Are Cumulus Media's woes Rush Limbaugh's fault?

The company's CEO says the conservative radio host is costing it ad sales. The controversy could lead to a split.

By Jonathan Berr May 6, 2013 2:48PM
File photo of radio talk show host and political commentator Rush Limbaugh at Heinz Field on November 14, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (© George Gojkovich/Getty Images)Rush Limbaugh may be searching for a new corporate home.

According to reports in Politico and the New York Daily News, the conservative talk show host is balking at claims made by Cumulus Media (CMLS) CEO Lew Dickey that his controversial remarks about a law student have cost the Atlanta company millions in lost advertising revenue as sponsors fled his show.

Limbaugh, who last year called student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" after she pressed lawmakers on federal funding of birth control, denies he is at fault. Instead, Limbaugh argues that Dickey is trying to blame him for the shortcomings of the sales force at WABC, Cumulus' flagship station in New York, the Daily News said.

The remarks about Fluke did hurt Cumulus' bottom line. As Politico noted, Dickey told analysts last year during an earnings conference call that the company's top three stations had lost $5.5 million because of Limbaugh, who later apologized to Fluke. Dickey reiterated that comment earlier this year when he spoke of the challenges created by Limbaugh's remarks for Cumulus, the largest independent radio station owner.

Perhaps Limbaugh's impact on Cumulus' earnings will be discussed tomorrow when the company reports its financial results. Wall Street analyst are expecting it to report a loss of 6 cents on revenue of $233.9 million. As Limbaugh knows, controversy sometimes doesn't hurt ratings, and the Fluke issue may have helped the show attract fans. Talkers, a trade publication, estimates Limbaugh's audience at more than 14 million, the most of any figure in talk radio.

Talkers publisher Michael Harrison told MSN Money that Limbaugh's enemies are trying to make too much out of the normal fluctuations in his ratings. Limbaugh, who began his career in 1984, isn't in danger of losing his job, Harrison says.

"If he wants to stay on the radio, he certainly can," Harrison says, adding that if Limbaugh wanted to follow Glenn Beck and Howard Stern into alternative outlets, he could do that, too, and "bring a large segment of his audience with him."

Spokespeople for Cumulus and Limbaugh couldn't be reached. The company, which owns 525 stations in 110 cities, has a programming lineup that features conservative hosts such as Mike Huckabee, Geraldo Rivera and Michael Savage, along with gossip columnist Perez Hilton and shock jock Don Imus.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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May 6, 2013 3:15PM
Who wastes there time listening to that blowhard?
May 6, 2013 4:19PM
This is a made-up dream. Rush Limbaugh's show isn't owned by Cumulus or ABC. It's owned by Premiere Networks which is part of Clear Channel. Clear Channel is the largest radio company in the world, not Cumulus. They love Rush Limbaugh and recently bought WOR, New York. If Rush were to move there it would not only not be a surprise, it should be expected. You guys need some fact checkers. Your story is riddled with inacuracies. Just because you hate Limbaugh doesn't mean you get to make up your own facts.
May 6, 2013 3:42PM
Rush Oxycontin Lintball is a complete joke
May 6, 2013 3:26PM
If you want to phuq around, pay for your own birth control, get a prescription from your doctor and spend the 9-10 dollars a month out of your pocket. I don't expect you to pay for my family, or my choices. Why should I pay for your poor decisions?
May 6, 2013 4:19PM
Do more reporting on the President and his hometown:  Newtown, CT

Nineteen of 20 Newtown children are white.
All of a sudden the 2nd amendment should be
repealed or radically altered.

Chicago children are mostly black.

The media is virtually silent about Chicago violence.

Chicago: 446 children shot last year with strongest gun
laws in country the media is silent.

The cesspool known as Chicago probably has the toughest gun laws in the country, yet despite all the shootings, murders, and bloodshed, you never hear a peep about this from the corrupt state run media.

In Chicago , there have been 446 children shot in leftist utopia run by Rahm Emanuel. 62 children have actually been killed by crazed nuts in Chicago so far this year.

So why isn't this news worthy?

Is it because it would embarrass those anti second amendment nuts who brag about Chicago's tough gun laws?

Is it because most of the kids who were shot and killed were minorities?

Or is it because the corrupt media doesn't want to show Chicago in a bad light?


18 YEARS OLD- 15
17 YEARS OLD- 16
16 YEARS OLD- 16

446 List by age of Children Shot in Chicago Last Year, 2012:

18 year old -110
17 year old - 99
16 year old - 89
15 year old - 62
14 year old - 39
13 year old - 21
12 year old - 10
11 year old - 2
10 year old - 3
09 year old - 1
07 year old - 3
06 year old - 2
05 year old - 1
04 year old - 1
03 year old - 1
01 year old - 2

So why isn’t this news worthy?

The Political Leaders in Illinois;

All Democrats!

President: Barack Hussein Obama
Senator: Dick Durbin House
Representative: Jesse Jackson Jr.
Governor: Pat Quinn
House leader: Mike Madigan
Atty. Gen.: Lisa Madigan (daughter of Mike)
Mayor: Rahm Emanuel

Chicago school system is rated one of the worst in the country.

State pension fund $78 Billion in debt, worst in country.

Cook County ( Chicago ) sales tax 10.25% - highest in country.

A culture of corruption that would make a Louisiana politician blush with envy.

Blame Republicans ?

There aren't any in Illinois' leadership!
So the real reason the Press is Silent ?
There's no one they can blame ?
May 6, 2013 3:15PM
May 6, 2013 4:10PM
What a joke,...don't make me laugh ...Limbaugh has more followers then Piers Morgan,Rachel Maddow,and Chris (thrill up his leg) Matthews combined and then some...and Limbaugh is only on radio !!...The liberals would be salivating to have as many followers.
May 6, 2013 3:13PM

Limbaugh didn't help matters during the Sandra Fluke fiasco.

However, Lew Dickey sounds like he is looking for any easy excuse for the poor sales figures.

A multi millionaire and a six fig grunt exchanging salvos.

Funny stuff. Guess who wins Lew? It won't be you.

May 6, 2013 3:26PM
Cumulus hates conservatives, they already dumped others and there lib replacements failed horribly to get ratings. Rush should just dump them and get his own pirate ship like Adam Carolla did.
May 6, 2013 3:40PM
May 6, 2013 4:07PM
Yes, Rush could move on.  However, I don't think his audience demographics match with the subscribership of private radio.  He can be profitable with a smaller audience on private radio, but he won't be as influencial politically.
May 6, 2013 4:19PM
The Sandra Fluke incident was nothing more than a publicity stunt. She got her 15 minutes that guaranteed her a high-paying job at a Washington think tank. And all you suckers supported her and gave her money......
May 6, 2013 4:12PM

What makes me angry about the Fluke situation is being put in a position to defend this s.o.b. Fluke staged the whole thing. She admitted to choosing a Catholic university for the express purpose of creating an issue that would force their rules into the public spotlight. She sold herself alright, maybe not in the way Limbaugh meant, but if it walks like a talks, and sounds like a duck.....

May 6, 2013 4:02PM
Anyone who listens to Rush has to have their head examined.  The guy is fascists pig, he couldn't tell the truth even when it stares him in the face.  One of the biggest losers on the Radio, but I'm sure the Tea party loves him, see any similarities??
May 6, 2013 4:08PM

After my dad retired as a mechanic, he worked for several years trading cars and car parts around the area for dealerships.  Limbaugh gave him many hours of pleasure and laughter.  He'd come back and tell my mom what idiotic thing he'd heard that day.


I used to listen to Limbaugh too, but the joke wore too thin after a year or so.  Hate begats more hate.

May 6, 2013 4:00PM
May 6, 2013 4:08PM

Say what? They carry Imus and that foul tempered joke of a yapper named Savage and they want to blame Limbaugh for whatever losses they may have generated. He's their bread & butter man compared to Savage who is just plain nasty to almost everyone.


This is a smoke screen being used as an opening salvo in contract negotiations with Mr. Limbaugh. Any takers for a small wager?

May 6, 2013 4:08PM

This man is such a jerk does anyone really take him serious!!!


May 6, 2013 4:49PM
When I was having sex in the 70's I paid for my ladies contraception and used a condom, we didn't want to be parents.. Why should I have to pay for someone who I am not having sex with contraception...
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