ALL STARS 2016: Game Changer Recap

The end of the season…..already? Yes, its true. On Saturday, Ex Fabula concluded another spectacular season with the annual ALL STARS StorySlam.  Locals filled the Pitman Theatre to hear fresh, ten-minute true, personal tales from this season’s Audience Favorites relating to the evening’s theme Game ChangerContinue reading “ALL STARS 2016: Game Changer Recap”

Terminal Milwaukee: Frontier Radio Recap

by Ex Fabula blogger, Steph Kilen

Ex Fabula tackled a new frontier with a live, on-air radio event, the latest in theTerminal Milwaukee series on Thursday, March 29. About 25 people gathered in the WMSE studio lobby to listen to stories of “frontier radio” while what we believe to be the rest of Milwaukee and beyond tuned in to listen on their radios.

[slideshow]All Photos: © Kathrine Schleicher 2012 –

We’ve been all over Milwaukee with Tom Crawford, series centerpiece, and he welcomed us “back to the mothership” at the WMSE studio. Clearly in his element, Tom shared how he went from sometimes over zealous WMSE fan boy to station manager, while the other storytellers told stories of the magic of WMSE and radio in general.

Hal Rammel, host of the WMSE show Alternating Currents, told of the joy of playing or hearing “just the right song at just the right moment” on the radio as illustrated by a call from a listener. The woman had called when she just happened to hear an avant garde piano piece Hal was playing while running through her dial. It turns out she hadn’t heard the song in 60 years, the last time being when she wanted to play it for her piano recital but her teachers hadn’t allowed it.

Brent Ghode talked about hosting a metal show on WMSE on June 6, 2006 and the huge disappointment of the skip in Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast.”  Despite the photo, no props remains a part of the Ex Fabula rulebook, but hey, it was live radio – anything goes.

Paul Cebar delighted listeners by telling us about the particulars of tuning in a crystal radio as a child and the “thrill of pulling sound of the air.” And finally, Julie Cudahy, “den mother of WMSE” told of her journey through adolescence and music, across the country and to WMSE.

Throughout the broadcast, historian John Gurda, the glue of Terminal Milwaukee, gave historical perspective on radio in Milwaukee, the downtown and Cathedral Square area,  and Milwaukee School of Engineering.

You don’t have to take my word about what you missed, this time you can hear for yourself. The full show is available for download in the WMSE archives (you’ll want the 3/29 show).

Next up: The Terminal Milwaukee grand finale, Saturday, April 28, at Alverno’s Pitman Theater.

Our New Series, “Terminal Milwaukee”

We at Ex Fabula are so proud to announce the details of our new project, “Terminal Milwaukee”. The project is a seven event series that will lead audiences through five distinctive neighborhoods of Milwaukee following the dynamic life story of Tom Crawford, a standout storyteller from Ex Fabula All Stars 2010 and self-described “terminal” Milwaukeean.

Through the “Terminal Milwaukee” series, we will see Milwaukee through the eyes of a lifelong resident, Tom Crawford, and visit the neighborhoods he grew up in and worked in over the years. He has worked as a longshoreman on Jones Island, a baker’s apprentice and a hide washer in a tannery. He began in radio in 1983 and eventually became Station Manager of WMSE, where he currently works as a community linchpin. Tom Crawford’s visceral personal stories are gripping, vivid and filled with detail and affection for the neighborhoods they are set in. Accordingly, each event will also feature storytellers preselected from residents of those neighborhoods. Milwaukee historian John Gurda will contribute historical vignettes to each event to fill out the evening. Throughout the course of the series, audience members will have the opportunity to share their memories and experiences in the neighborhood. The series will be documented in audio and video form and these will be shared throughout the year long project.

The series kicks off at Ex Fabula ALL STARS 2011 season finale on June 2nd at Turner Hall. In addition to Tom’s story on the evening’s theme of “Secrets and Lies”, this kick off will include the unveiling of the project’s video trailer. The first neighborhood event will take place at Club Garibaldi at 8 pm on Saturday July 23rd, and the theme will be “All in a Day’s Work”.  On Friday September 9 at 8 pm, Satin Wave will host an event with a theme of “Barber Shop”. Sherman Perk will host “Intersections” on Saturday November 5 at 8 pm. In 2012, the series travels to Kochanski’s Concertina Beer Hall for an event on the theme of “Generation Gap” on Saturday January 28 at 8 pm. Then on Thursday March 29, 2012 at 6 pm 91.7 WMSE will host an event in studio which will be broadcasted live; the theme will be “Frontier Radio”. The series will resolve in a final live storytelling and musical event, presented in cooperation with Alverno Presents; the theme of “Terminal Milwaukee” will come to life on Saturday April 28, 2012, at Alverno’s Pitman Theatre.

Admission to most events will be free with donations accepted to support this project as well as Ex Fabula’s mission of building community by connecting storytellers with audiences.

“Terminal Milwaukee” is funded in part by a major grant award from the Wisconsin Humanities Council. The Wisconsin Humanities Council supports and creates programs that use history, culture, and discussion to strengthen community life for everyone in Wisconsin. The WHC receives funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the State of Wisconsin.

For more information about the “Terminal Milwaukee” series, email Amy Schleicher, Project Director, at (amy at exfabula dot com).

Ex Fabula Awarded Wisconsin Humanities Council Grant, Embarks on Project to Highlight Local Tales Told by Your Neighbors

We are proud to announce today that Ex Fabula has received a major grant award from Wisconsin Humanities Council to help fund our upcoming special community storytelling project – Reclaiming Milwaukee’s Narrative. The project is a seven event series that will lead audiences through five distinctive, but underappreciated, neighborhoods of Milwaukee– following the dynamic life story of Tom Crawford, a regular Ex Fabula storyteller and “terminal” Milwaukeean.

The Wisconsin Humanities Council supports and creates programs that use history, culture, and discussion to strengthen community life for everyone in Wisconsin. The WHC receives funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the State of Wisconsin.

In the fall of 2009, the five founders of Ex Fabula began organizing live events in Milwaukee to provide meaningful shared experiences for individuals from different communities in the city. The fledgling organization was called “Ex Fabula” – Latin for “from stories”. Through Reclaiming Milwaukee’s Narrative, Ex Fabula seeks to build a greater awareness of the diverse and rich Milwaukee culture often bypassed in these neighborhoods, building a stronger sense of community between Milwaukee natives through the social power of story.

Each event in the series will take place in one of the featured neighborhoods where Tom and other neighborhood natives will share their true personal stories in the Ex Fabula tradition; during which, noted Milwaukee historian John Gurda will weave threads of the neighborhood’s culture and history into the background. The series will resolve in a live radio show on WMSE and a final live storytelling event at Alverno’s Pitman Theatre in April 2012.

A documentary of the project is planned of the featured Milwaukee neighborhoods.  Partnering with Ex Fabula in the endeavor are WMSE and Alverno Presents. Events will also be held at Turner Hall and four yet-unnamed sites in each of the featured neighborhoods.

Turner Hall, Photo by Kat Berger

The trailer for the Reclaiming Milwaukee’s Narrative project will be unveiled at the Ex Fabula ALL STARS grand finale event on June 2nd at Turner Hall, serving as the kickoff event for the series.
Until June 2nd, Ex Fabula has two remaining storyslams in their second season: March 16th at the Stonefly Brewery in Riverwest, and April 12th at the Bay View Brew Haus.

For more information about Ex Fabula or the Reclaiming Milwaukee’s Narrative project, go to or call Amy Schleicher, Project Director, at 414-840-3930.