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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Susan Bence

Imagine you’re rushing to catch a flight at Milwaukee County's General Mitchell International Airport — maybe for business or a long-anticipated vacation. What's on your mind? If you’re Dan Schley, you’re wondering: What’s the story behind the floor mosaics?

"It caught my attention and I thought, 'I’m just going to ask this,' " the Bubbler Talk question asker says.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

How far would you go to get your favorite band to come play in your town? For Milwaukee radio personality Tim 'The Rock 'N' Roll Animal' it involved going out on a ledge.  

That ledge-endary sit sticks out in Mike Crowley's mind, so he wrote to Bubbler Talk to learn more about it:

"How long did WQFM DJ Tim 'The Rock 'N' Roll Animal' camp outside of the studio in order to entice The Who to play Milwaukee in 1982?"

Mike, the answer is: two weeks. Now let's tell the story.

Chuck Quirmbach

Cold War fallout shelters are still around the Milwaukee area. You can still find some if you look for the signs, but many have fallen out of use.

Whitefish Bay resident Tom Fehring reached out to Bubbler Talk to learn more about these shelters:

“There are at least three buildings in my neighborhood that host fallout shelters. Do these shelters have a functional purpose today?”

Is Milwaukee's Coffee Scene Unique?

Aug 23, 2019
Cassidy Schrader

If you take a look around Milwaukee and its surrounding communities, you may have noticed that coffee shops are kind of the new corner stores. From international chains like Starbucks to local roasters like Stone Creek, coffee seems to have taken over the city.

But this didn't happen overnight. In fact, Milwaukee's coffee scene has been growing for decades to become the powerhouse it is today. But how did this happen? And is Milwaukee's coffee scene unique compared to similar-sized cities?

Alesandra Tejeda

For some people, it's not an evening out in Milwaukee without a cocktail, a beer, or a glass of wine. But why does so much local social life revolve around alcohol?

The city's known across the country for its drinking culture.

"Milwaukee is the second-highest city in America per capita for bars. There's one bar per 1,800 people in Milwaukee. In America, there's one bar per 4,800 people. This is a bar town!" said the host of the Paramount Network show "Bar Rescue" when visiting Milwaukee.

Dan Mullen / Flickr

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on April 21, 2017.   

Phil Lapayowker has noticed a distinct lack of what some people unkindly call "flying rats" in Milwaukee.

Wisconsin Historical Society

It might be difficult to picture City Hall in downtown Milwaukee more than 100 years ago. A lot has changed. But prepare yourself for a glimpse into the past.

Before we step back in time, meet August Behrens. While researching some cool architecture in Milwaukee, he came across an old postcard that piqued his interest. So, he reached out to Bubbler Talk:

What happened to City Hall Square and fountain that used to be there? In an old postcard from the early 20th century, it looks like Munich!

Alesandra Tejeda

Earlier this summer about a thousand Shorewood residents tried to protect a historic home from being torn down. Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele bought the Eschweiler mansion last year and maintained that it had to be razed because of poor conditions.

During the same time this was making headlines, a listener wrote in to Bubbler Talk with this question:

How does a historic building get that designation? And when the buildings are privately owned, what can we do to protect them?

Alesandra Tejeda

On the corner of Cambridge Avenue and Hampshire Avenue on Milwaukee’s east side, there’s a home that stands out.

It’s not a bungalow or a duplex or a high-rise. It’s a boat. It looks like a 70-foot-long yacht, perched on a grassy lawn, facing the Milwaukee River. If that isn’t enough to catch your eye, there is a lighthouse replica on the front lawn.

If you’ve ever driven down South 27 Street in Franklin, Wis., you know there are a lot of motels there. El Rancho, the Knotty Pine, Sunrise, Modern 41, Embassy, the Oakwood and the list goes on and on. My count: 10 within a 2-mile drive, which takes about three minutes.

Over the years, lots of people have written to Bubbler Talk asking about those motels. The most recent question came from a guy named Don Gloo:

Courtesy of Milwaukee Pubilc Library

Like many cities, Milwaukee once was home to a number of "movie palaces" — places where the surroundings were nearly as much of a draw as what was playing on the screen.

These were single-screen, sometimes luxurious venues built in the early days of cinema well before the proliferation of TVs and suburban multiplexes. They had special features like air conditioning and newsreels.

Bubbler Talk received a question asking what happened to one of those theaters: the Grand, previously known as the Warner.

Mitch Teich

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

When was the last time you went to the Milwaukee County Zoo? Did you see the polar bear? You didn't feed it anything, right? Well, Bubbler Talk question-asker Jessica Ols has been wondering about her trips to the zoo in the early 1980s:

Angelina Mosher Salazar

Bay View resident Stacy Dent often drives over the Hoan Bridge, looks down at the Lake Express ferry, and wonders... who rides that?

"I’m very curious who these people are," she says. "Are they going for the day? Or are they moving? Or do they work across the lake?"

So, Stacy reached out to Bubbler Talk — our series that answers your questions about Milwaukee and the region.

Chuck Cooper Foundation

When you think of the NBA in Milwaukee - of course, the Milwaukee Bucks come to mind. We’ve got Giannis, a fiesty team, and a new arena. But what was pro basketball like here before the Bucks?

Aisha Turner

 Editor's note: This piece was originally published on Nov. 3, 2017.

Imagine you're driving into downtown Milwaukee over the Hoan Bridge. Lake Michigan glistens to the east, the city's skyline rises before you, and then WHAM! A smell infiltrates your car and overwhelms your senses.

If you've experienced it, you know what we are referring to. If you haven't, some people describe the smell like this:

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