‘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.

What are you working on right now?
Right now, I am editing together a profile piece on this guy named Dave Rogers. He owns Dave’s Guitar Shop in La Crosse, which is one of the more renowned guitar stores in the country.

It’s huge, it’s crazy; you go there and not only does he have a huge sales floor with all types of guitars, but his personal collection really has some incredibly rare guitars.

I lived in La Crosse for many years, so I’d see him play music around town. He was always really involved if someone was having a fundraiser or raffle; he would always donate something.

He has a really interesting backstory as far as when his business started and where he is now.

What’s your favorite piece you have done for Wisconsin Life? Or one that stands out?
I guess what stands out is the first one I did, the kayaking piece.

I’d been reporting in the La Crosse bureau for about a year, it was around the time I had returned to Wisconsin, that Wisconsin Life was sort of kicking off.

I was like, “I’m gonna go do this story on some people who are in this kayaking club!”

I just wanted to play with audio. I knew one of the women, Jessie Conway. She’s one of the main people in the story. She’s such an awesome woman, and she makes such a great character. I thought, “This’ll just be fun. If Wisconsin Life doesn’t want it, that’s fine, we’ll just play it in La Crosse.”

I just enjoyed editing the sounds of the water. There were such happy people who loved being on Wisconsin waters. My happy place is on Wisconsin waters. So, that was a lot of fun to put together.

When I was a reporter in La Crosse, I loved Wisconsin Life just because I could take a break from the daily news and do something fun.

What’s the best part about working for WPR?
I love the people here. I love my coworkers.

I was on the news team for  8 or 9 years, and I just have such respect for everyone on the team. Everyone does such a great job here. Everyone cares about the work that they do here. It’s nice to be a part of the community of reporters and producers who not only care about their work, but they also really care about the listeners, and most of them love the state of Wisconsin.

I love Wisconsin. I love that I get to do stories about people in Wisconsin. The good and the bad.

And with Wisconsin Life, it’s people doing interesting things. Trying to make the world a better place; just living their life.

Favorite show on WPR?
Besides Wisconsin Life, I am such a news magazine gal. I love Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Just because I love being able to hear how different people across the country are telling these types of stories that I work on, and I’m able to understand what’s going on around the world, and around the country.

When it comes to weekend programs, there are the classics like RadioLab and This American Life. But I frickin’ love A Way With Words. It’s so good. I love language. I love etymology. I love that show so much.

I’ve also really been getting into BETA, the new WPR show that Doug Gordon’s been working on. He’s had some really interested esting guests.

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
I love going to see live music. I like to get outside. I like to garden. I like to eat cheese!

Do you have a favorite place in Wisconsin?
When I lived in La Crosse, my  favorite thing to do, together with my husband, was to head north or south on the Mississippi River. Sometimes we had a planned stop, other times we didn’t. The motor home went through gas really quickly, so we’d only make it out like an hour or two. But there are so many awesome towns along the Mississippi, on the Wisconsin and Minnesota side.

So, we’d just kind of stop when we felt like it. I love Southwest Wisconsin, it’s beautiful there.

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