WPR Reports

By Wisconsin Public Radio

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"WPR Reports" features in-depth investigations from Wisconsin Public Radio. The current season, "Uprooted," retraces the experiences of the nearly 15,000 Cuban refugees who were sent to Wisconsin's Fort McCoy after the Mariel Boatlift in 1980 and examines the lives of those who have made Wisconsin home. It debuts in October 2022.

Episode Date
Uprooted, Ep. 8: Cuba is Calling
The Cuban exiles who arrived in Wisconsin in 1980 as part of the Mariel Boatlift have become family to one another. They are Wisconsinites. But their hearts remain in Cuba, and they want to visit their homeland one more time - if they can find a way.
Oct 12, 2022
Uprooted, Ep. 7: Crime and Adversity
Some Mariel refugees made questionable decisions while adjusting to life in the Midwest in the 1980s. They've all faced discrimination. And all of them have tried to move forward as their pasts continue to haunt them.
Oct 12, 2022
Uprooted, Ep. 6: Becoming a Wisconsinite
The Cubans who immigrated to the United States during the Mariel Boatlift have left Fort McCoy. Some found homes in Wisconsin and got jobs. Some started families. But first, they had to find sponsors.
Oct 12, 2022
Uprooted, Ep. 5: A New Home at Fort McCoy
Fort McCoy was one of four U.S. military installations that housed Cuban refugees after the Mariel Boatlift in 1980. Almost 15,000 Cubans lived there that summer and fall while waiting to connect with family members or find sponsors.
Oct 12, 2022
Uprooted, Ep. 4: The Mariel Boatlift
People who left Cuba to come to the United States as part of the Mariel Boatlift in 1980 share their experiences of traveling across the sea and their first memories stepping ashore in Florida.
Oct 12, 2022
Uprooted, Ep. 3: Failed Dreams and Embassy Breaks
The Cuban revolution promised people a better life: free health care, schools and subsidized housing for everyone. But this came at a cost - and some weren't willing to pay the price. So they began leaving the country in the 1960s, and it all came to a head in 1980.
Oct 12, 2022
Uprooted, Ep. 2: Youth Lost to a Revolution
When Fidel Castro took control of Cuba in 1959, some feared the shift to communism and left almost right away. Decades later, the changes brought on by the revolution would also lead to almost 15,000 Cuban refugees coming to Wisconsin as part of the Mariel Boatlift of 1980.
Oct 12, 2022
Uprooted, Ep. 1: From Cuba to Oktoberfest
Enrique More has roots in La Crosse. He's been a part of the city's music scene for decades, most notably playing with Mr. Blink. Wisconsin is his home. But it didn't feel much like home when he first got here, when he was one of a handful of Cubans to settle in La Crosse after arriving in 1980 as part of the Mariel Boatlift.
Oct 12, 2022
Introducing: Uprooted
In 1980, nearly 15,000 Cuban refugees were sent to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. They left their homes as part of the Mariel boatlift mass exodus. In this podcast, meet the Cubans who stayed in Wisconsin and find out what their lives have been like as they live in legal limbo.
Oct 05, 2022
Mapped Out, Ep. 8: The Final Map
When people look back at Wisconsin's redistricting cycle of 2021, they might wonder how the Republican-led Legislature came out on top again, despite repeated and significant setbacks.
Jun 01, 2022
Mapped Out, Ep. 7: Least Changes
The new redistricting maps proposed by Republican leaders in the state Legislature are based on the old maps approved in 2011. And while it may have been obscured by the partisan bickering that greeted the proposal, an important question emerges: Can the map that helped Republicans cement their majorities for the past decade be reused for the next 10 years?
Dec 09, 2021
Mapped Out, Ep. 6: How It Might Go
In Wisconsin, it's the job of the Legislature and the governor to handle redistricting every decade, and pretty much no one thinks they're actually going to do it this time around. With split control of state government, things are likely headed to court, but which court and when are still open questions.
Nov 03, 2021
Mapped Out, Ep. 5: Locked In
It's one thing to talk about the power of political redistricting in the abstract, but what does it look like in practice? Over the last decade, Wisconsin's map has let Republicans pass landmark conservative policies, keep a tight grip on the state budget, reshape government agencies and mothball issues despite public support.
Oct 27, 2021
Mapped Out, Ep. 4: Courting Anthony Kennedy
The legislative maps that Wisconsin Republicans drew a decade ago are still standing. But an effort that started in a Milwaukee teahouse and snowballed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court very well could have changed the whole game of redistricting — in Wisconsin and nationwide.
Oct 20, 2021
Mapped Out, Ep. 3: The Mousetrap
Some districts split towns apart. Others packed all the votes in a city together, or stretched to join urban with suburban. But taken together, Republicans' 2011 legislative maps did one thing: changed the game in Wisconsin politics.
Oct 13, 2021
Mapped Out, Ep. 2: Chaos and Quiet
2011 was a frenzied, historic year in Wisconsin politics, with massive protests over GOP legislation gutting the state's public employee unions. But at the same time, quietly, behind closed doors, Republicans were drawing maps that would cement their power for a decade.
Oct 06, 2021
Mapped Out, Ep. 1: An Unseen Force
Wisconsin is the quintessential purple state, and yet the Legislature is very red. Why? It's partly because of redistricting, the process of drawing district lines every decade. It's not something most people learn about in civics class, but the way those maps are drawn and who draws them can have an enormous impact on who wields political power.
Sep 28, 2021
Mapped Out: Trailer
In 2011, Wisconsin's legislative redistricting process included secret meetings, deleted documents and a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. "Mapped Out" is an investigative series debuting in September that will give the low-down on the state's redistricting past and get ready for redistricting present.
Sep 15, 2021
Derailed: Bonus Episode
Because the story of "Derailed" happened over the course of decades, there's a lot there, and a lot we didn't get to. Some of it, like Gov. Jim Doyle's role in ending the train, is still discussed today. Other stuff, like the 2016 Olympics connection, seems to have been lost to history. Here are some of the questions we didn't get to in "Derailed."
Nov 26, 2019
Derailed, Ep. 6: Times Change
When former Gov. Tommy Thompson decided to return to politics in 2012, he was walking into a Wisconsin that was as divided as ever. The game had changed, and Thompson had to play by a new set of rules. That meant a new take on some of his old positions, including the train.
Nov 13, 2019
Derailed, Ep. 5: Going Nowhere
Before Gov. Scott Walker canceled the high-speed rail line that would have connected Madison to Milwaukee in 2010, Wisconsin bought two trains from a Spanish company named Talgo. The story of these trains is messy. And in a way, they're the physical reminder of the debate Wisconsin had almost a decade ago.
Nov 06, 2019
Derailed, Ep. 4: The Fast Train
When Wisconsin rejected $810 million in federal stimulus money for high-speed rail, the money was redistributed to other states. California got the largest chunk to go toward a rail line connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles, a project that is still ongoing.
Oct 30, 2019
Derailed, Ep. 3: Boondoggle
In 2010, Democrats controlled everything, from the White House, to Congress, to the governor's office to the Wisconsin state Legislature. Republicans were pushing back, and the Tea Party was in full swing. But something was changing in American politics and in Wisconsin — and Scott Walker used the high-speed rail plan to seize the moment.
Oct 23, 2019
Derailed, Ep. 2: Every Single Dime
Almost a decade after it was first unveiled, the Great Recession and President Barack Obama's federal stimulus bill gave Wisconsin's plan for a high-speed rail line new life.
Oct 16, 2019
Derailed, Ep. 1: Tommy's Train
Even if you remember that it was Gov. Scott Walker who wanted to kill the high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee, there's a chance you don't remember who started it. It wasn't Walker's Democratic opponent in 2010, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Or the governor before Walker, Democrat Jim Doyle. Instead it was Wisconsin's longest-serving governor — a Republican governor — Gov. Tommy Thompson.
Oct 09, 2019
Derailed: Trailer
In 2010, Wisconsin got a federal grant to build a high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee. Derailed is the story of how the rail project came together, how it fell apart and how Wisconsin changed along the way.
Sep 23, 2019