Local Features

In addition to the local news, WXPR Public Radio also likes to find stories that are outside the general news cycle... Listen below to stories about history, people, culture, art, and the environment in the Northwoods that go a little deeper than a traditional news story allows us to do. Here are all of the series we include in this podcast: Curious North, We Live Up Here, A Northwoods Moment in History, Field Notes, and Wildlife Matters.

These features are also available as a podcast by searching "WXPR Local Features" wherever you get your podcasts.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Christmas is a time when children and grandchildren return home to visit with elderly parents and celebrate the season.  Traveling by airline or automobile over the holidays can be stressful, but modern highways and airline schedules make it relatively easy to accomplish.  Stress has always been a part of holiday travel, but imagine a time when the pace was slower, and the journey was part of the celebration.  

Joe Giersch, USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center

Walking from my truck into work last week, I noticed a frail looking insect flitting along the surface of the snow on the trail in front of me. On closer inspection, it was a stonefly. Stoneflies are small insects that live most of their lives in streams and rivers, emerging only to complete their reproductive life cycle. Like stone flies, many aquatic insects, including many flies, mosquitos, dragon flies and damselflies have a life cycle that is partly in water and partly above water. But, most of these species emerge and take flight in spring and early summer.


As the year comes to a close, the Masked Biologist takes a few minutes to ponder the fate of endangered species around the globe and closer to home.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

To Scott Williams, most drones are just toys.

They can fly high and take photos and video, but can’t do much more.

But his drones? As he sees it, they might change the world.

“If we could put a flying cell tower [up] there, then we could do computing, we can do whatever right off of this thing,” said Williams. “We need a flying computer. We need this network that we can put anywhere and just let everyone compute off of it.”

Wisconsin Historical Society

Few corporate brands are as recognizable as Coca-Cola.  The soda has been around for over 130 years, and for much of that time it was bottled right here in the Northwoods. 

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

What is a wildlife overpass, or underpass, and does Wisconsin have any? Why or why not? Valid questions, to be certain, and the Masked Biologist has a few answers for us.

Dan Dumas/Kim Swisher Communications

On a sunny day last week in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Kevin Sundholm picked up a small handful of marble-sized pellets of iron ore from the ground.

“Those pellets would go through there and they would get baked,” he said, gesturing at the abandoned foundations of the former Groveland Mine complex near Felch, in Dickinson County.

“You can see the remnants up on top of the silos there,” Sundholm said.

He knows the lay of the land. He worked here more than 40 years ago.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Wisconsin’s wolf population has been in the news for the past few months. With efforts to remove wolves from the endangered species list and calls to reinstitute an organized wolf hunt, it seems timely to revisit what originally happened to Wisconsin’s native wolf population. 

Image by CTolman on Pixabay.com

Rocky the owl made headlines recently with a wild ride into the Big Apple. The Masked Biologist ponders the plight of this owl in this week’s wildlife matters.

Image by Vlanka on Pixabay.com

If you live in the Northwoods, you know there are still many family-run funeral homes. Funeral home directors, along with the entire funeral industry, have made changes as a result of the pandemic. But small community funeral directors often have an extra burden.

On a recent Saturday, Bill Sherer carefully wrapped fine thread and colorful chenille around a hook. A handful of fly-tying learners watched and copied the move with the materials in their own hands.

Sherer has been teaching these classes at his self-proclaimed “throwback, old-fashioned” fly-fishing shop, We Tie It in Boulder Junction, for years.

“Here in the Upper Midwest, we have fishing season and we have fly-tying season. It’s a great winter activity,” Sherer said.

But for this winter’s round of classes, Sherer is the only one in his shop.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Teenagers playing pranks on the community is an issue that is as old as civilization itself. Every generation has had to deal with it in one way or another. But a prank is little more than a practical joke or a mischievous act. At what point does an innocent prank cross the line to become juvenile delinquency? An incident from Oneida County’s early history shows how easily the line can be crossed. Historian Gary Entz has the story.

Marshfield Clinic

Over the last few years, members of the Washington D.C.-based Bipartisan Policy Center visited Marshfield Clinic in Minocqua, seeking a window into rural healthcare in America.

Rural areas like northern Wisconsin face hospital closures, physician shortages, and a struggle to access telehealth services, the Center found in a comprehensive report.

Some of the issues facing rural health care have only intensified since the pandemic started, especially telehealth.

wisconsin historical society

Thanksgiving traditionally is a time when people celebrate the harvest and other blessings of the year gone by. It is a time when extended families gather with one another to give thanks for good health and, in some cases, to watch football. The Thanksgiving season of 1933, however, had an element of good cheer that had a lot of people in the Northwoods in a celebratory mood. Historian Gary Entz has the story.