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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

An afternoon in academia

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Got swallowed up the other day in the bosom of academia, and spent more time on the UWM campus than I have in the 30+ years I've lived in Milwaukee.

I was invited to speak to Steve Jagler's senior journalism class--fresh-faced students wondering what an old media guy was doing sitting in their midst.  

And what is thing "radio" he keeps rambling on about?

It was fun, and lots was learned, especially by me.  First, it reinforced my irrelevance to a younger generation. That's to be expected, since they weren't around during the glory days of WKTI radio, and they aren't dialed into Wisconsin's Morning News at all, although one did bring up the infamous line about WTMJ losing a listener every time a hearse drives by.

It wasn't a one-way conversation--sure, they were supposed to be "interviewing" me for a piece they'd have to write as part of their assignment but there were moments of actual dialog during which we talked about their future plans.  And, we also remembered where we were on September 11, 2001.   Most of the students were kids, maybe nine or ten.  Some found out on the radio.  Others watched on TV.  One was in a British hospital after having just broken his leg.  

We're reminded this week of our growing distance between that "shared" moment and the fact there are those among us who weren't alive on that darkest of days.  Junior high schoolers were what, maybe two?  For them, 9/11 is something to be learned from history books and archived footage on YouTube.  They aren't asking each other, "Where were you?"  

We should be familiar with the feeling, at least those of you who share my demographic.  Some of us remember the Kennedy assassination, or maybe RFK or MLK.  The Challenger, too, is something recalled by a smaller, older subset.

Such is life.  The abundance of information, the rapid pace at which it's shared and then rapidly forgotten is only going to increase as the tablet and smartphone become less an option and more of a daily necessity.  Remember our parents complaining about how fast television was, how things moved too quickly?  And THAT was when there were but a handful of channels, all of them in black-and-white.

Here we are now, on current-events PED's.

Being back on a college campus is good for the soul.  All that youthful energy.  All that optimism.  The real world will intrude soon enough on the students I got to share the afternoon with and they seem more than ready for it. The classroom is no substitute for real life, and Steve Jagler's students are lucky he realizes that.  I am but one of some of the media types he'll be trotting in front of his class in the weeks ahead, folks from various outlets around town.  All of us have experience in the field, stories to tell, things to share with the next generation.  They seemed receptive, even to a radio guy they'd never heard of who works on a station they don't listen to.  All said they want to find jobs in journalism, some in traditional platforms, others seeking something on the cutting edge.

They'll need a little luck in nailing those gigs down, but thanks to Steve Jagler and the others who got them to this point in their studies, it looks like they have the rest of it down.

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