Fans of partisan talk radio of the progressive stripe will be heartened by the news that John “Sly” Sylvester will be returning to the airwaves of southern Wisconsin next month.
Sly, who along with the entire on-air staff of News Talk WTDY in Madison was unceremoniously given the hook the day before Thanksgiving, will be heard on 93.7 WEKZ FM. The locally owned station’s studios are in Monroe, and its 36,000 Watt signal will be such that Sly will be heard not only in Madison but beyond: Janesville, Dubuque and northern Illinois.
AUDIO: Sly press conference 15:45 (MP3)
Sylvester has been hired by WEKZ owner Scott Thompson. “We’ve seen the disintegration of local radio, local television coverage, local newspapers. We’re going to reverse that trend,” Sly said. “So many other radio stations such as Scott’s, with nice signals, have been sold out to big corporations, and they’ve abandoned their community. He didn’t do that. Scott is fighting the tide, which includes outsourcing and eliminating jobs. He provides news on that station seven days a week with five reporters, and now there’s going to me more local talk in this area, and not just from Madison but the surrounding area.”
Sylvester staged a press conference in the state Assembly parlor, surrounded by supporters including several state Madison legislators. He took a few questions following the announcement.
(Reporter) The public official formerly known as ‘Mayor Dave’ referred to your program as ‘course, misogynistic ranting,’ and hoped that you wouldn’t return to the airwaves. You know some people feel that way, some people identified as politically progressive or left feel that you’re course or misogynistic. How do you respond to that?
(Sly) He didn’t say that when he asked for my endorsement, or when he put a proclamation out, proclaiming it to be ‘Sly Day’ in the city of Madison, celebrating my 30 years of broadcasting. So, I think maybe endorsing Paul Soglin in 2011 didn’t make the former mayor all that happy.
(Reporter) Are there any prospects for this sort of talk radio programming in southeastern Wisconsin (i.e. Milwaukee)?
(Sly)You would think that southeastern Wisconsin was ninety nine percent Republican by listening to the talk radio show hosts. I don’t know. Unfortunately another opportunity was missed the other day when another station went sports. There’s going to come a point in time where every radio station up and down the dial is running a different syndicated sports program, and I don’t think that’s serving the community. I’m not optimistic right now, but things in radio can change very quickly, as I found out the day before Thanksgiving.
Sly also said that there would be “a clear line” between the station’s news content and his programming, when I asked him whether anchors and reporters would be expected to offer opinions. That was a practice which, on at least one occasion, led to a WTDY reporter being barred from an event.
Incidentally, Sly’s assigned air time on WEKZ, 3:00-6:30 p.m., is the same time slot occupied by the broadcasting bête noir of Dane County progressives, WIBA’s Vicki McKenna.