By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Aug 24, 2011 at 11:00 AM

We all know where Charlie Sykes stands on the issues. He's a political commentator, not a journalist.

But the WTMJ-AM (620) talker likes to portray the savvy political analyst, looking at elections and talking about chances.

Here, for example, is his July 20 show, where he sizes up Republican chances to beat Democratic State Sen. Jim Holperin and talks about Kim Simac, the Republican challenger in the recall election.

"Kim Simac, who is the strongest candidate against Jim Holperin, won in her primary."

That's all he said, but the key words are "strongest candidate."

Then, the day after last week's final recall elections, in which Holperin easily kept his seat, Sykes offered this:

"The reality is that Kim Simac got just creamed, just killed on the issue of delinquent taxes. The Democrats just whupped up on her. There is a lesson here that you need good candidates to win, no matter how vulnerable the incumbent is.

"I understand that you don't want me to say this. Kim Simac was an incredibly weak candidate. This could have been won. I don't blame her. I blame the Republican Party for doing a really craptacular job in recruiting candidates."

When you're listening to Sykes talk about candidates before the election, he's spinning to avoid backlash from his base. That's why Tea Party activist Simac was the "strongest candidate" during the campaign, although she wasn't any stronger the "incredibly weak candidate" who lost on election day.

It takes until after the election to hear what Sykes really thinks.

The Film Festival schedule starts firming up: The Milwaukee Film Festival will feature a 45th anniversary tribute to Kartemquin Films, the Chicago-based documentary film production company.

The tribute will feature Milwaukee premieres of the Kartemquin's newest films, "The Interrupters," and "A Good Man," among older films from Kartemquin, including 1994's "Hoop Dreams."

Honoring more Milwaukee media veterans: Earlier this week, I wrote about the new members of the Emmys' Silver Circle, now there's word from the Milwaukee Press Club of seven new members of its Milwaukee Media Hall of Fame.

They are:

  • Packers veteran and radio station owner Willie Davis.
  • Former Milwaukee branch manager of UP and Civil War historian Lance Herdegen.
  • Long-time TV news anchor Mike Miller.
  • E.C. Reynolds, photo journalist for Channel 12
  • Former Channel 6 anchor and reporter Joanne Williams.
  • The late Vern Biever, photo chronicler of the Green Bay Packers.
  • The late Roger Jaynes, long-time Journal sports and auto racing writer.

The induction ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 28.

It's finally gone: As promised, the Federal Communications formally dropped "The Fairness Doctrine" from the books this week, even though it hasn't been enforced since 1987, allowing the rise of Rush Limbaugh and the whole genre of conservative talk radio.

Conservative radio talkers have claimed that there were plans to bring it back. But other than a little bit of talk, there's been no serious effort by Democrats to do that.

Semi-Homemade outtakes: Food Network TV star Sandra Lee (she went to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, by the way), is known for her fussy style of preparing and presenting food in her "Semi-Homemade Cooking" show.

This outtake video (which has some surprising language and gestures in it) shows a different side of her:

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.