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NETWORK: WUWM - Milwaukee's NPR What's got you scratching your head about the Milwaukee area? WUWM 89.7 FM - Milwaukee's NPR investigates listener questions.

NETWORK: WUWM - Milwaukee's NPR What's got you scratching your head about the Milwaukee area? WUWM 89.7 FM - Milwaukee's NPR investigates listener questions.
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NETWORK: WUWM - Milwaukee's NPR What's got you scratching your head about the Milwaukee area? WUWM 89.7 FM - Milwaukee's NPR investigates listener questions.








Racine County's Seven Mile Road Is 7 Miles From Where, Exactly?

There are three types of people in this world: Those who notice nothing. Those who notice but don’t care to question. And then there are those who ask why. David Wagner is the last one. David reached out to Bubbler Talk — our series where you ask, we investigate, and together we unveil the answers — to learn about a road he often passes. What is Seven Mile Road 7 miles from? First, we consulted Google. To be honest, Google was only good for letting us know the answer is not Lake Michigan....


WWII, Gertrude Stein & Poetry: The History Of The Bookstore At General Mitchell Airport

Walk into the public area of Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport, and you’ll see traditional airport sights: monitors for departures, places to grab coffee and food. But you’ll also see a 2,600-square-foot used bookstore, Renaissance Books. The latest Bubbler Talk — our series that allows you to ask WUWM questions about Milwaukee — takes us to the bookshop. Question asker Susie Hoglund, of Shorewood: "What is the history of the used-book store in the General Mitchell Airport?"...


Oconomowoc, Nagawicka, Okauchee: Unpacking Wisconsin's Native Place Names

When you look at a map of Wisconsin, it’s covered in names that remind us of this country’s original inhabitants. Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Waukesha, Kinnickinnic — all words derived from Native American languages. Another is Oconomowoc, about 30 miles west of Milwaukee. This week’s Bubbler Talk questioner, Jeff Dittel, moved there about two and a half years ago. “[It’s] lake country,” he says. “There’s a couple dozen lakes. And some of them have English names like Pine Lake, Beaver Lake and...


Northridge Mall: Still Standing In Line For Renewal

Northridge Mall was one of several large suburban malls built in the 1960s and '70s. It was at the far northwestern edge of Milwaukee — at 76th Street and Brown Deer Road. But the glory days didn’t last. The mall closed 15 years ago and has gone into extended limbo. Most of the buildings remain, but they're empty. It's a big-box ghost town with a chain link fence around it. The latest Bubbler Talk — our series that allows you to ask WUWM questions about Milwaukee — tackles curious community...


Beach Trash: Where Lake Michigan’s Litter Originates

*Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that 21.8 million pounds of trash end up in Lake Michigan every year. That number is actually the total for all of the Great Lakes. Almost every day since last June, Marla Schmidt has walked along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Bay View. But she’s not lounging around enjoying the beach — she’s picking up trash. She regularly gathers plastic and other garbage that washes up on the shore, filling her bucket on nearly every trip....


The Milwaukee Fire Department’s Unknown Heroes

A fire truck making its way to a scene, sirens blazing, is a common sight in cities and towns across America. But within the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD), there's a support staff responsible for maintaining all the equipment firefighters depend on. For this week's Bubbler Talk — our series that allows you to ask WUWM questions about Milwaukee —questioner Jay Blanchett wanted to know about a special kind of fire truck: Why, since I’ve lived here for 22 years now, I have never seen a tiller...


Miller Park Roof Rules: It's More Than The Weather

The Milwaukee Brewers' Miller Park has a roof hotline – 414-902-4636 – that tells callers the weather and if the roof is open or closed. That way fans know what to expect when they head to a ball game. But how do the Brewers decide whether the Miller Park roof is open or closed at game time? That’s a question Bubbler Talk received from listener Lila Johnson. Lila is a recent transplant to Milwaukee from Minnesota, whose Twins don’t get to decide whether to close the non-existent roof at...


Brady Street Beasts Creator Hopes To Restore Iconic Milwaukee Sculpture

For this week’s Bubbler Talk , we tackled a request from Kathy Yanoff of Shorewood to provide an update on the Brady Street Beasts. The beasts Kathy refers to are actually part of a sculpture featuring fanciful creatures on Milwaukee’s east side, called Cavorting Critters. It’s tucked away near the corner of Brady and Holton streets north of downtown, and you can get the best view while walking or driving over the Holton Street Bridge. There are three critters — a water rat, a dragonfly and...


Unpacking The History Of Milwaukee's Eagles Club

What was the Eagles Ballroom before it became The Rave ? That’s a question we’ve heard a lot at Bubbler Talk and it turns out there are a lot of answers. The Eagles Club on Wisconsin Avenue was first completed in 1926. It was the headquarters for the Milwaukee Aerie of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles – a national social organization with a rather illustrious history. The group created Mother’s Day and its membership includes many former presidents - John F. Kennedy, Franklin Delano...


Painted Koi Fish Have Been 'Swimming' On Milwaukee's Sidewalks For Over A Decade

If you do much walking through Milwaukee neighborhoods, say in the Historic Third Ward or Bay View, you’ve probably stumbled across vibrant schools of fish painted on the sidewalks. They're koi, the large decorative fish some people keep in outdoor ponds. I spotted a few of the paintings on the East Side, where several clusters of koi are depicted in orange, black and white patterns. A few Bubbler Talk listeners have asked about the paintings. So I tracked down street artist and former...


Ice Cream Cocktails, Milwaukee-Style

This story originally aired September 8, 2017. According to TMJ4 , At Random closed on May 19, 2018 and is up for sale. Pink Squirrel, Grasshopper, Brandy Alexander, Banshee... Is there something uniquely Milwaukee about ice cream cocktails? That's the question Elina Kats of Glendale sent in to WUWM's Bubbler Talk . Elina says she always has been kind of fascinated by the drinks. So to learn more, we headed into a time warp of sorts. Or, really, we just walked into a Bay View bar. At Random...


How Do Milwaukee's Movable Bridges Work?

If you live, work, or drive through downtown Milwaukee, chances are your route has been interrupted by the sound of a dinging bell and the bellow of a horn as a bridge prepares to allow a boat pass. After all, Milwaukee is home to 21 movable bridges , which cross the Menomonee, Kinnickinnic, and Milwaukee rivers. Listener Kate Riordan’s remembers a bike ride that was interrupted by a bridge lifting, and she noticed something that caught her interest and inspired this week’s Bubbler Talk :...


Remembering Dick Bacon, Milwaukee's Man With The Tan

Summer is the favorite time of year for most beach-goers. But Milwaukee once was home to a unique fellow who tanned year-round at the lakefront. Our Bubbler Talk questioner wanted to know: Who was that guy? Many people who lived in Milwaukee before 2000, like Cynthia Hoffman, know the answer. The man was the late Dick Bacon. "During those years, everybody knew who Dick Bacon was," Hoffman says. "The first thing I think of is this ultra, ultra-crispy tan body. And he would have this sort of...


Bubbler Talk: Milwaukee's Breakwater

A Bubbler Talk listener was curious about Milwaukee's breakwater, wondering where the rocks came from, and how they ended up standing in the middle of the harbor. WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence explored the subject for this week's segment. To kick off our sixth season of Bubbler Talk, Susan turned to Larry Sullivan, chief engineer with Milwaukee’s Port Authority. She asked him about the history of the breakwater structure. “It was built by the federal government to create a harbor...


Before #FearTheDeer, What Was Pro Basketball Like in Milwaukee?

When you think of the NBA in Milwaukee - of course, the Milwaukee Bucks come to mind. We’ve got Giannis , Jabari , and a new arena in the works . But what was pro basketball like here before the Bucks? That question is what lead Gary to reach out to Bubbler Talk . He wanted to know: "Who played on Milwaukee’s first professional basketball team? What happened to it? And what years were they in town?" Well Gary, Milwaukee's first professional sports team was it's professional basketball team -...


Friday Night Fish Fry: The Story Behind A Milwaukee Tradition

Raise your hand if this is how your typical Friday night goes: If you aren’t ill or out of town, you are probably somewhere like the North Shore American Legion Post 331 in Shorewood. You might be meeting friends after a long week at work. You’re probably there for a beer or an old fashioned (make mine a brandy sour, please). And, you are definitely there enjoying a fish fry. Our beloved fish fry is what makes Friday nights extra special in Milwaukee – and around the entire state of...


If You Like Listening to WUWM, You Just Might Appreciate This Huge Metal Tower

Our latest Bubbler Talk report involves the large metal tower at the entrance to Estabrook Park, near the border of Milwaukee and Shorewood. The listener asked: "What is the giant ugly metal tower used for?" He might be surprised to learn that the tower houses WUWM's antenna, along with that of WITI Channel 6, and a couple other radio stations. As WUWM Studio Engineer Jason Rieve explains, although the radio station is located in downtown Milwaukee, WUWM uses the huge tower in Estabrook Park...


Were Visitors Really Allowed To Feed Polar Bears Marshmallows At The Milwaukee County Zoo?

When was the last time you went to the Milwaukee County Zoo? Did you see the polar bear? You didn't feed it anything, right? Well, Bubbler Talk question asker Jessica Ols has been wondering about her trips to the zoo in the early 1980s... "I have vague memories of when I was little that you can feed marshmallows to the polar bears at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Everybody I talk to says I'm insane," she laughs. "Because there's no way the zoo would allow you to do that. Even in my mind, I...


What's The Story With Milwaukee's Police Call Boxes?

Even if you’ve spent only a little time in Milwaukee, you’ve likely noticed some unusual figures lurking on city sidewalks. They’re big and blue, dotting street corners across Milwaukee. One sits right outside Kristine Hinrichs’ condo downtown, on the corner of 3 rd Street and St. Paul Avenue. “I’ve lived downtown almost 25 years, and they’re everywhere,” Hinrichs remarks. Hinrichs’ curiosity about these landmarks sparked this week’s Bubbler Talk question : “What’s with all the blue police...


Think You've Been Duckpin Bowling in Milwaukee? Think Again.

Bowling. It’s as Wisconsin as cheese curds and Packers gear. Some have even called Milwaukee "America’s 10-pin Capital" in reference to ten-pin bowling, the most common form of the sport. But there’s another kind of bowling that’s also popular in the area, and it’s a little quacky. Listener Shelley Peters reached out to Bubbler Talk because she wanted to know more about it. She explains, "My sister lives in Green Bay and she’s got three kids, so I had mentioned to my sister, I said, 'You...