My day job is director of community media for the City of Monona. I oversee our radio station—98.7, WVMO—the community access channel and the AV club at Monona Grove high school. I also handle a variety of other AV assignments for the district. This role is a partnership between the City of Monona and the Monona school district.
My background is in video production. I have an undergraduate degree in electronic media from UW-Whitewater. During college I worked at an AM radio station in Whitewater and when I graduated my first job was being a camera operator for the morning news at Channel 3. I eventually graduated to directing the noon newscast.
I decided to branch out a bit and ending up doing freelance work for a chiropractor who had decided to try filming weddings. This was in the “old days” when you found a job through the Yellow Pages and cold calls. I eventually went to work in this role full time.
Filming weddings can be stressful and the days are certainly long. The biggest stress during a wedding tends to be the audio: 80% of a good video is good audio. But some of the pressure is off because the couple has hired you based on your way of filming a wedding video—you don’t have to re-invent yourself with each wedding. Plus, 90% of the time, you’re taking part in the happiest day of someone’s life so that’s a lot of fun.
After that I decided to get my graduate degree in mass communication. I came out of that program in 2003, just as the Iraq war had ended. I did a lot of research on how the news is framed and how our opinions of what’s important are shaped by the media. It’s fascinating to be aware of that.
My first job after grad school was with Andy Garcia, a video production company with two clients: Sub-Zero and Harley Davidson. Working on those accounts I had the chance to go all over the country and gained skills in project management, production, editing, videography, lighting and story telling. I followed that being an instructor at Madison Media Institute.
In my role with the City of Monona, I love helping the students learn how to tell a story through video. Sure, anyone can make a video on their phone, but not everyone can produce a video and tell a story. That’s the difference I stress with these students: the importance of telling a story.
I feel very fortunate that I’ve always known what I wanted to do. Since the summer I was 13 years old and used my lawn mowing money to buy stereo equipment, I’ve always known something in the world of audiovisual was where my future should be.
My most memorable caffeine was the coffee I used to drink working on the morning news show at Channel 3. I had to be there at 3:45 a.m., which means you’re waking up in the middle of the night. We’d all be tired and slap happy and drink a lot of coffee. That was the first time I ever drank coffee. I added a lot of sugar. It wasn’t really coffee; it was watered-down glucose.
My current caffeine of choice is a mocha, which my wife got me into. I always like a little bit of chocolate.
My favorite place for caffeine is Rosie’s Coffee Bar and Bakery. It’s near the high school and I really enjoy the owner, Coz. I believe the shop is named after her mom. Coz has a brother with special needs and has gone out of her way to hire kids from the high school with special needs to work at the shop.
The people I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with are two presidents—FDR and Barack Obama—and Vince Lombardi. I’d love to sit down with FDR and Obama, together, to get their insights and perspectives on what was happening in the world during their times in the White House. And it would be pretty interesting to see what Lombardi was really like.
World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: homelessness. There’s such a stigma associated with it and such ignorance around what could have brought a person to this point. There are plenty of people who are going to work and handling their responsibilities, who are living out of their car because they can’t afford a place to stay. Think of all the problems that would disappear if we could eliminate homelessness.
I had the opportunity to learn more about homelessness when I worked with Tyler Schueffner, coordinator of the Briarpatch Street Outreach Program to create a video. Tyler works with runaway teens and that experience has always stuck with me.