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Sandra Fluke and Rush Limbaugh

Talk radio has been in the doldrums since Rush Limbaugh attacked Sandra Fluke. Industry insiders saw this in today's discussion forum at

Ratings continue to be a problem for many large market Talk stations.  In the top 10 markets,, only KFI, WGN, WLS and WSB finish in the Top 10.  

Clear Channel just discontinued Talk on stations in Atlanta, Market #9, and Boston, Market #10.  It seems Clear Channel is not going to run Talk stations that aren't performing well, even in large markets, even if it means some Premiere/Clear Channel syndicated shows, such as Glenn Beck, no longer air in those markets.  CBS also is giving up its Detroit Talk station to air the new CBS Sports programming. [excerpt, emphasis added]

  —Gregg, Radio Info Member, Posts: 1110, Sept. Ratings for Large Market Talk Stations

Bain Capital-owned Clear Channel is the corporate parent of Premiere Networks, Rush Limbaugh's syndicator.

Although forum comments generally should not be considered authoritive because of uncertain identities, comments in the forum appear to offer interesting commentary on the state of talk radio. The first comment here is by a forum newcomer; the second, by an oldtimer, as judged by number of recorded posts:

I'd imagine it's tough to sell Talk.

I listen to Talk wherever I go and notice they don't attract many national advertisers.  Locally, it's usually ads for gun shows and some auto dealers(and even they're less present).

Even if Talk ranks in the top 10, I'll bet it's still hard to make money these days, because of the stigma.

  —Lucha Libre AAA, Radio Info Member, Posts: 20, Sept. Ratings for Large Market Talk Stations

In some Markets Commercial Talk sells male erection products...

  —recto101, Radio Info Member, Posts: 2823, Sept. Ratings for Large Market Talk Stations

The comments reflect the fact that more than 140 prominent national advertisers left the Rush Limbaugh Show within ten days of his anti-Fluke tirade. Fewer than half a dozen have returned, while many others have left in the interim period.

As recorded here in earlier diaries,
Limbaugh's once-legendary "clout" has been weakened, with talk radio expert Holland Cooke observing that "voters are, increasingly, ignoring Rush Limbaugh". Limbaugh's audience numbers have been demonstrated as a mere fraction of the twenty million listeners he once asserted, and still does claim. At least since Limbaugh's advertiser troubles were found to be afflicting music formats as well as talk radio, the entire radio industry has been struggling with advertising rates that industry insiders describe as "seven percent quicksand", with many voices lamenting that advertisers currently have too much ability to drive hard bargains in a weakened industry. Some speakers at a National Association of Broadcasters Panel argued last month that Limbaugh's three day rant has all but killed off talk radio as a viable radio format, and advocated replacing Limbaugh specifically, and talk radio more generally, with an all news format. What began as ten sponsors boycotting Rush soon became 45, then 140, then five hundred. Many of us estimate that Limbaugh has now lost more than a thousand sponsors, large and small.

  —Richard Myers, Limbaugh executive calls women's organizations "very frightening" as Rush issues threat

Here and there across the country, Rush Limbaugh is being driven off of some stations, but is finding, or in most cases is expected to find, a home on other stations in the same market. Recent examples include Philadelphia, Boston and Atlanta. The most recent example in Fresno, California, announced today, offers some insight into the thinking of at least some of those radio stations that are parting with Rush:
With PREMIERE NETWORKS taking the syndicated RUSH LIMBAUGH and SEAN HANNITY shows to another as-yet-unnamed station in the market, PEAK BROADCASTING Talk KMJ-A and Talk KMJ-F (THE FM KMJ)/FRESNO are, with the exception of the independently-syndicated DAVE RAMSEY show, taking their programming all-local within the next 90 days.

SVP/Market Manager PATTY HIXSON said; “We value program exclusivity and have long anticipated the opportunity to control our own programming locally rather than rely on national talk shows available in so many other places that can be taken from us at the whim of their owners. Adding 105.9 KMJ-FM over three years ago allowed us to expose our local news and talk shows to the largest available radio audience with crystal clear reception. Building KMJ NOW, our on-line local news platform, as well as KMJ’s APPLE delivered mobile app have given us tremendous reach to every computer and smartphone on the planet.

"KMJ’s future lies in its local programming, and we know we have the best people in the business making it right here in FRESNO 24/7. We are thrilled to have this opportunity to expand our local programming earlier than expected, as we can now offer our advertisers and listeners even more of the content that makes KMJ the leader in CENTRAL CALIFORNIA radio.” [excerpt, emphasis added]

  —All Access Music Group, KMJ Going All-Local After Premiere Pulls Limbaugh, Hannity For New Fresno Affiliate

Ironically, Limbaugh's success during 2008 negotiations for his $400 million contract may now have a negative impact on his ability to retain radio stations. The Rush Limbaugh Show is expensive; radio stations must not only pay for the program, they must give up valuable advertising slots to Limbaugh's national syndicator. Some stations were also contractually required to dedicate several hours to a Saturday wrap-up of Limbaugh's weekday shows, as well as morning minutes to hype the Limbaugh Show. All of these were great for Limbaugh when he was flying high and bringing in very substantial advertising revenues; now, they may add incentive for radio stations wishing to cut ties.

Limbaugh has been losing ground, pretty much for seven months straight. His recent veiled threat that conservatives may some day feel the necessity of committing violence against liberals or Democrats resulted in yet another small flood of activists into anti-Rush groups.

We don't always know who initiates a radio station format change, or why. A certain amount of churn is normal, and expected. In the Fresno situation, the termination of the Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck shows appears without question to have been initiated by the station.

In light of such changes, the significant question for Rush Limbaugh must be: does this recent game of "musical chairs" with radio stations turning away from talk radio portend something more significant for the future?

Rush Limbaugh's talk radio career is in a slow downward spiral in part because of the activism of consumers, volunteers, and activists who seek to hold Rush accountable for his hate speech. One very active group in this cause is Flush Rush on Facebook. Flush Rush and other, similar groups use the StopRush Database to inform advertisers about where their ads are appearing.

Please consider joining. Small donations are also accepted to fund data storage; visit StopRush for more information.

Originally posted to Richard Myers on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 11:24 AM PDT.

Also republished by Sluts and Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Dont know if we can write talk radios obituary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Myers, a2nite, PeteZerria, JeffW

    just yet, but one thing is for certain. Things change over time. Dont see many buggwhips anymore, do ya?

    I think we may be at the beginning of the end for the super-popular, all-to-powerful rw talk jocks. Although they will always have an audience, young folk ignore radio completely.

    •  buggywhips. Jeez. Where is my editor? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Richard Myers
    •  Recommended, but a point of order.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Richard Myers

      You indicate Clear Channel is dropping TALK in Atlanta and indeed it is, but Rusty has jumped ship to WSB and that is THE big station in that market.  Hardly looks like his ship is sinking there.  

      Rusty just the other day was extolling the lead-in power of Neil Boortz to his show in Atlanta.

      The guy is a slime ball.....his methods of argument avoid any sense of logic, he rarely takes calls and when he does, those who get through (with the rare exception of Mike Stark) are syncophants who spent part of each call licking his shoe laces, but for those who have drunk the Kool Aid, there is nothing he can do that causes them to question what he is "selling."

      Free markets would be a great idea, if markets were actually free.

      by dweb8231 on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 12:29:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I believe Rush has a small uptick in market share (0+ / 0-)

        on his new Boston station as well. So your observation is entirely valid.

        Which circumstance will become the dominant trend may not become apparent until next summer, when Rush is expected to lose 40 Cumulus stations to Mike Huckabee. If that happens, it may be the biggest hit that Limbaugh will have taken up to that point.

        Follow me on Twitter: @denverunionguy

        by Richard Myers on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 12:45:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for your great work! (3+ / 0-)

    I read everything you post.

    I look forward to your diaries and enjoy them when they arrive.
    Your information is helpful, important and presented in a clear and concise manner.

    Please keep up the good work of helping us Flush Rush!

  •  Rush Limbaugh's radio screed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Myers, BonnieJeanneTonks

    I've been told that the reason Rush has so many carriers is that they give the show away for free to small stations.  What better way to fill time when you're operating on a shoestring budget?  But even then, he's becoming so toxic that even those little stations are losing listeners.  
    Now, if we could just get rid of televangelists that prey of uneducated poor listeners, too.

    •  A number of radio programs are provided for free. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PeteZerria, JeffW

      The arrangement that provides radio income to both the station and the syndicated network providing the program is dividing up the advertising slots between local ads and network ads.

      The Rush Limbaugh Show, on the other hand, has a reputation for being expensive, not only in up front dollars, but also in the number of ad slots claimed by the network distributing the program.

      I, too, have heard that some stations once got the Rush Limbaugh Show for advertising time, without an up front fee. I would be surprised if that continued to any great extent past 2008, but it is difficult to know for sure. A lot of this sort of detail isn't public knowledge.

      If anyone in the industry has more information, please comment. Thanks!

      Follow me on Twitter: @denverunionguy

      by Richard Myers on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 12:14:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes and no to this diary (5+ / 0-)

    The whole business has been shifting downward for years. We've tried everything from regionalism to cutting commercial spot times and nothing has been solid. It's not just one show, or a bunch of shows, it's the business itself that is having problems.

    For starters, national advertisers were wary of advertising on talk stations way before the Sandra Fluke/ Rush situation. In fact, I've seen memos where companies have been detailed and very explicit on what spots goes at what time in what circumstance. Traffic departments at radio stations are very clear on the rules of this. All Rush did was break the camels back completely. And now he's suffering and lot of talk stations - including progressive ones - have taken massive hits. The business is now draining money and doesn't know what to do.

    Hell, Clear Channel is trying to promote their iHeatRadio app while cutting thousands of jobs. They are no longer in the radio business. They are now calling themselves an entertainment company looking to expand into the online game. However, that's too late because there are a lot of people who beat them to it. For months they tried to take down Pandora and Pandora is still kicking their ass in audience numbers.

    Rush is just a symptom of a wider epidemic hitting my business. We lost younger generations a long time ago. Radio made a colossal mistake by growing old with it's audience without trying to cultivate new listeners. And as those people mature, they hardly ever listen to us. They are on Facebook playing Words With Friends while listening to Pandora.

  •  Richard-Any Sense of Where Progressive Talk Radio (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Myers

    is?  On the rise? Flattening? Declining?

  •  Imagine that--Women are Frightening Talk Radio's (5+ / 0-)

    hate-spewing, tough talking male chauvinists and they are now suffering from a virulent case of 'Stigma' that drives away their money from advertisers, which is shrinking this national market product into a regional one.  I'd have to conclude that women are indeed succeeding in telling the 'free market' how much they love getting 'put in their places' by 'real men' like Rush and how much they like hearing ditto-heads reflecting all the hate garbage and especially how much they appreciate sponsors funding this toxic, divisive, hate-spewing 'entertainment'.  

    Neutering any of the Talk Radio hate-mongers and outlets is quite an achievement. It really has become a form of hate-porn that is targeting men who have become conditioned to and addicted to thinking this way, and our society and world doesn't need millions of men imagining it's somehow righteous to talk belligerently of putting down or snuffing out whomever they oppose, and rehearsing murder in their minds.  And doing so while dreaming of even bigger penis pumps, gold, guns, and whatever they'll finally be able to do once they get everyone else pushed back into whatever places they imagine they belong or got rid of them in whatever old white 'conservative' male uprising they dream of carrying out in Almighty Male Sky God's name.

    I may be thinking like a male here, but it would be fun to have someone like Sandra Fluke tracking the progress, perhaps via YouTube, and keeping a wall-sized cork board, in some sort of an Operation Stigmatize & Flush Rush strategy room, with a big USA map & call signs of radio stations still carrying Rush. Point out where to target 'Stigma' next and report Results of Operations.  As these stations drop the Talk Radio 'personalities', push-pin a Tea Bag (or perhaps a 'Flushed' toilet icon) over them, perhaps indicating what replaced it.  Okay, sure a web site with graphics could do this pretty well too, but I was thinking of something that would irk the old white codgers who have been so militant against 'uppity' women and minorities daring to assert their rights to equality, jobs, education, etc.  

    We've had more than our quota of Rush, and it's time to push him off the map and replace Talk Radio with something more productive, civil, and perhaps something helping to bolster national unity instead of divide us.  If there's to be any sort of Talk Radio, perhaps it should be women talking to women about what's needed to make things more fair for them at home, in workplaces and at school, to make sure men are held accountable for child support, to make sure child care is something we all feel responsible for and ensure is handled well, and to ensure no women or children lack adequate food, shelter, healthcare, education and opportunities, etc.

    When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

    by antirove on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 12:22:16 PM PDT

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