By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Dec 18, 2009 at 11:00 AM
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While Charlie Gibson's departure from ABC "World News" after this evening's newscast is getting some attention, along with his replacement by Diane Sawyer, this just isn't the big deal it would have been a few years ago.

Obviously, audiences have been declining for decades. 

The three network newscasts still regularly pull in more than 20 million viewers each night. In 1980, before the launch of cable news alternatives and the Internet, that number was 52 million. Roughly a million viewers stop watching every year.

The cable news alternative makes it unnecessary to wait for 5:30 each evening to find out what's going on.

Probably the most interesting part of Sawyer's move into the anchor chair is the lack of comment about her gender. Katie Couric's move to CBS three years ago absorbed all that chatter. 

Instead, there's been a lot of talk about George Stephanopoulos' move into Sawyer's "GMA" job.  Can he soften enough for the morning job?

Of course, it's far too early to come to a conclusion. But I'm willing to bet on Stephanopoulos' ability to adapt. There was talk that he couldn't make the transition from an insider in the Bill Clinton administration to the world of Sunday morning political talking heads.

He's done that well, and there's no reason he can't show a different side in the mornings. 

Gibson signs off at 5:30 this evening on Channel 12.

Sawyer signs on at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

On the radio: Podcaster Phil Cianciola tries for a modern-day take on the old Andy Williams Christmas specials in the holiday edition of his "Philcast" that's set to be posted sometime today at He's joined by another former WTMJ-AM (620) voice, Dick Alpert. He was nice enough to let me drop by as well, and take part in the 90-minute extravaganza of holiday chat and music.

  • Despite some Internet chatter claiming WQBW-FM (97.3) is on the verge of change, the Clear Channel-owned radio station known as "The Brew" looks pretty secure in its current format.
  • WTMJ-AM talker Charlie Sykes  has joined the Twitterverse.
  • Pandora Media Inc. tells the Wall Street Journal that it's exceeded 40 million registered users this year, doubling the size of the online radio service.
  • New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan (remember him?) and Rabbi Harlan J. Wechsler, who both have Sirius/XM satellite radio shows, will get together at 2 p.m. Sunday for an interfaith dialogue on Sirius channels 159 and 102 and XM channels 117 and 155.

A little Christmas interrogation: The weakest of the annual network animated Christmas specials, 1969's "Frosty the Snowman," and its even weaker 1992 sequel, "Frosty Returns," -- at 7 p.m. on Channel 58 -- is about all you'll find tonight on the broadcast channels.

Absent better choices, here's a little bit of Jack Bauer of "24" trying to find out who's naughty and who's nice in this clip.

For the record, the real "24" returns to Fox on Jan. 17.

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.