7/30/2013 1:43 PM ET|
Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity aren't going away
Even if Cumulus drops their talk shows, other radio stations will likely pick up the controversial conservative hosts.
That's the view of Talkers Magazine publisher Michael Harrison, who tells MSN Money that if Cumulus does drop Limbaugh and Hannity, their shows will likely get picked up in many if not all of the same markets on other radio stations. For instance, the hosts would leave New York's WABC for WOR, which Clear Channel, the distributor of Limbaugh and Hannity, acquired last year.
"These new stations will he happy to have them," he said, adding that it's certain that Limbaugh and Hannity are leaving Cumulus, though it seems likely. "The industry has been talking about it for a year."
According to Politico, talks between Cumulus and Clear Channel's Premiere Networks "broke down due to disagreements over the cost of the distribution rights." The rift, however, may run deeper.
Indeed, there has been bad blood between Limbaugh and Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey for months. Dickey had blamed Limbaugh's 2012 comments about Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke for indirectly causing a $2.4 million decline in revenue. The company carries Limbaugh and Hannity on 40 stations.
The Cumulus issue doesn't indicate that conservative talk radio is dying. In fact, it shows the opposite. Politico is reporting that Cumulus might move some of its existing talent, such as Mike Huckabee, Mark Levin and Michael Savage -- none of whom are anyone's idea of a liberal -- into one of the slots vacated by Limbaugh and Hannity, who rank first and second on Talker's Heavy Hundred list of the country's most important talk show hosts.
Limbaugh, in particular, is certainly a survivor. After the uproar over his remarks about Fluke, including his calling her a slut, several big-name advertisers, such as CVS (CVS) and Walt Disney (DIS), dropped his show, according to Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog group that's often critical of conservative talk radio.
Although Limbaugh apologized for the incident, the loss of sponsors doesn't seem to have fazed him. Recently, he got into hot water again for his racially tinged remarks about the acquittal of George Zimmerman. But no apology appears forthcoming.
Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.
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