WPT Producer Joel Waldinger Shares His Wisconsin Life

Wisconsin Life relies on its producers to tell the stories of the people who make the show what it is. Their abilities to capture the emotion off camera and present it on camera is truly inspiring. One of those talented producers is Joel Waldinger. Ahead of this season’s premiere 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, we caught up with Joel to ask a few questions about his life in and outside of Wisconsin Life. Read on to uncover Joel’s Wisconsin Life!

What is your favorite Wisconsin Life story and why?

Picking a favorite is hard. I’ve met many inspiring people, like the farmer who lost everything and then built a house out of mud and lives in and off the land, he’s completely off the grid.

Or there’s the six-time world champion log roller from Hayward, who was so motivated by the terrorist attacks of 9/11 he joined the military. He was injured in Iraq, lost most of one arm and injured the other. His log rolling career would be over, but that’s not how the story ends. Never doubt the persistence and tenacity of JR Salzman. His story is so fascinating I never wanted the interview to end.

What is the most fun you have had yet working on Wisconsin Life?

I always have fun, whether it’s banding baby bald eagles in Vilas County or exploring a cave discovered beneath a senior living center in Door County.

One of the most unique stories I’ve ever done was a profile on a member of the band Badfinger. He was part of the ’70s rock band that was first signed to Apple Records by the Beatles stopping by my family’s garage sale, and the rest is Wisconsin Life history.

What do you love about Wisconsin?

Summer, brats, the Packers, the Badgers and time at the lake. It doesn’t get much more Wisconsin than that, and I’m not even from Wisconsin!

You’re having a dream dinner party. What three people, dead or alive –real or fictional, would you invite?

Dr. Martin Luther King (we share a birthday), Jesse Owens and Abraham Lincoln.

When not working on Wisconsin Life what are your hobbies?

Both vegetable and flower gardens are my passion along with fixing up my cabin property. Anything at the lake or in the garden, count me in!

Joel Waldinger is a producer for Wisconsin Life. Joel has been with Wisconsin Public Television for 10 years now and is recognized by the UW System as a Distinguished Senior Broadcast Specialist. Joel has won seven Midwest Regional Emmys and has been nominated 17 times. He is a two-time RIAS German American Journalism Fellow, and has worked at television stations in Peoria, IL, Springfield, Mo, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Green Bay before landing in Madison at Wisconsin Public Television.

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