By Steve Kabelowsky Contributing Columnist Published Apr 03, 2012 at 1:03 PM

Presidential dreams and aspirations will fill the airwaves tonight as local media tries to make heads or tails out of the GOP primary and other community races. Exit polls of voters, stories on turnouts and ticker updates scrolling and flashing on the lower third of the screen – it's election night in Wisconsin.

Besides the high number of pizzas being consumed by photojournalists, engineers, producers, directors and reporters, there will be a high number of minutes of TV programming consumed by the audience.

"Anything out of the ordinary could happen," said Diane Irving, the assistant news director at WTMJ-TV Ch. 4. "That's what is exciting about politics."

Political coverage is a big deal for local news outlets for a couple of reasons. In terms of local TV and radio, as a holder of an FCC license, providing community information is part of the deal. Bigger than that however, is that people follow it. And more people means higher ratings.

"It's more than that," said John LaPorte, VP of news at WITI-TV Fox 6. "It's not just about the presidential election this year, people are really following politics."

LaPorte pointed to the upcoming state recall primaries and election in May and June, and then the presidential election, open senate seat and other community races later in the year. "We made a commitment. I think people are looking for a source to deliver this coverage and we made a commitment to bring it to them," he said.

For every election, especially in a presidential year, we see local and national media outlets go head-to-head to win the night.

That's why Rich Edson and a crew from Fox Business Network will be in Waukesha and Milwaukee today.

"We will be at a polling location during the day," Edson said of his coverage plan. "Then we will be broadcasting from Milwaukee later in the evening. Wisconsin is serving as a platform for the rest of the country."

Edson said what makes Wisconsin politically attractive on a national stage is that it is dealing with political issues that other states are or will be facing soon.

"This is in the national conversation because you are dealing with state spending, taxation, role of the state government ... especially though this economic crisis ... you see how different governments have dealt with this problem," Edson said.

Edson said what sets his coverage apart from the rest on the dial is that he can present the political issues from a business perspective.

"We can focus on what it means for Americans and layout the process. Sometimes things get lost in what is going to happen," Edson said.

Fox Business Network, which can be found in Milwaukee on Time-Warner Ch. 164, on DISH Ch. 206, DirectTV Ch 359 and AT&T U-verse Ch. 211, will feature Edson's reports and feature analysis and a panel discussion throughout the day and evening.

Closer To Home

WISN-TV Ch. 12 is interrupting primetime with an election night special beginning at 9 p.m., according to a release. Kathy Mykleby and Joyce Garbaciak will anchor the coverage and will be joined by Mike Gousha and new anchor Craig McKee. No doubt that the station is hoping that the results show with Donald Driver on "Dancing With The Stars" as a lead-in will keep viewers around to check out election results later.

WTMJ will have the results running and will cut into programming if it is necessary throughout the night, Irving said. The station is still finalizing its coverage plan, but will run regular updates to keep the community up to date.

"If we need to cut in early, we are prepared to do that," LaPorte said of the plan at Fox 6. As he put it, the news is always there at 9 p.m. for people ... and that will be the case this evening. Anchors Brad Hicks, Mary Stoker Smith, Ted Perry and Ann State will lead the coverage and will host UW-Milwaukee political science professor Mordecai Lee for analysis.

Calls to WDJT-TV Ch. 58 went unanswered for this report. But, following broadcasts and its website, it appears that the CBS affiliate will be covering the election with its evening newscast as well as its 9 p.m. report on WMLW-TV Ch. 41.


Baseball: WTMJ-AM 620 announced on Thursday that they have extended its contract with the Milwaukee Brewers to continue game broadcasts beyond the 2012 season. No further details on the duration or cost of the deal were reported.

A good cause: Bob and Brian host their radio-a-thon for the MACC Fund on Wednesday and Thursday. You can name the station for a day and bid on autographed sports gear among the auction offerings. Find more here.

Digging the dig: Anyone else watching American Digger on Spike? Former professional wrestler Rick Savage hunts for buried artifacts is this half-hour show. It's an interesting show to pair with the network's successful "Auction Hunters."

Steve Kabelowsky Contributing Columnist

Media is bombarding us everywhere.

Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.

The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.