MADISON, WI (WFRV) – Local 5 News is celebrating a series that came at the request of our viewers.

It was back in the spring of 2022 that News Director John Laughrin came to Anchor Michele McCormack with a story idea.

“John saw my special report on Green Bay hosting the state bowling championships,” McCormack recalled. “He saw how I mixed images, video, still, digital, and industrial camera-generated video and combined it with some music and a lot of natural sounds. He understood that I was trying to put viewers right in the chair where I was watching the bowling.”

Laughrin, a Green Bay native, was following a Facebook group at the time called The Wisconsin Supper Club Enthusiasts.

So the news team set out to create the same feeling with the supper club story theme.

“He loved that the group designed mini-construction cones to put on their table so they’d be able to spot fellow group members when out for supper,” explained McCormack. “I traveled to various clubs and shared photos from members of the group, most of the time was spent hanging out and waiting for magical moments.”

This is not a food review. Rather, McCormack profiles the people behind the tradition.

“There are already plenty of shows and books and articles about the origins of supper clubs and food articles that run down the menu,” said McCormack. “I’m not into copying. I’m the conversation part of the narrative. I’m trying to put you in my place and see it through my eyes.”

McCormack spends time in each section of the supper club. First at the bar, then the dining area, and if possible in the kitchen. “I love chefs and sous chefs. Each has a personality and what they do is art.”

McCormack is always in a different section from another photographer dispatched by Local 5 News Assignment Editor Ed Walters.

“I have a contingent of general news photographers who will dip in and capture the things that catch your eye,” explained McCormack. “I combine it then with the still images and video I capture and sometimes elements contributed by people I meet to give a true flavor of the place.”

Photographers who have contributed over the past year in order of their introduction to the series are Lucas Hanson, Olivia Talmadge, Lane Henkins, Alex Radke, and Lauren Pieczynski.

Viewer response was immediate after the first airing on Thursday night at 10 p.m.

“We followed up our original story with a guy visiting the Black Otter Supper Club to take their prime rib challenge,” McCormack added. “Phones were ringing, emails were coming in. Folks were stopping me on the street. We realized the viewers were hungry for more.”

The Dish on Wisconsin Supper Clubs airs the first Thursday of every month on Local 5 News at 10.

The award was one of several honors for WFRV for the 2022 television season.

Best Series or Documentary – Dish on Supper Clubs – FIRST PLACE

Best Series or Documentary – Positively Wisconsin – Second Place

Best Specialty Programming – Appleton Christmas Parade – Second Place

Best Continuing Coverage – Local Boy Scouts Save Dozens – Second Place

Best Spot News – Aaron Rodgers Returns – Third Place

Local 5’s creative team also won first place for best commercial and second place for their Veterans Day promo.