You can tell that Lou Dobbs has been itching to get back in front of a daily TV camera. You can hear it in that familiar voice.
It's been more than a year since he left CNN, and a lot of news has broken since. And he's finally got a chance to talk about it in the new Fox Business Network version of "Lou Dobbs Tonight," debuting at 6 p.m. on the cable channel.
"I think it's fair to say that I'm revved up, I'm excited about the challenges," he told me in a phone conversation last week.
"Issues are what course through my journalist's blood. I'm fascinated by issues and the marketplace of ideas."
Of course, he's been following the news. He's continued his syndicated radio show, after all. And he's up on the ongoing mess in Madison.
"Wisconsin is a powerful national story that is obviously playing out in Madison, but effects the nation. He calls the conflict between state government and public employee unions, "a defining issue of our time."
As for the new weeknight program, "We're putting the show together with a primary focus on business and markets and finance and the political economy. I don't care what the issue is, organized labor, budgets, foreign policy ... all of these are at an intersection with politics, and intersection of politics and the economy."
Even though it's a cable channel that focuses on finance, the show comes after the close of the markets. So he's focusing more broadly.
"It is the broader perspective, as you suggest, that my audience wants," he told me. "They know what the market has done. They're aware of the top headline issues of the day. It's our responsibility to understand what issues will shape the market -- to look ahead.
"I'm fascinated with the 'why' of these stories. I believe the audience is as well."
A huge issue for Dobbs back when he was still on CNN was illegal immigration. It earned him lots of attention -- and criticism from Hispanic groups who saw him as anti-immigrant. The issue has faded and Dobbs says it's because the Obama administration isn't pushing immigration reform.
"It is clear that this administration is not prepared to move forward on whatever the set of promises were that they made."
Talk of immigration led to talk of how much publicity he got at the time -- and he was willing to talk with anybody. That included Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, where Dobbs' pooh-poohing of ethnic traditions like the St. Patrick's Day parade, provoked a a jab from Stewart.
"I think that Jon Stewart had the best line, 'Lou, don't you realize that New York City is a parade-based economy?'"
On TV: Channel 12 is happy as can be with the year-to-year ratings for "UpFront with Mike Gousha," airing Sundays at 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. The February ratings numbers show the morning airing is up 96 percent over February 2010, and the repeat is up 35 percent. It's No. 1 in both time periods, with the morning audience averaging 43,700 southeast Wisconsin homes.
- TV Guide reports that April 28 will be Michael Scott's farewell to "The Office." That's the first night of the May ratings period.
- TNT launches its summer season on June 1 with the return of "Men of a Certain Age."
- Syfy has signed Keira Knightley to voice Tinkerbell in its live-action "Peter Pan" prequel "Neverland," which will air in December.
As long as we're talking about Dobbs and Stewart: Here's Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" report on Lou Dobbs' resignation from CNN back in 2009:
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.