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Abigail Censky Reflects On Covering Politics In Michigan On Her Last Day With WKAR

2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Kristen Gillibrand outside her campaign bus surrounded by reporters including Abigail Censky with a microphone
WKAR
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WKAR's Abigail Censky followed 2020 presidential candidates as they made campaign stops in Michigan including Senator Kristen Gillibrand.

WKAR’s politics reporter Abigail Censky is leaving the WKAR newsroom.

Censky is headed to Kansas where she’ll be a statewide political reporter for the Kansas News Service.

She joined the team in December of 2018 just after Governor Gretchen Whitmer was elected and has covered numerous legislative battles, a presidential election and plenty of down-ballot races.

She spoke with WKAR’s Sophia Saliby to reflect on her time in the WKAR newsroom.

Interview Highlights

On What She’ll Be Doing In Kansas

I'll be covering things like the gubernatorial race and Senate races in 2022 and doing a little bit more long-form and hopefully some investigative work. So, I'm excited. I hope, Kansas is maybe not as newsy as Michigan was in 2020, but we'll see.

On A Story She’s Proud To Have Covered In Michigan

I think covering the GM strike, the General Motors strike, was in one of my first years here, and I was able to do a story about really the Lansing region and the supplier economy, the kind of shadow economy that surrounds the GM plants and the conflict between GM and [the] UAW in that year. And there's a lot of people in Lansing who work for suppliers. So, it was a really interesting story that I was able to bring to a national audience, and I always felt proud to represent Lansing on national air.

On What She’ll Miss About Reporting In Michigan

I think I'll miss the Capitol press corps [and] people in Lansing. Lansing is such a fun community to be a part of and also just finding WKAR fans and listeners out when I'm working on stories. I called a state worker last week and they said, "Oh, you know, I listened to WKAR all the time," after I asked some questions. A nd I was talking to a doctor at a mass vaccination clinic in Detroit reporting a story a week ago, and they listened to WKAR and they knew about us.

Interview Transcript

Sophia Saliby: This is All Things Considered on WKAR. I'm Sophia Saliby.

Today is our politics reporter, Abigail Censky’s last day at WKAR. Abigail is headed to Kansas where she’ll be a statewide political reporter for the Kansas News Service.

She joined us in December of 2018 just after Governor Gretchen Whitmer was elected and has covered numerous legislative battles, a presidential election and plenty of down-ballot races.

She joins me now to reflect on her time in the WKAR newsroom. Thanks for being here.

Abigail Censky: Of course. Thanks for having me.

Saliby: So, can you tell me a little bit more about the job you're taking in Kansas?

Censky: Yeah, I'll be a statewide politics reporter for the Kansas News Service, which means I'll be working from Topeka, the Kansas State Capitol, as well as covering all over the state for Kansans as well as an audience at KCUR in Kansas City.

And I'll be covering things like the gubernatorial race and Senate races in 2022 and doing a little bit more long-form and hopefully some investigative work. So, I'm excited. I hope, Kansas is maybe not as newsy as Michigan was in 2020, but we'll see.

Saliby: Are there any stories you're especially proud of working on here in Michigan that you'd like to share with us?

Censky: I think covering the GM strike, the General Motors strike, was in one of my first years here, and I was able to do a story about really the Lansing region and the supplier economy, the kind of shadow economy that surrounds the GM plants and the conflict between GM and [the] UAW in that year. And there's a lot of people in Lansing who work for suppliers. So, it was a really interesting story that I was able to bring to a national audience, and I always felt proud to represent Lansing on national air.

And then I think another one that sticks out is I did a story on if Michiganders thought gender played a role on the alleged plot to kidnap Governor [Gretchen] Whitmer. And that was just really interesting and fun as a reporter to just see if people thought that was impactful and played a role in people's response to Governor Whitmer throughout the coronavirus pandemic. So, that was a really interesting story to do as well.

Saliby: I want to play a bit of an interview now that you did with our former news director when you first came into the newsroom in 2018. You were answering a question about what you were excited about covering in the state.

Michigan is just a really interesting state because it is a state that regularly receives national attention in kind of four-year patterns. And so, I think the most interesting thing about that is the fact that you can talk to the people and get to know the communities and what's going on outside of presidential election cycles and get to know a little bit more about what's driving the state and if it's red or blue or more purple, depending on who you're talking to.

Saliby: So, we just had a presidential election last November. Do you feel like your prediction there was accurate?

Censky: I do not feel like that prediction was accurate. I feel like I assumed coming into things, I felt like I would know which way things were going to go in Michigan. Of course, Michigan is a state that's famously hard to pin down which direction it will go. And it was very difficult to tell right up until the 2020 election day itself, and we were waiting for so long, you know, days after the election.

So, I think that because, you know, you weren't able to travel around the state because of the pandemic, it was a little more difficult to actually talk to those communities all over the state, but I've learned Michigan is far more purple than I ever anticipated.

Saliby: In this last minute, what are you going to miss about reporting on Michigan politics in the Capital Region?

Censky: So many things. I think I'll miss the Capitol press corps [and] people in Lansing. Lansing is such a fun community to be a part of and also just finding WKAR fans and listeners out when I'm working on stories.

I called a state worker last week and they said, "Oh, you know, I listened to WKAR all the time," after I asked some questions. And I was talking to a doctor at a mass vaccination clinic in Detroit reporting a story a week ago, and they listened to WKAR, and they knew about us. So, I think I'll miss connecting with people who listen to WKAR and having the opportunity to serve listeners here.

Saliby: Abigail Censky has been WKAR's political reporter. She's heading to Kansas to be a statewide political reporter for the Kansas News Service. Thank you for joining us and good luck.

Censky: Thank you.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Abigail Censky is the Politics & Government reporter at WKAR. She started in December 2018.
Sophia Saliby is the local producer and host of All Things Considered, airing 4pm-7pm weekdays on 90.5 FM WKAR.
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