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The 2024 Republican National Convention will be in Milwaukee July 15-18, 2024.

Will Milwaukee Record staff stay in Milwaukee during GOP convention?

Milwaukee Record is a local digital site featuring 'music, culture and gentle sarcasm.'
Maayan Silver
Milwaukee Record is a local digital site featuring 'music, culture and gentle sarcasm.'

The digital site Milwaukee Record is known for “music, culture and gentle sarcasm.” It’s a resource Milwaukeeans can turn to when any number of quirky events or developments unfold here, whether that’s the closing of a favorite local movie theatre or the whereabouts of a famous Milwaukee power walker that slightly resembles an X-Men character. WUWM checked in with Matt Wild, one of the site’s co-founders, ahead of the Republican National Convention, to see how they’re preparing for the political spotlight in the city.

Your voter guides are really boiled down to a sense of what people would need to know in, like, 2 minutes, which is basically all people have anyway in their life. Can you tell us about them?

Yeah, that's a good summation of our political coverage. It's basically inspired by people texting me, friends of mine texting me, saying ‘Hey, who is this county supervisor that I've never heard of. Who should I vote for?’ And, so, I figured, yeah, for our voting guides, it should just be the bare minimum. You're in the booth. You're scrolling through. What do I need to know? Which side does this person fall on? And that's all you need to know. So that's very typical of our political coverage, we don't do endorsements or anything like that, but we're very bare bones, I think, in a helpful way.

Around the 2022 midterm elections, you published an article about ‘9 Milwaukee places to relax or break stuff, should you need to do such things in the upcoming days

Yeah. Wow. You know, frankly, I forgot that we had published that, but I'm glad you brought it up because it feels like we could definitely do a redo of that for 2024. So thanks for that.

And on that note, are you thinking about RNC coverage? Or are you not even going there yet? I mean, we have a couple weeks.

My opinion on the RNC both just as a citizen of Milwaukee and as a someone who writes about Milwaukee, my opinion on it has changed and has fluctuated so much in the last two years and certainly I think, even more in within the last two weeks.

Just at first when it was announced that the RNC would be coming to Milwaukee and in the very beginning, I was excited because it felt like, ‘Oh, good, this is a do over, obviously, for the the 2020 DNC,’ which really not only didn't happen but was just kind of this weird black hole downtown. It wasn't that it just didn't happen, but downtown was still kind of fenced off and there was just nothing going on down there, obviously, during the height of the pandemic.

So when it was announced that the RNC would be coming to Milwaukee, I was kind of excited. I was like, 'Oh, good. This is a do over,' and then as time went on, it was like, 'Wait a minute. Why should we be hosting this political party who seems to have nothing but contempt for the very city that they want to throw their little party at?' And of course, that has really been amplified in the last few weeks with Trump's comments about 'Milwaukee is a horrible city.' Did he say that? Did he not? Was it — in what context did he say it?

And just that entire conversation has become so toxic and is so wearying to witness being hashed out online, that at this point, frankly, I'm really contemplating just doing what I know a lot of people are going to be doing for the RNC, and that is just kind of heading out of town and maybe staring at some trees for four or five days in the Wisconsin wilderness and not only just being out of town for the RNC but not covering it.

[Also] I don't have a media credential to get inside the RNC. I think that's wise. I don't think I should be allowed to have a media credential for any political party to be honest.

You could paraphrase it as should I stay or should I go?

Exactly that. I think that is the way to put it. And that question has not been answered yet. Like I said, it may come down to the wire. And just like I said the conversations around it have become so toxic in the last few weeks, especially, that there's just part of me that just kind of wants no part of it.

And is the lyric, ‘If I stay there could be trouble. If I go there could be double.’ Is that what it is? I can’t remember.

That's true too. And actually it brings up a good point, too. There's this idea of like, well, we obviously should stay in Milwaukee for that week and cover this because as we're told time and time again, 'the eyes of the world will be on Milwaukee during this week.'

And why shouldn't we be, you know, in that coverage and contributing to that coverage? And if all eyes are on Milwaukee, then you know a lot of those eyes may fall upon Milwaukee Record and our coverage.

So there's that idea of like, well, maybe something something terrible or maybe something great would happen during that week or something monumental. And if I'm, you know, in the woods somewhere up in northern Wisconsin, we'd miss that.

So that's that's a worry, I guess. You know we we'd be missing out on all that sweet, sweet traffic, we could be getting, but the more and more I think about it too, you know, like I said, people say, 'oh, the eyes of the world will be on Milwaukee,' and I don't doubt they will be on Milwaukee for those four days, but after those four days are gone who will be left but us Milwaukeeans.

Would you have felt that way [possibly leaving] about the DNC, though?

I don't know, the DNC, I mean, it's easy to say that, 'well, did you think that about the DNC?' Well, no, I didn't, because there weren't loads of politicians, Democratic politicians, talking trash about Milwaukee. So there's the difference. Did I think it was going to be the giant boon that it was made out to be business wise for the DNC? No, that seemed a little overblown to me as well. But I don't know it's. I guess it's easy to try to look for equal sides here. But the fact is that the sides aren't equal in the discourse.

When it comes to Milwaukee, there is definitely one political party that has said very, very nasty things about Milwaukee and one political party that has said fewer nasty things about Milwaukee. So yes, my feelings about the DNC versus the RNC were a little different. Business wise. I think they were more and more aligned.

Milwaukee Record is very unique in the Milwaukee media landscape, letting people know about quirky things happening here. For instance, your writers just did a story with definitive gas station pizza rankings, and let people know which Cousin Subs is better of the two at Exit 64 just north of Milwaukee. SO, I was wondering, putting politics aside, which I know is very difficult to do, but just having this big event happening in the city and in southeastern Wisconsin where you're so tied to and connected. How do you feel about outsiders knowing this type of inside information? Like where do you, where do you stand on that? Just as someone who traffics in these kind of funny stories and quirky stories.

You're right. We certainly do specialize, I think, at our best in very, very hyper-local stories. Not all of them are—I wouldn't call them inside jokes, but sometimes a lot of our content does kind of almost take the form of inside jokes. You know, we're talking about very, very specific things to the Milwaukee experience. I mean, we have T-shirts and merchandise about that feature, pictures of the snow pile that forms outside the Marcus Center Performing Arts Center parking garage every winter.

We have T-shirts with the railroad bridge going into Bayview, where semis always get stuck. So yes, we do specialize in these very, very specific things. And I do understand that people like Visit Milwaukee obviously are appealing to a much broader audience. They're appealing to people who want to visit here where I think we, Milwaukee Record, we specialize in people that already do live here and who are kind of in on all the Milwaukee culture and maybe some of those Milwaukee inside references or inside jokes — if you want to call them that. So, I think that's where we shine.

If people from out of town happen [to stumble] upon our stuff, it's funny when that does happen sometimes and you see people who are very, very confused about why are you showing this picture of a Walgreens on Brady St., but of course, anyone who lives in Milwaukee knows that the Brady St. Walgreens is one of these infamous black holes of time and space. So, it's funny when these things do kind of get out of the city and get out into the wild, but I hope in the end that— for folks who don't live here —that I hope that they come away with the sense that this is a very, very quirky place and there's at least one media outlet in town who seems dedicated to covering that quirkiness.

So would you say you would want convention goers to know about Tabman or Milverine?

You know, we've thought about doing that kind of coverage for the RNC because certainly there's going to be —and there already have been— plenty of restaurant guides and guides to certain neighborhoods, and this and that. And I think, you know, if we do have any kind of coverage, it would be of that variety very, very specific Milwaukee things — such as, you know, where to spot Milverine within the RNC security zone or perhaps, you know, he won't be able to walk down this street, so you might spot him here, that sort of thing.

So tourism wise, is there something else that shines in your head of like, ‘This is what I want people to know about Milwaukee?’

Oh, that's a good question. Recently, I think the one thing that a lot of people just kind of don't know about Milwaukee or don't realize is our wonderful beaches. And I was just recently down at Bradford Beach and just sitting there and thinking like what a wonderful thing and how unlike Milwaukee it feels and why I felt that way. I was like, 'Well, of course it is Milwaukee.' There are so many examples of places like that in Milwaukee where you can feel like you're certainly in the city, but yet somehow apart from the city.

Maayan is a WUWM news reporter.
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