6 am, Wisconsin Public Radio


I’ve been in Vilas Hall hundreds of times, but never on the seventh floor, home of Wisconsin Public Radio. Terry Bell greets me there Friday morning and ushers me past empty desks and darkened offices.

“It’s just my one-man band,” he says, “with all my bowling pins and spinning plates.”

Bell’s voice greets thousands of Wisconsinites emerging from their slumber each morning as he delivers the state news during the broadcast of National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.” Despite growing up on a dairy farm, he doesn’t consider himself a natural morning person, but the WPR gig converted him. He arrives at about 4:30 and is on the air by 5.

The space Bell works in doesn’t resemble the other radio studios I’ve been in. There are no banners or boxes of prizes. It’s tidy and spare and quiet at this time of day. Bell says he’s not immediately aware of the reach of his voice across Wisconsin as he broadcasts.

“It feels a lot like in college doing media production labs,” he says. “It’s something you have to make yourself aware of.”

– Jason Joyce

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