Local Features

In addition to the local news, WXPR Public Radio also likes to find stories that are outside the general news cycle... Listen below to stories about people, culture, and art in the Northwoods that go a little deeper than a traditional news story allows us to do.

These features are also available as a podcast by searching "WXPR Local Features" wherever you get your podcasts.

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Submitted photo

The Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend is opening a photographic exhibition this weekend featuring the work of Dick Blau from Milwaukee. 

Blau was a collaborator on a book in 1992 called Polka Happiness, and his latest public work is a series of large photographs capturing Wisconsin's polka scene. Blau and longtime polka chronicler Rick March stopped by 25 dances in 2013. That journey led to this rare photo display,  polka style. Blau talked to Ken Krall about the challenges and pure joy he experienced doing the work.

Atelier Book Bindery: Care and Concern Throughout

Jan 23, 2015

The Northwoods is full of experts and artists you might not expect to find in a rural area. If you drive along the right road in Arbor Vitae, you might find yourself in a fine book bindery called Atelier. 

Florian Bieschke’s workshop, like book binding itself, is a collection of small and precise details. 

“This is the bindery, as small as it is," he says.  "We heat it by just getting more people in – five or six people and we can turn the heaters off!”

Emily Bright

The World Championship Snowmobile Derby take places in Eagle River this weekend, with the vintage classes wrapping up last weekend.  WXPR’s Emily Bright takes a behind-the-scenes look at the camaraderie and competition of the international snowmobile races going on in our own backyard.

Courtesy of Mills Music Library, University of Wisconsin.

A UW Madison professor is producing a collection of archival field recordings performed by musicians from northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan more than 70 years ago. The music ranges from polkas to waltzes and fiddle tunes.  

A Less Processed Life: Waffles And Vanilla Sauce

Dec 23, 2014
Susan Bronson

Today we debut a new series with food writer Susan Bronson.  She keeps a blog called A Less Processed Life, and each month she’ll be sharing recipes and stories from her Northwoods Kitchen.  In honor of the holidays, today Bronson shares one of her time-tested holiday traditions…that stars a 70-year-old kitchen appliance.  

Opera Singer To Perform in Northwoods

Dec 22, 2014
Submitted photo

An opera singer is performing in the Northwoods Thursday.  

Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek has a sold-out holiday performance at the Essenhaus in Wabeno.  It’s part of a monthly program called Third Thursday Theater.  For this week’s arts feature, WXPR’s Natalie Jablonski spoke with him about his musical background.

Choir Members Find Community in Northwoods Singers

Dec 11, 2014
Submitted photo

If you love to sing with others, where do you go? Church choir perhaps? What if you want to sing more challenging music, or nonreligious music? For some people living throughout the Northwoods of Wisconsin and the U.P., the answer is the Northwoods Singers.

It’s a snowy evening, and about 40 choir members ranging in age from their 40s to 80s are waming up in the Congregational church in Eagle River for their last regular rehearsal of the season. Northwoods Singers co-founder Norma Yaeger said it’s quite a commitment for some of the members to make the drive.

NaNoWriMo Not For the Faint of Heart

Nov 25, 2014
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November is National Novel Writing Month—or NaNoWriMo—the time when people of all ages and walks of life commit themselves to writing a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days. WXPR’s Emily Bright sat down with Beckie Jokie, municipal liaison of the Northern Wisconsin chapter.

Beckie Joki is a competitive bass fisherman and a freelance writer living in Woodboro, and the month of November--

"It’s been a little bit busy," she says.

But that’s normal.

Joyce Bong Erickson

Saturday is opening day of Wisconsin’s annual gun deer season.  For many families the hunt is about much more than taking a deer - it’s a time of family bonding, camaraderie and tradition.  In today’s History Afield, Writer Bob Willging has the story of a famous World War II combat pilot, who made deer hunting with his family a priority while home on leave in 1943.

James Lake Cranberry Marsh

Returning to civilian life after military duty can be a shocking adjustment.  WXPR’s Emily Bright talked to one veteran who made that transition and is now doing something that seems totally different, growing cranberries in the Northwoods.

Benjamin Riker served two tours in Kuwait and Iraq with the Wisconsin National Guard. When he returned home in 2009, he finished up his degree in early elementary education. He was married with a young son, and they had to figure out what came next.

Matthew Krusack

The Northwoods is home to its very own children's museum, a place where the interactive exhibits are designed to stimulate children's creativity.  But as WXPR's Emily Bright reports, it takes the efforts and creativity of an entire community to keep it running.

Cindy Thompson gets down on her knees to explain the rules of the Northwoods Children’s Museum to my two-year old.

“Okay my friend, look here. See this red line, and the red light way up high? What does red mean?

A UW Madison researcher says close to forty percent of the state’s lakes could contain invasive species. 

According to the Wisconsin DNR, that figure is currently documented at less than ten percent. 

But Jake Vander Zanden of the UW Madison’s Center for Limnology says his team surveyed a random sample of Wisconsin lakes to estimate how many might be affected by invasive species statewide, and came up with a much higher number. 

Lake Gordon Clear of Yellow Floating Heart

Oct 30, 2014
Submitted photo

It’s been over a year since monitors found Wisconsin’s first inland lake invasion of a plant called yellow floating heart in Forest County. The latest inspection did not reveal any new plants. 

It’s chilly grey day in late October, and it’s the last time this year that Forest County Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator John Preuss will check for yellow floating heart. 

“What I look for is the shape of the leaf.  And when it’s flowering…and the seed pods are kind of tear dropped shape.” 

Cutting Mercury Emissions Likely to Help Loons Reproduce

Oct 23, 2014
Mike Baird via https://flic.kr/p/JAwGP

New state mercury emissions rules for power plants could have significant benefits for loons.

A Northwoods researcher is hoping to quantify those benefits over the next decade. 

Wisconsin DNR Toxicologist Mike Meyer says when loons consume mercury through eating fish, it can inhibit the birds’ reproduction.

Wisconsin Historical Society

It’s duck hunting season in the northwoods and while plenty of artificial decoys will be used by waterfowlers to lure birds within gun range one thing they won’t be using is live decoys.  

  This technique of waterfowl hunting was regulated out of existence in 1935, partly because of the severe drought of the early 1930s that devastated waterfowl populations.  But the practice was once common and even celebrated. 

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