stories & interviews


Milwaukee Magazine

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The New Math: Optional Homework? Do-over Exams? A Novel Way of Grading is Gaining in Popularity

On the Air: Wisconsin native and This American Life producer Ben Calhoun brings Badger State stories to a national audience

Outside Looking In: Can far-flung journalists really understand Wisconsin’s unique political landscape?

Town Criers: As community news outlets disappear, a new breed of hyperlocal websites springs up

Hail to the Chief: Is the Milwaukee Police Department’s whiz-bang website more than a PR venue?

School’s Out: Hobbled by budget cuts, the press is largely absent in its coverage of education

Field Work: WUWM reporter Susan Bence took the long way to her dream job

Double Byline: A cozy partnership between Marquette and the Journal Sentinel

TV News is a Phony Wasteland to the Digital Generation: Why young people tune it out


Columbia Journalism Review

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Accidental Journalists: What happens when a bunch of outsiders buy an island newspaper?





WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio

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As host of Milwaukee Public Radio’s Lake Effect program, I interviewed hundreds of newsmakers.



Interlochen Public Radio: Artists Hiking 98 Miles of Shoreline 

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There’s no trail around the perimeter of the Leelanau Peninsula. That means there are hidden places along the lakeshore rarely seen from land. It also means hiking those 98 miles is a big project. But some local artists are walking it, mile by mile, over the course of a year. As they do, they’re stopping to sketch and photograph the changing scene. I produced this story for Interlochen Public Radio during a Transom audio workshop in Michigan.




Milwaukee Magazine: Choosing Death Over Alzheimer’s

On a warm July evening, Mary Gute Witte discovered the bodies of her mother and father. The parents she adored were sitting in the car in the garage of their River Hills home. They had covered their heads with plastic bags and asphyxiated themselves by pumping helium into the bags. Daniel Gute was 79 years old and in good health. Katherine “Kitty” Gute was 78 and suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. For years the affluent – and conservative – couple had studied this method of death. They told their daughters that they refused to die in a nursing home. Mary Gute Witte talks about her parents’ bold decision in an interview produced for Milwaukee Magazine.



WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio: Wig Master Eases Painful Transitions

Stylist Kevin McElroy designs elaborate wigs for the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and helps restore the confidence of breast cancer survivors who’ve lost their hair to chemotherapy. In a story produced for Milwaukee Public Radio, I learned that the wig master’s work is reaching a new set of clients.


WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio: Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap(box)

The crazy and lovable Ralph Bronner died in early 2015. He was the son of the founder of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. The iconic “hippie soap” and the Bronner family backstory are the subject of a documentary called Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox. After the film was released, I talked with Bronner about his messed up family and his (sort of disappointing) big-screen debut.



WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio: Living with ALS

Brookfield, Wisconsin attorney Jeff Kaufman lived with Lou Gehrig’s Disease for more than two decades. He died in 2010. Even after Kaufman was unable to move, he and his wife, Jan, raised more than two million dollars for ALS research. I spoke with Kaufman in 2007 when he and a renowned embryonic stem cell researcher were working to slow the progression of ALS. The segment won a regional Edward R. Morrow award for writing.

This episode of WUWM’s Lake Effect program also features an NPR music producer and Wisconsin native who drove cross country to the tune of sappy holiday music.



WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio: Gambling and God: Sunday Morning, Green Bay

A suburban street in Green Bay is a study in contrasts, especially on Sunday mornings. The Oneida Bingo Casino lights up one end, packing in gamblers who trade sleep for slots. About a mile away, a vibrant Catholic church also draws a crowd, but as the parish priest says, they’re betting on different things. I produced the story for a Milwaukee Public Radio series on gambling in Wisconsin. The piece won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for use of sound.



WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio: Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra

Milwaukee’s century-old mandolin orchestra captured the attention of Garrison Keillor; the musicians have performed twice on the Prairie Home Companion stage. I joined them for a rehearsal at the Friends Meeting House on the bank of the Milwaukee River to find out how they keep their music relevant. The piece won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for use of sound.



WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio: Remembering George McGovern

Sen. George McGovern had close ties to Milwaukee, where his daughter, Susan, and her family live. I talked with McGovern for Milwaukee Public Radio in 2008, when he was watching the presidential race with keen interest. I asked about his greatest regret; after more than 35 years, losing the 1972 presidential election still hurt.



WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio: Milwaukee’s Education Experiment

Former Milwaukee Public School Superintendent Howard Fuller believes in school choice, but not as a panacea.



WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio: A Controversial Sheriff 

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is a polarizing figure. Supporters say he’s tough on crime and not intimidated by union leaders. Detractors call him a conservative puppet.