Milwaukee County Historical Society

Interview with Kathy Flanigan, September 9, 2021

MCHS Oral History Collection


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00:00:30 - Early Life

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Partial Transcript: [John]: Let's start with some background, where and when were you born?

Segment Synopsis: Flanigan briefly goes through her early life, describing her family in South Beloit and her early schooling.

Keywords: Family; School

Subjects: 1950s; Beloit, WI; Education

GPS: Link to map
Map Coordinates: South Beloit, IL
00:02:03 - Journalism Journey

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Partial Transcript: [John]: So how dod you, uh, at some point you became a journalist in your life, so, kind of, lead me to how that happened.

Segment Synopsis: Flanigan goes through her life as a journalist, beginning in college, describing her jobs around the country, eventually leading her to her most recent job at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She describes her calling to journalism as an unnoticed process, being a natural profession of her college experience, stemming from her enjoyment of talking with people.

Keywords: College; Creative Writing; Gwinette Daily News; Journalism; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Orange County Register; School Newspaper; Suburban Sun Times

Subjects: Education; Home; Journalism; Travel

00:06:18 - Journalistic Career Progression at Journal Sentinel

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Partial Transcript: [John]: Um, so you didn't always write about beer. [Kathy]: I did not

Segment Synopsis: Flanigan describes her progression from writing a column at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to general education pieces, culminating in her piece about women in beer, leading to her most well-known role as the "beer writer" for the MJS, covering various topics such as the Milwaukee Craft Brewery Boom.

Keywords: Beer; Journalism; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Milwaukee, WI; Women in Beer

Subjects: 2010s; Beer Culture; Career; Milwaukee Craft Brewery Boom; Writing

00:07:59 - Journalistic Process

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Partial Transcript: [John]: Um, so can you kind of, before we get onto the beer train too much, um can you kind of take me through the process of, like, how you write an article?

Segment Synopsis: Flanigan walks through how she writes an article, occasionally taking inspiration from her daughter, and talking about her process of talking to women in the beer industry. She then goes through her process as the beer writer, taking the role of "Beer Grandma," allowing her to cut through the societal norms to get the story.

Keywords: Beer; Family; Journalism; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; People of Color; Woman; Women in Beer

Subjects: Beer Culture; Beer Industry; Career; Discrimination; Entertainment; Gender; Inspiration; Writing

00:11:00 - Book Writing

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Partial Transcript: [John]: You wrote a book in 2017. [Kathy]: Mhm [John]: What, uh, what made you want to do that, and what was that book, maybe go into that book a little bit.

Segment Synopsis: Flanigan describes her book writing process, where she was contacted by the publisher to make a "brewery guide" for Wisconsin, detailing the various stressors that came along with her specific experience, particularly the dedication, which was incorrect.

Keywords: Book; Brewery; Journalism; Photography

Subjects: Beer Culture; Career; Travel; Wisconsin; Writing

00:12:53 - Changes in Journalism

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Partial Transcript: [John]: Um so, I'm gonna ask questions about beer and about journalism. So first we'll start with journalism.

Segment Synopsis: Flanigan reflects on how journalism has changed over her tenure writing, the largest of which she attributes to technology changes, and the larger papers becoming more corporate. She also talks about the different ways a reporter can convey the story, but that the right way to gather news ultimately has not changed.

Keywords: Advertising; Journalism; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Newspaper; Technology

Subjects: Bias; Career; Change; Writing

00:15:15 - Changes in Beer Culture

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Partial Transcript: [John]: So let's take the same question and, beer. How has the beer industry culture, beer scene in Milwaukee changed over the years that you were covering it?

Segment Synopsis: Flanigan talks about the changes made in the beer industry/culture in Milwaukee, commenting that she found it strange that the craft brewery boom happened in Milwaukee later than she expected it to, citing Wisconsin residents being "loyal" to their old brands. She is excited about how the culture has changed to those expanding their palettes and the more youthful demographic Milwaukee has cultivated embracing craft beers and breweries.

Keywords: Beer; Beer Culture; Brewery; Craft Brewery; IPA; Loyalty

Subjects: 2010s; Beer Culture; Change; Demographics; Milwaukee Craft Brewery Boom; Milwaukee, WI

00:18:04 - Favorite Moments Writing about Beer

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Partial Transcript: [John]: Uh, so, what are some of your favorite moments about writing uh, about beer in Milwaukee? What are some of the ones that come to mind?

Segment Synopsis: Flanigan describes some of her favorite moments writing about beer in Milwaukee, beginning with the fact that most of the breweries are still active after the first lockdown of COVID-19, and the beer created in her honor by 3 Sheeps Brewing Co.

Keywords: 3 Sheeps Brewing Co.; Beer Culture; Journalism

Subjects: Beer; COVID-19 Pandemic; Community; Writing

00:20:07 - Brewing Industry Issues moving forward

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Partial Transcript: Um, what do you, what do you think are the biggest, sort of wrap up questions, what do you think are the biggest issues for the brewing industry in Milwaukee specifically moving forward right now?

Segment Synopsis: Flanigan describes how she believes that breweries should handle moving forward in a world post COVID, where she believes that most breweries should plan out how large they want to be in scale in terms of production.

Keywords: Beer Industry; Brewery; Pandemic Response

Subjects: Beer; COVID-19 Pandemic; Change; Growth

00:21:26 - Retirement Plans

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Partial Transcript: [John]: And then, finally, um, what are your retire-er, so when did you retire?

Segment Synopsis: Flanigan details her retirement plans past and present, where she now works at a beer bar, and notably does not want to write for a while.

Keywords: Beer; Beer Culture; Journalism; Retirement

Subjects: COVID-19 Pandemic; Career; Draft & Vessel; Retirement; Wauwautosa, WI; Writing

GPS: Link to map
Map Coordinates: Wauwautosa, WI