Limbaugh’s deal provokes continued response


Iconic radio yakmeister Rush Limbaugh will be raking in a series of significant paydays through his new deal with Premiere/Clear Channel – a deal which has many talking about the Talker.

Jeff Haley of RAB hailed the $400M eight-year contract as a "…a great affirmation by Premiere and by the advertisers that there’s great reach still in radio," according to an article in CondeNast But a disquieting flip side is the hunger for raises the Limbaugh deal is fueling among the rest of the yakmeister universe.

Then there’s the take of Randy Dotinga of the North County Times outside San Diego. He talked of writing an article on Limbaugh back in the 90s, when his numbers were already heavily dependent on retirees at the barber shop and other non-workplace locales. Dotinga notes that his audience in general isn’t getting any younger, and unless he is able to refresh it with younger fans, it will soon age itself right out of the advertising community’s demographic sweet spot.

Finally, perennial presidential candidate Ralph Nader is accusing Limbaugh of being a welfare recipient, using the public airwaves free of charge to fuel his multimillion dollar career. Nader suggests how he can avoid being perceived as a deadbeat. “You can lead by paying a voluntary rent–determined by a reputable appraisal organization — for the time you use on the hundreds of stations that carry your words each weekday.”

RBR/TVBR observation: This doesn’t have anything to do with Limbaugh, but we have to mention a particularly interesting phrase from the CondeNast article, which noted Limbaugh’s deal was coming as radio audiences “vanish.” Strong word – vanish – particularly when the total radio audience numbers in the hundreds of millions. Imagine a movie theater with 100 customers. Suddenly only five are left – that would be the rough equivalent of the radio audience vanishing. It would be noticeable in the extreme. Radio has an audience problem to be sure, but “erode” is a much more accurate verb than “vanish.” The erosion will accelerate if programmers cannot find a way to tap into younger demos, but please, let’s keep it real. We are not yet even remotely close to the vanishing point.
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