Susan Bence

Environmental Reporter

Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.

Susan is now WUWM's environmental reporter, the station's first. Her work has been recognized by the Milwaukee Press Club, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.

Susan worked with Prevent Blindness Wisconsin for 20 years, studied foreign languages at UWM, and loves to travel.

Starting today, WUWM will provide stories on a regular basis, about environmental issues. We begin by meeting the person whose work led to the creation of UWM’s Great Lakes WATER Institute that sits along the shore of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee. WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence introduces us to the man who’s considered by some to be the father of Great Lakes studies.

Dr. Clifford Mortimer is nearly a century old, but he’s not the least bit interested in slowing down.

We continue our Project Milwaukee series: Black & White, examining race relations in the city.

WUWM’s Susan Bence visited New Hope Missionary Baptist Church on the northeast side, as members gathered for a weekly discussion group.

They shared their experiences and views of race relations in Milwaukee.

Talking It Out

Jun 18, 2009

We continue our Project Milwaukee series: Black & White, examining race relations in the city.

We discovered a group that gathers once a month specifically to talk about race. WUWM’s Susan Bence attended a recent meeting.

We add some new voices to our Project Milwaukee series: Black & White, as we continue examining race relations in the city.

WUWM’s Susan Bence talked with several interracial couples to learn about their lives and some of the challenges they face.

During World War II Eleanor Roosevelt encouraged Americans to plant Victory Gardens. The First Lady planted hers at the White House and some 20 million Americans followed her lead. They hoped to conserve fuel for the war effort and make sure there was enough food to go around.

Now a grassroots movement is spreading around the country to rekindle the tradition. Over the weekend a group of Milwaukee area residents will help plant vegetable beds in yards and shared spaces. It’s called the Victory Garden Blitz. WUWM’s Susan Bence got in on the group’s first planning meeting and has been watching its momentum grow.

Gretchen Mead calls herself a food activist.

Props Properly Placed

Mar 6, 2009

Live theater has been a part of our cultural landscape for decades. For instance, Milwaukee Repertory Theater has been humming along for 54 years. WUWM’s Susan Bence takes us through the back door, as the company prepares “Pride and Prejudice”, the production that opens tonight. She learns the role “proper props” play in bringing a show to life.
Pride and Prejudice is an unabashedly romantic story, vintage 19th century England. Jim Guy describes it as a play about books, paper and luggage. He confesses that synopsis might be a bit unorthodox, but Jim is the Rep’s properties director.

A couple of weeks ago, WUWM News visited a greenhouse on the city’s southside, where 7th & 8th graders manage an aquaculture system. They’re raising fish, using a natural filtering system that cleanses the water and grows edible plants along the way.

Gloria Rodriguez Kappel celebrated her 94th birthday earlier this month. The Milwaukee native was a vocal instructor at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music for decades. In the 1940s and 50s, teenage girls and young women from diverse backgrounds were Gloria’s students. Many still get together regularly. WUWM’s Susan Bence joined them to learn the secret of their lifelong bond.

Gloria Rodriquez Kappel and her girls, as she calls them, just finished sharing lunch. It’s a monthly date and they keep it religiously. Now, they’ve settled in the cozy lounge in Gloria’s retirement community, sipping tea and chatting. The nonagenarian is going strong and seems to have cast a perpetual spell over these women.

This month marks a significant anniversary in Barbara Brown Lee’s life. Forty-six years ago, fresh out of college, she took a job at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Today, Brown Lee’s name is almost synonymous with the museum. She’s worked with thousands of Milwaukee area high school students and continues to carve out time to work. WUWM’s Susan Bence popped into one of Brown Lee’s classes to see the master in action.

Throughout the year, we meet people who are making the community a better place and inspiring others. This time of year, we invite them to share their stories and what they've learned about life. We visit with 74-year-old Gloria Wright, one of those "behind the scenes" people who's had her hand in a lot of causes in Milwaukee.

For some of us, the holiday season means a blending of traditions from various cultures, some borrowed, some our own.   We visited a bakery on the city’s south side where the owners’ Italian heritage fills the air.

Buon giorno!

A Father's Story

Nov 27, 2008

In 2008 David Issay, creator of StoryCorps, proposed a National Day of Listening. He challenged people to StoryCorps into the home and capture family stories.

WUWM's Susan Bence sat down with her dad, Stan Bence, just before he celebrated his 90th birthday.

As we age, thoughts of staying physically healthy and financially independent become more important. But for some older adults, mental illness can rob them of a healthy future. As part of our Project Milwaukee series on aging and wellness, WUWM’s Susan Bence meets with older individuals dealing with depression.

She Aint Heavy

Oct 7, 2008

Not content with just carrying their wives across the threshold upon getting married, some couples in northern Wisconsin revisit this momentous occasion by carrying their wives in the second annual Wife Carrying Competition in Minocqua.

WUWM's Susan Bence documents the fun in this feature story.

The summer season comes to an end today as we celebrate Labor Day. It also means Coach Clifford’s job at the beach in Lake Geneva is over until next Memorial Day. WUWM’s Susan Bence popped down to the sand to talk with the man who doesn’t have any qualms about being called a beach bum.

I walk past the old snack canteen above this picturesque lake. The water couldn’t be bluer and the sky couldn’t possibly be clearer. It’s one of those perfect late summer mornings. You walk down a set of concrete steps, freshly blown free of the sand from yesterday’s mass of wet little feet. That’s where Joe Clifford reigns. He manages Lake Geneva’s public beach.

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