For a few months now, we’ve been watching Around the Corner with John McGivern on Milwaukee Public Television. It usually airs Thursday nights at 7:30 on WMVS Channel 10, and Friday nights at 8:00 on WMVT Channel 36.
The show is a breezy half-hour tour of a particular Milwaukee neighborhood — or of a community in the greater Milwaukee area. Past episodes have showcased Milwaukee’s Bay View Neighborhood, Wauwatosa, the Riverwest Neighborhood, Cedarburg, Sheboygan, King Drive, Burlington and Brady Street, and each has offered some intriguing glimpses of activities in communities within easy driving distance.
Host John McGivern is a comedic storyteller and actor with a goofball approach that can get a little cloying at times, but it also puts his interview subjects very much at ease as he asks them about their shops and restaurants, attractions, workplaces, and local culture.
Around the Corner‘s biggest strength is the variety of appealing highlights it packs into each half hour, beginning always with a thumbnail history sketch from Milwaukee historian John Gurda, who should perhaps have a show of his own. Thus briefed, McGivern visits specific businesses of the featured community, then pops into its restaurants, attractions, schools, gardens, parks, shops, houses, front yards, and waterfronts. Each installment ends with McGivern giving a local official 30 seconds to persuade viewers why the place is the best place to live, work, and play.
This week’s episode, embedded above, spotlighted our own fair city of Racine, Wisconsin — where McGivern talked to:
- Historian John Gurda at the statue of Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln on Racine’s Gateway Technical College campus.
- Steve Tyler, plant manager at Case New Holland; Scott Wallace, a final assembly and inspection worker at the plant; and team leader Tenisha Long.
- Eric Oleson, Mike Oleson, and Kevin Oleson of O&H Danish Bakery, one of Racine’s major kringle bakeries.
- Ben L. Bendtsen Jr. and Cindy Bendtsen of Bendtsen’s Bakery, another major Racine kringle bakery.
- Kristine Reisdorf and Kara Kading of Milaeger’s home and garden centers.
- Christine and Mark Flynn, co-owners of D.P. Wigley Lawn and Garden Supplies / Building Materials and Hop To It Brewing and Winemaking Supplies.
- Susan Bukacek, owner of The Soup Restaurant on Main St.
- Rick Buehrens, owner of Kewpee Lunch hamburger restaurant.
- Doug Nicholson, owner of The Ivanhoe Pub & Eatery on Main St.
- Christopher Olley, president of St. Catherine’s High School.
- Sam Azarian, owner of Azarian Marina.
- Michael Kobylka, president and CEO of Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce (RAMAC).
- Chris Koschnitz, vice president of the Racine Garden Club.
- Douglas Instenes, managing artistic director of the Racine Theater Guild.
- Pasquale Laurino, artistic director and conductor of the Racine Symphony Orchestra, and Bonnie Prochaska, the RSO’s executive director.
- Michael Burke, business reporter for the Journal Times.
- Racine Health Department laboratory director Dr. Julie Kinzelman, who heads Water Quality Research for Racine’s North Beach.
- Jay R. Christie, president and CEO of the Racine Zoo.
- Bruce W. Pepich, executive director of Racine Art Museum.
- Susan Faltim and David Popoff, owners of George’s Tavern on Main St., which offers a Persian menu.
- Natalie Gautsch, owner of Sugar Shack Sweet Shoppe, downtown on Monument Square.
- Amanda Cosgrove Paffrath and Doug Chausseé, two of the owners of Hot Shop Glass Studio & Gallery.
- Racine Mayor John Dickert.
That’s quite a list for a 30-minute show. Extended interview clips are available in the Around the Corner with John McGivern section of the MPTV.org website.
John McGivern is appearing in a Racine Theatre Guild special event on Saturday, March 31. Written by Steven Tomlinson, American Fiesta stars McGivern as an obsessive collector of vintage Fiestaware on an antic journey across America, and sheds light on our cultural/political divide.
For tickets, phone (262) 633-4218.