By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Mar 18, 2011 at 11:00 AM

I'll have to admit that since I first heard of the Japanese earthquake, I've generally had CNN on, at least in the background.

It's not quite an obsession, but I can't think of a bigger story in recent memory, one of the world's most developed countries seemingly crippled by a pair of natural disasters, that led to an unfolding man-made disaster.

It is, of course, the nuclear danger that has made this story so huge. While the rescue operations and the rebuilding of the damaged areas of Japan is a huge story, it's that still mysterious and invisible danger of radiation that has made this story so compelling.

It's come after a couple other enormous news stories, the first, of course, here in Wisconsin, as a post-election political shift turned Madison into a political battlefield that caught the nation's attention.

Then there's been the dramatic events across the Arab world, with the fight for freedom in Libya and Bahrain continuing -- and the Libyan situation heated up by the UN Security Council approving international action against the regime of Moammar Gadhafi.

It's all been so much over the past couple months.

But the Japan remains the hardest to turn away from. It's the story that could happen here, in some form.

If I have a criticism of the coverage, it's that live reporting usually doesn't continue late at night, with reruns of earlier programs instead.

Of the three news channels, CNN has an international news channel, CNN International, to which it could -- and should -- switch over. The good news is that CNN International is available on digital cable and satellite. You can find at on Channel 357 on Time Warner Cable in southeast Wisconsin.

Continuing the Japan coverage: In addition to the regular reporting, the news channels are scheduling specials this weekend.

Fox News Channel has "Coming Back from the Brink," a two-hour look at rebuilding Japan, and the effects of the disaster on the world economy, at 9 a.m. Saturday. Neil Cavuto hosts.

CNN has scheduled "Japan: When Disaster Struck," at 8 p.m. Saturday. It repeats at 10.

On radio: The venerable WMSE-FM (91.7) marked its 30th anniversary on Thursday. The celebration continues through Saturday.

  • "Prairie Home Companion" host Garrison Keillor says he's looking for a replacement so he can retire in 2013. He'll turn 70 that year.
  • The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted 228-192 Thursday afternoon to stop federal funding for National Public Radio. That isn't likely to fly in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
  • Speaking of public radio, WUWM-FM (89.7) listeners pledged $52,907 during a three-hour fund drive Tuesday to make up for lost revenue, thanks to the Groundhog Day blizzard.
  • WTMJ-AM (620) is launching its 19th annual Teddy Bear Patrol campaign to collect teddy bears for fire and law enforcement officials to comfort children in traumatic situations. You can find details at WTMJ's Web site.
  • Sirius XM satellite radio subscribers can hear all the NCAA Championship games. Here's where to find the channel schedule.

Good news for a comedy with Milwaukee roots: NBC has renewed "Community," created by local boy Dan Harmon, a ComedySportz alum,  and featuring Marquette grad Danny Pudi. It gives the innovative sitcom a third season.

After the renewal was announced Thursday afternoon, offered a couple tweets. First, he wrote: "They're celebrating St. Paddy's at NBC. Crazy drunks picked us up for a 3rd season. Thank you, NBC and all our viewers."

Then, Harmon tweeted: "No better feeling than knowing the rest of your episodes can totally blow."

Also renewed for next season was Amy Poehler's "Parks and Recreation," and, not surprisingly, a Steve Carell-less "The Office." Thursday night's "30 Rock" was already picked up for next year.

But for "Community," which survived an onslaught from both CBS' fine "Big Bang Theory" and, since January, Fox's still-powerful "American Idol," this wasn't a sure thing.

The Paley Center for Media hosted a panel of "Community" cast members Tuesday night in Beverly Hills. Here's a clip:

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.