Meanwhile, the man Fischer fills in for on occasion, Mark Belling, remains without a TV show of his own. Channel 58 dropped Belling's Sunday morning panel discussion last summer. The WISN talker tells Pressroom that people working on his behalf made overtures to try to get the show back on the air, without success.
Belling says he enjoyed the program, but professes not to miss it. Still, given the way it reinforced his presence, it's not surprising he's open to its return.
A pending ownership change at WITI-TV Fox 6 could create an opening. But Sunday morning political chats aren't big sellers. "The audiences are relatively small for all these programs," says Jeff Fleming, director of public relations for Howl Fire, a new ad agency.
Belling rival Charlie Sykes (on whose TV show Fleming is regular panelist) now has the Sunday morning field to himself locally--or did until WISN-TV Channedl 12 hired retired WTMJ-TV Channel 4 anchor Mike Gousha to do a Sunday morning interview show. But that wasn't about making money; it was about building the Channel 12 brand as Milwaukee's serious news station.
Former Belling panelist Mordecai Lee says the lack of local public affairs shows is "a sad commentary on the economics of American television, and of how weakly licensees feel the need to substantiate serving the public interest." But Lee has a personal reason to see Belling return. "I've got six months worth of opinions all stored up, and nowhere to go."
So, talk TV isn't that popular, but there is still a threat that Belling might pollute our screens again anyway. Unfortunately, for Mr. Lee, Whallah! has insider information that indicates that if Belling would get a show back, he would only have panelists that are less intelligent than him. So far the line up looks like a rusty shovel, a rock, a dead cockroach, and George Bush.