Eric Von

Eric Von was the host of Precious Lives, a series that was created in partnership with 371 Productions, WUWM 89.7 FM - Milwaukee Public Radio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, WNOV and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

Von was also the lead producer of WUWM's Precious Lives: Before the Gunshots, an expansion of the Precious Lives project on that focuses on the root causes of gun violence. Precious Lives: Before the Gunshots is part of Finding America, a national initiative produced by AIR.

A veteran journalist, Von had more than 25 years in the broadcast industry, starting his career as a disc jockey, then, moving into news where he was a reporter and anchor. He served as the Business Manager for Radio One in Washington, D.C., and Director of Operations and radio talk show host for 1290 WMCS, Milwaukee, WI. Von also had his own morning show on 860 WNOV.

Proving that he didn’t just possess “a face for radio,” for seven years Von was a regular panelist on Wisconsin Public Television’s, “Interchange,” a groundbreaking public affairs program. He was also co-host of “Black Nouveau” which airs on the same network.

From 1998 through 2000, Von was a special assignment reporter and a co-host of “It’s Your Vote,” a weekly political affairs show which featured candidate forums, debates and voter education information on Milwaukee’s ABC affiliate, WISN Channel 12.

For two years, he penned a column for the Shepherd Express, Milwaukee’s independent, progressive newspaper.

Von received many awards and commendations for his on-air and community service work. Von founded, along with his wife Faithe Colas, Brain Brawn & Body, a health and wellness website for men. He was also the managing partner of VonCommunications, a firm that offers public relations counsel and strategic communications.

Von passed away in September of 2016.

A special fellowship has been established in his honor.

Michelle Maternowski

On Saturday, August 14th, a Milwaukee police officer shot and killed 23-year old Sylville Smith near the intersection of West Auer Avenue and North 44th Street.

The police department reported that Smith had a gun and refused to drop it. Details are still unfolding.

What we do understand is that in the Sherman Park neighborhood where this took place, tensions had been mounting for weeks.

Sylville’s death sparked peaceful protests, as well as violent unrest. Footage of buildings set aflame brought national attention to the Milwaukee and its struggles.

Michelle Maternowski

Sunday afternoon, the Milwaukee Police Department invited faith and community leaders to meet in the aftermath of devastating events in the Sherman Park neighborhood. The hope was that influential residents could help foster calm.

One person at the table was Eric Von. The Washington D.C. native has made Milwaukee his home since 1991.  

WUWM listeners have come to know the veteran journalist as host of the Precious Lives series that focuses on the root causes of gun violence.

Michelle Maternowski

Torre Johnson, or ToeJoe as he is known on the streets, is a self-described former bad guy. But he is now reformed, working in the trenches with young people whose lives eerily resemble his some 30 to 40 years ago.

“When I went to jail I thought I was one of the toughest people, but then to be tough I had to humble myself,” Johnson says. “That’s the toughest thing in the world.”

And Johnson knows just how tough the world can be. He grew up on the streets of Milwaukee; admittedly, wreaking havoc in his neighborhood and beyond.

Tracey Dent

Vigils in Milwaukee for young people who've been shot and killed seem to have become commonplace.

Wednesday night, community members staged another. Bullets have struck five teens since just last weekend; two died.

COA Youth & Family Centers

One of Precious Lives' first interviews took place at the Holton Youth and Family Center. We set out to explore how gun violence impacts youth in Milwaukee and met many teens during Holton’s after school program who shared stories and insights. And although plenty of these teens have experienced violence firsthand, Holton always provided an alternative - a safe place to have fun.

Michelle Maternowski

Precious Lives: Before the Gunshots is a project designed to explore the root causes of the gun violence that has changed the face of Milwaukee over the last several years. Its an expansion of the Precious Lives series that focuses on stories about those impacted by gun violence and solutions to the problem.

elaborah / Fotolia

Milwaukee radio host Eric Von is a familiar voice in a variety of venues – he’s the voice of Precious Lives and hosts a daily call-in show on the AM station WNOV that covers a variety of topics of local and national interest.

WUWM 89.7 FM – Milwaukee Public Radio is one of 15 stations chosen after a national competition to incubate storytelling experiments and expand public media to more Americans.

Keith McDuffee / Flickr

The people behind the Milwaukee-based Brain, Brawn, and Body website created it to engage men more actively in managing their own health. But they discovered something interesting – even though it’s a site geared to men, the majority of the people who read it are women.

That fact helps shape an event the group has organized tomorrow, also about men and wellness. The Health and Wellness Summit brings together a variety of experts and organizations with a stake in keeping men healthy.