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Milwaukee Talks: Ted Perry

Ted Perry, anchor of the FOX 6 News team, isn't a lifelong Milwaukeean, but he's been here long enough to know that he wants to stay. The city fits him, his personality, his pace, his style and his wit. Watch him on the 10 o'clock news or listen to him on WLZR's "Bob & Brian" show long enough, and you get the feeling that Ted's a funny, down-to-earth guy. And if you've seen the station's promotional ads featuring Ted, you'll be glad to know that he wrote them. So his humor and wit are real.

Ted's a real person, too. Thus, Milwaukee has taken to him. He's won's "favorite male news personality" two years in a row and while his star continues to rise in Milwaukee, Ted continues to take it in stride.

He's the youngest of eight kids, so he knows that respect comes from being able to state your points in an entertaining manner, talk up (but not out of turn) and, most importantly, from following the golden rule.

Ted was born in Wilmette, Ill. (approximately 16 miles north of downtown Chicago). If you have never been to Wilmette, think Whitefish Bay -- tree lined streets, well-maintained parks and excellent public and private schools. Population about 26,000.

In 1979, when Ted was a freshman in High School, his father took a job as a sales manager with a plastics company in Baraboo. The move was a bit of a culture shock for the 14-year-old and suddenly "only child" Ted.

But, he says "it was the best thing that ever happened to me." It got him out of his shell. Suddenly no one knew his older brothers and sisters and he was able to carve his own niche at Baraboo High School, home of the T-Birds.

Ted was a pretty good student, played sports (football and baseball) and was class president his senior year.

After high school, and still thinking he wanted to be a teacher "when he grew up," Ted made the leap to UW-Madison. He always knew Madison was the college for him, his brother had gone there and he'd been to many football games, so the school was in his heart and soul. He even went on to do a stint as Bucky Badger.

Fox 6's Ted Perry, Bucky Badger? What better place to start the interview.

OMC: Okay, tell us the Bucky Badger story.

Ted Perry: I was actually trying out for cheerleading, thinking I was trying out for Bucky. I almost made the cheerleading squad, which I wanted nothing to do with! But they told me that Bucky try-outs were in a couple of weeks, and to come back then.

So, I came back. I'm in this room with eight other people and they ask questions … Where does Bucky live, what does he eat? The contest was based on your ability to adlib and BS. So, being the youngest of eight in an Irish Catholic family, I had that down pat. I told them that Bucky ate Gopher meat and Wolverine scraps, they liked it. Finally, me and another guy were picked to be Bucky for the 1984 football season. We did parades all summer. You try walking around downtown Fort Atkinson in a Bucky costume and tell me that you don't love the UW! "

OMC: How long did the Bucky Badger thing last?

TP: Until I got fired! I was doing the entertaining ritual with the Iowa mascot at half time. We shed our carcasses, introduced ourselves, and then swapped outfits. The cheerleaders didn't think this was too funny. They told Elroy Hirsch (the Athletic Director) and he fired me the next Monday. But, it's funny I got more ink out of being fired than I ever would have being Bucky."

OMC: Okay, let's get to know Ted Perry. What was your first job out of college?

TP: I was a bartender, and a darn good one, right out of school in Chicago. My first full time TV job was in Rochester, Minn. at the NBC affiliate, Channel 10 KTTC. It's so funny, I remember the call distinctly. It was June 30, and already one year after I'd graduated from college. I was about ready to give up on television, and I told myself if I didn't get this job I'd start looking in insurance or something.

But, sure enough, I got the call from Gene Carlson saying in this groggily voice, 'Ah yeah, I got your tape. I think I'm going to use you. I'll probably hire you. Call me Monday and we'll talk terms and all that.'

So, I went up there and was a feature reporter for three years. I got paid less than peanuts -- what would that be, walnuts?

OMC: Yeah, walnuts. Give us an idea of what walnuts pay was.

TP: I made $10,900 my first year, but had so much fun and could not wait to get to work each day and quite frankly, didn't want to ever leave. I rented a house with two others guys in the same position that I was, and we just had a gas in Minnesota.

OMC: But, you eventually moved on. Where next?

TP: Chattanooga, Tenn., in 1990. One of the little quirks about this period of my life, my first day at the station was Feb. 28, 1990 and my last day was Feb. 28, 1993. Three years on the nose. I was fat and happy down there with the main anchor gig and everything. But I realized, 'what the hell am I doing so far away from home?' I needed to get closer to my father who was dying at the time.

OMC: So you started at FOX 6 in '93?

TP: Yep. Jill Geisler was kind enough to hire me. I started doing general assignment stuff, all kinds of stories. My first story was a huge sinkhole on Port Washington Rd., I think of it every time I drive past it. I remember, I went to Solly's for lunch my first day, I was hooked.

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