Milwaukee is where the late George Carlin became a cause celebre, thanks to his "seven words you can never say on television" that got him arrested at the Summerfest back in 1972.
The world has moved on during the almost four decades since that bit, and some of the seven don't have the broadcast weight they once did.
One word that wasn't even on Carlin's original list is the focus of a story that aired Friday morning on WUWM-FM (89.7) that shows how decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
It was a feature by news intern Andy Ambrosius, whose piece on the Brew City Bruisers women's roller derby league, featured an interview with "The Termiskater," one of the skaters.
As it aired Friday on the local insert to "Morning Edition," she said near the conclusion of the report. "It’s a green-light kind of just to be an asshole because you have to be, otherwise you’re going to get taken out."
If you go to the Web site and listen to the report, or read the text, what got taken out was that key word that you don't often hear on the radio. In Ambrosius' piece, the word came without advance warning.
It brought a few responses from listeners. And Dave Edwards, WUWM's general manager, doesn't mince words when asked about it.
"We messed up," he told me.
He had been listening to the radio when the piece aired.
"I was surprised by it," he admitted. "Sometimes, you listen to the radio and you get surprised -- and you have to have a discussion."
The results of the discussion are pretty surprising. Edwards says he sees no problem with the use of the word.
"The reasoning on keeping it in was the nature of what these women do, and that they talk in a certain way," he said.
But the problem came in the editing. While the piece was vetted in advance, the written lead-in should have included a warning of rough language ahead.
"We're very sensitive to the fact that there are families driving around in cars," Edwards said.
Since it didn't include the warning, Edwards said the decision was to edit the word out of the Web version.
"It went through the editing process our stories usually do," Edwards said. "It wasn't like a student just did this piece, and it went on the air."
In fact, Edwards had praise for Ambrosius.
"I think he did a very good job," he said. "It was just a failure in the system."
I'd have to agree with Edwards. The quote was key in a short piece to establishing the persona of "The Termiskator." A simple warning and nobody would have thought twice about it.
On TV: After tonight's airing, ABC is pulling spooky thriller "Happy Town" from its schedule for the rest of May, and burning off the remaining episodes starting in June. The show's ratings were pulling down ABC's May sweeps average.
- MTV has ordered 10 episodes of a less-raunchy American version of the BBC's pretty-darn-raunchy teen series "Skins."
- Starz is working on a six-episode prequel to "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" to start airing in January. It will allow them to work around star Andy Whitfield's treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
- Season finales air tonight for CBS' "The Adventures of Old Christine" at 7 p.m. on Channel 58, NBC's "Mercy" at 7 p.m. on Channel 4, and the CW's "America's Next Top Model" at 7 p.m. on Channel 18.
Remembering a legend: Turner Classic Movies will air a May 21 tribute to the late Lena Horne, who died this week at the age of 92.
It starts at 7 p.m. with 1938's "The Duke is Tops," her screen debut. "Cabin in the Sky," from 1943, with Eddie Anderson and Ethel Waters, airs at 8:30 p.m. "Panama Hattie," released in 1942, airs at 10:15.
Here's a clip from "Cabin in the Sky," said to be her favorite role:
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.