By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Nov 08, 2011 at 11:00 AM

I remember the weekly air raid sirens that went off during recess in my grade school days in Chicago. The guys would regularly say, "Why don't the Russians just attack us during that weekday morning test?"

Of course, we figured this wasn't just a Chicago test.

Well, if you're watching TV or listening to the radio at 1 p.m. Wednesday, get ready for that big national test of the Emergency Alert System.

It covers cable and satellite TV, as well.

The planning for the event has been a little clunky. It was originally supposed to tie up your TV and radio for three full minutes. In our short-attention span age, that's a heckuva long time.

The bureaucrats wised up and cut it back to a 30-second test. But not before producing this awkward 30-second public service announcement that's been airing recently:

Isn't there something odd about that PSA? It's as if it's been locked in a basement for 12 years. Even the on-screen graphics identifying the stiff speaker are faded and hard to read.

Whatever, the big test will be over by 30 seconds after 1 p.m. Wednesday. And let's hope the Russians don't figure out that this is national.

And remember, it's only a test.

Talk about a Packers' win: Nielsen Media Research numbers show Channel 6 averaged 466,000 southeast Wisconsin homes for Sunday's Green Bay Packers win. That's 51.1 percent of all TV homes in the Milwaukee market, and a 76 percent share of TVs on at the time.

To measure how big a deal those numbers are, Channel 6 reports it was the highest-rated regular season Packers game since the 1997 season.

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.