By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Aug 02, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Over the years, I've had a steady flow of readers asking about Chicago's WBBM-AM (780), the long-time all-news station that's easy to pick up around these parts.

"Why don't we have a station like that?" is the common query.

The launch of WWWN, a second all-news station, this week on Chicago's FM band,  (not easily heard around here), and WBBM's parallel simulcast on FM, has revived the question.

The answer today is as it's been for years: We're not getting an all-news station. It's just not going to happen.

And I've put together five simple reasons why the start of WWWN doesn't change that.

1. Milwaukee isn't Chicago. First off, Chicago is the third largest radio market in the U.S. Milwaukee is way down in 38th place, without the large audience that can be divvied up in the same ways Chicago radio can.

So the first rule is to ignore what happens in Chicago when you're plotting the future of Milwaukee radio. Check out Cincinnati or Kansas City if you're looking for trends that could end up here.

2. It's really, really expensive to hire all those news bodies. Milwaukee radio, like radio in most markets, has been cutting personnel in recent years. While the business is a bit better, there's been no great move toward hiring. And news radio markets need lots and lots of people, from anchors and reporters to producers and writers. It doesn't make economic sense.

3. There's no likely home for such a station. So, if we had an all-news station, where would it go? It would mean somebody would have to drop an existing format, most likely on AM here. How about WOKY-AM (920), the classic country station known as "The Wolf"? It's owned by Clear Channel which has no evidence of any interest in staff-heavy news stations.

It's pretty much the same up and down the dial, rather than gamble and invest a ton of money, station owners are likely to stick with what they've got.

4. We already have WTMJ. The closest we have to a "news" station is WTMJ during the morning and afternoon drive-time hours, when it's neither a conservative talker nor a sports station. WTMJ has the news assets of its sister-TV station, Channel 4, and it brands its news coverage heavily, switching to news coverage when something happens.

No, it's not all-news by any means. But it's a roadblock to somebody else considering the format.

5. We just don't have that much news around here. As an experiment, watch Channel 4's block of local newscasts from 3 to 5:30 p.m. weekdays and tell me we have enough going on here to justify an all-news radio station. Traffic isn't really an issue here, but part of a radio station's marketing. And, well, do we really need more weather coverage?

Another round of buyouts at the Journal Sentinel: Newsroom employees at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel got word Monday of another round of buyouts. Anyone who takes the offer gets two weeks of pay per year of service at the paper and six months of COBRA health insurance.

While there's no target number for people to leave the newspaper, I'm told that it's likely to be a little more than a handful. And there's no threat of layoffs this time around.

I left the newspaper two years ago when I accepted the last buyout offer, which was a little bit better and involved a much, much larger group of people.

On TV: Cable's Versus sports channel will be renamed the NBC Sports Network on Jan. 2, 2012.

  • Speaking of NBC, its new fall sitcom "Up All Night" is being retooled to expand the role of Maya Rudolph, now that she's in the spotlight after her role in the successful "Bridesmaids."
  • Despite reports to the contrary, James Franco says he's not returning to his old home, "General Hospital," this fall, according to Eonline.
  • PBS has announced an animated "Mr. Rogers" spinoff starring Daniel Tiger. It'll star airing in fall 2012.

A little bit of TV history: As I noted in yesterday's column, Monday was MTV's 30th birthday. Here's the first half-hour of the music channel when it back in the forgotten past when it filled its hours with videos. And that first video, "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles:

Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.