"Newsmakers" is a weekly news and current affairs talk show produced by WPR's La Crosse News Bureau. Interviews on the program explore politics, education, the environment and other regional issues relevant to southwest Wisconsin and adjacent portions of Minnesota and Iowa. The program airs Fridays at 10 a.m. on The Ideas Network 90.3 La Crosse, with repeat broadcast Fridays at 7 p.m. on NPR News & Music 88.9 La Crosse.
Newsmakers, May 13, 2022
This week on “Newsmakers,” we hear from U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin as she spends the day in La Crosse. Baldwin joins host Ezra Wall to discuss plans to help residents in the area respond to PFAS contamination in local drinking water sources, particularly in the town of Campbell. Then, we discuss getting outdoors and enjoying nature with silent sports, including hiking and paddling. Wall speaks with guests from ORA Trails about their trail restoration and other work. We are also joined by the owner of La Crosse’s Island Outdoors shop, located right on the water and renting canoes, kayaks, water bikes and more on French Island. Wall then talks to paddler Bobbi Rathert (pictured), who is about to kayak the entire length of the Mississippi River in a benefit called ‘Paddling for Hope.’ The effort will raise awareness and funds for Hope Restores, a La Crosse nonprofit advocacy group aimed at empowering the African American community.
Newsmakers, May 6, 2022
Today on “Newsmakers,” we speak with officials from the city of La Crosse to discuss homelessness, and also the new Forward La Crosse future planning campaign and process. Our guests include La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds, Homeless Services Coordinator Brian Sampson, and Tim Acklin, La Crosse Planning Administrator. We then hear about the annual La Crosse River Cleanup Day from Russ Wilson, Co-chair of the planning committee, and how to become involved with the event scheduled for Saturday, May 7.
Newsmakers, April 29, 2022
We celebrate Independent Bookstore Day on today’s “Newsmakers” program by speaking with the owners of Driftless Books and Music in Viroqua, Paperbacks and Pieces in Winona, and acknowledging Pearl Street Books La Crosse. Guests join host Ezra Wall to discuss the annual recognition, Saturday, April 30, as a one-day national party in independent bookstores across the country to recognize and celebrate their uniqueness and importance. They also share how they each got started and what plans they have in store (literally) moving forward. Next, Wall speaks with musicians and organizers of the annual Mid West Music Festival in Winona, April 29 and 30. We hear from Dylan Hilliker, executive director of the festival, and performing musicians Luke Callen, formerly of La Crosse, and Siri Undlin of Humbird. They share what it was like to live in Minneapolis during the 2020 social justice uprisings, and how resulting deep self-reflection impacted their creativity.
Newsmakers, April 22, 2022
This week on “Newsmakers,” we hear from guests involved in the 2022 Holocaust Remembrance event on April 28, at the Congregation Sons of Abraham in La Crosse. Show host Ezra Wall speaks with Rabbi Brian Serle, who will lead the service at the synagogue, and Olena Belka (pictured), a native of Ukraine, who will be honored at the event. A La Crosse resident of eight years, Belka helps coordinate the Ukraine Food Relief Campaign in response to the ongoing war there. We then honor Earth Day in a conversation with Casey Meehan and Carrie Thompson, both with the Sustainability Institute La Crosse. They share details with Wall on this year’s Earth Fair celebration in Myrick Park on Sunday, April 24. The discussion includes year-round efforts to help mitigate climate change and why it’s so important.
Newsmakers, April 15, 2022
We hear from three different area Habitat for Humanity organizations on this week’s “Newsmakers” program. Host Ezra Wall speaks with executive directors from locations in La Crosse, Winona, and Adams/Juneau County about their efforts to assist with the ongoing housing crisis, including associated discount home-improvement Re-Stores. They also discuss recent news of the large transformational donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott to Habitat for Humanity International, and 83 U.S. Habitat affiliate organizations, including La Crosse. Next, Wall speaks with multi-disciplinary artist Akiko Ostlund (pictured) about her work examining how racism is normalized in daily life. Ostlund is the current Artist in Residence for Lanesboro Arts in southeast Minnesota. Also joining the discussion is Melissa Wray, program director for Lanesboro Arts.
Newsmakers, April 8, 2022
Two uniquely different La Crosse youth centers are featured this week on our “Newsmakers” program. Host Ezra Wall speaks with the founder and executive director of The Good Fight Community Center, providing at-risk youth with hope, encouragement, and a safe environment to develop personal goals. We also hear from the center’s program coordinator and how her involvement eventually led to an opportunity to join the staff. Wall then talks to founding executive director of the Warehouse, an all-ages no alcohol concert venue that opened its doors over 30 years ago in the historic district of downtown La Crosse. Joining the conversation is also one of the Warehouse Alliance Board members. Next, enjoy listening to the world premiere of “Stella Teegarden,” a work for choir and percussion by Estonian composer Urmas Sisask, and performed last month by the University of Wisconsin-Superior Music Department. Percussionist and professor Brent Jones tells WPR “Simply Superior” host Robin Washington of the significance of the work, which is presented on the program in full.