June 19 • 01:04 AM

Coloring for culture report

Award-winning Michigan Radio host visits Imlay library for feature story

Award winning radio producer/host Kyle Norris settles in for the story at the Ruth Hughes Library coloring club. Pictured are Barb Mobley, Diane Monschau, librarian/ club founder Diane Willick and Dianne Schueller. photo by Catherine Minolli.

February 24, 2016
IMLAY CITY — When librarian Diane Willick learned that someone named Kyle from the University of Michigan, was trying to reach her, she didn't rush to return the call.

Willick didn't know any "Kyles," and since the caller ID came up as the U of M, she figured he or she was trying to sell her some books. So when Kyle called back that afternoon, Willick began to connect the dots.

"She said she was Kyle Norris and I was thinking 'why does that name sound so familiar,'" Willick says. "She said 'I'm not sure if you know who I am,' and all the sudden it hit me. She was Kyle Norris from Michigan Public Radio! I was so excited! I said 'I listen to you all the time!"

Norris, an arts and culture reporter and on-air radio host with the Ann Arbor based public radio station, wasn't calling to sell Willick some books. She was interested in doing a feature story on the popular adult coloring club Willick launched last summer—an idea that thrilled Willick and her colleagues at the Ruth Hughes Library.

"We talked a bit and made arrangements for her visit and when I got off the phone I'm thinking 'Oh my God, I can't believe this,'" Willick says. "To some people it's no big deal, they say 'I don't listen to Michigan Radio,' and I say 'well, you have to!'"

There were plenty of others, though, who thought Norris's interest in the Ruth Hughes coloring club was fantastic, and were eager to welcome the popular radio host to Imlay City and the Ruth Hughes Library last Tuesday, Feb. 16.

Among those was Barb Mobley, who along with good friend Diane Monschau, came with coloring supplies in hand. Mobley, one of the original members of the club, even brought a list of the top ten reasons she colors for Norris's story.

Beginning with the 10th spot, Barb read from the list as Norris recorded.

"It's more fun that using a vacuum or mop," she says. "It's cheaper than a spa. It burns more calories than just sitting."

But just sitting is reason number seven. Reasons five and six are also related: "It's easier on my fingernail polish than scrubbing grout" and "involves no harsh chemicals.

The rest of the list in descending order is "No makeup required; bedroom slippers and an old sweatshirt are the perfect attire; I can talk and sip wine and color at the same time," and in the number one spot "It's more effective than psychology and group therapy is more fun!"

Norris asked others in attendance what coloring in a group did for them, before easing her way into the center of the circle.

"Just do whatever it is you normally do and I'm going to walk around and listen," Norris said.

While a bit intimidated by the recording device, Willick says watching the arts and culture reporter create a story was fascinating.

Attica resident Barb Mobley reads her 'top ten reasons for coloring' list to Michigan Radio arts & culture reporter Kyle Norris while friend Diane Monschau looks on. photo by Catherine Minolli.

"The process was so cool," Willick says. "I was coloring and she put the microphone down near where I was coloring to catch the sound. She was recording all of that."

Willick says Norris spent about two hours at the library, and her visit offered a glimpse into a media resource she was previously unfamiliar with.

"It was an education for me. I've never done anything like that and to see the different steps she went through was really great," she says.

Willick, a self-described hardcore Michigan and National Public Radio listener, equates it to what one sees when looking at a quilt.

"You see the quilt and you say 'oh that's so pretty,' but until you watch somebody make a quilt, you don't really realize how much effort and time and how it is thought-out until you see the process," she says. "That's what it was like for me."

It was even better since Willick got the idea to start the adult coloring club from a piece she heard on NPR's Morning Edition while on her way to work at the library one day.

"This has been the highlight of my career," she says with a chuckle. "It was a very good experience, and Kyle was a wonderful person who was just so easy to be around."

Norris, an award winning reporter, has been with Michigan Radio for eight years. She began her career as a freelance journalist, with stories appearing in both newspapers and magazines in the Ann Arbor area. Her radio stories have been featured on 'The Environment Report,' 'All Things Considered,' 'Weekend Edition,' 'Marketplace,' 'The Splendid Table,' 'World Vision Report,' 'Justice Talking,' and 'The Health Show.'

Michigan Public Radio is located at 91.1-FM in Flint and 91.7-FM in Ann Arbor.

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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