WTMJ-TV’s Charles Benson is among Milwaukee’s most respected reporters, delivering news from the field and from the anchor desk for 25 years. Although he’s lost count of his journalistic awards, the ones that matter most are those that recognize his coverage of big breaking stories. Charles is at his best when the story is challenging, complex and changing. Colleagues will tell you he’s a master of sourcing (his contact file is a journalistic treasure trove), critical thinking under pressure, and the ability to report a story with clarity, accuracy and command – live as it happens. Benson’s love of broadcast journalism is as strong today as it was in high school, when he worked at a radio station in his home town of Greenwich, Connecticut. He studied journalism at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, becoming a permanent Midwesterner, starting at Peoria’s WRAU-TV before moving to WBAY-TV in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In 1986 he signed on at WITI-TV in Milwaukee, where he earned his first major reporting accolades for his coverage of the closing of the AMC Chrysler plant in Kenosha that displaced thousands of workers. Covering that story, he confronted legendary Lee Iacocca at a news conference in New York City and chased him around the country focusing on Iacocca’s broken promise to the people of Kenosha and Wisconsin. After 15 years at WITI, Charles moved to Madison as primary anchor at WKOW-TV, returning to Milwaukee in 2004 to report and anchor for WTMJ-TV. He’s covered seven political conventions – a dream assignment for this lifelong politics junkie, interviewed presidents and candidates, and never missed a chance to help explain the complexities of government – both local and national. When Charles is not working, he is usually working out. He loves to swim, bike, run and train for triathlons. This year he is competing in the Ironman Wisconsin competition.
Rita Hagen was born and raised in Sparta, Wisconsin. One of seven children, she learned the skills of a producer early in life, organizing and back timing tasks in order to help her family with everything from household chores to child care, from farm work to cooking. Raised with the values of hard work, integrity, and community service, Rita credits her family with providing her the tools that she put to use in her broadcasting career. In 1973, she came to Milwaukee to attend Marquette University where she studied Political Science and Philosophy, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa the same year the team won the NCAA championship. Exploring career options, Rita worked for U. S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) on policy issues; was a researcher at a law firm; and served as the director of a non-profit family service agency. She was the first director of the National Conference on Domestic Violence held in Milwaukee. An active volunteer in Milwaukee’s Hispanic community, her work was recognized by the Center for Public Representation with an award for “Outstanding Private Citizen.” Her volunteer work led Rita to change career paths. Accepted into the master’s program in Journalism and Mass Communication at UW-Madison, she worked for WHA-TV while in school. After graduation she was hired by WISN to work on the assignment desk and as an associate producer. In her three decades in broadcasting, Rita has held every job in the Channel 12 newsroom except anchor, photographer and engineer. As a field producer, she traveled extensively in the U.S. and abroad, where she coordinated coverage of nationally and internationally significant stories and events. Known for her love of original and long format reporting, Rita has created, produced and launched several award-winning programs, including: 12 News On Assignment with Kathy Mykleby, a prime time news magazine, Upfront with Mike Gousha – a statewide public affairs show, the political debate series recognized with the Cronkite Award – Upfront Town Hall Challenge, Big 12 Sports Saturday, and audience favorite, 12’s Season to Celebrate, an annual holiday spectacular. Rita has also worked for WCCO-TV and has credits as an independent producer for several documentaries, most notably, The Healing Circle, a documentary about the victims of clergy sex abuse.
Mike Miller is the only person in Milwaukee television history to anchor the news at all three of the city’s ‘Big Three’ network-affiliated stations. After a remarkable 32 years in local television, he was inducted into the Milwaukee Press Club’s prestigious Media Hall of Fame in 2011. Mike graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and in 1975, began his broadcasting career in that city. In just three years, he made a rare jump straight to the Milwaukee market, becoming a respected reporter, anchor and newsroom leader from 1978-1990 at WITI, then a CBS affiliate. In 1990, he was hired by NBC-affiliated WTMJ-TV to anchor their expanding Daybreak program. He left there with the city’s top-rated morning show in 2003, and signed a contract (the same day!) with WISN-TV, the ABC affiliate. With Mike at the anchor desk, WISN launched the market’s first one-hour Sunday 10:00 p.m. newscast, which consistently ranked among the most-watched in the entire United States. Throughout his career, Mike won many anchoring, reporting and news writing awards from the Associated Press, United Press International, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and the Milwaukee Press Club. But his favorite part of the job was telling interesting stories about real people. When he retired in 2010, WISN-TV placed a commemorative plaque on its History Wall, saying that Mike “will be remembered for the humor and experience he brought to our newsroom, his accomplishments as an anchor, and his many contributions to the community.”
In his 41st year in broadcasting, Jim Paschke is celebrating his 28th season as the television “Voice of the Milwaukee Bucks”. He works year-round as the Bucks Broadcast Director focusing on various team broadcast ventures, and contributes content to the Bucks’ Website with his “Paschketball” features. Jim also serves as a featured speaker for the Bucks in the community. A native of Bloomington, Minnesota, he attended the University of Minnesota and Brown College in Minneapolis before beginning his broadcast career in radio in Knoxville, Iowa. He moved to television in Sioux City, Iowa, and later Peoria, Illinois, and Madison, Wisconsin. Jim was Sports Director at WMTV-TV15 in Madison for three years and doubled as an analyst for University of Wisconsin football and basketball games. In 1980, Jim joined WITI-TV6 in Milwaukee and later served as the station’s Sports Director. From 1987-91 and 1995-96, he was the television voice of the Milwaukee Brewers. Jim has also handled play-by-play duties for Marquette University basketball, the Milwaukee Admirals (IHL) hockey, the NCAA Division III Baseball Championships, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and the Beloit Brewers Baseball. He returned to WITI-TV in 1992 to serve as moderator of the station’s popular Talking Sports program, which earned a Chicago/Midwest Emmy® Award the very next year. Jim is a four-time regional Emmy® Award winner. In 2007, he became a member of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame as “A Friend of Basketball”. Jim also serves as an honorary MACC Fund (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer) board member.
Andrew P. Potos spent the majority of his 36-year career at WITI-TV, a tenure marked by his competitive zeal for news excellence and his commitment to community service in a town where grew up. He attended Milwaukee’s Lincoln High School and Marquette University, earning a B.A. and M.A. in History, and started his career as an English and History teacher at Washington High School. In 1961, he signed on with WITI-TV as an account executive, followed by stints at Storer Broadcasting corporate sales divisions in Chicago and New York. But his goal was to return home and to lead WITI-TV. As those who know him will attest, when Andy Potos sets a goal for himself or his team, success follows. He became General Manager of WITI-TV in 1981 and held that post until his retirement in 1996. Visitors to the station couldn’t help but notice what the station staff took for granted: many of the department heads Andy promoted and mentored were women. He didn’t see himself as a trailblazer; saying he just hired on the basis of talent and loyalty to the station’s mission. For him, that mission was news excellence and service to community, documented by the news and editorial awards that lined the walls of the station’s atrium. During his tenure, WITI-TV was repeatedly named “Station of the Year” for community service by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and dominated news excellence competitions. The station’s efforts collected toys and clothing for needy children, filled the pantries of food banks, taught CPR to hundreds of residents, generated donations of lifesaving blood and bone marrow for patients, and raised millions for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which awarded him its “Distinguished Broadcaster” honor. Andy served on a variety of boards and chaired numerous community fundraising events, regularly co-hosting many with his wife Kathy. When he retired in 1996, the station’s newsroom surprised him with a gift: a framed portrait of the staff, all clustered around the news set, with a message echoing the signature phrase he often used to describe them: “Thanks, Andy - from the Best Damn News Team, Bar None.”
Sally Severson has been providing early morning weather broadcasts on 12 News This Morning since the morning newscast began in 1988. An award-winning meteorologist, she has covered weather-related disasters in Wisconsin and around the country, including first-hand reports from Punta Gorda, Florida, during Hurricane Charley in 2004. During the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001, Sally was in Switzerland and Belgium and provided reports the U.S. and foreign press about how Americans traveling in Europe were handling the news from America. In May of 2013, Sally traveled to Moore, Oklahoma, to report on the killer tornado and its aftermath. She was awarded “Best Weathercast” this year by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association. Sally also received a Chicago/Midwest Emmy® Award for her work on WISN’s documentary Street Smart Kids. Actively involved with the community, she particularly enjoys working with and for children. She has helped raise funds for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and the American Diabetes Foundation. Sally has also visited hundreds of schools, presenting interactive weather demonstrations before thousands of young minds in classrooms throughout southeastern Wisconsin. She is also involved with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and chairs an important fund-raiser for her own children’s school in Mequon. Sally attended Northern Illinois University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and received her degree in Broadcast Meteorology from Mississippi State University. Her TV career began in Rockford, Illinois, at WREX-TV and she was tutored by National Weather Service pros stationed at the Greater Rockford Airport.
Since 1988, Kent has provided WISN-12 News viewers with coverage of important issues from local concerns to national campaigns. He has covered the political battles that put Wisconsin in the national spotlight and conducted in-depth interviews with many of the country’s most high-profile political leaders, twice conducting one-on-one interviews at the White House with the President of the United States. Kent brought Milwaukee viewers in-depth reporting of national political conventions, went on the road with Presidential candidates, and into local communities with coverage of the issues that impact residents in their own neighborhoods. In addition to political reporting, Kent’s investigative reports have earned national honors including a Peabody Award, the Edward R. Murrow and Clarion Awards, as well as seven regional Emmy® Awards and numerous honors from the Wisconsin Broadcasters’ Association, the Milwaukee Press Club and others. His reporting helped WISN-12’s News Team uncover a serious flaw in home smoke alarms, which had proved ineffective in waking young children during a fire. The series of reports led to action by the smoke alarm industry and the federal government. Kent’s reports following the trail of lost Milwaukee manufacturing jobs to new factories in Mexico opened viewers’ eyes to the dramatic shift occurring in the local economy. And his investigative reports into fire dangers associated with a dangerous type of home building material were used as a training tool by scores of fire departments across the country, including New York and Chicago, as well as several departments across Europe and Canada. As WISN-12’s Action 12 reporter, Kent investigated consumer-related issues and helped viewers resolve their consumer troubles. His reporting also led to the passage of new state laws to better protect Wisconsin consumers. Prior to joining WISN, Kent worked as a reporter at WDTN-TV in Dayton, Ohio (1984-88). He began his professional career as a reporter/anchor at WTWO-TV in Terre Haute, Indiana (1980-84). He grew up in Des Plaines, Illinois, and graduated from Northern Illinois University, with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.