Channel 4's Charles Benson has always been a reporter's reporter, a hard-working, serious, well-read journalist. Such types are increasingly rare in television, where style long ago triumphed over substance.
That's why his Wednesday's White House interview with President Barack Obama was a professional victory. He worked at it for a long time, and events aligned to get him the one-on-one.
Channel 4 deserves some praise in how the interview was handled on Wednesday's 10 p.m. news. It wasn't the lead story.
Instead, the NBC affiliate made the smart news judgment and led off with the anti-Scott Walker protests in Madison, clearly the biggest story of the night.
We're in the middle of the February ratings period, when hype often overcomes news judgment and this is a highly promotable reporting coup for Benson.
But it wasn't until three minutes into the newscast that we saw Benson sitting down with the president.
The interview didn't break any ground -- that's not a surprise. But the president addressed Wisconsin issues for a Wisconsin audience, including the uproar in Madison, high-speed rail and, of course, the Green Bay Packers' Super Bowl win.
Benson carried a question from a Mequon small business owner to the president, tying viewers into the interview -- a smart move by Channel 4.
You can watch the complete interview at Channel 4's Web site.
No Michael Vick on "Oprah": There's talk that the Philadelphia Eagles pressured quarterback Michael Vick to back out of his scheduled interview today with Oprah Winfrey. Even without the controversial quarterback, Oprah's show airs at 4 p.m. on Channel 4.
On radio: With fourth quarter 2010 figures showing Journal Broadcast Group's revenues up by 22 percent, Journal Communications CEO Steve Smith says it may be buying more broadcast outlets. Journal Broadcast owns WTMJ-AM (620), WLWK-FM (94.5) and Channel 4. Journal Communications' publishing side, which includes the Journal Sentinel, showed a 5.5 percent revenue decline in the fourth quarter, continuing a trend.
- Continuing the national trend away from classical music on public radio stations, WCBU-FM in Peoria, Ill., is moving classical music to its HD sub-channel and going all news/talk March 7. Classical music fans frequently ask why Milwaukee's WHAD-FM (90.7) and WUWM-FM (90.7) don't play their variety of music. There are more listeners for news and interview shows. WHAD plays classical music on its HD sub-channel, if you have an HD radio.
- Sirius XM satellite radio says it hit nearly 20.2 million subscribers by the end of 2010. As the Hollywood Reporter says, that makes it the second-biggest subscription media service, behind Comcast and ahead of Netflix. Neftlix is likely to move into second in 2011.
- Chicago's WGN-AM (720) has picked another former member of the Cubs, Keith Moreland, to replace the late Ron Santo in the broadcast booth. He'll debut alongside Pat Hughes Feb. 27 for the first spring training game from Mesa, Ariz.
- Troubled Charlie Sheen called Dan Patrick's radio show again Wednesday, saying he's never been drunk or high on the set of CBS' "Two and a Half Men." Patrick's nationally syndicated show airs from 9 to 11 a.m. weekdays on WSSP-AM (1250).
- WLUM-FM (102.1) morning guys Brian Kramp and Jon Adler host Kristen Schaal of "The Daily Show" and "Flight of the Concords" along with Marc Maron and Eugene Mirman in Kramp and Adler's Comedy Festival April 8 at the Turner Hall Ballroom.
- America's favorite houseguest (and former local boy) Kato Kaelin has launched a podcast with comedian Jeff Richards available on iTunes.
Dave's Lindsay Lohan mess: Late-night talker David Letterman thought he was going to have Lindsay Lohan deliver the Top-10 list on tonight's show, but he admitted on Wednesday's show that he was "duped."
Letterman went on to apologize to the Lohan family (you can judge his sincerity):
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. 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 OnMilwaukee.com.
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.