As the nation’s longest-running tourism TV show, Discover Wisconsin has discovered just about every nook and cranny in the state. The show is currently in its 30th year of production and will celebrate the premiere of its 500th episode next season. The crew behind the iconic Wisconsin brand says there’s no sign of slowing down either—in fact, the show has only grown in popularity in recent years thanks to its strong presence online and via radio in addition to broadcast.
In celebration of the show’s 30th birthday, here are 8 facts you may not have known about Discover Wisconsin TV:
- Discover Wisconsin was “born on a fishing boat.” In February 1986, renowned fisherman Dick Rose and soon-to-be governor Tommy Thompson conceived the idea of starting a TV show to promote tourism to Wisconsin.
- Less than a year later, the show was launched. The year was 1987. Back then, Discover Wisconsin aired in just one market: Wausau.
- Today, the program produces 18 episodes each season that air in several markets across eight states: Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, North Dakota and South Dakota.
- Discover Wisconsin draws 500,000 viewers each and every week throughout the Midwest on a combination of network, cable and satellite stations. The show also streams online at discoverwisconsin.com and regularly engages its 200,000 social media followers.
- For the past 30 years, the Discover Wisconsin crew has introduced its audiences to some of the most compelling, adventurous and even peculiar destinations Wisconsin has to offer. Its success has been recognized nationwide with numerous Gold ADDY, Telly and Emmy Awards.
- The #DWcrew now consists of a staff of around 30, based out of the Madison-area production house, Discover Mediaworks.
- The production team includes five hosts, five producers, two cinematographers, two editors and an audio designer.
- The official theme song of Discover Wisconsin, “The Good Land,” was produced by Waukesha native, Tony Memmel.
“My dad may have been a well-known fisherman but he had so much passion for all things Wisconsin,” said Mark Rose, CEO of Discover Mediaworks. “He knew this state deserved a platform to promote the places, people and stories that make Wisconsin the best state in the nation.”
The show has partnered with countless tourism entities throughout its 30-year tenure.
“This journey wouldn’t be possible without our incredible partnerships with fellow tourism organizations and Wisconsin brands,” said Greg Smith, managing director for Discover Wisconsin.
“Add to that, our crew of talented producers, cinematographers, editors, hosts and more who work tirelessly and fervently to evolve Discover Wisconsin every single day.”
One of the main reasons for Discover Wisconsin’s staying power? Its willingness to evolve.
“Discover Wisconsin has become a household name throughout the Midwest thanks to our TV platform and loyal viewership over the decades,” said Mariah Haberman, host and brand manager. “It’s been exciting to work with some of the smartest minds in the business to expand in incredibly imaginative ways.”
Discover Wisconsin continues to grow beyond TV. Discover Wisconsin Radio began in 1993 as a companion to Discover Wisconsin TV and now airs on more than 40 stations throughout the state, Monday through Friday. Discover Wisconsin also launched its popular blog, The Bobber, in 2013 and introduced online merchandise at shop.discoverwisconsin.com in 2015.
The brand has become a beloved part of the state, whether among loyal viewers who record every episode for vacation ideas, social media followers who look forward to gorgeous scenic photos of Wisconsin, or those who don Discover Wisconsin merchandise across the state and country. To both long-time fans and brand new viewers: Thank You!