Six months into it, Phil Cianciola shows no signs that he's tiring of the daily podcast he launched after being shown the door by WTMJ-AM (620).
"It's a blast," he said. "People get stuck on the hamster wheel, and you go to a job and you do the job and you get numb to it, and you do it to get a paycheck. I think there was a lot of that going on with me.
"This has been this creative release that has been fantastic. It's more fun than I ever thought it would be."
From a studio in the basement of his suburban home, the 30-year broadcast veteran continues to do a half-hour to an hour a day of what he calls the "Philcast." The show is available both here at OnMilwaukee.com and in Apple's iTunes store.
He's not getting paid for his work (beyond expense checks). That's part of the equation that's still being worked out.
"Am I making a living from this from the last six months? No," said Cianciola. "Does that matter to me right now? No. The product matters to me. It's all evolving still."
What's impressive about the effort is Cianciola's consistency. He hit the 125-episode mark this week, recording Monday through Friday shows regularly since mid-October of last year -- even doing a show on Christmas morning.
It's the key to building a regular Internet audience, whether it's an audio podcast or a written blog. You have to crank it out day after day.
Cianciola has gotten the notice of a podcasting mentor, veteran Chicago radio voice Steve Dahl, who's played bits of Cianciola's show on his own daily podcast, or Dahlcast, dubbing him "Phil Can-a-cola."
"I'm milking the Can-a-cola thing" says Cianciola (who pronounces it see-ann-see-OH-la.)
"In terms of growth of the show, and Steve and the Dahlcast being a bit of a model at times ... He's got people that show up every day at his studio at his house in his basement.
"I could see expanding the concept I do with Lips LaBelle on Thursdays now, and having somebody on a regular basis to be over with me, to bounce stuff off of."
He's also added a phone line -- 1-888-414-PHIL, and he's planning hiring someone to sell the show to advertisers. He has a few.
At this point, he doesn't see a return to traditional broadcasting.
"I don't see it happening. I had an opportunity to pursue something to make it happen out of state. I had to ask myself that question."
Then he compares himself to Edith Piaf. Yes, that Edith Piaf. He watched the recent movie about her life, "La Vie en Rose," over the weekend.
"I thought, you know, her story right now, not unlike me. Edith Piaf standing there on a street corner in Paris just doing what she knows how to do ... taking whatever coins people throw at her until some muckety-muck shows up and says, 'Wow, you're good. Come do that at my cabaret.'"
The key thing is that a modern-day radio muckety-muck would have to ask Cianciola to do "the Philcast" on his radio station.
"I would listen to that," he said. "Otherwise, it ain't gonna happen."
In the meantime, Cianciola seems pretty happy on the internet version of a Paris street corner, warbling into the microphone, a la Piaf.
On TV: HBO has ordered another season, the ninth, of "Real Time with Bill Maher." It's currently airs live at 9 p.m. Fridays.
- "Burn Notice" has been picked up for a fifth and sixth season by USA. Season four doesn't start until June.
- Now that he'll be paired with Conan O'Brien on TBS' late-night schedule, George Lopez seems to be increasing the visibility of his show (currently airing at 10 p.m. weekdays). The latest stunt, a Web site to rally votes to keep Kate Gosselin from being sent home from "Dancing with the Stars."
- Spartacus: Blood and Sand" wraps up its first season on Starz tonight at 9. It's already been picked up for a second season.
- Ryan Phillippe hosts NBC's "Saturday Night Live" this weekend on Channel 4.
- Emeril Lagasse launches a new show on the Ion Network -- Channel 55.1 over the air and Channel 15 on Time Warner Cable -- at 7 p.m. Sunday.
- If you need an awards' show fix, "The 45th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards" airs at 7 p.m. Sunday on Channel 58.
He will survive: Soon-to-be TBS host Conan O'Brien's live tour isn't coming to Milwaukee, but here's a little bit of his act from this week's opening night in Eugene, Ore.:
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.