Attention Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama and conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s (many) critics. Brace yourself: Limbaugh isn’t going anywhere. Indeed, given the whopping big bucks he’ll now be getting for renewing his contract until 2016, if he does go somewhere he’ll be going in that new private jet he is reportedly buying.
Rather than be on the descent as the Bush era mercifully wanes, it’s now clear that it’s perceived that throughout Campaign 2008 and during the years of a possible Obama (or John McCain) presidency the man who has spawned a million dittoheads will continue to be a broadcast — and political — force to be reckoned with.
Rush Limbaugh, who’s heard weekly by nearly 20 million listeners on about 600 radio stations nationwide,renewed his contract with Premiere Radio Networks and Clear Channel Radio, continuing syndication of The Rush Limbaugh Show many years into the future. The deal also includes continued syndication of The Rush Limbaugh Morning Update, a 90-second commentary that airs Monday through Friday. Furthermore, Premiere Radio, in partnership with Mr. Limbaugh, will continue to oversee The Limbaugh Letter, a monthly newsletter with a subscriber base in the hundreds of thousands, and RushLimbaugh.com, one of the most popular broadcast media websites that incorporates Rush247.com, a subscription service.
From the standpoint of his outlets, handlers and syndication service, this is a smart move: if Democratic Senator Barack Obama wins the White House and the GOP loses more Congressional seats, Limbaugh will have tons of material over the next 8 years. Indeed, you wonder if it’s coincidental that the terms of the contract coincide with two presidential terms. If Obama wins, Limbaugh’s show will again become a rallying point for conservatives who feel on the outs. If McCain wins, Limbaugh will likely have lots of material if McCain, as expected, reaches across party lines or compromises with a stronger Democratic Congress.
Meanwhile, news of this mega-contract will increase Limbaugh’s aura as a major radio and political force — which will increase his clout a bit during Campaign 2008. He plays a major role for the GOP because his show is a rallying point for Republicans and themes he raises can set the tone of GOP debate or, in other cases, hammer home and repeat GOP talking points. He immediately influences many weblogs and when his statements are highly controversial they are pitchforked into the mainstream media.
Mr. Limbaugh stated, “This is exactly where I want to be, doing what I was born to do, with an amazing audience and phenomenal support from affiliate stations and sponsors. I’m having more fun than a human being should be allowed to have. There’s a relationship between the audience and the host here that is second to none. We’re going to continue to provide Broadcast Excellence and have a lot of fun along the way.”
Advertiser and affiliate demand is at an all-time high for Mr. Limbaugh. President of Premiere Radio Networks Charlie Rahilly stated, “The Rush Limbaugh Show enjoys an unprecedented platform of radio affiliates. Plus, advertisers harness the intensity of listener engagement — no one’s ‘word of mouth’ about a product or service delivers more impact than Mr.Limbaugh’s. The Premiere team is proud to partner with Mr. Limbaugh deep into the next decade.”
Drudge puts the figure at $400 million and breathlessly writes:
The American broadcast industry is rocked, realigned and blasted into a new orbit, yet again, by Rush Limbaugh, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.
In what is being described as an unprecedented radio contract, Limbaugh will keep his syndicated show on-the-air and e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e through 2016 with CLEAR CHANNEL and PREMIERE RADIO.
Already host of the most lucrative hours since radio’s inception, Limbaugh’s total package is valued north of $400 million, according to media insiders.
Limbaugh’s critics (and I have been critical of him) will shake their heads, but the bottom line is this: as a broadcaster who knows how to do a fast-paced show, pack it with (opinionated) content and be highly entertaining, Limbaugh is one of the most talented broadcasters ever.
He knows how to attract an audience and keep it tuning in. Which IS the name of the game in broadcasting — not winning elections for a party or candidate or being the anti-so-and-so in countering and answering another talk show’s broadcasts. Many of Air America’s early shows (and some local progressive talk radio hosts) seem to lose sight of this fact. The name of the game is attracting, maintaining and delivering a demographic audience to advertisers.
And you can place money in Vegas that Limbaugh is rubbing his hands with glee as he anticipates what the end of the Bush era will mean to him in terms of material once Obama or even a not-entirely-traditional-GOP John McCain takes over the Oval Office.