By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Sep 24, 2009 at 4:30 PM

A few weeks after he was unceremoniously dumped from  Jonathan Green's WTMJ-AM (620) afternoon show, Phil Cianciola is contemplating going the podcast route -- at least until he can find another radio gig. That could take a while, considering the current state of the radio biz and the limited number of options for a witty guy with Cianciola's experience.

By all accounts, this wasn't a financial decision -- unlike the elimination of Dick Alpert's Sunday morning WTMJ position. The Cianciola firing was one of those personnel matters that employers don't like to talk about.

For now, Cianciola is keeping pretty quiet about what happened to him and what his long-term plans are. He offered me this, via e-mail:

"I want to focus on what's next for me now....and try to keep that radio connection with people who are writing me telling me how upset they are about my firing and how they feel like they lost a friend or a member of the family. THAT, to me Tim, is the magic of doing good I hope to get a chance to do again."

But he has been blogging about starting a podcast.

That's the route followed by Chicago deejay Steve Dahl, who lost his morning show late last year due to ratings, as an inspiration. Dahl remains under contract to CBS, preventing him from taking another radio job. But he got the go-ahead from his former bosses for a daily podcast, which launched Sept. 8.

Dahl, whose been a Chicago radio presence for three decades, picked up where he left off in the one-hour weekday podcast. He's reunited much of the old cast, including Pete Zimmerman and Brendan Greeley, who've been doing their own podcast four times a week for the past few months.

Dahl, who blazed the trail for many modern FM voices, has always worked extra hard to make things sound off-the-cuff (a lesson lost on many of his copycats who ignore the hard work and focus on the off-the cuff). He's clearly worked extra hard on this podcast, building a professional studio in the basement of his suburban Chicago home.

He's quickly set a very high bar for such podcasts, which are frequently amateur productions that are difficult to listen to. His motivation is to stay on the radar of radio listeners for the next couple years, until his contract runs out.

The talented Cianciola is a seasoned radio vet who clearly has an audience, but he'll have to crank it up a bit to get listeners for a regular podcast. He was a second banana on WTMJ (the afternoon show is called the "Green House" after all), so he'd have to carry the day. He was the edgiest part of drive time on WTMJ, but would have to make it even more edgy.

And, of course, there's the issue of advertising. Dahl is attracting ads to the podcast (as annoying as that may be, this stuff isn't a hobby). Phil may have to be a salesman as well as an on-air personality to make the podcast worth doing.

Cianciola also has to move quickly. The unemployment rate among radio folks isn't exactly going down, and the public has a short attention span.

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.