Belk conundrum highlights problem for talkers


MIB Reports Talk RadioNorth Carolina-based department store Belk does not check for political affiliation when it sells its wares to consumers – it just says thank you and please come again. However, an ad that ran within the confines of Rush Limbaugh’s daily show turned its Facebook page into a political debating platform.

According to the News and Observer, a group that monitors Limbaugh’s advertising noticed and reported the Belk ad, liberal website Daily Kos picked up on it and gave it extra publicity and soon private citizens were expressing their disapproval on Belk’s own Facebook page.

Belk said it told the vendor to keep its advertising away from talk radio – any talk radio, left, right or in between.

That of course did not solve the problem – soon the Belk site was hosting angry Facebook messages chastising it for abandoning Limbaugh.

A Belk spokesperson said this was why they stay out of talk radio in the first place.

RBR-TVBR observation: Controversy is one way to attract an audience, but it carries a price. We suspect that a program that attracts a narrow but fervent audience may be able to find advertisers who can appeal to whatever commonalities may exist within that audience.

But such a programming approach does risk scaring off advertisers with items of broad appeal to sell. They are well aware that dollars bills do not have political affiliations, and they do not want to do even the slightest thing to scare off even one of those dollars.

Perhaps it was easier to get away with this kind of programming a few years ago, but the advent of social media has probably changed that forever.

We believe that there is a place for controversy on the dial – however, it may take some thought and experimentation from some of the industry’s best and brightest marketing gurus to reformulate the strategies to monetize it to its full potential.


  1. The low soft pedal of ‘the group that monitors Limbaugh’s sponsor list is the missing part of the story. Now that we have a left-right bargain basement poltical department store perhaps the key ingredient of instigation has been deleted from the coverage here.
    We are now the poll and ten foot poll nation on every issue long before the jury selection. Social media not only controls but is controlled these days. One can be blocked with any view deemed hateful or in poor tastes. People are on payroll to sit or slouch at home writing comments that separate left from right and all other directions. I’ve applied for the jobs just to see what those stay at home offers covered. Media monitoring, community action and baby sitting all pay nicely with very little background checking.
    The business of satellite radio survives because advertisers buy into race baiting and fear mongering of true ‘equal time’ for the support of ALL or ANY listeners or viewers. The report spin this month is advertising avoidance of talk radio. That’s 30 year old news. In our own controlled-media reporting we fear making comments that are not popular in these info-tracking, sexual predator meeting room, government sponsored and hacked, trend bending anti-free market Internet sites. But what’s new anyway. We are not permitted in our own broadcast circles from hearing opposing views or offering anything but the trickle-down spin from the home office.

  2. I agree with Jerry. The problem is the group Media Matters and others like it. THEY are choosing to target sponsors that appear on the Rush show and similar programs REGARDLESS of the content. The problem is not the content of the show itself. There are lots of sports talkers that are just as controversial as Rush. There are urban and rock music stations playing songs that some would consider highly offensive. Yet we don’t see the advertisers and agencies pulling away from any of those formats. The problem is Media Matters and any other similar groups that monitor talk and seek to do it as much harm as possible. What we need to do as an industry is let the talk audience (which is huge and highly loyal) know that said advertisers do not want your business because you listen to X show. Then the advertisers might think twice before they choose withhold advertising on what would probably be the most effective format for them to buy. The talk syndicators and stations have been taking this lying down for too long. A little push back will likely go a long way.

  3. To add insult to injury, this is a classic secondary boycott. The sponsor was the buyer for estate goods. Belk’s was merely the landlord. The real sponsor’s name wasn’t even mentioned in the Daily Kos article I read on the subject. How much hatred do you have to have in your heart to want to persecute the business associate of your enemy’s business associate? Don’t people have better things to do than delude themselves into thinking you can change people’s minds by hating and harassing them, or are they getting too much of a warm tingly feeling down their legs from all this power they are exercising?

Comments are closed.