Monday, April 4, 2016

Report: Talkers May Torpedo Trump in Wisconsin

Long before Scott Walker's ascension to the governorship and road to national notoriety, he was a familiar face on the Sunday morning TV shows of Wisconsin's two most powerful radio hosts, Mark Belling and Charlie Sykes.

Mark Belling
Belling, who continues to host the No. 1 rated late-afternoon drive program on Milwaukee's WISN 1130 AM and occasionally fills in for Rush Limbaugh, and Sykes, who for more than two decades has dominated political talk during the morning rush hour on WTMJ 620 AM, made no secret about their affection for the ambitious Walker, then just a lowly assemblyman.

The duo provided him with prominent, consistent platforms on dueling media for his run for Milwaukee County executive and eventually his successful 2010 campaign for governor.

Charlie Sykes
US News reports campaign hands who have worked the Badger State learn quickly about the power of conservative talk radio in Wisconsin. They say it is unparalleled anywhere else in America – a force to be courted and never underestimated on the Republican side.

One manager, who helmed an unsuccessful GOP campaign there, grumbles, "I still have PTSD over them."

The unique dynamic – where a handful of trusted, familiar voices reverberate through car stereos and computer speakers on a daily basis – explains the problem Donald Trump is confronting ahead of Tuesday's presidential primary there.

Jerry Bader
The talkers – led by Belling and Sykes – don't like Trump. They've been pummeling him relentlessly on the air for months now, even promoting the #NeverTrump movement designed to oppose the Republican front-runner at any and all costs

Last week, they put him through a merciless grilling on their programs, which generated considerable national media attention, especially since Trump admitted to being unwittingly unaware of their vehement resistance to him.

For much of their 17-minute conversation last Tuesday, Sykes soberly chided Trump for his general temperament, for his stubborn refusal to apologize for insults and for acting like an unruly child on a playground.

In Green Bay Jerry Bader on WTAQ 1360 AM / 97.5 FM began his interview by delving directly into some of Trump's ripest controversies – from retweeting an unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz to repeatedly attacking Fox News' Megyn Kelly.

Vicky McKenna
Vicki McKenna, a conservative host of a midday talk show on WISN-AM, lectured Trump that Hillary Clinton was beating him in polls there and nationally. She also told him his divisive nature was antithetical to the unity among the array of conservative groups in Wisconsin.

After a combative 25-minute back-and-forth with McKenna, Trump hung up.

Kellyanne Conway, the GOP pollster who is heading a super PAC for Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, said the string of bumpy talk radio appearances underscored Trump's lack of preparation.

"He's hitting a buzz saw now," Conway said of Trump during Sykes' stinging inquisition. "Charlie was just so calm, so surgical."

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