By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Feb 02, 2010 at 11:00 AM
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A little news story broke late last week that, a few years ago, might have made a bigger splash.

Canada's Corus Entertainment shut down Montreal's CINW-AM, considered the first regularly-operated commercial radio station in Canada. The English-language CINW, along with French-language sister station CINF-AM, went silent Friday night at 6 p.m.

It had begun life in 1919 as experimental station XWA.

I'm not going to bore you with more radio history -- besides, virtually any attempt at calling something the "first" brings e-mails from radio history buffs who want to argue the point. But I bring it up as one more example of just how much of a revolution broadcasting and other forms of media are undergoing at a pace that's sometimes hard to track.

These days, death of one more historic broadcast institution just isn't that newsworthy, especially in a week that saw the unveiling of the iPad.

There's already been plenty of bad-mouthing of Apple's newest toy, from its name to its look -- like an iPhone with a glandular condition. But the company's track record makes it likely these first rips won't have much of an impct.

It's not that Apple's above criticism, or that there aren't weaknesses in this first-generation iPad. I'm talking bigger picture here.

Steve Jobs and company have successfully surfed the breaking wave of change for a long time now. You can credit Apple with speeding the demise of the "album" -- whether it's in vinyl or CD form. The iTunes music store has made it easier to focus on buying one song at a time, to the detriment of the traditional music business.

The iPad is less a touch-screen laptop and more an entertainment device, for movies, TV and those written products that we still call books, magazines and newspapers.

The key to everything media-wise these days is portability and flexibility. DVRs allow us to watch TV shows on our schedule. The iPad may, eventually, make it easier to carry that TV show with us so we can also watch where we want to. It also allows us to take The New York Times or the the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, or into the bathroom with us.

As crude as that may sound, you know what I'm talking about.

The evolution of radio took decades. When XWA signed on in Montreal, it was experimental. For years, crystal radio sets were used to hunt down distant radio signals, before the business became settled.

By then, there were huge pieces of furniture, radio consoles in the living room, with families gathered around to listen together to "The Lone Ranger" or Franklin D. Roosevelt explaining the New Deal. Portability really came later, and by the 1960s, radio was a personal medium, with kids carrying their transistor radios tuned to their personal brand of music.

Nowadays, "radio" doesn't mean one thing, and the definition has been rapidly changing. It still exists on the original AM band and on FM. We also listen via satellite, as Sirius/XM struggle through a long-delayed merger. And "radio" exists on your iPod or iPhone or, soon, your iPod, as downloadable programming from conventional programming sources and Internet-only "stations."

Without a doubt, other traditional radio stations will follow Canada's first broadcast outlet into permanent silence. Don't be surprised if TV networks and cable channels go dark. And, of course, programs that have existed since the dawn of TV could easily fade away. Will you really be shocked if Jay Leno's "Tonight Show" fails so miserably that venerable institution could end?

It'll probably hang on, but these are days of almost shocking change.

I left newspapers six months ago because I simply don't see that business turning around, but don't ask me to predict much beyond that. I was happy to be asked to join a medium that's growing, after decades of working in one that's been shrinking.

Today, I'm regularly asked for my guess on just how long the print version of newspapers will hang on. I don't have an answer.

With the pace of today's change, nobody really does.

On TV: It looks like the Grammy Award formula of only giving out 9 awards in three and a half hours is working. Sunday's awardscast pulled in nearly 26 million viewers for CBS, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research numbers. If the numbers hold, it'll be the best Grammy audience in six years.

  • Speaking of audiences, the NFL thinks Sunday's Super Bowl will break the 100-million barrier, according to NBC sports. Last year's Super Bowl had a record 98.7 million viewers.
  • CBS says it sold the last spot in the Super Bowl on Monday, a couple days ahead of schedule.
  • Ricky Gervais tells a British tabloid that his David Brent, from the BBC original of "The Office" is indeed crossing the Atlantic to meet up with Steve Carrell's Michael Scott on NBC's version of the show. "I don't think we'll take any of the other UK characters over - we'll probably leave it with just me because it's just too complicated."
  • If you didn't watch the Oscar nominations as they were announced around 7:40 this morning on live TV, you can find the complete list here. The awards will be given out March 7 on ABC.
  • The Wisconsin State Journal reports Justin M. Mentell, 27, who appeared as lawyer Garrett Wells in ABC's "Boston Legal" in the 2005-'06 season, died Monday in a one-car accident in rural Iowa County. Mentell lived in Waukegan, Ill.

"Lost" begins its last run: The final season of ABC's "Lost" finally starts tonight at 7 p.m. on Channel 12.

This ABC promo may or may not offer some clues to what's about to unfold.

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.