So long, Sykes.
He’s been a mainstay in most Milwaukee-area (excuse me, Waukesha County-area) white, upper middle class dads’ garages and Ford pickups for over two decades, ruling the AM airways with a red fist. But come the end of the year, conservative radio talk show host Charlie Sykes will retire to what we assume is a gated community called Patriot Pastures.
In all seriousness though, there’s no denying the impact Charlie Sykes has had through his WTMJ-AM (620) show over the last 23 years. It’s common knowledge that conservative talk radio is infinitely more popular than liberal talk radio, and besides Mark Belling on WISN 1120, there was no one bigger on the local air than Sykes. Many credit/blame “SykesBelling” for both our state’s current governor and political decisiveness.
On his own Right Wisconsin website, Sykes explains that this decision was a long time coming and is for both professional and personal reasons. In recent weeks and months it’s seemed like Sykes has been coming to a realization about the type of people who generally listen and call in to his show. After famously not supporting Donald Trump, Charlie has come under fire from previously supportive crowds. It seems that may have taken a personal toll.
Others consider Sykes an opportunist instead of a conservative, throwing his saddle on whatever horse is taking the lead. Having built a solid conservative brand but now being disappointed with the direction of the Republican party, some think Sykes has realized that he will make more money and headlines by switching sides. I don’t necessarily give that much weight, but it’s an interesting take (admittedly from outlets with personal grudges against the man).
Regardless of your opinion on the worth of his work, there’s no doubt the impact that Charlie Sykes has had on the state of Wisconsin and the political discussions especially in Milwaukee and WOWW counties. It will be interesting to see how the void fills, especially if (please, God, when) Donald Trump loses his presidential campaign and Belling (who waffled but eventually supported Trump) is left picking up the pieces of a distraught Republican base. I doubt this is the beginning of the end of local conservative talk radio, but I sincerely hope both the Milwaukee area and Sykes enjoy his retirement.