What is beyond dispute is that Limbaugh is one of the richest radio personalities in the United States, with an estimated annual take home of 69 million that puts him just slightly ahead of Donald Trump in Forbes annual celebrity rankings. So what is the secret to his success? In this rare television interview from 1988, when he was just coming into his own as host of a talk show on New York’s WABC, Limbaugh shared that manipulating people is an integral part of his shtick:
“The formula for making people mad hasn’t changed a bit, yet people keep falling for it.”
Limbaugh’s trick is to convince people that their way of life is under attack, that everything they have is about to be taken away from them. And of course he is the one who understands their plight. He sells himself as the protector of the heartland American--from his 36 million dollar Florida mansion--then laughs all the way to the bank.
So does Limbaugh actually believe the angry opinions he espouses on air? He answers that question in a refreshing if not rare moment of honesty:
“A lot of people say ‘Do you really believe the stuff you say?’ I don’t know, that’s for you to figure out.”
“Callers are like records on a music station. You play the top ten--you don’t take bad calls.”
Limbaugh’s current parent company Premiere Radio Networks actually has service called Premiere On Call which provides actors to call in to radio programs. When tabletmag.com broke this story last year, Premiere removed the following incriminating language from their website:
“We supply voice talent to take/make your on-air calls, improvise your scenes or deliver your scripts. Using our simple online booking tool, specify the kind of voice you need, and we’ll get you the right person fast. Unless you request it, you won’t hear that same voice again for at least two months, ensuring the authenticity of your programming for avid listeners.”
Although unexpected callers occasionally slip through the perimeter, for the most part Limbaugh is able to blather on unchallenged about his latest imaginary outrage, whipping his lemmings into an angry froth.
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