“Give Sly The Mic” – a win for progressives and Clear Channel…call to action

In case you haven’t heard by now, there is a very active campaign to “Give Sly The Mic.” Sly being long-time Madison talk radio personality and progressive labor champion John “Sly” Sylvester. The Mic being Clear Channel Madison’s 92.1FM “Progressive Talk” station, which runs nationally syndicated talk shows (Ed Schultz. Stephanie Miller, etc.) all but one late afternoon hour of the day.

For progressives, the calculus is simple. Without Sly, Wisconsin (and the nation) loses one of the few remaining independent voices in talk radio. Unlike the ultra-conservative talk radio voices saturating the state (Sykes, Wagner, Belling, McKenna, Bader), Sly’ opinions are uniquely his own, as it should be. Regular listener’s of Sly have had the pleasure of hearing Democratic Party leadership sweat on the “live line” or in the studio hot seat. Even before Scott Walker dropped “the bomb” of Act 10, Sly was a tireless champion for working Wisconsin. And no one knows state politics like him.


As unlikely as it would seem, the calculus works for Clear Channel as well. There can be no doubt that Clear Channel Communications is politically active. Federal Election Commission records show hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to federal campaigns and PACs. Clear Channel Communications has its own very active PAC based in San Antonio, Texas.

While the Clear Channel PAC most definitely leans GOP, there are significant contributions to progressives and Democratic candidates as well. In Wisconsin, Clear Channel PAC gave $1,000 to Tammy Baldwin for Senate – nothing directly to Tommy Thompson. The PAC has also given hundreds of thousands to national Democratic Campaign Committees. The bottom line is that while Clear Channel is leaning significantly to the political right, this decision will not be made on the basis of politics. It will be a business decision. From a business point of view, Sly would be a win for Clear Channel.

The latest Arbitron Ratings for the Fall Period 1 (FallP1) show that WTDY was on an upward trend, with WXXM (The Mic) on a downward trend. WTDY went from a 0.9 in the first quarter of 2012 to a 1.7 in the most recent rating. WXXM had dropped from a 3.7 to a 2.4 for the same period. It is safe to say that “Sly in the Morning” was carrying the ratings of WTDY. Outside of Kurt Baron’s 10 am hour, and two hours of local news at noon and 5pm, the rest of the day’s programming was syndicated. Speaking from personal experience, when Sly was done, I changed the channel and went back for local news at noon and 5pm. The ratings would suggest most listeners subscribed to the same pattern.

That is where Clear Channel would win in “Giving Sly The Mic.” This is also where everyone who reads this can help make this an easy decision for Clear Channel. A savvy station manager and program director should look at the rating increases that Sly listeners would bring to WXXM, new progressive and conservative interest in the station by supporting an independent local format, and a slew of long-time committed sponsors Sly would bring to the station, and reach the decision to “Give Sly the Mic.”

Call to take action TODAY – It is incumbent on anyone interested in supporting local, independent radio to make it abundantly clear to Clear Channel that Sly has an audience and sponsors as committed as he is.

First – go to “Give Sly the Mic”  (www.giveslythemic.com) and sign the online petition.

Second – CALL: 608.274.5450 and tell the Mic:

                       1. I strongly urge you to put Sly in the Morning on your airwaves as soon as possible. 

                       2. I support Sly in the Morning and his sponsors because he is a life-long Wisconsinite who provides an entertaining, insightful perspective that can’t be found anywhere else.

                       3. I would become an eager 92.1 listener and supporter if you decide to add Sly to your lineup.

Third – Send an email to Station Manager Tim Scott (timscott@clearchannel.comand make sure he knows that Sly brings a large number of new loyal listeners, sponsors, and business to 92.1 The Mic.

Progressives, independents,  and middle class Wisconsin need Sly on the air for three simple reasons:

1. Workers need a voice on the public airwaves fighting for them.

2. Small businesses that take good care of their employees depend on Sly’s loyal fan base.

3. Sly and his listeners give progressives the support they need to stand up to Scott Walker.

Clear Channel needs Sly on the air to give The Mic the local political voice it needs to be credible, successful, and grow its audience.

Make your voice heard – today. Solidarity!



Midwest Family Broadcasting anything but “family,” drives a dagger into the heart of local news

In a cynical and despicable move the day before Thanksgiving, WTDY radio in Madison dismissed its entire award-winning news team and long-time progressive radio personality John “Sly” Sylvester. The following post appeared on Sly’s Facebook page this afternoon:

Message to everybody: I just want to inform you that today was my last day of employment at WTDY. After 15 years, I was told that my services were no longer needed. I would like to thank everybody that’s supported my program. It’s been a pleasure to share this wonderful experience with you. I need to take a big deep breath this weekend and figure out what my future plans are. But, old Winter Soldiers NEVER DIE, and I look forward to letting you know what lies ahead. Solidarity!


Also let go are news director Amy Barrilleaux, political correspondent Dylan Brogan, Shawn Prebil, Crystal McKenzie Parker, and Deana Wright. No comment has been received from management at Midwest Family in Madison, though numerous messages have been left by this writer.

A post on Crystal McKenzie Parker’s Facebook page dismisses any rumor that ratings were down:

After the best ratings book in 10 years, WTDY released us all from our duties today! I’m still in shock!

The news team at WTDY had gained a reputation amongst all journalists in the state as being focused on local impact and independent of corporate influence.

Badger Democracy has made several attempts to obtain comment from station management. General Manager Rick McCoy took over at WTDY in June, according to a MWFBG staffer, arriving from a group station in Springfield, Missouri.

According to the station receptionist, Rick McCoy is not in today. A message was left at (608)273-1000, ext. 3606

Rick McCoy’s email is rick.mccoy@mwfbg.net

This Thanksgiving, be sure to include these stalwart Winter Soldiers who kept us informed, entertained, and engaged in your thoughts.