John McGivern’s Around the Corner celebrates Brewers Hill community
The Preview Party for the Brewers Hill episode of Around the Corner with John McGivern was held at Lakefront Brewery on February 23.
Lakefront’s co-founder Russ Klisch hosted the free event, which packed the facility’s Beer Hall with hundreds of local viewers. The venue was perfect for this screening, being the only brewery in the Brewers Hill area.
Originally known as Uihlein Hill, the name Brewers Hill was derived from the large number of brewery workers and owners that previously inhabited the area. The Schlitz and Blatz breweries were once in operation just south of the distinctly Victorian-era neighborhood.
Produced by Milwaukee Public Television, the series Around the Corner with John McGivern features Emmy Award-Winning Actor John McGivern as he visits various communities throughout Wisconsin, and profiles the unique people who live and work there. McGivern stated that the Brewers Hill episode was one of his most fun to produce, and its popularity was proven by playing to a full house.
“Around the Corner with John McGivern is Milwaukee Public Television’s most successful series ever,” said Lois Maurer, series producer and director for MPTV. “On Thursday nights our ratings rival that of commercial stations, and it does so consistently throughout the country. Thursday night is local programming on PBS, and our show gets the highest national ratings nearly every week.”
Beginning its fifth season, McGivern and Maurer are already planning for next year. Their dream was to do the show for ten years. Thanks to its popularity and interest in Wisconsin, they are now aiming to keep it going for twenty.
“When we started Around the Corner, we had a whole different idea as to what this was going to be,” explained the show’s host John McGivern. “We thought we would inspire everybody with a sense of community. We soon learned that we were idiots to think this. We did not inspire anyone, because they already love and are passionate about their community. All we had to do was just show people and celebrate their commitment.”
McGivern and Maurer began working together about seven years ago, on small projects like the Circus Parade. Because they had so much fun together, Maurer decided to find a way they could do so everyday.
“We came up with this show so that we could work together more,” said Maurer. “And our continued success is due John and the concept, which is community. Who doesn’t love their community? There is such amazing community pride in Wisconsin. So we combined those two things and it’s a winning formula.”
Although celebrity historian and show guest John Gurda was unable to attend the screening, Historic Milwaukee, Inc.’s Executive Director Stacy Swadish and Special Events Director Grace Fuhr were on hand. Historic Milwaukee, Inc. recently publish Gurda’s 466-page book, Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, which contains a full chapter on Brewers Hill.
Unlike Discover Wisconsin which uses a pay-to-play model, those featured on Around the Corner cannot buy their way onto the show. As public television, the program’s production staff of twelve can pick where they want to go and who they want to talk to because it is of interest to them. The process is not scientific, but remains a hit with the audience who crave having their community featured in a future episode.
“I am proud that our program showcases Wisconsin. All positive, all the time,” said Maurer. “Some of the episodes that end-up being the most exciting and successful for me are the places I never heard of before.”
McGivern answered audience questions after the preview and shared stories from his travels on the show. He said he is not worried about running out of places to cover.
“As long as people live on a corner, we’re going to be there.”
The Preview Party screenings will continue each week at their episode-based community, but will not return to the Milwaukee area until March 21. That show will feature the East North Avenue area, and be held at The Oriental Theatre.