Where will Rush’s listeners go now?

Jay Weber Show transcript 2-22-21 6:40am

I have been getting some version of this question for days: who will take over for Rush Limbaugh?

Where will Rush’s listeners go now?

The answer to the first question is we don’t know who might take over Limbaugh’s’ day part on the station you listen to, but either way, Rush’s radio network isn’t going to remain intact.

iHeartmedia, which owns Limbaugh’s syndication deal, plans to continue running ‘best of Rush’s for the foreseeable future.

And that could be months, folks.

If the ‘best of’ ratings keep going strong in the short term, they will be under no pressure to make a decision quickly. But at some point, they will have to offer some new offering in that time slot, or two their member stations. That person will be labeled the ‘rush replacement’...but isn’t necessarily going to inherit Rush’s stations or his place in conservative talk.

And that’s why this ‘who replaces rush’ question is, really, fraudulent.

The answer is no one will. No one can replace his talent. And no one is going to hold his 600 member radio network together...as it currently exists.

As for who takes over the air shift or program that iHeart is going to try to offer stations as rush’s replacement? Your guess is as good as mine.

You could list any of rush’s fill-ins, or they could go off the board with someone else, entirely.

They could give the job to Mark Steyn or Buck Sexton...or... They could shift one of their existing shows like Hannity or Levin into that time slot and then give someone who is lesser known, like a Buck Sexton that available, lesser, syndication profile.

But it’s not as easy as just sliding in a replacement. For a few reasons. The biggest being: the realities of the radio business.

Rush had 600 stations running his program. Even if iHeart wants to keep this intact and were to name, say, Mark Steyn as the new host for that program and time slot-

Well-this is 600 individual syndication deals.

Think of it as 600 station managers, all at once, need to fill an open timeslot.

This is like Belling or I retired. WISN would need to find a replacement.

In this instance- iHeart can offer one, but 600 program directors don’t have to take it, once their current syndication deals run out. And who knows? One provision might be: upon the death of the host, this deal is void.

So- iHeart radio’s syndication outlets can offer up any Rush replacement that they’d like, but

Every single one of those local and regional stations is starting from scratch, and would need to decide: do we even want the Mark Steyn program?

Some will. Some won’t. Some will take it just to buy them time to find something else, if Rush’s replacement doesn’t do well.

And if they do take this new offering-station PDs will have to decide-when will we run it? Will we fill Rush’s traditional time slot on our station, with something else and then run his replacement show at some other time?

Stations have the ability to negotiate and ‘clear’ all of this with their syndication house partners. It’s why Hannity and Levin run later at night here in WISN instead of when their shows are done live.

Some stations, like ours, already have Levin and Hannity, and might ask: then can we replay Levin’s show at noon, where rush was...and put rush’s replacement in a different hole?

That could-and will-happen, in some markets, I’m sure.

And so asking ‘who is the new Rush’ is a false question, for many reasons. Who takes over 600 individual time slots that will open up when ‘best of rush’ ends...is an impossible question to answer...even if the people who syndicate Rush hope that all of those stations just keep whatever the new offering is.

If it’s AOC’s flower hour of power....because some knuckleheads at corporate think that they want to try liberal talk radio again, 550 of the 600 radio stations are going to demand different syndication deals.

So that’s the answer to that question: no one is likely to replace rush-across the board-on six hundred radio stations, as we all move on.

And then there’s the question that the naïve NY times posed: where do Rush’s listeners go?

And in a further attempt to insult him in death, they intentionally put a low estimate on the number of listeners he had.

Rush often touted 40-million listeners to his program. But that was at its peak, and might have been a little inflated, even then. But 25-to-30 million people is probably accurate.

The NY times asks...”Where will Rush’s 15 million listeners go?”

The answer is, honestly? ‘Nowhere’.

And that’s thanks to the genius of Rush.

Rush’s fans, are also Hannity’s fans, and Ingraham’s, fans, and my fans and Belling’s fans, and Dan Bongino’s fans and Newsmax’s fans....etc.

Rush built the whole thing!

He didn’t just have a program. Or have a syndication network built around him. He spawned what we know today as ‘alternative media’.

This is like asking- what happens to a ship when its builder dies.

Well-nothing. It keeps floating.

Rush built and launched thousands of ships. They all keep floating...and with largely the same passengers on them.

So, if we stick solely to the radio: where will Rush’s radio listeners go-

The answer is likely: nowhere. Because the stations that broadcast Rush own the conservative talk positions in their markets and have a lot more than rush to offer.

Folks-truth be told? On WISN here-Rush’s ratings were the lowest ratings of the broadcast day, and have been for years.

And this isn’t taking anything away from Rush. This is meant to answer this question of ‘where Rush’s audience’ goes now?

Likely nowhere. Because- the bulk of his audience was listening to me first, or Dan first, or staying tuned for Vicki and Belling...and still will.

Our audiences-in this market- on this station-had become larger than his. That’s not the case in all markets....and if you look at 600 individual radio stations-one at a time-each situation will be different...

But the basic situation is: Rush is being broadcast on a station that is known as a ‘conservative talk station’. That’s it’s’ genre, or format. All sorts of other shows surround rush’s. It’s like asking-what happens to FM-106 when Dolly Parton dies?

Well- nothing.

They do a tribute and...Keep playing country music.

Rush is a huge loss in terms of what his contribution was to the conservative community...and the audience at those stations, listens to all of the other programs that his genius spawned...

Rush listeners will fall into a pattern of listening to Rush’s replacement, too, presuming that person is conservative and compelling.

This is a long winded way of saying: I wouldn’t expect to see a big shift in listening patterns, either way.

The NY Times acts as if the conservative movement is a drift now...because they never understood Rush and they still don’t understand conservative talk radio.

Now-will anyone ever be as ‘big as Rush’? Or be able to command the same size audience?

Likely not, no.

We will never see the likes of rush again-because he was entirely unique. Was the first to do something...and others rushed to follow?

Most often-our legends and giants were the first to do something, or invent something.

Rush was just that.