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Friday, 21 March 2014 00:00

Evansville natives share adventures with ‘Discover Wisconsin’ viewers

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“Discover Wisconsin” co-host Libby Amato takes in the scenery along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Sheboygan County during filming for an episode that will premiere April 12 and April 13. Amato and Mariah Haberman, both from Evansville, are among the four hosts on the traveling TV show. “Discover Wisconsin” co-host Libby Amato takes in the scenery along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Sheboygan County during filming for an episode that will premiere April 12 and April 13. Amato and Mariah Haberman, both from Evansville, are among the four hosts on the traveling TV show. photo submitted

MESSENGER -- When Evansville natives Libby Amato and Mariah Haberman travel the state, they always invite TV viewers along for the ride.

Amato and Haberman are two of four hosts of the “Discover Wisconsin” TV program, along with Collin Geraghty and Eric Paulsen. “Discover Wisconsin” features tourists attractions, festivals and food establishments and more from across the state.

They both are featured prominently in the recent episode about Janesville entitled, “Touring Wisconsin's Park Place,” produced in conjunction with the Janesville Convention and Visitor's Bureau.

(Scroll to bottom to watch a video of the episode)

Read the current edition here: http://www.server-jbmultimedia.net/CSI-JanesvilleMessengerSunday

Haberman, a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh journalism graduate, said appearing on the show is teaching her new things about the state in which she grew up.

“I grew up in Wisconsin and I always considered myself an expert on Wisconsin, but every show I learn something new,” Haberman said. “The show just doesn’t go out to Wisconsin, but it goes throughout the Midwest.

“The show helps Wisconsinites learn about destinations that they may have not known about or may have forgotten about.”

Lake Arrowhead in Wood County and Madeline Island in Lake Superior are among Haberman’s favorite spots so far.

Amato, a Carroll University graduate, said she especially enjoyed her visit to Crescent Beach in Algoma.

“It was a beautiful beach,” Amato said. “There was a lighthouse at the end. The people there were really friendly. It was a fun afternoon.”

Amato said she also enjoyed working on an episode about the cheesiest foods in Wisconsin, in which she had the opportunity to sample fondue dishes from different establishments. Other top destinations were Bald Eagle Watching Days in Sauk Prairie and the Maywood Environmental Park in Sheboygan.

“I had no idea there was a festival for rehabilitating eagles. They rehabilitate the birds and they release them. I had no idea that this went on,” Amato said. “Then there’s the Maywood Environmental Park in Sheboygan. It’s a fun park that’s open all year round. I didn’t know about that. I’ve only been on the show for about half a year, and I’ve learned so much about our state.”

The Janesville episode brought the two adventurers close to home with a visit to Janesville.

Haberman visited Raven’s Wish Art Gallery and did a segment on the Rock Aqua Jays water ski show team.

“I’m from Evansville, so Janesville was a destination I knew about, but there were some things I didn’t realize were there,” Haberman said. “I got to see the Aqua Jays, which I haven’t seen in years. They even put me in a show. It was something I’ve never done, so that was a cool experience.”

Amato, too, enjoyed her Janesville experience through the eyes of a visitor.

“I got to pick a pumpkin and have apple cider doughnuts at Skelly’s Farm Market. I also got to attent Art Infusion, so I got to see the sidewalk chalk drawings downtown. I was amazed with the level of skill that went into the drawings.”

When filming an episode, Haberman said she tries to participate in the community’s activities.

“As a host, you have to be fearless. You have to insert  yourself in the community,” Haberman said. “You have to go around the community and ask questions. When I went water skiing with the Aqua Jays, it was something I’ve never done before. Sometimes you just have to go for it and be humble.

“I’ve ridden on ATVs. I’ve been ice fishing. I’ve been snowmobiling. You just have to embrace whatever it is.”

The amount of time it takes to film an episode depends on how much footage is needed, Amato said.

“Each episode is done in segments. For one segment, you may have to shoot for a day or two. Some segments are shorter, and shooting may only take a few hours,” Amato said. “For some episodes, we may have to stay for more than two days. It depends on what they need us for.”

Haberman said some shows are shot several months or a year in advance.

“We do about 18 shows a year. Sometimes it may take a year to do a 30-minute episode,” Haberman said. “If we do a show on a festival, it might not air until the next year when it’s about time for that festival again.

“Right now, we’re filming episodes for 2015, believe it or not.”

Common ground

Despite growing up in Evansville, Haberman and Amato had not met before the program.

“I really didn’t know (Amato) while living in Evansville,” Haberman said. “When I got hired for the show, the producers said, ‘We’ve hired another person, and she’s from Evansville, too.’ But I didn’t know her. That’s pretty weird since we come from a small town.

“Her dad works as a teacher, and I had him as a teacher. Hopefully, we can team up and do a show on Evansville.”

“Our families knew each other, but our paths didn’t cross,” Amato said. “It’s interesting how two people from the small town of Evansville ended up doing the same show together.”

Besides being a host, Haberman gets involved in the “Discover Wisconsin” social media efforts.

“I enjoy public speaking as much as I like doing social media. I think that’s what got me interested,” she said. “Working with social media, marketing and being in front of the camera -- not to mention the traveling -- those are definitely perks.”

Haberman said she is excited about some of the upcoming episodes which include Native American culture, ATV shows, Wisconsin beaches, Wisconsin river communities, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Wisconsin historical sites and the dairy industry.

“When we think that we’ve come up with everything, we realize there’s a whole slew of stories that we haven’t told,” Haberman said. “The show is constantly taking us to different places.”

Haberman said they also receive suggestions from viewers about locations that could be featured in upcoming episodes.

“We get comments on social media for what people want to see,” Haberman said. “It’s cool getting feedback on the show. We look at people’s comments and take them into consideration.”

Amato said she is looking forward to the upcoming season.

“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been great working with the other hosts, as well,” Amato said. “I’ve lived in Wisconsin my whole life, but there’s so much I didn’t know about.

“With the next season coming up, I can’t wait to see what I will learn about. It’s been a great experience.”

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