The West Side with host Rich Kremer airs Mondays at 10 a.m. on Ideas 88.3 WHWC-FM/ Menomonie-Eau Claire and 88.7 WRFW-FM/ River Fallls. It is also recorded by Eau Claire Community Television where it airs weekly and is simulcast on CTV's low power radio station.
Topics for this interview/call-in program include the state budget, the effects of proposed legislation on local residents, sustainability, university issues, racial diversity, school funding, health care, economics, agriculture,
and other topics from a western Wisconsin perspective. During election seasons, candidates for State Assembly and State Senate share time on the air with their opponents. Listeners are also encouraged to call in at 800-228-5615.
Local lawmakers discussed a slew of legislation being introduced during the fall session in Madison on The West Side. Host Rich Kremer was joined by Democratic State Representative Chris Danou and Republican State Senator Sheila Harsdorf.
Prairie and savanna restoration was discussed on The West Side. Host Rich Kremer was joined by Dunn County landowner and President of the Chippewa Savanna Chapter of The Prairie Enthusiasts, Biologist, Author, Former UW-Madison Arboretum Ecologist and member of The Prairie Enthusiasts Board of Directors, and President of the West Central Wisconsin Invasive Plant Management Chris Gaetske.
Sex trafficking in and through western Wisconsin was discussed on The West Side. Host Rich Kremer was joined by Jenny Almquist, Director of Fierce Freedom, which aims to educate and equip the community to abolish human trafficking. Cheryl Voyles also joined the program to share her story of being sold into sex trafficking as a child. Voyles is now an author who works as an advocate for victims impacted by sexual violence. Eau Claire Police Detective Ryan Dahlgren shared the perspective of law enforcement's challenges in trying to stop sex trafficking and getting victims to cooperate in investigations of sex trafficking rings. Also, West Side news intern Chi Ab Vang sat down for a discussion with Special Agent Jennifer Price with the Division of Criminal Investigation to talk about the roles internet escort sites and the I-94 corridor play in sex trafficking in Wisconsin.
Western Wisconsin's Hmong Refugee Population was discussed during The West Side. Host Rich Kremer was joined by Jon Lor, President of the Eau Claire Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association, Chue Xiong the first Hmong Person elected to the Eau Claire Area School Board of Education and Choua Xiong, a student at UW-Eau Claire and student representative of the Hmong Studies Initiative there and Ari Anand, Associate Anthropology Professor and Advisor for the Initiative.
The West Side Agriculture Update discussed how this year's extra long winter and especially wet spring has delayed planting, what it means for this year's harvest and how farmers are coping. Host Rich Kremer was joined by UW-Extension Crops and Soils Educator for Chippewa and Eau Claire Counties, President of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation Jim Holte and District 4 Director for the Wisconsin Farmers Union Craig Myhre. Guests also talked about how farming continues to evolve and what the Farm Bill's holdup in Washington means for them.
The public private partnership to build a new arts and events facility in Eau Claire known as the Confluence Project was discussed on The West Side. Host Rich Kremer was joined by President of the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council Ben Richgruber and Principal of Commonweal Development Dan Clumpner.
The West Side discussed a disturbing trend in dangerous drug abuse in western Wisconsin. Counties in northwestern Wisconsin are experiencing an explosion in methamphetamine abuse while the Hudson/St. Croix River Valley area is seeing an increase in heroin abuse. Host Rich Kremer was joined by Polk County Sheriff Pete Johnson and Barron County Sheriff's Department Investigator Jason Hagan who spoke about the meth problem in their region. Then, Kremer was joined by Karen Hale of the Town of Hudson, who lost her 21-year-old daughter Alysa Ivy to a heroin overdose in May, and St. Croix County Sheriff's Department Investigators Jim Mikla and James Haefner.
The West Side discussed the recently passed state biennial budget and how budget cuts to the UW System will impact local UW campuses. Host Rich Kremer was joined by UW-River Falls Special Assistant to the Chancellor Blake Fry and UW-Stout Chancellor Chuck Sorenson. Topics included the revelation of a more than $1 billion fund balance, called a slush fund or cash reserve by some, the subsequent budget cut to the UW System and a two-year cap on tuition.
Fishing and fish management was discussed on the summer edition of The West Side Outside. Host Rich Kremer was joined by the "Outdoor Guys" Joe Knight, Outdoor Editor for the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram and Dave Carlson, Host of Northland Adventures. Kremer was also joined by special guests Max Wolter, a DNR Fisheries Biologist in Hayward and Dan "Bimbo" Gifford, an expert fly tyer from Cameron who invented the Bimbo Skunk fly for bluegill and crappie.
Governor Walker's biennial budget was discussed on The West Side. Host Rich Kremer was joined by Republican State Representative Kathy Bernier of Chippewa Falls and Democratic State Representative Dana Wachs of Eau Claire. Issues included the controversial voucher school program statewide expansion, the $651 million tax cut and the addition of policy items into the budget.
The West Side looked into the true economic impact of frac sand mining. Host Rich Kremer was joined by Dr. Tom Power, who in partnership with the Wisconsin Farmer's Union and the Wisconsin Towns Association released a study highlighting the benefits and costs of frac sand mining on western Wisconsin. Then Kremer introduced Pepin County Board Supervisor Bill Mavity, who worries that frac sand mining will destroy the tourism industry along Lake Pepin and has introduced an ordinance banning the practice there. Finally, Kremer was joined by Rich Budinger, General Manager with Fairmont Minerals and President of the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association who argues that sand mining has been in Wisconsin for more than 100 years and this new sand rush is spurring economic development and jobs in a down economy.
The West Side discussed the cost of food and what plays into the price we pay at the grocery store checkout. Host Rich Kremer was joined by UW-River Falls Agriculture Marketing Specialist Dr. Brenda Boetel and Dr. Sarah Lloyd, Special Projects Coordinator for the Wisconsin Farmers Union.
The West Side discussed the importance of tourism for western Wisconsin and the state as a whole. Host Rich Kremer was joined by Communications Director for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, Executive Director of the Cable Area Chamber of Commerce James Bolen, and Executive Director of Visit Eau Claire Linda John. Guests discussed the different varieties of tourism and their economic impacts on communities large and small.
The West Side discussed the growing importance of exports to western Wisconsin Businesses. Host Rich Kremer was joined by Lora Klenke, Vice President of International Business Development with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Bob Sinner, President of SB&B Foods and Tim Mohr, Plant Manager at Identity Ag Processing in Bloomer.
The West Side discussed the latest news on the Germann Road Fire in Douglas County that claimed some 50 structures and burned more than 8,000 acres. Host Rich Kremer was joined by Reporters Danielle Kaeding and Mike Simonson, who covered the fire since it erupted May 13th. Also joining the program were DNR Incident Commander Larry Gladoski and Douglas County Emergency Management Director Keith Kessler who were in charge of the fire suppression and evacuation measures. And to discuss the fire danger in western Wisconsin DNR Forestry official Steve Edge joined the program as well.
The West Side kicked of a multi-part series about immigrant populations in western Wisconsin with a look into the rapidly growing Latino community. Host Rich Kremer was joined by Edgar Bernal, a Panamanian immigrant who serves on the board of Hispanic advocacy group El Centro de Connexion de Chippewa Valley, Father Tim Oudenhoven, a Hispanic Chaplin serving Arcadia and Alma Center and Drs. Sue Peck and Lisa Schiller of the College of Nursing at UW-Eau Claire who run a clinical program where nursing students offer medical assistance to migrant farm workers.
Though our spring has been much snowier than usual in western Wisconsin it still is, officially speaking, spring and proof of that is the impending state fishing opener May 4th. So, to get our listeners primed before they wet their lines we brought the "Outdoor Guys" on for a Somewhat Spring Edition of The West Side Outside. Host Rich Kremer was joined by Outdoor Editor for the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram Joe Knight and Dave Calrson, Host of Northland Adventures. During the first half of the program we were also joined by Lac du Flambeau Tribal Chair Tom Maulson to talk about the tribal walleye spearing season. Then during the second half we were joined by retired DNR Communications Specialist Jim Bishop and owner of the We-Tie-It Fly Shop Bill Scherer.
The West Side looked into the growing world of online public education with a discussion about virtual schools and blended learning in western Wisconsin. Host Rich Kremer was joined by Maleda Mullin, Middle School Instructor for the virtual Wisconsin Advanced Learning Academy located in Barron and Assistant Superintended of the Eau Claire School District Tim Leibham.
The West Side discussed how local governments are preparing for the 2014 roll out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Host Rich Kremer was joined by attorney Cathy Conway of von Briesen and Roper who counsels clients on health insurance law and implementation, City of Eau Claire Human Resources Director Dale Peters and Chippewa County Administrator Frank Pascarella.
The West Side discussed what Governor Walker's Biennial State Budget will mean for local school districts in western Wisconsin. Host Rich Kremer was joined by Karen Dahl, Business Manager for the School District of Altoona and Rice Lake Area School District Superintendent Larry Brown.
The West Side began the first of a series of programs examining Governor Walker's Biennial Budget for 2013-2015 beginning with a discussion about how the budget will affect higher education in western Wisconsin. Host Rich Kremer was joined by
UW-Stout Chancellor Chuck Sorensen and President of the Chippewa Valley Technical College Bruce Barker.
The West Side looked into the different approaches Minnesota and Wisconsin are taking towards the fast growing frac sand mining industry. Also, the pros and cons of state vs. local control were discussed and a special news story produced by WPR's Maureen McCollum highlighted what one local government in Minnesota is doing to address citizen concerns about mining. Guests included Minnesota State Senator Matt Schmit, who has introduced legislation to create a statewide frac sand mining moratorium, Wisconsin State Senator Kathleen Vinehout, the only lawmaker in Wisconsin to introduce frac sand mining legislation. Also joining the program were Rick Stadelman of the Wisconsin Towns Association and Kirsten Pauly of the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council.
The West Side looked into poverty in public education and how it affects learning and school strategy. Host Rich Kremer was joined by Associate Dean of Teacher Education for UW-Eau Claire Dr. Marvin Lynn, Director of Food and Nutrition at the Eau Claire Area School District Sue Brown and Principal at River Heights Elementary School in Menomonie Peg Kolden.