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WUWM welcomes producer Eilee Heikenen-Weiss to Lake Effect team

A woman sits in a recording studio in front of a microphone.
Anna Stratton
Eilee Heikenen-Weiss poses for a photo in Studio B.

Journalist and seasoned adventurer Eilee Heikenen-Weiss joined WUWM as a producer of the show Lake Effect in October of 2023. Eilee brings with her seven years of experience producing at WBEZ 91.5 FM in Chicago and nearly a decade of experience on the ground around the world as an adventure tour guide.

Eilee Heikenen-Weiss, a producer for WUWM's Lake Effect program, passed away on October 31, 2023 at University Hospital in Madison. She was 39.

She spoke with Lake Effect’s Xcaret Nuñez about her past experiences and what she’s excited to work on for Lake Effect.

The following are excerpts from that interview, some portions edited, paraphrased or consolidated for clarity.

Xcaret: Tell us about the work you’ll be doing at the station.

Eilee: I’m going to be a producer. But what does that exactly mean? I’ll be doing everything needed to bring you the content you hear on Lake Effect. That includes conceptualizing ideas for, researching conversations and finding the guests we connect with on the show. It also includes conducting interviews, editing audio and writing for the web.

Xcaret: You’ve mentioned you’re from Wisconsin. What were you up to before moving here?

Eilee: I was doing a job that your high school counselor probably never suggested: I was a tour guide. I worked for a company based out of Berkeley that did hiking and biking vacations around the world as well as domestically. I’ve been able to work in Machu Picchu, Yellowstone and even Cuba. I’m a big, big fan of national parks. If you like the outdoors, I’m your gal.

Before tour guiding, I was a radio producer. I worked for WBEZ in Chicago for about seven years, mostly producing but also doing a little bit of reporting. I produced their live afternoon show as well as their flagship magazine show before that. I also senior produced a call-in show with the head of Chicago Public Schools. I am very excited to be coming home to public radio, so to speak.

Xcaret: How long were you a tour guide for and what made you want to return to audio journalism?

Eilee: I was a guide full-time for eight years, and the truth is that I never stopped loving radio and audio journalism. It’s always been with me, and I’ve always been fascinated by it. I just needed to get some stuff out of my system and see the world for myself. This is a dream that never went away, and I’m very excited to be back.

Xcaret: It’s been a few days since you’ve started at WUWM. How’s it going so far?

Eilee: It’s amazing. I’ve never been to a more welcoming workplace. Thanks to people like yourself and our other colleagues here, I’m really excited.

Xcaret: What’s something that you’re looking forward to working on?

Eilee: I’m looking for ways to elevate younger voices, whether they be students or younger people in the community. I am all ears, and looking for ways to do that!

Have an idea for a story or want to get in touch with Eilee? Email her at heikenen@uwm.edu.

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