MILWAUKEE — Later this month, a voice that has long been a staple on the Milwaukee airwaves will sign off for the last time. Gene Mueller announced in summer he’s retiring. With his final broadcast approaching, the host of Wisconsin’s Morning News on Newsradio WTMJ is not overly nostalgic, and admits he’s thought little about retirement beyond the logistics. He is, however, looking back with gratitude on his decades-long career in Milwaukee.
Following early work at WHBL in his hometown of Sheboygan and WSPT in Stevens Point, where Muller went to UW for two years, he arrived in Milwaukee working first at 93 QFM. It was just a year before Mueller was recruited to join KTI and a guy he didn’t even know. “Bob and I had never really met except for at one concert at County Stadium where we said hi to each other in the press box,” Mueller recalled. “World Series of Rock or something like that. That first morning we worked together was really the first morning we talked to each other. It wasn't easy at the start.”
But listeners barely remember a slow start, only that Reitman and Mueller became household names in Milwaukee. Mueller credits the whole operation in the success of the show. “A lot of just, you know, people with ideas. We were never told no,” he laughed, admitting sometimes they should have been. “There were no bumpers. There were no railings. It was just, we’ll put it out there. Some of it worked. A lot of it worked. Some of it didn’t.”
Reitman retired in 2006 and a year later, Mueller moved to the AM dial joining WTMJ. To this day, he has great reverence for the history of the station, and the voices who came before his. “I've got to admit. I never really felt comfortable in there in that space, in terms of just like thinking who had been there before and what people expect, and am I up to this, and boy I hope that I can fool them for another year.”
Classic Mueller. A humble man, he also hasn’t spent a great deal of time planning for his days after he’s off the air, aside from getting more sleep. “Getting up in the middle of the night is not normal human behavior,” Mueller detailed as his morning show duties have him at work by 3 a.m. “It wrecks your body. It wrecks your mind. I'm not going to complain. I was recompensed well for the inconvenience, but it's going to be nice to stay up on a Tuesday night and watch the 7th inning of a baseball game. It's going to be nice to be out with friends at 8:30 and say, yeah, let's have dessert.”
Mueller, who enjoys writing, says he may still find an outlet to share his words through social media or other platforms. He’s not in any hurry to figure it out. “I am just going to take life at my own pace and include the things in it that I need to have included, and those things that don't need to be there anymore, they can go away. Like alarm clocks.”
Mueller’s last broadcast is set for Feb. 25.