Executive Director Out at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

After Kevin Sucher resigns, the station has named Danae Davis as interim executive director.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee has shaken up its leadership, announcing Danae Davis as interim executive director on Friday while a committee launches a formal search process to permanently fill the position.

“88Nine Radio Milwaukee is a special place, and I look forward to working with the excellent staff team and board and our many community partners to continue its mission of making our community a better, more inclusive place for everyone,” Davis said of her interim role in a news release.

Danae Davis; Photo by John Sturdy (2018)

Davis previously served on the Radio Milwaukee board of directors for nine years, including time as board chair.

The change in leadership comes following the resignation of Kevin Sucher, who served in the executive director role for less than two years.

“On advice of counsel, I’m not at liberty to talk about it right now,” Sucher said when reached by phone on Friday.

Sucher took over as executive director of 88Nine Radio, or WYMS, in April 2020. He has operated a management, production and consulting agency specializing in live entertainment and also performs in a yacht rock band, The Docksiders, which is based out of Milwaukee but tours nationally.

Kevin Sucher at the radio station’s Walker’s Point studio; Photo by Aliza Baran (2021)

 

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“We appreciate Kevin’s work at Radio Milwaukee and his commitment to advancing our mission of being a catalyst for creating a better, more inclusive and engaged community. We wish him the best moving forward,” said Ross Williams, chief operating officer for global investment banking at Robert W. Baird & Co. and chairman of Radio Milwaukee’s board of directors. “We’re very pleased to have Danae as interim executive director as she brings a high level of experience and understanding of Radio Milwaukee and our mission as an organization.”

Davis currently serves as executive director of Milwaukee Succeeds, a nonprofit organization focused on improving educational outcomes for local students and will continue in that role.

Throughout her career, Davis has held top leadership positions with for-profit, nonprofit and government organizations. She served as CEO of PEARLS for Teen Girls Inc., a Milwaukee-based nonprofit that uses a nationally recognized model for empowerment and leadership development for adolescent girls, in addition to serving as diversity affairs director at Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Co., now Molson Coors, earlier in her career.

She held a similar position at Kraft Foods and worked as director of employee relations for the city of Milwaukee. She also has served as a member of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents.

Jordan Lee, 88Nine’s former station director who is now a consultant and contracting with the station through Paragon Media Strategies, will facilitate the leadership transition. Radio Milwaukee will continue its normal operations in addition to projects in the community, according to management.

Although there is no established timeline to name a permanent executive director, the process will be a thorough effort to find the most qualified individual who is the best fit for the job, Williams said.

“We’d like to name a permanent executive director as soon as possible, but it will be a deliberate process, and we expect to have many talented applicants for the job,” Williams said. “In the interim, we’re very confident in Danae’s leadership capabilities to continue moving our organization forward.”

The shakeup comes just weeks after Radio Milwaukee became embroiled in controversy after it named WebsterX, a Milwaukee-based alt-rap singer and songwriter, as its “Humanitarian of the Year.” WebsterX, whose legal name is Sam Ahmed, returned the award in January after an ex-girlfriend raised issues of repeated abuse.

WebsterX made a lengthy post on social media addressing the issue and announcing that he’d be returning the award because he felt it “isn’t a time for accolades but a time to raise survivors’ voices.”

While not specifically mentioning the award, a post from 88Nine on social media stated: “As an organization, Radio Milwaukee has power and responsibility in our city. We strive to use both of these things to create a safe place on-air, online and in the community. In line with our mission, Radio Milwaukee stands with survivors.”

When asked if the controversy led to Sucher’s departure, Williams said the issue “is not related to the leadership change.”

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Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.