Oak Creek Mayor Stephen Scaffidi has stepped down as mayor to take a job as afternoon co-host of a show on WTMJ Radio.
Scaffidi, profiled in Milwaukee Magazine in November, describes himself as a “reasonable Republican married to a very liberal Democrat.” He said in the profile he wasn’t planning to run for re-election in 2018. But a press release from WTMJ says he’s already resigned.
Scaffidi’s show will run from noon to 3 p.m. on WTMJ. He’ll co-host it with the station’s Erik Bilstad, and the show will be called Scaffidi & Bilstad, according to the WTMJ release. The show, which will start February 28, takes the place of the one hosted for years by conservative talker Jeff Wagner. Wagner’s show moved to the 8:30 a.m. to noon slot after the departure of Charlie Sykes in December.
“I’m looking forward to joining WTMJ to inform and entertain the listeners with honest conversation as a conservative,” the release quoted Scaffidi as saying. “Now more than ever we need quality news, information and perspective on-air. I can’t wait to get started.”
He also was quoted as saying, “It has been an honor to serve the citizens of Oak Creek. It will always be home.”
It’s been reported that WTMJ was moving in a more politically moderate direction after the departure of Sykes, who had close relationships with many top Republicans in Wisconsin. Tom Langmyer, vice president and general manager of WTMJ and WKTI-FM and vice president of radio news, talk and sports programming for The E.W. Scripps Company, recently said WTMJ “has historically led as being more of a ‘station of record’ for Milwaukee and Wisconsin, versus a station more narrowly defined by just political talk and nothing else.”
In the release, Langmyer said: “We’re pleased to welcome Steve to our team. He brings a great depth of knowledge and local connection, to add to his take on the news of the day.”
In an email, Langmyer said Scaffidi had submitted his resignation to the city attorney, and that Oak Creek would announce it Tuesday morning. Two Oak Creek officials say the resignation is effective March 3.
Andrew Vickers, Oak Creek city administrator, said it’s up to the city’s common council how to replace Scaffidi, and he predicted it would take a couple of council meetings to decide. Two possibilities are to appoint an acting mayor until the 2018 spring elections, or to schedule a special election before that to replace Scaffidi. Until then, Common Council President Ken Gehl is the parliamentarian leading the council in these decisions, Vickers said. The council meets twice a month; the next meeting is March 7. Gehl, an investment professional with Robert W. Baird’s Equity Research Department, said the council may choose one of its own members to replace Scaffidi until the 2018 election. He also said he’d be interested in the job himself. Ald. Daniel Bukiewicz also said he’s interested in running for mayor.
Scaffidi’s been in the media business before — he worked for the Nielsen media survey company tracking people’s streaming behaviors. But Langmyer said Scaffidi’s never hosted a daily talk show before. He’s been Oak Creek mayor since 2012, with a salary of $16,000 a year. He also is leaving a position as an account executive at Leonard & Finco Public Relations, the release says.
The most difficult event in Scaffidi’s time as mayor was the 2012 mass shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, where a white supremacist killed six members of the temple and wounded four other people before killing himself. Scaffidi’s written a book about Oak Creek’s reaction to the tragedy.
Mark Belling, the talk show host at rival WISN Radio, said last Wednesday on his show that Scaffidi would take over the afternoon slot at WTMJ and resign as mayor — but Langmyer said Belling had also predicted others for the job, incorrectly. Countered Belling: “I have not ‘predicted’ anyone else would get the job but accurately reported they were auditioning people, including John Jagler, for it.” Jagler is a state representative and former WTMJ personality who filled in for a time recently.
Note: The original version of this post said Belling “predicted” Scaffidi’s move. Belling reported that it was the case, rather than predicting it.