Bubbler Talk

What’s got you scratching your head about Milwaukee and the region? Bubbler Talk is a series that puts your curiosity front and center.

How it works: You ask, we investigate, and together we unveil the answers.

Ask away: What have you always wanted to know about the Milwaukee area's people, places, or culture that you want WUWM to explore?

Participate in the process and submit your question below.

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Lauren Sigfusson

Heading into the library is a dazzling form of adventure. And with nearly 6 million books in circulation in the Milwaukee County Federated Library System, there are a lot of places to go and people to read about. 

For your browsing pleasure, our latest Bubbler Talk aims to find out the most sought-after books in the Milwaukee area. 

Chuck Quirmbach

On Tuesday night, the Waukesha Common Council may decide whether to OK tearing down a key part of the last intact resort from Waukesha’s springs era. It’s a controversial proposal. But before we get into that, let's share the story of how Waukesha became known as a 'Spring City.'

READ: Former Hotel From Waukesha's Springs Era Survives Demolition Request

WisDOT Traffic Camera

When you’re driving to work, there’s nothing worse than seeing a traffic sign that shows delays ahead. But if you’re like firefighter Drew Schuster, there's one thing you look forward to seeing: the witty safety messages.

"I travel to and from Mequon and Germantown, probably at least five or six times a week, to Milwaukee, so I passed by the signs all the time. Every week there's something new," he explains.

Olivia Richardson

Larissa Sevick was driving when she noticed that a lot of houses in certain Milwaukee neighborhoods have a flight of stairs leading up to the front entrance. Instead of being at street level, the houses are on hills. Why? That's what we explore in our latest Bubbler Talk.

The subject also intrigues Jonathan Bohrer — he even created a history podcast episode on the homes that caught Larissa's attention. Jonathan is a UWM master's degree candidate in public history and gives tours of the historic Brady Street neighborhood.

Emily Files

Have you ever noticed a place name on your Google Maps or GPS, and thought, "I wonder what that is?"

That's what happened to South Milwaukee resident Mary Holtz, when she was driving near Bay View.  

"My husband and I were interested in something we spotted on our navigation screen called the Town of Lake," Holtz told WUWM’s Bubbler Talk. "We were curious about its history. Does it actually exist anywhere other than this digital navigation? What happened to it? Where'd it come from? Where'd it go?"

Courtesy of TJ Meyers-Jansky

Every summer on Father’s Day weekend, a huge festival used to take place in West Allis. It was called “West Allis Western Days.” It started in 1964 and saw its heyday in the '80s and '90s. Its signature event was an elaborate parade that included up to 500 horses and dozens of marching bands.

And then one day, it just ended.

Phil Reimer grew up going. He still wonders what happened to the festival, so he reached out to Bubbler Talk to find out.

Jimmy Emerson, DVM/Flickr

When you look at a map of Wisconsin, it’s covered in names that remind us of this country’s original inhabitants. Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Waukesha, Kinnickinnic — all words derived from Native American languages.

Another is Oconomowoc, about 30 miles west of Milwaukee. This week’s Bubbler Talk questioner, Jeff Dittel, moved there about two and a half years ago.

OZAUKEE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY/THE KUBALA WASHATKO ARCHITECTS

Wisconsin has a nickname. You've seen it on license plates: America's Dairyland. And in Milwaukee, you may have heard this moniker: Cream City.

It intrigues Bubbler Talk listener Anne Bromfield, who asked: "Why was Milwaukee once referred to as Cream City?" The answer might surprise you. It has nothing to do with the dairy industry.

seven-mile-road-wisconsin-racine-bubbler-talk-milwaukee
Lauren Sigfusson

There are three types of people in this world: Those who notice nothing. Those who notice but don’t care to question. And then there are those who ask why. David Wagner is the last one.

David reached out to Bubbler Talk — our series where you ask, we investigate, and together we unveil the answers — to learn about a road he often passes.

What is Seven Mile Road 7 miles from?

Audrey Nowakowski

Milwaukee is known for a lot of architectural gems — cream city brick, the Calatrava, Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes, and on a smaller scale, its bungalows. This style of house can be found all over the Milwaukee area and typically have one, or more, classic stained glass window incorporated into its design.

Katie Meissner

On Dec. 25, Santa Claus will have shimmied down many chimneys and left presents under the tree. But on Dec. 6, some families celebrate another holiday, a tease of sorts until that day comes: St Nick's Day!

Depending on where you are in the world, St. Nick has many names, but the story is the same. In the U.S., he's celebrated in places with German or Dutch influence — like right here in Milwaukee.

So, who's St. Nick and where did this holiday come from? Dawn Omernik-Nimmer reached out to Bubbler Talk to find out.

Image courtesy of Matt Zumbo

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

Pikosso, Chicken a la Koss, Rebel with a Koss. If you’re familiar with the iconic billboard for Koss Corporation along I-43 in Milwaukee, you may have seen one of these ads — or even have a favorite design or catchphrase of your own.

Community member Michael Croatt wanted to know more, so he reached out to Bubbler Talk:

CJ Foeckler

Do you love going to concerts? Or seek out live albums from your favorite bands or artists?

If you're anything like Zack Biernat, you really dig live shows.

"I love listening to live music and I love going to see shows. I found there's a lot of live albums available now on Spotify or YouTube, so I've been listening to a lot of my favorite bands, and I always enjoy that," he explains. 

But Zack also wants to know what live albums were recorded in Milwaukee. So, he reached out to Bubbler Talk:

Courtesy of Jim Mitchell

The 1960s and '70s were a time of great change in the United States. The counterculture was well underway.

Amidst all of this, Jon Cervantes was a 15-year-old kid living in West Allis, Wis. Going to record shops and checking out "comix" was what he did religiously. But these weren't your typical family-friendly comics. These comics addressed daring themes like sex, drugs, and the Vietnam War. Which was exactly what Jon and others like him wanted.

west-allis-wisconsin-water-tower
Lauren Sigfusson

Have you ever wondered about the stories behind the names of some buildings and streets and even cities you encounter?

A lot of you have written to Bubbler Talk asking about the origins of West Allis. Whether there was ever an east, north or south Allis. And why the city is called West Allis if there is, in fact, no Allis to be west of.

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