The efficiency of the "American Idol" machine was on display outside the Bradley Center this morning as more than 10,000 young singers were gathered.
Divided into groups, they were quickly, peacefully and pleasantly herded inside, to face the first cut in the "Idol" process. Although they weren't seeing the official panel of judges, they did get a greeting from show host Ryan Seacrest, introduced by Milwaukee's own "Idol" finalist, Danny Gokey.
Gokey, of course, is the reason for "Idol" being here this week.
"Isn't that crazy?" Gokey told me.
"The fact that they came to Milwaukee, Milwaukee has so much hidden talent and we're always overshadowed by Chicago. Great city, but it seems like we're always overshadowed. Milwaukee's gonna make an impact on the next season. Pretty cool."
In the shade on the west side of the Bradley Center it was pretty cool this morning, before temperatures started to climb. The crowds had been waiting for hours before they were allowed inside to begin the audition process.
"Everybody thinks they have a chance," said 18-year-old Cody Schuebel, who traveled down from Eau Claire to take his shot.
It's not a lark for Schuebel, who is majoring in music at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
"Hopefully, this will give me a little push. I really couldn't sing, I kind of sucked until I got into high school and got somebody to help me with my voice. I had a really good music program at the high school I went to."
At 28, Milwaukeean Drew Lettner is pushing the top of the age limits for "Idol." "I'm actually gonna be too old in about two weeks," he said.
He described himself as "pretty excited, pretty tired, pretty exhausted," after waiting all night for his shot. He planned to sing John Legend's "Ordinary People."
Gokey understands the feelings going through Lettner's mind as he took his last chance at "Idol."
"You wanna make the most incredible first impression, and that's all you get," he recalled of his audition in Kansas City. "I was 28 already. I'm, like, 'This is the last opportunity I get to do this thing.' So the nerves were super-intense.
"And yet, I had to do what I had to do. And look where it's gotten me."
WMSE-FM will be back soon: If you can't tune in WMSE-FM (91.7) today, don't worry. The station is scheduled to be off the air for a "significant amount of time" today for an upgrade of the station's tower.
On TV: Channel 12 anchor Toya Washington returns from her maternity leave on Monday. She’ll join Kathy Mykleby on the anchor desk at 5 and 10 p.m.
- TNT says it will air 20 hours of coverage of the 92nd PGA Championship from Kohler's Whistling Straights next month. It kicks of Thursday, Aug. 12 at noon.
- Speaking of sports TV, Time Warner Cable's TWC Sports32 aired the 900th episode of "Roundtable" with Dennis Krause this week.
- "Damages" will survive or two more seasons on DirecTV in a last-minute deal to save the show. Unlike DirecTV's deal with "Friday Night Lights," it won't air elsewhere. DirecTV also has rights to rerun the first three seasons.
- Now, Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin aren’t doing a "reality" show. Or are they?
"Bert the Conqueror" conquers Wisconsin: Travel Channel's Bert Kreischer brings his "Bert the Conqueror" to America's Dairyland Wednesday night at 9. What exactly does this thrill-seeker think of Wisconsin?
Well, this TV Guide video shows he rated Wisconsin Dells' Noah's Ark water park as his top pick for summer fun. The Dells' stuff starts at the 2-minute, 55-second mark:
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.