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Sculptures, prints and paintings are among the items up for bid for the Channel 10 Great TV Auction starting tonight.

Great Television Auction kicks off tonight

If you or someone you know is looking for a print of the great outdoors featuring a pheasant or a series of collector plates with pictures of wolves, then Milwaukee Public Television has a deal waiting for you.

Elvis on black velvet? Chances are one or two are available.

Kidding aside, the Great Television Auction has become an institution event that has given viewers decades-worth of broadcast memories.

The 2014 edition begins at 5 p.m. tonight and runs through Saturday, May 3. The fund-raiser will feature merchandise, art, collectibles, antiques, gift and service certificates, with the viewers bidding online and by telephone.

More importantly, is that this event – which is the most viewed primetime auction in the country – is uniquely Milwaukee. It shows the work and dedication of more than 2,000 volunteers as well as the contribution made by the viewers that it appreciates the programming Channels 10 and 36 provide.

In my humble opinion, I'd call the auction an icon as much as Summerfest or the Hoan Bridge is for our community. In the days when only a few TV signals were available, watching the auction became an annual tradition for a number of families in Wisconsin.

I remember seeing television and radio personalities from other media outlets serve as guest hosts for a block of the time, some of the funny misdirections of presenting the wrong item by a nervous table captain, and the buzz of activity at the phone center with people calling in bids.

The items were always interesting and I'd wonder about the type of person who would need to buy it. When the auction started in 1969, the station set a goal of $50,000 and had about 250 volunteers working at the event. Now, more than $1.2 million comes in each year and literally takes a village of a couple thousand volunteers to complete the week-long show.

Without the auction, it is doubtful that MPTV would be able to provide the national and local programs it offers. Funds collected pay for 10 minutes of every hour on the air.

MORNING CHANGES: Fox News will be changing its mid-morning schedule with the launch of "Outnumbered" at 11 a.m. on Monday.

"Featuring an ensemble of four female panelists and one rotating male, the show will tackle top new headlines from all angles and perspectives," a press release from Fox said.

"During each segment, the panelists will examine the top news of the hour, and deliberate the leading pop culture and relationship issues dominating the headlines that day."

"Fox Report Weekend" anchor Harris Faulkner and Fox Business Network's Sandra Smith will be two of the rotating members who will lead news coverage. The single male panelist will vary and female personalities from other Fox shows will change out as the weekday show evolves.

To make room for "Outnumbered," the time currently occupied by "Happening Now" with Jon Scott and Jenna Lee will divide into two one-hour news blocks at 10 a.m. and noon.

NATIONAL NEWS: Starting in June, SiriusXM subscribers will be able to get audio feeds of NBC News' "Today" show on a new channel.

The contest will include a three-hour block with Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, Natalie Morales, Carson Daly, Willie Geist and Tamron Hall, and a fourth hour with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb.

"Listeners will for the first time be able to take the 'Today' show with them on their busy morning routine and throughout the day during their daily drive," said Scott Greenstein, president and chief content officer of SiriusXM.

"'Today's' unparalleled and timely content is another great example of working with an iconic brand to provide great programming to our millions of subscribers. SiriusXM is excited to continue its relationship with the NBCUniversal News Group by bringing the 'Today' brand into vehicles nationwide."

The audio feed will also have performances from the show's concert series in Rockefeller Plaza. "Today Show Radio" will launch on SiriusXM on June 26 on Channel 108.


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