... analyzing Milwaukee Conservative talk radio as a microcosm of the genre’s impact on American politics, media and culture.
Mobilizing Wisconsin's Conservative Revolution
images/stories/videos/part1_home.jpg"The reason I’m a U.S. Senator," explained Ron Johnson in a Wall Street Journal editorial, "is because Charlie Sykes did that." What did Charlie do?
He simply read on the air a speech Johnson had given at a Lincoln Day dinner in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Is Sykes some kind of political King Midas? No. But with a significant radio audience highly attuned to authentic Conservatism, the effect was something like a match to gasoline.
Scott Walker too—as Milwaukee County Executive, Governor of Wisconsin and candidate for both—has benefitted greatly from his relationship with Sykes; deftly end-running the local media filter to speak directly to and with Sykes’ listeners. Wisconsin Congressmen Paul Ryan and Jim Sensenbrenner, and Republican National Committee Chairman (formerly chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin), Reince Priebus, frequently do the same.
But Milwaukee Conservative talk radio is much larger than Charlie Sykes. Wisconsin politicians and office seekers can and do communicate directly with voters through a number of local Conservative talk shows including those of Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, Jeff Wagner and, of course, regular Rush Limbaugh fill-in host, Mark Belling. In fact, Milwaukee boasts one of the most robust local line-ups of Conservative talk radio hosts in the United States.
Is it a coincidence then that Wisconsin’s Tea Party is one of the most active and organized and in the country? Or that Wisconsin Conservatives helped bring about the largest turnover of power of any state in the Union in the Conservative Revolution of November 2010? Or that Johnson, Walker, Priebus, Ryan and Sensenbrenner all hail from within the Milwaukee Conservative talk radio listening area?
We think not.