Episode 61: All Talk, No Action

Commemorating the state of MTalk Nation


MILWAUKEE, December 24 – On this morning’s Milwaukee Talk program, WLKE-TV3 station owner and manager Honus Knox III was the final guest and delivered some concerning news to the last host standing, Mary Margaret.

“The Tater Beutler era is over,” Honus Knox III proclaimed to co-host Mary Margaret, “and you will be leaving us to give birth to a new baby. Vic Shell was never replaced. You can’t do a show without any of those people, as you know.  We also lost the Talk’o’Waukee Award last night, we’re fourth in our timeslot…”.

“Oh no…! Mr. Knox don’t tell me you’re cancelling us?” a shocked Mary Margaret inquired.

“I’ve considered it for a long time. You know I hold this show near and dear to my heart. It was my brainchild back in 1957 and I’ve loved seeing the show grow and flourish. It’s killing me a bit inside to see it struggle for relevance just like the whole television industry is experiencing these days.  The amount of money we spent in the last year was easily the most we’ve ever spent and that’s including the Ballast heydays. But during the Ballast years I could justify the expense.  This year I can’t.  So maybe I’m just a foolish old man clinging on to a dream and I can’t let go.  Last night I had a long chat with Allen Kew about where the show went wrong and if it’s worth going forward.  I’m proud to say Allen Kew is back as our Executive Producer.  I need this place to feel like home again. And with Allen coming back, you know Vic Shell can’t be too far behind.”

And then almost magically, the camera pulled back to a wide shot revealing Vic Shell seated in his usual chair next to Mr. Knox.

“Now…as I was saying,” Vic Shell dryly delivered before letting out his trademark, heart-warming belly laugh that Milwaukee hasn’t heard in an all too-long of a time.

A piano began to twinkle in the background as the camera panned left to reveal former Chat Pack laugh man Les Tremaine single-handedly massaging out soft, dulcet honey tones on a baby grand piano, with a large Milwaukee Talk logo in salsa red emblazoned on the side affixed by two large pieces of black electrical tape at the end of “Talk”.  We all can safely assume there was an “O” underneath the tape.  Knox explained Mr. Tremaine will be supplying live music in and out of commercial breaks as well as playing the opening theme on a daily basis for the show.

“We may even open the floor up for Les to play an entire song if the mood is right,” Knox teased.

“Let me embarrass this man Vic Shell for a minute,” Mary began.

“Virtually impossible,” Shell interrupted.

“Vic is taking a big pay cut to make it work this time.  And that’s a testimony to his true love for the show,” Mary revealed.

“We’re going to take a few weeks over the holidays and run some “Best Of” Vic and Mary era episodes and take the time to regroup,” Honus Knox III continued. “And who knows?  We may have another announcement or two to make in the coming days.”

“Watching these repeats are going to be a special treat for me,” Vic Shell continued.  “I can’t wait to relive all of these segments…like how you can use your hotel coffee maker to cook a meal, or the quick 5 step process to turn your old newspapers into yard refuse bags.  To the average Joe on the street, these snippets of sweetness are called memories – pleasant moments that we keep in our head to make us feel good when we need it most.  But to folks in the TV biz we call them repeats, great memories that we want to share with an audience to keep them coming back for more.  And that’s why this morning I say to Mary, Honus, Allen, and Les…thank you…thank you for being who you are and for doing what it is that you do… and thank you… thank you for the repeats.  I guess the takeaway lesson on all this is the sum of our parts is greater than we can individually be.”

Mr. Shell then wrapped up the show with a musical number.  “I’ve paraphrased and sweet cherry picked some stanzas from Sinatra’s ‘The House I Live In’.  I think it’s appropriate on a special day like today.  Because of his bum right hand Les is going to tickle the ivories and play us a bass heavy, treble light version of that arrangement.”

“Oh, and at our age we want as little treble as possible, Mr. Shell,” Les Tremaine giggled.

“That’s right, Lester” said Shell as he winked to camera one and then proceeded to narrate the lyrics over Tremaine’s playing….

The house I live in

A plot of earth, the street

The grocer and the butcher

Or the people that I meet

 The place I work in

The worker by my side

The little town, the city

Where my people lived and died

 The howdy and the handshake

The air a feeling free

And the right to speak your mind out

That’s Milwaukee Talk to me.

 The wedding and the churchyard

The laughter and the tears

A dream that’s been a growing

For more than two hundred years

 This house I live in

This city, this studio, this room

The pavement of this floor

Or a garden all in bloom.

 The church, the school, the clubhouse

The studio lights I see

But especially the people

That’s Milwaukee Talk to me.

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