Joanne Williams, journalist, and now, filmmaker.
Joanne Williams, journalist, and now, filmmaker.

Veteran journalist Joanne Williams nears completion of her first film

A generation of Milwaukeeans have watched Joanne Williams’ 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’m 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…

CHIEF's Matt Liban, Chris Tishler and Dave Benton.
CHIEF's Matt Liban, Chris Tishler and Dave Benton.

CHIEF drops new single in advance of concept album, "The Galleon"

If there ever was a time for a power-rocking concept album about a mysterious ship helmed by a frightening being …

Milwaukee’s CHIEF, a trio led by Chris Tishler, thinks that time is now. And on Friday, the band drops the first single from the 15-song album, "The Galleon." "For Those Who Live A Light" will be released on Bandcamp, with the full-length double album coming June 20.

With a running time of almost 70 minutes, "The Galleon" took three years to complete and is CHIEF’s first release in almost six years. It was recorded at West Allis’ Howl Street Studios.

According to Tishler, he began writing "The Galleon" as a simple conceptual idea in early 2017. "It actually started as a short story, kind of based on the passage in Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ where the Count sails in on the ‘Demeter,’ sleeping in boxes of Transylvanian soil by day and feasting on the crew as his sustenance at night."

If you know Tishler or his music, this sounds very much on-brand.

Says Tishler, "Dave (Benton, bass guitar) is a sci-fi/horror author. I’d just finished reading his book ‘Fauna’ and it really inspired me to write some kind of thing in the areas of Dave’s interests … vampires, zombies … cool shit like that. The ‘story’ only made it to a couple of pages in somewhat lyrical form and sat idle."

Over the next year, Tishler says that he, Benton and drummer Matt Liban put this concept to music, and took it to Howl Street Studios to record.

If you’re not familiar with CHIEF, you might recognize the names of some in the band from their other outfit, The 5 Card Studs. But this band is not a parody. It rocks, and it rocks hard.

Tishler says CHIEF’s previous releases (the self-titled debut, "The Reign Of Rock" EP and the follow up full-length "CHIEF II") helped hone and create the "CHIEF sound, and this album keeps that core essence – yet branches out and explores many different sounds, styles and textures.

"Having spent hours and hours ref…

Don't let coronavirus turn your green thumb brown.
Don't let coronavirus turn your green thumb brown.

Yes, you can (and should) garden during quarantine

The coronavirus pandemic has changed our everyday life, but it doesn't need to change who we are. So, in addition to our ongoing coverage of the coronavirus, OnMilwaukee will continue to report on cool, fun, inspiring and strange stories from our city and beyond. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay informed and stay joyful. We're all in this together. #InThisTogetherMKE

Anyone who has gardened already knows the physical and emotional benefits of getting a little dirty and planting something beautiful.

Local gardening expert Melinda Myers says research now proves what gardeners have long understood. "Spending time in the garden and nature improves our mood, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and helps us focus," she says.

"Scientists made a positive connection between soil microbes and human health. They found Mycobacterium vaccae in the soil worked as an antidepressant, increased cognitive ability, lowered stress and improved concentration."

Which means now is a great time to get planting, because during quarantine, many of us could use the exercise for our bodies and minds.

Says Myers, "The lack of social contact is hard on so many - tending plants is another way to channel your nurturing spirit, plus you will grow beautiful flowers and tasty nutritious veggies."

And, while it’s not possible to stroll the aisles of most of your local greenhouses (although in some of them you can), many shops are doing curbside pickup. Besides the big box stores, statewide chains like Stein’s and many others are still open for business.

But first, here are some spring gardening tips from Myers, both for the beginning and seasoned planter. Then, check out out list below for local greenhouses still open and ready to help.

OnMilwaukee: How can we pick plants and flowers without seeing them first? When I garden, I wander around the store and browse the aisles until inspiration strikes me.

Melinda Myers: Look at the challenges of shopping differently this spring as an opport…

Ted Perry's home studio.
Ted Perry's home studio.

Like the rest of us, TV and radio professionals adjust to working from home

The coronavirus pandemic has changed our everyday life, but it doesn't need to change who we are. So, in addition to our ongoing coverage of the coronavirus, OnMilwaukee will continue to report on cool, fun, inspiring and strange stories from our city and beyond. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay informed and stay joyful. We're all in this together. #InThisTogetherMKE

So many Milwaukeeans are adjusting to working from home right now. Zoom meetings in pajamas, turning bedrooms into offices, juggling getting stuff done while parenting kids’ online school … these are stories our generation will tell our grandchildren.

But while many of us can get by with pixelated laptop video conferences in sweatpants, or finally making that "meeting that could’ve been an e-mail," an actual email, members of Milwaukee’s broadcast media community must still look and sound good, creating makeshift studios in their own homes, delivering news and content just like they always have.

Steve Chamraz, an anchor and reporter at TMJ-4, says the transition to working from home was, "shockingly easy."

"If you told me when I was an intern at TMJ4 back in 1994 we would have anchors doing the news from their dens – I would have laughed," says Chamraz.

"But the internet speeds are so fast, we can send good quality video back to the station over a laptop. Our technical team figured out how to send prompter to us in real-time – so we can be full participants in the broadcast. It’s really amazing how easily all that came together. Making it sound good was a little harder. I went through three or four microphones before we nailed one that didn’t sound like I’m in a tin can."

Ted Perry, a longtime anchor at Fox 6, has found the experience more surreal.

"My house is pretty small (I live alone) and I had two choices: my living room or my home office. I chose the office because they have set up lights and a camera and little box called a Dejero which is what gives me the ability to go liv…