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View Diary: Limbaugh: Understanding what the "barter ad suspension" is really about (106 comments)

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  •  You're clearly in the business, too (17+ / 0-)

    Excellent analysis of what this means to local stations.

    The one thing I'd add is this: stations can only play this game so long before something has to give. They're still paying cash in addition to barter for the Limbaugh show, and at some point Premiere has to bring back the barter spots to help pay its own very large bill for Rush's salary...and if the pressure is still on from our end, these problems just come right on back.

    What this really comes down to - and I'm working on a diary expanding on this point - is that so much of talk radio's economics seems to be premised on the vague hope that nobody's really paying too much attention to what's going out on the air.

    Premiere still markets Limbaugh like it's 1994 and he's the absolute hottest commodity on the airwaves. They want the show to be "set it and forget it" for station owners who have other things to worry about. They don't really want station owners (or us!) listening closely enough to hear that he's turned into an angry old man ranting at clouds. That breaks the spell of inevitability that's protected Rush for decades now: you HAVE to have Rush to be a top-tier talk station...right?

    And Premiere doesn't want to have to listen closely enough themselves to find out that traffic directors are putting those barter spots where they don't belong.

    And the advertisers don't want to have to pay this much attention to precisely where their spots are going, lest they start getting angry e-mails from us.

    Intended to be a factual statement.

    by ipsos on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 06:53:32 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, I'm a traffic director (9+ / 0-)

      and have been in radio for 14 years.  My father, grandfather and uncle were all in the biz too.  I've never worked for Clear Channel or Premiere, though, and I thank my lucky stars every day that we have no controversial programming anymore on the stations for which I'm responsible.

      Anyway, I completely agree with your analysis that the best way to get rid of Rush is to continue to pressure the advertisers that buy the local stations on which Rush airs.   Since so many advertisers avoid controversial programming as a matter of policy, if you can get some of the advertisers who were willing to air in Rush to eliminate him also, it's really not hard to tip it to the point where Rush's show is costing the local stations money to air.  That's killer.  A local station's general manager and general sales manager are not going to risk finding themselves out on the street looking for jobs because Rush killed the station's ability to make budget.  They'll change out his show with something cheaper and less controversial before they let themselves get fired.  (To top everything off, competitors that don't air Rush have not just been gleefully watching, but actually calling the advertisers of all the Rush stations too...pointing out that if they move their advertising to the competitors, the advertisers can still reach people and not have to deal with controversy.)

      •  re: your last parenthetical (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, ipsos, lineatus, Rashaverak

        the free market giveth, the free market taketh away....the irony is so goddamn sweet it's going to make us all diabetic.

      •  Yup, I could tell you knew your stuff (5+ / 0-)

        I've never toiled in a traffic department, so your insight is most welcome here.

        That's a great point about competitors swooping in.

        One thing I'm hearing from a lot of Rush defenders out there is, "so what if Rush affiliates drop him? Other stations will be standing in line to pick him up." I'm not at all sure that's going to be the case, given what Premiere would have to be charging if it has any hope of making a profit on Rush's bloated contract.

        Your thoughts?

        Intended to be a factual statement.

        by ipsos on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 12:47:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I really appreciate the added insight (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Wow. You are absolutely right about the bloated contract. It's probably too late for them to get out of it unless they have a nice little clause that can be used. But, Limbaugh surely had his lawyers looking it over, too so he probably avoided that.

          Still, even if they're stuck with it, they're probably not going to be willing to throw good money after bad.

          It's also good to be reminded that we cannot let up on the pressure. That is exactly what they're counting on and they've learned that Americans generally have a short attention span.

          Do we have a central place like maybe where we can go to find out what the advertisers are up to rather than all of us have to listen to that nauseating crap?

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