Rush Limbaugh

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), billed as the voice for the nation's radio and television broadcasters, and the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) put on "radio's signature event" in Dallas this week. Trade publication Talkers Magazine reported on one panel at the confab:

Radio Show Presents a Talk Radio Panel (or Was It Really an All News Radio Panel?).  The NAB/RAB Radio Show presented a panel for the Talk Radio format semi-prejudicially titled "Is News the New Talk for Radio?"

  —Talkers Magazine: Talk Radio/Media Industry News

The "semi-prejudice" described in the title of the panel refers to the fact that radio stations and networks are constantly re-assessing which format (News, Music, Talk Radio, etc.) is likely the most viable at any period, and in any particular market. Each format has its own group of champions. The provocative title was likely not selected by Talk Radio format supporters.

WTOP, a radio station in Washington, D.C., which has been the number one billing station in the nation for two years in a row, has an All-News format. Jim Farley, VP News and Programming for WTOP, who moderated the panel, reminded participants of the Rush Limbaugh ad boycott, noting that big time advertisers have largely abandoned Talk Radio. Farley observed that "the backlash to Rush Limbaugh's comments about Sandra Fluke from advertisers continues to this day, sending radio management to look for non-controversial programming like All-News." Farley pitched the notion that it might be time to "consider All-News as the new Talk for the future."  

Several other executives discussed the benefits of, and requirements for All-News broadcasting. Talkers Magazine characterized the early thrust of the panel discussion as, "Talk is dead and All-News is the savior".

When Phil Boyce, Vice President of Spoken Word for Salem Communications took the microphone to defend Limbaugh and Talk Radio, he described feeling like "the last man standing at the U.S. embassy in the Middle East, with the protesters outside calling for my head and chanting Death to Talk." It wasn't clear if his "siege" feelings were prompted more by the All-News Format crowd, or by the Limbaugh boycotters who have cost the radio networks millions of dollars in the past half year — or perhaps from both.

Boyce admitted there was "short-term damage" from the Rush boycott, but claimed that it did not hurt traditional Talk Radio. He mentioned that advertising sales for Sean Hannity and Mark Levin are up in spite of the Limbaugh boycott.

Although many of the national advertisers specifically prohibited their ads from running on the Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Leykis, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, or the Sean Hannity shows in March, the StopRush boycott has not at any time focused on Sean Hannity or Mark Levin. In addressing the Limbaugh boycott and noting that Hannity and Levin remain profitable, Boyce is obviously attempting to distract attention from the impact of the boycott against Rush.

Talkers Magazine further quoted Boyce, who referred to the StopRush database without naming it:

"There is a website out there listing all the advertisers Rush still has [and] encouraging the protestors to go after [them]."  Boyce mentioned some of [the national advertisers] and said there were 68 of them on this list.  "Not bad for a show that has 18 minutes a day of network commercial time."

  —Talkers Magazine: Talk Radio/Media Industry News

It is somewhat ironic that Boyce has primarily concerned himself with national advertisers; since March 12, when 142 national advertisers announced they were dropping Rush, the primary focus of the StopRush movement has been local advertisers. The difference is strategic; national advertising is more closely associated with the networks, which are not likely to drop Limbaugh until forced to do so. And, Boyce is correct in observing that some national advertisers are ideologically inclined to support Rush. Others that have gravitated to Limbaugh are anything but reputable, quality advertisers, presumably lured by the radio industry's recently dismal, "seven percent quicksand" advertising rates.

Local advertisers suspending ads puts more pressure on radio stations which individually must make a decision whether to continue carrying Limbaugh's particularly expensive program. National advertisers tend to make news when they affirm an end to sponsorship, as did Sears earlier this month. Local advertisers are more likely to drop quietly, and their right to do so is generally respected by StopRush volunteers.

Limbaugh claimed in March that there were 18,000 sponsors (local and national) on his approximately 600 radio stations. The StopRush database has more than 3,000 volunteer-identified Rush Limbaugh sponsors listed, and it has been estimated that more than 1,000 advertisers (local and national) have dropped sponsorship of his program.

Again referring to national advertisers, Boyce continued,

The Premiere sellers have figured out that there are a lot of advertisers who are bullet-proof when it comes to ad boycotts. They just don’t care because they know Talk Radio moves product, and they know the 1,000 angry e-mails or Facebook posts do not come from their client base.  If the angry tweet says, "We’ll never shop with you again," they can check their database and discover they never shopped there in the first place. These direct advertisers are who we need to do business with.  The transactional big-name advertisers may never come back, but there are plenty out there who can replace them.

  —Talkers Magazine: Talk Radio/Media Industry News

This is, of course, pro-Limbaugh propaganda, asserting that StopRush volunteers routinely lie to advertisers. Certainly it is possible that some do; on the other hand, the great majority of volunteers have no need to lie — they simply accomplish their goal by sharing information.

Radio stations confronted with an advertiser boycott of one program almost invariably panic. Their prime directive is, no dead airtime. Thus, they move advertisers' ads into the boycotted program to replace vacating sponsors, typically without informing the advertiser of the potential negative association. Simply informing many advertisers that they are unwittingly sponsoring Rush motivates them to drop.

Boyce, again:

This ad boycott thing is nothing new.  They tried to kill Glenn Beck two years ago, and at one point had a list of 100 advertisers who would not advertise with him and they claimed victory in driving him off the Fox News Channel, dancing on his grave.  The problem was, he was not in that grave and one year ago this month he went out and formed his own TV news channel with 300,000 subscribers.  [Boyce did the math for the panel…$32.4 million a year, from subscriptions.]  That does not count his book sales, appearance fees, and the $100 million dollar five-year deal they just did with Premiere. What they meant to kill him only made him stronger.

  —Talkers Magazine: Talk Radio/Media Industry News

While Boyce acknowledged that the StopBeck boycott effort drove Glenn Beck off of Fox News, he fails to note that there has been no organized effort to address any of Beck's subsequent transgressions since he lost that platform. In fact, I have watched just a little post-Fox Glenn Beck, and he seems just a little more restrained. Presumably, that is one desirable result of having once been slammed by consumer power.

And, the evidence weighs heavily against the Boyce view that Beck is "stronger". In August, the Chicago Tribune observed, "Beck appears to have sacrificed a degree of influence for his independence. Simply put, you don't hear nearly as much about Glenn Beck as you once did." NPR elaborates:

Beck hasn't dominated headlines the way he once did. And the size of his TV audience has plummeted. At his peak on Fox, Beck had more than 3 million viewers daily; 300,000 people pay for subscriptions to watch The Blaze TV, Beck's streaming digital channel. An audience of undisclosed size that is presumably markedly smaller than that subscriber base actually tunes in each day.

"There's no comparison," said Angelo Carusone, campaign manager for the liberal watchdog group Media Matters...

  —National Public Radio: Smaller Audience, Bigger Payoff For Glenn Beck

Beck is attempting a comeback via Dish Network. With the current focus on Rush, the Limbaugh Show is headed in the other direction. And with El Rushbo's continuing tendency to pollute our public airwaves by wallowing in crude misogyny and obscenity, and his outrageous comparisons between the "American left" and "Islamic extremists", that isn't likely to change soon.
The greatest threat to Rush Limbaugh's continued propagandizing is the activism of consumers, volunteers, and activists who seek to hold Rush accountable for his hate speech by joining Flush Rush on Facebook, and other groups that use the StopRush Database to inform advertisers about where their ads are appearing. Please consider joining.

Mon Sep 24, 2012 at  9:17 AM PT: UPDATE: More Rush Limbaugh news, including information from an industry newsletter by radio analyst Holland Cooke:


Originally posted to Richard Myers on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 05:31 AM PDT.

Also republished by Sluts.

Your Email has been sent.