You've already read the OnMilwaukee.com staff picks for best and worst of 2011. Now we opened up the conversation to our peers in TV and radio across Milwaukee.
Just like our own selections, we asked each of the respondents the open-ended question: what is your "pick" of the year? The could choose the category and the winner (or loser).
Some are serious, some are lighthearted, some are political and some are uplifiting. So, in alphabetical order and without further adieu ...
Jon Adler, FM 102.1
Best Word Association: Looking back on 2011 I couldn't come up with what's best or worst, rather what has changed in 365 day by doing a little word association. "Maverick," for example, at the beginning of the year would most likely lead your brain to author/reality show star/politician Sarah Palin. However, almost exactly halfway through the year (June 12) the "Maverick" title was supplanted by Mark Cuban and his Dallas crew in the NBA Finals against Miami's "Big 3" who many wanted to see fail. (Sidenote: Google still thinks of "Maverick" first and foremost as the 1994 James Garner, Mel Gibson gambling cowboy film.)
Speaking of a word that has become equally as divisive, let us finish this word association with "Walker." In February, the county learned about our governor and immediately took sides. I have my own opinion, however, and no matter how much time and effort you put into your political agenda eventually you need to lie on the couch, turn your brain off for a bit and relax. When I do this, it's with the AMC's Emmy Award winning "The Walking Dead," a post-apocalyptic zombie adventure (which 2012 promises to be according to some). In this show, a "Walker" is the name given to zombies that have to be hacked to pieces, blown up or shot in the head to stop from attacking.
Carole Caine, 96.5 WKLH
Most Pride: I would have to say it was the dominance of Wisconsin sports and how much fun it was to be a fan here in Wisconsin. I do not remember a time when we were so dominant in football (pro and college), baseball and even Marquette's basketball team. There was nothing like watching people finally really enjoying the moment.
Rob Haswell, FOX6
Best Place For Comedy: For national or international acts it has to be a tie between the Pabst and the Riverside. Some big names have been in town this year and "D List" super star Kathy Griffin even shot her comedy special at the Pabst and gave the city a big thumbs up, too! If you're looking to catch the next big thing or just hear some funny local folks, I'd tip my hat to Comedysportz and Milwaukee's Comedy Cafe.
Elizabeth Kay, 99.1 WMYX
Best Run: The Storm the Bastille at Bastille Days in Downtown. It was my first run (since high school) and Downtown Milwaukee and the Third Ward have never looked better. Crowds lined the sidewalk and cheered for us and bar goers raised their glasses on patios while we ran by. I will definitely do this run again!
Best Homecoming: The Return to Titletown celebration at Lambeau Field to welcome back the Super Bowl winning Champs! Only Packers fans like me are crazy enough to sit in the -15 degree wind chill and thaw our faces with a "Go Pack Go" chant!
Best Movie: "Bridesmaids!" They showed how gorgeous Milwaukee looks on the big screen (and they gave love to the street where I grew up in Bay View, Homer Street off of K.K.)
Best Sale: The selling of Packers stock – need I say more, just call me an owner!
Susan Kim, WTMJ-4
Professional Best: 2011 TODAY'S TMJ4 Community Baby Shower. A one day shower we started in 2003 to benefit local babies in need. This year, we received a near-record number of donations. Despite the rough economy, the people of Southeast Wisconsin, once again, showed their collective generosity.
Personal best: Milwaukee Brewers playoff run ... so, that's what Miller Park is like in October. After covering the end of County Stadium and the beginning of a new ball park, it was so fun to watch some really good baseball. A bunch of hard working players, together, lifted the spirits of a community. They made us agonize over every pitch... and boy was it fun.
Nicole Koglin, FOX6
Moment of the Year: Not original, but my "moment of the year" has to be the Packers winning Super Bowl 45. The confetti inside Cowboys Stadium seemed to fall in slow motion! After a hectic week of Super Bowl coverage, this Wisconsin girl had to pinch herself. I couldn't help but think of my 84-year-old grandmother, biggest Packers fan I ever met, who passed away last year. She used to keep stats during every game and scream at the living room TV like she was at a sports bar. Standing there in Texas, I couldn't help but think "How about that, Grandma!?"
Brian Kramp, FM 102.1
Fan of the Year: The "Fair Weather" Fan. In 2011 it was easy to want to cheer for several Wisconsin sports teams because they were winning. But not all fans have been there from the beginning nor will they be there until the end. For a true fan it's about tradition. It takes time and dedication. For a fair weather fan it takes $10 to buy your team's shirt at Marshall's, cheap beer and the right people to hang out with.
Interest in the Packers kicked into high gear near the end of the regular season, but the masses didn't come out until the playoffs and Super Bowl 45. Same goes for the enthusiasm of the Brewers as they approached their first Division Championship in nearly 30 years. Again, once they hit the NL Championship Series everyone was a fan. Even your grandma was doing the Beastmode. We connected with them, supported them, had childish fun recreating cartoon characters with them and in turn we helped cheer them on as they brought national attention to a city and state that offers so many amazing things.
But remember those same "fans" are turned off just as easy when the teams lose. When it's no longer popular to spend hours on end chatting, texting and posting online about the Brewers, where does the fair weather fan go? Will they follow the team next year for more than opening day and the playoffs? Will they voice their displeasure with offseason acquisitions and unsigned players, or will they simply decide to come back only if the team is winning next season? It's nice to see them clapping, fist-pumping, or shouting for the home team, but it's more gratifying to those who play the game to see it on a consistent basis.
I usually have issues with the fair weather fan, but this year I didn't because it was great to see the people of Milwaukee happy. It's refreshing and rare to see so many people agreeing with each other and having common interests and without this type of sports fan, we may not have felt the city and statewide connection that we did.
Melissa McCrady, WTMJ-4
Best Event: It goes to the Geneva National Foundation's 2011 Push, Walk, Ride. The event raises money for organizations within Walworth County that support people with special needs. However, this is one of the rare charity events that include all the recipients. 400 people, including 95 with disabilities, walked the mile-long course, rode in a wheelchair or pushed someone in a wheelchair. Medals were awarded to everyone who crossed the finish line. The smiles on their faces ... receiving those medals ... made my year.
Marilynn Mee, 96.5 WKLH
Saddest Loss: Unbeknownst to most Milwaukeeans, our city lost a true hero this year. If you Googled his name, you might find a few mentions of his accomplishments since he went to work for our city in '07, but the truth is, he risked his life almost every single day, all for the sake of making Milwaukee a better, safer place to live, work and play. No one really kept track of just how many criminals he helped take into custody or how many weapons he helped get off our streets or how often he was responsible for putting another drug dealer out of business...and frankly, he didn't care about the tally. It was just another day on the job he loved with his partner, Officer Dereck Vernon. On Sunday evening, February 20th, with Vernon at his side, Milwaukee Police K-9 Officer Cyrus passed away peacefully and with dignity. The five-year-old German Shepherd had developed pneumonia along with an infection from which he wasn't going to be able to recover. The Milwaukee Police Department lost one of its most trusted and loyal investigators; Officer Vernon lost his partner, best buddy and a beloved member of his family. The grief I know Vernon must have felt...it can't even be put into words. Cyrus is also survived by his fellow MPD K-9s: Dasty, Kenny and Emo. Police K-9 Units are not funded by your tax dollars. Police Departments or, in some cases, individual officers are solely responsible for raising the money needed to purchase the specially bred pup, complete the many months of intensive training for the dog and the officer and outfit and equip the squad car for the K-9. The officer who makes the decision to take on a K-9 partner shares his home and pays for the dog's food and medical needs out of his own paycheck. It costs about $30,000 to start a K-9 unit; adding another dog costs about $15,000. I've made it my personal goal for 2012 to raise $30,000 to add two more dogs to our MPD K-9 Unit. I hope you'll think about helping.
Personal Lowlight: I've a had a rather tumultuous year; some gratifying personal achievements, loads of love from friends who lift me up, some lovely surprises, lots of fun times and good laughs and a bit of luck. I also experienced some of my lowest lows in 2011; harsh familial and financial realities slapping me upside the head...I've soaked my pillowcases and my dogs' coats with plenty of tears.
Whether you're celebrating life's little victories or sulking over setbacks, there's nothing like sharing the ups and downs with your best friend. You know...the one who loves you at when you're at your best and knows how to love you a little extra when you're at your worst; the one who needs only a second to see your face or hear one whisper to know just what you're thinking.
My best friend, Anjl Rodee, moved to Seattle in August of 2011 to begin an exciting new chapter in her life as a freelance artist and graphic designer. I know, I know...we live in a world of unlimited cell phone minutes, text messaging, i-chatting and Skype. Staying connected with anyone anywhere in the world is at an all-time easiest. However, technology still hasn't been able to recreate the glorious feeling you get from your best friend's hug and, come to think of it, I hope it never does. I love you, Anj, and I miss you every single day.
Ted Perry, FOX6
Best TV Show of the Year: "The League" on FX. It's the funniest show you're not watching.
Book of the Year: "Film School" A forty-something former newspaper reporter (and full disclosure, a friend of mine), Steve Boman, decides up and go to the most prestigious film school in the country (USC) right in the middle of his life. Not easy to do, period. Almost impossible to do with three young kids and a wife already stretched to the limit with a medical practice. It's a great read and a good road map for changing your life whenever you choose to.
Worst People of the Year: Political wingnuts on both sides. You think the governor is Hitler? Really? Shame on you. You don't deserve my support. And you, you think people putting their lives on hold to fight peacefully and passionately for something they believe in are "dirty hippies?" Well, then you suck, too. The political ends of the spectrum make me ashamed. There are smart, sensible people who believe they are right and that's fine. But it's up to those people to call out the whack-jobs who may share their views but not their tactics. There has got to be a better way to reach consensus. I hope 2012 is the year the adults in politics ( and they exist) really do take over. The Packers can't keep being the only thing uniting this state.
Vince Vitrano, WTMJ-4
Wisconsin's Best National Media Moment: No one appreciates a little national love more than we do here in Milwaukee. This year provided so many opportunities for Wisconsin to shine, but none were greater than Green Bay hosting the opening game, and all the accompanying hoopla, for the NFL. Baseball playoffs at Miller Park were awesome. Erin Hills hosting the U.S. Amateur was great exposure too, but that amazing Thursday in early September was a Wisconsin masterpiece. From the TODAY show live at Lambeau Field getting lessons in craft beers, great tailgating and the best fans in America... to the sea of people taking in the concert on Oneida Street stretching back to the Stadium View... to our World Champions capping it off with an exciting win, the day was perfect from sun-up to sun-down. On Wisconsin!