The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which awards the national and regional Emmy Awards, established the Silver Circle to recognize and honor outstanding individuals who have devoted 25 years or more to the television industry and who have either made significant contributions to broadcasting or who have spent the formative years of their career in in the area. On Sunday, the 2013 Milwaukee Silver Circle honorees were presented the award, placing them among the most influential industry leaders in the market. This week, OnMilwaukee.com will profile this year’s inductees.
When Sally Severson started delivering morning weather reports on WISN-TV, Ch. 12, it was before the station had a morning newscast. In 1986, when she was on the air, it was what’s called a cut-in, when the local station would have a break during "Good Morning America" to read a little news and offer today’s forecast.
Those cut-ins continue today, but mornings changed in the Milwaukee TV market in the late 1980s, when local stations started offering a full newscast before the network morning shows.
Severson was pregnant with her first daughter, and the news director at the time told her to keep quiet about the fact that big things were on the horizon at the ABC affiliate.
"A few weeks later they brought David Davis in," Severson said, recounting the time Davis was a sports reporter and anchor and visiting the station in the guise of being added to the sports department.
"I go to have lunch with him … he said, ‘Sally, I’m not a new sports reporter. I’m here to anchor a new hour-long newscast,’" Severson said, then being told that she would play a big part in launching the morning show.
Flash forward to 25 years later, and the meteorologist is still on the now two-and-a-half-hour morning news. The Emmy winner – who has covered hurricanes and major storm damage across the nation, and tornadoes, winter blizzards, ice and thunder storms closer to home – is a 2013 honoree inducted in the Milwaukee Silver Circle.
Through the years, Severson saw a number of changes, including the second hour at 5 a.m. being added to the morning broadcast in 1988, and then the 4:30 a.m. half-hour just a few years ago.
I asked Severson about all of the changes in broadcasting that have happened in the years she’s been at WISN, from different technology, viewer habits and the different people she’s worked with.
"What’s been impressive has been the explosion of social media in the past five years. I’d say that’s been the single biggest change," she said.
"I create the TV forecast and then share it on Twitter, Facebook and the internet. I try to reply with information meaningful to them."
Severson said that she was humbled to be mentioned among the others who are in the Silver Circle, and credits the staffers she is surrounded by every day at the station for the honor.
"I got here with this bunch, this is for all of us from Ch. 12 and the alumni," Severson said.
You can read more about the 2013 Silver Circle honorees here.
Media is bombarding us everywhere.
Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.
The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.