Milwaukee has a number of radio talkers. But two practitioners of the craft, Charlie Sykes on WTMJ-AM (620) and Mark Belling on WISN-AM (1130), not only have the top ratings, they have the most clout.
I checked out what they had to say in the wake of Thursday night's mob violence in and around the Wisconsin State Fair. I always think it's interesting to write down some of the words that are usually just expelled into the air.
After all, Sykes likes to say that words have meaning.
You can draw your own conclusions about what they had to say on the radio.
Here's Sykes on his Friday morning show on WTMJ, responding to a caller worried about mobs attacking people at the weekend Air Show. Sykes raises the specter of Milwaukee somehow being destroyed – by fear.
"It does seem that there's a randomness that anytime there is something that is popular or good or fun that it becomes a potential target for the mob violence," he said to the caller.
"Right now in Milwaukee, you don't know where you're going to be safe, you don't know where it's going to strike, you don't know where large groups of kids are going to come and just go wilding through and put your and your family at risk.
"This is one of the reasons why stories like this, unless they are responded to vigorously and effectively, can destroy cities. It's because once people get that perception that they just don't know, it is the randomness of it. And that, by the way, is something new," according to Sykes.
On his Friday WISN show, Belling offered his take, which gives a conspiratorial feel to copycat mob attacks that have occurred in Milwaukee and elsewhere in the country.
"What happened last night at the State Fair, while probably the worst instance we've ever had in Milwaukee of this type of violence, is not occurring in a vacuum.
"There is a major trend in America of blacks going out and trying to beat the crap out of whites in racist, violent attacks. This trend appears to be increasing rather than decreasing. People want to pretend it isn't happening, but all you have to do is look at the fact that these sorts of things are happening all over the place. And now two in Milwaukee in a month.
"And you can duck it and sugar coat it and you can try and avoid it for all the politically correct reasons and you may not confront the fact that we have in this country a very large percentage of young blacks who are simply overt racists and are violent and want to beat up and injure white people," Belling said in his opening monologue.
"This is just true," he added, using one of his catch phrases.
As I said, it's up to you to draw your own conclusions. Conservative talk radio speaks to a specific niche in southeast Wisconsin and Belling and Sykes have a measurable following.
So it's important to know what they say, whether you listen or not.
On radio: It's looking like a rate hike next year for Sirius XM satellite radio subscribers, after government regulators have lifted the freeze on price increases. The merged satellite radio service now has 21 million subscribers.
- West Bend's WBWI-FM (92.5) has gone with former WKTI-er AJ Randall to host the country music station's morning show.
- If you're wondering what happened to radio traffic guy Mike Conway, he's now "online content director" at Clear Channel's five Madison stations.
- Radio talker Don Imus' brother, Fred Imus, who appeared regularly on his radio show and the TV simulcasts, has died at 69.
A little NBC fall preview: NBC has posted a video looking at the new season:
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.