The Reinvention of Brian Manthey
Communications specialist has sports background
By Colton Quinn Dunham
While growing up in Big Bend in Waukesha County during the 1960s, Brian Manthey had hoped that one day he would have a career in sports, whether it would be as an announcer or a writer.
“The Milwaukee Braves were my baseball team until they moved out on me,” Manthey said with a faded hint of disappointment while speaking to University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee students in the JAMS 500 Advanced Reporting class recently.
One thing is certain: sports were and still are a huge part of his life. However, Manthy has led a career in communications in which he has had to reinvent himself several times.
His youthful ambition stuck with him throughout high school, into college and after he received his bachelor’s degree in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1978. While in college, he became enamored in radio broadcasting when he worked at the student-run campus station WHLA.
“I got through school, and I was ready to start my radio career, but radio wasn’t ready for me,” Manthey said. “Finding a job was really difficult.”
Shortly after graduating, Manthey stayed on as a volunteer at WHLA while earning a paycheck at his first paying job out of college, which wasn’t anywhere near a radio station. For a short period, he worked as a salesman at George Holmes Tire Company in Madison.
Much to his surprise, however, it turned out to be a great opportunity. The members of the Holmes family were huge Badger hockey fans, which gave him the opportunity to meet coaches, players and announcer Chuck Kaiton.
Eventually, Manthey landed a job as an overnight announcer WWQM AM/FM in Madison. He then moved up as news and sports director.
“It was very much chaotic, kind of fun,” Manthey said. “We really did a great job connecting with our audience.”
After two years, Manthey became the sportscaster as part of a morning show on WIBA, where he hosted several UW-Madison sports broadcasts. Most notably, he was the play-by-play voice of Badger Basketball during the 1983-84 season. Eventually, he left WIBA and further pursued a career in broadcast at WTMJ-Am in Milwaukee as a sportscaster and a talk show host.
In 1995, he made another transition from broadcast to becoming the director of communications of the Milwaukee Admirals. He moved on to becoming the president of Wisconsin Sports Authority, where he worked for eight months before taking a risk by running as the Democratic candidate against Republican Mary Lazich in a special election to fill the seat in the 28th Wisconsin State Senate District. Though unsuccessful, he believes that it was a risk worth taking.
“If I would’ve said no, I would’ve regretted it for the rest of my life because I didn’t try,” Manthey said.
Manthey soon moved back to communications in 1998 as a media specialist for Madison Gas & Electric.
After a little over a year later, he worked for the Milwaukee Admirals once more as the vice president of communications as well as a play-by-play announcer.
Manthey moved on to work for the Wisconsin State Senate as a communications director and then as a communications officer for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation as he helped with the work on the Marquette Interchange project, starting in 2004.
“I thought I had played in role in helping that project go smoothly,” Manthey said. “I got the word out so people were safe. It’s something I’m very proud of.”
Today, he is a communications specialist at We Energies in Milwaukee, although he has remained a sports fan and a sports broadcaster at heart.
“I think of the people that I met, the challenges I faced and the things I learned,” said Manthey. “I often wonder if that would’ve changed if I hadn’t gone down that path.”