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Comedian falls from state public radio

Posted: July 17, 2006
Inside TV & Radio



Tim Cuprisin

 

Wisconsin Public Radio has dropped comedian Harry Shearer's weekly "Le Show" from its schedule, and Shearer is telling listeners it's because of "the political content" of his program.

But Phil Corriveau, WPR's director of radio, says it's about the show's "consistency."

Using satire and parody, the liberal-skewing Shearer lampoons everyone from George W. Bush to Dan Rather and Michael Jackson in his one-hour program. "Le Show" launched in 1983 and has aired on Wisconsin Public Radio for at least 15 years, according to Corriveau.

On this weekend's installment, Shearer opened by addressing his disappearance from the Wisconsin Public Radio lineup, including Milwaukee's WHAD-FM (90.7). The last episode aired on July 2 in the 11 p.m. Sunday hour.

"I'm going to say goodbye at the outset to our good friends at Wisconsin Public Radio who jumped off the network to replace this broadcast with another hour of the BBC," Shearer said in a broadcast from England. "It's ironic, we're in London."

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Offering his version of the cancellation, Shearer said, "But they were displeased with the political content of the broadcast, don't you know."

Corriveau's explanation is very different, saying that a WPR panel studying its programming had determined that Shearer's show wasn't consistently entertaining.

"I'm a great fan of Harry Shearer," says Corriveau. "I think he's brilliant. But I think if you listen to the show, they can be brilliant, or they can really ramble on."

It's a criticism that can be made of the one-man show, which features Shearer - known for voices like Principal Skinner on "The Simpsons" - voicing a series of characters and doing musical numbers off current events. Some of his shows after Hurricane Katrina took a far more serious tone.

So far, Corriveau says he's received about 30 e-mails critical of the cancellation, part of a general overhaul of WPR's two Wisconsin radio networks that took effect this month.

He says it's a decision that could be overturned.

"We may change our position on it," he says.

Corriveau says he wants to see how the extra hour of BBC World Service at 11 p.m. Sundays affects listening.

For the record, this isn't a financial decision. Wisconsin Public Radio doesn't pay to carry Shearer's show and isn't paying any extra for an additional hour of the BBC.

HOW TO LISTEN: "Le Show" can be heard on Sirius Satellite Radio on Public Radio International Channel 136. It's available online at harryshearer.com or at www.kcrw.com. The program also can be subscribed to as a free podcast at Apple's iTunes music store.

CHANNEL SURFING: Chris Francis joins WDJT-TV (Channel 58) today as a sports anchor-reporter. He most recently worked at WAVY-TV in Norfolk, Va. . . . To calm down Don Imus viewers who always call to ask what happened to his MSNBC TV show, he's on a regularly scheduled vacation and due back next week. . . . CMT is picking up the old "Hee-Haw" and kicking it off with a marathon of the hokey old country music show on July 29 and 30.

CONGRATS, WMIL-FM: Country music giant WMIL-FM (106.1) has been nominated as "country station of the year" in the annual Marconi Awards competition sponsored by the National Association of Broadcasters. The radio awards will be given Sept. 21 in Dallas.

Reach Tim Cuprisin at (414) 224-2397 or e-mail him at tcuprisin@journalsentinel.com.


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From the July 18, 2006 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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