Come Meet the Urban Milwaukee Gang
Our annual party is Tuesday, 5 p.m. And oh, the stories we could tell.
It was eight years ago, in June of 2008, that two local bloggers writing about urban issues decided to join forces and create a publication called UrbanMilwaukee.com.
Dave Reid, then 33, was the senior eminence of the duo, who worked as a web developer and in his spare time, when he wasn’t agonizing over the football and basketball games of his alma mater, Iowa State, was writing a blog called Milwaukee Development. He was the sort of guy who liked watching live city committee hearings online, quite possibly the only such fellow in town.
Jeramey Jannene, then 21, was just a senior at Milwaukee School of Engineering and still wet behind the ears. (They may still be a tad damp today.) But he was already doing a blog with the name Urban Milwaukee, which caught the attention of his fellow blogger. Reid approached Jannene about joining forces and thereby was also able to grab the name Urban Milwaukee. That was clever.
And so the two bloggers announced their merger and on the next day, published the first story, ”Could Robert Ruvin Have Saved RiverSplash? The first person to comment on the story was the ubiquitous, man-about-town Michael Horne, who would later become a key contributor to Urban Milwaukee, with such columns as House Confidential.
But let’s not get ahead of our story. From there, Urban Milwaukee grew slowly and gradually began to build a following among city insiders, politicians, urban development fans and some members of the media. One of those was then-Milwaukee Magazine editor Bruce Murphy, who even talked about having Reid contribute to the magazine, though that never quite happened for reasons neither of them can recall.
In February 2012, Murphy left the magazine over a philosophical disagreement with the owners. Murphy was all about Aristotle, it seems, while the owners were strict Platonians.
Murphy was a grizzled veteran of Wisconsin journalism, which is to say he was old, older than the hills, and had written for or edited more publications than anyone cares to remember. Seeking a place to continue his column, immodestly entitled Murphy’s Law, he proposed to join forces with Reid and Jannene under a deal that would make Murphy a co-owner.
And so the three combined forces on a project that would require more work and longer hours than anyone in their right mind would undertake and yet they have persevered, steadily building their readership and monthly page views while adding salesman Michael Henszey, and more recently saleswomen Nicole Galvin. Both had previously worked with Murphy at the old Metro Milwaukee Weekly and had somehow survived that ordeal.
To celebrate their 8th anniversary, the staff have chosen the Newsroom Pub, 137 E. Wells St., home of the Milwaukee Press Club, the oldest continuing press club in North America and possibly the world. The pub has signatures on the wall collected by the club and going back more than a century, including those of William Jennings Bryant, Teddie Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, FDR, Mark Twain and many more. It’s a great place to linger over a drink and imagine what TR or Twain or Barbara Walters really thought of this town.
Joining the party as honored guest will be hizzoner, the sometimes urbanist and always urbane Mayor Tom Barrett.
So come raise a toast to the still very young Urban Milwaukee, share some stories with us, and help us celebrate our eighth anniversary.
If you plan to attend, you can buy tickets online now and avoid the line at the door.