If you remember, Channel 4 tried to buy viewership by offering iPads every night of the ratings season to people who watched their news.
The announcement of the winner was made each night at 10 p.m., a ratings spot that Channel 4 had won for years.
As it turns out, the iPad deal turned out to be a real turn-off. Channel 12, for the first time in memory, beat Channel 4 news at 10 p.m.
I'm sure the wonderful folks at Channel 4 are saying that they lost because of a weak network lead-in and that Channel 12 benefited from strong network programming.
There is some truth to that claim, of course. But there may also be enough people who were offended by the attempt to buy ratings that they tuned out.
From the start, the Oprah-like giveaway smacked of a desperate plea for viewers. A news operation ought to get viewers by doing better news than the next guy.
There has been a growing stark division between Channel 12 and Channel 4. Channel 4 has become much more sensational with lots of stories that are news in only the most tangential way. Channel 12 has stuck with doing hard news that brings viewers some perspective. The ABC affiliate does as good as job as possible for a television news operation.
As a cynic, I could suggest that Channel 4 is working on another, bigger giveaway for the next ratings period. A pair of Brewers season tickets?
If I was a fundamentalist Islamic terrorist who hated the United States and I was faced with questions about why I had such deep-seated hatred, I wouldn't have far to go.
I would just point people to Black Friday.
If there was ever a scene of ugly, out-of-control, materialistic greed it is Black Friday, and the videos that accompany it, playing hour after hour on the news channels.
The United States has great moments. When we reacted to the Challenger disaster. When we mobilized to help after Hurricane Katrina. When we stand for our National Anthem.
But then we have Black Friday, with crowds camping out and lining up to get into the neighborhood Walmart or Kmart or Stein Mart. We see the doors open and the crowd of cattle surges forward, shouting and grabbing everything in site.
People in pajamas and costumes. People pushing shopping carts that are much more dangerous than your average bumper car.
This is the ugly side of America. It has unbridled greed, disregard for personal safety, willful violation of rules and intolerance for others.
If that really was what America is about, I'd be tempted to be a terrorist, too.
In 1986 I left the world of newspapers to go into television and radio. The paper assigned Tim Cuprisin, who I knew a little bit, to do a story on what the switch was like. At the time I had a TV show, did one minute spots six times a day and did a night time call in radio talk show. I was on my way to becoming an omnipresent media star.
Cuprisin spent three days with me. We did all the stuff I did for work and all the other stuff, family things, cocktails, etc.
At the time I was driving an old Nissan with floorboard that were rusting out on the front passenger side. He rode in it as we made our way around town.
It was the second day of our time together, I think, when a part of the floorboard finally gave way.
I'll never forget what the first line of the story Tim wrote.
"The only way it seems you can stop Dave Begel is to put your feet through the floor of his car."
Priceless. And My God, I am so sad to hear of his passing. So sad.