Rush Limbaugh has passed his expiration date when it comes to radio relevance. It's only a question of when they put him out to pasture.
The humbling, red-state tumble is just the latest setback for the conservative talker who has seen his once-golden career suffer a steady series of losses recently.
Divorced from successful, longtime affiliates in places like New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and Indianapolis, Limbaugh's professional trajectory is heading downward. That's confirmed by the second and third-tier stations he now calls home in those important media markets, and the fact that when his show became available, general managers up and down the dial passed on it. Apparently turned off by the show's hefty price tag,sagging ratings, and disappearing advertisers, Limbaugh continues to be a very hard sell.
It's a precipitous fall from the glory days when the host posted huge ratings numbers, had affiliates clamoring to join his network, and dictated Republican politics. All of that seems increasingly distant now. With his comically inflated, $50 million-a-year syndication deal set to expire next year, Limbaugh's future seems uncertain. "Who would even want someone whose audience is aging and is considered toxic to many advertisers," askedRadioInsight last month.
Ouch, she said, with little conviction.
Worse yet, even when he's on the radio, he just doesn't carry his weight in influence anymore. It's pretty pathetic. Boehlert has a shining example of where he hammered Mark Halperin for his Ted Cruz interview and no one picked up the story for nine days.
Fact: Years ago station owners lined up for the chance to pick up Limbaugh's powerhouse program.
Now, rumors are still swirling in Chicago that talk radio powerhouse WLS is poised to drop Limbaugh. The move was first reported in March and quickly denied by WLS's owner, Cumulus Media. But Limbaugh's ratings are clearly down in the Windy Cindy. According to a March report in the Chicago Tribune, Limbaugh's WLS show ranks 24th in the market, drawing 121,000 listeners in a metropolitan area of roughly 10 million people.
"The Chicago rumors come as no surprise to me," wrote consultant Parks, "as three different Cumulus executives have told me on different occasions they wish they could get rid of Limbaugh's show and they can't sell it."
Ratings and revenue. That's what the radio business has always revolved around. These days, Limbaugh's having trouble delivering either.
Bye, bye, Rush. Don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.