Let us all take a moment to celebrate the fall of Rush Limbaugh, previous Republican kingmaker who is still filthy rich, thank you very much, but whose contract is up this year and whose previous radio benefactor is now teetering on the edge of penny-stock status. There won't be any more $400-million deals in Limbaugh's radio future.
The talker is facing ratings hurdles, aging demographics, and an advertising community that increasingly views him as toxic, thanks in part to his days-long sexist meltdown over Sandra Fluke in 2012. (He’s also stumbling through the GOP primary season.)
Concurrently, iHeartRadio’s parent company, iHeartMedia, is heading to court, teetering on bankruptcy. The once-dominant radio behemoth is saddled with $20 billion in debt, thanks to a misguided leveraged takeover engineered by Bain Capital in 2008, the same year the radio giant inked its disastrous Limbaugh deal.
Yep, that's right. The company that used to keep Rush Limbaugh in booze and cigars got themselves bought by Mitt Romney's old pals at Bain Capital, and they burned the whole thing down. Then there's Limbaugh's other problem.
Some industry insiders are wondering if his AM days are over and if Limbaugh’s futures rest with satellite radio, where advertiser indifference wouldn’t penalize him. The problem? His audience is so old. “With the aging and decline of Limbaugh's audience, Sirius may not be as viable an option as it once was,” Darryl Parks tells Media Matters.
So here's where Rush is at. His radio patrons are probably not going to be able to offer any new contract this year, at least not unless Limbaugh is willing to work for pocket lint and bits of string, and there's no obvious new home for Shouty Shouty Angry Man anywhere else.
He used to be a kingmaker, you know. Republican leaders wouldn't dare cross him, and those that looked like they might have would rush to apologize to him lest their careers be ruined by he, the kingmaker, declaring to his audience that those lawmakers had to go.
He used to be big—and he still is, he'll tell you. It's conservative radio that got small. It's all everybody else's fault.