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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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In Milwaukee Buzz

"The First Lady of Wisconsin News Broadcasters." (PHOTO: Neil Kiekhofer of Front Room Photography )

In Milwaukee Buzz

Wendt holds her own with Brian Nelson (pictured) and Bob Madden. (PHOTO: Neil Kiekhofer of Front Room Photography )

In Milwaukee Buzz

In addition to news, Wendt also does traffic reports. (PHOTO: Neil Kiekhofer of Front Room Photography )

In Milwaukee Buzz

A Bob's-eye view of Carrie at work. (PHOTO: Neil Kiekhofer of Front Room Photography )

Milwaukee Talks: Carrie Wendt, 2007


Regular listeners to "Bob and Brian in the Morning" on The Hog (102.9 FM) and other stations around the state know that the conversation between hosts Bob Madden and Brian Nelson can ping-pong between Russian military history, global warming, Brett Favre, "The Golden Girls," truck stop food and supermodels.

And, that's all in one segment.

Carrie Wendt, billed on the show as "The First Lady of Wisconsin News Broadcasters," often adds a woman's perspective to the proceedings but isn't afraid to "mix it up" and be "one of the guys." A fixture on the show for nearly a decade, Wendt uses her quick wit, sharp tongue and vast array of personal experiences to steer the conversations down different avenues.

After interviewing Bob and Brian in this space about a year ago, we thought it was time to catch up with the woman who keeps them in line (on the air, anyway).

Enjoy this Milwaukee Talks interview with Carrie Wendt:

OnMilwaukee.com: A lot has happened in the world since your previous OMC interview. The country was attacked. We went to war. Your station changed from Lazer 103 to The Hog. What's been happening in your life?

Carrie Wendt: Since 2001? Well, let's see ... I lost my mom to breast cancer. That's what I remember most about my OnMilwaukee.com interview the first time around. I had just sort of come out of that.

Then, on the flip side of that, I had a little boy. He's just the most gorgeous thing and the man of my dreams. He's the guy I've been waiting to meet all my life. He's the coolest of the cool.

OMC: In the previous interview, you were engaged to the man of your dreams.

CW: That didn't work out, but he in fact led me to the man of my dreams. So, it all worked out in the end.

OMC: Becoming a parent is a life-changing event. How have things changed for you?

CW: First of all, I'm not drunk any more when I come in to work. There were plenty of mornings when I came in and I was still drunk. When I look back now, when I first started here, I was just a party girl.

OMC: And now, you're a soccer mom ...

CW: I have to say, Drew Olson, you are always calling me a soccer mom now. My son is not yet in soccer, but he will be in Keith Tozer's Milwaukee Wave camp this summer. I don't drive a minivan and I still can knock back more tequila than you, so enough of that soccer mom talk already!

OMC: Has raising a young man given you any insights into what makes Bob and Brian tick? In what ways has being a mother changed your approach to the show?

CW: It's improved in one way. Those guys (Bob and Brian) are parents. I was just party girl, hanging out there twisting in the wind. Those guys never knew what I was talking about. I would say things like, 'Oh, I went to The Nomad last night and blah, blah, blah.' And they would just look at me and say "Huh? What?'

Conversely, they would be talking about SpongeBob and Patrick and all these characters (from children's shows) and I would say, 'Who are these people?' I had no idea what they were talking about. We had no real middle ground to relate to. Especially since they are so conservative and I'm ... well, they think they've molded me (into a conservative), but I've retained a few of my earlier influences.

OMC: You mean you've stayed in touch with your East Side liberal leanings?

CW: Definitely. And they hate it.

OMC: I bet you hear a lot of people comment about Bob and Brian's political views. It seems like even people who disagree with them keep listening because the show is funny. Have your views changed from hanging around the guys?

CW: I've learned a little bit. I've learned about the liberal bias in the media. But, there are other things. Global warming is still a huge issue between Brian and me. I think he's wrong. I don't know for sure if he's wrong; and, I don't know if I'm right. I don't sit and read all this stuff like I used to. I don't find any ways to debate him when I go home, because I've got my 4-year-old boy and I'm doing stuff with him. I've totally given up my arguments on the show. I get a little bit of heat in e-mail about that, too. People say 'You used to be kind of liberal. You used to tell those guys and give them what-for. And now you don't do anything.' Well, I don't know. If there is something (political) on the show that I disagree with, I pretty much just shut up.

OMC: Ah, but disagreements can be a radio gold mine. What are your favorite bits on the show?

CW: My favorite times on the show are just -- I don't even know if they'd be listener's favorite times, like the funniest bits that listeners could think about when they think of the show. To me, there are certain moments when all three of us, without managing to step on the other person, take something and keep building onto it and keep building onto it and keep building onto it in a visual manner so it really paints this picture of something that we're talking about.

It's just like pinball sometimes. You get out of the studio and say 'What just happened? What was all that. How did we go from this topic to that topic to outer space to back again.' To me, that's really neat. I do feel like in those moments that I really, really fit.

OMC: If you're laughing at something, there is a pretty good chance the audience is enjoying it, too.

CW: I think so. I have a little element of both of those guys in me. When I can make both of them laugh really hard, that's when I'm really proud.

That's what I always shoot for. It was kind of like the same thing with my mom. If I could get my mom to laugh really hard, I was really happy. I think all of us come on to comedy and stuff in ways like that. Everybody is like that.

OMC: You mentioned laughing with your mom. There probably are a lot of parents who like the show but won't listen when their kids are in the car. Now that you are a parent, do you find that you are editing yourself more than in the past?

CW: I'm afraid of that a little bit, because of the ridiculous and disgusting things I say just to keep myself awake, I'm going to be somebody's mother and I'm going to be standing on the sidelines with these people.

OMC: That may be weird.

CW: Exactly. I'm weird. I just am who I am. Now, pretty much everybody in Milwaukee knows that. I can no longer hide.

OMC: It's pretty hard to be phony when you're on the air a couple hours every day. People ask me all the time what you and Eric and Bob and Brian are like and I tell them, 'Listen to the show. What you see is what you get.' What is it like for you when the microphones aren't on?

CW: Well, when the mics aren't on, it is just unbelievable. Every HR department in this country would crumble if they knew just four percent of what we talk about. I'm one of the guys, it's just very odd.

OMC: Does being one of the guys have its advantages?

CW: Yes. I can now exploit women with the best of them. I can be out in a restaurant and telling my fiancée, 'She's really hot. Look at her.' And, he'll look at me like, 'What's going on here? Who are you?' And then I'll say, 'Oh, I'm sorry. You're not Bob.' I'm so used to chatting up Natalie Morales and whatever pinup star of the day they're fixated on that it just comes out.

OMC: A lot of women are threatened, bothered or intimidated by women who have an easy rapport with men. Have you always been "one of the guys?"

CW: I grew up on horses and there were a lot of cowboys and men around; older guys who were not afraid to spit on your shoe and tell you a dirty joke. It's been, really, since I was about 11 years old, actually, that I was kind of in this type of environment I think it's made me who I am. (Bob and Brian) don't faze me at all. I was beaten around by the cowboys for awhile before I ever got here. Off the air, Bob and I have contests to see if we can shock each other.

OMC: After hanging around the guys all morning, is it hard to get in touch with your feminine side?

CW: Not at all. I'm still all girl. I have a great lingerie drawer. I'm definitely all girl at the end of the day. I'm stupidly romantic. I should have learned my lesson and grown out of that by now, but I haven't. I love love.

OMC: And now you're engaged again.

CW: It's a little scary. I've lived this long by myself in a way. I think the idea of picking up and leaving if that call comes in from New York City and they ask, 'Can you go? Can you go?' Now, I've got to ask permission from somebody else. I've been autonomous for awhile, so that's different.

OMC: Do calls like that come in?

CW: I've got a lot of friends in the marketplace, I'll say that. I have some people that keep in touch. It's nice to be wanted. But, how could you ever match what I've got going on here?

OMC: This show is pretty much a juggernaut.

CW: I tell everybody I'm riding their coattails into oblivion; as long as they'll have me. Their name is on the program. I'm not responsible. I can really leave at 10 o'clock. It's a great job.

OMC: You are billed on the show as "The First Lady of Wisconsin News Broadcasters." How do you like that?

CW: I hate it. Who would ever think that? I said (during the OMC interview) in 2001 that the people filling in for me -- like Duane Gay and Ted Perry -- are noted journalists that I really respect. I keep waiting to find out that I don't really do this seriously. It's just fun.

OMC: Since your last interview, you've added traffic to your duties. That seems like a tougher than people imagine.

CW: I get more traffic hate mail than anything I ever say on the radio for just shtick and fun. We finally got traffic monitors after several years of me asking for them. Before that, it was me doing it blind. I'd say, 'I think nothing is going on over here.' I started out in this business as a traffic reporter and accuracy was something I sort of liked and cared about.

OMC: Do you get a lot of feedback from listeners?

CW: Once in awhile. One of the funny things about this business is that whatever is going on in people's lives, when you say something that trips their trigger, they will not hesitate to send you the most scathing e-mail. It'll set you back on your heels a bit. You'll say, 'Wow. Where does that anger come from?' I usually turn it around and say, 'I have feelings, too. I understand you're angry about this comment or whatever. I'll stand by what I said, but fella, ease up next time.' I always get a nice reply back saying, 'I'm sorry. I was having a moment.'

OMC: It's funny how people change their tune when they realize that the person they are complaining to is an actual person.

CW: Yes. We're just like these faceless blobs out there and we can be either your best friend or the person you hate the most in the world. It's a weird position.

OMC: Do you get recognized a lot around town?

CW: Yes and no. It's still a voice thing. There is still not a lot of face recognition, which is nice. But, I get this look all the time. People will step back and look and you can tell they're going through the Rolodex. Did I go to high school with her? Is she from our church? Where is this person from? I know they're thinking about it. Sometimes, I'll say, 'radio.' And they'll go 'Yes, that's it." Sometimes, if I'm in a hurry, I'll just let it go and walk away.

OMC: You have to be careful about how you treat people, don't you?

CW: You do. If you're not nice, or you don't feel like talking sometimes, you can be misconstrued as bitch or "You think you're great." But, that's not always the case.

OMC: People feel like they know you, don't they?

CW: That's one of the weird things about being on this show. People feel like they have known you for so long that when they walk up to you they'll just start telling you things right off the bat. They'll tell you deep, personal secrets. It's just kind of disconcerting, but at the same time it's great. You're an instant friend. You might be seeing someone for the first time in your life, but the camaraderie for them is already built in, because of the show.

OMC: That's the price of fame, isn't it?

CW: When I think of people like Michael Jackson or the people in the world-wide fame machine, I'm sure it's different for them. This tiny, tiny taste of being known in your hometown is great. It's fun.

OMC: What's your favorite perk of being semi-famous?

CW: It used to be free concert tickets and Summerfest tickets and all that fun stuff, which has now completely dried up and I'm miserable about it. The real perk is that I get to do this every day and I have fun.

Editor's note: Drew Olson has made weekly guest appearances on "The Bob and Brian Morning Show" during baseball season since 1998.


Talkbacks

SheerB | Nov. 23, 2007 at 8:53 a.m. (report)

I agree with John - Carrie is the best, and the only time I turn off the show is when Dorene is subbing for her - you are so right about her mispronunciations, etc.! Carrie is so witty, and I love her interactions with the guys.

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Jmedn | July 31, 2007 at 10:33 p.m. (report)

Once upon a time in the not so distant past, there was a knock-out blonde called Carrie-Carrie the phone fairy who could drink all wannabees under the table and make it to work the next day, and then do it all over again the next day. No OFFENSE , Bob and Brian , Your no Mitch(QFM) "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy. Carrie, that bartender from"Lipskis" still thinks you make the " Carrie" and Brian+Bob show.............Buddayyyyyy

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wiboots | May 12, 2007 at 12:40 p.m. (report)

Great article. I enjoyed reading and learning about Carrie and her great outlook on life.

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BCZF | May 10, 2007 at 3:24 p.m. (report)

I think Bob and Brian make up most of what they say politically. "Liberal media bias" really? Couldn't it be that the media doesn't print or report everything lock-step from the RNC talking points? Need to speak up or get out people like those two count on bullying people into submission just do something! Or is hanging on aging shock jock coat tails that important?

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Myke the Dancin Machine | May 9, 2007 at 4:35 p.m. (report)

My favorite moments on the show is the same as Carrie's. When the 3 of them without stepping on each other take something & take turns building on it. It works as a smooth flow leading to funnier & funnier volcanic eruptions of laughter.The natural comedic chemistry & teamwork is amazing betweeen these 3 !

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