By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Mar 03, 2011 at 11:00 AM

In an incredibly newsy February headlined by the Packers winning the Super Bowl, an actual blizzard and the ongoing Madison mess, Channel 4 ended the four-week ratings period at the top of the 1o p.m. ratings' heap.

Channel 4's 10 p.m. newscast averaged nearly 81,500 southeast Wisconsin households, more than 16 percent of TVs on at the time, according Nielsen Media Research numbers.

Channel 12 was second, with nearly 69,000 homes, a nearly 14 percent share of TVs on at the time. Channel 6 was third with almost 60,000 homes, a 6.6 percent share; and Channel 58 was fourth with more than 47,000 homes, a 5.3 percent share.

Channel 6's 9 p.m. newscast averaged 65,000 area homes, a 7.2 percent share of TVs that were on at the time.

Powered by an "American Idol" that featured Milwaukee singers in the competition, Channel 6's lineup of Fox's shows led the ratings in the four-week ratings period that ended Wednesday night.

CBS' programming on Channel 58 followed in second, ABC's lineup on Channel 12 was third, and NBC's lineup on Channel 4 was fourth.

Channel 4's win comes despite that poor lead-in of fourth-place NBC programming. In a month where weather was a huge deal, Channel 4's frequently annoying focus on storms paid off. But it was also a month where anchor/reporter Charles Benson scored a coup with a one-on-one with the president, and the Madison protests over Gov. Scott Walker's budget plans brought viewers to newscasts.

Sweeps periods, four-week stretches when detailed ratings are measured, help determine the rates TV stations can charge for advertising. They're not as important nationally as they once were, thanks to increasingly detailed overnight numbers. But locally, they're still a big deal.

On TV: Twitter can't confirm if it's a record or not, but troubled Charlie Sheen quickly passed a million followers on Twitter a day after signing on and offering wisdom like this: "Ready for my next fastball, world? PLAN BETTER Applies to everything where an excuse now sits. Try it. U won't be wrong. Ever."

  • Speaking of Charlie Sheen, his Tuesday night "20/20" appearance brought 9 million viewers to ABC, more than double the 9 p.m. Tuesday numbers of "Detroit 187" the previous week.
  • Speaking of troubled performers, Christina Aguilera is joining NBC's spring "reality" competition, "The Voice," as a judge. She was arrested earlier this week for being publicly drunk.
  • Bravo's bringing "Top Chef Masters" back next month with a new host, celeb chef Curtis Stone and food critic Ruth Reichl as a judge. Among guest judges: Christina Hendricks of "Mad Men."
  • Fox News Channel has given 60-day suspensions to contributors Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, pending their decisions on whether they're running for president. Two other commentators who are considering presidential bids, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, continue on the channel.
  • If you noticed sound problems with "American Idol," you're not alone. Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe tweets: "I'm getting frustrated with our sound! I don't know where it's going wrong. The mix between voice and band is okay when it leaves the studio."
  • Speaking of "Idol," we find out tonight if there's a Milwaukeean in the finals this season. I'll blog on the fate of Naima Adedapo tonight if you don't get a chance to watch the results show.

Jimmy Fallon takes on the Dairyland debate: NBC's Jimmy Fallon was joined by some guests to offer a musical take on the ongoing events in Madison:

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.