By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Jul 13, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Freed from his contract with CBS, Chicago radio legend Steve Dahl announced this week that he has no plans to go on the radio anywhere else. Instead, he's turning his previously free daily podcast into a subscription service, charging listeners $9.95 a month.

It's a huge gamble after Dahl gave listeners more than 500 free podcasts over the past couple years. He says he's had 7.5 million downloads since his September 2009 launch.

It's also a huge gamble to remain consigned to the Internet. It's still a niche, and still lacks the heft of a radio show. It shouldn't be, but in radio terms, it is.

"There's no good place to go," Dahl said on his Monday show about conventional radio – especially for the kind of salary he would demand.

Still, Dahl is a savvy guy who has always stressed the business part of show business, selling stuff alongside providing a steady stream of laughs. If a radio guy can make the transition, it's likely Dahl.

The pay wall goes up Aug. 1, and I have to say that as a regular listener to his Internet show (or call it a podcast, if you will). I'm just not sure whether I want to pay for the entertainment, when plenty of free stuff remains available.

Here in Milwaukee, Phil Cianciola is the closest we come to Dahl's podcast. Cianciola's "Philcast," which is hosted here at, is free and he's been doing it daily since October 2009.

I can't see a situation where Cianciola boosts a pay wall there.

The issue is critical mass. Dahl's a national figure, often called one of the first of the shock jocks, he has listeners from around the country. His pool of potential subscribers is big enough to make his show profitable.

There's no evidence that Cianciola could pull in enough paying customers to make it fly. It's clearly a labor of love for Cianciola.

On Tuesday's podcast, Cianciola said, "I'll watch very closely to see what happens in his case."

But he said he had no plans to try the pay wall.

If you're interested in subscribing to Dahl's daily show, you can find details at Dahl's website.

I'm still not sure whether I'm going to be one of those subscribers.

On TV: PBS has announced a four-part look at the roots of modern TV characters to air this fall. "America in Prime Time," set premiere at the end of October, features episodes on male and female characters, along with "misfit" and "crusader" characters. If you wonder what a crusader is, think of Alan Alda's Hawkeye Pierce from "M*A*S*H." 

  • The 1.7 million of us who tuned in for Sunday's seventh season premiere of Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on HBO were the biggest crowd ever for the show. The numbers, of course, come from Nielsen Media Research.
  • Sherwood Schwartz, responsible for some of the schlockiest sitcoms in TV history – such as "The Brady Bunch," and "Gilligan's Island - has died at the age of 94.
  • ABC Family's "Melissa and Joey," which brings back former kid stars Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence, has been renewed for a second season.
  • AMC is repeating every "Mad Men" episode from the start, starting July 31 in the 5 a.m. Sunday slot, when the first three shows are scheduled. You may want to consider setting the DVR at that hour, and watch at your leisure.

The return of "Dallas": Here's the promo for the remake of "Dallas" that TNT plans to air next summer, featuring some familiar faces:

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.