Let's start off with John Mercure's explanation that his shilling for Volkswagen on his WTMJ-AM (620) radio blog was a mistake.
"The blog post was accidentally posted in the wrong place ... and before
it was completed," the anchor of "Wisconsin's Afternoon News" emailed me Wednesday. "As soon as the mistake was realized, it was taken down. Later this afternoon it will be on a different part of our website."
But at that point, it hadn't been taken down. It came down early Wednesday afternoon, after I exchanged emails with Mercure.
His post had been tagged prominently as a "Paid Endorsement" with the headline "The VW Passat is Sweet."
Mercure wrote about the Passat, and how he liked a car with "get up and go."
"Whether it's at a stoplight, or changing lanes on the interstate, the 2012 Volkswagen Passat is quick," he blogged.
"My girls are now off at college. I have been thinking about getting rid of my SUV. If I do, I think I'll be moving into a new 2012 Passat. After driving this car, I wouldn't even consider a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry."
He closed with a call to "Do what I did. Head into Hall Volkswagen on Blue Mound Road in Brookfield and take the 2012 VW Passat for a little spin. You may not want to give it back."
It's not unusual for radio hosts to endorse products.
Mercure's predecessor, Jonathan Green did tons of ads, and continues to be a spokesman. Bill Michaels, who hosted sports programs on WTMJ, took some of those advertisers with him, and you'll even hear his voice on TV ads.
None of this is secret or nefarious.
But what Mercure describes as the accidental posting of his "paid endorsement" would be a blurring of the line between a host sharing his thoughts freely, and a spokesman sharing his thoughts for a fee.
Let's hope the mistake isn't repeated.
More on tonight's TV schedule: Channel 58 is carrying CBS' coverage of the president's address to Congress starting at 6, so it's bumping "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune" to its sister channel WMLW-TV.
You can find that as Channel 58.2 over the air, Channels 7 and 982 on Time Warner, Channels 7 or 8 on Charter, Channel 41 on DirecTV and Dish, and Channel 7 on AT&T U-Verse.
Meanwhile, Channel 4 reports that NBC's pre-game coverage of the Green Bay Packers-New Orleans Saints will start tonight at 6, rather than 6:30.
On TV: Lifetime has picked up "America's Most Wanted" from Fox. The show's 25th season will start later this season on the cable channel.
- "Bachelor" host Chris Harrison has signed on to host the Miss America pageant for two more years. It will air Jan. 14 on ABC.
- Adweek.com reports that NBC has nearly sold all of its "Super Bowl" ad inventory for as much as $3.5 million a spot – a record.
- In case you're planning ahead, CBS says it's airing "The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" at 9 p.m., Sept. 29, on Channel 58.
He's no Frasier: Starz has released a promo for its new drama, "Boss," with Kelsey Grammer playing a ruthless mayor of Chicago, who's battling a secret medical condition. It's scheduled to premiere on Oct. 21.
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.