Episode 3: Talk Tanks

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Low ratings out of the gate for venerable talk show

It’s funny when you think that the now-popular and oft-boasted statement around Milwaukee is “I remember watching Vic and Mary’s first episode on Milwaukee Talk.”

Because when the ratings bean counters tabulated the final numbers for their debut, they were dismal.  Kew wasn’t surprised as Shell’s lengthy, uninspired intro of Margaret was an unwelcoming greeting to the new look show.

“I hadn’t talked to the same person on set on a daily basis in years…”, Shell confided as his voice trailed.

“This studio is so cold,” Mary explained.

Shell and Kew discuss overnight ratings
Shell and Kew discuss overnight ratings

“55,000 people watched our show???”  That’s it??!” a sullen Vic Shell exclaimed after reading that morning’s edition of The American Log.

Kew, sensing an unhappy team, was quick to point out that when The Beatles played Shea Stadium there were 55,000 people there too and look how well that turned out.

And Kew was right.  When you think about it…today there are hundreds of thousands of people claiming to have seen The Beatles at Shea.

We wouldn’t be surprised if someday you tell your friends you remember watching Vic and Mary’s debut too.

The American Log article the next morning lamenting the low ratings went like this….


MILWAUKEE, January 1 – Mary Margaret may have opened this morning’s instalment of WLKE’s long-running Milwaukee Talk program boasting she’s part of a durable co-hosting team that now spans two millennia but it looks as though viewers still need even more time to get to know the new duo.

Overnight ratings for their December 31st 1999 special on potential Y2K problems suggest it was the show itself that had the major power failure.

The first ten minutes of the show garnered a respectable 55,000 viewers but by the time the show came out of the third block there was only a scant 16,000 watching Vic Shell’s cooking segment about how to bait, trap, scale and cook squirrel. “So to wrap this up, they taste scrumptious when cooked over low heat for hours and garnished with roasted acorns”, added Shell as he threw to the fourth block.

According to an inside source, the phone calls have been overwhelmingly negative regarding the new-look and hard-hitting Milwaukee Talk.

Tomorrow’s show will feature animal lover Mary Margaret presenting a story about the now-extinct Pyrenean Ibex and what the large scale ramifications are for the animal kingdom.

“Most morning viewers are watching the shameful and shocking Jerry Springer and this is one local show’s attempt to offer an alternative to some of those viewers”, explained Allen Kew.

Future episodes being promoted include Shell looking at the top 10 influenzas threatening society while Mary Margaret is preparing a week long salute to various toxic and lethal molds.


Despite what Allen Kew says now about the hard news era on Milwaukee Talk, it wasn’t a complete waste of time. In this compilation of “‘wauk’ teasers”, you’ll note it actually was Milwaukee Talk that came up with the term “the one-percenters”.   Also note that the hiring of Margaret was so fast she was forced to wear the same outfits for a couple of weeks on the show before her wardrobe arrived from Alabama. Enjoy….

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