My Favorite Things: Susannah Brooks

WPT's Susannah Brooks stands next to an Antiques Roadshow banner As 2017 winds to a close, we’re looking back on some of our favorite memories of the year. From favorite programs to community events, this was a big year, with fun run-ins and meaningful moments.

Today’s memories come from Susannah Brooks, editor of our monthly member guide, Airwaves. Read on to find out what she’ll remember the most!

It’s hard for me to pinpoint the most memorable moments of the past year. My favorite times were likely all behind the scenes during some of our bigger events.

Jeweled gold tchotchke with a pendant hanging off the middle over a neon green tray... no idea what it is.
If the experts have any idea what this is, I’d love to know.

Welcoming Antiques Roadshow to Green Bay in June was quite the whirlwind. Every item had a story – and we can’t wait to hear some of them this spring when the episodes air! (Particularly some of the more… interesting items.)

I especially enjoyed getting to experience a different part of the state and meeting people who live there, including some of our Friends board members. The day before the big event, I had an hour or so to take a break, I knew we had to be somewhere downtown by dinner, and the only place I could think of was The Attic – the coffee and book shop where we’d filmed Here & Now during Campaign 2016. So I got to pay them another visit and enjoyed a delightful chai… again!

Chefs at Gordon Dining and Event Center hug PBS Kids' Daniel Tiger characterDuring Get Up and Go! Day here in Madison last August, the “characters” got dressed in the lower level of the Gordon Dining and Event Center. While waiting for Daniel Tiger, Clifford and Katerina Kittycat to emerge, I noticed one of the cooks peeking out the door of the kitchen.

There are no words for how excited she was to have Daniel Tiger nearby. A few other staff members came out, too, and we took some photos together. It’s always fun to see adults get excited about PBS Kids characters!

I also spent a lot of time thinking about the impact that Nancy Zieman made on our work, and on the lives of so many viewers.

As a former obit writer, I try not to say that writing obits is FUN, per se. But when you’re attempting to take stock of someone’s life – to give readers a sense of who someone truly was – it’s an amazing opportunity to learn things you’d never expect.

At Quilt Expo 2016, Jaxton Ernst (age 4) shows Nancy his finger-snapping skill – and vice versa.

We got to see so much of that over the past few months. People shared amazing stories about how Nancy gave them the courage to try something new despite obstacles in their way. Others admitted that they weren’t particularly sewing-inclined, but enjoyed tuning in because of Nancy’s calm presence.

If I may editorialize for a moment: it’s easy to dismiss the impact of someone who makes things look easy. It’s especially easy when that person is a Midwestern woman with a calm voice who neither looks nor acts like a “star” and excels at something the world considers a hobby. Judging by the response to her passing, she made more of an impact than many people might have guessed. (Read her New York Times obituary for more.)

Susannah and Nancy at Quilt Expo 2016

After Nancy’s passing, I met her husband Rich at a memorial gathering and told him how honored I was to represent her. As a newer employee, I felt a little awkward among a long line of colleagues who had known her for many years – even decades. But Rich smiled, thanked me, and leaned in to give me a big hug. “Hey, you’re WPT,” he said. “You’re family.”

That’s what I’ll remember the most this year, and what I think about every day: the honor and privilege of working at a place that people consider part of their family. Sometimes things go a little haywire; sometimes it’s hard to share the things our viewers need to know about. 2017 sure had a lot of that.

But it’s always interesting around here, and that’s why I love it. I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store.

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