Ben Meyer

Special Topics Correspondent

Ben took the newly-created position of Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR in September of 2019.  He has a specific focus through his grant-funded position: reporting on water and water resources in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  Through his on air and online reporting, Ben explores water as a necessity for life and as an identity for the region.

Prior to joining the WXPR team, Ben spent more than seven years serving in several roles at WJFW-TV in Rhinelander.

Originally from Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, Ben is a graduate of UW-Madison. He lives in Rhinelander with his wife, Erika.  Outside of work, Ben is an avid Brewers and Badgers fan.  He enjoys doing outdoor projects, running, and competing in triathlons.  Ben is also a WIAA basketball official and calls play-by-play for Rhinelander Hodags sports.

It will likely be weeks before Wisconsin sees a decrease, or even a leveling-off, of COVID-19 cases in the state.

That’s even if people follow the order limiting travel put in place by Gov. Tony Evers this week.

On Wednesday, Evers’ Safer-At-Home order took effect.  It instructed people not to leave their house, except for essential reasons.

On Friday, Andrea Palm, the Secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said that will help slow the spread, but the effects won’t be immediate.

In the WXPR news roundup for Friday, March 27:

  • Oneida County now has its first positive case of COVID-19
  • Iron County is the first northern Wisconsin county with a death
  • The pilot in the early-March plane crash in Rhinelander missed the runway by 225 feet
  • Minocqua Brewing Company is now Minocqua Sandwich Company
  • The Wisconsin Waters 2020 convention is moving completely online

Ben Meyer/WXPR

The pilot in a Mar. 5 airplane crash at the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport missed the runway by 225 feet, according to a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report.

The pilot thought he was lined up with the runway by using the runway edge lights for reference, the report said.

Instead, the plane landed on snow, dug in, flipped over, and seriously injured the pilot.


Oneida County has confirmed its first positive case of COVID-19.

Oneida County Health Director Linda Conlon confirmed the positive test...

"So we have our first case and the person is being very compliant with isolation. We are in the midst of doing contact investigation at this time."

The person is in their 20s with a history of travel. Conlon says health officials had been expecting cases to occur....

Resilience of lakes and rivers will be the theme of the Wisconsin Waters 2020 convention next week.

The theme might as well be resilience in planning and coordination.

The three-day conference was supposed to be held in Stevens Point.  Instead, because of the COVID-19 outbreak, organizers have managed to move it completely online.

Lakes specialist and conference organizer Pat Goggin said the conference usually draws lake associations, scientists, elected officials, and businesses, but he’s hoping the new online option platform will open it to even more people.

Stormy Kromer Facebook

Instead of making its iconic Stormy Kromer hats, Ironwood-based Jacquart Fabrics is now making hospital masks and gowns.  Near Antigo, wildlife rehabilitators don’t have the luxury of staying away from work.  In this edition of We Live Up Here, we explore how COVID-19 has changed the landscape of businesses in our area.

People in Wisconsin don’t need special documents to leave their house, go shopping, or go to essential businesses under the state’s new stay-at-home order.

Department of Health Services Sec.-designee Andrea Palm tried to clear up that confusion during a question-and-answer session on Facebook Live Thursday.

State of Michigan

A month ago, in a ballroom at a hotel conference center in a Madison suburb, social distancing wasn’t even in the vocabulary of most people.

The coronavirus wasn’t yet a threat to Wisconsin.  Hundreds of people packed into a convention to talk about, and hear about, a different threat to health--PFAS.

“It is the hot ticket issue right now,” conceded Bridget Kelly, the Wisconsin DNR’s Program Coordinator for Emerging Contaminants.

The topic is only growing hotter.


Your questions about COVID-19 and how it impacts northern Wisconsin are important to WXPR.  On Wednesday afternoon, we hosted a virtual forum, asking the questions you submitted to local professionals.  We invite you to listen here.  Panelists include:


Ascension Medical Group will open its first three drive-thru COVID-19 testing stations Thursday.

The locations include Rhinelander and Crandon, and they will be Ascension's first drive-thru sites in the Northwoods.

The location in Rhinelander will be at the Ascension facility on Kabel Avenue, sometimes called the old hospital.  In Crandon, the site will be at the Ascension clinic on the west side of town.

There’s a specific procedure to get tested for COVID-19 at the locations.

  • Aspirus is the latest health system putting a halt to non-essential appointments due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The Lakeland Union High School Board discussed employee pay, wearing gloves and facemasks.
  • A robber at a Kwik Trip has been arrested by Wausau Police.
  • A local police department is altering how it covers shifts during COVID-19.

The “Safer at Home” order directed by Gov. Tony Evers is now official and will take effect at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

The order prohibits all nonessential travel, and closes nonessential businesses, in Wisconsin.  It’s the most drastic step the state has taken in fighting the COVID-19 outbreak. 

On Tuesday, Andrea Palm, the Secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, painted a dire projection for the state without the order.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

The “Safer at Home” order directed by Gov. Tony Evers is now official and will take effect at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

The order prohibits all nonessential travel, and closes nonessential businesses, in Wisconsin.

It will stay in effect until Apr. 24, unless it’s superseded.  The full order is here.

It’s the most drastic step the state has taken in fighting the COVID-19 outbreak.

State of Wisconsin

Gov. Tony Evers is ordering people to stay home, and is closing non-essential businesses, in Wisconsin’s most drastic step yet to slow COVID-19.

Evers’ order will take effect Tuesday.

He’s calling the program Safer At Home, a response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Friday, Evers said he didn’t anticipate having to take such measures.  But that changed over the weekend, and Evers previewed the order in a virtual press conference on Monday.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

A sign on the door now greets visitors to the Briar House coffee shop in Rhinelander.

Like other restaurants and bars in Wisconsin, as a coronavirus precaution, people can’t come in.

But, for the first time, Briar House started offering call-in and curbside pickup orders.

Last Tuesday, owner Sandy Buss shut the doors on Briar House to all but employees.

That came before the order from Gov. Tony Evers, which directed all restaurants and bars to halt in-person service.