She's still a familiar face more than five years after she left Channel 12's anchor desk, and if Rebecca Kleefisch has her way, she'll become much more familiar to Wisconsin voters, when they pick a lieutenant governor this November.
Over that period off-camera, Kleefisch, 34, has become more comfortable about openly expressing her conservative opinions. Her husband, Joel, already made the transition from TV news. He's a Republican member of the Wisconsin Assembly.
"I've always been a political junkie," she told me in an evening phone conversation earlier this week, after she got her two daughters to bed.
"When I left Channel 12, it was truly for the reason of being a stay-at-home mom," she said.
"It's immediate, which is very very different from what we've seen in traditional media. That's one of the reasons I started the video blog and the Twitter feed, and one of the reasons I'll continue to do the podcasts."
It was in weekly YouTube videos that she really began to express herself politically, with those videos posted weekly on the blog of WTMJ-AM (620) talker Charlie Sykes.
Here's one of those videos, from last fall:
"I felt very free to express myself," she said.
Last May, she was approached at the state Republican convention about turning her communications skills to elective politics. She decided to run for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor.
Kleefisch used new media in making her candidacy official on Jan. 19. First, she appeared on radio talk shows around the state, then sat at her kitchen table and formally launched her candidacy on streaming video on the Internet.
I'm not as interested in her politics, as I am in her transition from TV news to politics.
"When you decide you're going to be a journalist, you have to be represent both sides fairly or you won't be respected," she said. "In the WISN newsroom, we never really spoke about our personal political beliefs openly."
She was teamed with Patrick Paolantonio, who continues to anchor at Milwaukee's ABC affiliate.
"He's one of my favorite colleagues," she said. "To this day, I have absolutely no idea where he falls in the political spectrum."
She knows he shares her love of politics. At election time, the pair would use commercial breaks to talk politics, "sink our teeth into all that polling data."
That polling data will now help track her success.
So far, she's run into one former intern, Channel 4's Heather Shannon, on what is a brand new campaign trail.
"That was fun," she said. "It'll be interesting if Toya ever does an interview."
Channel 12's Toya Washington first anchored with Kleefisch when the two were University of Wisconsin-Madison students. (Kleefisch is still searching or video of the two together at that anchor desk.)
Half a dozen years after leaving TV news, there are still flashbacks to a previous career. She was interviewed earlier this week by Steve Walters for the Wisconsin Eye, a state public affairs network.
"I'm constantly patting my right ear," she recalled. "I'm concerned that I've forgotten my IFB," the earpiece news anchors wear.
On the radio: Bush administration FEMA director Michael "heckuva job Brownie" Brown, who took heat after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, is launching a talk show on Denver's KOA-AM. He tells Westworld, a Denver news blog: "I've been loved and hated by the media ... So when something comes up and everyone is saying, 'This is outrageous!,' what better person to be able to say, 'Let's wait a second and look at what else might be going on'?"
- Entercom is moving Milwaukee vice president/market manager Alan Kirshbom -- who oversees "The Mix," WMYX-FM (99.1); Kiss-FM, WXSS-FM (103.7); and sports-talk WSSP-AM (1250) -- to the same position in the Austin, Texas market. His replacement, effective Monday, is Michael Keck, who ran Entercom's Madison stations from 2000 to 2003.
- John St. Augustine will be talking about his new book, "Every Moment Matters," with Wisconsin Public Radio's Ben Merens at 5 p.m. Friday on WHAD-FM (90.7). The host of daily "Powerthoughts" vignettes XM Satellite Radio's Oprah Channel (156) will sign copies of the book at Mequon's Next Chapter Books at 2 p.m. Saturday.
- Speaking of satellite radio, XM/Sirius plans Super Bowl coverage on 14 channels. In addition to the national radio broadcast, it'll feature both New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts broadcasts. You can also hear the game in 10 languages, including Hungarian, Japanese and Italian.
It's not quite Groundhog Dog: Tuesday is Groundhog Day, which you'd think would be a good opportunity to air the Harold Ramis-directed Bill Murray flick of the same name from 1993.
Well, it's not scheduled on any channel I can find for that date. It is, however, airing at 8 and 10:30 p.m. tonight on TV Land, and at 9:30 Saturday, also on TV Land. It's also available on Time Warner digital cable's Free Movies On Demand Channel 400 under TBS.
I long ago picked up a DVD copy, so I can watch it when I want. And this fine tale of a man repeating one day over and over and over is one that I do watch now and again.
Here's a scene from the film, featuring Chris Elliott, which you can watch over and over and over again on YouTube, to mark the holiday:
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.