In #RaiseMKE Commentary

Reagan Imhoff, 8, of New Berlin, will appear on "MDA Show of Strength Telethon" on Sunday, Sept. 1, on ABC.

New Berlin family to appear on MDA telethon broadcast

There's a huge golden age of television connection with telethons. In the days before cable, an event that tied a national broadcast with local cut-ins was a way local broadcasters could connect its staff with a larger project.

For years, the Labor Day weekend was known for the Muscular Dystrophy Association's "Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon," which at its peak ran for 21 and a half hours in 213 markets, starting on Sunday evening and running until Monday afternoon.

Even though the events hosted by Lewis started in the 1950s, the syndicated program most of us are familiar with gained in popularity through the late 1960s and early '70s. By then, the show would feature Hollywood stars who would make the trek to Las Vegas to participate in the big variety-type show.

Bands, singers, plate-spinners, dancers and comics would all perform, helping keep the audience watching and the pledges for hundreds of millions coming in. Local stations got into the act as well, filling blocks of time with local talent and featuring area volunteers.

By 2010, the TV landscape had changed, and the MDA moved on with a shorter show with different hosts. Now, in 2013, the "MDA Show of Strength Telethon" will be a two-hour program on at 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1 on ABC. Locally, it will air on WISN-TV Ch. 12.

Reagan Imhoff, 8, of New Berlin, will be featured in this year's show. Last year, Reagan starred in a dance performance from her power wheelchair. This year she, along with her parents Jenny and Joe, will be sharing her personal story as part of the national broadcast.

The young dancer will be presented with a gift from singer and dancer Paula Abdul.

"Reagan has always wanted to be a dancer, and has talked about dancing pointe ever since she started ballet. For Joe and I to watch as Paula (Abdul) surprised Reagan with her very own pair of pointe shoes was truly magical, and something we will never forget," Jenny Imhoff said.

"She's always wanted a pair 'just like a real ballet dancer,' and that gesture certainly made her feel like one — she wore them the rest of the night! Paula Abdul has been so sweet to Reagan, and we can't wait to share this special experience with everyone on Labor Day weekend."

Reagan has spinal muscular atrophy, a disease that affects the nervous system. As the Wisconsin MDA Goodwill Ambassador, Reagan makes appearances throughout the state to talk about MDA and the work it does to find cures for muscle diseases.

"MDA is honored to introduce Reagan Imhoff and her loving parents to the American public," said Steven Derks, the president and CEO of the MDA.

"They epitomize the true meaning of 'strength,' as they've graciously and bravely agreed to share their compelling story. Our deepest thanks go to them for helping to convey the urgent, humanitarian nature of our mission."

You can see a bit of Reagan's performance here:

UPON REVIEW: The Media Rating Council Inc., a firm that reviews Arbitron ratings and then offers accreditation, gave the approval of Portable People Meters (PPM) data in eight radio markets. It also voted to continue accreditation for 18 other markets, including Milwaukee-Racine.

That means we probably won't see a change in a ratings system here as the electronic device has been accepted as a mathematical means for measuring the listenership of different radio stations at different day parts.

"Arbitron has clearly made progress in meeting MRC requirements, particularly in most of the larger PPM markets," said George Ivie, the Media Rating Council's executive director. "We look forward to future audits and continued progress."

COUNTRY CONCERT: Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" concert series continues Friday at 7 a.m. with Grammy-nominated country music group Thompson Square. Best known for hits like, "If I Didn't Have You," and "Glass," the band will discuss the summer tour schedule and perform some of their hits.

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