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Two Staff Members of The Onion
to Be Featured at Feb. 8 Forum

RELEASED: Jan. 30, 2007

Todd Hanson from The Onion
Mike Lowe from The Onion
Todd Hanson, top, and Mike Loew, creative staff of The Onion, will be speakers at The Forum.

EAU CLAIRE — Two members of the creative staff of The Onion, — "arguably the most popular humor periodical in world history" (The New Yorker), — will be presented on The Forum at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Thursday, Feb. 8. Story editor Todd Hanson and graphics editor Mike Loew will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Zorn Arena.

The Onion, "America's Finest News Source," is a satirical weekly newspaper distributed free in nine major American cities. It provides a unique look at current events with hard-hitting national news stories, in-depth local articles, engaging opinion columns and informational charts. The Onion examines — and mocks — today's most current topics while tailoring its content to the tone of any event.

More than three million people read The Onion each week, online and in print. Another million listen to Onion Radio News on more than 200 stations across the United States and Canada.

The Onion claims that its publication dates back to 1756, when Freidrich Siegfried Zweibel, an immigrant tuber farmer from Prussia, bartered a sack of yams for a printing press and named his fledgling newspaper The Mercantile-Onion. Other sources document that the first issue of The Onion was printed in 1988 in Madison by two students working out of their University of Wisconsin dorm. The paper already had a growing national fan base comprised of mail subscribers when it went online in 1996 and saw its readership soar.

The Onion's first book, "Our Dumb Century" (1999), became a New York Times number-one best seller and won the Thurber Prize for American Humor. In 2001, The Onion headquarters moved from Madison to New York City.

The Onion's growing popularity allowed its writers to leave their day jobs as credit union tellers, dishwashers and liquor store clerks to work at the paper full time — and address select audiences on key aspects of turning a creative endeavor into a profitable business.

Story editor Todd Hanson has written for The Onion since 1990, longer than any other staffer. Educated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he now lives in Brooklyn. He has also written for Stop Smiling, Slate, the Oxford American and the animated TV show "Space Ghost Coast to Coast." As a performer he has appeared at the UnCabaret, the Midnight Pajama Jam, The Moth and the Aspen Comedy Festival, and has made guest appearances at the Upright Citizens Brigade's weekly ASSSSCAT improv comedy show. Hanson also appeared on NBC-TV's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder's radio program "The Majority Report," and is a member of the cast of the animated comedy TV shows "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" and "Squidbillies."

Mike Loew was hired as a writer at The Onion in 1993 and was appointed graphics editor in 1995 when the publication transitioned from black and white to its present full-color format.

"Watch Mike Loew at work on Photoshop. He's a one-man Gannett graphics department over there," wrote City Pages. "This guy has already produced more accomplished agit-prop photo-collage than possibly anyone in history. ... For a brush he uses incredibly powerful Macintosh software; for a palette, white noise."

Loew is also the author of "Tough Call: Hard-Hitting Phone Pranks" (2004) and the political satire, "Citizen You: Helping Your Government Help Itself" (2000).

A question-and-answer session and a reception in Zorn Arena will follow Hanson and Loew's formal presentation, titled "Inside The Onion." The Forum will be interpreted for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Tickets are $7 for the public, $5 for those 62 and older and UW System or Chippewa Valley Technical College faculty and staff, and $3 for those 17 and younger and UW System or CVTC students. Tickets are available at the Service Center counter in the east lobby of Davies Center and will also be sold at the door.

Patrons may charge their tickets to MasterCard or Visa when they order by phone. Call 715-836-3727 or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free 800-949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.

Wisconsin Public Radio and Community Television have contributed generous promotional support. Best Western Trail Lodge Hotel & Suites (715-838-9989) at 3340 Mondovi Road is the exclusive accommodations partner for The Forum.

Funded by the students of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, The Forum is administered by the Activities and Programs office.

-30-

JS/NW

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