Director’s Cut: Chasing Bubbles

It’s three guests for the price of one on this week’s Director’s Cut. I really enjoy having multiple guests on the couch at the same time, and this week, viewers get a taste of filmmaking from three different perspectives. The film is called Chasing Bubbles and its director is Topher Cochrane. “Bubbles” is a documentary about a day trader from Chicago who gave up the yuppie lifestyle to buy a sailboat and travel the world.

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WPT ‘Wisconsin Life’ Story Wins 2018 National Murrow Award

Wisconsin Public Television’s Wisconsin Life story Jaxon’s Wish has been honored with a 2018 Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) National Edward R. Murrow Award. The RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Awards are among the most prestigious in broadcast and digital news.

Jaxon’s Wish shares how Make-A-Wish Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Brewers teamed up to make young Brewers fan Jaxon Louis’ wish come true by creating a Miller Park replica in Ithaca, Wisconsin: Jaxon’s Brew Crew Park. Louis was seven years old when he was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer. Today, Louis is cancer-free and gives back to his community by hosting weekend whiffle ball tournaments that raise money for Greater Richland Area Cancer Elimination (GRACE), a charity that funds cancer research and education while providing support for local cancer patients.

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‘Wisconsin Life’ Project Welcomes Maureen McCollum

Maureen McCollum
Maureen McCollum

Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio’s Wisconsin Life project is excited to welcome Maureen McCollum to the team! Maureen is now a producer for Wisconsin Life on Wisconsin Public Radio. While new to this role, Maureen is not new to WPR, or even Wisconsin Life. Maureen started her journey with WPR as a La Crosse-based reporter who hosted WPR’s Newsmakers.

Next, Maureen came to Madison as on-air talent for WPR’s Morning Edition. Maureen’s positions may have changed, but throughout her time with WPR, she has been creating pieces for Wisconsin Life. Now, Maureen will be producing content exclusively for the project.

Maureen’s passion for all things Wisconsin shines just as strongly in person as it does through her work. I was fortunate enough to catch up with Maureen to learn more about what she loves about WPR and Wisconsin Life.

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Join the 2018 Great Wisconsin Baking Challenge

Bake along with Britain’s best – and add a Wisconsin twist! Share your results with each us each week to be featured on our website.

Wisconsin Public Television’s second-annual Great Wisconsin Baking Challenge launches today – Sunday, June 17! Season 5 of The Great British Baking Show premieres across the WPT viewing area 6 p.m. Sunday, June 24, and we’re once again inviting you to try your hand at the challenges from the show’s new season!

Each week during Season 5, try one of our fun baking challenges and share the results with us online. We’ll feature a variety of bakers, just like you, on the official website and right here on the blog – each week.

Whether you can build a showstopper with your eyes shut or are trying a Paul Hollywood recipe for the first time, we want to see your best attempts at greatness — even if they fall flat.

We won’t be judging your entries; we just want you to participate and have some fun in the kitchen this summer. All ages and abilities are welcome!

Last year, The Great Wisconsin Baking Challenge featured hundreds of bakes from participants across Wisconsin and around the country. One baker even joined from Australia! Incredibly, 12 “Star Bakers” joined us throughout the summer for all 10 challenges.

Check out all of last year’s challenges and entries here.

A few of our 2017 "Star Bakers," who completed all 10 challenges throughout last year's Challenge!
A few of our 2017 “Star Bakers,” who completed all 10 challenges throughout last year’s Challenge!
Now it’s time to announce the first challenge … CAKES! Here’s this week’s prompt:

We invite you to bake ONE of the following challenges …

Signature Challenge – Upside Down Cake
Traditionally, this cake is all about firm fruit, but the possibilities are endless. Don’t let this challenge turn your world upside down, no matter how intimidating Paul Hollywood’s glare might be. Pick a cake recipe, choose a bottom layer that will wind up on top (think: traditional pineapple or radical tomato), and flip!

Technical Challenge – Rum Baba
It’s time for a classic 1970s treat! In the show, the bakers used Paul Hollywood’s very own recipe, but you’re not required to do so. Regardless, the Baba does have some unique characteristics: It’s a yeasted cake filled with chantilly cream and topped with fruit. Hollywood describes Rum Baba as a cross between bread and cake; what’s not to love?

Showstopper Challenge  – Hidden Design Cake
Pssst: This cake has a secret. When you slice your cake, a hidden design or pattern should appear. We’re talking colored sponge with a mouth-dropping secret design, whether it’s a rainbow, a heart, a patriotic theme or something even more unique. This is the perfect time to hide a Wisconsin twist! Yes, this cake takes some planning, but the wow factor is well worth the effort.

Visit the website to explore more about this week’s challenge and all of the upcoming nine baking challenges, which correspond to episodes in Season 5. Each week, we’ll issue more specific instructions about the upcoming challenge and open the form to submit your story. Trust us … cakes are just the beginning!

Along with details about the baking challenge, we’ll be asking you questions about what you’ve prepared (and we’ll want to see your best photo!). Try one weekly challenge, or do them all. No matter what, we know the results will be delicious.

Now pre-heat your ovens, tie your aprons, and submit your results HERE when you’re done! Happy baking!

Be sure to invite friends and family to The Great Wisconsin Baking Challenge! Use #WisconsinBakingChallenge on social media to follow along.

Director’s Cut: Manlife

This week on Director’s Cut, it’s my pleasure to welcome Ryan Sarnowski, discussing his documentary Manlife.

MANLIFE – TRAILER from Threshing Media on Vimeo.

At age 90, Merle Hayden has a lot to do. A devout follower of Lawsonomy (a utopian movement begun by Alfred Lawson, inventor of the first passenger airliner), Merle feels Lawson provided the answers to many of America’s economic and social problems. So why was Lawson written out of the history books? And why isn’t anyone listening?

Using a wealth of archival photos, films, and audio tapes collected by Merle, MANLIFE tells the story of Alfred Lawson’s attempts to make history and Merle’s unrelentingly quest to save humanity before he runs out of time.

Read on for more about this film, and about my interview with filmmaker Ryan Sarnowski.

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Director’s Cut: The 60 Yard Line

This week on Director’s Cut, we take a break from our documentary-heavy lineup and welcome writer-actor-producer Ryan Churchill to discuss his film The 60 Yard Line.

The 60 Yard Line from Gravitas Ventures on Vimeo.

Ben “Zagger” Zagowski is a diehard Packers fan. While he and his fiancée Amy prepare for their wedding, Zagger uses their savings to seize a rare opportunity to buy a house next to Lambeau Field, which he names The 60 Yard Line. His superfan status is elevated, as he spends his days parking cars for money, getting drunk and befriending actual pro football players. In all his drunken tailgating glory, he loses his job and Amy. He must figure out what is most important in his life. Also, where did this cow come from? Based on some true events.

Read more about this film, and about my interview with filmmaker Ryan Churchill.

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Watch, Bid & Win! WPT Auction Airs May 31-June 3

Support Wisconsin Public Television — Watch the WPT Auction!

Join in on the fun as Wisconsin Public Television’s annual Auction kicks off another year, starting 7 p.m. Thursday, May 31! Now in its 43rd year, the WPT Auction invites viewers to bid on merchandise from Wisconsin businesses. There are great deals available on-air and online, and all the proceeds support WPT programs and outreach initiatives!

This year — for the first time in Auction history — viewers can watch Auction on WPT statewide throughout the event. Bidders can also explore items up for sale, bid, buy online-exclusive deals, and watch the full broadcast Auction streaming online at

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Director’s Cut: The Smart Studios Story

Film and music lovers, we have a real treat for you this week: the rock documentary The Smart Studios Story, by director Wendy Schneider. Joining her on our Director’s Cut couch is legendary music producer Butch Vig, who is both a subject of the film and its executive producer.

Watch the trailer:

The Smart Studios Story from wendy schneider on Vimeo.

If you’ve ever been touched by the music of Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage, L7, Death Cab For Cutie (among many, many others), you’ve been touched by the music created at Smart Studios, the legendary recording facility founded by Butch Vig and Steve Marker. Drawing on in-depth-interviews with musicians and producers, never-before-seen archival footage and a powerful soundtrack, The Smart Studios Story tells the story of the pivotal Midwest link to the global rise of Alternative Rock in the 1990’s and the unassuming Madison, Wis. recording studio at its center. The post-70’s explosion of independent music in America has many traceable roots, each with a compelling story. This is one of the most significant stories that has never been told until now.

Read more about this film, and about my interview with filmmakers Wendy Schneider and Butch Vig.

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Meet the Auction Donor: Timothy Quigley

This year, Wisconsin Public Television celebrates our 43rd year of fantastic fun at Auction – May 31 through June 3, 2018! Help support WPT as you bid on an array of goods and services donated by businesses and individuals from around Wisconsin and beyond.

And for the first year in Auction history, Auction will broadcast across Wisconsin Public Television’s viewing area each day! Don’t forget – you can also preview and bid on items and watch our live stream from anywhere at To bid by phone, dial 800-236-3636.

Each year, generous donors make the WPT Auction magic happen. Quigley Cable Rail (and Quigley Decks) of Madison have donated for two years in a row. We spoke with owner Timothy Quigley to learn about the businesses’ commitment to Auction.

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What We Watch: Erica Lee, Planned Giving Associate

Erica Lee is a planned giving associate at Wisconsin Public Television, working with members of WPT’s Heritage Society. “My role in Planned Giving is very rewarding; I get to speak with WPT super fans every day!” she says.

For the June issue of our member program guide, Airwaves, we caught up with Erica to learn more about her top public television picks.

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