Wisconsin Broadcasters Association

Historic TV news anchor, WBA Hall of Famer, and former Wisconsin State Senator Walter John Chilsen has died.

Chilsen was a news broadcaster in Wausau and served six terms in the Wisconsin State Senate. He died on Christmas Day at the age of 95.

Chilsen began his career in 1949 at WLIN radio in Merrill. After three years he moved on to pursue a career in acting, first at Northwestern University and then in California. He returned to radio broadcasting with WLIN in early 1954 and then moved to WSAU radio in Wausau later that year.

Chilsen became the first news director and anchor for WSAU-TV (which would later become WSAW-TV) when it signed on the air as Wausau’s first television station in October 1954. He served in those roles until 1966.

He was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate in 1966. He continued in broadcast sales on a part time basis for WSAU-TV through 1968 and then concentrated his attentions full time on his new career in the State Senate.

He retired from politics in 1990 after serving six terms in the State Senate.

Chilsen was inducted into the WBA Hall Of Fame in 2005.

He served in the US Army Air Forces from 1943-45. He was a bombardier and his plane was shot down in the Pacific during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Chilsen is survived by his wife Rose and eight children.

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