As you probably know by now, Vince Vitrano– longtime morning news anchor at TMJ4 News– has been announced as the new host of “Wisconsin’s Morning News.”
He’ll replace Gene Mueller, who will retire in February 2022 after 44 years in Milwaukee radio.
But just what was the decision behind Vince’s move and what’s the reaction been like?
WTMJ’s Gene Mueller sat down with his soon-to-be successor on this week’s episode of WTMJ Conversations.
Listen in the player above.
A portion of the conversation was transcribed below, courtesy of eCourt Reporters, Inc.
GENE MUELLER: What’s the reaction been like to your move? Family, friends, anybody else?
VINCE VITRANO: Destined to fail. Everybody —
GENE MUELLER: You’re screwed.
VINCE VITRANO: Well, I did get one nasty tweet. This is a guy who generally trolls me on Twitter anyway, he’s got nothing — what’s funny is he’s got nothing good to say about the Morning Show, but he sure watches every day.
GENE MUELLER: You got those, too, huh?
VINCE VITRANO: This guy went on one of his rants, you know, “This is going to be bad, and this is going to be bad. I give it six months.” So, God love him.
GENE MUELLER: Jolly good luck to you. Hope he owns a radio.
VINCE VITRANO: Overwhelmingly positive, Gene. I have to admit, I was surprised, which gives me — it actually kind of adds weight to what is — what is coming, how big of a deal it is in the eyes of people, what this position is, the chair that you’ve occupied for so long and what the radio station means, so. Because I heard from so many people I wasn’t counting on hearing — I figured friends and family and whatever, but, man, all sorts of people lighting me up on Twitter and sending emails, texts. A lot of people got my phone number, Gene.
GENE MUELLER: Is that a good thing?
VINCE VITRANO: Right. Old phone, “Who dis,” right.
So, it’s been — it was truly overwhelming in the best way. So, I’m really grateful for all that.
GENE MUELLER: So, considering the legacy and the investment you have on the TV side of the building, and we know that’s hard to accomplish in this business because you can get ash-canned because somebody doesn’t like the way you comb your hair or your tie is too wide or whatever the case may be, I think it’s even tougher on the TV side than it is on the radio side, with all that equity that you have built on TMJ4, why do you decide to come over here to do radio?
VINCE VITRANO: Yeah, and it’s the easiest — it’s the most obvious question. I first want to dispel the, I think, myth, and a lot of people come at it from that way, is, well, radio is somehow lesser-than. You know, TV would be the pinnacle and anybody who’s on radio would probably rather be doing TV because it’s somehow, you know, a higher elevation; it’s not. It’s different. They’re different. They’re different media, and they’re different ways of telling stories, but I don’t put one on top of the other, Gene. And I — you know that, and look at the career that you’ve built.
So, I look at it like just — it’s just a different opportunity. And, mostly, it’s not about TV or radio, it’s about the position. The job that you’ve held for a long time, and that I’m now going to occupy is, I think, one of the — one of the gold jobs in Wisconsin broadcasting. It’s a really unique position.
So, just the opportunity to take that position, and then with that, to stretch out a little bit. TV, as you know, is really rigid. What I do there in the Morning Show, by design, very highly scripted. We have our moments where we can riff off, you know, but —
GENE MUELLER: Not many.
VINCE VITRANO: No, right. And I was explaining to somebody, you don’t build it this way. Our rundown is built, like, if they want Susan and me to interact or have a moment with Niznansky or whatever we’re doing over there, when a producer wants to allow for that, because of where the cameras have to be and whose mic has to be on and what video may or may not be playing and who’s next in line, because of the rigidity of that, they actually build a section in the rundown for the spontaneous chat, okay. It’s called, “Anchor chat.”
So, you’ll have Packers story, Bucks deal, a little sports segment, Packers, little sound from Aaron Rodgers, and then after that it’ll say, “Anchor chat.” And they’ll put in 30 seconds for anchor chat. And then if you go over the 30, you got somebody in your ear going, “Okay, wrap it up.”
GENE MUELLER: There’s nothing easy about TV. There’s nothing spontaneous because of everything that’s involved, the lighting, like you said, the cameras, all that stuff; whereas radio it’s like, “Does the cord reach?”
VINCE VITRANO: Right.
GENE MUELLER: That’s all you need.
VINCE VITRANO: It really is.
GENE MUELLER: — it’s very mobile and it’s very in the moment and nobody dies if you go a minute over. And nobody — yeah, you’re not going to miss anything and it’s going to be very freeing for you, I think.
You mentioned Susan Kim, what did she say when you told her, when you broke her the news? Because you two have to have been a thing for how long now?
VINCE VITRANO: It’s — we’re into 16 years, so 15 —
GENE MUELLER: Which is amazing.
VINCE VITRANO: Yeah.
GENE MUELLER: And again, you know, this is getting lost in all this, you know, me retiring and all my years and all that. The fact that you have lasted as a TV team that long in a major market is astounding and a real credit to the two of you. That just doesn’t happen.
VINCE VITRANO: Well, long-timers like you and me who grew up here used to have teams like that —
GENE MUELLER: Right.
VINCE VITRANO: — that stuck together forever. And then, I don’t know, I got here in 2000, got home here in 2000, and shortly thereafter, you started to see a little bit more movement in the long-timers and anchor teams were getting broken up and — but that was the first time I remember as a — as a lifer here that, you know, I think people didn’t basically go until they couldn’t anymore on TV and then just move on.
So, yeah, your point is well taken. It’s not like that anymore. I think Susan and I, by our calculation, are the longest current running team in the market, two of us together. So, it’s 15-plus years.
GENE MUELLER: Any day partner, yeah.
VINCE VITRANO: Yeah. To your earlier question, that was one of my first questions my kids asked. My oldest, you know, we have — we had a family summit a couple of weeks before the news and, you know, wanted to tell everybody, the kids, Wife was in it obviously right away, but the kids, you know, “What do you guys think of this, Dad’s thinking of doing something different and it’d be like when we go to State Fair and we’re on Mr. Mercure’s show, you know, in the afternoon.” So, they’re familiar with what we do over here. But tried to get their reaction, when I open the floor for questions, oldest chimed in first, “Dad, does Miss Susan know?” God love her for asking. I said, “Yeah, Miss Susan knows.”
Susan’s been so supportive. I mean, she was in on the ground floor on this. She’s one of my best friends. So, even when I began the early — the early inquiries and the dancing, she was in on it and, you know, served as a sounding board and someone who encouraged me. So, she’s — she’s happy for me. She’s sad for us as a team, and I’m just grateful for the years that we’ve spent together, but she’s a great — a big supporter.