Charlie Sykes takes radio show to 'digital community'
I've got bad news for 47% of the people reading this.
WTMJ-AM (620) conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes is taking his act to the Internet.
Likely in reaction to political events that have put the state in the national spotlight, Sykes and WTMJ-AM owners the Journal Broadcast Group are creating RightWisconsin, which he describes on his blog as a "digital community, a rallying point, a one-stop source for conservatives on the front lines here."
He writes that it will have "a full-time staff and multiple platforms" including mobile tablet and social media applications. And it will feature commentary from around the state, "key stories that other media won't cover," darts and laurels, and videos.
"We can do all of this," Sykes writes, "because we have the resources of a major media company behind us, including the state's biggest radio station and top-rated television station. In other words, we have built-in platforms for promotion as well as the infrastructure" to make the effort successful.
After Sykes announced his plans, the liberal website Media Matters wrote that his "burgeoning network of platforms resembles nothing other than a smaller-scale version" of the "sprawling web base" of former Fox News host Glenn Beck.
Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine, disputed the comparison.
"There will be no 'next' Glenn Beck," he wrote in an email, "not as long as Glenn Beck continues to fill that role quite successfully." But Sykes is an "example of successful hosts who follow" in Beck's "multimedia footsteps," he wrote.
And Journal Broadcast Group "has the resources" to launch such an enterprise, Harrison said.
Journal Broadcast Group is owned by Journal Communications, which owns the Journal Sentinel.
No start date for the site has been announced, but thousands have preregistered, said Steve Wexler, vice president of radio and television for Journal Broadcast Group. The possibility of a user charge depends on "feedback, demand and growth," he said.
The polarizing Sykes may alienate a large segment of the audience, let's say the same 47% whom Mitt Romney said were supporters of President Barack Obama, but "there's an incredible appetite for what he does," Wexler said.
According to the latest Arbitron ratings survey, the Sykes show is ranked fifth in its time slot among adults 25 to 54.
But though it is ranked second with men, it is ranked just 12th with women.
As he has done before, Wexler described Sykes as just another element in the station's compartmentalized programming mix of sports, weather, traffic, news and talk, that different people listen to at different times for different reasons.
"One of the reasons we are successful is because of the many things we are able to do . . . that have nothing to do with politics. The talk shows in the middle of the day are right of center, because that's where the demand is."
He explained the expansion of Sykes' brand as a business decision.
"I am agnostic as a broadcaster about politics. I look for where there is a demand, and the demand in talk radio is for a more conservative point of view," Wexler said.
Wexler said that because Sykes is not a journalist there is nothing wrong with his promoting or appearing on behalf of specific candidates and causes. Liberal MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz do the same, he said.
Wexler said the intent of RightWisconsin was to put the things Sykes already does "in four or five different places" under one roof. He said the "dramatic" reaction to the idea - there were 75 comments on my blog about this topic - is "perplexing to me. I was amazed," Wexler said, "that so many people wanted to weigh in and express a view on something they haven't seen yet."
Turns out people claiming to have seen a subliminal mention of the name "Romney" on screen during an episode of "Bones" were not going crazy. Because it was there. In tiny print.
According to an item in the Huffington Post, the name appeared on a Google map the characters consulted. According to the item, it's unclear if this was "a subliminal plug for the Republican nominee or just someone on the set having a little fun."
Chris Gegg has been named news director at WISN-TV (Channel 12).
He has been news director at WMTV-TV (Channel 15) in Madison for the past five years.
The Missouri native replaces Lori Waldon, who left the station to become news director at WISN-TV's sister station in Sacramento, Calif. Both are owned by Hearst Television Inc. Gegg was previously a producer at stations in Detroit; Nashville, Tenn.; Tampa/St. Pete, Fla.; and Toledo, Ohio. He graduated with a broadcasting degree from Northwest Missouri State University in 1995.
While he was at the Madison station, it was named news operation of the year by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association in 2009 and 2010. And he spearheaded the station's coverage of the budget protests in Madison.
"Forward Motion," a 30-minute news magazine spotlighting research and teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be shown on the Big Ten Network at 6 p.m. Sunday. It is produced by the UW communications and marketing departments.
An on-air auction on WLDB-FM (93.3) by morning show hosts Jane Matenaer and C.V. raised $10,125 for ABCD (After Breast Cancer Diagnosis). Meanwhile, Brian Kramp and Jon Adler, morning show hosts at its sister station WLUM-FM (102.3), complete their toy drive for the Ronald McDonald House with a live broadcast from the site from 6 to 10 a.m. Friday.