A generation of Milwaukeeans have watched Joanne Williams‚Äô on television news. A fixture on Fox 6 and before that, TMJ 4, where Williams launched her career as an anchor beginning in 1971, she joined Milwaukee Public Television as host and producer of "Black Nouveau" in 2012.
Since then, she won an Emmy for her work in 2018, and numerous awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Milwaukee Press Club and more.
But the Milwaukee native is now finishing her first film, "Kaukauna & King: 50 Years Later." We caught up with Williams to get an update on that project, as well as to reflect on her career as a journalist.
OnMilwaukee: I‚Äôm sure there are some Milwaukeeans who know you mostly from your decades in Milwaukee TV. But you left FOX6 12 years ago. Why did you get out of commercial television news?
Joanne Williams: Wow! It doesn't seem like 12 years. Television news changes. After 38 years both in front of and behind the camera, I could feel a shift in direction coming. An unexpected opportunity was presented to me outside of television and I thought it was time to take a chance. Better hours, too!
It was a very difficult decision. It was a very emotional decision. I still believe in the importance of local TV news and the responsibility that goes along with it. It is a culture that I knew very well.
Today, in 2020, my Fox 6 audience is shrinking. Most of the people watching TV today don't remember me from WITI, but now many recognize me from Milwaukee PBS and "Black Nouveau."
How is "Black Nouveau" different than the career you had since 1971?
Public television has a different approach to its relationship with viewers. It emphasizes the content of the programs it produces and asks for their support to continue to create programming. We are given the freedom to produce stories that will fit the shows, and have much more time to develop and produce those stories.
What was it like to win an Emmy for this work?
It was breathtaking, awes…Read more...