Who’s the Host? None other than Nik Kovac, Riverwest resident and alderman of the third district. The show quietly began last August with most unaware of the Host’s identity, despite this notice on his city web, “As a proud stockholder for the Green Bay Packers football club and a resident of Riverwest, Alderman Kovac hosts a weekly radio show, Packerverse, on Riverwest’s Community Radio Station.
Why does that matter? Well on March 14, the first call at the top of the show was a “Jesuit poll on the first day of the Jesuit pope” by Marquette University. The Host clearly states to the pollster “you’re live on the air.” Michael Horne “Milwaukee’s favorite neighborhood and global journalist” got wind of the ensuing 30-minute survey and posted a lengthy piece at urbanmilwaukee.com, dubbing it political theater as performance art. And little did the pollster realize that she was speaking with a local elected official doing a radio gig on his down time, a surreal dimension for the audience.
As the Host stated at the top of the show the following week, when Horne was ensconced as a guest in the window of Riverwest Film & Video, “Thanks to you we’re famous now – the Riverwest Currents is taking our picture as we speak!”
Asked why he started the radio show, the Host says one of his dream jobs has always been to host a live call-in radio show and another to be a play-by-play sports announcer like Joe Benigno who he admired while living in New York during his pre-alderman days. Packerverse, where “football is socialism,” is the tangential point around which the universe, and these dream jobs, revolve.
Gotta survey that asks how old you are? Dr. Packerverse replies, 35 and older now than any of the Packers – the angst of that being something of a crisis.
Football is a safer outlet for aggression than war, for “if we must have war, then let it be against the Bears, the Lions, and the Vikings.”
Don’t understand what it means to be a free agent? Maybe the real question is “what does free agency mean to our spirits?”
On an earlier show as South Side Jim expounds on the Renaissance idea of “the chain of being,” the Host chimes in with strains of Aretha Franklin singing “chain of fools.”
Survey says! Public schools should get more funding than choice schools. Alders Kovac, Coggs, Hamilton, and Wade all attended Riverside High School and comprise “Riverside District 1” with their contiguous aldermanic districts. As Michael Horne proclaimed, “these are the public school kids talking.” And the alums are all puffed up about the Riverside Lady Tigers basketball team who just topped off a smokin hot 24-4 season with a state championship win over Mukwonago – in Green Bay no less!
You never know what’s gonna happen next as Dr. Packerverse skillfully weaves commentary and banter from a cast of callers such as Curious Over the River, Exile (in San Fran), Stella from the West Side, Chili Chill, and the Progressive Libertarian, with a liberal pastiche of Chapter & Verse poetry, dramatic readings, team history, and Great Lakes lore to honor the history of the land on which the game is played.
Packerverse is where football, culture, socialism, theology, trains, philosophy, and the arcane all converge as easily as the streams of our three great rivers flow into Lake Michigan, and thereby unite in satisfying diversity.
If you like your radio live, unscripted, and commercial-free then Packerverse is your vibe. Give it a listen at riverwestradio.com on Thursday nights, 9-11 p.m. FYI – if the Host is late, all you get is dead air until he turns on the mic.
This land was made for you and me – oh yeah.