Sonari Glinton

Sonari Glinton is a NPR Business Desk Correspondent based at our NPR West bureau. He covers the auto industry, consumer goods, and consumer behavior, as well as marketing and advertising for NPR and Planet Money.

In this position, which he has held since late 2010, Glinton has tackled big stories including GM's road back to profitability and Toyota's continuing struggles. In addition, Glinton covered the 2012 presidential race, the Winter Olympics in Sochi, as well as the U.S. Senate and House for NPR.

Glinton came to NPR in August 2007 and worked as a producer for All Things Considered. Over the years Glinton has produced dozen of segments about the great American Song Book and pop culture for NPR's signature programs most notably the 50 Great Voices piece on Nat King Cole feature he produced for Robert Siegel.

Glinton began his public radio career as an intern at Member station WBEZ in Chicago. He worked his way through his public radio internships working for Chicago Jazz impresario Joe Segal, waiting tables and meeting legends such as Ray Brown, Oscar Brown Jr., Marian MacPartland, Ed Thigpen, Ernestine Andersen, and Betty Carter.

Glinton attended Boston University. A Sinatra fan since his mid-teens, Glinton's first forays into journalism were album revues and a college jazz show at Boston University's WTBU. In his spare time Glinton indulges his passions for baking, vinyl albums, and the evolution of the Billboard charts.

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After all the reports about massive debts and credit downgrades, we have a story this morning of a credit upgrade. The ratings agency Fitch upgraded Ford.

INSKEEP: The company was at junk bond status, meaning a loan to Ford was considered a major gamble. Now, it's been moved to investment grade, the lowest investment rating: BBB minus.

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Next, we have a tale of globalization, how a single fire at a company in Germany could affect business in Detroit or Shanghai.

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The company is a chemical plant in a town called Marl. An explosion there killed two people. It was a tragedy, but did not seem to have global significance.

MONTAGNE: Until car companies realized that Marl is vital to their business. NPR's Sonari Glinton explains.

There was something romantic about the 1960's movie and TV show Please Don't Eat the Daisies. In the film, Doris Day and her husband, played by David Niven, move into a suburban mansion/castle with their four children and their giant dog — and comedy breaks out.

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A New England company thinks it's tackled a problem that has been vexing the auto industry for decades - how to make a car fly. For about $300,000, you buy a plane that drives on the ground and parks in your garage. It's called the Transition and it's meant to be just that, bridging the gap between road and sky.

NPR's Sonari Glinton has our story from the New York Auto Show.

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Today the U.S. Supreme Court begins hearing oral arguments on the president's health care law. Six hours of arguments will be spread over three days. The court rarely takes that much time for a case. There are only 400 seats available inside the court. Outside the court, people began lining up as early as last Friday to get what they think could be a front row seat to history. NPR's Sonari Glinton reports from the steps of the Supreme Court.

Washington, D.C., was dazzled this week by a VIP. He visited the White and got the prized seat next to the first lady at this week's state dinner.

No, we're not talking about British Prime Minister David Cameron, though he was in town also.

Ohio's Super Tuesday contest wasn't just about the presidency. Two members of Congress there faced primary challenges — and were defeated. On the Republican side, four-term Rep. Jean Schmidt lost a challenge to Iraq War veteran Brad Wenstrup.

House Majority leader Eric Cantor is pushing a package of small business bills that also has the support of President Obama. The rare instance of cooperation could mark a change in strategy for the House following historically low approval numbers for Congress and rising poll numbers for the president.

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SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: And I'm Sonari Glinton traveling with the Rick Santorum campaign in Kalamazoo, Michigan. While Mitt Romney was rocking out to the sounds of Kid Rock, Rick Santorum supporters were being entertained by founding father Patrick Henry.

LAWRENCE WESCO: (as Patrick Henry) I know not what course others might take, but as for me give me liberty or give me death.

As Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum battle for first place in the Michigan GOP presidential primary, rival Ron Paul is not expected to come in first or second. Paul doesn't really stand a chance at winning the nomination, but he can impact the party's platform

Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are neck-and-neck in the polls in the run-up to the Michigan Republican primary on Tuesday.

One group that Romney appears to have an advantage with is Roman Catholic voters despite the fact that he is Mormon and Santorum Catholic.

The disconnect between faith and politics highlights differences among Catholics and shows that some religious voters are focusing more on other issues.

Declaring Faith

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has been the hot story in the GOP presidential contest this month. Over the weekend, Santorum raised eyebrows with comments on public education, prenatal testing and what he called President Obama's "phony theology." Santorum was making waves just days ahead of the next Republican debate on Wednesday, and the next primaries in Michigan and Arizona six days later.

Congress appears to have avoided another showdown over the payroll tax reduction that has been pumping billions of dollars back into the economy. There may even be a deal ahead on jobless benefits and payments to Medicare doctors.

The last time Congress extended the payroll tax holiday was in December, when it passed a two-month extension tied to two other measures. One extended unemployment benefits, and the second fixed a formula by which Medicare doctors are paid. The Medicare fix would stop big cuts in reimbursements for doctors.

For a car designer, there's probably no scarier time than the auto show. And there's probably no scarier auto show than the Detroit Auto Show. It's like report-card day for car designers, but there doesn't appear to be much that scares Christine Park, a senior creative designer with Cadillac.

She's very eager to show off the Cadillac XTS. Park led the design of the interior of the XTS — pretty impressive, since she's only 28 and graduated from design school just six years ago.

In many ways, the Detroit Auto Show has become a kind of consumer electronics show for cars, where you're just as likely to see the rollout of a new app or entertainment system as the introduction of next year's models.

"The growth in mechanical changes [has] now become incremental, whereas the growth in the consumer electronics industry seems to be taking place at a rate that is almost unprecedented," says Thomas Tetzlaff, a spokesman for Volkswagen Canada.

Between 1960 and 1976, the Dodge Dart was one of the best-selling cars in America, with its affordable price and rugged styling. More than 3.5 million Darts were sold.

Though the car was never known for being especially stylish or pretty, Chrysler is now reviving the name as the company continues its own revitalization. On Monday, it unveiled the new Dart at the 2012 North American Auto Show in Detroit.

Last year was a very good year for the German automaker Volkswagen, but 2012 could be even better.

Sales for Volkswagen Group's brands — including Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini — increased by 20 percent in the U.S. last year. For the Volkswagen brand itself, sales rose 26.3 percent. And if things continue to go Volkswagen's way, it could become the No. 1 carmaker in the world.

Despite a sluggish economy, it's been a good year overall for the auto industry. But among the Detroit Three, there's been a clear standout.

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And now to the spreading influence of apps and tablets in the business world. As NPR's Sonari Glinton reports, many small businesses are using tablets to replace everything from the menu to the timecard to the cash register.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: That is ceroni, so the green is like a pistachio.

Despite the sluggish economy, it's been a pretty good year for luxury carmakers. Deluxe brands such as Mercedes, Volvo and BMW have seen double-digit growth.

But the German carmaker Audi is the standout. It's seen a near tenfold growth in the past 20 years, and the company has also become the new status car for young urban professionals.

Third in a three-part series

The auto industry has work ahead to meet ambitious fuel efficiency goals of 55 miles per gallon by 2025 — nearly twice the current average required. Hybrid and electric cars will play a role, but the plain old internal combustion engine can't be overlooked.

Second in a three-part series

Hybrid cars will take a lot of floor space at the Los Angeles Auto Show beginning this weekend, but they still represent a tiny portion of the U.S. car market.

First in a three-part series

Under fuel-economy rules announced by the White House this summer, cars will have to get an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 — nearly double the current average. Reaching that goal will take not only feats of engineering but also changing how Americans think about their cars and how they drive them.

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