Best Of Lake Effect

The musical Hamilton is unlike many in its class. The show centers around the story of Alexander Hamilton, using a diverse cast to explore the founding of our nation, through rap and more classical musical theater melodies.

Taiko Studios

Friday marks the opening of the annual Beloit International Film Festival, where attendees will see independent films and short features alike. One of the shorts is called One Small Step,  an animated film about a young girl named Luna who realizes her dream of becoming an astronaut with the support of her father along the way.

Process Media

Have you ever wondered why such a thing as a gingered pear and chicken salad served in lime jello exists? What about bananas rolled in ham, then baked and served with a cheese sauce? Or anything at all made with Spam, or even just Spam itself?

The foods and recipes many of us grew up eating were thanks to American corporations and their advertising departments. Not only were the corporations promoting the products they were selling, they were also promoting what it meant to be an American.

SeanPavonePhoto / Fotolia

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on Dec. 7, 2018.

For nearly 20 years, one of the go-to contemporary sources on Milwaukee history has been John Gurda’s book The Making of Milwaukee. The book was first published in 1999 and tells immaculately researched stories — from the area’s earliest settlement through the cultural, political and business landscape here at the turn of the century.

Bonnie North

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on Oct. 16, 2018.

Lake Effect has recently been airing interviews with journalists and politicians that Bonnie North recorded in Brussels and Berlin as a part of a journalist exchange program sponsored by the RIAS Berlin Commission.

Rick Steves /

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on March 6, 2018.

When we say the word “vacation,” most Americans probably picture a white sand beach in Florida or perhaps an amusement park adventure with your family. However, guidebook author and PBS TV host Rick Steves urges you to use travel as an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone.

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on Sept. 27, 2018.

The website, Atlas Obscura, takes visitors to exotic and unusual sites around the world. It connects travelers with other would-be travelers, and features unique tourist destinations in all corners of the globe (15,000 attractions, at last count). 

Image Courtesy of University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on April 24, 2018.

Fourteen years before Lewis and Clark crossed the North American continent to "discover" the Pacific Ocean, Scottish fur trader and explorer Alexander Mackenzie did it in what is now northern Canada.

Grove Atlantic

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on Oct. 23, 2018.

Life in a small Great Lakes city can be challenging. The weather is often rough, the economy depressed and the prospects few. Despite those challenges, these places can still be desirable for some.

While the title character of Minnesota writer Leif Enger’s new novel, Virgil Wander, is the protagonist, the town Enger imagines, Greenstone, Minn., is every bit as important a character.

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on Aug. 3, 2018.

Sarah Kendzior is the kind of journalist people love to hate. She is relentless in her pursuit of the truth, she does not mince words, and she is unafraid of powerful people. She is not in this business to make friends and she’s had the death threats to prove it.

Courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on April 25, 2018.

While Milwaukee is often cited as the most segregated metropolitan area in the U.S., it’s hardly unusual. In most American cities, people of different races live in different neighborhoods and there’s a general pattern: neighborhoods near the center of a city are home to African-Americans and people of color, while the surrounding suburbs are majority white. But why?

Bonnie North

Editor's note: This piece was originally published April 6, 2018.

Wael Farouk is a formidable pianist. He's deeply expressive and his technique is virtuosic.

On April 6, at Carthage College in Kenosha, Dr. Farouk will perform an especially Herculean feat: All five Beethoven piano concertos.

Bonnie North

 Editor's note: This piece was originally published May 23, 2018.

The members of the Milwaukee band Various Small Fires are of different generations and different backgrounds. But they’re united in a remarkable ability to channel a sound that would have been right at home 40 years go. Even their original material has a soulful flavor of 1970s, brass-infused pop.

Rick Ebbers

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on May 2, 2018.  

A lot has happened to the members of Buffalo Gospel over the past five years. The alt-country group released their first album, We Can Be Horses, in 2013 to critical acclaim.

But as lead singer Ryan Necci explains, losses — both personal and professional — delayed the release of their latest album.

Courtesy of the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

Editor's note: This piece was originally published Jan. 12, 2018.

As winter descends on Wisconsin and the cold sets in, our fair-weather - and fair-feathered - friends often take an extended vacation down south. But as many of Wisconsin’s birds leave for warmer weather, another group of birds begin to make their home in frost-laden forests and prairies around the state.