By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Feb 09, 2010 at 11:00 AM
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Mathew Blades came to Milwaukee back in 2007 to take over an established morning show on what was then WKTI.

But a format change hit in November 2008 and the Journal Broadcast Group station morphed into WLWK-FM (94.5) -- better known to listeners as Lake FM -- and Blades found his job changing dramatically. He not only moved to afternoon drive time, but he went from a station that was heavy on personalities to one where personalities barely existed and the music was the focus.

Blades announced Monday that he's moving to Phoenix, Ariz., where he'll go back to mornings on Clear Channel's KMXP-FM, which calls itself Mix 96.9. He's expected to start sometime next month.

"I am so excited to get back to what I love," he says. "Crazy as it sounds I love waking up early and getting ready for a show each day.  I miss being creative."

The big move returns Blades to a hot adult contemporary station, where he'll have far more to do than he does at Lake FM, a station that pushes its large play-list over personalities.

His initial job here was a Herculean task, replacing Milwaukee radio legends Bob Reitman and Gene Mueller in the morning on WKTI. His second job didn't allow him full use of his radio talents.

But you won't hear him badmouth the current Lake FM format, particularly with Milwaukee radio moving to portable people meters to measure radio ratings later this year.

"Once PPM starts up later in the year Milwaukee radio is in for the shock of its life," he said, terming WLWK's format "PPM perfection.

"All of the heritage morning shows will have a rude awakening. It would be interesting to take a look at all of the morning shows on right now and see how many are left in two years.  I wish everyone the best though."

This is, indeed, a good move for Blades, who goes from the nation's 37th largest radio market, according to Arbitron's rankings, to number 15. For the record, Phoenix has already made the PPM switch.

And with tough times in the radio business, I asked Blades if he felt lucky to land the job.

"My take is that good things happen to good people.  I have never burned a bridge, and because of that a connection turned me on to this new job," he said. "On the other hand we tried to make a few things work out here in Milwaukee but that looked like a long shot so it was time to look outside the market."

Blades said he'll miss the area after the short time he spent here.

"We were lucky to live here," he said. "It's got a good pace for family life, plenty to see and do if you want it and I think its on the upswing for even more good stuff.  We will miss our new friends, and our favorite playground up in Port Washington."  

Vote for Milwaukee music: WYMS-FM (88.9) has launched its third annual Milwaukee Music Awards, with nominees in 16 categories. Six of the categories are open to listener votes: Artist of the Year, Best Music Video, Milwaukee Best DJ Night, Saturday Session Mix of the Year, Most Memorable Live Show, and Blog of the Year.

You can vote here until Feb. 21.

Winners will be announced in a two-hour program airing on the station at 4 p.m. Feb. 25. A station benefit will follow that night at 8 p.m. at Whiskey Bar, 788 N. Jackson St.

On the radio: Speaking of WYMS, the station has hired former WJMR-FM (98.3) senior account executive Devin Hudson as sponsorship director, and former Milwaukee Art Museum membership marketing coordinator Elizabeth Egan as membership director.

  • This week marks a sad anniversary, the death of radio personality Bob Collins in a small plane crash in 2000. Collins, who worked at Milwaukee's WOKY-AM (920) and the old WRIT-AM before hitting the big time at Chicago's WGN-AM (720), is profiled with great links, at Chicago Radio and Media by Chicago radio expert Larz.
  • Howard Stern tells his Sirius satellite radio listeners that he's considering leaving radio and taking Simon Cowell's place on Fox's "American Idol" next year. The first part is possible, the second makes little sense, considering the young female target audience for "Idol."
  • Speaking of "Idol," I'll be talking about it in the 7 a.m. hour Wednesday with Dave Murphy and Meg McKenzie on WRIT-FM (95.7).

Jay signs off tonight: The final episode of Jay Leno's failed prime-time NBC show airs tonight at 9 on Channel 4. He returns to his old "Tonight Show" desk on March 1.

In the meantime, his motivation for sitting down on a couch with arch-enemy David Letterman, separated only by Oprah Winfrey, was a topic of Monday's penultimate show.

"No matter what animosity there is among comedians, a good joke is a good joke," said Leno.

Here's the video:

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.