By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Jun 10, 2011 at 11:00 AM

The reason modern talk radio exists is that the Federal Communications Commission abolished its "Fairness Doctrine" back in 1987, ending the constraint that had prevented the kind of one-sided, strictly partisan talker who has since become the norm.

In recent years, it's only existed as a bogeyman conservative talkers would conjure up now and again to claim that their form of radio was in serious danger from the evil left.

There was never any serious Democratic effort to resurrect the notion that public airwaves shouldn't host one-sided, strictly partisan programming. A politician here and there has raised the specter now and then.

But, let's be honest, there was never any chance of that happening. It was just a tool for talkers to get the regular listeners up in arms to keep them listening.

Now FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says he plans to finally remove the abolished "Fairness Doctrine" from the federal rule book. Genachowski, by the way, was chosen by President Barack Obama to head the FCC.

"I fully support deleting the Fairness Doctrine and related provisions from the Code of Federal Regulations, so that there can be no mistake that what has been a dead letter is truly dead," he wrote in a letter to U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, the Michigan Republican who heads the House committee on energy and commerce.

Done and done.

Heather Shannon signs off: Another TV reporter is leaving the business, with Channel 4 reporter Heather Shannon leaving the station on June 17 for a job with Cramer-Krasselt ad agency. She starts her new job June 20.

Shannon tells me, "For family reasons I needed a schedule that is more condusive to family life. Since I am from Brookfield originally and my family and my husband's families are here (and because he loves his job here) we weren't interested in leaving Milwaukee."

She offers this goodbye message: "I would like to say thanks to everyone who has been so supportive to me over the years here at TMJ4... from people just randomly on the street to all of the viewers on Facebook, etc. "They have been great...especially everyone in Brookfield who I grew up with."

Channel 58's farewell to the MDA: With the Labor Day Telethon going to Channel 6, Channel 58's final event with the Muscular Dystrophy Association will be MDA Day at Summerfest from noon to 3 p.m. on July 9.

"The staff at CBS 58 will miss the families and volunteers that they worked side by side with for over a decade," according to a statement from the CBS station. "The CBS 58 team wishes them well as the Muscular Dystrophy Association moves them in a new and different direction."

Channel 58 has aired the telethon since 1998.

On TV: The syndicated "Family Feud" is holding auditions at Appleton's Radisson Paper Valley Hotel on June 18. Space is limited, but you can call 323-762-8467 of email

  • The audience for final episode of Oprah Winfrey's syndicated show has been tallied at 16.4 million people, according to Nielsen Media Research. It's her most-watched show since an episode in 1993, when more than 17 million people tuned in.
  • Another alum of "All My Children" is reprising a role on the soon-to-disappear ABC soap, "All My Children." This time, it's Eva La Rue of CBS' "CSI" Miami," who formerly played Dr. Maria Santos on the soap. Josh Duhamel has already said he'd return to his old TV home.
  • ABC's Diane Sawyer has landed an exclusive interview with Jaycee Lee Duggard, kidnapped in 1991 and held for 18 years. Nothing's been scheduled, but the interview likely won't appear on TV until next month.
  • "Friends with Benefits," an NBC sitcom that has been sitting on the shelf, will finally start airing at 7 p.m. Saturdays on June 25. Saturday's are the graveyard of TV shows. Saturdays in June are even worse.

Go, Echo, go: Lake Geneva resident Echo the parrot has made the first cut on NBC's "America's Got Talent," along with trainer Sarah Hoeft. They'll be headed to the summer "reality" competition's semi-finals in Vegas in the next few weeks.

The pair perform at The Dancing Horses Theatre & Animal Gardens in Lake Geneva.

Here's Echo performing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow":

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.