the midwest become one of the centers of the emerging electric auto industry; we'll check in with Bill Anderson at KCUR who has the story of one emerging truck company near Kansas City; and then it's to Washington, DC to examine how the changing political lineup on Capitol Hill is already effecting the fortunes of the auto industry.

Program Two   |   For stations: license and download   |   Listen now:  

In this second part of Shifting Gears, host Craig Fahle talks with The Story's Dick Gordon about the South as the new home of the U.S. auto industry, with all of its complex social, labor and financial questions. Then we visit Julie Kredens from Louisville Public Media for a tale of two vehicle plants and how their fortunes have hit the pockets of auto workers nearby. Finally, a glimpse into the future and where auto designers think consumers want to go.


Producer: Kate Hinds

Kate works at WNYC as part of their Shovelwatch project that tracks the use of stimulus dollars across the country. In that capacity she works with many public radio stations to help them use Shovelwatch data in local reporting. Kate is also a producer for The Brian Lehrer Show and has been a reporter, features producer and is facile with immersion blenders.

Executive Producer: Ron Jones

Ron is one of the most experienced programmers in public radio. He is the program director at WDET/Detroit and has served in that capacity at Chicago Public Radio, WGBH/Boston, KCUR/Kansas City and other stations.


Host: Craig Fahle

Craig is the host of The Craig Fahle Show on WDET/Detroit and is a veteran public radio reporter in Detroit and Lansing, Mich. and in Charlotte, N.C. Craig is deeply experienced in covering Michigan-related issues including the car industry.

Producer: Martina Guzman

Engineer: Alex Trajano


Host: Bill Anderson

Bill is the program director at KCUR/Kansas City. He has been a reporter, news anchor, talk show host, producer, disc jockey and announcer. He's served in advisory capacities for the BBC, Marketplace Productions and other public radio programs and institutions and was an executive producer for a national broadcast partnership that included WBGO/Newark and XM Satellite Radio.

Producer: Laura Ziegler

Engineer: John Hawken


Host: Julie Kredens

Julie hosts the daily call-in show State of Affairs on WFPL/Louisville Public Media. She came to WFPL in May 2000 as the morning news anchor and began hosting State of Affairs in September 2001. She worked previously as a news reporter for WHAS radio in Louisville and as an editorial assistant for a monthly publication on journalism ethics.

Producer: Robin Fisher

Engineer: Brad Yost


Host: Dick Gordon

Dick is the host of The Story based at WUNC/Chapel Hill, heard on many public radio stations. Dick was a foreign correspondent and regular fill-in host for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's national radio program, This Morning. He was also a Parliamentary reporter, and correspondent in Moscow and South Asia. Before coming to The Story, Dick was host of The Connection.

Producers: Carol Jackson, Rachel McCarthy

Engineer: Peter Bombar