Back in November when I needed some Milwaukee swag for some international visitors, Dave Fantle set me up. That's because he's been a tireless cheerleader for Milwaukee and wanted to make sure these guests left with a good impression of our hospitality. Now, Fantle's on the, ahem, high-speed track to Madison to work for Scott Walker.
Fantle, vice president of public relations for VISIT Milwaukee and extremely active in Film Wisconsin, was today named deputy secretary of tourism for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. He starts in a couple weeks, leaving behind a seven-year legacy of rooting for Milwaukee.
A tangible monument to that effort is the Bronze Fonz, a project in which was a key player. Whenever Dave needed a Milwaukee-related tidbit translated from Italy -- rarely, it's true, but a few times since the International Happy Days Fan Club is located there -- he sent it my way and I was happy to oblige in my pidgin Italian.
"It has been a privilege for me to promote the Milwaukee area as a tourism destination for the past (almost) seven years," he wrote in an e-mail to friends and colleagues announcing the move.
"I'm very pleased ... that starting Jan. 24 I'll take my tourism experiences to Madison as the new deputy tourism secretary," he wrote. "The new tourism secretary, Stephanie Klett, is great and the chance to serve with her and the new governor (who is a huge supporter of our industry) was an opportunity of a life-time."
Before his tenure with VISIT Milwaukee, Fantle was a PR guy for Wisconsin Gas and Kohl's Corp.
"I know that Dave has been a major part of our success as an organization for almost seven years and we'll be sorry to see him go," said Paul Upchurch, president and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee in a statement.
"The good news is that we'll continue to work with him to make sure that the Milwaukee area (the largest segment of the state's tourism economy) is effectively promoted as part of the statewide marketing mix."
We'll miss ya Dave. Don't be a stranger.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.