By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Oct 22, 2010 at 11:00 AM
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First off, let's get this straight: National Public Radio has every right to fire analyst Juan Williams for expressing his fears about Muslims in traditional garb.

The First Amendment is there to guarantee that government won't trample on our free-speech rights. It says nothing about our bosses.

My bosses can fire me if they think I go over the line. There's not much I can do about it.

Having said that, how stupid were Williams' NPR bosses in firing him?

Well, pretty much as stupid as they can be.

If you haven't seen what this all about, here's the video:

Let's start with the fact that Williams is a guy who's paid to express his opinions as both an analyst for NPR and as a commentator on Fox News Channel. NPR is trying to say that analysts aren't commentators, but that distinction is hard to make.

He's not a reporter whose job it is to keep his opinions to himself. Had he been the national security correspondent, or the transportation reporter, his comments would have been beyond his job description. Had he announced his support for a political candidate, things might have been different.

But the emotions he expressed are completely human. Even those of us who try not to stereotype are affected by human emotions. It may be important to fight those fears, but it's foolish not to acknowledge them.

Finally, and most importantly, by firing Williams, NPR has put itself in the cross hairs of every conservative who doesn't like the "public" part of National Public Radio.

This firing of a guy for expressing an opinion that may not fit in with the liberal perception of the world tarnishes its image.

If Williams' NPR bosses were uncomfortable with his Fox News role, this wasn't the time, and this wasn't the issue to fire him.

I think NPR news is among the best news outlets in the country. It's one of the few sources of real, old-fashioned news in American radio. Its network of foreign correspondents helps put the U.S. into a world context, an important element that's frequently missing from commercial news outlets.

I'd hate to have all that endangered by a foolish bit of political correctness.

Williams, by the way, has survived his firing by getting a lucrative multi-year contract to expand his role at Fox News.

Craig Koplien leaves Channel 4: Weather forecaster Craig Koplien is gone from Channel 4. Channel 4 general manager Steve Wexler tells me, "Craig told us this week that he had another opportunity that he wanted to pursue."

Scott Steele moved into Koplien's old morning weather slot earlier this month.

On radio: Former WTMJ-AM (620) Mark Reardon has been talked about as a possible replacement for the retiring Jonathan Green. If he does get the job and leaves St. Louis' KMOX-AM, he could bring along a well-placed pal, "Amazing Race" host Phil Keoghan. The two became friends as fellow bicyclists, and they both rode recently in Southern California, as part of Bike MS California.

  • WHQG-FM (102.9) has launched the syndicated "Sixx Sense with Nikki Sixx" from 7 to 10 p.m. weeknights. The radio station known as "The Hog" will also carry the rocker's "Side Show Countdown" Saturdays from 8 to 10 p.m.
  • Sirius XM Satellite Radio is marking Pearl Jam's 20th anniversary with commercial-free "Pearl Jam Radio" starting today on Sirius channel 17/XM channel 39.
  • In what appears to be the first such flip of the season, WSMM-FM in South Bend, Ind., went all-Christmas on Tuesday. There's no word yet on a Milwaukee radio station taking the annual Yule leap.
  • If you're a fan of Johnny Cash, check out the newly launched Johnny Cash Radio.

News from the Coco cam: If you weren't watching the final hour of Conan O'Brien's 24-hour live Coco cam, you missed the announcement of the first week of guests on his TBS show, which debuts Nov. 8.

That first show will feature Seth Rogen, musical guest Jack White and the winner of the first guest poll. Tom Hanks, Jack McBrayer and Soundgarden are on Tuesday's show. Jon Hamm, Charlyne Yi and Fistful of Mercy are on Wednesday. Michael Cera, Julie Bowen and Jon Dore are scheduled for that first Thursday.

Here's the video version of the preceding paragraph:





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.