By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published May 25, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Tonight, one of two teenagers will capture the 10th "American Idol" crown, an honor that doesn't necessarily make you a big star.

In fact, it really doesn't matter whether 17-year-old Scotty McCreery or 16-year-old Lauren Alaina gets the most votes.

What really matters is that "Idol" remains on top of the ratings.

That's after the loss of what had been its driving force, snarky Simon Cowell. The new panel of judges – Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and remaining veteran Randy Jackson – have been marshmallows this season. They mostly loved everybody who sang.

But it didn't matter. Last week's final three results show, for example, pulled in more than 21 million viewers, compared to 19 million for last year's final three, according to Nielsen Media Research numbers.

That's what matters in the TV biz.

For the record, tonight's "Idol" season finale – capping off the May ratings period – airs at 7 tonight on Channel 6.

A DVR note for "Idol" watchers: My Time Warner DVR shows "Idol" running over to 9:07 tonight, but I wouldn't depend on that. If you're recording the show to watch later, I'd record the next show as well to avoid missing the conclusion.

When a national story gets local coverage: Yesterday's column raised the question of why Channel 4 thought a local crew was needed to cover the Joplin tornado. Just a few weeks ago, Channel 12 sent its main weathercaster, Mark Baden, to cover the Alabama tornadoes.

I asked Channel 12 news director Lori Waldon if she wanted to share her thoughts on the issue, and she offered this:

"Granted, the tornadoes didn't directly affect Wisconsin. But we, along with our viewers, are very familiar with the power, the intensity and the danger of these storms. We can relate.

"Our Chief Meteorologist Mark Baden really wanted to go to Alabama to report. He was interested in not only the weather phenomenon – but its impact on people's lives.

"We also found local people here in the Milwaukee area who had loved ones in the Tuscaloosa area – so there was both a local and an emotional tie to the story."

On TV: Channel 4 is adding another general assignment reporter to its news staff. Keller Russell comes to the NBC affiliate from KOLN-TV, the CBS station in Lincoln, Neb, where she was a weekend anchor and reporter. Russell starts June 13.

  • Milwaukee Public TV has picked Memorial Day weekend for an encore of one of its most popular documentaries, Dan Jones' interesting look at the city's Forest Home Cemetery – the final home of such luminaries as aviation pioneer Billy Mitchell and famous brewing names like Pabst and Blatz. The documentary, which debuted 11 years ago, airs at 9:30 p.m Sunday on Channel 10.
  • In case you missed it, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward won ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" crown on Tuesday night. Kirstie Alley came in second.
  • Fox has picked its own "Glee" star, Jane Lynch, to host this year's Emmy telecast in September.
  • History Channel, which didn't want the "The Kennedys," has hired Mark Burnett to produce a scripted drama based on stories from the Bible.

A performance to cause outrage: Sunday's "Billboard Music Awards" telecast on ABC featured a performance by Rihanna and Britney Spears that, not suprisingly, brought howls from the Parents Television Council, and a call for emails to Disney, ABC's parent company.

According the PTC's "Action Alert": "Contact ABC-Disney and the show’s advertisers – Chevrolet, Old Navy and McDonald's, among others – and let them know that you plan to 'vote with your wallet' next time you’re shopping!

"The network and every sponsor must explain to the public why they would use their ad dollars and squander their goodwill with America's families by delivering S&M themes and imagery to teen audiences."

Here's the performance:

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.