Jack Abrams is a little uncomfortable being in the spotlight. The soft-spoken producer/director has spent 30 years behind the scenes at Milwaukee Public TV.
"I never wanted to be an on-camera person," Abrams told me this week. "I'm more of a detail person, lining everything, getting everything in order.
"I'm behind the scenes, nobody knows my face. Maybe you've read my name if you've stuck around to watch the credits at the end of a show."
This weekend, Abrams takes center stage as one of five new members of the Silver Circle, a group of Milwaukee TV veterans honored by the Chicago-Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Most TV viewers have a good idea of what a director does. But the duties of a producer aren't so clear. Abrams explains it this way:
"I kinda equate being a producer to a prep chef working in a kitchen. We get all the ingredients together everything that needs to go into the production: lining up the people, setting up the facilities, designing the graphics, picking out music. You get all the parts and pieces together, mix it all together, hand it off to the director."
He's best known as producer/director of Milwaukee Public TV's "Outdoor Wisconsin," which has run for 26 seasons. After all these years, he's now at home in Wisconsin's woods.
"I'm not such a big hunter and fisherman, but I've learned to use and appreciate the outdoors and all the resources that the state has to offer."
"We've gone out many times and not caught something," he says of the show's long run. "But, you know, people appreciate and enjoy the fact that we don't catch something all the time, because they say, 'You know what? That's real life.'"
By Tim Cuprisin, OnMilwaukee.com
Clayborn describes his life as fortunate, “As a kid, I was poor without the bare necessities. As an adult, the Lord has blessed me with a clear understanding of who I am - my strengths and weaknesses. My greatest inspiration is my desire to see every young person know of contributions of black people to history.” Clayborn is the Founder and Executive Director of Wisconsin Black Historical Society Museum. He says, “I envision Milwaukee's black community having an integral part in Milwaukee's future. As for my part, through the Historical Society, I hope to teach how great a people we really are. I feel it is through knowledge of ancestral accomplishments that young black children can achieve their true potential.” Clayborn had a 39-year career in television news and sports as photojournalist for WTMJ-TV. He has won countless accolades including induction into the Milwaukee Press Club’s Hall of Fame and he won a 2001 National Association of Black Journalists Award. Clayborn has mentored young photojournalist and taught news photography at UW-Milwaukee, public history and civil rights at Marquette University and a news cinema photography course through the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
While always a serious presence on-air, Ed Hinshaw never failed to make people laugh off the camera.
"He was thoughtful and serious about the responsibilities that go with journalism," said Mike Gousha, a former WTMJ anchor. "But the thing I loved and will miss most about him is his wonderful sense of humor."
During 37 years at WTMJ-TV (Channel 4), he served as an anchor, reporter, assignment editor, producer, editorial director, director and manager of public affairs at WTMJ and vice president of human resources for Journal Broadcast Group.
Hinshaw was born in Aurora, Ill., in 1940 and began his broadcast career as a freshman in high school at KXRA-AM in Minnesota in 1955. After graduating from Edina High School in Minnesota, he attended Harvard College, where he worked at WHRB, the Harvard radio station.
After stints in Minnesota and Washington, D.C., Hinshaw moved to Milwaukee and joined WTMJ as a reporter in 1965.
Hinshaw was known as the "white-haired statesman with a big voice and big presence," which made him the best choice to deliver the station's on-air editorials, said retired anchor and reporter Mike Jacobs, another former colleague of Hinshaw.
While now a thing of the past, editorials were once as common as weather forecasts on television, and Hinshaw was instrumental in raising the popularity of television editorial commentary.
But Hinshaw will not only be remembered for his commentary. His role as "Coach Ed" on the Reitman and Mueller radio show on WKTI in the '80s and '90s was also a classic.
As "Coach Ed," Hinshaw would read lyrics to pop songs like "Billy Jean" by Michael Jackson in his booming voice.
Wearing a hat and sunglasses, he looked like a member of The Blues Brothers, said Jacobs. "It was his alter-ego," Gousha said.
Over the years, Hinshaw was a board member of the National First Amendment Congress, chairman of Milwaukee Urban League board and the Milwaukee Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a member of the National Broadcast Editorial Association.
A past president of the Milwaukee Press Club, Hinshaw received numerous awards, including the National Broadcast Editorial Association's 1990 National Award for Excellence in Editorials and the Society of Professional Journalists' National Award for Distinguished Service. He was also a member of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame and Milwaukee Press Club Hall of Fame.
In 2010, Hinshaw was honored with a "Silver Circle Award" from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for his lifetime achievements in broadcasting.
Hinshaw helped lead the effort to bring cameras into Wisconsin courtrooms, for which he received the 1994 Freedom of Information Award from the Milwaukee Chapter of Professional Journalists.
"He reinforced beliefs that I held as a journalist that we have to be fair and look for multiple sides of a story because they're not just all black and white," Jacobs said. "Often there's a lot of gray area in between."
Off camera, Hinshaw was passionate about giving back and public service. He served on the Milwaukee Center for Independence governance committee, on the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation.
"He wasn't just a figure on TV, he was invested in the community," Jacobs said.
Hinshaw passed away in 2016.
From Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Longtime FOX6 News anchor Tom Hooper spent more than three decades on the air and pioneered WITI’s Contact 6. His baritone voice was the most trusted in Milwaukee news for years. He passed away at the age of 85 in October 2018.
Tom Hooper was Milwaukee's "Mr. Fix-It" -- a soldier for the everyday person. So popular that a media consultant once recommended TV 6 change its name to Contact 6 after the segment Tom pioneered.
At a time when a sock puppet helped deliver the evening news, Tom launched his "consumer watchdog" segment. Over the years, he demanded answers and held people accountable.
If you'd been scammed out of your money, you turned to Tom to get it back.
In 1988, Tom uncovered a weakness in state law that was allowing abused children to be sent back into the homes where they'd been harmed. His reporting convinced state legislatures to change the law.
So well thought of in the community, a shooting suspect once turned himself in to Tom at a crime scene.
Those who knew Tom say he had a desk so messy a fire marshal declared it a hazard and ordered he clean it up.
Tom was a committed host of the MDA Telethon.
He was a serious journalist who didn't take himself too seriously; a trait on display during his many product tests.
Tom had a blow torch blasted into his face to test a fireproof hood, and even locked himself in a car on a hot day to measure the impact on his vital signs.
Tom bid farewell to TV news in 1999 and moved to Florida -- away from the city that loved him but never far from his heart.
By Jenna Sachs, fox6now.com
Bunny Raasch-Hooten earned a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and Advertising at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and spent the major part of her career at WISN-TV Milwaukee working as a reporter, producer, anchor, assistant news director and news director and along the way repositioned news programming to capture top ratings. She developed an investigative team and coordinated news, public affairs and informational programming to focus on major issues including violence against women; airline safety; and parental kidnapping. In 1996, she was inducted into the Milwaukee Press Club’s Hall of Fame. Earlier she worked at WTMJ-TV as a producer/director and a news program moderator. She has taught at Marquette University and Carroll College and was on the advisory committee for UWM’s Department of Mass Communication. Before Milwaukee, she worked in Pittsburgh at WQED-TV. A long believer in community service, she has served on multiple Boards and has been active as a consultant for non-profit fundraising events.