Apology demanded over radio host's remarks about Kleefisch - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Apology demanded over radio host's sexual remarks about Kleefisch


MADISON (WKOW) -- A representative of the republican party of Wisconsin called on a Madison radio host to issue an apology for his remarks about Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch during a talk show segment.

Party executive director Mark Jefferson called remarks by WTDY morning host John "Sly" Sylvester "offensive."

During the Jan. 17 segment in which Sylvester criticized Kleefisch's cold-calling attempts to try to woo businesses from Illinois to Wisconsin, Sylvester mockingly impersonated Kleefisch and attributed sexual acts as the reason for her election.   Sylvester made a later, additional sexual remark about Kleefisch as the on-air discussion turned to high speed trains.

Click here to listen to the comments from the talk show segment, provided by Milwaukee radio station WTMJ.

Sylvester's on-air segment also included references to Kleefisch's colon cancer, including discussion of whether Kleefisch uses a wig or has a poor hairstyle.

A statement from the American Cancer Society called the references "disrespectful" and said Sylvester made light of Kleefisch's fight with cancer "under the guise of political discourse."

WTDY program director Rex Charger defended Sylvester's remarks.  

"It was obvious sarcasm and was not intended to be taken literally."

Neither Sylvester nor Kleefisch returned calls from WKOW27 News seeking comment.

Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), who along with democratic lawmaker Marc Pocan called for more civil political discourse in a news release last week, said he would not condemn Sylvester's decision to include sexual remarks in Sylvester's on-air critique of Kleefisch's work.

"He has every right to do it.   And the only thing that can happen is we use our free speech to say either we disagree, or we turn the channel."

Charger acknowledged complaints about the remarks came into the station Tuesday after WTMJ played excerpts of Sylvester's segment.

A podcast of the segment was removed from a radio station web site shortly after the Milwaukee radio station aired the excerpts, but Charger said Sylvester controlled the web content.

In 2004, on-air remarks by Sylvester about Bush administration national security adviser Condoleeza Rice were considered by some to be racial comments and resulted in national attention.


A podcast from a talk show segment discussing Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch has been removed from a radio station-affiliated web site, after some callers to the station complained about off-color references to Kleefisch.


The segment aired on the "Sly In The Morning" show on WTDY on Jan. 17. During the segment in which program host John Sylvester criticizes Kleefisch's cold-calling attempt to woo Illinois businesses to Wisconsin, Sylvester feigns Kleefisch's voice in attributing sexual acts as the reason for her election. Sylvester also makes a later, additional sexual reference to Kleefisch.

A podcast of the segment was available on a web site operated by Sylvester until 10:30 Tuesday morning, but is no longer posted. 

Click here to listen to the comments. We received the audio clip from WTMJ in Milwaukee after WTDY pulled the segment.

Sylvester has yet to return a call for comment from WKOW27 News.

WTDY Web program director Rex Charger acknowledged calls objecting to the segment's references were placed to the station after a Milwaukee radio talk show played excerpts from the segment Tuesday.

Charger said the decision to remove the podcast of the program segment was not made by the radio station. Charger defended the appropriateness of Sylvester's remarks.

"It was obvious sarcasm and was not intended to be taken literally."

For more on this developing story, stay with www.wkow.com and watch WKOW27 News at 5, 6, and 6:30 p.m.


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