Milwaukee Media Notes: Christian, Lion & the Spanish Inquisition.


What an interesting week it’s been. For me at least.

My first full week behind the Milwaukee Magazine paywall experiment was dominated by coverage of the WKLH-FM story. Both sides were heard.

The next angles will be former morning show co-host Carole Caine getting a new job and the station hiring a new co-host for Dave Luczak, per Saga CEO Ed Christian.

Saga owns Milwaukee Radio Group which owns WKLH.

ed-2014I was told a couple weeks ago when outcry over Caine’s departure was at its height, that Christian might call and prepared a list of questions that were nowhere to be found when he finally did this week before I had my morning coffee. Nicely played.

That interview appears behind this paywall but Christian is a folksy, garrulous man and below you can find some of his other observations.

His best stories may be rehearsed but that doesn’t make them less interesting or entertaining.

He describes radio, as the business of “creating things out of thin air.” Christian came to the market in the early 1980s when he bought then WMGF-FM, turned it into WKLH. and hired Dave Luczak.

Christian talked about the long tenure of other employees and how many recent changes at the station were subtly imperceptible “but the change in the morning show didn’t happen the way we anticipated.”

Here are a few of his other thoughts.

—Is AM a viable business? Saga owns local Christian station WJYI-AM.

“I think WTMJ would say ‘yes.’ I have many viable news talk AM radio stations. But in many markets English is not spoken above 1000 on the dial. Yes it’s viable depending on what you do with it. It’s become a speech medium. It’s not a music medium anymore.”AM is best for “compelling talk and news programing. WTMJ has done a wonderful job. WISN has done a very good job.”

—Before the Caine fiasco Saga stations were known for the longevity of their employees.

Some guy once wrote about it for the Journal Sentinel.

Christian said the “philosophy of the company” was to “treat people the way I expect to be treated. We are not a manufacturing company. My assets go home every night. If we can’t craft the environment for them” to succeed “there’s something wrong with the company. ”

—On letting local managers operate stations like WKLH. “We don’t send in the plays.” And “(we) don’t micromanage. We work in concert with them. They’re independent but they’re not autonomous. I don’t know what’s the best thing.”

—On his reaction to the flareup with A.C. Nielsen which forced Saga to pay a penalty and subscribe to the ratings service. “Nobody volunteered for the Spanish Inquisition,” he said, paraphrasing Monty Python.

Did the Nielsen settlement lead to cutbacks like Caine’s contract not being renewed. “Let me put it this way. My stock price hasn’t shown that.”


A few leftover observations from this week’s July TV ratings.

A local ratings point is the equivalent of 8,932 TV households.

—Watch WITI-TV’s M-F morning ratings go up as morning goes on:

4:30 a.m. -1.6;

5 a.m. – 3.3;

6 a.m. – 4.9;

7 a.m. – 5.1.

—WISN-TV late afternoon/early evening ratings show a similar pattern:

5 p.m. – 5.6;

5:30 – 6.5 for ABC news with David Muir, who appears in promos for the station

6 p.m. – Down to 5.8. Top rated in 6 p.m. local news time slot? “Jeopardy” on WDJT with a 6.

WISN newscasts dominate on Saturday. On Sunday, WITI jumps almost six points between 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. “Seinfeld” reruns beat the “Tonight” show and “Late Show” weeknights.


This was the week lions replaced sharks as a sign of the apocalypse.

az00And blowback from the shooting of a lion in Africa by a Minnesota dentist should be a cautionary tale for authorities as they hunt a “lion-like creature” believed loose in Milwaukee.

I take the Milwaukee lion seriously.

I will not walk my dog in forested areas near the house. And while I was reading in the backyard, I moved inside after hearing rustling in the foliage behind me. Paranoid much?

And as a lifelong conspiracy buff I don’t think it’s a coincidence this lion activity coincides with the appearance of CBS’s 13-episode series “Zoo,” about strange behavior of animals around the world.

According to Variety “Zoo,” based on the novel co-written by James Patterson, is tied with the just completed “Wayward Pines,” as the top rated drama of the summer.

Last week’s ratings were up 20% from the week before and was watched by about 7.1 million viewers.

In Milwaukee, “Zoo” is number two in its time slot opposite “America’s Got Talent.” During July “Zoo” earned a 4.1 rating on WDJT and “Talent” earned a 6.1 on NBC affilaite WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) .

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