Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Lambeau At Last!

I finally made the pilgrimage to Lambeau Field last Sunday. It was an early Christmas present from my brother John and what a gift. We rode south from the U.P and I couldn't believe the traffic that kept us company there and back.

But I have to back up a little to tell you about being a Packers fan. My dad grew up in Chicago where George Halas was King. He moved to the U.P shortly before Lombardi and the word dynasty became synonymous. By the time I became a Green Bay fan Lombardi was being followed by a succession of inadequate heirs to the throne.

I stuck with it and actually was rewarded along with other Green and Gold fan when the Packers won the Superbowl following the 1996 season. This team I saw Sunday only had two Packers remaining from that great team Brett Favre and William Henderson. Their playoff chances slim at best, but they were playing the Lions..a hated rival if you grew up in the U.P.

John told me I wouldn't believe how small the field looked when we first went in and then again how much bigger it would look when all the fans arrived. He was right on both accounts. We were mostly surrounded by Packer fans, with the exception of a few stray Detroit fans. One of them carried a "Fire Millen" sign. Another good one was held up by a balding fan that said, "The Last Time the Lions won in Wisconsin, I had hair."

One guy sitting behind us boldly stated "I'm drunk and loud and don't care who knows it." All righty then. However most fans were great, chanting "Go, Pack, Go," doing the wave and getting to their feet whenever Green Bay threatened to score, which wasn't much of the time.

Moments I'll treasure from my Lambeau trek. The sun coming around on us about game time as if my dad was smiling down knowing two of his five kids had made the trip he never could. Green Bay scoring the winning touchdown in the corner of the endzone we were sitting in and then sacking the Lions QB to put the game away. A little flicker of snow coming down as we were leaving the stands. Seeing Brett Favre break Dan Marino's record for most lifetime completions. Mostly being able to share the experience with my brother John.

Finally, Lambeau at Last!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Shopping

I'm not one of those who really likes shopping in crowds, but at Christmas time trying to shop during a lag time is impossible. Stores of course love that.

You have to have a little patience and exercise some restraint. I'm not that much of an impulse shopper, but at Christmas time I let my guard down a bit. Things I wouldn't dream of buying any other time of year are all of a sudden okay to put in my shopping cart.

We play "Secret Santa" in our family because the family has become so extended that it became a full time job, not to say expensive, to hit everyone on the list. That doesn't mean I'm still not doing a bit of shopping. I hit my "Secret Santa" person, my Mom, a sister with an early January birthday, a newphew with an early December birthday and buy a few group gifts. The last is usually wine and something to munch on.

I now compare notes when it comes to giving gifts with my brothers and sisters. One year I was going to buy an expensive mixer for my mother, which I did. Then I found out my brothers and sisters had already done that. Fortunately I was able to return the mixer and used the money for other gifts.

This year I bought my brother John a gift online. I've done that in the past, but usually prefer going to stores and keeping the money I spend in the community I make it in. That took care of one gift, but I've since bought a number more in the stores. I'd like to say my shopping is done, but never say never until Christmas Day has actually arrived.

I'll never forget my first Wisconsin Christmas. I'd taken a job with a radio station in Minocqua and had moved from my homestate of Michigan. I was literally down to my last few dollars with moving expenses. It would be the first Christmas I'd spent away from family. I'll never forget it because the entire family showed up on my doorstep that Christmas morning. What a huge gift to put their Christmas on hold and spend it with me. I made an excuse to get out of the house and went to a convenience store where I spent my last $10 on five gifts. There was no impulse buying, no real way to know what people wanted, but all that was given came from the heart.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Caged Bird

Maya Angelou's book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" will remain part of the English curriculum at the Fond du Lac High School. It was interesting to see how many people weighed in with some kind of opinion on the book and whether it should be removed from the curriculum after a student's parents asked for its removal.

I've never read the book, but can sympathize with students who are assigned a book to read with little say about it. Having said that I'm now glad that I had no choice in the matter when I was in high school myself. "Lord of the Flies," "A Tale Of Two Cities," "A Seperate Peace," "Black Like Me," and "The Jungle" were just a couple of assigned books I can remember reading.

Each of them had an impact in their time and something to say. It's a rarity that a book raises so much controversy in the school district, but maybe that's a good thing. Then again people with opinions on whether the book should be removed from the curriculum e-mailed and called the district offices from all over the country and world. I know district officials frowned on using the word "censorship," but that's how a lot of people saw the issue. It's good to see an open mind was kept about the issue and it's been resolved. I do have a problem with one or two people trying to impose their values on a majority. However everyone in this country has a right to voice their opinion.

About eighty people turned out to speak during a meeting of the district's Reconsideration of Materials Committee. That may not seem like a lot, but it's twice as many as showed for any of the information sessions scheduled by the district during last spring's referendum and the meeting wasn't publicized, at least not to the extent those sessions were.

As the old saying goes there's no such thing as bad publicity. In talking with someone at work I mentioned I'd never read the book. He admitted to that too, but both of us are now considering adding it to our own personal reading lists to see what all the to do was about. I can only imagine a few middle schoolers that can hardly wait themselves. After all they've now heard about the book too!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bo Knows Football

My fondness for college football more than likely grew out of the success of the Michigan Wolverines when I was a kid. That was due largely to the coaching of Bo Schembechler. It didn't seem right if the Wolverines weren't in the hunt for the Big Ten Conference title and the Rose Bowl each fall.

I loved the rivalry between Bo and Woody Hayes, the longtime coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. It did my heart good when the Wolverines could spoil the Buckeyes season. Unfortunately the Buckeyes did that to the Wolverines this past Saturday, but what a game and what drama.

I'm not sure Schembechler was a man I could say I idolized, but I did respect what he did on the field and how he represented the game. Sure he stormed up and down the field yelling at referees and players, but that's a desire to win. If you grew up in Michigan you might root for some of the smaller college teams, but when it came to picking someone to cheer for at the Division One level it was either Michigan or Michigan State. Although I did pull for the Spartans on occasion, it was always Michigan I hoped would win the game between them.

Once Schembechler retired from coaching I had to find another coach to throw my support behind. It took a few years, but there was this former assistant coach from Notre Dame who had gotten a new gig coaching for the Wisconsin Badgers. Barry Alvarez did a fantastic job for the Badgers. Like Bo he took the Badgers to conference wins and Rose Bowl victories. Like Bo there were no National Championships. Like Bo his success can be measured by wins on the field, the respect he earned from his staff, players and fans. That makes them both winners in my book.

It may take me a few more years to find another coach to admire in the big game, but every year I look forward to the start of college football. Meanwhile I think there's this other coach at Wisconsin who did a great job in his freshman season. Hmmm?

Monday, November 06, 2006


That's the main drag in my hometown of Manistique, Michigan. It hasn't changed much over the years, but the town continues to. I just got back from vacationing there where I visited with family members.

Being a reporter I have to write about my observations, which were many and some were just strange. Driving through Peshtigo I spotted a mannequin fully dressed standing with its back to the street. The hands were placed zipper level and mocked a position sometimes taken by the after hours bar crowd who can't wait until they get home.

There's a new Arby's restaurant in Manistique. That's a big deal in a town of 3,500 and could become gossip central for the breakfast goers. Gasoline was $2.23 a gallon when I traveled through Escanaba and $2.29 when I got back to Fondy.

My sister Diana shared a story with me that I just had to tell, although it's going to gross some out. She works as a secretary at a Catholic school. One day the lady who oversees their pre-school program came in and told her she caught a four-year old boy in the restroom drinking out of a urinal. The next day the janitor came in and said he caught a four-year old boy licking a urinal. I told her that it sounds like a bad Up'er joke. She said more likely mom and dad should have explained the difference between a urinal and a drinking fountain to their youngster.

Having Halloween off I helped pass out candy and popcorn balls to trick or treaters. In Manistique they held trick or treating on Halloween. I kept up the tradition of buying too much candy. I never can seem to get that right. My nephews Max and Derek went as a hippie and ghoul respectively. At least that's what I think they were shooting for. Since they are family they got a popcorn ball and one piece each of the three different kinds of candy we were passing out. Derek asked if he could have three of each.

Going on vacation gives me a chance to listen to other radio stations and watch other television channels. It gives me comfort that Michigan's candidates for office also use dirty tactics in their advertising. Thank goodness the Badger state isn't alone in that. Manistique cable television subscribers get two Green Bay TV stations (channels 5 and 11). The Marquette, Michigan station Channel 6 has a lot to cover, but often not much that really grabs you. One of their reports was on a picket in front of a Manistique casino by workers who claimed they were laid off because they aren't Native American. That was in the 7 p.m. newscast. During the 6 p.m. newscast they ran an ad for that casino.

One radio station from the northern part of the Lower Peninsula ran a promo for their morning show. A key radio personality for that show goes by the name "Omelet." I hope no one at KFIZ gets the swift idea to rename me for "The Breakfast Club." Now here's "Flapjack" with the news.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Scary Movies

I was talking the other day with Bob Hoffmaster the host of KFIZ's "The Morning Show with Bob Hoffmaster" about our favorite scary movies. I told him I always enjoyed John Carpenter's "The Fog." It wasn't so much the scares as the story I liked. The remake wasn't too bad, but the director of the film had his own vision and I don't share it.

Anyway I told Bob when I was a kid a couple movies I saw on television that scarred me were "The Screaming Skull" and another about the hand of a dead man that was driving another man insane. The later was done a long time ago, but it was effective for scaring a little kid.

Most of the movies I saw were served up by cheezy late Saturday night horror film hosts. When I lived outside of Memphis, Tennessee it was this guy who was part Frankenstein and part Dracula. As a teen I was living in the U.P. and we could watch "The Ghoul" (pictured) on Channel 50 out of Detroit. He was perfect for his time and actually was out of a station in Cleveland owned by the same broadcasting company as Channel 50.

By the time I was in college we were watching some guy out of Traverse City, Michigan who dressed up as a bald vampire and hung out in a casket in between movie segments. In truth he hosted a movie show for them during the week, but in regular garb. You may have seen him. Once in a while you can spot him in a bloopers clip where the casket he's in collapses beneath him destroying his whole set.

In this area I've caught "Ned the Dead" from time to time, but have kind of grown out of the need to tune in to see if the host is going to be more interesting than the movie they are showing.

Today's scary movies have better effects, but sometimes leave the imagination out of it. Once in a while there's something different like "The Grudge" or "The Ring," but there's too much slash and dash in most. Still it's good training ground for up and coming actors. Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Aniston all had roles in horror films when they began.

If you're not sure how good a horror film is, here's a test. Look for the moment in a scary movie when there's a fake scare. Almost every horror film has one. If it isn't handled well or is done better than the first real scare in the film then you've been tricked. Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Soft Serve

We've been watching with interest as remodeling progresses at the A & W across the street from our KFIZ studios. It got me to wondering if the most pretty and popular girls still work at drive-in restaurants.

As Ricky Ricardo would say, "I've got some splaining to do!" You have to understand that growing up in a small town of 3,500 people we only had three drive-in or drive-up restaurants. One was Clyde's, which served half-pound hamburgers well before somebody else got the idea. Then there was the local A & W that no longer is open. However it seemed that all the popular girls I went to high school with worked at the "Dairy Cream." Yeah the name's right think McDougal's in the Eddie Murphy movie "Coming to America."

Anyway I got to know some of the girls that worked at the "Dairy Cream" over the years. They got paid next to nothing for the privlege hoping to get tips from classmates and the middle-aged adolescents who hadn't gotten over themselves yet.

When I was a kid it was a treat for the family to go to the "Dairy Cream." When I was teenager it became another teen angst moment where you pondered whether you were going for the ice cream or to catch a glimpse of a girl you might have a crush on. To be honest I don't remember going to the "Dairy Cream" as a high schooler, but was dragged along for good old time sake once when I was going to college.

The "Dairy Cream" is still there, but other restaurants have popped up because of a bypass that was put in and you can get your soft serve ice cream or frozen yogurt at a number of restaurants now. That's kind of sad in a way. Gille's and the A & W have long histories in Fond du Lac serving generations of the same families. But I'm not sure the "Dairy Cream" in little old Manistique, Michigan will stand the test of time and competition.

As for the girls that worked at the "Dairy Cream," I think working there was the price of popularity for some of them or a way to nurture it for others. I remember a few of them. Some of them ended up doing very well in life. They found out early that some times with life you have to serve others before you can serve yourself.

Going to a drive-in restaurant is still a kick, but a little further removed from my high school years I can now appreciate what my fellow classmates went through working at one.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I've been working in radio long enough to have seen some interesting changes. There's always going to be changes in personnel. Our host of Backstage Live on News-Talk 1450 KFIZ Joe Scheibinger recently announced his semi-retirement. He's had a tough time with his voice and had to go through surgery, which he passed through with flying colors this week.

That of course opens the door for changes. To paraphrase something I read my first year in radio. No one is indispensible. If you take a teaspoon of water out of Lake Winnebago no one will notice a significant change in the water level. That's not to say that Joe isn't unique and he'll be back from time-to-time.

Aside from the change in personnel a radio station is constantly undergoing changes in technology. Most of ours over the past few years have been associated with computers. More than six months ago our News and Sports went digital. What does that mean? Well, it means that we now record interviews, games, etc. on digital recorders and upload it into a computer. There it's edited and put into programs that allow us to play it back on a computer and out over the air. Maybe that doesn't sound like much of an accomplishment, but now we can review hours worth of recordings in minutes for the best possible quotes and moments.

You can now hear some of that sound on our homepage at ( I'm still not that comfortable with the term podcast, but it's a way you can hear the newsmakers and sports stars put things in their own terms. I kind of like it because through our KFIZ Today newsletter I occasionally hear from someone who grew up in Fond du Lac, but now lives in Texas or England, even Australia and is still keeping tabs on what's going on at home. For them it's an added attraction and you as well. Plus you never know when that next million dollar soundbite ("Today is a day that will live in infamy," "We've just received word from Dallas..") might be something we can share with you.

Vinyl records,cart machines, reel-to-reels, cassettes, digital audio tapes, minidiscs, compact MP3s. There's certainly been some changes in the way radio has brought you sound over the years. Now the blessed computer has become one of the ways we can do that. I'm not sure what is next, but can hardly wait to see.

How much has radio changed over the years? Consider the picture included in this blog. It's the first mass produced radio from the Marconi Company. Yes that Marconi and this particular model was made in 1922...the year KFIZ first started broadcasting. My Mr. Marconi haven't we come far!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Move that bus!

When you watch Christine Koepke and her four children see their new home in Dundee for the first time on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" next month, it's going to be much different than what onlookers experienced.

There were thousands who filled the small community to see the family's reaction and chant "move that bus." I talked with a few. People camped overnight, including students from Winnebago Lutheran Academy where two of the Koepke children go to school. Some napped while they waited for the reveal. Other area residents I spoke with, including several women from Fond du Lac, had gotten there about 5 a.m. The reveal wouldn't be until just before 3 p.m. as we found out the hard way.

Being in the area designated for the press was interesting. It was a mix of reporters from radio, television and various print media. One young woman asked me if she could get into the area, which was closer than her vantage point. I told her it was for the media. She wondered if she snuck in if she would be able to get away with it. I answered security was pretty tight. Later I spotted her filling out a media credential form. She had written down she was representing the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She should have put down a smaller newspaper, they asked to see a business card that she couldn't produce.

Most people were patient and there to express their support for the Koepkes. A few were obnoxious like one drunk on a rooftop that was yelling something unintelligible that only he apparently understood. Two men in the press corp started their own chant just for him, "roll off the roof, roll off the roof." Fortunately he didn't, but did quiet down after that.

There was a lot of waiting. Occasionally one of the show's stars would go by on a gator and toss bags of potato chips or beef sticks. A few women were heart broken when I told them that as I was coming in Michael Moloney (pictured) handed out a few roses to some women in the crowd.

There was also plenty of practice. They'd roll the empty limousine by and one of the directors on a bullhorn would tell the gathering to cheer. Don't look at the camera, "eyes on the limo." They'd also run the show's bus up and down in front of the home and the crowd knew enough to chant "move that bus." That happened about 4 or 5 times. Stars of the show would be spotted and that would send up another roar.

I was not only there to get a story, but call in reports. That didn't happen. Apparently there's a dead spot in the area for cell service and only a few providers could cut through it. There was plenty of time to talk with people about why they were there and how long they'd been waiting. No one wanted to miss anything and left emotionally and likely physically exhausted. Myself I found out I could overcome physical inconveniences (standing for hours, the need for a restroom break) for a story.

Finally the Koepkes arrived. What you could see was an intense emotional reaction. The house represented Matt Koepke's dream for them. Unfortunately he died of cancer. No doubt it will be tough for them too when the episode airs on Sunday, November 19th..about 2 months after Matt's death from cancer.

Now that I've seen how they put together the key element of the show I want to see it too. To be honest when the limo with the Koepkes rolled up some thought it was another test run. There was no appearance by Brett Favre, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw or Kenny Chesney. What you did see was thousands of area residents who volunteered their time, services and cared enough to make Matt Koepke's dream come true. That my friends is the reality in this episode of the ABC-TV reality show!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Extreme Makeover

I've never been on a Hollywood set so the Koepke home build for "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" will have to suffice.

Information materials for the show consider the site in Dundee a Hollywood set. It has in many ways turned the small southeastern Fond du Lac County community into exactly that with security, spectator and media areas.

It's amazing to see how many people are working on the home and how fast it goes up. Many of the local residents involved will carry away a lifetime memory.

Our good old Wisconsin weather saw fit to throw rain, lightening, high winds and a cold snap at volunteers and construction workers. Obviously that makes for less than ideal conditions. At times those working had to wonder if they were building a home for a deserving family or if it was time to go out and collect pairs of animals.

Some of those working the site were hoping to carry away souvenirs. One person I talked to wanted a construction hat. I hoped to leave with the all access pass given to members of the media, but alas that was collected to be used by another member of the press.

Before making my visit to the site Tuesday morning I stopped by the Culinary Arts Center at Moraine Park Technical College in Fond du Lac. Students at the Center were working on a meal for the volunteers that would be served the following evening. In particular pumpkin-spiced cream puffs and croissants were coming out of the ovens. I was given a croissant filled with ham and cheese before I left. It was heavenly. Of course that's one small sample of donations for the build, there are many.

The main goal was building a home for Christine Koepke and her four children: Derek,22; Jayna,20; Mitchell, 17; and Johanna, 15. Her husband Matt died at the age of 41 of cancer on August 21st. He thought he had plenty of time to fix up their home while he working on projects like restoring the Dundee Mill into a museum, and helping build the Sportsman's Lodge and local baseball diamond.

As I write this it's getting closer and closer to "The Reveal." That's when Ty Pennington and the design team turn over the keys to the new home to Christine. If you're going Friday at 2 p.m. expect it to be a crowded affair. Of course you can catch it around Thanksgiving on Sunday, November 19th or 26th on ABC-TV.

Unsubstantiated Rumor:

One we heard, but haven't been able to confirm is that Faith Hill and Tim McGraw will be there for the key ceremony. Maybe that's just wishful thinking, but the show is known for its surprises. Whatever happens "The Reveal" will be special and will be long talked about after the fact and the show has moved on to help out the next family.

If you'd like to know a little bit more about the build here's the site Monarch Homes has established giving a few details and a clock counting down to the end of the project:

Thursday, September 28, 2006

100 Miracles

Wade Bates, one of our KFIZ on-air personalities, asked me while we were standing in front of Ma & Pa's on South Main Street in Fond du Lac if I'd ever covered anything like it? He was referring to the group of "100 Miracles" or 100 Sargento Foods employees celebrating their $208.6 million Powerball jackpot win. Course not. I've never been part of reporting any such event. But pardon the pun, I feel lucky I was able to do that.

There were some good stories to come out of it. Like winner Mary Entringer who said she and her husband have children who could have used some of the winnings to make their own lives easier. However Mary said her kids told them no, use the money to buy the Lake home up north that you've always wanted.

The money may not be a blessing for everyone. One person told me about a couple she knows who have a son that's one of the winners. He has had past problems with drugs and alcohol and they aren't sure what kinds of temptations that money may put in front of him.

Sargento Foods helped out those lucky employees by providing a financial consultant to aid them in making decisions about their winnings. The employees returned the favor when most of them decided to keep their second shift jobs at the cheese factory in Plymouth.

Fond du Lac City officials were overjoyed for the national exposure. Phil Moses of Ma & Pa's rightly said that exposure was their own version of a lottery win because people will continue to buy lottery tickets from them well into the future hoping the "Miracle Mile" will give them a big win.

The event was staged under several big awnings that slightly resembled a circus tent, which had me wondering if what I was covering could be termed a "media circus?" There were reporters from across the country attending the happening.

I never knew the lottery had so many people working for them. They kept the winners focused and until they were ready the media at bay. The United Way sold brats, Sargento had samples of their cheese, the lottery had their own booth. It, like the win, was a one of a kind event.

A day after the event someone said to me it would be interesting to visit with the winners in five years and see what came of them. Instant wealth can change anyone's life. Those "100 Miracles" have a chance to change their lives in positive ways. Hopefully Dame Fortune will continue to have something good in mind for them.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Complaint Department

Nobody likes to hear complaints, but I got two in two days. You have to understand that it's rare for me to receive two complaints over even a few months time.

Occasionally I'm going to do a news story that rubs someone the wrong way. That goes with the job. It's incentive for me to do better and remain sensitive about the news that we do.

The first was from a Lomira man who receives our KFIZ Today newsletter. He didn't like the blurb that was included in the news about Charter Communications changes for the former WB and UPN local affiliates. I thought since thousands in the area are cable subscribers that they might appreciate hearing what Green Bay and Milwaukee stations would be carrying the new CW network. He wasn't happy because he's a satellite dish subscriber and has some beefs with Charter. Just information, that's what news is all about. He left his name and where he was from, but not a phone number in the voice mail complaint.

The second was from the relative of a North Fond du Lac police officer who had resigned. She didn't like the story and felt it smeared a good person. It was in fact mainly information from a complaint the Village police chief had brought against the officer that prompted a settlement in which the officer settled for a six-day suspension without pay, but would never serve due to his resignation. She claims he took a better job and that might be the case, but when I offered to tell her and his side of the story she bulked and wouldn't go on record. She also wouldn't tell me who she was.

One thing she did say that irked me was that I get all of my news out of The Reporter anyway. Granted I cover some of the same meetings, news, court hearings and see their reporters there too. However if all I had to do for news was read stories out of the paper I'd be putting in much less time each week developing my own story ideas and covering events. She failed to note that the very story she called to complain about wasn't featured in the paper that day.

I do incorporate suggestions made from those who complain. You'll never hear details about sexual assaults get too graphic in a story I do because of one complaint I received earlier in my career. One librarian called me about the way I used to pronounce "library." I think about it every time I say the word. You won't hear me motor through reading the news because of another complaint I received about a reporter I worked with who used to speed through her stories.

I'll tell you a story about one of the first complaints I received while working for a radio station in Manistique, hometown. Every day I would get a call from a person who it would seem wasn't a listener. He would always ask for the current weather conditions and time. It never failed that he seemed to call right after I gave the weather and time on the radio. Finally one day I asked him why he always called for the weather and time. He explained to me that he liked to walk and had a special path mapped out along a road. He was blind!

If you are going to call and complain at least let me know who you are. I always start out at a disadvantage. When I get a call at KFIZ I always answer the same way. "This is Bob Nelson, how can I help you?"

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Hard Concession

It was a long wait for what was supposed to be a victory party on Fond du Lac's North Main Street. Incumbent Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager waited out the results up the street at the Ramada Plaza Hotel as a contingent of reporters from across the state gathered at Theo's where she would make an announcement.

As Tuesday night stretched into Wednesday morning Lautenschlager's opponent in the Democratic Party Kathleen Falk was slowly building an insurmountable lead. In the end Falk got 53 percent of the vote across the state. When I first arrived for some reason I figured I'd be there to hear Lautenschlager give a victory speech, but as time wore on it became obvious that the gathering was going to be hearing. a concession speech.

While awaiting the announcement there was plenty of time to kill. I had a couple of diet sodas, sat at the bar and scratched down some notes on other election results, but I also had time to talk with other media representatives and do a little eavesdropping.

One radio reporter from Madison gave me her view on Falk, it wasn't very flattering. Other reporters were relieved to see Paul Bucher lose in the Republican primary to J.B. Van Hollen. Watching TV reporters do stand up reports saying they were still waiting for an announcement was interesting. One reporter made sure her lips were just right and checked herself out in a compact mirror. That's the nice thing about radio. Everybody is beautiful in the mind's eye.

One conversation between two men was hard not to hear. They were standing a few feet away from me. One of the men must have been a lawyer. He made a crack about how people who serve on juries are too stupid to get out of jury duty. I have friends who are lawyers and I respect what they do, but having had to sit in on a number of court proceedings over the years I'm sometimes amazed how some people pass the bar.

Speaking of bars, the staff at Theo's did a wonderful job with the press. It's hard to bus tables when you're dodging cameras, lights, microphone cords and the other equipment that comes with a full-blown media event.

Finally Lautenschlager arrived flanked by family and friends. She and some supporters shed a few tears as her campaign came to a conclusion. Afterwards she answered a few questions and not surprisingly the first one was whether her drunk driving arrest in Dodge County more than two years ago was her undoing. She handled it graciously enough, but noted there'd been other state officials arrested for similar circumstances who survived reelection campaigns.

There is a little truth to that. Governor Jim Doyle distanced himself from Lautenschlager shortly after her drunk driving conviction and has been an active Kathleen Falk supporter. Everything is fair game in politics and the drunk driving thing was an easy target for the others running for Attorney General. One person commented to me before I left, "Isn't it interesting how the two remaining candidates in the race have the least prosecutorial experience?"

It's going to be fun watching what skeletons J.B. Van Hollen and Kathleen Falk can find in each other's closets. Let the bloodletting begin!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Never Forget

A few months ago while talking about the film "Flight 93" in this blog I said I wasn't sure I was ready for a film about 9/11. Truth is, like everyone else, I'm still trying to adjust to the reality of what happened.

Over a couple days time I watched a few programs about the fifth anniversary and the aftermath of 9/11. Watching the chaos that was wrought still brings a sour feeling to my stomach.

Like Pearl Harbor, J.F.K's assasination and the Challenger explosion, 9/11 has now become an instant reminder of what people were doing when they heard the news that day. There are those of us who will "Never Forget," but then there's already a generation of four-year-old kindergartners who weren't even born when the terrorist attacks occurred. For them the day is something they will learn about in history books or carefully told stories from their parents.

I was actually working for a radio station in Beaver Dam when the attacks happened. I worked an afternoon shift and had just returned from a morning walk when I heard our stations broadcasting ABC News uninterrupted. At first like others I believed the plane they were talking about that hit the first tower must have been a small plane, until I watched the second plane hit.

It was actually three days later that the enormity of the event hit me. I was busy working on local angles to the story. One person I talked to was a frantic mother whose 20-year-old son had just moved to New York and was working in a building near the World Trade Center. She couldn't reach him and was understandably concerned. I eventually reached him and found out that like many others after seeing what happened he just had to do what he could. He gave blood and delivered water bottles to those he could help. It didn't occur to him to call Mom because he had survived.

I really never tire of heroes stories from 9/11. A good piece on 60 minutes talked about Tuesday's children, the kids that lost parents in the attacks. Most are still young or just hitting high school age. The grief is still strong, but they are overcoming their fears. One teenage girl lost a parent on one of the planes. She couldn't deal with airplanes at first, now she's taking flying lessons. America is all about resilence.

In the photo for this blog are flags at memorial field in Inwood Hill park in New York that were put up for the anniversary. Each included the name of one of the victims. For me it's easy enough to put 9/11 in perspective. More than 3,000 people lost their lives in the terrorist attacks. That's roughly the size of my hometown. As long as nature allows me to have memories I will "Never Forget."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sinners and Saints

Someone said to me the other day that they liked the current television ad gubernatorial candidate Mark Green is running playing on a comment made by Governor Jim Doyle that Green was an "extreme" candidate.

I know that person and am sure they won't be basing their vote this November on the ad alone, but how many people take what's said in campaign ads seriously? Hopefully voters do a little research instead of vote on what's being said in television and radio ads. There's some truth to what's being said, but often there's much more to it.

Any congressional candidate who tells you they'll be able to do something about gas prices better take a look at what grandpa was paying and how much impact their predecessors have had over the last 35-40 years.

Watch out too for the candidates who tell you they did this and accomplished that. If their claim to fame is state or county office they had to work with a bunch of others. Being one of 99 assemblymen or woman or a county executive that works with a number of department heads should tell you that somebody isn't getting their fair share of credit.

I'm glad I don't have to vote in the 8th Congressional District race. Two Republicans and three Democrats are vying for Mark Green's northeastern Wisconsin seat in next week's primary election. Because Nancy Nusbaum, Jamie Wall, Steve Kagen and John Gard are running so many TV ads I've taken to comparing them to some people they look like. I haven't seen any ads for Terri McCormick.

Based on the look alike factor I'd vote for Nancy because she reminds me of Angela Landsbury's TV sleuth Jessica Fletcher. Jessica could solve any mystery and usually in less than 60 minutes. Gard reminds me of that Subway sandwich eating spokesman who lost all the weight. Wall, Howdy Doody. Kagen, I'm still working on. Of course voting for people based on who they look like is ridiculous, but people do have some strange reasoning for the choices they make at the polls.

When I was growing up in the U.P. a state legislator was an automatic for reelection. It didn't matter who ran against him. He was trusted and well liked, but he became a little disenchanted with the job. One night after a few drinks at the State Capitol he propositioned a woman. It was an undercover cop. That did what no challenger could do, it unseated him. Does that story have an unhappy ending? Bill Clinton would be proud. This man was forgiven by people from the town he called home and ended up serving another long stint as City Manager. The only woman he ever kissed, other than his wife, while holding that job was Tammy Wynette who appeared at the County Fair one year. He told me that was the toughest thing he ever did while holding the job.

I liked the guy, would I have voted for him?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Server Down!

The two words high on my list that make me cringe, "Server Down!" Because of the nature of my job I can usually find others things to do on the computer if I don't have access to the Internet, but it sure is an inconvenience.

Tuesday we had three different power spikes over a course of about 6 hours. You know that brief millisecond of time that dims your lights and is the visual equivalent of electricity waving its fist at you.

Because of the way we use computers in our studios it was something you could hear over your radios briefly as the computers we use to play commercials and programs hiccuped along with the lights.

Now this wasn't just a short interruption, its effect lasted a few hours. In addition to writing and recording news I am responsible for helping edit and send out an online newsletter. Sadly that wasn't possible Tuesday morning. That same program is also used for our online news, sports, etc. So our "Server Down" became the computer version of "It's a Wonderful Life." It meant an inconveniece for the thousands of people that get the newsletter and view our website for up to date information. As Clarence the Angel in training would say "Isn't it strange how one life (server) can touch so many others?"

Okay so that's a little bit dramatic, but people have come to depend on the Internet. Many people I correspond with every day use e-mail as their main form of communicating. I didn't miss the spam, but did miss a few messages I should have gotten.

There was a small humorous moment amongst the angst "Server Down" caused. One computer in the building still had access to the Internet for a short period of time. One of our morning announcers said e-mail your news to me and I'll put it the newsletter and website. And how was I supposed to do that? It reminded me of working at a radio station in the U.P. when we lost power during a blizzard and a listener called to tell us that we should go on the air and tell our listeners that we were off.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Breakfast With Jerry

It was nice to see all the people who stopped at Schreiner's Restaurant in Fond du Lac to wish Breakfast Club host Jerry St. John well prior to his surgery for prostate cancer. We managed to raise about $1,100 for St. Agnes Hospital Foundation's Cancer Care Fund, once again thanks to the generosity of you our listeners.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all could have such a great send off just before we are to face one of life's big hurdles. I know Jerry was genuinely glad to see some familiar faces and meet people he'd never seen before.

It was also good to do the Breakfast Club on the road. Usually we have to make our own coffee and it has a tendancy to take on its own life after its been on the burner for awhile. Those who made donations and left with a KFIZ Breakfast Club coffee mug left with a true treasure and Jerry even autographed a few.

Afterwards some of the KFIZ crew sat down and enjoyed a delicious breakfast. We laughed and told jokes, had some time that we don't normally get to share on your typical radio station morning. Jerry ate his last meal prior to the fasting he would need to do for his surgery. It was one of life's small moments that usually goes unappreciated, but not this time.

A big thank you to those who stopped out to see us and make a contribution. It further demonstrates how caring people are that live in the Fond du Lac area. When we say we have the greatest listeners in the World, we really mean it.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Missing Kids

Even if DNA Evidence puts John Mark Karr at the scene of JonBenet Ramsey's murder there will always be one question that can never fully be answered. Why?

Now a lot of people are rethinking the suspicion the Ramseys went through in the death of their own child. The death of a 6-year-old child is hard enough even when you are able to recover the body of that child. The Walsh's know about that. Adam Walsh was the same age when he was kidnapped and killed. John Walsh host of America's Most Wanted will have to live with the fact that authorities probably did know who his killer was. However the man died in prison and never would admit to it.

Missing children haunt us from Internet sites, public kiosks, laundromat bulletin boards. Up until a couple years ago I'd walk by one law enforcement bulletin board several times a week and see Jacob Wetterling's poster staring back. Laurie Depies poster used to hang faded, but clinging for attention in a kiosk at the old bus pickup spot on North Main Street in Fond du Lac.

Ironically Depies and Jacob Wetterling would both be about 35-years-old now. Adam Walsh would be 31-years-old and JoBenet would be a 16-year-old high school student. For each we ask why? To the list we add Teresa Halbach. She was 25-years-old and wouldn't be considered a child. However as one of my favorite confidants would say as long as your parents are still living you're somebody's child. For a short time Teresa went missing and once she was found again the question of why.

If you'd like to find out more about Jacob Wetterling check out the Jacob Wetterling Foundatin site at For more on Laurie Depies go to Adam Walsh's story can be found on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at As for the rest we pray for a happy ending and wonder..why?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Life's Bridges

A story about terrorist plots and the Mackinac Bridge got my attention. Being a Michigan native I can say it's a unique structure and a source of pride for the state. Having said that I'll bet you can think of at least one bridge in your life that sticks out in your memory. I can think of several.

I always enjoy the Butte des Morts Bridge and especially early in the morning when the sun is on the rise and fishermen are just geting out on the water. For a couple years traveling across the bridge between Marinette-Menominee wasn't a sure thing. In fact you had to take an alternate route while Highway 41 was torn up.

There are simpler bridges like the ones in Fond du Lac's Lakeside Park, that are practical and scenic as well. One of the best examples of a scenic bridge I can think of is the Cut River Bridge. Not sure if I spelled that right, but it's on the way to St. Ignace, Michigan and the Mackinac Bridge. You'll find it on U.S. 2 and it's worth stopping at just for the view. Although if you suffer from vertigo it might not be the best to take in the view alone, it's literally hundreds of feet up from the river.

One of my favorite childhood bridges was one spanning between Arkansas and Tennessee. Between the ages of 6 and 12 my family lived in West Memphis, Arkansas. That's about 6 miles from Memphis where my Dad worked. There's a lengthy bridge over the mighty Mississippi River. As kids we'd try and hold our breaths in the car while we were crossing it. Never made it very far.

My favorite bridge isn't really much of a bridge at all. We called it the "Cope" that was short for an actual bridge in Copenhagen it was supposedly modeled after. The teenage right of passage was to swim at the "Cope" and dive off the bridge. The current could be swift, but the water was deep enough. Diving from the top rail was the true measuring stick. It also became a late night excursion as we got older. Watching the thunderstorms come across Indian Lake from the "Cope" was cool( but maybe not entirely safe). We'd also watch for UFOs. I never saw any, planes yes.

The "Cope" is also a generational connection for me. While going through a scrapbook one day I came across an old Kodak photo. It's my Dad, then about 18-years-old, leaning against a rail on the bridge with a friend. Now that I'm older I've realized that soon my nephews Max and Derek will be going through their own right of passage on the same bridge. They're only a couple blocks and a few years away. They never met their Grandpa Nelson, but at least the "Cope" will be something they shared in common.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

You Can't Go Home Again!

You really can't go home again. I found that out when I recently spent several days with my Mom in the U.P. She's on the move again. She just purchased a house and when I went to her current home I was greeted by packing boxes and a house in disarray.

She's giving up her "Dream House" on a Lake in exchange for a more modest 3-bedroom home in the city. I've told her she's going to miss the Lake, but she says it's too much work and after 5 years of money pitting she's had enough.

That got me to thinking about how many places I've called home over the years. Not counting living on campus in College, it comes to about 15 different apartments and homes. No place is perfect. You can find a flaw if you look hard enough. My Mom has already found some minor flaws with her new home and she's having them addressed before she moves in later this month.

Honestly the places you live in can be like ghosts, haunting your mind or your dreams. I still dream about the home I spent most of my teenage years growing up in. I sometimes go by there when I travel to the U.P. It almost makes me feel guilty, like abandoning an old friend.

Memories come to mind. That's the home we used to throw G.I Joe dolls out the window to see if their parachutes would really work. That's the home my sister Kathy learned that you can't carry a portable television down a stairs when you're only four years old. There's the home where we spent a Christmas huddled around the fireplace because the power was out for more than 8 hours while the temperature outside hovered in the teens.

Now I call a 2-bedroom apartment in Fond du Lac home. I guess home isn't really a house or an apartment, it's the memories you build and carry around with you the rest of your life. They survive whatever move you make. They're more precious and should be handled with care.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Operation Welcome Home!

It was a pleasure talking with Ellen Sorenson Fond du Lac County's Director of Administration during a recent "The Focus" program on KFIZ. She's a busy lady with her job with the County, but we were talking to the Mom in her. She has a son serving in Iraq with the local National Guard's Charlie Company unit.

Ellen and a couple of others are organizing "Operation Welcome Home." It's an official welcome home celebration for the more than 180 soldiers from the Fond du Lac, Ripon and Waupun areas that will be held at the County Fairgrounds Expo Center on Saturday, November 4th.

Ellen says they can't believe how much support there has been for the troops in the area and she's hoping that will continue on their special day in November. The troops will actually be home about a month or a little longer before that, but the Military requires a sort of cooldown period before a formal celebration can be held.

I was at the sendoff ceremony in June of 2005. The turnout was tremendous and the family support was multigenerational. It was a proud moment for those about to serve and the community. I was also at the funeral for Sergeant Andrew Wallace last fall in Ripon. Another huge turnout for the community to say goodbye to a member of the 127th Infantry, who along with Michael Wendling was killed by a roadside bomb.

We don't have all the specifics yet on "Operation Welcome Home," they are still being formulated. It will include a parade, then a ceremony at the Expo Center and a time for fellowship. Support Our Troops, we certainly will. We hope you will too.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Rolling Meadows Closing

I learned a long time ago that the news that I report is impacting lives. Once in a while a phone call helps remind me of that fact.

It was from a young man who wanted to know if we were going to be talking with some of the nurses from Rolling Meadows about losing their jobs. We had talked to a few since Fond du Lac County Executive Al Buechel made the original recommendation in May.

Sometimes you just have to listen, that's why this call came my way. Here's what I learned. His mother is working a couple of jobs to make ends meet, 16 hours a day some days. She'd been working at Rolling Meadows for 16 years and didn't have enough seniority to be among those who may have a shot at jobs on a wing at the Health Care Center (Harbor Haven).

He went on to say that his Mom had worked at other nursing home facilities and wouldn't want to work at another facility in Fond du Lac County again. She's 49-years old and will be looking out of the County for another job.

I share this with you in part because of a statement made by a County Supervisor who had heard from people or who had through his own interpretation believes the media and others thought the group trying to save Rolling Meadows was a loud and vocal minority. We never made such statements in our news. Given the chance to fight for a job that I love and one that affects my life, you better believe I'd be vocal too.

I did try and schedule a few nurses for our Focus program, but they declined because it was too soon after the Board's decision and they were still coping with what had been done.

During a meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee studying the issue some of the Rolling Meadows workers brought a group of balloons to represent the residents being served at the nursing home. They shouldn't be forgotten either. Hence the photo.

I've shared one story about how the closing of Rolling Meadows will impact an employee. There are more than 120 others.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

My Friend Jerry!

My friend Jerry St. John has prostate cancer. That's about as much as I can say with a smiley face. He chose to go public with it this week, even though we in the KFIZ Family have known about it for some time. You can read about it at:

I'm confident Jerry will win his battle, but sometimes cancer can sneak up on you. Folks at the Fond du Lac City-County Goverment Center were recently devastated by the death of Debbie Horning who was 51-years-old. She kept fit, loved NASCAR and could be seen walking daily in the city.

It's true that if you aren't directly affected by cancer you probably know someone who has had some form of it. It attacked my mother and one of my sister's. My mom had to alter her life somewhat. My sister was robbed of the ability to have children of her own. Even when you beat cancer it can leave scars.

I knew a woman in Beaver Dam who survived cancer. She was coming up on her five-year anniversary when she was diagnosed with another form of cancer. She was a regular in a Relay for Life event. I asked her if she was bitter about getting cancer a second time. She said she'd rather have to go through chemo and everything else then to have to watch one of her children get it. Sometimes even when you lose you can be a winner. Go get'em Jerry!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Study This

It's not often I have time for breakfast. Well one recent weekend I had the opportunity and not wanting to miss the chance to have the perfect breakfast I commissioned a study.

Given my limited resources I hired Ajax Consulting & Taxidermy. The owner explained he once did consulting on a full-time basis, but found the other more rewarding. Go figure.

Here's what Mike (not his real name) found out. He suggested organic non-sweeted orange juice because of its health benefits, but argued flavored coffees are a popular choice. Mike also weighed the pros and cons of milk, prune juice, soda, water, the old breakfast shake and a few others.

Next eggs or not, there are a number of varieties including none at all. From the picture you can see which I like. Moving on to other choices I could have pancakes, waffles, french toast, hash browns, toast, a breakfast sandwich, cold pizza, breakfast bars.

If you have eggs there's usually a choice of meat such as bacon, sausage, ham, etc. Because it might offend some stray PETA member I decided to opt out of a breakfast meat choice.

My usual breakfast is cold cereal and milk, but Mike again pointed out the multitude of cereal choices and alternatives like oatmeal. I never knew there were so many breakfast choices. I've never seen that many at a fast food restaurant.

Mike was good enough to also list any breakfast options that might get me in trouble with any political factions like PETA, unions or health concerns. He also provided bar graphs on the popularity of certain choices and the overall cost and investment of time I would put into preparing my ultimate choice.

By this time I am wondering if I should have commissioned another study. After all you can never be sure that the data in front of you isn't tainted. Maybe Mike has stock in Kellogg's.

Finally a choice is made...and I've worked up an appetite. Problem is I've wasted the whole morning pouring over the study and now it's time for lunch. Although it wasn't backed by a study, I pick up a burger at a fast food restaurant.

My study is a success. I wasted my time, my resources and didn't trust my own instincts enough to make a choice that ultimately was up to me in the first place.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Small World

Recently local author Rochelle Pennington was a guest on KFIZ's "The Focus." She was going to give a presentation at St. Agnes Hospital and we talked about her latest book and some of her others.

She talked about the Christmas Tree Ship, which would pick up trees in the Upper Peninsula and bring them back down to southern Wisconsin in the early part of the last Century.

During a commerical break I told her that when I was in college during the summer months I worked at a limestone mine in Gulliver, Michigan. At the time it belonged to Inland Steel and each Christmas the workers there would cut down a huge pine tree and ship it out on one of the big iron ore dockers bound for Inland's Chicago offices.

That's when she said the Christmas trees talked about in her books were cut in Gulliver and shipped out of Manistique, Michigan. She asked me if I knew where Manistique was? I told her I grew up there and found out I knew all the local places in Manistique where her books are sold.

A couple years ago I had a similar experience when an advance man for the John Edwards for President campaign called to arrange interviews with Edwards' family members. He was calling from Detroit and I told him I recognized the area code. Eventually I found out that he was also born in Manistique and it turned out his mother owned the local weekly newspaper that I sometimes wrote for when my journalism career began.

I could give other examples. A boyhood friend lives and works in Sheboygan, a cousin in Plymouth. They say you should never forget where you came from. I doubt that will ever happen, especially when life keeps throwing little reminders at me.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hey Bartender!

At one time I used to enjoy going out to the bars to have a drink with friends. That's become a rarity over time. Watching three taverns work with Fond du Lac police and residents to get their licenses renewed shows how attitudes have changed over time about your neighborhood bar.

Owning such an establishment has to be a risky business. Even if you have everything going in your favor ultimately its your customers who are going to decide whether you sink or swim.

Growing up in a small town I can tell you that a change in tavern ownership was a big deal. In Manistique, Michigan when I turned old enough to sit on a bar stool I quickly learned which taverns you frequented and those you didn't.

Christie's was where you went if you wanted to pick a fight. I never did. The Harbor had a mix of clientele. I rarely went there, but did stop by on two occasions following family wedding receptions, bride and groom in attendance. Herb's 40 was a good place to play pool, always had the right tunes on the jukebox and was where I usually went. Jackpine was out on M-94 a ways, but their food was worth the trip. There were a handful of others, but we didn't usually go to them.

Christie's is still there, my little sisters like it, but the roughneck image has eroded over time. The Harbor also continues to do business. Herb's 40 (still don't know the significance of the name) has changed ownership quite a bit. Jackpine went through a slow period, but the popularity of snowmobiles and ATVs has helped it out.

My best experience in a bar was probably when I was 12 or 13 years old. It was at Normie Jahn's bar in Manistique. My dad took me there because it was a Packers bar. Normie was a genuine character. He regularly attended Packers home games. He could tell some whoppers, but treated everyone special. My dad was the one who had the beer, I had root beer. Normies been gone for years now. Over time the bar evolved serving upscale clients and last I knew it had become a bistro.

Hopefully more Fond du Lac County taverns will take up Tavern League President Tim Lakin's invitation and become members. Maybe it's not so important whether everyone knows your name when you go in a bar. Maybe it's more important that the people who are serving you want to make sure you enjoy the experience and get home safely. Most do, more should.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

1960's Wedding!

My little brother Matt got married last Saturday in what was a 1960's themed wedding. It was different, fun, but still about family. Flanked by his 1969 Super Bee and her 1964 G-T-O they got married in their side yard.

The wedding party and many of the guests wore 1960s garb. Matt looked a little bit like Tommy Chong in his hey day. My brother John nearly stole the show in his get up. He really did look like a hippie, but the hair topped off the look. He actually used a long wig borrowed from a Halloween witch's outfit and was barely recognizeable.

After the brief ceremony the procession of muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s made its way to town doing burn outs along the way. Then it was off to the nearby Hiawatha School for the reception. It's no longer a school, but everyone still refers to it that way.

There was no triple or quadruple tiered wedding cake, but a variety of single layer offerings. One featured the yellow smiley face. The bride and groom's cake actually had likenesses of their cars on it. Unfortuanately one of the kids ate my brother's car, the cake version of course, before he could get to it. The food was good and the company was better. The dollar dance was a little different with my brother doing his bit, but the bride had a stand-in.

There was one party crasher, a dog that made his way into the school gym. Everyone thought he had been brought by a guest, but word quickly spread that he had simply wondered in. Later we got a good laugh when the lady that owned him pulled up in a minivan and ushered him into a back seat with a few harsh words. He didn't mind. He had his moment.

Matt and Laurie were married by a minister from the Universal Life Church. My sister Diana told us the next afternoon that she also was a minister from that church and could have married the couple if she had a license for Michigan instead of Ohio. Someone joked that they didn't want a headline like "Sister Marries Brother" to get out.

My Dad passed away when I was a sophomore in college. He's now missed three family weddings, but it was nice that Matt got married the day before Father's Day. The reception was held in the school about a mile from Indian Lake. My father spent many summers vacationing on the Lake. He loved it. Maybe part of him was in the warm breeze that blessed the day.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Each year the Milwaukee Brewers host a "Media Day" to pay tribute to the Radio and TV stations that carry Brewer Baseball games. KFIZ's Mark Kastein attended this year's and told us afterwards he was surprised how openly Bob Uecker was in talking about a recent incident in which he had to go to court to file an injunction against a woman who had been stalking him for years. "Mr. Baseball" said he'd been putting up with it until she showed up at a hotel pool when the Brewers were in Pittsburgh for a series with the Pirates.

We've heard horror stories about celebrity stalkers and some of them have ended tragically. I thought I'd put in my two cents worth with my own story. No I wasn't the stalker, but the stalkee.

It happened while I was working in Munising, Michigan. I started getting calls at the radio station I was working for from a woman who was actually a neighbor. She sounded a little off telling me stories like my landlord used to sneak over to her yard at night and smoke marijuana underneath her bedroom window.

One day she decided to up the ante and pay a visit to the radio station. It was a small station and typically there would be times when I would be working alone, this particular day happened to be one of them. We used to make copies for people so it wasn't unusual for anyone to walk in off the street to ask for that service.

So in walks this woman with a can of Pledge or something similar. She pulls out a pair of rubber gloves and slips them on and as she is talking to me she starts spraying office desktops and dusting them. She mentioned something about germs. I can't really tell you what the drift of the conversation was after that because I was too busy trying to diplomatically get her to leave.

Not too long after that she called me one day and told me that the house I was living in was on fire. That was upsetting so I called the local Sheriff and asked him if he was familiar with the woman. He was. Was she dangerous? He said no except for that one time she sat on her front porch and fired off a shotgun over cars that were passing by. He then said she was an annual visitor to the local mental health facility and perhaps it was time for that yearly trek. I don't know what the Sheriff did, but I didn't hear from her again during the remaining time I worked there.

It surprised me to hear that Bob Uecker had a stalker, but then anyone who knows me could say the same thing.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Rosenow 50th

It's amazing how quickly the years can melt away when you attend a school function. For me that was the case when I attended a 50th Anniversary celebration at Rosenow Elementary School in Fond du Lac.

The excitement of the children in a learning environment is contagious. Of course it was just before summer break, but the sunny morning and having Mom or Dad on hand probably helped as well.

Festivities occurred during the school's morning kick off. Announcements are made, jokes are told and everyone is a partner in education. "Why won't a shark eat a comedian? Because they taste funny." That will bring a smile to the face of a youngster.

High School students who think they have it tough or aren't appreciated should participate in a mentorship program with an elementary student. When the Fond du Lac High School Marching Band came into that gym you could hear the murmur of admiration. The younger students really look up to those high schoolers and it's pretty evident.

The Band led the students out to the playground playing catchy tunes like "Ghostbusters" while a small plane made passes overhead. Eventually it dropped bags of ping pong balls from the sky, 500 in all. The kids were able to redeem the balls for a piece of cake from one of five large sheet cakes, a nice little treat to cap the school year and celebrate 50 years of education and community pride.

I'm not sure what Rosenow looked like in 1955, but for me it reminded me of what the elementary schools I attended looked like. I went to three all told as our family moved around. One of them has now been converted into a community center (where my younger brother Matt gets married next week), another is still open and the other..well I'm not sure. When a school has been open for 50 years and is still a vital part of the community there should be an anniversary celebration and the students, teachers and staff at Rosenow couldn't have done it better. Congratulations Rosenow and to all the students who have attended it over the years!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Media Heroes

I suppose there are little girls and young women who will grow up hoping to be the next Katie Couric. Her switch to anchor CBS Evening News from NBC's Today Show got me to thinking about who I aspired to be when I was growing up.

There were a couple of names I took note of while growing up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. J.P. McCarthy was the "Morning Man" at WJR Radio in Detroit. I never really got to hear his show, but for a time in the 70s, 80s and early 90s you probably heard his voice. He was used for national Chrysler television and radio ads. J.P. had a smooth style.

One of my favorite things to do was to pick up the Detroit Free Press and read Bob Talbert's column. It captured the who's who of Detroit and told it like it is. I particularly liked his take on the musical acts that were part of or visited the city. In a way I can sympathize with Talbert. He was from South Carolina, but made his mark in Motown. I moved to Wisconsin in 1987 and am still living the dream.

As for the guy probably most responsible for getting me interested in radio, that would be John "Records" Landecker. I never really gave radio a thought until I received one as a Christmas present. Imagine my incredible luck to be growing up in the U.P. and being able to tune in WLS from Chicago at night. I really enjoyed the music and comments Landecker and other WLS disc jockeys treated their audiences to. It was a turning point in my life. Of course I never really wanted to be John "Records" Landecker, but the thought of being able to entertain or inform others definitely came from listening to him.

Landecker is a legend. J.P. McCarthy and Bob Talbert are both in media halls of fame. Sadly J.P died in 1995 and Talbert about 3 years later. Between them they provided the Detroit area with something to do each morning for more than 30 years apiece. They were a morning ritual. That is something worth noting.

Those were a few of my "media heroes" growing up. Everyone should have some.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Public Service

I'm not really sure when the political season starts, but there are signs it's underway. Herb Kohl has been running ads for months against an opponent that doesn't exist yet.

If you're running for County, state or federal office you can take out candidacy petitions and papers on June 1st. Some have already announced. Others are a little more and sometimes less subtle.

The proposal to close the Rolling Meadows Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was a podium opportunity last week. It's a chance for some to get their name in the press by jumping into an impassioned issue. Beware of those who take that kind of avenue to promote their own self interests. For me telling the County Board Chairperson that "He should be ashamed of himself" for allowing such a proposal to come up wasn't really helping those who are trying to save the facility.

Some people have all the right reasons for running for office. Others can't keep their eyes open during meetings and don't bother to read carefully prepared material to help them decide issues.

If you're ever urged by friends or family to run for office consider those who are doing the urging. I know a single father who was doing the best he could to raise his son. He felt that running for Mayor would help his son's image of him. Problem is those who did the urging were the people at the corner tavern he frequented too much and just wanted someone to make fun of him. He had a drinking problem. When the radio station I was working for asked him to come in for an interview he did.

He sobered up, dressed nicely and did his best to answer the questions he was asked. He was one of a number of candidates and barely registered a blip on the election radar screen. However he keeps running for the office and ran again this year. He may never win, but he runs because he believes he could do the job. I can respect any man who no matter what his problems is trying to give his son someone to be proud of.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Saving Rolling Meadows

I heard the word crisis associated with the proposed closing of the Rolling Meadows Nursing and Rehabilitation Center during the Fond du Lac County Board's meeting this week. It was used several times.

Those who have family members staying at the home or who work there painted a wonderful picture for the Board. It was one of a family atmosphere where workers go beyond what's expected of them to make residents comfortable.

Frannie Trewin, whose worked there more than 30 years, told a great story of a friend with Alzheimer's who is in Rolling Meadows and the promise she made to take care of that woman. She says the woman is battling dementia, but recognizes her when she comes into her room.

County Board member Mel Heller had tears in his eyes as he told about how the care at Rolling Meadows probably saved his life. It wasn't the only story like that heard in the legislative chambers of the City-County Goverment Center Tuesday evening.

Some employees even offered to make concessions to keep their jobs and continue to provide care for the residents at Rolling Meadows.

County Executive Al Buechel says the County went through something similar in 1978. I don't know that history, but would love to hear about it from someone who does.

Understand that whatever decision the County Board makes in the next couple of months it won't be an easy one. I would like to say one thing however. That is that family members of Rolling Meadows residents and employees at the Center are lucky to have had the opportunity to speak in a public forum about the proposed closing.

They still have time to try and change the minds of County Supervisors, look for other jobs or facility arrangements for residents. Private companies can't say the same thing. They make a decision to close plants, lay off employees or sell off pieces of a company and employees have little say in the matter.

They also don't have the option of raising taxes to stave off closing whether it's through raising a tax levy or instituting a sales tax. Beware of the silent majority though because they weren't as well represented at that meeting as those interested in saving Rolling Meadows. They could weigh in if a sales tax or spending more taxpayer money on the Center goes to referendum.

Some day there will be those of us who need a facility like Rolling Meadows. Whatever facility that may be, we can only hope it offers the same type of employee dedication and care that Rolling Meadows does.

I didn't really have a photo from Rolling Meadows for this blog, but if you have one please feel free to send it to me at

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Crows are organizing!

It was an odd sight to see in one of Fond du Lac's busiest intersections. A crow swooped down to pick up a piece of I don't want to know what right at one of the corners of Johnson and Main. The timing was impeccable because it landed and picked up its gross little treasure and flew off during a rare lull in morning traffic. You ever see traffic there at nine in the morning on a weekeday?

I mentioned this on "The Breakfast Club" one morning. I told host Jerry St. John that one guy I worked with in Beaver Dam had a theory about crows. He used to say they are getting bigger, bolder and smarter.

They almost dare you when they're enjoying a meal on some highway to interrupt with your vehicle. In high school I once hit a crow or he hit me. I actually slowed down and waited for him to move and he did at the last minute. I still remember my parents' skeptical look when I tried to explain the dented luggage rack on top of the family station wagon. As for Mr. Blackbird, he went on his merry way.

KFIZ Agriculture Director Rae Nell Halbur tells me that crows will actually pick off moles that come out from underneath hay piles. She says it's a common site and kind of shoots holes in the theory that crows only lunch on meals that aren't moving or come served up courtesy of moving vehicles.

Jerry St. John says if crows ever do organize and decide to fight back that seagulls will probably be their foot soldiers. Okay now we're getting into Alfred Hitchcock territory, but try walking past a line of crows perched on a telephone wire and not think about what's going on in those devious little minds.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Telling the Terrible Tale!

It's impossible not to be affected by some stories that you tell. Behind the scenes KFIZ listeners don't get to see the reports and criminal complaints we read. The people we have to talk to before the tale can be told.

Stark reality is reading in black and white the factual details about the incidents leading up to the death of a 3- year- old Waupun boy. It's also knowing that local police have to break the sad new to relatives across the country that a 79-year-old North Fond du Lac woman died in a duplex fire.

To me it's interesting to see the reaction you get from people in the community while you're gathering the news.

Some of the comments I heard. About the boy's death allegedly at the hands of his foster father.

"How could someone do that to a child?" "What was he thinking?" "Parents are supposed to be protecting their kids." And of course the one you hear the most often in such circumstances, "That's sick!"

About the death of the elderly woman.

"Isn't that sad?" "I feel sorry for the family." "I hope she didn't suffer."

One of the radio station owners I used to work for had a "If it bleeds, it leads" philosophy about news. I once asked him why that was the case. He said people find comfort in the fact that it didn't happen to them or someone they know. Problem with that is it does impact someone's life.

For me the two stories do get me to thinking. Mother's Day is coming up and it makes me appreciate the people I love and care for. So tell Mom you appreciate the sacrifices she made and hug your children for no special reason at all!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Weekenders...thoughts at the end of the Week!

Plenty of thoughts running through my head at the end of the week. What follows are just a few quick observations.

Packer 1st Round Draft Choice A.J. Hawk sounds like a good fit for the team. A small town guy with big play capabilities who'd rather impress on the field.

Don Winke of Fond du Lac saved 4-year-old Jacob Kay from drowning in the Lakeside Park Harbor. I met Don Thursday. He and his wife are nice people who didn't mind the attention, preferring to be subjected to the media spotlight over what could easily have been a tragedy.

There really is no way to give the families of 9/11 victims the justice that they deserve.

Ever wonder why the end of the TV season and start of the big summer movie season coincide?

If the U.S. is a nation of immigrants why weren't we all out on the streets protesting this past Monday?

Is the practice of flying flags at half-staff in honor of the passing of someone special becoming too common place?

Are bigger sized television sets replacing our real windows on the world, picture windows?

Congratulations to the Munson family of Fond du Lac who has given us four generations of firefighters and paramedics providing 113 years of service to the community and counting.

I had a guest on our "Focus" talkshow in the KFIZ studio Thursday. We have TV sets in our studios and he confessed the last time he was on the show he was distracted by shots over my shoulder of models for Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit model. I noticed he again was distracted by something that was on the television and asked him during a commercial break what he was watching this time. He said he was horrified to see some place where people were paying $4.36 a gallon for gasoline. Aren't we all?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Doing Your Bit

During the month of March KFIZ had the opportunity to participate in the Fond du Lac County Red Cross "Be a Hero for the Red Cross" campaign. Our part included doing on-air interviews with the co-chairpersons Marty Ryan, Larry Moldenhauer and others associated with the campaign. We ran public service announcements, did news stories on the campaign and the different activities that raised funds for it. Our investment was small, time and publicity.

Thanks to the businesses and agencies that held the actual fundraising activities, plus individual donations, the Red Cross reached its goal of $25,000.

What did we learn from the experience? Anybody can give their time and that can be just as important as the money sometimes. We have a very active Red Cross, one that does its part on both the local and national levels. This past Tuesday morning they held a thank you breakfast at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Fond du Lac for some of the "Heroes" who gave between $250 and $5,000 during the campaign. The Hotel chipped in and donated the breakfast. It was appreciated.

Before we left we learned how the money from the campaign would be spent. Suffice it to say that its been put in very good hands. In fact we also found out while munching on our scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, breakfast links and mini-muffins that more than $2,000 had already been spent on the six families displaced by a fire at a Ripon apartment complex last Friday. The year is just beginning. Larry Moldenhauer made a point of telling those at the gathering that you can donate to the "Heroes" campaign any time of the year. If your group is going to hold a brat fry or similar event this year, give a little of the proceeds to the Red Cross. Simply give Denise a call at 922-3450 and tell her you want to earmark the money for the "Heroes" campaign.

KFIZ is part of the community that we live in and so doing our bit for the "Heroes" campaign was something we enjoyed doing.

The nice thing about "Heroes" is that they often go without notice. Maybe the person sitting next to you at a baseball game or the movies gave blood during a Red Cross blood drive. The one waiting behind you at the checkout line spent two weeks on the Gulf Coast helping with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. The man or woman getting gas at the pump next to you taught life guard training through the Red Cross that some day may save a family member.

Not all the heroes could be in that room at the Ramada Tuesday morning, but they were well represented.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Heroes On Board..Flight 93!

The other day on "The Focus" I had a chance to talk with Dennis Roddy a reporter with the Pittsburgh Press-Gazette. Dennis and three other reporters wrote an article for the newspaper in October of 2001 detailing the lives of those who boarded United 93 on September 11th, 2001.

He covered the stories of the four hijackers who boarded the plane while the other reporters talked with the family members of the passengers and crew. The plane crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania when the passengers rushed the cockpit. Otherwise they too might have hit another target on that fateful day.

I asked him if he was ready to see "United 93" Hollywood's first major film about 9/11. He said he had mixed feelings, but was curious to see how the event and people involved would be portrayed in the film.

After reading what he and the other three reporters wrote, I realized that almost 5 years later I may not be ready to see such a film. I remember covering 9/11 while I was working in Beaver Dam. It took about three days afterwards to realize that in doing the story from local angles and hearing the non-stop coverage provided by radio networks and television that I didn't have time to realize the enormity of the event.

From the sounds of it the film's producers took careful pains to tell the story. I certainly hope that is the case. For many of us the wounds remain fresh even though we didn't know anyone on the planes or in the twin towers or Pentagon. If you don't believe me read the account that Dennis and the other Pittsburgh Press-Gazette reporters wrote. Even now the sense of loss and disbelief still smarts.

I'm including a link to the story that ran on Sunday, October 28th, 2001. The version I printed out ran about 25 pages, but if you have the time it's well worth the read.

Here's one excerpt from the article:

"Flight 93 became an asterisk to a day of horror that claimed almost 5,000 lives, toppled buildings that stood like a twin Colossus on the New York shore, took down one side of the Pentagon, and ushered in a war without rules against an enemy without a state.

What made Flight 93 different was a decision reached somewhere over the skies of Western Pennsylvania, after passengers learned on cell phones that they were likely to be flown into buildings as the fourth in a quartet of suicide attacks.

They decided to fight."

Sadly if you do want to see the movie you will have to go to Oshkosh or West Bend. It's not coming to Fond du Lac.

Am I ready to see a film about 9/11? Honestly?

Here's the link;

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The New Michael Jackson

Is Tom Cruise the new Michael Jackson? I'm not referring to Jackson's alleged child touching problems, but more the outrageous behavior aspect.

Once upon a time I did movie reviews and a daily entertainment feature for another radio station. One of my guilty pleasures is watching "The Insider" while I'm typing up news stories or preparing "KFIZ Today" for the next day. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have become a staple for the show.

Recent examples of Tom's weird behavior have included the couch jumping incident on Oprah, comments on "The Today Show" about Brooke Shields use of prescription drugs and now his Jackson-like attempts to aviod the media. Okay I don't blame him on the last one. He didn't go as far as donning a disguise like Michael, but the three black SUVs taking seperate routes with only one containing the cute couple was a stroke of genius.

One of our staff members wondered why Tom never had a baby with wife #1 Mimi Rogers or wife #2 Nicole Kidman. Maybe Tom's just middle age crazy?

I still enjoy his movies and never really allow Hollywood shenanigans to prevent me from seeing a film I'm likely to enjoy. After all whether it's reel life or real life Tom Cruise is providing us with entertainment.

I wish Tom and Katie good luck on their marriage or as some might term it "Mission Impossible III."

Friday, April 21, 2006

Job Well Done

This week saw the end of leadership roles for two women at the top of local government. Brenna Garrison-Bruden's 12 years with the Fond du Lac County Board, the last four as County Board Chair concluded. Lindee Kimball's term as President of the Fond du Lac City Council also ended, although she continues to sit on the Council.

Tuesday night was tough for Brenna who is giving up the County Board to pursue a Master's Degree. She was touched by the heartfelt thanks Board members extended to her as they signed in for new two-year terms.

For Lindee it was a challenging year as new Council President Mark Jurgella noted. Some may criticize, but she remained level-headed and talked in the positive about city government the entire year.

The good news is there is no lack of women in leadership roles in private business and organizations. I thought about that and would like to mention a few. FAVR, Bethany House, ASTOP, the Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership, the Fond du Lac Area Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Marian College, Moraine Park Technical College, the Volunteer Center of Fond du Lac County, the Fond du Lac Area United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the list could continue.

Of course if you include goverment roles there's the County Clerk, Treasurer, Clerk of Courts, Register of Deeds and others on City Councils, Town and Village Boards.

As for Brenna and Lindee I have no doubt their leadership roles will continue as well. They both were fair in using the gavel at meetings. I wish them both continued success.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Naked Flag Pole

I'm a bit sad when I walk into the Fond du Lac Police Department on North Main Street these days. There are three flag poles. One has the U.S. Flag, another the Wisconsin State Flag, and the other sits naked. It has been for some time now.

That flag pole used to have a POW-MIA Flag on it, but the one the Department had wore out. It had to be destroyed. I'm told Veterans groups were contacted to see if they could arrange a replacement. That effort did not succeed. I even tried to intervene and contacted an area politician. I'm still waiting to hear back.

The Fond du Lac Police Department has a number of Veterans. Some of whom have served in recent wars including the one with Iraq. They have at least one current officer I'm aware of on military leave to serve in Iraq. A flag that symbolizes prisoners of war and those missing in action seems like a natural to sit alongside flags representing our country and our state.

Memorial Day is coming up. It sure would be nice to see someone present a new POW-MIA Flag to Police Chief Tony Barthuly. Some things should not be overlooked, some people should not be forgotten.

If you can help please contact the Fond du Lac Police Department at 906-5555. You can also contact them at