Sonari Glinton

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

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. Glinton has traveled throughout the Midwest covering important stories such as the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, and the 2012 presidential race. He has also covered the U.S. Senate and House for NPR.

Glinton came to NPR in August 2007 and worked as a producer for All Things Considered. During that time he produced interviews with everyone from UN Ambassador Susan Rice to Joan Rivers. The highlight for Glinton came when he produced Robert Siegel's 50 Great Voices piece on Nat King Cole.

Glinton began his public radio career as an intern at member station WBEZ in Chicago. He went on to produce and report for WBEZ. While in Chicago he focused on juvenile justice and the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Prior to journalism Glinton had a career in finance.

Glinton attended Boston University.

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Business
2:24 am
Wed November 27, 2013

How Shopping Malls Are Adapting In An Online World

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 10:49 am

Traditional shopping malls took a big hit after the economic collapse. Problems at big retailers Sears and J.C. Penney — two of the biggest mall tenants — could signal even more troubles.

But malls are trying to adapt. As online shopping grows, things are getting more and more competitive out in the real world of brick-and-mortar retail.

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All Tech Considered
4:01 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

To Test-Drive A Concept Car, Fire Up The PlayStation

Mercedes-Benz introduced its AMG Vision Gran Turismo concept vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week. This is just a model of the car; the fully functioning version is virtual.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 6:21 pm

Drifting is one of those crazy things you should only do in a video game, but I got to experience it in real life at Willow Springs racetrack in the California desert with race car driver and expert drifter Dai Yoshihara.

Drifting, Yoshihara explains, is "a controlled slide through a series of corners at very high speed."

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All Tech Considered
4:15 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

For Ridesharing Apps Like Lyft, Commerce Is A Community

A Lyft driver in San Francisco drops off a passenger as a taxi passes by. The smartphone app lets city dwellers hitch rides from strangers.
Jeff Chiu AP

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 6:34 pm

This week on-air and online, the tech team is exploring the sharing economy. You'll find the stories on this blog and aggregated at this link, and we would love to hear your questions about the topic. Just email, leave a comment or tweet.

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Shots - Health News
5:01 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

For The Young And Healthy, Health Insurance Is A Hard Sell

Students Amanda McComas, Rose Marie Chute and Sari Schwartz are approached in October at Santa Monica City College in California about signing up for insurance with the Affordable Care Act.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Getting young, healthy people to sign up for health insurance is seen as critical to the success of the Affordable Care Act. It's precisely those people who will help offset the cost of the older, sicker ones.

But while cheap health insurance and subsidies based on income are intended to make the program appealing to the young, what if they haven't even heard of the health care law? Or don't want to buy even an inexpensive policy?

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Business
4:06 pm
Sun October 6, 2013

Tesla Slips From Pedestal That May Have Been Too High

It's been a rough week for Tesla, but extra scrutiny is expected for the new car on the block, says Jake Fisher of Consumer Reports.
Jeff Chiu AP

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 8:52 am

Over the last year of so, Tesla motors has received some really good press. But this past week, it's been knocked off its pedestal.

"We're a country that likes to put things up on pedestals and then tear them down from pedestals. We do that with people, I think we do that with things," says Jack Nerad, an analyst with Kelley Blue Book.

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Business
3:47 am
Fri September 20, 2013

Why Companies And CEOs Rarely Admit To Wrongdoing

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 10:56 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

JPMorgan Chase will have to pay more than $900 million in fines for the way it handled the London Whale trading scandal. Last year, the company revealed that its traders in London had lost $6 billion, and then concealed the losses from executives.

While large fines aren't unusual, it is unusual that federal regulators forced the bank to admit to wrongdoing. But this is exactly what happened. NPR's Sonari Glinton has more.

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All Tech Considered
2:30 am
Thu August 29, 2013

To Attract Millennials, Automakers Look To Smartphones

Audi's night vision assistant, an example of how car companies are making cars that are part of drivers' digital lives.
Courtesy of Audi

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 2:47 pm

Part of a series of stories produced in collaboration with Youth Radio on the changing car culture in America.

In an effort to attract young people to cars, automakers have set up shop in Silicon Valley and are looking to the digital world as a way to lure them.

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Business
4:24 am
Thu August 15, 2013

Auto Industry's Pent-Up Demand Expected To Ease Slowly

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

If economists looking at the housing sector are generally optimistic, those who follow the auto industry are practically brimming with glee. Right now, the average age of cars on the road is the oldest ever recorded, at 11-and-a-half years, which means at some time, people will have to buy newer ones. As NPR's Sonari Glinton reports, that time may be now.

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Business
2:03 am
Fri August 9, 2013

The Changing Story Of Teens And Cars

To teens today, cars aren't important in the same way they were in American Graffiti, the 1973 film directed by George Lucas.
Lucasfilm/Coppola Co/Universal

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 4:29 pm

This is the first of a series of stories produced in collaboration with Youth Radio on the changing car culture in America.

When you're a teenager, there are many things you desperately want to find: friends, fun, a future, freedom.

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Business
3:46 am
Tue August 6, 2013

GM Looks To China To Boost Car Sales

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 5:06 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

General Motors is selling a lot of cars in China. The company set a sales record there in July.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports China is in the front line in the battle for automotive global dominance.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: In China this year, forecasters predict nearly 20 million cars will be sold. In the U.S., the bet is we'll sell about 15 and a half million.

Mike Wall is with IHS Automotive.

MILE WALL: Yeah, you really can't overstate the importance of China in the overall global automotive landscape.

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Code Switch
12:17 pm
Sat August 3, 2013

Jobless Rate Falls For Blacks, But It's Not Good News Yet

Employment Specialist Louis Holliday, right, helps an applicant file for unemployment at a Georgia Department of Labor career center last month in Atlanta. The jobless rate for African-Americans fell from 13.7 to 12.6 percent in July, but that's still twice the rate for whites.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Sat August 3, 2013 12:46 pm

The labor market continues its recovery; the economy added 162,000 jobs in July and pushed the unemployment rate to a 4.5-year low. After a string of bad news, things seem to be to turning around for African-American workers, too.

"The operative word is growth," says Bill Rodgers, an economist at Rutgers University.

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Business
2:33 am
Wed July 31, 2013

Ford Taking America's Best-Selling Truck All 'Natural'

A version of Ford's flagship F-150 pickup truck that runs on natural gas.
Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 5:59 am

The reigning king in the truck world is the Ford F-150, and it's been that way for a couple of decades. But staying on top is getting harder.

With new, tougher fuel standards looming there is a lot of emphasis on efficiency and innovation. On Wednesday, Ford is announcing its flagship truck is taking a step into the alternative fuel world with a vehicle that can run on natural gas.

When you look at their bottom lines and their advertising you realize that the Detroit Three make cars, but they're really truck companies, especially Ford.

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News
4:40 am
Sun July 28, 2013

Reinvigorating A Detroit Neighborhood, Block By Block

Woodward Avenue runs through Midtown, a Detroit neighborhood that is reviving in the midst of the larger city's decline. In the background is downtown Detroit.
Carlos Osorio AP

Originally published on Sun July 28, 2013 11:31 am

The debt-laden city of Detroit has been an incubator for new strategies in urban revitalization, including a downtown People Mover, casinos, urban farms, artist colonies and large scale down-sizing.

In the wake of the city's bankruptcy, many in the community are thinking small.

Just outside of downtown Detroit is a neighborhood called Midtown. Like many hip, urban neighborhoods, it's got hipsters on fixed geared bikes, yoga studios, boutiques for dogs.

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Business
4:25 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

U.S. Carmakers Are Riding High, But Detroit May Not Feel It

Jeff Caldwell, a chassis assembly line supervisor, checks a vehicle on the assembly line at the Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly plant in Detroit on May 8.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Thu July 25, 2013 6:19 pm

The news out of Detroit has been grim of late, but there are some bright spots coming from one corner of the Motor City. On Thursday, General Motors posted its 14th straight profitable quarter since emerging from bankruptcy. Ford announced its 16th consecutive profitable quarter Wednesday, and Chrysler is expected to offer good news soon as well.

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Monkey See
2:38 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Pedal Power To Horsepower: Toys Point Toward Future Of Cars

Mark Takahashi is now one of the "car people" at Edmunds.com — but at the age of 2, the future automotive editor, like his co-worker Mike MaGrath, was more of a toy-car person.
Courtesy Mark Takahashi

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 10:46 am

Morning Edition has reported that the Toyota Camry is the best-selling car in the U.S., and the Ford Focus is the world's best-seller.

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Economy
8:54 am
Sat July 6, 2013

June Job Numbers Perk Up Optimists

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

The economy added 195,000 jobs in June. That was a surprise and a delight to both economists and Wall Street. But the unemployment rate was stuck at 7.6 percent.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports that the economic recovery continues at a slow but steady pace.

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Business
2:21 am
Wed June 19, 2013

U.S. Automakers Are On A Roll, But Hiring Is Slow And Steady

A worker installs parts on a Chrysler SUV engine at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit. Plants in the U.S. are now operating above 90 percent capacity, but automakers are wary of adding large numbers of new workers.
Geoff Robins AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 8:40 am

There is one basic question that keeps being asked about the U.S. auto industry: Is it on the rebound?

"People ask a lot, is the auto industry back?" says Kristin Dziczek, a director at the Center for Automotive Research. "And it depends on what scale you want to look at."

So if we're looking at scales, let's start with productivity. In this case, how many work hours it takes to build a car. Productivity in U.S. plants is 39 percent higher than it was in 2000. "Productivity has never been this high," Dziczek says.

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Business
3:43 am
Mon May 27, 2013

Garment Industry Follows Threads Of Immigration Overhaul

A man views merchandise at an American Apparel store on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Calif., on April 24, 2012. Each year, the company makes more than 40 million articles of clothing out of its L.A.-area factory.
Reed Saxon AP

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 8:31 am

In Los Angeles, the business of fashion is big. The apparel business employs as many as 45,000 workers in L.A. County, many of them immigrants.

Consequently, the garment industry is worried about the outcome of the immigration debate and watching closely to see what happens.

'You Don't Have Another Choice'

One of the heavyweights is American Apparel, which makes more than 40 million articles of clothing each year out of its factory near downtown L.A.

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Business
4:26 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

LA Bluejeans Makers Fear Their Business Will Fade Away

Samuel Ku, who runs AG Jeans alongside his father, says a European tariff puts thousands of U.S. clothing jobs at risk.
Amanda Marsalis

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 5:16 pm

Los Angeles is the world leader in the most American of clothing items: bluejeans. High-end, hand-stitched, designer bluejeans that will you run well over $100 a pair.

But as the U.S. apparel industry continues to shrink, LA's bluejeans business faces a threat: a nearly 40 percent tariff, imposed by the European Union, that could cripple the city's jean business.

When people talk about Ilse Metchek they use phrases like "she's a piece of work," "a force of nature," "she's something else." If you want to talk fashion, she's your lady.

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Economy
4:51 am
Sat May 4, 2013

More Jobs, But Wait: They May Not Pay Much

Originally published on Sat May 4, 2013 10:53 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The economy added 165,000 jobs in April. That exceeded the expectations of economists. It also drove down the unemployment rate to a four-year low, 7.5 percent. Unfortunately, the biggest gains were in lower-paying fields like hospitality and temp agencies. And as the school year comes to a close and young people start looking, the question is will there be enough work for them. NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

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Business
5:01 am
Wed May 1, 2013

J.C. Penney Wins Legal Fight Over Martha Stewart

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 9:51 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Proof of Martha Stewart's ongoing commercial appeal has been on display in a New York courtroom. Yesterday, an appeals court decided that department store J.C. Penney can continue selling a new line of housewares designed by Stewart. But the ruling keeps Macy's from having the exclusive rights to the brand.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: There is one reason why both J.C. Penney and Macy's want Martha Stewart.

MARSHAL COHEN: She's had a history of having success.`

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Business
4:16 am
Thu April 25, 2013

House Panel Examines Government Loan To Fisker Automotive

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 1:46 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Auto executives got a grilling on Capitol Hill yesterday. Not the usual suspects from Detroit's Big Three. Think much, much smaller. Executives from the hybrid carmaker Fisker testified about hundreds of millions of dollars in loans Fisker got from the government. Today, the company is on the verge of collapse.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: Fisker, the car company, isn't dead yet. But Congress has already begun the autopsy.

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Business
4:39 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Ford Unit Apologizes For Demeaning Ads

Originally published on Tue March 26, 2013 8:57 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And out next business story fits in the category of what were they thinking? Ford Motor Company is apologizing for ads sketched up by an agency in India - ads that have been decried as demeaning to women. They are cartoon drawings showing off how spacious a Ford trunk can be. One spoofs Italy's former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. He's at the wheel, and in the trunk, three women, tied up.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

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NPR Story
3:42 am
Mon March 25, 2013

Examining Dual Trends In The Economy

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 7:34 am

Both housing and the stock market have been on the upswing in recent months. But a full recovery in the housing market would be more significant to the overall economy. That's because more Americans have something at stake in home values than in stock prices.

Business
5:30 am
Thu March 14, 2013

GM's Archive Offers Glimpse Of Its Past And Future

Cars at the GM Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Mich., include a 1951 Le Sabre concept, at left.
General Motors

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 12:12 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Let's consider a company, now, that's had lots of ups and downs - General Motors. Most of GM's history is in the form of cars, and that history is housed in a nondescript warehouse in a suburb of Detroit. It's called the GM Heritage Center. Not open to the public, it's an automotive archive.

NPR's Sonari Glinton got a tour.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: There's probably no better job for a car nut than to be in charge of a vast auto archive for one of the biggest and oldest car companies.

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Business
5:20 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

As Construction Picks Up, American Truck Makers Race

Ford unveils the F-150 Atlas concept pickup during January's North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Experts say the boom in construction will boost pickup sales.
Carlos Osorio AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 6:34 pm

Economists look at many tea leaves as they try to determine the health of the economy. One of the most important surrounds vehicle sales, and more specifically pickup truck sales, which are tied to the construction industry. And as last month's sales rose 18 percent, the auto industry is betting big on a real estate rebound.

It's arguable that the Ford F-150 is the most important vehicle to come out of Detroit since the Model-T. It's also built where many parts for the old Model-T were made in Dearborn, Mich.

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Planet Money
1:18 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Why Buying A Car Never Changes

Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 5:42 pm

"Buying a car sucks," Scott Painter says. "It's something that most consumers fear."

Back in the '90s, Painter started a company to try to change this. "The name of the company was Cars Direct," he says. "The mission was to sell cars directly."

Painter wanted his company to build virtual dealerships that would let people go online and buy cars. But after talking with a few car execs, he realized nobody would even consider his idea.

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Business
2:33 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Beyond Portlandia: Subaru Drives For America's Heartland

Subaru, known for its success in Denver, the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast, aims to expand its market to Texas and Tennessee.
Bill Pugliano Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 9:11 am

The car market in the U.S. is at its most competitive. Not only are big companies like General Motors and Toyota slugging it out, but in order to survive, small-niche players like Subaru also are trying to push into the mainstream.

The Japanese carmaker is popular in Denver, the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast. Now Subaru has its sights on Texas and Tennessee.

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Around the Nation
5:02 am
Sun January 20, 2013

'That's Our Guy': Chicagoans Welcome Obama Back To D.C.

Chicagoan Janice Trice was an Obama volunteer in 2008 and 2012. Her husband died on Election Day in 2008, before he could celebrate Barack Obama's victory, or even find out that he won. She says this pilgrimage is a way for her to honor his memory.
Sam Sanders NPR

Originally published on Sun January 20, 2013 8:23 am

For President Obama's first inauguration, Rep. Danny Davis of Illinois organized a group of more than 700 people — on 10 buses — to make the journey from Chicago to Washington, D.C.

Last time, one of those buses broke down. This time, however, the group decided to take an 18-hour Amtrak ride to see the second presidential inauguration of their hometown hero.

Davis staffer Tumia Romero, who organized the trip, says she did not want to deal with the nightmare of a bus having issues again.

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All Tech Considered
4:38 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Bump On The Road For Driverless Cars Isn't Technology, It's You

Car companies are picking up automobile concepts such as this Lexus SL 600 Integrated Safety driverless research vehicle, shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January in Las Vegas.
Julie Jacobson AP

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 12:07 am

When you watch science fiction movies, you notice there are two things that seem like we will get in the future — a silver jumpsuit and driverless cars.

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