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7 programs that we’ll remember: ‘Central Time’ staff picks 2022 favorites

WHYsconsin questions, music and film among programs that stood out

A statue shows a troll in a top hat holding a large golden key.
The mayor troll is on display outside of the Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, in Mt. Horeb, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Central Time” is a live, call-in program hosted by Rob Ferrett that provides news and thoughtful conversation through a Wisconsin lens.

As 2022 comes to a close, we asked its team of producers to pick a segment that stood out from the hundreds they produced over the year.

Follow the links below to listen to each show.

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The history of ‘sundown towns’ in Wisconsin

Anna, Illinois
Dusk settles over Anna, Ill., on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. “Sundown towns” like Anna were places where Black people were allowed in during the day to work or shop but had to be gone by nightfall. Today, some still exist in various forms, enforced now by tradition and fear rather than by rules. Wong Maye-E/AP Photo

Producer: Rachael Vasquez

Air date: May 19

Summary: As part of WPR’s WHYsconsin project, a listener asked a question about the history of Wisconsin’s “sundown towns.” Two historians joined us to dig into the legacy of racism in these cities and the ongoing projects to document their history of discrimination.

Why I liked it: It was awesome to be able to take a question from our audience and both track down an answer for them about a really important (and not often talked about) part of Wisconsin’s history, and to be able to share that knowledge with Central Time’s listeners. Both of the researchers we talked to in the segment had so much knowledge to share, and it was interesting to hear our callers’ memories of sundown towns in the Midwest.

How protest music has changed over the decades

A record playing on a turntable
A vinyl jazz record playing on a turntable, Thursday, May 27, 2021, in Falmouth, Maine. Robert F. Bukaty/AP Photo

Producer: Lorin Cox

Air date: May 5

Summary: The 1960s and ’70s are remembered as an era of protest music, but songs continue to serve as political expression for musicians. We explored how protest music changed over the decades and what forms it takes today.

Why I liked it: Any time we can take the talk show format and cross it over into music, it’s always a treat. Our guest, Alexander Shashko, helped draw connections across generations and genres so listeners of any age or identity could find a way to relate to the universal languages of music and protest.

WHYsconsin: Norwegian culture and trolls in Mount Horeb

Mount Horeb Trolls
ali eminov

Producer: Tim Peterson

Air date: July 27

Summary: A folklore expert — and longtime Mount Horeb resident — answered a WHYsconsin question about the Wisconsin village’s Norwegian cultural roots and its thing for trolls.

Why I liked it: This segment was truly years in the making. I first set up a field reporting trip to Mount Horeb for March 2020 involving multiple community member interviews as well as the listener who posed the question that inspired the trip. We ended up postponing the interviews for more than two years due to the pandemic. This Central Time segment was informed by that reporting trip, and it was the culmination of training to host an interview myself. Great Wisconsin content, community engagement, and professional development rolled into one!

Jonathan Van Ness visits Wisconsin for second comedy tour

jonathan van ness
Jonathan Van Ness attends the world premiere of “Cats,” at Alice Tully Hall, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, in New York. Evan Agostini/AP Photo

Digital Producer: Emilie Burditt

Air date: Oct. 12

Summary: Queer icon Jonathan Van Ness came to Wisconsin this year for his second comedy tour, “Imaginary Living Room Olympian.” He joined us to talk about his tour, queer joy and self-empowerment.

Why I liked it: It was just so absolutely wholesome to speak with JVN!

Bison: The biggest, baddest animal in Wisconsin (sort of)

A bison runs in the snow
In this Feb. 12, 2011 file photo a bison from Yellowstone National Park walks through the snow. Ted S. Warren/AP Photo

Producer: Colleen Leahy

Air date: April 13

Summary: A fourth-grader asked WHYsconsin what the biggest animal in Wisconsin is. A biologist who studies the size and shape of animals joined us to talk about Wisconsin’s biggest animal today. Then, we talk to a geologist about the giant animals of prehistoric Wisconsin, including an enormous squid.

Why I liked it: I had so much fun producing this piece, and I think that comes through for listeners. I relished the opportunity to get creative and weird with this and make connections between animals who seem like they have nothing to do with each other. I’m also just an animal lover!

Hearing about your best cooking advice on Food Friday

cooking vegetables
markusluiga (CC0)

Host: Rob Ferrett

Air date: Nov. 4

Summary: During an impromptu “caller only” Food Friday, listeners shared their cooking tips and greatest accomplishments in the kitchen.

Why I liked it: There have been so many great guests and conversations this year to choose from, so I decided to be selfish and pick one that I had a lot of fun with! A Food Friday guest didn’t show up, but the listeners did, with great cooking advice and stories. I had a blast talking to so many of you!

How (and why) to get into foreign-language films

Director of
Bong Joon Ho poses in the press room with the awards for best director for “Parasite” and for best international feature film for “Parasite” from South Korea at the Oscars in Los Angeles on Feb. 9, 2020. Bong Joon Ho won a total of four awards, including one for best original screenplay and best picture. Jordan Strauss/AP Photo

Executive Producer: Dean Knetter

Air date: April 12

Summary: Foreign language films may feel like they take more effort to watch, but our guest says it’s well worth taking the leap. She shares some of the joys of international films and where to get started.

Why I liked it: Our guest Jocelyn Szczepaniak-Gillece of UW-Milwaukee is always a joy to talk to. I explored a lot of foreign movie directors this year, so I was extra excited to hear what Jocelyn had to say about this. Plus, the calls we got from listeners gave me even more films to check out!

“Central Time” welcomes feedback and show suggestions. Email centraltime@wpr.org.

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