Milwaukee Talks: FOX 6 News reporter Bret Buganski
It was during the 2010 NCAA Tournament that Bret Buganski had an epiphany of sorts.
While attending first and second round games at the Bradley Center, the Chicago native began to realize how much he liked Milwaukee and thought it might be a good place for him to ply his trade.
"You never know," a friend told him.
Less than a year later, Buganski was packing his bags and heading to the Brew City for a job with FOX 6, where he is a reporter on the weekend morning show.
He couldn't be happier with his career decision and recently sat down with OnMilwaukee.com to talk about his career, the city and his love for karaoke.
OnMilwaukee.com: How did you get started in the business?
Bret Buganski: I've always had that moment of irony in my life whether it was when I was reading in church as a kid or announcing basketball games in high school ... there was always that calling. It was always "you can speak pretty well so why don't you do something that uses it." I always admired the television journalists I watched when I was a kid. Bill Kurtis was a favorite. When I was young, I wanted to be Mark Giangreco of (Chicago's) ABC 7. I just knew that was what I wanted to be. Everybody else had their own calling. I had a buddy in gym class who would just make us laugh all the time. The teach would always ask if he was a comedian and wouldn't you know it, now he's a comedian. That was my moment of irony; being able to talk, being able to be myself, being able to be a storyteller. I was able to combine it all and make a career out of it.
OMC: You went to Columbia in Chicago, where did your professional career get started?
BB: It was Quincy, in Illinois, but we covered parts of three states: west-central Illinois, northeast Missouri and southeast Iowa. That was a lot of ground to cover.
OMC: What was the progression for you?
BB: During college, I interned at Newsradio 780 WBBM. I was an intern coordinator and from there, they asked me to be a part-time staffer. That's how I got into the radio side. I would set up the broadcasts for Jeff Joniak and Tom Thayer during that '06-07 Bears season when they went to the Super Bowl ... and if you don't mind, we won't talk about the outcome of that game. But that's how it all started, that's how I got my foot in the door. From there, I graduated and sent out about 100 reels, got a bunch of interviews but it was Quincy that gave me my start. I'll never forget that. I'll always be thankful.
OMC: Then it was off to Champaign?
BB: Yup, Champaign, Ill. That's where I met (current FOX 6 coworkers) Ben (Handleman) and Brittney (Sager).
OMC: That's an interesting situation. All three of you worked the same show together at your previous market and now, you're all together again here in Milwaukee.
BB: This business is so tough and there is such a quick turnaround sometimes. People, you know, they come and go. There aren't too many opportunities to work with the same people twice. After I left Champaign, I didn't think I'd get to work with them again and the right opportunities came about and just a few weeks later, here we were again.
We have such a good time on the weekend show. We were the weekend team at WICD in Champaign and we just basically brought it to Milwaukee. It's the craziest thing. I still talk to people from Champaign they still think it's totally bizarre. And you know, it is. It really is. It's great. It's a one-in-a-million shot. I make friends pretty quickly, but having them there is really comforting for me. And for them, too, I think.
OMC: How have the stories changed during your various stops?
BB: There is definitely more crime. But there are bigger issues. In a lot of ways, they're the same stories. The same things a matter, no matter where you are, whether it's holding public officials accountable, keeping kids safe, scams going around, how tax dollars are used ... all of that is the same but here in Milwaukee, a bigger market, it's on a much bigger scale. The stakes are definitely higher.
OMC: What do you like most about your job – not specifically at WITI, but just in general; what do you like most about being a television journalist?
BB: Every story, every day ... they're all different. You hear from so many people, they're not happy with what they do because it's the same thing every day. I think a big part of enjoying life is being able to go into work, enjoying yourself and being happy with it. I look forward to learning what the next story I'm going to do, who the next person is I'm going to meet. It's doing that and sometimes, you just never know, sometimes you can really make a difference with the stories I do. It sounds like something you might take for granted but it's true. It's really true.
OMC: This isn't an attempt to get you to talk smack about your competitors but what makes FOX 6 special in your mind?
BB: Everybody brings something different to the table. We have a lot of fun. Look at the morning show, with all those great personalities. There's "Real Milwaukee." There's "Ted's Take," which is something a little different. We have the partnership with the Business Journal. Vince (Condella) is a great meteorologist. To top it all off, we have some great political coverage. You blend it all together and it's a unique blend of different styles and personalities.
OMC: Does being new to the area make it difficult at times to find a good story?
BB: It can be tough, but that's your job. You have to dig a little bit. I love a good story. With the Internet and social networking, that helps. It makes it easy to get story ideas. Little stuff like that can be a big story.
OMC: Ah, social media. Is it a true tool of the trade or a necessary evil?
BB: I think it's been great for journalism. The platform is always changing. Some people aren't reading the newspaper like they used to. You want to get the word out about your stories where people are actually looking, so you have to get on Facebook. You have to get on Twitter. You have to adapt. Is it better? Yes. I was covering the "clout list" scandal at the (University of Illinois) and I didn't have a camera in the room. But I could post what people were saying on Twitter and those outside the room could know what was going on instantly. People love that. That's what it's all about, getting news to people right away.
OMC: You're pretty active on Twitter. What do you like about it?
BB: I like the little jokes and the insight into people's daily lives more than anything. I like to see what people are doing. It's how I get to know people and how to get to know the area.
OMC: Do you interact a lot with your viewers?
BB: All the time. I try to reply to everybody on Twitter and Facebook, I do. I try. It's great. I didn't know that many people really were interested in what I was doing or what I had to say. It's cool. I like to talk to people. I like to find out what they like. It's what I'm all about.
OMC: When you're not working, what do you like to do?
BB: I play a lot of guitar. Everybody needs a hobby outside of their career. I'll get home some nights and pluck away for three of four hours, learning the next Jimmy Page or Eddie Van Halen solo or something by Stevie Ray Vaughan. That's what I like to do. And, I have a confession ... I like to sing karaoke. I haven't, though, since I've been here.
Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)
No, I can't. I know a few words, and sentences. I'd love to learn one day.
But more importantly can he speak Polish?
2 comments about this article.
Post a comment / write a review.
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.